Religious masquerade


I want to pose a question of thought that I’ve come across through my academic readings.. that question of if religion does REALLY exist? GASP SHOCK HORROR! How can a person who claims to believe in a religion ask such a thing? Well I’d like to think a bit further about the idea of religion, faith, and belief. What is faith? What is belief? What is religion?

I don’t claim to know the answers to these questions but I want to shed light on my thoughts. But just a disclaimer to those who may think I’m doubting my faith. I am not. I am simply thinking about what my faith may have become. Perhaps there’s a possibility that my faith has been masked by religion. A name that’s been given a label, an image, a stereotype if you like. Perhaps if you scramble up some images of ‘muslims’ (taking out the wrongly assumed terrorist inclination) you’ll find a girl in a hijab and a long abaya. Or even in a niqaab. You may find a bearded man in Arab dress or a traditional Pakistani piece of clothing. You may even find that the most ‘religious’ have to abide to these images, otherwise they simply can’t be of the standing that we see them…

…or perhaps we’ve lost sight of what we should be seeing. Perhaps the person under the hijab isn’t the perfect muslimah. Perhaps the imam that everyone shamed for wearing jeans and a jumper had a better connection to god than the one who was in full Arab clothing. Perhaps the girl who’s fully covered head to toe has more of a struggle fulfilling her daily duties to god than the girl who’s hair falls free.

Perhaps we’ve become so used to the mask of religiousness that we hide behind, that we’ve forgotten the faith that builds the image. I am in no way saying that those who cover or have a beard are masking themselves. I too cover my hair. In fact I am questioning why individuals may do those things. Im questioning purpose and I’m suggesting that faith can’t have a look. It can’t be seen. Once you have built faith you’ll want to do certain things, but at the same time have we become so obsessed with the image of our religion that we’ve forgotten the faith that builds the motives for the way we do things?

Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying that dressing in a certain way is wrong. I’m picking at the thought that we perceive peoples faith from the way they dress or look or stage themselves perhaps too easily. We judge their ‘religiousness’ on an outer scale without even speaking them.. and it almost makes it seem like a facade.

I know it’s pretty dense to think that religion is a construct, but perhaps we’ve constructed it too rigidly for it to be faithful. We need to stop teaching our young people how to look like a muslim first thing. First we need to teach them manners, good character, love for god, love and respect for others. Then they’ll discover all the little things that characterise their faith. We need to teach them that the outer self forms from the inner self. We need to teach them faith, not outer religion. We’ve become so focused on the outer that we’ve forgotten what we’re really doing it for…

But like I say… these are just my thoughts, but I think we all need to start thinking. God is all hearing, all seeing. He knows what’s in every single heart and only he truly knows who carries faith. Even if their outer may perceive they’re of a certain standing. think of the guy/girl who is declined by religious society but somehow keeps trying. Think about the one who people look down on instantly because they’re not looking a certain way…

Next time you go into the prayer room or into the isoc or into the place of worship, look around. Identify everyone. They’re there, but did they ever question why? What makes you go back and pray? Is it your faith? Or is it the religion you follow? Let’s start looking beyond the image we’ve been taught to see as ‘religious‘. Let’s start accepting EVERYONE as people of faith. Encouraging love, kindness and oneness of god. Then surely everything else will follow Insha’Allah. Only God knows what truly lies in our hearts.

I’d like to poke the final thought that faith is the fundamental foundation for any action that we do – religion is a title that’s been put forward to group faith. Perhaps we’ve become so focused on the title that we’ve forgotten the foundations…

May we be forgiven for anything we may have done knowingly and unknowingly. Ameen.

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