Everything Is Relative
Been thinking a lot about something that happened on Friday. Walking round in Meena Salam we came across a bookstore. Like always I found myself drawn to the religious section. There was a good selection of books in Arabic & English by various well-known names. Most of them I already read or heard of. But that wasn't what got my attention. There was a nearby stall full of these little religious booklets & glossy pamphlets that are written by these obscure-sounding ElMarhooms & Sheikhs usually on one topic only. Like whether listening to music is halal or haram. Or wearing hijab. Or imitating non-Muslims.
Don't know why am always curious to read them. Maybe it's just vanity. Because I see them as the work of inferior minds so I like to look at them & think well thank God am smarter than that. It's weird but sometimes I think ok I might not have the right answer yet but at least I know these are wrong answers. And the more wrong answers I find the more optimistic I feel that by elimination I must be that many steps closer to the right answer.
Most of them are so shallow & so intolerant & so downright stupid because they make the most grandiose claims like guaranteeing you a path to heaven if you follow 4 or 5 steps that they specify or curse you to Hell if you deviate from another 4 or 5 steps.
K. asked me why I read so much about religion. Was surprised. Of the two of us I would have thought he was the more traditionally religious one(because he prays regularly). And yet he's right. I do read a lot about religion. Not just Islam either. Am curious about anything that sounds like a religious philosophy.
Asked him if he didn't. He said no. He was over that phase. I said well maybe I was still searching. He said but how does it help to read books about other people also searching even if they think they have all the answers?We're all lost. It's the nature of life. The more you read, the more you realize that everything is relative. He said that that scares some people. They need a solid ground - some absolute values.They don't want to face the fact that we are actually on our own in this world. He said that we invent imaginary restrictions because we find them reassuring. In reality we are completely free - free to make our decisions & live with the consequences.
He shocked me. For a minute in there I thought I was talking to an athiest. So I asked him if this is how you think then why do you practice religion?He said religion tells us that God will help those who help themselves & he prefers to read something that has practical use rather than a lot of theories about things we can't really do anything about.
I said so the answer is that if you can't understand something just put it out of your mind & pretend it doesn't exist?He told me he just thinks that spending too much time speculating about the nature of life just keeps you from actually experiencing life, that God is in everything & life is too short so make the best of it.
I don't know. Am not sure I understood him correctly. Haven't had a chance to talk more deeply about it. But something in me is disturbed by hearing this from someone who in outward appearance seems to be pretty well-balanced & disciplined religiously. I think am one of those scared people he mentioned who need the absolute values. Even if I haven't found them yet at least the hope that oneday I might keeps me going. I find no comfort in thinking everything is relative. Quite the contrary infact.