Dec. 14th, 2011

gallinggalla: (Default)
Thoughts on Christianity and Islam.  Maybe I'm engaging in syncretism.  And I fear that I'm in danger of misappropriating from Islam; I'm open to critique about that.  But I need to put this out there.

I must reveal this: eight years ago, when there was an organization for LGBT Muslims - Al-Fatihah - I prayed with them several times, and gave serious thought to converting to Islam.  But I never did: I never said the Shahada (at least, not with intent).

Faced both with death threats from intolerant Muslims, and constant surveillance and harassment from the FBI, Al-Fatihah folded.  When I last checked about 18 months ago, the organization's website was still down.

So, here I am now, a Christian.  I go to church regularly (and not just on Sundays) and pray to a greater or lesser extent on most days - if nothing else, I say grace before eating.  But after more than a year of regular attendance, prayer, retreats, and Bible study, I cannot wrap my head around the Trinity.

God I get.  The Holy Spirit I get from my Jewish background, where it is spoken of as Shechina, as God's female aspect.

But now I'm going to say it: I do not believe that Jesus was the son of God.  I don't think Jesus though he was; he always referred to himself as the Son of Man.  I do not believe that God somehow entered Mary - I recoil at the very thought of that - and implanted God's son.

I believe that Joseph and Mary were two people who loved each other very much - so much that they decided to have children (note the plural).  One of their children was Jesus, who was blessed by the Word to be a prophet.  A great prophet he was; as great as Abraham, Sarah, Moses, John the Baptist, Joseph,  Mary, and Muhammad.  He sacrificed his own life for the sake of his message and his struggle for social justice.

But let's be frank.  Let's take Mary off the pedestal that we, as a patriarchal society have put her on, and stop making her an idol onto which we put our own misogynistic, racist agenda.  By letting her come down from that pedestal, we have to acknowledge that she was fully human and fully capable of making her own decisions in matters of faith, and fully capable of prophesy.

Once we do that, we have to acknowledge that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus all made the conscious, fully informed, fully consensual decision to submit fully to God.  They were, in other words, Muslim.

This coming year, 2012, some members of my church congregation, including myself, will be reading the Bible cover to cover, and having discussions about it online.  But I'm adding the Qur'an to that list and will be reading it side-by-side with the Bible.  I don't believe that Jesus was the last prophet, nor do I believe that the message conveyed by Muhammad was meant only for certain people.  I don't believe that the Bible is the last Word of God.  I believe that the Qur'an has things to say that the Bible missed or misinterpreted, and I intend to try to understand whatever little I can of the Qur'an.  I'm prepared for the potential of cognitive dissonance, and I will have to let possibly conflicting messages wend their way through my mind.

I would like to be able to practice the faith of Islam.  But to do so requires community.  There is not one masjid in Philadelphia that accepts openly queer trans folk such as myself.  There is not one masjid that does not relegate women to second-class status.  The people of Al-Fatihah had to pray in an independent bookstore, or at the Quaker Friends Center, or even in a synagogue (that's how I first became aware of their organization).  And now Al-Fatihah is no more.  The Yahoo and Google groups for LGBT Muslims have dried up.  Muslim Wake Up is gone.  I don't even know where I'd find two witnesses to say the Shahada with.

I feel stuck and conflicted.  Christianity is not my first choice of faith, but as an institution, I've found a church community that is (more or less, nothing is perfect in this world) accepting me as a queer transgenderqueer woman.  But even at this liberal church, I have to keep my views about Jesus and Mary and Muhammad to myself.

So I'll read the Qur'an alongside the Bible and see what happens, and maybe I'll find an answer.

And I'll pray that God forgive my many sins, even though I fear it's too late and I am irretrievably condemned.


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August 2012

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