Thursday, July 22, 2010

Grey areas abound in religion

Something to think about for the young Muslim.

Life is all about the grey area. When I was growing up I wasn't sure where I belonged in the world of religion. The way religion was taught in the Arab world was always in absolutes. While I didn't know much when I was young, I knew that I could not live in a black or white, either-or world. This was made most clear through a sermon delivered by a young imam who was studying for his doctorate at the Harvard Divinity School.

Speaking to a group of Muslim students, Imam Talal Eid said, "If you ask me whether charging interest is haram (forbidden) in Islam, I would say yes and I would quote chapter and verse from the Qur'an for you."

After a long pause, he went on to say, "But if I didn't pay for my car with an installment loan, I wouldn't be able to come here to talk to you about Islam."

With that simple, expressive example between the absolute and the relative, the imam carved out a place of tolerance and compromise for me. He made it safe for me to be the judge of my own actions, to set my own course, to walk to the beat of my own drum. He made it safe to make my own rules using the lessons I learned with the heart and mind that God gave me. No one could force me to walk away from my duty as a Muslim, by insisting there was only one way to live my life and practice my faith.
-Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa

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