Tag Archives: atheist

What Would You Do?

You wake up startled and find yourself on an airplane. The rest of the seats are empty.

Leaning over to the window, you see impassive clouds hovering over a sparkling sea miles below.You don’t know how you got into the plane and you have no idea where you are going or why.

What would you do next?

Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, or search for answers?

In this context, I suspect most would agree that it would be abnormal to just sit back and enjoy the ride, unaware of how you wound up a passenger on an empty plane and where the plane is headed.

If confronted with the above hypothetical situation, most people would probably get up, walk around and look for some sort of message or clue as to how they ended up on the plane and why. Many would not rest until finding some kind of answers.

Yet, how many people don’t ever stop to think about why they are here, living on Earth, and where they are going? How many people reach old age without ever having asked the question, “What is the purpose of life?” and without ever having found the clear, undoubtable answer to that question?

How can we sit back and enjoy the ride when we didn’t put ourselves here? How can we relax, not knowing our final destination?

Virtually everything around us has a purpose. When we see intricate gadgets or lofty buildings we effortlessly understand that those objects did not spontaneously come into being on their own. If we find a watch or a smartphone lying on the ground, we would scoff at the notion that it automatically materialized from nothing.

When we observe the detail and function within our bodies and consider mankind’s inventive abilities, it is natural to conclude that there is a creative force behind our existence.

If we are in fact confident that there is a cause for our existence, the next natural questions are who or what? and why?.

Back in 1998,  after careful exploration, consideration and introspection, I abruptly arrived at the conclusion that there must be some force – some originator of the astonishing wonders of the Earth – of humanity and human ingenuity.  I also suddenly felt an innate inclination to communicate with that force as I sat staring out at the deep night sky. So, I spoke, silently and from my heart.  I asked to know. I asked to understand. I was admitting my complete vulnerability and need in that moment. I was also willing to surrender to whatever it was, knowing its greatness, knowledge and abilities must be, by necessity, beyond compare.

After listening to countless stories related by people who’ve found and accepted Islam as their way of life, it has become apparent to me that almost all of our unexpected journeys to Islam began with an instance where we implored the Originator, sincerely wanting to know and understand.

Collectively, we are riding the vehicle of time; moving forward whether or not we like it. We have virtually no control over time’s passing, over our growth and our eventual deterioration, or whether or not our lives are cut short before we reach old age. Our journeys’ lengths are unknown to us.

By acknowledging this, it is similar to the parable I presented at the outset, and the most rational course of action is to pursue knowledge of the inherent purpose for which we have been made, and then to strive to fulfill it successfully.

It’s the difference between leaving our vehicle on autopilot, or taking control of our direction and safe arrival at our ultimate destination.

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I Was Born Muslim

Did you know everyone was born in a state of Islam?

It’s true.

I didn’t choose my gender… did you?

I didn’t choose my eye color or hair. I didn’t choose my country; my family, my language.

I was born in submission. I was born a Muslim.

We all were.

But humans only remain in the state of natural Islam for a short time until our free will kicks in; Then it’s up to us what we do and what we believe.

You were taught to be a Christian, or a Jew, or an Atheist, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist or whatever you might have been as a child. 

I used to go to Catholic church, because my family is Catholic.

But we all have had a spiritual spark embedded in us. Kind of like a homing feature.

It’s our intrinsic spiritual and moral disposition. In Arabic, it’s called the fitrah.

It is the reason why some  people search for truth. They know there is something more to this life.

Do you remember wondering?

You probably had all kinds of big questions, like:   Why are we here?   What’s the purpose of life?   How do we know if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing?   What happens when we die?   Why is there suffering?   What is reality?

Does God exist?

In some though, especially after time passes and questions go unanswered, that spark can be completely buried and forgotten.

There are other tools and evidence that support the fitrah though; if we are willing to look.

My unique fingerprint is a sign.

Snowflakes, fruits, the sun and the moon are all signs.

When I look in the mirror at the features I didn’t choose, I remember where I came from.

As I age and begin to notice, that the lines on my face don’t disappear after I smile anymore;

I remember where I am going. 

