No wait, not yet I didn’t! I had certain experiences that caused me to re-examine my understanding of spiritual matters. One of the most prominent was one that I still remember to this day:
I was going home from school, walking past Pymmes Park when I looked up at the sky. For a split second I saw a face. The face was a woman’s, literally black skinned, bald, and smiling at me. She didn’t look like anyone I knew at the time.
(and admittedly she was hot! LOL)
Then I ignored it and carried on walking. It was just a figment of my imagination… except it was unbidden. I hadn’t been thinking about women beforehand, I just looked up and saw it as easily as I would’ve seen a cloud had any been there. For years I didn’t think about it again.
Another experience was a bit more recognisable to other people. Years before the one above, I was walking home from school (again) and it was snowing. It had been snowing for a fair few hours so the snow had settled. When I turned onto my road I looked at the settled snow and WHOA! The road was covered in a few inches of snow, and it was completely undisturbed! No footprints, no tyre tracks, no fallen leaves or branches, no other people or animals around, nothing! And it was still snowing so It was beautiful, and I was suddenly really happy!
Some time after that, round about the age of 16, I’d finally worked out the secret to happiness: don’t express strong emotions! In my head (and on paper) I’d grouped emotions into good and bad. Good ones were Calm, Joy & Love; bad ones were Anger, Fear & Grief. I’d found a website (radically reworked from when I first saw it) that explained Islam in a new way, a way that incorporated scientific understanding and I loved it! It only relied on the Qur’ān for guidance not the ahādiyth (nowadays known as the Qur’āniyyah or Qur’ān-alone movement*). I’d heard of and read works from Adnan Oktar (pen name: Harun Yahya), Tariq Ramadan, Khalid Yasin and others, but this website was really clear.
Islam really was the truth after all!
* You’d think other Muslims would be all good with that but HELL NO! There are tons of detractors calling them Satanic, innovators, anti-sunnah, etc. Even following the Islamic line of thought that was backward thinking; so the ahādiyth (which were made up from the minds of men) are as essential to Islam as the Qur’ān (the “direct words of Allah Himself”)? Did Muhammad rely on al-Bukhari, at-Tirmidhi, Muslim or al-Muwatta to explain the revelation, or did he forbid his followers from writing anything from him except the Qur’an? Relying on ahādiyth seems like borderline shirk to me.
In my early 20s I also read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I used it as a guide for my creativity, because like most creatives I’d been stifled, convinced that writing could only ever be a hobby at best. This book taught me to not just indulge in my creativity, but to see it as a way of life and source of energy that would guide me to whatever I wanted in life. Basically the Law of Attraction, but with real-life examples and techniques I could actually use in my ordinary life.
And I’d had many other such experiences, both entrenched in and independent of Islamic influence. Mostly they involved visions, visualisations, dreams (that made bloody sense to me for once!) and new life experiences.
Suffice it to say, the most defining one so far is my choice to apostatise. That came about through looking back on my life up to that point (mid-September 2013, 1 year & 10 months ago now) and realising that ultimately Islam didn’t help me. It held me back in areas of my life that would’ve made me a better person, and other reasons in the link below.
What do I think of spiritual stuff now? This is what I said in The Big News:
- Monotheistic, still deciding what to call ‘God’ (Allah, Yahweh & God all have an anthropomorphic slant, but I believe It is not human or like any biological organism, and is definitely not male or female)
- Trusting of emotions as well as rationality, subjectivity and objectivity
- Understanding the importance of self-esteem, sense of purpose and following my desires
- Trusting of my real-time experiences over pronouncements of ancient books
- Prioritising external material blessings over internal spiritual ones (not because I think it’s more important, but because I’ve been brought up to do the reverse so much I’m trying to balance it out)
- Situationist, fallible & liable to change without notice (which is a good thing; change is the foundation of reality. People who refuse to change refuse to improve, and people who refuse to improve are fucked)
- No longer feel guilty about swearing!
