Solitary Journey


Posted Dec 13, 2007      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Solitary Journey

by Maliha

I am walking down a different path. Trying to learn something of the healing powers of silence; disciplining my self in certain ways to internalize some lessons. I am loving winter. This season of emptying and rejuvenation, the crispness in the air is cleansing. I have paused a lot of things, to allow for some empty spaces, small attempts at opening myself up for a different way of being and understanding. This journey (of the spirit) is necessarily solitary and there are many paths to it, or more precisely various degrees of apprehension. I am trying to pave my way regardless of the seeming insanity of the “masses.”

Reality is closer to this, every single person is struggling in their own way to make sense of their lives and micro choices. The delusion we sometimes carry around, is that other people actually care. I am saying this with the belligerence of “dawah” in mind. The way we compel ourselves to “invite people to our way”; before we have even internalized the lessons of that particular way. There is a huge chasm between what I know in “theory” and what I have allowed myself to experience. I say this as someone who was born into a religion, and has accepted certain mandates as a given. I have seen this tendency in the fervor of “converts” too (to any religion/philosophy.)

It might be human nature, maybe it lies our need as social creatures to connect with others and to feel validated by them. That way we can sigh in relief to know that we are not insane. On a tangent, I was thinking of how the definition of sanity is itself a social construct and should even the longed for Messiah arrive today, he would probably end up shackled in an asylum. Or less reassuring still, is no matter what we proclaim our belief to be, there will always be people to champion us. This is especially true now, where voyeurism has become an art form and mass media (yes, including blogs) the vehicle for it.

The Quran illustrates many archetypes of the rejected apostles. In essence, we are not in need of a new Messenger or creed. I was thinking too of how, growing up, praying (and to a lesser extent fasting and charity) were always held as the end of our spiritual quest (not the means for opening up certain channels.) I was thinking of how dreary prayer seemed, the endless monotony, the ritual that has been starved completely of its meaning and poetry. So when as children, our moms yelled for us to go pray, sometimes just locking the door to the room and staying put would get us “off.” More often though, we would silence our conscience by performing miracles, the fifteen second prayer cycle.

The Quran also depicts the solitary man on a spiritual quest. The lone voice of reason that urges the community to listen to what the Prophets have to say. In Dawah circles, this lone voice is championed as exemplary to what our role should be. Forgetting that courage doesn’t come in parroting words with the necessary harshness of conviction to “prove” our beliefs and aggressively recruit others to “spread” them. Disenchanted youth normally write off such people as hypocrites. I think hypocrisy is not the right term though for it involves premeditated duplicity not (compounded) ignorance.

I can not teach my own children, least of all an apathetic public anything, period. I find even the act of doing good so that I can “demonstrate” my goodness (with the very Dawah-ish intent of convincing others how good Islam is) very abhorrent. This “Islam” is not a product that we are marketing and does not need a PR team. The minute I become conscious of other eyes on me, I have lost my integrity, and who in their right mind would want to emulate such hollowness?

I am learning from my children the need to experience the world with all our senses. Their unbounded curiosity leading me along paths I had completely forgotten. I don’t want to stifle their potential with my limited way of knowing. They watch my every imprint and the resulting discomfort raises my conscience to examine her self. I am driven to solitude, learning to keep still in those spaces where silence orchestrates the most terrible and sweetest music I have ever heard.

Visit Maliha’s site “Lightness of Being” at