Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I long for theoretical simplicity

Okay, you know what I find funny?

So the new blogger dashboard lets you see how many hits a post has gotten, whether or not the people leave a comment. The disparity between the number of hits and the number of comments on some posts...

For example, my last post on the second episode of All-American Muslim has had 172 hits as of this morning. And 3 comments. *eyes the people of the internet* I'm watching you...

I have to say, in spite of all the real life issues the people on the show have and the differences of opinion that are display on how certain aspects of Islam should be lived/practiced it is reminding me of the thing that first attracted me to Islam.

Okay, the *second* thing. The first was the scarves. I'm not going to lie.

What I'm talking about though is the theoretical simplicity of the religion.

There's you and there's God. You're responsible for your own practice and your own understanding/interpretation of the faith. Just: here's the rules, follow them to the best of your ability. And they're not even very complicated or *hard*, on the surface.

1. Shahadah = the declaration of belief in one God & Mohammed as his final prophet
2. Salat = prescribed prayer
3. Sawm = fasting
4. Zakat = charity/alms
5. Hajj = pilgrimage (and that's only if you're physically and financially able to at some point in your life)

It seems so simple laid out like that, right?

Of course it, like everything else in life, is more complicated than it appears on the surface. Eh. Anyway. Just feeling sort of nostalgic somehow.


  1. I'm proud to be one of those three who commented on your AAP post! :)

    Well, reinvestigate Islam. Maybe it's the one for you. And the scarves are a nice perk! :)

  2. It's up to four, now! Something like 204 hits and seven comments total. *continues to eye the internet people*

    Ah, I think not. In spite of the seeming theme of my posts lately I'm not looking for a different faith. I have my flights of fancy, I guess, and there's still some...leftovers but I think that's going to be permanent. I'm never going to find something that I *click* with entirely because I'm a doubter.

    However, I really do believe in Christianity, specifically Orthodox Christianity. I'm going to do a post and sort of explain where that's all at.

  3. Also, if I wanted to I could wear the scarf without the religion! ;)

  4. That's true! The scarf is for anyone who wants to wear it! :)

    Oh, I'm eager to read your new post then! I've been wondering where you were the last several, um, months. :)

  5. Wow, didn't know they'd changed that little detail. I wonder how many hits some of my posts have gotten? : )

    Islam is even simpler when you don't believe that the "5 Pillars" even mean what most people think. For example, many Quranists believe that saying shahada isn't necessary or Quranic because it attaches the name of Muhammad alongside that of God, therefore running the risk of idolatry. You don't even have to say anything at all. Just believe in one God. The salat isn't the ritual prayers, but just making contact with God in your chosen manner of prayer on a daily basis (3 or 5 times, all up to you). Fasting is good, of course, but can also refer to abstaining from more than food or drink. It can be like Lent -- giving up something (especially if you know it's bad for you). Giving charity has no set amount and need only be what you can afford. It can also be kindness to others. Pilgrimage is just making the effort to get closer to God and to congregate with other believers, not pouring money into Saudi Arabia's pocket by going to Mecca. Just my two cents. :)

  6. Dear Miss Amber
    I am sorry I have been missing from commenting, I have had a very full schedule and I have only had snatches of time to read and not really reply and encourage.

    I will remedy this, it may make some time. I was knocked sideways having a wisdom tooth out and it all went very wrong. I am on the mend so I will be back on the commenting wagon.

    With regards to what to say to the Priest, I have no idea. It is good that you are formulating the draft letter.

    I can see where he may comment, so I am going to be that voice for 2 mins and challenge you. I hope you don’t mind.

    Firstly, it is admirable with your health that you are with your personal trainer who is helping with honing the outside of you, where is the space and time for the Priest to help you grow and hone your spiritual need.

    I heard or read somewhere that the Simpsons is a role model for families because it has a 2 parent family and it has religion in there, with Flanders showing that ‘Religion is an everyday thing, it isn’t only the one day (just the Sabbath)’.

    Wow, you have a super filled life, the hours of your day are CHOCOBLOCK! When do you relax?
    Well those are my thoughts.

    I hope you and your family are having a lovely thanks giving. If I lived closer to my family I think I would implement this into our year. Make it a tradition.

    We live so fast pace now, that other that Christmas we don’t stop and come together. I need to ponder that.

    Thank you for this post it has also made me think about my more spiritual needs. They are sadly not being met and I am finding life lacking at present.

    Happy Thanks Giving Miss Amber and kin!

  7. Heather,

    It's only visible when you 'upgrade' or whatever to the new format. I like it better than the old format, personally, now that I've gotten adjusted. At first I was like...'Nooooooooooooo! Not change!' Then I got over it. :)

    I went with the most common/well known version of the 5 Pillars. I think, though I'm not positive, that the Shi'a state them a little different and different sects do the same.

    So do the Quranists use a modified shahada? Like only saying the first half, I mean. 'There is no god but God.'? I don't know...if all it requires is monotheism and nothing to be said...it just doesn't seem right though I'm having a hard time expressing *why*.

    Like, okay: Say I believe there's only one God. And so what? Just believing that something exists doesn't mean that we have to interact with it. Where's the impetus?

    "The salat isn't the ritual prayers, but just making contact with God in your chosen manner of prayer on a daily basis (3 or 5 times, all up to you)"

    This all seems very much, 'just do what you want'. Which is appealing on one level, but is that really what religion is about? Only doing what you think you should do? Is the Quranist comprehension of salat as non-ritual prayers based on the lack of information on *how* to pray in the Qur'an? I really do think that the salat refers to the ritual prayers. I think that's clearly something that Mohammed intended to have passed down to future generations of his followers. There's certainly an argument to be had over whether or not he wanted such things passed down through practice and oral teaching or through written instructions, a la the hadith, but that's different.

