A Battle of Faith & Love

Love, Life & Religion

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Ready to Explode…

Every few weeks the stress gets to me for a few hours and I feel like I’m going to explode. I have the urge to call my mom and just spill every thing to her, and deal with the consequences and repercussions afterwards. This evening I’m having one of those moments. Doubt and confusion surrounds me and I question whether or not I know what the hell I’m doing.

Interestingly enough, most of the time I have a moment like this, I don’t focus that much on the whole religion aspect. I’m more concerned about the impact that all this will have on my relationship with my parents. I don’t want to disappoint them, but at the same time I realize that I have to live my life for myself and no one else. Not my parents, not Ivan.

I need a vacation….

p.s. Thanks to everyone that commented on my previous posts. I got a wide array of input and suggestions, and although I don’t necessarily agree with everything that people said, it still means a lot that there are people willing to give input on a rather touchy subject while remaining polite and considerate. Please keep the comments coming!


Losing My Religion? Pt. II

I’ve already received a comment to my most recent post. Let it be known that I welcome all comments, as long as they have something to contribute.

Anyways, the part of the comment that stuck out the most for me was this: “Can you see how this situation is moving further and futher away from Islam?”

I may be being naive, but I think that this whole situation has helped me sort out how I really feel about religion and general, and more specifically, how I feel about Islam. I personally believe that no religion is perfect because they are applied and practiced by man – and humankind in general are not without sin (meaning no one is perfect). There is a lot going on in Islam right now that I do not agree with, and I think that with the ways things are in the global arena, we are more able to see how peope are misusing Islam on a much wider scale.

Anyways, I honestly believe that if I was a true devout “religious” muslim, I wouldn’t have ended up in the situation that I am currently in. In fact, Ivan and I joke about how we wouldn’t be with each other if either of us was very religious. I mean, how many strict Orthodox Jews do you see running off with shiksas?

I hate to say it, but I think one reason that I don’t have the “conviction” that others have is because I never chose to be Muslim. I don’t mean that in a way like “I never chose to be born,” but rather, my parents made a conscious decision to be Muslim. For my siblings and I, Islam was the status quo.

This may or may not make sense, but don’t flame me!

Losing My Religion?

*Warning: The following may upset some readers. Please keep in mind that this is not meant to insult anyone, rather it is a way for me to process my thoughts/doubts/fears/etc.  This will probably end up being a multi-part post.*

Since I started this blog, I’ve been reading more and more blogs that are focused on religion. Some of them are the blogs of disbelievers, but most of them are blogs by Muslim women. You can find a mix of both on my blogroll. I consider all of these blogs though provoking and enlightening, although I may not agree with some of the views, and this goes for both sides of the religious aisle.

Through reading these blogs, I’m impressed and intrigued by the deep conviction that is expressed by the authors – atheists that are staunch in their belief that there is no god, Muslims devoted to opening minds and presenting new ways of thinking, Muslims that find nothing wrong with polygamy – in short, a wide range of views, but all with the same grounding and conviction that they are right. Well not “right” in the negative sense, but “right” in the positive sense.

While I may have more concrete beliefs on other subjects and aspects of life, I have to honestly say that I don’t have the deep religious conviction that I see expressed elsewhere. Religion has always been an interesting topic for me, I’ve worked at a center for interreligious understanding for almost two years (yesterday was my last day). I consider myself very knowledgable not only about Islam, but about Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism, to name a few.

I was raised Muslim by observant Muslim parents and I have wonderful memories of Eid festivities at the small masjid we were once a part of. We spent evenings during Ramadan reading from the Qur’an, my favorite sura is Al-Bakara [The Cow]. I even went to two different Islamic schools for 3rd and 4th grade.

But through all this, I’ve always felt that I’m Muslim because my parents are Muslim, and because I don’t want to be a Christian or a Jew. I do believe in Allah, but when I see truly devout Muslims at the masjid, I feel like I’m lacking something. Like I’m a half-assed Muslim, which I probably am.

Adding this whole love/Ivan situation in the mix, I’m wondering where I will go from here. I don’t feel the need to be an atheist or denouce Islam, but I know that if I am to marry Ivan, I won’t really be welcome in Muslim circles. Have no doubt, I am aware that what I am doing/will do is considered a sin by many. I have dreams that I’m going to burn in hell because I love this man and because I will disappoint my parents.

There’s a saying that being a mother isn’t for everyone.. I wonder if being religious is like the same thing. I do have inner faith, but I’m pretty sure that I would not pass for “religious.” But does that mean I’m no longer Muslim?

To be continued…

Time to Act?

Just spent about an hour on the phone with my mom, helping her work on her Henna webpage. She had a free site hosted elsewhere, but I promised her twenty times over that I would set up something nice and easy for her to use. So while I orginally called to tell her a funny joke, our conversation turned into her website. I decided to set something up here at WordPress.com for her, it’s pretty easy to use and manage, and very simple, which she likes.

