Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Why am I a muslim?

I'm a horrible blogger *hangs head in shame* I went away to visit my grandma this weekend, got stuck in the snow, learned how to knit, went coat shopping and completely neglected my blog.

Prior to this blog, I kept a livejournal where I would occasionally dabble in religious topics. One of my favorites was an entry I wrote while slacking off in my computerized legal research class nearly a year ago. Why am I dragging up my ancient online journalling past? I would like to do a series of entries on the reasons I am a muslim. This entry explains one of the major reasons:

It is recorded that the blessed prophet of God, Muhammad (saws) said:

"Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever is not kind has no faith." (recorded in the hadith collection of Muslim)

"Whoever is kind, Allah will be kind to him; therefore be kind to man on the earth. He Who is in heaven will show mercy on you." (recorded in Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi)

"Allah will not give mercy to anyone, except those who give mercy to other creatures." (Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi)

People often wonder why I converted to Islam. For most, it's difficult to grasp why a semi radical feminist, lover of the environment and all around liberal would embrace a faith that is characterized by bearded foreign terrorists and mullahs who foam at the mouth while threatening everyone with death.

It's difficult to explain, and oft times, I'm left rambling on, stammering something or other that leaves the person completely unsatisfied and possibly thinking that I'm brainwashed. I wish I had the words to express what it is that has drawn me to this faith.

Part of the reason I can't explain it well is that there are some rather complex theology issues that don't lend themselves well to a simple explanation. But, another reason is that it is hard to explain to someone who is only familiar with the negatives of muslims (and oh, do we have a lot of negatives) that I am, as a 21st century midwestern american woman, truly, deeply, madly love a man who lived and died 1400 years ago.

When I sit down and read the seerah (biography) of the Prophet (saws), something inside me feels a true connection to him, and although I never will know him in this life (perhaps in the hereafter inshaAllah!), he has had a profound impact on how I live my life. Hadith like those at the start of the post get me through each day.

I was going to go into some deep thoughts on the Prophet (saws), but alas, I'm in my computerized legal research and need to pay some attention to what the prof is saying. So, I'll say this:

If one wants to know about muslims, read a biography of the Prophet (saws). Don't just read about the battles he fought, or the typical things polemicists will trot out to "prove" muslims are violent because the Prophet (saws) was. Read his life from the beginning until the end.

Part of the reason I am posting is that we are now in the Islamic month Rabi ‘Awwal. In this month, the Prophet Muhammad (saws) was born. Across the muslim world, we celebrate his birth in the Mawlid an-Nabi. CAIR (aka Council on American Islamic Relations) has a website dedicated towards education about the Prophet Muhammad (saws). On it, you can order (for free!) a copy of the PBS documentary about the Prophet (saws). Unfortunately, they're really slow about sending them out.

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