    Fasting does indeed have many aspects to it. The food and drink are merely the most visible of them, of course.

    Mmm...I thought of the set amount of zakat to be similar to the Christian tithing. There is a 'set' amount, but of course one may give more and there is, obviously, charitable acts.

    The pilgrimage...going just off of my understanding, and this being based on not only Islam but Christianity, a pilgrimage is *to* some place. Getting together with other believers and getting closer to God is something that is good and should be done, but a pilgrimage is going to a site that you consider holy, or important. A trip that is designed to, yes, bring you closer to God in some fashion. But it's really about both the journey *and* the destination in the case of the pilgrimage.

  8. Sol,

    *laughs* Don't worry about it! We all have lives outside of the internet after all. I just wonder, sometimes about all the people who read but don't comment. I think some, like all the hits I get on posts with 'ninja' in the title are just accidental hits. Because ninjas are popular, of course. But others, I do wonder what they're doing here and why they have nothing to say...

    I'm sorry to hear about the trouble you had with your tooth but I'm glad you're starting to get better! :)

    Well, the letter is something of a joke, really. I doubt I'd ever really send something like that, even with the humor/sarcasm removed.

    "where is the space and time for the Priest to help you grow and hone your spiritual need."

    That is the problem in a nutshell, really. My answer is, I don't know. And my inability to find the answer, or to even really feel that I *need* to find the answer is making me wonder if I'm not as committed or believing as I thought I was.

    *laughs* Oh, wow. Um...the Simpsons, imho, should in no way, ever, ever be considered as a role model for families. Unless we want to look at it as proof that having two parents, two heterosexual parents, is no guarantee of raising healthy and well adjusted children. Flanders has *issues*. He's a mocking caricature of the idea of having religion touch every aspect of your life.

    "When do you relax?"

    I don't sleep much. :)

  9. Yeah, I wonder about that too. I've even had people tell me they like my blog in other places, but not actually comment over here on specific posts! At least that's some sort of acknowledgement rather than just staying hidden, I guess. I feel like Blogger at least needs a +1/like option on posts (that doesn't just tie into G+ but could be used by others as well). Then at least there would be an easy, painless, quick way for people to interact and at least let me know what posts are received well and which are maybe a little less interesting to others and I should avoid repeating in the future. Or maybe I just shouldn't care so much what other people want to read, but I do try to create some sort of community with my blog and want input! ;)

    I do like the simplicity of coming into the religion. I think there's a benefit to the more drawn out processes for conversion/joining too, but there's definitely an appeal in the simplicity. I like that ADF has a balance - you can practice it alone and/or even participate with a local group without joining the organization, you can join the organization without actually doing the training programs and learning the details, but if you want a greater degree of participation the programs are there. It seems like maybe Islam is similar? It's very simple, but that doesn't mean there's not a lot of work to do once you've committed to it. And maybe that's true of a lot of other religions, I don't really know.

    Also, scarves! That was what got my interest too, and it kind of adds another level to hijab. Of course it's a personal thing and shouldn't be done just to get attention, but I do think that there is a sort of witness to the world involved, and a lot of women in our culture seem to be really drawn to that, maybe because it's not something we see a lot over here (either the covering or such a visible sign of faith). So when a Muslim woman wears the scarf, it's not just an obedience/modesty thing, but can really easily become a way of making connections and helping other non-Muslim women to find the faith.

  10. Talking about the scarf/mantilla, sailing a round greece over the last 10 years. the slightly older ladies 50+ (sorry that is older than me), all wore a scarf or mantilla to church. Then proceeded to kiss (with lots of lipstick on) all the icons on the walls, when entering the church.

    The priests in their long robes and tall hats never blinked an eye when I say at the back. Always tried to speak to me as I left. My Greek is awful, pigeon fashion from a book. But they all smiled, and one of the men there said he was thanking me for coming. I was the youngest person to had gone on a sunday, other than for christenings. He look a little upset when I said I was off to another island. He smelt fresh blood! lol

    Have you thought about going to Greece?

  11. Well you probably get 2 views from me, cause I'll open up the post to save it for my read it later, read it on my phone, then save it for comementing and open it up to write the comment :P

  12. sanil,

    I guess sometimes people just don't have anything to say. I really do think they need a 'like' or a +1 button on here! Then again, people probably wouldn't think to hit that all the time either. I know I don't... *shrug* Such is life.

    I think that there's both simplicity and complexity in any conversion process. Some just have it more codified than others. Even though it seems simple enough to say, I believe in God and Mohammed is his prophet. It also is simple enough to say that you believe in God and Christ is the Son. What are the base tenets of Christianity? Love God and love your neighbor. That seems pretty simple, right? But then, with any religion, there's always more. *shrug* That's why it's only theoretical simplicity. Actual simplicity in religion doesn't exist I think.

  13. Sol,

    *laughs* Well, 50+ is older than me too, so you're okay calling them older. :)

    I hear that it's a fading tradition, wearing the scarf in Orthodox church services even in Greece. I've seen them do that, kissing the icons. All the women I've seen have, I guess, been very careful with the lipstick though. They haven't left messes behind which is good.

    They didn't want you to leave! :)

    I have thought about going to Greece. And a bunch of other places too. I'd like to travel, someday.

  14. Becky,

    And then you never comment! ;P


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