Freely choosing to submit to the guidance provided by our Maker is like following the instruction manual for a machine. It doesn’t make any sense to use a refrigerator as a bookshelf or a computer as a chair.

I would’t use my lawnmower on my hardwood floor or my vacuum in my garden.

Following the guidance is like that. Using your existence for it’s purpose.

The sense of relief that comes with that is indescribable.

When you align your will with the supreme will of the one who designed us, you accept that you have curly hair, or brown eyes. You realize you couldn’t have been born to be a little taller or more attractive. You are supposed to be just how you are.

You then focus on the things you can control: choosing between good and bad actions, using your time wisely.

You can stop fighting what can’t be fought.

And the link between the two involuntary submissions: birth and death, is complete.

It’s the only way to make the transition from one, to the other

in peace.

When Muslims Move In

My family and I moved into this quiet neighborhood several years ago.

I’d say I’m generally an outgoing and friendly person, but when we first moved in, I was actually a little afraid to cross paths with my neighbors.

Naturally, I would be inclined to go knock on their doors and introduce myself; but subconsciously I wondered if they would gasp…

What if they were in there talking about the horror of Muslims moving into their neighborhood?

That fear, that shyness, prevented me from being myself.

Thankfully a lady, who is now my closest friend in the neighborhood, walked over while I was out in the yard with my children. She introduced herself and struck up a friendly chat.

She put me at ease.

She removed my fear of not being welcome, or worse; of being hated.

Since then I’ve established great relationships with all of my immediate neighbors.

I am telling this story because I still do have fears. I fear that if a Muslim moves into your neighborhood that they might give the impression of being unfriendly.

They might keep to themselves.

Looking at them from a distance, they might seem strange to you. You might feel compelled to ignore them.

To just pretend they aren’t there.

But they might just feel the same way I did. They might be afraid they aren’t welcome.

Lets face it, we know what they are saying about us on TV…
and in the papers…
and all over the Internet.

We know.

And sometimes it’s hard to imagine that you haven’t been affected by it.

That you are exposed to those negative caricatures of Muslims so readily, yet somehow it doesn’t determine your opinion of us.

But my own experience proves that not everyone is so impressionable.

I have valuable relationships,
people in my life;
caring and reliable people around me

that are proof.

The Quran teaches us that God has created all the variation in humanity so that we can know each other.

The variation creates interest. It gives us something to talk about.

We all have something to learn from one another because we are different.

If we look at it that way- then life with each other becomes beautiful and rich.

Filled with curiosity and learning…

Which leads to understanding and compassion.

It

is

possible.

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Who is Allah?

When you hear the word Allah, what do you think? What comes to mind?

When you hear the word God, what comes to mind?

Before I was Muslim, I didn’t like religion. When I heard the word “God” I used to cringe. After a lot of reflection though, in my late teens, I decided there must be some kind of “force” out there- but I wouldn’t call it “God” (even in my private thoughts)… Just because I didn’t know what it was- or how I could know.

Now, even though I commonly use the word God in order to explain aspects of Islam, I prefer to say Allah.

Here’s why: Allah is the name of God.

If you look into history, you will discover that not one prophet or original religious scripture that we know of, referred to God as God.

Abraham, Moses and Jesus did not use the word God. Look up the etymology of the word yourself and you will see it’s origin is not from God as far as we know.

An additional issue with the word God is that it can be made plural. There can be one God or many gods. So often when I refer to God this way I will qualify it with a description such as “the One and Only God, Who created everything”.

Some assume when we say Allah, that we are referring not to their God, but some other concocted god. But I assure you that when we say Allah, we are referring to The One who created you and me. It is the same word Christian Arabs use for God, and similar to what we know that Jesus used to call God.

Other reasons I prefer to say Allah are because that is the name He has called Himself and the word itself embodies the meaning of who God really is.

The word Allah is formed as a combination of “al” (the) and “ilah” (one who is worshipped). So in English if you were to say “THE God” or “the One true God” or “the only One worthy of worship”, all of these describe the meaning of the word “Allah”.

So next time you hear someone say Allah, remember it means the One True God, the only One worthy of worship. Not the moon, or a building in the desert or a “god of another religion” but our Creator. The One who sustains us and provides all our blessings.

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