A colleague of mine is a practicing Muslim. He has tried to do everything in accordance with the rules of the religion. He followed a specific religious school of thought and often sought guidance from the scholars in respect of any issue he faced in life. A year or two back while I was riding with him in his car, I tried to turn the radio on to listen some music. He very courteously told me that he didn’t listen to music as it was forbidden in religion; however I could listen to Qura’n recitation CD if I liked.
Yesterday I was again driving with him and he just turned the radio on himself. Surprised! I couldn’t help asking him why he was listening to music then which he didn’t listen earlier. He told me that his strictly following of a particular scholar with regard to music, tv and specifically moon sighting was creating some problems in his family. He told me that he used to celebrate Ramadhan Eid (Eid followed by 29 or 30 days of fasting) one or two days after the actual Eid had befallen throughout the country, because the scholar he followed said in order to stop fasting and celebrate Eid a person has to see the moon with his naked eye. So while everyone at home was celebrating Eid, he was fasting because (as per his belief) he couldn’t sight the moon himself. Besides his wife and kids, this made his mother uncomfortable in particular. A year later his mother fell ill and was hospitalized few days before Eid. She requested his son to celebrate Eid as announced by the State Mufti this year, which he obliged quite willingly.
The incident made him revisit his established set of beliefs and he started doing some research on topics such as moon sighting, music and TV. Consequently he came to follow a somewhat moderate school of thought who advocates the conviction that music and art are ok as long as they don’t induce you to indulge in acts disliked by God. Now he is comfortable and okay with his family and so is his family with him.
This reminds me of my own set of beliefs which I held few years back so dearly that I used to have arguments with other people who disagreed with me. I used to adore a scholar and would believe everything he used to say. At the same time I used to dislike a columnist so much that I would never agree with him. Time went by, and my horizon of knowledge kept increasing by reading different writers. Now I still admire that religious scholar but don’t agree with him on a number of issues, at the same time I admire that columnist while disagreeing with him on certain things.
The tragedy is that ‘rational/independent thinking’ and ‘questioning’ are discouraged by the so-called representatives of religion. They preach that thinking and questioning weaken our faith as we become doubtful, and this doubt is instilled by the Satan so that we deviate from the right path. They don’t seem to appreciate the fact that God gave human beings mind to reflect, to judge, to ponder over everything they come across so that they can finally know the Truth and see the Truth.
Notwithstanding, at the end of the day everyone’s responsible for her/his own actions to God.