What It Means to Me to Be Culturally Muslim

(Muhammad Rehan/flickr)

(Muhammad Rehan/flickr)

I’m not kafiera, atheist, nor am I a bad Muslim. I grew up with the faith of “peace” embedded in almost every aspect of my life, from giving back to the underprivileged to treating everyone with respect. The morals of Islam have been ingrained in my mind and heart since my conscience came to exist.

I memorized the fati7a, learned to pray, began to fast as a young teen and I paid my respects at 3azzas. Pious Muslims pass along their traditions and customs to their children hoping that, one day, living a religious life will grant them a place in the kingdom of heaven. It’s not wrong to want or to influence your child’s beliefs. After all, you want the best for your child, and perhaps you believe that Islam is the righteous path to follow to achieve happiness in the life after.

Growing up Muslim was fun, enlightening, but not always easy; especially growing up in post-9/11 America. Despite all the ignorance I faced, I never hesitated to tell people I was Muslim. As I became older I began understanding religion on a more mature level, taking into consideration what my relationship with my God was; I began to realize it wasn’t the traditional relationship. I questioned, challenged, and reconsidered my faith, but I never dismissed it.

I could never comfortably say I was atheist, because I do believe in a religion and I wasn’t satisfied with being agnostic because I can recognize that higher power. I never consistently practiced my religion’s customs, such as praying and fasting. From time to time I would make the decision to do so, but not due to pressure from family or fear of being judged by society. I practice my religion selectivity based on when and how I feel spiritually.

The customs of Islam are full of beauty and rich history, and they’re all part of my culture. The hadith holds a part of history that has blended into my own story, in breaking fast with my family are the roots of el 3eela, coming together to read Quran when someone passes is a custom of healing. The traditions are a part of my culture, and ultimately, a part of who I am.

Whether the so-called religiously enlightened want to accept it or not, I identify as culturally Muslim. How I chose to observe or not observe my faith and culture, which have naturally merged, is my choice and mine alone. Islam has influenced almost every aspect of my social and personal experiences; it is where I find spirituality and is a heritage that I always love. One day I will pass along what I was taught about my religion to my children and allow them to embrace or reject the faith in whatever way they feel comfortable.

 

Originally published on Scoop Empire June 7, 2016

 

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