Monday, February 27, 2012

Reflections on a Past – Part I (a): back then

I often look back in my past to figure out how I ended up where I am today. And one of the things that I think of every time I look back is my active involvement in online discussions between 2006 and 2008. I was so young (18, 19 years old?), I was just growing up (I’m still growing up), I was so naïve – I thought I could convert people to Islam. No, seriously. And to think that I don’t believe in conversions today. (More on this another time, easy there.) I’m gonna divide this post into three parts. Part I (a) will be this (how I was like back then), Part I (b) will be how it all affected me mentally and emotionally, Part II will be about the middle phase (the bridge, I suppose, between my current phase and the earliest one), and Part III will be about where and how I am today.

Back then (i.e., between 2006 and early 2009):

In mid-2007, the Internet – that is, social networks (Facebook) and discussion forums– became a necessary tool for me to move past a highly disturbing event in my life. I turned to the Internet for many reasons, prominent among which was to spread Islam (believe it, man). But I was involved in attempting to convert people to Islam (that is, “the” Right Path as I understood it back then) on the Internet even before 2007, at least around mid-2006. Yahoo! Answers was an excellent way for me to do this :D (Stop laughing. I did admit I was naïve and stuff, ok.) During this time, I relied heavily on, Zakir Naik’s (Zakir Naik was my heeeero, man, he was my hero! I used to secretly pray that he’d become the next president of India and convert all of those poor, misguided, infidel-ish Hindus to Islam, and everyone would live happily ever after and in peace, like Zakir Naik still promises), and, to name a few of the websites that influenced my way of thinking and that served as THE source of understanding Islam for me. 
During discussions, I’d have a question mark and an exclamation mark (often more than three or four, for both!!!!! Like this!!?!?!?!?!) after almost every other sentence or claim or question of mine. Many of words were capitalized or highlighted or bolded or whatever (just like on… if you don’t know what I’m talking about, try visiting that site. It’s embarrassing, I swear). I entered these debates not because I wanted to learn more but because I wanted to teach, I wanted to convert, I wanted to convince everyone that I was right and they were wrong. I criticized and scolded everyone who was “deviated” from Islam and didn’t agree with my views, and I lauded everyone who shared my views. For this naïve me, responses like, “Yes, that’s definitely one way to understand this, but you should also consider this other way of looking at it, which is equally legitimate and valid” were emotionally and mentally disturbing. I remember not being able to go to sleep because in one discussion in a Facebook group on Islam, some girls opposed – how they dared! – my insistence that self-respect means you cover your head if you’re a woman (they argued that self-respect does not necessarily entail covering the head, that all females should (and most do) have different way of respecting themselves and practicing modesty). I tell you I couldn’t sleep that night. To disagree with me, you see, was to disagree with God. I’m not implying I considered myself God – no, not at all. But like the great Zakir Naik, I believed that there was no such thing as “interpretations” of Islam, that this was just a silly excuse by feminists and all other so-called Muslims to “modernize,” to “change” Islam only to fit their own selfish, twisted, unnatural needs. So I believed that what I was saying about the hijab and about all other Islamic matters wasn’t just one “interpretation” of Islam: it was the interpretation of Islam, it was GOD’s interpretation, it was Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) interpretation. Hence, how dare any self-declared – or born – Muslim challenge such an obvious, such an important “fact,” right?


Coming up:
- Reflections on a Past - Part I (b): the effects
- Reflections on a Past - Part II: somewhere in between

- Reflections on a Past - Part III: where I am today

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