Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Believer's Real Home

A couple of years ago, I met a Persian guy somewhere in Italy. We talked about a lot of things. And by a lot, I mean we actually spent hours just sitting and chatting in front of this square overlooking a huge fountain.

"You're a Malaysian Muslim right?" he asked me. I nodded. "Ramadan is coming. Are you really going to do it? It's summer, it's like 40 degrees out, and the day is reeeeally long."

I told him I'd try. I've been doing it my whole life in Malaysia and it's not exactly chilly there either. It's all about willpower.

"Why are you asking? Aren't you going to have to do the same thing as well?" I asked.

"Nahh.. I was born and raised a Muslim, in Iran. But now I'm pretty much agnostic, I don't do Ramadan," he replied.

"So you don't believe in the afterlife? Hell and heaven?"

"Well, I do believe in God. But all the other stuff sounds made up," he said, followed by a pregnant pause. He obviously was thinking of something and choosing the right words to express his following thoughts.

"The thing is," he continued, "I watched my people get oppressed since my early childhood, all in the name of God. Hell I, too, was oppressed, only I was too young to realize it and thought that was how Islam was supposed to be. When I had the chance to go overseas, I saw different things that made me second guess my culture and eventually give up my faith altogether. By the time I discovered the real teachings of Islam, I was already too pissed to actually consider going back to it."

His voice trailed off, so I remained silent.

"Every time my people got shit thrown in their faces, the only thing they'd say was 'Let's all just persevere and get through this. We'll all get the best reward in the end. Jannah (heaven). That's what God promises us.'"

He then looked me straight in the eye and said, "And those wishful words make me hope there is actually Heaven, because these people really deserve to be in it."

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