To do this it meant that as a secular Australian I had to renounce my secularism and had to embrace the Islamic faith by becoming a muslim myself. I was 10 weeks pregnant with Bo – which of course was illegal in the country I was in, being out of wedlock, in an islamic village. On the day I became muslim, I sat in a Masjid (mosque) with two leaders of the faith and I had to recite several passages of the Qu’ran. I was asked several times if I was sure I wantd to make this decision, I was also asked several times (very gently I might add) if anyone was pressuring me to make this decision – but of course my answers were yes, and no. I was there on my own accord (of course). I did this not necessarily because I loved the faith but because i loved the man I wanted to marry – but I would not have done this had I not believed in the faith itself. I read a translated version of the Qu’ran. I worried over the decision that I was making – knowing the state of the world that we live in. But at the end of the day, the decision was not a difficult one.
I lived in a strictly Islamic village for more than three years. I walked into that village with all kinds of misconceptions of what it meant to be muslim and I left realising how wrong our system of judgement truly is. In all of my time living in that village the only time I ever heard of extremist attacks or terrorism was on the news – and I tell you the locals were more shocked and saddened by this than any traveller you could meet. I lived the life of a free and independent woman. Whilst I came across some certain quirks along the way – I was able to overcome these with a witty tongue and a good sense of humour. I was accepted as a western woman with western ways and I was never discriminated against because of my secular beliefs. It was more than two years into my time there that I became a muslim (on paper) and after such I was never forced to do anything at all. I was respected for my respect for the faith and my choice to continue to practice my secular faith by not going to the mosque and not praying to Allah. I was respected in my differences as I respected the locals in the faith that was such a gentle thread that held the community together. I was pregnant during Ramadan and so did not fast but had I not been, I probably would have. The Islamic religion is full of a lot of beauty and is built upon very similar foundations of every religion in the world. A foundation of respect, of love, of forgiveness and morality.
A mosque neighbouring a church is not unusual in Indonesia. In fact, I know of several towns in central Java where there is a mosque and a christian church next door to one another, and never a problem has been reported. I have sat outside of such a place and watched almost simultaneous services take place with the upmost respect between them.
I’m not sure exactly why we live in a western culture that is so hell bent on Islamaphobia and my heart goes out to muslim people living in western countries during such difficult political times. My ex husband just moved to Australia and my heart goes out to him – as I know his prayer schedule will be more difficult now working in a world that does not reconginse his religion, that he will have to face judgement and discrimination in areas of his life that he does not deserve. He is a peaceful muslim man, his faith is very personal to him and it is never outwardly projected into the world. It hurts my heart that he (and all those that we both know and don’t know) may be finding difficulties during this time.
We know that with terrorist attacks occurring around the world, terrible things happening this week in several different countries – that more often than not this becomes a debate around religion – fuelling the already racist machine that is the Australian media.
I find that my heart hurts for the people who have lost loved ones, for the people who have been hurt, for the lives that have been lost and for the lives that have been irrevocably changed and damaged by the terrorist attacks all over the world at the end of last week. We live in a state of great discontent and together we must hold together and try to live without fear. but my heart hurts equally for the muslims of the world who right now are facing further discrimination and potential danger – as they always do in the wake of such attacks.
Let me remind people – a muslim person is a person first, every muslim I know denounces any and all acts of terrorism in the name of their faith and has deep empathy for those who are suffering.
Let me remind people that true faith, whatever that may be is a way of understanding what can often be a difficult and painful world to live in.
Let us not let these acts of violence tear us apart. Let us not let these acts create the disharmony and the international mistrust that they aim for. Let us band together and push back. Let us together demand a more united front against terrorism, where no matter our race or our religion, no matter our background or our heritage, no matter our god our our science – we stand together as one. As human.
Let us remember that faith, like hope… is an anchor in a continually changing world. Whilst I do not have a great personal (religious) faith of my own – I have great faith in the human race. Faith that gives me hope that we can overcome the terrible divide that we have created for ourselves.
Faith that we can come to remember what will always be true.
We are stronger together.
- None Found