Joining the alternative club of Islam
So recently, I have been going to these "clubs." They aren't the
popular dance clubs on Lansdowne Street, which I don't see much point
going to those ever since they became 21-plus. I would rather define
these as "alternative" clubs. While at one of these clubs, I realized
my next religious conversion should be about Islam, which in Arabic
I realize Islam is a hot topic these days, and people have their own
opinions on it. But I really don't care what anyone thinks, except of
course my "dom," so I am going to write about it anyway.
The first course of business is to choose the form of Islam I should
follow. I cannot afford to be on the fence about this, I need to
choose a hard line. It's the only way I'll get people to listen to me.
To better make this decision, I asked myself a question: If I were in
Iraq, what type of Muslim would I want to be? My first response is the
obvious one. The type who doesn't die. But then I realized that was
just silly. If there were a rhyme or reason to the chaos in Iraq, the
American government would be able to figure it out and settle it all.
Picking a denomination was proving to be difficult, so I stayed basic
and just chose the largest one, Sunni. Now let me tell you, being
Sunni wasn't all that I was expecting. For example, praying five times
a day was incredibly tedious. There are only a few activities that I
do five or more times a day: eat, sleep, go to the bathroom and that
other thing I do in the bathroom, privately. It took a lot for my
Mullah to convince me that praying should be part of my daily routine
(just the promise of paradise, for me, was particularly enticing).
I also found out I was supposed to, at some point in my life, make a
pilgrimage to Mecca. Now, because I am only going to be Muslim for a
week, I figured this is something I was just going to skip.
Apparently, the praying and pilgrimage are two parts of what are
called the Five Pillars of Islam. The constant use of the number five
was starting to sound like a fetish to me, but my experience at the
"alternative" clubs has taught me that fetishes can be good.
These pillars are supposed to be the central tenets of Islam, which
meant I couldn't rightly ignore them, being a Sunni.
So instead, I switched to being a Shiite. Now, I didn't just make the
switch because I didn't want to do all that annoying stuff. Sunnis
believe the original leaders of the Muslim community after Muhammad's
death were chosen by consensus. Now, if I have learned anything about
religion so far, it's that good religions have absolutely nothing to
do with democracy.
Shiites on the other hand believe the leaders of Islam after Muhammad
were his biological descendants. Nepotism and lineage, now that sounds
like a fully-fledged religion to me. Right off the bat, however, I
couldn't help but notice the suspicious similarities between my
current Muslim denomination and my previous one. In fact, as a Shiite,
I had even more rules to follow than just the Five Pillars. Hell, they
were even more masochistic than the Sunnis.
My entire experience as a Muslim was proving to be more strenuous than
I had anticipated. By that point, I didn't see the reason in skipping
my alternative club nights to go to a Mosque, only to enjoy more
But then on Friday night, I realized something while attending
services. I was looking around at the people's faces while they were
praying in deep devotion. They didn't consider their religious
experience to be a painful process, and they weren't getting any
pleasure out of that supposed pain. The people of the Mosque were
enjoying being in what they felt was the presence of Allah. The
Pillars weren't chores for them to do, but rather activities which
brought them comfort. It wasn't a feeling of submission, as a slave to
a master. Instead, it's a want to serve Allah because of the desire to
do so. That desire stems from the awe found in his greatness. With
that mind set, I can enjoy having Allah as my "dom" for this week.
Nicholas Shaman, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, is a
weekly columnist for The Daily Free Press.
He can be reached at shaman @ bu.edu
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