WHO I AM AND WHY ISLAM
I've been called a "Seeker" by more than one person I've come across in my life. A seeker being one who searches for truth and light and doesn't settle for anything less. I guess, in many ways I can see how that label suits me and hopefully you'll understand as well when I'm through with this writing.
My folks raised me in the Catholic faith and though it was the foundation of my early religious development, I didn't stay with it. One of those reasons being my parents didn't share the same faith. My mother raised us in the Catholic faith at my father's request (because of pressure from his mother). Another reason being Catholocism didn't satisfy me spiritually. I may have been too young to understand the concept of spirituality (even now it's an elusive concept), but I knew something was lacking. I found my interests pulled in other directions during my highschool years and I stumbled upon the Church of Christ.
With the Church of Christ I discovered dedication and devotion to one's religious beliefs. I was a member of the Church of Christ which claimed, at the time, to be the "True" Church of Christ (COC). Those of you familiar with COC history will recall Merie Weiss, perhaps. This is the period of my religious life where I discovered the value of study (of the Bible in this case) and question and then more study to solidify one's belief in one's chosen faith. I learned about self evaluation; being aware of one's motives and one's inner self. You cannot apply the Word of God if you cannot see honestly where you are lacking. I began to understand the importance of common community with fellow believers, e.g. fellowship. But, study was what actually showed up the inconsistencies in my beliefs and I began to look elsewhere for answers.
I was stationed in the Philippines, at the base in Angeles City, and though I thought maybe I could become involved again with the Church of Christ, I found it not to be what my spirit needed. It's at this time I became aware of Wikka and the esoteric arts. And, before you say, "Devil Worship", I assure you the beliefs of Anton Levay did not enter into my studies on any level. When I returned to the US I found a group (Raven's Cry) with which I studied and eventually attained my First Degree as a witch. My Second Degree was attained with a branch of that group that had broken away. I learned more about spirituality and light and the pursuit of such in this stage of my development than I had previously understood to be possible. I became discontent as I realized that some of the very elements of humanity I see as weakness were very much a part of the lives of many of the people I touched. I didn't see the desire to rise above and become more than what one was on a spiritual level in many if any of my fellow practitioners. And, also I found the need for consistency in doctrine that wasn't just written by another human being and that could be traced back to many generations and the earlier times of recorded history. I grew weary of hearing, "...this is a family tradition, so we know it's valid." or, "...yes, I'm a traditional (witch, druid, or what have you) as passed down through my family line." I need a little more than word of mouth if I'm going to stake my soul on it. Though I learned the importance of personal responsibility for one's own spirituality as a Wikkan and I still hold that to be very important, I grew away from my involvement with Wikka and the Pagan community. As I was becoming more disinclined to Wikka, and the Pagan community in general, I thought I might find soul's solace in Buddhism.
The one problem I had with Buddhism was there wasn't anything to satisfy my need for intellectual stimulation. It was all very touchy-feelie to me. I even found the idea of meditating in a group with one person (the monk) leading the mediation to be rather more disturbing than enlightening. I was concurrently becoming more and more interested in Islam.
To be honest when I first came in contact with Muslims I had no intention of becoming Muslim. I was interested in learning the language, as I have always enjoyed the language, but never had time to pursue it on a regular basis or been in a location where there was a teacher available. One of the first very glaring realities was that all the hype against Islam was nothing more than propaganda, the ramblings of individuals ignorant of what Islam truly teaches. I can understand some misconception because being from a nonMuslim culture, one cannot be expected to be able to identify the cultural influences present in the different ways in which Islam is practiced. Now, don't get me wrong. We pray the same, we observe the Eids, we attend Jumu'a. But, when you look at the obvious differences in lifestyle between, say, my Pakistani brothers and sisters and my Jordanian brothers and sisters, or between Yemeni and Egyptian, you understand that it's the cultural influences not any discrepencies in the practice of Islam that are observing. The Quran is not so constricting a directorate that makes us all automatons with no diversity, but rather it allows for the diversity of peoples while unifying them in the worship of Allah.
Islam is what has brought together, for me, the elements of community, knowledge, and responsibility for one's own spirituality. Because, when I stand on the Judgement Day to give account or have account given for me, I will be held responsible for any lapses not my priest, not my HP or HPs, not anyone else that I would wish to blame. The Quran encompasses and transends the doctrines of Bible and Torah, showing what should have been while revealing what they have become. I find it more acceptible and believable that the Quran is the final message when the messages (all from the same devine power and all bearing the same message) which were given before were changed, tainted, or otherwise polluted.
For me, Islam answers the many questions of why we are and who we are. I don't need to search further on my journey for Truth and Light. I've found it.