- I’ve decided what to call ‘God’. I call it Divinity or The Divinity – I know you can translate Allah this way but let me explain. Allah is contracted from al-ilāh, and ilah means god/ divinity. However, ilāh is specifically male/ masculine so al-ilāh (Allah) is referring to a male. How do I know this? Because it has a feminine/ female form – ilāhah. Remember Arabic has no neuter pronoun, so linguistically a deity has to be either male or female. However the word divinity is neuter; it can refer to a female, male or sexless being,
- Regarding the word god, it is usually used in reference to a humanoid being. In fact, if you look at mythologies all over the world that describe gods & goddesses, you’d swear they were talking about normal humans most of the time! They have parents, siblings and children; use weapons & tools; live in physical places; eat, drink & shag (especially Zeus); and even own pets and slaves! So now when I hear the word god or God I think of that,
- More than ever now I understand that physical and spiritual happiness cannot exist independently. They could very well be the same thing,
- There’s no difference between mind, soul, spirit or psyche. They are all different names for exactly the same thing. I’d come to this conclusion ages ago but forgot to mention it on this blog,
- Destiny/ fate is not just Divinity’s creation, we humans (I’d argue all living things) co-create it both for ourselves and for others. It’s true that we are largely responsible for our lives (karma, law of attraction, whatever) but not completely. Situations outside our control (aka. accidents) happen, and we are influenced by family/ friends/ environment/ culture, but it’s still within our control to change them. The more we practise manipulating our destinies by large-scale actions, the more luck we create for and attract to ourselves. Again I understood this years ago but forgot to mention it here,
- Angels and devils are nothing but figments of our imagination, HOWEVER this doesn’t make them non-existent. For some weird reason it makes sense to think of there being other spirits among/ within us, since the soul behaves like different beings at times. Devils are often scapegoats we use to avoid admitting we are evil at times. However, I like the Jewish understanding of Satan: he’s NOT the cause of evil, he’s doing what Yahweh told him to do – tempt us away from good. But it’s totally on our heads if we obey ’cause it was our job to fail! There’s a website which gives intriguing info on the history of spiritual beings but…
Oh wait, now I remember: angelsghosts.com.
- Before I believed sex was unnecessary for individual survival, only necessary for procreation. When doing it, though, it’s still important to make it pleasurable – especially for the woman since we men have done so much psychological damage to them. And the concept of spiritual sexuality always appealed to me. Now I see sexuality as a fundamental function of the soul even from before birth. Why? I don’t know, but it gives us energy, sharper senses, greater awareness of the immediate surroundings, greater impetus to think for ourselves, and PLEASURE!!! Also, whereas I used to think all sex outside of heterosexual marriage was wrong, I now think any sex is good as long as it’s between consenting adults (or coevals in the case of adolescents) who care about giving pleasure to the other party. Oh, and no STIs,
- In fact, now I believe that sexual pleasure is MUCH more important than procreation. A happy sex life makes a better example for children to follow when they grow up. And yes, children should be taught about sex young. Even Islam isn’t that prudish (even if muslims are). The argument that it’ll make them want to do it more is crap; I knew about sex since I was 8 but lost my virginity at 25. If children are taught how it works when young they won’t have to rely on porn for guidance, and if taught properly they’ll know how to avoid inflicting pain, unnecessary hurt feelings, unwanted pregnancies, STIs, etc,
- My stance on emotions is totally inverted. Now I think strong emotions that generate action are generally better than weak ones that inhibit action. I’ve reclassified Anger as good and Calm as bad. As I said in The Big News, I also believe “patience is not a virtue” and “good things come to those who don’t wait”. In fact, with my girlfriend I use a new stock phrase – “the power of impatience”!
- We humans share a lot more in common with animals than we like to think. In fact, we are just another species of animal. We have bodies as they do, and we have souls AS THEY DO (note: animal comes from anima/ animus, Latin for soul!),
- Strangely, despite the stereotype it seems humans are the most sex-crazed animals on Earth! As far as I know we’re the only animals whose sexual urges aren’t limited by time of year or availability of partners. We’re always at it and always thinking about it,
- I no longer feel obligated to respect any religion. In fact, I kinda see it as important to challenge people’s religiosity otherwise they typically don’t learn. Ironically, since quitting Islam I have become more interested in religious history!
- Still situationist, fallible & liable to change without notice.
(In case you’re wondering about the featured image of the dark-skinned Indian woman, that’s to symbolise my shift in focus from the spiritual/ conceptual to the physical.)