I was talking to my brother-friend, S, earlier today, and something brought us to the topic that led to the quote and the musings that follow. It is only a chunk of my entire thought process, but I thought I would share this angle anyway– because I have experienced it a good number of times to make an issue of it.
It’s not what we eat or don’t eat that makes us good people; it’s how we treat one another. As you grow older, you’ll find that people of every religion think they’re the best, but that’s not true. There are good and bad people in every religion. Just because someone is Muslim, Jewish, or Christian doesn’t mean a thing. You have to look and see what’s in their hearts. That’s the only thing that matters, and that’s the only detail God cares about.”
― Firoozeh Dumas
I am a Muslim, and I am very pleased to be one. Alhamdulilah. I try not to impose my religion or faith or beliefs on other people, I really do. I have a number of Christian friends, and I consider it a privilege… I simply enjoy being around them and spending time with them, because of who they are, wholesomely, and that is that. So, I find it rather rude, disrespectful and self-indulgent when a Christian tells me “you look like a Christian, or act/talk like a Christian, or you will do better as a Christian” when I as much as say “Lord”, or “Bless you” or smile, or just pretty much do nice stuff! Really? What does that even mean? Who are you to know? How can you tell?
I think it is wrong. I think that we are people (good/ bad), before we become Muslims, Christians and people of other faiths. Religion does not (in itself) make us tolerable or less tolerable, it is our own tendencies as humans to read, and understand (or not understand), assimilate, reflect upon and then live by all the knowledge and experiences that we have acquired, that makes us who we are. I think that when it comes down to it, no one is superior to the other—except as The Maker decides. He is the Judge of all things, and we should accord Him the sole right to do what only He does best.
I understand that it is almost natural that we would feel superior about certain of our beliefs and notions, and our ability to abstain from certain kinds of pleasure that other people would rather indulge in; however, these days, as I attempt to grow into understanding life through the depths of its rich diversity, I am mostly of the opinion that we strive to respect our differences as much as we can or stay away from it altogether. No one is perfect; I doubt that we were even made to be perfect. I think we are simply here on earth to be the best version of ourselves– and we alone can honestly decide what that best version is.
So maybe we should focus less on the ills of other people and how they are practicing right or wrong, or how we are better than or more superior to them, and focus more on how to be better by, for and in our own selves so that we can show people rather than tell them how to do better. In the end, it is the heart that matters; the intentions, the desires to want better for others as much as you want for yourself, the tendency to look out for a neighbor or a stranger as though s/he were family, the little simple things—like saying “hello” with a smile, and feeling a person’s sorrow as if it were yours. And if by doing these things the way that I know how makes me look like someone of a particular faith rather than someone who is just trying to be humane, maybe we do not know the true meaning of humanity after all.
© The Short Black Girl, 2017.