Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 04: My Thoughts On Religion.

I wasn't raised with any particular religion, and now I consider myself an atheist.

If I were going to be a part of any organized religion, I think it would be Islam. I like the 5 pillars of that faith, and I like that their beliefs are their laws. It's consistent and thorough, so you know what is expected of you and I like that clarity. I don't think it's inherently misogynist any more than any other religion - I don't think any religion was founded with the intention to oppress anyone, because it's unimaginable that any God would want that.

I also think the daily calls to prayer are very appropriate and beautiful; if you have a faith, why wouldn't you want to set time aside every single day to tap into it?

The 5 Pillars of Islam (as understood by atheist Polly) are:

1. Faith. Specifically that "There is none worthy of worship except God and Muhammad is the messenger of God." Hard to be confused by that, right? So as long as you follow the teachings of Muhammad, you are living the way God intended.

2. Prayer. 5 times a day. Prayer isn't led by a priest, because there isn't that type of hierarchy in Islam. Prayer can be done alone or with others. When you pray, you're communing directly with God. If you believe in God, I bet that feels good, and it must be a refreshing and heartening pause throughout your day to tap into that. I'd imagine it would also keep you humble and keep you thinking about your priorities and your behavior throughout the day. If I were Muslim and prayed 5 times a day, I'd hope that after each one, I'd be mindful of whether or not I was acting and living the way God wanted me to.

3. Zakah. Charity. Not optional, this is an obligation for every Muslim. It doesn't have to be financial charity if you aren't able to do that, but it means that you have the responsibility of somehow helping your community. I think it would be great if all of us felt this; I know I could use a huge shove in that direction, because I get so busy in the day-to-day stuff that I don't think about it often. That's not good.

4. Fasting. During Ramadan, everyone fasts (unless they are very old, sick, etc.) Again, I think this would be a very useful tool for turning one's focus to God. It's choosing to do something uncomfortable, and remembering why you made that choice all day long. I wonder what that would feel like, and I like the idea of giving something up, not because God thinks it's bad for you but to show God that you're thinking about him/her.

5. Pilgramage. Going to Mecca. I honestly cannot imagine what this must be like, to be able to go somewhere that significant to you and to be surrounded by others that feel the same way. Maybe it's the closest thing to going to Heaven?

Anyway, it probably seems weird that I've thought about Islam that much. I don't know why, it's just the religion I've learned about that resonates with me the most. But I still don't believe in any God. That doesn't mean I don't try to be kind or compassionate, or that I don't respect other people's beliefs. I do. I just feel like, well, that's all a little over my head and I'm just here trying to do the best I can. If a God wants my attention, it can find me. I'll be hanging out trying to help people and have a good life myself.


  1. I like your comments and way of thinking about religion. They are all good for helping people behave better towards each other, and offer some proven ways to become a better person.

    Unfortunately they all share some common issues too. First they are created and lead by people who often have mixed motives and use people's faith to get some power and control from them. Then there's the maniacs who get so carried away by their beliefs that they think those who don't share their religion should suffer greatly.

    I think that all religions are good...but don't see any one that's better than the rest. In fact, they remind me of shoes. You need a good pair as you travel the difficult path of life...just be sure they fit you well.

    See...I didn't even make a pun about soles and souls. :-)

  2. Now I want to be a Muslim too. I didn't know any of that - the pillar stuff. Very interesting!