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Divinity and Self-Expression

When I was pregnant with my daughter a little over four years ago, I remember my mum bringing up religion with my husband, who is an atheist. ‘The moment you see the baby born, you’ll hear hallelujahs, I’m sure of it,’ she said, only half teasing. ‘You can’t witness something so magical without believing in God.’ After Hana was born, mum brought it up again. ‘So, do you feel any differently about religion now?’ she asked. ‘Errr, it was really special, of course, but no, not really!’ he said.

By Eyes - the world through my I
By Eyes – the world through my I

Which religion (or not) we grow up believing in is more often than not a matter of coincidence: my husband grew up in East Germany under communism where there was no room for religion. I am Muslim, but neither my brother nor I go to the mosque as often as my parents would like. There is no pressure to attend from them, although I know it would mean a lot to them if we were to show more interest. Growing up, I found their über-involvement in the community a little difficult to deal with and craved freedom to act away from it. I much prefer religion to be a personal form of expression than a communal one, but that’s just an individual choice.

I guess many Muslims would say that the way I practice my faith is lackadaisical. From time to time, I remember loved ones we have lost and I say prayers for them. I pray more since having the children as a way to say thank you for the joy they bring us and because I feel it protects them and keeps them safe. I recognise that for me as for most people, faith is not based on logic but reflects my upbringing instead. If I dissect my behaviour, I must admit that I act selfishly because although I believe in God, practicing my faith is tied to what’s in it for me.

I have begun to wonder though if there is a purer form of divinity open to everyone, one that does not discriminate between believers and non-believers. The sort that makes you catch your breath when you see the sun glinting on the ocean or when you feel a real connection with another person that serves to remind you just how special this world is. And there are the whisperings. I can’t be the only one that feels them. The tiny flashes of knowledge that pass through your mind when you are otherwise occupied, telling you to write that story, spend more time with that person, do that course of study, jack in that job, because something better awaits if only you open yourself to it and apply yourself.

If you dare to blink, these thoughts disappear as quickly as they appear, and  you are left with a remnant of brilliance that has escaped, leaving you to continue your usual trajectory. You can call these moments intuition, the whisperings of muses or even divine wisdom. Whichever camp you fall into, it seems to me that we should be listening out for those internal voices and giving them the credence they deserve. Too much of the way we live our lives today is about keeping up with the Joneses, of making sure we haven’t missed the latest trend to rock Twitter. We are buffeted this way and that, and in keeping ourselves so exhaustingly busy, we miss the signs that really count.

I’d like to make a tentative stand for keeping our eyes and ears peeled for the doors the universe opens for us, for the quiet hum of our muses and for the truthful voices we silence in ourselves. You see, there is something divine about the potential we all have. There is something holy about being true to ourselves. It is far too easy to ignore our talents and conform to the standard social templates around us. There is a time for logic and there is a time for reckless abandonment to our dreams, and who knows, maybe your dreams aren’t as crazy as you thought. Maybe, just maybe, they are exactly who you are supposed to be.

‘Every man is a divinity in disguise, a god playing the fool.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

5 thoughts on “Divinity and Self-Expression

  1. I believe we are all here for one purpose– to please God. Personally, I think one can only find those moments of true inner awe when our minds are not wrapped up in the life in the flesh. I agree we should strive to have eyes to really see and ears to really hear, because it’s when that happens that we can truly see those signs we’re open to and seeking for.

    Keep being true to yourself and open to God, and there will come a day that that hubby of yours will want the peace it brings you. ;)

    1. Hi Jessica, thanks for taking the time to comment. Funny, when we got married my parents asked if J would want to become a Muslim and both he & I said it was more important for each of us to stay true to what we believed. We’re both very accepting of the other’s belief system. So I guess there’s a tight rope to be walked between our own beliefs, our potential and external pressures. Speak soon, n

  2. I love this post, Nillu!! I was raised as a Christian and as I got older, my interest in other religions (especially Eastern religions) grew. At some poin, throughout each religion I’ve delved into, they each have something in common. I will always proclaim Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and I am thankful that I am able to see the love and devotion in others, who do not believe as I do.. Without knowing Jesus for myself (personal relationship), I wouldn’t be able to do so, because I believe religion is what separates us. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hiya, I think which religion we follow is often a matter of which family we happened to be born into. My parents sent me to a Catholic primary school although we are Muslim and I came away thinking we express ourselves differently culturally but there are many similarities. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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