Personal Musing On Islam

In just a few hours as of the time of this writing, Ramadhan will begin to close as Ied Fitri open. Because of this, me and my family traveled to Jakarta to visit my relative and currently, I’m writing this in my grandmother’s house. For some, this is an unfortunate fact. If you asked me though, it simply felt like an another month passing by.

Since Ied Fitri is considered as one of two days that was acknowledged as an actual holiday for Muslim (well, according to the sunni anyway), this springs me into writing and contemplating my own feelings for my own religion.

I’m a Muslim ever since my own birth. Despite that however, there’s always some reservation in my own heart for me to actually call myself a Muslim. While I’ve done almost all the things dictated in the Five Pillars of Faith (I haven’t yet done a pilgrimage to Mecca, but maybe someday), but I’ve also done things that some may considered as un-Muslim like, according to the Hadits. Which is more or less words and actions done by the Prophet that should be an example for all Muslim and I feel like I can only call myself as such once I behaved accordingly to the Hadits.

For examples, my family occasionally celebrated birthday and I never cried every time I read the Koran, which is strongly obligated. I get that the content of the Koran is suppose to be moving (and as I read it, it quite is) and crying over Koran passage shows the degree of love we have for Allah, but I just never did, I don’t know why. What stirs me however, was when my friend said that we should “try” to cry. That irks me since I believe our own emotion is something that wasn’t supposed to be forced on.

While that’s one reason for my doubt, the other being that I’ve been distancing myself for Islam for quite some times.

I haven’t touched Koran in months, I ran and close my ears almost every time I hear a preach, I didn’t do Tarawih (an exclusive Shalat only in Ramadhan) on the Masjid throughout Ramadhan this year. While thankfully my prayers haven’t stop, it feels as if my faith in Islam began to slip little by little.

As for why it happened, I believe it all begin ever since I entered high school. I’ve posted my high school experience before, but I never touched on my own faith experience while I was there.

My high school has strong understanding on Islam better than my previous schools and my experience there is a really serious highs and lows. On one hand, I’m grateful for it opened my eyes to learn all the things that I never knew about Islam before, plus I made a good deal of friends compare to my previous school. As for the low, well…..

For one, I have a mix feeling regarding several of its teaching. I found out that some faction of Islam regard the idea of any government system outside of the calipha are regarded as haram. For example, we know that democracy put the masses above all, but that indicates that the masses is above Allah and thus, are not the subject of the Islamic law. All of this gives me an uneasy feelings, but if I have to be honest, its perhaps because of my own rationalization of status quo.

The other teachings that I have mix feelings about, is its treatment for thieves. Apparently there was a law during Muhammad’s leadership where all of thieves must have their arm cut off as a punishment. Muhammad himself once said how he’ll personally cut of the arm of his own relative should they became a thief. Logically speaking, I can understand where the law is coming from. After all, ever since there’s the Zakat law (where the rich must distribute the dictated percentage of their earning to the poor once a year), there’s virtually no excuse to resort to such crimes, but what unease my was this revelation, to some degree, distort my not only own image of Muhammad, but also Allah as well.

Throughout my life there’s always a notion (a rather naïve one, admittedly) in my mind how Muhammad was a saint who’s above any other human in terms of kindness, likewise with Allah Whom I always regarded as all forgiving, all around “goodness”. Finding out they’re upholding such laws puts distance in me.

That’s also not the only case where it happened. Do you know there’s actually a sin that Allah never forgive? And as I found out laws after laws that didn’t fit with “modern” culture, like how the essence of pig (which is regarded as haram) is the material for both modern day toothbrushes and vaccine, the fissure In my own heart began to grow and grow. Again, I get where it came from logically speaking, but nonetheless, it still makes me grow fear of Allah. Not fear in the sense of “wow, I’m afraid of Allah’s power and therefore I must respect Allah”, but more of “I can’t believe Allah and Islam are like that. Now I’m afraid of worshipping Allah and devoting myself to Allah’s religion.”

While that’s the problem I had with the teaching, there’s a faction on Islam and the general Muslim behaviour that doesn’t sit well with me.

I remember how each Ramadhan in my high school, there’s a mandatory sermon for three days that all students from every grade need to attend. Some are quite harmless enough, but some are just really really wrong for me. Several times they depict what hell would’ve look like for each type of sinner on video, to make us becomes more afraid on committing sins, and they also showed the painful and to some degree, gory effort of a mother trying to gave birth to her children in an effort for us to be more obedient to our mother. The intention are certainly noble, but it all it did was putting disgust over any sermon.

It doesn’t stop there though, they also show video footage of Palestine dismembered war victims, proclaiming to be the footage that the media “covered up”, all the while insisting to find out the truth and saying how the Israel is worse than the Nazis.

English dictionary is shortage of words to describe how much this repulse me.

