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Personal Experiences from a Sister
« on: June 23, 2016, 11:52:25 PM »
Dear Brother Joseph,

Assalamu alaykum.

I apologize for not responding right away as I was preparing for work when I received your message. It's truly my pleasure to share that particular experience to you. I hope you don't mind if I add a prelude to it; something which I think would make you understand more why things happened.

My father's a Muslim while my mom used to be a Christian but converted after marriage, and with my father as an exception, our family spent most of our lives being surrounded by Christians. I do not wear a hijab or pray the traditional prayer (although at some point our father would convince us to start practising it), used to fast but never strictly aimed at completing the whole month, and entirely ignorant on Islamic history and practices, more so hadiths. In other words, I (even other members of the family) would never qualify for a Sunni, Shia, or any other popular sect's definition of a Muslim. My father, however, despite his kids being like that, continued to adhere to his practices--praying five times daily, and even fasting alone at times.

It was only during my college years when our parents really tried to push us to do the ritual prayer as opposed to my and my siblings' "Christian-inspired" method (which I learned is called dua just a few years back, wherein, as I understand, one simply talks to God). This was because my father started reading articles shared online in forums, to which he was initially convinced that only three (or was it two, I apologize for forgetting) prayers were required of us. So I started praying twice (or thrice) a day. There might be several instances when my father have stumbled upon various views and considered it for some time maybe, details of which I know nothing about. All i know is he spent years of thinking before the next thing happened.

What became a turning point in our lives not later than two years was when my father came upon Aidid Safar's book. According to him, he struggled with Aidid's ideas at first, even thought it was absurd. But eventually, after a lot of months reading various views particularly those in free-minds, my father started to accept a "deviant" perception of what Islam is really about. He stopped doing all rituals and practices, but continued reading the quran regularly. We naturally followed the head of the family, more so with us looking up to him as a very patient, humble, virtuous man. So we kind of became the Muslim version of born-again Christians. Islam but with all "rituals" taken away.

I was so intrigued by the book that made a man abandon practices he religiously adhered to for more than 50 years. So finally I downloaded and read Aidid Safar's book. This was in 2012.

I cried because it felt liberating for me. It was too radical in my opinion but still i knew it got to me. Easy maybe because I did not have a solid foundation that would otherwise make me resist. I was quite convinced to a point when I felt like I wanted to share it to everyone! So I proceeded to search for reviews for and against his views. So I read and read and read until I found on my own, then eventually your blog. From all of these, I learned a lot including about the existence of hadiths (its nature and how it crept into Islam); liberating ideas but still my mind has held on to Aidid's views of rituals being unquranic. Eventually, my mind got so confused that I decided to lie low for awhile (still not sure whether that was a good or a bad decision though; I still wonder what I could have learned had I proceeded, but anyway, it's something I can no longer change).

I ended up lying low for more than two years (since late 2013 if my memory serves me right) and was somehow content with the articles I read via facebook, most of which are quran-centric (towards which my current views lean) and some generic/universal. It was only this year that I started listening to that part of me which would like to try doing the practices I have abandoned/not practised for so long. This was because I felt like I am not content of how "connected" I feel with God. So far I have discerned the logic behind the frequency of prescribed prayer, a BIT of fasting (because I suffer from ulcer since my university years), bit still struggles with why the prayer has to follow certain movements or direction, especially the Hajj.

Looking back at the Aidid experience, it can be likened to being jolted awake, but just like after every jolting moment, my mind/perception eventually normalized. However radical his views are, I still consider having learned of it a blessing because somehow it shook me from my long overdue trance.

I just want to continue seeking for answers with the guiding principle that God made the deen easy for everyone and to always get the best interpretation of things. The past four years made me realize that the more I seek it (although I do get a LOT of eye-opening messages), the more I realize I know very little of the Truth.

I will surely get back to reading your articles for a perspective that's both different and similar to what I have now. I hope I have not bothered you with my long narration. Thank you very much as always.

And, just so you know, the reason why I continue reading your posts/articles is because out of all the individuals whose views got to me in some way, you are THE most humble and respectful of other views. The way I feel towards how you come across is how I would like other people to feel towards me; to affect people the way you probably affect most of us who have come across your articles.

I am saying all of these with all honesty and purely out of my enormous gratitude to you.

God bless you, Brother Joseph.