No easy escape for me this week, it would seem. Next week, then? Probably not. I had better get used to the idea that my next 10 months or so are written in stone. At work by 8:30, lunch, and then home. Check the http://www.usajobs.opm.gov site for a likely job writing for the forest service or something like that, and that’s about it. (This is what living is supposed to be all about? It hardly seems credible.)
A couple of weeks ago, the Dear Husband promised me that we would not be stuck like this indefinitely. Morocco is the promised land, where I won’t have to work and we can raise four munchkins. (Because four will give us at least one that has red hair, I guess. I’m pretty sure his math is flawed, but that’s for another day.) And at first blush, Morocco seems ideal. All I really want is a hammock and the ability to breathe. Morocco, Argentina, Belize… All of these places seem like reasonable choices for being broke and happy.
See, there is a small problem, and the problem is the Muslim/Islam thing. Not that the hubby has ever asked or pushed or requested that I consider converting to Islam. Not that I’m under any pressure to cover my hair or pray or anything like that. (My awareness of the Islam question as it relates to my relationship always goes up around Ramadan, which starts tomorrow.) So none of these thoughts are in any way coerced by the husband, just in case anyone was worried.
I don’t want to be Muslim. I don’t want to be anything, actually. I’ve shed Christianity and have not really felt a need to replace it. Okay, so I occasionally see an Episcopalian church and want to go in and have myself some communion, but it isn’t because I have a real attachment to the doctrine of the Trinity or feel a need for the cleansing blood of Christ. The Christian emphasis on the death of Christ has always seemed macabre and a little ghoulish, never mind the protestant obsession with the time of trouble and Jesus’ return to the earth. I’m pretty okay with my nebulous set of beliefs. None of the items currently on offer (neopaganism, wicca, Buddhism, born-again Christianity) are sufficiently compelling to fill the hole in my life that giving up on Seventh-Day Adventism is supposed to have left. Yes, that’s right. I feel no hole where a religion should be.
As far as religions go, Islam isn’t that bad. I find little to object to in the 5 pillars of faith, which (roughly) are:
1) Believe there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is Allah’s prophet.
2) Give money to the poor.
3) Pray 5 times a day.
4) Spend the month of Ramadan refocusing your life and living in solidarity with the poor by fasting.
5) If you can afford it, visit Mecca for the Hajj.
I believe there is something out there that humans have always called God, and if Allah is the name you want to use, go for it. Mohammed can be a prophet, I have no issue with that. Helping out those in need is worthwhile and ought to be done. Praying is generally good for you. Refocusing your life and living in solidarity with poor people is commendable. Visiting Mecca would be a good thing to do, I’m sure. See? No problems with the five pillars of faith.
So what is the problem?
There are few things I’m willing to practice in the same way it was practiced 1400 years ago. For instance, I imagine that breathing hasn’t changed much in the intervening years. Similarly, having sex is probably accomplished by similar mechanics now as it was with the Greeks. But religion is intrinsically tied to the culture from which it originates. What happens when the culture changes and the religion doesn’t?
I would practice my own idiosyncratic version of Islam, just as I practice my own idiosyncratic way of living, but I fear that is insufficient.
See, this is one good thing about Christianity: As long as you claim to believe in the blood of Christ, you are a Christian. You can be a Mormon or a Unitarian or dance around with rattlesnakes in Arkansas, and you are still a Christian. Granted, the Jehovah’s Witnesses may think that you are not going to heaven, and the Adventists will think that you’ll convert to their way of thinking eventually, and the Unitarians will accept you no matter what, but after accepting Christ as your personal savior, the rest is just a matter of theology.
With Islam, I fear that there is far less acceptance. It hardly seems that one could wake up this morning, announce one’s self an adherent to the principles of the five pillars of Islamic faith, and be in with the community. Living here, it isn’t really a big deal. Hubby and I can both be full participants in the culture. He follows his path, which is probably that of a secular Muslim, right up until Ramadan arrives. I do my thing, which is essentially following the Wicca creed, even if I think Wicca is kind of silly. Basically, do no harm then do what you will. (Doing no harm encompasses far more than you’d initially think, and might be a higher calling to morality than you find in any other creed.) It’s working fine for us at the moment.
But what happens if we move to Morocco? Suddenly, I’m raising somebody’s grandbabies as infidels. The entire family structure that is available to me all wants to know why I’m munching down on dates at noon on the first day of Ramadan. It won’t be acceptable to observe Ramadan by not spending unnecessary money. It won’t be acceptable to practice as I see fit, because nothing but Islam as we believe Mohammed practiced it will do.
There is no good answer. I guess I should have thought about that 4 years ago. Of course, no one really thought that we’d stay married. Not even me…