This is a touchy subject for some but I want to write about it. I believe in God. I believe in Allah. I don't pray five times a day nor do I cover my head and never appear in public with boys because I don't have the time and I like boys. I don't particularly believe in heaven and I sure as hell, don't believe in, well, hell. I believe there is a spirit, something that watches over us, that protects us and if we let it, guides us. I believe it is an energy connected to the universe and to everyone that allows for everything to work out the way it's supposed to and that everything happens for a reason. As far as I know, and I am a know-it-all, there's no bearded dude in the sky getting mad at us for having sex before marriage or tsking every time we eat pork. In fact, I kind of look down on most religions. Who are you to tell me I came into this world full of sin and some man died because of it? What is gunah about showing my hair? I have great hair for crying out loud and Allah wouldn't have given it to me if he wanted it to be covered up! No, I believe organized religion brings out the worst in people. Adhering to rules is one thing but to live by a book who can't claim an author? Not for me. This is true for most things though, fanatics are scary people. Have you tried talking to a fan of those Twilight books? Scarier than an army of zombie nuns. I do believe I came into this world for a reason, and when I'm done with what I have to do, I will leave it. I do believe in the soul and the spirit. That is what Allah and religion is to me. It's a connection to the energy around you. Sixth sense in a way, or instinct. I have my little idiosyncrasies like always stepping onto a plane with my right foot and praying three times before take-off. And by praying I mean cupping my hands and hastily wishing Allah to protect me and my family, thanks for everything, let me arrive safely at my destination please and thank you. To me Allah is the gut feeling that helps me along the way. I know I'm here for a reason and when I'm done with what I have to do, I'll leave. Maybe a part of me will come back.
Some people might say all these things; religion, superstition, prayer, God, reincarnation are all excuses people make up to feel safe. So what? I do feel better knowing that there might be a chance my soul could live on. I mean, I might not remember my past lives but some part of what made Leyla might survive on this little planet. What's the harm in believing in that? I'm scared of death. I'm scared than most people I know. It's caused me to have panic attacks and burst into tears randomly because I can't help it. It seems so final and done. I'm scared shitless of the fact that I will lose people I love. It's the one thing I can't make peace with. But I'm trying. This is what Allah is to me, it's comfort and I don't care if people sneer at it. Atheists are just as annoying as religious fanatics. Why do you need to foist your beliefs on other and damn them for not agreeing with you? This is what I believe and I'm no trying to convince anyone, I'm just trying to explain myself. My protector does not see killing people in his name as a good thing. My protector allows me to combine Islam and Hinduism and a bunch of other things to carve out a belief system that suits me. Religion is at the forefront of soothing people in the face of death and it should be. It's nothing that can be explained and to be torn from the ones you love forever is a ridiculously scary notion. What if you could be with them again? Wouldn't that be amazing? You could have me in your life over and over and over!
Not that I'm a complete saint. I mean, as much as I don't want to judge others there are certain notions that make me involuntarily roll my eyes. The HBO show Big Love and the whole religious reasons for polygamy therein made me yell at my TV many a time as I watched it. It's a good show though, check it out. But the simple matter is, I'm afraid of dying. I'm afraid of death. I fear the reaper, if you will haha. I don't want my mom, my dad, my boyfriend, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and every other person that has ever touched me to leave. Especially to a place where they can't come back and visit at least not in the physical sense. My beliefs are working very hard to soothe me and like I said, there's a reason for everything.
So it was a pretty big "coincidence" that I just started reading Elif Safak's Ask. This book was a big hit here, she's one of Turkey's most famous authors and I was just waiting for the English version to come out (it's out in the States too, The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak) and I finally got it and read the entire 300+ page book on the flight to India (oh yeah, I went to India, more on that later). It's about Ella, a forty year old woman stuck in a rut, feeling a little lost and working as a reader at a literary agency.
What is my current unofficial job? How have I been feeling? Yeah exactly.
Through her job Ella reads a book about the life of the poet Rumi and his companion Shams and their religion of Sufism. Sufism is a branch of Islam that focuses on the titular rules of love and how they can be applied to life and basically the love of Allah. It really touched me. In my previous entry I mentioned the artist Mercan Dede. He is a Sufi and Elif Safak actually thanks him in the acknowledgements of this book. It's such a simple concept. The idea of love. Of loving everything and everyone and living your life with love. There was one sentence in the book that especially stood out to me. "To be a Sufi, you learn to die before death." I'm paraphrasing but still, it struck a chord with me. Learning to accept and welcome death in life is not something I can wrap my mind around. I live each day fighting the thought of it. But it made sense. As I read books submitted to me, I keep receiving messages that ring true with me much like the protagonist of Ask. One book's underlying theme was that life is about choices and you need to make them. The one I had to read and write up in one day, yesterday, was all about love. It was about all-encompassing love and life and focused on an immortal soul. One that had to die before he could live again, forever. I think we can stop calling them coincidences now. Or I can.
My grandfather and I recently came to the conclusion that I could teach. I have a master's that allows me to teach in my field and maybe further down the line I could get my PhD. Well this is what sealed it. I want to study this. Maybe do it on my own, read about Rumi and Sufism, but it would be something I would love to sink my teeth into and maybe realign my belief system to better flow with it as well. It is a comfort. Everything does happen for a reason. I've seen enough proof of it in my life to believe it. It's what makes the dread of fear in my chest slowly ebb away.