On Religion and Judgement
Why people suck sometimes…
I have been struggling with the idea of organized religion for many years now. I never stopped believing in God, but I definitely didn’t subscribe to all the features of religion in the way that most people see it. I think it came from a sense of being jaded over time — constantly seeing people who proclaimed to do all the right things religiously, but were actually terrible people (okay, correction…did terrible things).
Additionally, even though I hate to do this, I have to also blame some part of this jaded sense on the critical thinking and questioning taught by Western liberal education. Of course, I am so grateful for all my educational opportunities, but I have to admit that some part of being open to the idea that everyone, with their differences, can also be right, has a negative effect on staunch faith. I believe it to be a given.
However, I also believe that you need to create a sort of balance where you’re not so arrogant that you can never appreciate someone else’s point of view, but can also see your perspective and faith as having enough value that it can be defended by you with a clear head and heart.
For so long, I had a hard time saying what religion I belonged to. So much so that some of my best friends had no idea until 1–2 years after knowing me — I had just become so good at avoiding the subject. I had learned how to talk about religion without ever revealing anything about myself.
I’m a Muslim.
It is definitely a strong part of my values and identity. I think the conflict comes in when I think about what others will think or say when they hear that and compare that to what they’re seeing i.e. someone who doesn’t wear hijab, thus, someone who is a “bad Muslim”.
You won’t believe how many times I’ve heard the phrase “You don’t look like a Muslim”. It comes just about as often as “You don’t look like a Kenyan”.
Seriously? What are either of those supposed to “look” like?
Instead of causing so much internal identity conflict, I wish people would just learn to accept that they can’t and should not fit everyone into a box.
I know, I know, it’s a biological feature that humans use to defend themselves.
But, I’m sick of it and people need to stop categorizing others.
I once had someone ask me in the middle of a crowded hallway what my religion was…as they were walking past! What?! How is that appropriate?
Of course, I have to understand that in different contexts, people place different value on religion. I have no issue with that, but I also think that if you think it’s something important, you really should be more careful about the topic and not ask it as if you’re asking that “How are you?” where you do it because you feel obligated to and not because you actually want to know. Or instead, the kind of question where you already think you know the answer, but I just waiting to see what someone will say.
In short, people, just be more sensitive about randomly asking people their religion. Thanks.
What do you think about this topic? Have you had a similar experience?