December 29, 2008
My Epiphanies (XI)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
***I will like to make it clear that I am probably pursuing a religious studies major, but I will *HAVE* to get another major before graduating because there are no jobs with a bachelor’s in religious studies. Thank you.***
I draw hope from all the wrong places. Entering college, I did not have the idea that I would pursue a religion and theology (now religious studies) major until I got all the stupidest questions about Islam.
Why are women always oppressed in Islam? –>LOADED QUESTION, I REPEAT, LOADED QUESTION–the question already makes the assumption women are oppressed, whereas the question should be stated–Why do women *appear* to be oppressed or are women oppressed in Islam?
Doesn’t Jihad mean ‘holy war’? –>No. Jihad means ‘struggle.’ It is normally a struggle for God, but technically the word’s definition can fit for almost any kind of struggle from doing your homework to saving someone’s life.
But first I was upset with all the bogus questions, but then I thought–at least people express an interest. Even if they may asked the most biased, loaded, miso-Islamic questions, it is a question. And I have always learned that through questions is a hidden hope. Hope for change, hope for clearer future. I still argue if that is completely true, but it gave me hope to help others through interfaith studies.
But that is still not the real topic of the post. The real topic is: what is it that propels me, and a load of other people, to pursue something for reasons of hope? Why change? Why world peace? John Locke (NOTE: Locke), an empiricist philosopher made a deduction that human beings are like blank slates when they are born, and their sense of right and wrong develops as they study their surroundings. Islam teaches Muslims that human beings are born with a sense of good and wrong, aka fitra. But for people like John Locke, what historical and logical evidence do we have to prove that human beings have an innate sense of morality? I am not saying I have the answer; but as a human being and a Muslim, I should have the right to pose the question.
When people look for a career to pursue in high school or college, it is normally something someone wants to do–for money, for pleasure or for the betterment of humanity, but one thing that normally carries across each reason is to live in such a way that it would be peaceful to the person’s standard of what peaceful means. (i.e. peaceful can mean having money to spend, seeing people happy, liking your job, etc. etc.) This is the philosophy of Immanuel Kant–that we try to live in a way that would not disturb the world order/peace. But is there something more to it? I say yes.
In another post I wrote, I once mentioned a concept called spiritual energy. I did not and still have not defined it, but if there can be such a thing as physical and mental energy, and if a person believes in the concept of the soul, then there has to be a concept of spiritual energy. In some religions, it can be karma, it can be luck, or it can be an energy that influences one’s destiny. I once asked an atheist why he believes in behaving morally good if in fact, there is no reason to. (i.e. he doesn’t believe in God/gods, nirvana, moksha, etc.) he told me that most people would say just to give them a sense of direction in life. And I thought–that is a sign that people are truly good at heart. People are attracted to doing good or having a state of peace, even if they don’t acknowledge it. Some see peace to avoid trouble, but at the same time, trouble always happens to people–so why not be bad for the heck of it? There are some people who choose that path, but majority of the people try to be good. Even if they mess up, there is a sense of wanting to fix it.
I am not in any way defining morality into the post, but I find it interesting that seeking peace/being good gives people a sense of direction. Everyone. be it Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Taoist, Atheist–you name it. I guess as cheesy as it sounds, I am beginning to believe that regardless of human error and set backs, people can be truly good at heart and people do in fact seek goodness or peace in some way. I think that even though there can be many random factors, part of the reason why people do try to be good may *actually* be innate. (And I am not just saying that because I am Muslim, but that I had in fact spoken to at least forty people about this [six atheists] and they all agreed that being good gives them a sense of direction and self contentment.)
A pretty messy epiphany, but it was more of a rant looking back at it. I guess I just wanted you to read it and hope it gets you thinking. I’ll try to be more organized in the future.