While I don’t exactly wanted to make comparison between the two, what I found frustrating on how the video insist on “finding the truth” which for me translated as “finding the Islamic side of the truth only.” , which highlight the problem for me that’s been going on certain faction of Islam, which is how insular we are at times. The way it promotes the mentality of us vs them. The way it disregard any other culture. There’s literally a belief on how Muslim should go against the “mainstream way of the world”, because the Jew distorted the rights and wrongs. So we pretty much being close to ourselves while still opened to those who wants join us.

The other day after me and my classmates watched the Hitler documentary, some of them joke about how if only Hitler would appear on Israel instead.

While they were just joking around, silence is pretty much the best I could muster as a response.

All of the things I’ve described above kept weighing down on me, no matter how much I don’t want to think much about it. There’s always the want inside of me to change on how the way we thought about these things, but I kept reminded on how unknowledgeable I’m on this sort of things. I may never cry when I’m reading Koran, but I often do so every time I thought about how pity and weak I am. I’m not even sure there’s someone I could trust and rely on this. I know should’ve read more, but here I’m running just because I didn’t know “what” to started reading, what to “trust”, and how Allah and Muhammad isn’t who I exactly thought of as.

Secretly there’s a wish inside on how I hope Islam is never the correct one or how I wish I was never born to begin with. But I know this is me just running away from my own problem.

Heh, well aren’t all of this a rather grim contemplation.

Regardless, Islam is still some part of my own identity (cultural, if not spiritual) and I still believe the goodness in Islam enough to make me keep residing in it. Right now, I’m just hoping this weird fear of mine would drain away little by little.

Anyway, thanks for hearing my rant, don’t worry I’ll begin writing the usual anime/game-related things soon.

I’ll see you then.


  1. AnonymousMatcha · July 17, 2015

    Happy Fitri! I really appreciate that you shared these feelings with us, because even if I can’t fully understand, it’s nice to see a glimpse of the things that you are going through. It sounds like a very difficult place to be in!

    While I have never gone through anything similar to what you are experiencing (I’m agnostic, so don’t take the things I say seriously), to some extent I wonder if people in Indonesia are open to less strict or multiple interpretations of Islam? For instance, it is my understanding that the rise of Orthodox Islam is a rather new thing that happened in the past 20 years, while the older generations encouraged a less traditional interpretation?

    I ask these things because, at least for many religions that I know of (Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, etc), many people in the present Western society don’t practice every tenant stated in the religious texts, but still consider themselves affiliated to the religion (and are still welcomed at religious congregations). I would suppose this is particularly true of many young Americans–our generation is increasingly less likely to attend church, but many still pray on their own and believe in God.

    But is this necessarily wrong?

    Just because you do not practice orthodox Judaism/Christianity, does that mean you are not Jewish/Christian?

    I don’t really know the answer, except that I would like to think that the answer is in your heart. Also, if it makes you feel any better, Islam is not alone in having gruesome punishments and statements in the Quran. The same is also true of almost any religion (Christianity with stoning, the Old Testament on the entirety of Leviticus 20, etc), except the difference is how we choose to interpret these challenging points in the present day.

    An argument that is frequently used in Christianity is, “What would Jesus have done if he were here/lived now?”

    Because perhaps the things he would teach us now (or emphasize to us now) would be different from the things he would have emphasized 2000 years ago. But in order to make that kind of determination, we end up making a reduction to the abstract concepts of religion that matter the most. Faith? Universal love? Charity? Is it okay to do that sort of thing?

    I’m really just rambling here so you shouldn’t take me seriously, but I hope you find a resolution to these thoughts that are troubling you right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Frog-kun · September 17, 2015

    Thanks for writing this. Your post sheds a lot of light on what a complicated religion Islam is. In Australia, Muslims are only ever really talked about in two ways: members of an evil boogeyman religion or poor, misunderstand victims.

    While I am not a Muslim or even particularly religious, I understand how it feels to be perturbed by insular “us versus them” thinking.

    The other day, I was talking to some of the socialists at my university about the Israel-Palestine conflict. They firmly took Palestine’s side and said that Israel is an apartheid state. In fact, they went even further and claimed that the Jews don’t deserve to have their own country at all. That’s an attitude your community would agree with, isn’t it? However, when I read what you say about the Muslims you know, who believe that the Jews have twisted right and wrong, I can start to understand why Israel supporters feel so defensive themselves.

    What I’m trying to say is that, more often than not, those insular ways of thinking are grounded in reaction to real oppression. The question is how to move past the antagonistic “us versus them” thinking while still sharing solidarity with people who face similar troubles. Personally, I can see that Islam has brought comfort and a sense of community to many. But of course, as individuals we are all more complicated than the religious groups we align with (or groups in general, for that matter). It’s okay not to entirely agree with the things you see and hear. In fact, I think it’s good that you have thoughts and insights that are different from those around you. Take it as a sign you’re human!

    In the end, I wish that my country can accept Islam on its terms, so that all the various Muslim communities in the world don’t have to feel persecuted. I also wish that, in general, people could accept differences better so that we don’t become so susceptible to groupthink. The only way to do that is to continually expose ourselves to new ideas and different people. Islam might need that, but so do all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s