Reflection · Religion

Our complicated relationship with God

Some conversations never fade away. One in particular I have been pondering about for more than a decade. I don’t know why this particular conversation has always been in my mind. Maybe because I want to find an answer or maybe because I have never heard something like it.

The conversation took place at Panera Bread in Columbia, MO. I went there for lunch with a Jordanian friend after the Friday prayer. It was my first semester in Columbia, MO. That was in 2004. At Panera, my friend saw someone he knows and we sat together. The other person was a white American. I learned he was a Muslim convert (or revert as American Muslims like to call themselves) and a PhD student in Philosophy.

The American friend was talking about a subject that I don’t recall, but in the middle of his speech he said “I believe 98% in God” or maybe he said less. My Jordanian friend interrupted him, saying “but you should believe 100%.”
We all paused for a moment. Then the conversation continued.

I will never forget that moment. I never thought of believing in God in percentage. I thought believing in God is like “love.” It comes as a whole you don’t love your child 99%, do you? I always thought either you believe (100%) or you don’t (0%). I of course was wrong.

Situations and experiences in my life made me not a 100% believer. At least not all the time. What I mean is that sometimes I am 100% confident with what I believe in and other times I am not. Until my thirties, I had never questioned my belief. However, it is not the same anymore. Unfortunately, the more I live and experience life, the less confident I am with what I know and believe.

Sometimes I can’t imagine my life without God. Why in the world we would continue living if there is no God, I ponder. Nevertheless, there is a teeny-tiny thought that started appearing in my head a few years ago. What if there is no Super Power? What if we are on our own? After all, nothing makes sense in this world, does it? Everything seems random. What plan God has for Aleppo people? Is there someone in the sky, listening to their prayers? Or are we delusional, living a fantasy, as atheists call us.

If I ask my Facebook friends how much do you believe in God, they will all (the believers) answer 100%. And I know some of them will criticize me for asking such question. I sometimes ask myself how much I believe in God. Do I believe 100% or 99% or maybe I believe 90%. Does not believing 100% make you less pious?

I believe that although most of us say we believe in God 100% I don’t think it is true. When you say you believe 100%, it means you have no doubt whatsoever in God. If you truly believe 100%, you never feel anxious about losing your job or getting one when you are unemployed. You trust God in everything you do. You know he got your back every second in your life. There is nothing to fear about in life, but who among us never felt scared.

I think our relationship with God falls into one or more of these emotions:

Love

Some people have so much love for God. I have seen it among Muslims, Christians and Hindus. If something good happens to them, they are thankful and if something bad happens, they are thankful no matter how bad it gets. They have so much love and believe in the Almighty.

Fear

Some others fear God so much. They say they love God, but their actions say otherwise. These people always warn of God’s wrath, but never mention his mercy. They follow their religion script out of fear of God’s punishment. Unfortunately, in the extreme case this fear may lead to bad consequences. One obvious group that has been terrorizing the world is Da’esh. Their souls are empty of any love for God, others and themselves. They are terrified of God’s wrath.

Hate

I read that after WWII, many Jews and Christians in Europe stopped believing in God. The magnitude of their suffering made them certain that there was no God. They believe if there were a God, He would not have allowed such thing to happen. However, not all of them became atheists. Some continued believing that there is a super power, but they hated this power. I am sure the mindset of some people in Aleppo, toward God, has changed as well.

Doubt

It is not always the case that people hate God or disbelieve in Him after a catastrophe hits them. Some people’s faith becomes stronger in such situations.

Regardless of how we feel toward God (love, fear, or hate) there is the predicament of doubt. Whether you love, fear, or hate God, you still believe in Him. The question is how much you believe.

Doubting is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it makes you search and think more. It makes you try to find answers. If you have the perfect system or relationship, you will never try to develop or improve it. When your relationship with God is not at its best, you try to find ways to make it better. At least you think about it more.

Denial

Even when I have my doubt moments, I tell myself I can’t live in a world where there is no God. I don’t know how Atheists do it. It makes sense not to believe in God. It answers many questions. For me, I don’t believe in God because I am smart. I believe in God because He wanted me to believe in Him and I am forever thankful for Him.

                                                                                      ———————————-

We convince others and ourselves that we love and fear God to the same extent. However, is this possible? Some of us love God more than we fear Him and others Fear Him more than Love Him. Our feeling toward God is not always the same it varies from time to time and for this, I say it is not true that we believe 100%. Maybe there are people who believe 100%, but these people are the exception not the norm. This percentage is what makes humans different than Angles. Angles are created not to doubt. Humans are created to doubt and seek answers.

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Culture · Religion

Celebrating Christmas and Mawled in Jordan

This week, Muslims commemorate the birth of Prophet Muhammad and Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus peace be upon them. Irbid’s biggest mall has a beautiful Christmas decoration.

In Jordan, Christmas is a national day. However, I felt this year Christmas decorations and Muslims greeting and wishing Christians a Merry Christmas was more than the previous years. The bad news this sense of solidarity happened only after a drastic event like the advent of Daesh. The good news Daesh reunited Muslims against them. Muslims in Jordan are telling Daesh their ideology of killing others is not welcomed here and letting Christians know they are loved.

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A Christmas tree and a banner commemorating the birth of Prophet Muhammad.

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Religion

There has to be a reason for this, right?

Both animals and humans spend their day working hard to make sure at the end of the day they can provide for themselves and for their families. Except at night animals sleep soundly and humans don’t. Sleep doesn’t come easy for many people. We ponder then we worry which causes us not to sleep well.

Many times our worries are not just about ourselves and families they reach other people as well. We worry about people suffering in civil wars, ethnic cleansing wars, famine, and about the well being of humans living in misfortunate regions. To make things even more stressful we don’t just worry about humans we worry about animals, plants, volcanoes, oceans and global warming. We worry about a new business development that is going to close mom and pop stores. We worry about asteroids one day hitting our beloved planet.

Every group of people worries about a cause more than others. Some worry about the Gazans or the Yazidis or the Israelis or the whales or the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram militia or the global warming or how cows are slaughtered. There are currently plethora of causes that all need our attention and need a fast solution.

How can one sleep well while humans are been massacred because of their ethnicity or religion or political beliefs? It is an ugly world.

I have met people who refuse to eat meat because of the way animals are treated in slaughterhouses, although these individuals are not vegetarians. I know people who don’t buy certain products because of political conflict. I know some others who are very passionate about a certain cause it became their daily struggle to promote it.

Unfortunately, I am nothing like these people. I have no cause to defend or talk about passionately. I got tired being worried and concerned about the well being of others. My problems alone are more than I can handle. I got tired worrying about my relatives in Syria and whether I can see them any time soon. I got tired hearing the news about Muslim Militias kidnapping girls, executing non-Muslims and beheading opponents. I got tired of people speculating   what is happening in the Middle East and who is behind this and that. I got tired of seeing pictures of dead children in Gaza.

I don’t want to care who is behind the ISIS or why they do what they do or what will happen next. I don’t want to care about the Ebola or how many children are going to die because of it. I don’t want to care how my meat is treated before it is slaughtered.

I don’t want any bad thing to happen to people or animals. But there is nothing I can do that will help them. I can’t cure Ebola or financially help misfortune people or fight the ISIS or the Syrian regime or defend this or that. I even fade up from talking or writing about the bad things that are happening in the world.

When I go to bed my worry is not about the well being of others rather it is about whatever sanity, if any, left in my brain. It is about whether there is an answer to THIS LIFE.