I’ve had this thought (this anger, this sadness, this helplessness) for so long, but when I opened my laptop to write about this, I needed a moment to stop and ask myself, where do I begin? Before you start, please know that this is purely my opinion.
Lately—actually, for the last few months—I have been having a crisis. Not a moral crisis, but rather one of an ideology. You see, I’m a moslem. Always have been and God permits, always will be. That being said, I am ashamed to admit that I have been feeling disdainful towards many acts done in the name of my religion. There are so many awful things that have been done in the name of religion, including and maybe especially my religion.
First of all being terrorism. As much as I hate the Western stereotype that Islam = terrorist, I do see why they feel that kind of hatred and fear. Sure, not all moslems are terrorist, but many of terrorism acts are done by those who claim to be moslem—in the name of Islam. And thus Islamophobia arises. It deeply breaks my heart to see how many first world citizens view Islam. How they insult and say awfully wrong things about my religion in comment sections on social medias. It is awful to see how something so peaceful could be seen as a vile thing. But however, I think that maybe screaming and insisting that, ‘We are Moslem and we are not terrorist! Islam is a religion of peace!’ is not enough, not unless we acknowledge that yes, there are violent, extremist moslems out there who misinterpret the teachings of Islam. It’s not enough, unless we make an effort to counter those violent extremisms. Teach children not only about how to pray and how to read the Holy Koran, but how to respect other faiths, to live hand-in-hand instead of head-to-head. But how can we, when many of us still justify acts of violence towards those who are supposedly ‘our enemy’?
Let me take you back to the whole Ahok debacle during DKI Jakarta election. It's very stupid, demanding Ahok to be imprisoned because he had said something about the Koran when WE KNOW that the fact had been twisted and turned to fit a certain image and agenda. It’s awfully ridiculous to see how easy to rally people towards a cause using religion. It’s even more saddening how aforementioned Ahok haters refuse to menyolatkan jenazah people who support Ahok. I find it highly hypocritical that they accuse a credible man of doing blasphemy when they don’t really fit the image of peaceful moslems.
Do you think that what is being done by Indonesian moslem will not affect in the global image of Islam itself? Wrong. Here’s a little story. I went to a student conference in Singapore with some of my friends, one of them a moslem who wears a hijab. A Singaporean student with Chinese ethnicity asked her, ‘Aren’t you supposed to hate the Chinese?’ You see, this is what perpetuates the image of intolerant moslems. I am irrevocably angry with those people who use religion as a justification for their hatred, why do I have to take the brunt of your hatred? I never want to hate those who are different with me. Why do you use my faith?
Another thing that becomes the root of my dilemma of the concept of religion is that how so many of us still find it hard to accept what others believe. Isn’t it enough to believe on what you believe without shoving your belief down others’ throat? And belittling them of their faith? So many ridiculous things have been done by some irresponsible moslems in Indonesia. Attacking church, not letting Christians celebrate Christmas, and so on. What is it about the ‘majority’ status that makes them behave so....insidiously? Your amount of followers should not grant you the right to trample others under your feet. You want to ‘free’ moslem Palestinians who are ‘under the Jews clutch’ but yet you opress those who are different from you in your homeland.
Hell, even my mom used to say about how she thinks christianity’s Trinity concept is ‘silly.’ How could they have three Gods? She snickered. I felt so hurt back then. Why would she say that, when her own understanding of the aforementioned concept is limited. Why would there be a need to belittle faiths that we don’t believe in? Religions should not be a competition. They are a way of life, a guide, isn’t that what we always say?
Don’t even get me started on the whole Palestine-Israel debate, so many moslems who are not even Palestinians are using the ‘playing victim’ narrative to condemn the Jews and kill them. See, so much destruction over religion—when it’s not even a religious conflict. Who are we trying to impress? God, or our ego?
All these toxic hatred has shaken what I view as religion, my religion. Why should we hang on to something that does so much harm? Those are just few examples. I have so many conflicting dilemmas between what I (because yes, sadly I can think for myself) believe to be right and what my religion (or at least the interpretation of it) tells me to do. This is made worse by my background and influences—coming from a moslem family with a very religious mom, and going to a liberal university with openminded people. Am I a bad moslem for wanting the LGBT+ community get the equal treatment they deserved? Am I a bad moslem for standing up for gender equality, that women have autonomy? Am I a bad moslem for not wanting to blindly hate the Jews? Who knows.
But I do believe there are wonderful, kindhearted, religious people out there. And I am still very much afraid of Allah. Because no matter what has happened, I devotedly believe that my God is kind and forgiving, that’s why we lean on Him. So I keep believing. And praying. And hoping that I will soon have more heartfelt reason to pray than doing it out of fear.
*Tl;dr stop using religion to fuel your hatred.