Navigating Faith: Is it all just Interpretation? – Mukadas Abdullah

Faith is something very personal for many of us, yet we all think we are right or that have the right interpretation of our religion. In my own family I see that each of us has our own slightly different interpretation of Islam and how to practice it, and I have family and friends who understand the holy month of Ramadan differently. We disagree as to whether it is more meaningful to fast or feed the poor instead of fasting, and whether prayer has to be done 5 times a day or more so the remembrance of God in each moment is more meaningful. This leaves me wondering, with so many different interpretations of Islam, who has it right? And what and who should I follow?

Having learned about my faith through readings, lectures, and the Holy Quran, I have often wondered which sources I read or which lecture I watched were showing me the real Islam. So many Muslims seem to have a different perspective on Islam, even when reading the same sources or following our Holy Book (Quran). In times of my own personal turmoil and turning to God I wonder if I am worshipping him correctly, and to whom I should listen to help guide me on the correct path. I don’t practice Islam the same way as my family and friends, but is mine more or less correct? Is there even a correct way to worship God?

In this transformative time in my life, facing uncertainty as I near graduation, I have seen a re-awakening of my faith. I am trying to understand the place of faith in my life, both in my faith-based identity and my purpose, which I see as connected to Allah!

There are times when I have wondered whether I am getting closer or farther from Allah and his purpose. When I think about that question, the only answer I have is that as his creations we are always tied to him. I am reminded of two different verses from the Quran:

1) “Verily we belong to Allah, and verily to Him do we return.” (Quran 2:156)

2) “And indeed We have created man, and We know whatever thoughts his inner self develops, and We are closer to him than (his) jugular vein.” (Quran 50:16).

The first verse refers to the fact that God created us, in the end we will come back to him, and even the journey in between is with him. No matter the hardship I face it is temporary, a test—and God would not test his servants (humans) more than we can bear. The second verse makes me think about the fact that regardless of whether I feel close or farther away from Allah, he is always here and understands me better than any person can, even better than I can know myself.

I don’t know if I will ever know who has got the right idea or interpretation of my faith. I think about this verse in the Quran that speaks to God having the ultimate knowledge and being the ultimate Judge. Only Allah really knows who is sincere and correct in their faith, and it is only for him to judge.”The judgment is only Allah’s; He relates the truth and He is the best of deciders”. (Quran 6:57)

Do you think the way that each person practices faith is their own interpretation?

Whether you are religious or not, how do you discern interpretation or which school of thought you follow? How did you decide what makes sense to you?

1 thought on “Navigating Faith: Is it all just Interpretation? – Mukadas Abdullah”

  1. Hi Mukadas!
    This is a beautiful post 🙂 I especially like the two Quran quotes you put about belonging to Allah, and Allah being closer to people than their jugular vein. That is such a vivid and powerful image. I think the questions you ask about if you are practicing or interpreting your religion right are also really interesting. I think that figuring out which schools of thought within our faiths we resonate the most with is something that we probably navigate for most of our lives, and it will probably change a lot over time. I think being in Interfaith this year has impacted how I see my faith a lot, especially when I compare it to other faiths and what they believe. It’s like what Paul Knitter was talking about at the end of last semester about different faiths being different telescopes to see different parts of the sky, and how Buddhism has deeply impacted his Christianity.

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