Seven Years of Islam, Part IV

Part I can be read here  / Part II can be read here / Part III can be read here

Life has no meaning until we give in meaning. I returned to America after several weeks of backpacking through five nations in the Middle East. As a result of my seeking, I had found a new area of study, found a new purpose, a new meaning. I had reconnected with the God of my youth and seen a different side of him. This God was still the mix of benevolence and wrath, yet through Islam I realized that this God values discipline. I slowly began seeking to follow the five daily prayers. Some days I made all, other days I made some. This was an evolution of refinement in thought and practice. Life-changing events disrupt our ways of thinking, yet life-changing behaviors are rarely instantaneous. Change is where thoughts become actions.

The discipline of following a prayer cycle was paralleled with continually thinking about good and evil, right actions and sin, Allah’s will or man’s will. I had met men preparing to go fight in Iraq because Allah commands purging non-believers from Islamic soil. I’d seen many photographs of martyrs and I witnessed Jewish occupation of Palestine. I had long respected Israel as land of tough people and admired their ethno-state. Seeing a Palestinian concentration camp was not something I had expected, and it was easy to understand their anger, even hatred of the Jewish State. 78% of the Q’uran is a warning to its readers about the Jewish, and by association Christian, people.

I didn’t know any Jews, and I’d been some kind of Christian for many years. But I did love my God and I wanted to be a worthy and disciplined follower. Islam presented me with a list of actions that, if I followed, would help me align my character to God’s will. I was happy to be back in America. America is a great place to freely live and learn. I was not worried about being jailed or killed for my beliefs. Yet I brought back scorn over the occupation I’d witnessed in Palestine and I didn’t believe for a minute that American involvement in Iraq involved any of my freedoms. My world had shifted shortly after returning. I knew that receiving guidance meant I had to seek it out. I found a mosque.

The process of change begins in the mind. The world I saw was not a good one. I saw millions of people living in unhealthy minds and bodies. I believed Islam addressed these ills and was a path that, if followed, would make the world a far better place. Those living against God’s will, through ignorance, were the ones I would be a living witness to. If it were time to pray, I did it regardless of where I was. I wanted those with desires to worship a just and pure God to see one of his slaves being obedient.  And those that rejected guidance from the Q’uran, however they meet death, will meet with the fires of Hell.

William Winters III