In Which My Expectations and Reality Disagree

minaretStarting at Ramadan, I began a very serious study of Islam. Originally, I thought I would join in the Ramadan fast as well. That intention didn’t go so well, not because I can’t follow the discipline of fasting, but because I took on too much all at once and got disoriented and overwhelmed. I am thinking of trying to pick up the fast again now that I feel better. Islam is very dense, a scholar’s religion that has various factions which take umbrage with each other’s interpretations. Nothing new to me there. The tiny town I grew up in had something like 25 different Protestant churches that were all splinters of an original two or three. Some of them only had a dozen people in them, but they were all sure that theirs was the one, true, correct way.

It’s harder to navigate that morass of competing interpretations and arguing sects in a religion that is far removed from your culture of birth. Plus, it’s the internet. People get fixated on points that are somewhat bizarre and not important in the greater scheme of things. I’m starting to relax a bit and feel less threatened by weird stuff, especially as I continue through the “New Muslim” lessons and figure out which things are actually core beliefs and which are add-ons or over the top interpretations.

My original goal was to live this for a year, from Ramadan to Ramadan. My current goal is day by day to see how far I get. Eventually I will run out of friendly online lessons and videos of beautiful sisters demonstrating head wraps, and then the going will get real. It’s all very far away from my usual spiritual path, and I’m out here on my own. So far there’s been more similarity in philosophy than difference between Islam and the Christianity I know, which is pretty much what I expected. It’s nothing at all like what I’ve been practicing for the last couple of decades of my life. But where reality and I are having our serious disagreement is in how tough I am at going it alone. I’ve written and discarded several posts in the last week, not willing to face what I fear is the inevitable blow-back from my Islamophobic culture. I still haven’t left the house with my head covered. Yeah, I’ve discovered that I’m a bit more of a coward than I thought! OTOH, if I press post, I guess I am a little braver than I was last week. We’ll see how I do in the long haul, in sha Allah (God willing).

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