I would put the link up here, but I’m worried that by doing that somehow she would gain knowledge of this blog. I’ll be taking care of most of the management of her blog, and this week she’s going to henna my hands and feet and take pictures to post.

While on the phone with her, I wondered exactly what it was that was keeping me from telling her and my dad about Ivan now. I’ve stated that I’m waiting until the spring to let them know, but I’m wondering why I can’t tell them now.

I originally feared that I would be disowned, so my original plan called for me to tell them when I graduated, when I would no longer be dependent on them. But I’m not financially dependent on them now. Well not counting health insurance, as I’m on my dad’s wonderful federal health insurance plan. When I say it’s wonderful, I mean it’s really wonderful.

Now that my main fear of being disowned has calmed down a bit, I don’t have much to lose by telling my parents now. I don’t live at home (though I visit every week or so) and I have a job. For all intents and purposes, I’m supporting myself. That’s what the federal government and the IRS feel, since I’m an independent student.

While writing this, I’m thinking that if I tell my parents now that may give me some time for tempers to cool, vs. telling right before my graduation, which would put their attendance at my graduation at risk. If I could, I would tell them today, but I’m so afraid of the unknown, and if they do cut me off that would be devastating to me and would probably have a negative effect on my performance during my last semester of college.

So really, I’m paralyzed by fear. But I’m going to give this some thought, and maybe I’ll tell them sooner than I thought. Maybe next week, maybe when/if I get an acceptance letter to law school.

I just hope that after I tell them I can still have hour long phone conversations with my mom.

Meet & Greet

I’ve been wanting Ivan to meet my mother for a while now. I want him to meet both my parents, but think that meeting my mom first would be less intimidating. As I mentioned before, my parents know that he is a good friend of mine, and every now and then when I mention him they say “Oh we want to meet this mystery man.”

Needless to say, Ivan is nervous about meeting my mom. I’ve met most of his family (been to dinner with his brother & his brother’s family), but not yet his parents. His parents know about me though, he tells his mom about me, and I’m sure that his brother has given his input too.

Now that it’s a new year and my time is running out, Ivan’s gonna have to meet Mom. Soon. Ideally it’ll just be a brief meeting so she can see who he is and what he looks like and have proof that he’s not an imaginary friend of mine. She’ll probably tell a funny story and tell him he’s cute and that he should marry me so she can have Russian grandchildren. My mom is funny like that.

Is It Worth It?

Sometimes when we bicker I wonder if it’s really worth it. If it’s really worth possibly losing my family and everything I’ve known, of losing my lifeline and my past and my history.

Then I worry, “what if it doesn’t work out?” What if I’m wrong and make the wrong choice. What if things with Ivan and me fall apart. Where will that leave me? Will my parents forgive me? Will they hold this against me?

There is so much involved that sometimes I’m wondering whether or not there is a right decision. I’m starting to think that regardless of what I decide, things aren’t going to end up the way I really want them to, and that I’ll lose something.

I love my parents, but I love him too.

The Beginning..

As you can see this is a new blog. The title should give you an idea about what the main topic will be. I’ll be using this blog to document my struggles with religion and the trials and tribulations that are inherent in romantic relationships.

To give you a little background information:

You can call me chickpea. I’m a 20-something year old female living in the Northeast – in the NYC metropolitan area. I’ll be graduating from college this May, and am currently applying to law school. My family is Muslim, and I was raised accordingly. My parents are fairly moderate in their practices. My views on religion are a bit more open-minded than my parents, and while I consider myself Muslim, there are many people that would tell me I am wrong. I do not cover.

You might be wondering – ok, where is the struggle with religion & love?

I have been in a relation with a wonderful guy since July 2005. He is not Muslim, and for that matter, not religious at all (he was raised in the Soviet Union). We’ll call him Ivan. My parents know that he is my friend, but I have not told them anything beyond that. I’m pretty sure that they know something is up, but I try not to worry about that too much. What I do worry about is coming clean to my parents. I will be graduating from college in less than five months, and I want to tell them by then.

The true battle lies in the fact that I love Ivan. He loves me. But he’s not Muslim and doesn’t really have any interest in becoming Muslim. He respects my beliefs for the most part, although he doesn’t agree with some of the modern day applications of my religion. And in this respect, I don’t agree with these things either. Nevertheless, we’ve pretty much decided that after my graduation I will move in with him and he’ll help support me while I’m in law school.

At first I was afraid that my parents would disown me for being with him. Everyone has told me that my parents love me too much to do that, but I do know that regardless of what happens, things will be different. I don’t want to disappoint my parents – especially my father – because I’m the “good kid” (I have an older sister and younger brother), but I feel that I have to live my life and make the decisions I feel are right in my heart, and accept the consequences.

So over the next few months, I’ll be posting about my nervousness and fear of telling my parents. I’ll also be using this blog as an arena to fight out my struggles with religion, etc. Feel free to comment and give advice, support, even criticism. I’m expecting a lot of criticism actually. But for now I’ll take whatever I can get.