The Future of Secularism: Chapter 1

IN PLACE OF A BIRTH CERTIFICATE (WHICH MIGHT BE BID’A)(1)

This is the story of how my parents abandoned me.

For the second time.

I don’t know much about the first time I was left behind.

Maybe they didn’t abandon me on that island. Maybe I was just born there. Was it because the weather was so perfect, that I came to be from inside a ray of the sun’s merciful light?

I grew up alone, off the coast of India. It was more boring than it sounds, but on the upside, the weather was amazing, and there was more than enough food to get by on. I spent a lot of time thinking about things, since I didn’t really have much else to do. But, my thoughts never led me anywhere.

I was rescued when I must have been fourteen years old. Another young man, who looked about my age, brought a life raft to the island and took me back to his country. His name was Absal.

Once we were able to understand each other, he told me of home and of my parents. He told me I didn’t belong on that island and that I should go back with him. He didn’t tell me, however, how he found me or how he knew where I came from. Assuming he would once we returned to society, I followed him back.

After I returned, I fell in love ...with the people. The places. The sights. The sounds. But I never fell in love with my parents. I loved all those I chose to be with, never those I was forced by fate to be with. My parents accepted me and took care of me. They wanted me (for the most part), but many times, I didn’t want them.

I called them ata and ama because that’s what we’re supposed to call our parents. Because it’s easier to imagine you’ve come to be just like everyone else, easier to suppress that gnawing agony deep down inside: that all of us are alone, and that we hurt because we really are alone.

But this is not the story of how I cured my loneliness. At the end of this story, I am still alone. If that’s a bad thing, it’s for you to answer for yourself.

Rather, this is the story of how I embraced society, but then recoiled from it --because it could not accept me, a stranger, in its midst. I thought I might give in to society so long as society gave itself to me, but it seemed like society would not (could not?) give back in equal measure.

This is the story of how I started walking, in fits and starts, to The Alone. But this is not a story about how to forget the past -- because when you forget, you forgive.

People forget that decades before I was born, the Russians retreated from our land and gave us up (we who were not theirs to begin with). Did people forgive Communism? I think they did -- because they forgot. After the Communists, puppets were installed. Many of them still rule the Muslim world. But do we care? Instead, we worry about whether Islam conforms to the West, and not if we conform to God’s Revelations.

We worship those who conquer us.

This is the nature of power, that force that we worship, that force that we all so madly desire but cannot explain why. We are drawn to power, even when it slaps us in the face... we just keep coming back... just as you keep reading whatever I write, because I too express power.

I write because we cannot forget. I write because I saw those who did not forget, and did not forgive, and I realized the power of their message was greater than any other.

So that I am never forgotten, and never forgiven, I give you my story.
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1. Bid'a is a contentious topic in Islamic Law. It literally means innovation, and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, warned Muslims strongly against 'innovating' in matters of faith. However, it must be recognized that while Islam legislates for the sacred and the secular aspects of life, it does not, unlike Marxism, attempt to reduce the sacred to the profane or elevate all of the mundane to the level of sacred. Hence, Islamic Law views innovation in matters related strictly to worship of God as unnecessary. Innovations in areas of art, literature, the sciences, life, technology and so forth, are not rejected and instead embraced as part of the creative pattern of life. Islam views the human being as an active agent on Earth (God created man and woman as His khulafa [Caliphs], or vicegerents, on Earth).

The term bid'a has unfortunately become a term that does little more than condemn competing Muslim groups. Often times, it is viewed as the special concern of Wahhabi and Salafi movements, which focus intensely on simplifying the faith and removing from it its many accretions, which have unnecessarily been added to Islam over time, diluting the intensity of the original message. In this sense, fighting bid'a is a positive thing, and hence I ask the reader to consider bid'a an unnecessary and dangerous innovation - at least, from the perspective of the Islamic weltschauntung.  

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