An Open Letter to God
I got the idea to write you a letter when I recently reread the book “The Color Purple”, but I think You already may know that. I have been told that You see and know everything that happens to everyone, and although I could never imagine how You do that, I guess that’s just one of the many powers You possess. I’ve been thinking a great deal about religion lately, and the fact that I don’t officially subscribe to a a particular one sometimes makes me worry if this disappoints or angers You. I’ve always felt this way somewhat, but have been thinking about it more and more lately, especially since I’m going to be spending the rest of my life with my boyfriend who happens to be a Muslim. We’ve already decided that our children will also be Muslims, and as a Christian and fellow “Person of the Book”, this is of course acceptable, but what about me? It’s not necessary for me to convert, but I keep wondering if this is the right decision to make. Because you see Sir, (is it proper to call you Sir?) I don’t want to make a promise to You that I will follow Islam, because I have tried a few religions already and never stuck to any of them, and I don’t want to repeat the same pattern. I would like to please my boyfriend Shahid by telling him “Honey, I would like to convert”, but I don’t want to hurt yours and his feelings by making such a promise and breaking it. That is what worries me. Again, I’m sure You already know about all my efforts to follow certain religions, but since this is an open letter that others will read, I will refresh Your memory.
As You already know, as an infant I was baptized a Lutheran. As a little girl my family attended church every Sunday until sometime after the birth of my little brother Brian, when we stopped going. Then when I was in 8th grade, I was attending a Catholic school when my Father decided that we should all become Catholics, so I took an after-school religious instruction class about Catholicism and was confirmed with the rest of my class in church later that year. Unfortunately, our attendance at St. Martin’s was no better then when we belonged to our previous church, and soon we only went on holiday’s, later not at all.
For a while I didn’t really think about religion, although I never forgot about You. For a while I tried praying every night, but it didn’t last of course. I read the Tao of Pooh, and although I really liked the concepts of Taoism, I thought it sounded like too much work. Later on I read about Buddhism and was again quite impressed and even though I admire the Dalai Lama very much, I knew there was no way I would keep succeed in following Buddhism properly either. I tried to make a plan to meditate everyday but anyone reading this will already be able to guess that this plan fell through also. So after this, I decided that I would never follow an organized religion again because I supposed that I just wasn’t cut out for it, and it was only recently I started to experience those familiar “should I try again” pangs.
Living with Shahid the last couple of months I have been thinking a lot about Islam. He bought me a Koran, and I have “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Islam”. I think it is a very good religion, but I don’t consider it superior to any other. I have respect for people of all religions because, after all, they are all praying to you, they just do it differently. Like I said before, I would like to say I will convert to Islam, but will I really follow through this time? I tried fasting for two days to see what it was like and while I succeeded at it, the whole time I felt like a whiney child crying for a cup of coffee. I know I could not do that for a while month straight, although I really liked opening the fast because I liked that I was sharing something special with my boyfriend and that made me feel good inside. I certainly would not be able to promise that I will pray five times a day, when I couldn’t keep a promise to do it once a day before. But do I really have to do these things to be considered a true Muslim? Shahid doesn’t even do these things, and he was born a Muslim. What makes someone religious anyway?
I know people who consider themselves followers of certain religions, but I don’t consider them to be worthy of example. My Grandmother always considered herself a very good Lutheran but she stole from the school she taught for and tried to bribe me into going to church with her every Sunday by saying she would buy me a car. I know people who have converted to a new religion and then decided that they were superior to other people because they follow the religion so strictly. It really makes me wonder what You think of such things. How I wish I knew!
I feel that this letter has left me with more questions than answers. The bottom line is this; if I decide to convert, and I already know that I will not follow Islam so perfectly, how will I be considered a true Muslim? Although Shahid is not a strict Muslim, he was born one, so he has no such issues. Is it correct to convert and say “I’m a Muslim” and then have someone say “Ah ha, but do you pray five times daily, did you fast” and when I reply no won’t they say “Then how can you say you converted”? I know there are people in Shahid’s life who would love to hear that I converted, and who think I should, and in a childish way that knowledge keeps me from converting also because I don’t want them to say gleefully ‘Oh, I knew she would do that” or “She’s a good girl to convert, now I consider her a sister”. I don’t need that kind of validation, I’m not trying to impress or prove anything to anyone. And if I did convert, I would not consider giving up celebrating Christmas. The holidays have always been one of my favorite times of year. So will I be considered a true Muslim?
Do I have to pick a religion to please You, or is the knowledge that I believe in You and put so much thought towards Your feelings that You are already satisfied? I don’t know where to find that answer. But one promise that I will make You that I will never break, is that I will continue to think about these things. Hopefully soon we will both have our answer. Thank you for listening.