Am I a religious person?
What does it mean in the first place to be a “religious”?
Is it something that goes with my appearance, manner, or lifestyle? Or what?
Am I on the right path? Is this what God wants me to do?
Why are people different? Why do not we all share one religion?
Does God hear me all the times? Will He forgive me?
These are just a very few number of questions that come from time to time to our minds. Pondering on one’s religious identity is not an easy task to handle.
In this series, Back to Religion has the pleasure to present ten stories of followers of different religions who took the chance to encounter with their religious identities. As you will read through their stories, they all aimed to build a bridge of understanding and coexistence.
Read their stories, and share yours!
1- Converted at the Dinner Table
As a young boy I hated two things, bathing and going to church. I could manage to hide till my mother leaves home for a service and bear with receiving an eyeful when she came back. It was more to do with a young rebellious attitude of trying to discover things for myself.
But the call always came when my rumbling stomach brought me back in tune. My mother would get me then. It was long ago. I must have been very young. I remember being assisted to wash my hands in a small blue dish...[Read more].
At work, I am continuously questioned on Hijab and Islam. These are not snide remarks, but rather a desire to genuinely learn. On last Friday, a co-producer in my team and I enjoyed a detailed discussion about my Hijab.
Being a journalist, I was surprised that he did not know much about Hijab and Niqab-considering the media’s obsession with these topics! [Read more].
Being the only non-Jew in the school, I learned Hebrew and prayed in the synagogue alongside my classmates. On Sundays, I attended Arabic and religion classes at our mosque and prayed the mid-afternoon prayer with our Muslim community.
There was no contradiction in these actions in my mind or within our family. For nine years, this routine was my definition of normalcy. The seamless and daily transition from my Jewish environment to my Islamic one allowed me to genuinely appreciate the faith of my friends alongside my own. [Read more].
|Karen (standing in the middle) in Jerusalem.|
I noted a deep faith in everyone, everywhere I traveled in the West Bank. Faith that the situation will get better, faith that indeed, one day, Palestinians will not live under such oppressive conditions, and faith that one day a peaceful, co-existence will be a norm.
Many of the organizations and groups use faith as a basis for their non-violent training and more, they encourage a holistic view of faith perspectives and respect of the faith of others. [Read more]
|Rev. Wayne Lavender|
I am a man of faith. I have been a Christian pastor for 25 years in the United Methodist Church.
It is out of this deep commitment to the principles of my faith that I felt I needed to do something - anything - in response to the potential hate crime that was going to be perpetrated by a church, the Dove World Outreach Center, in Gainesville, Florida, on 11th September. [Read more]
|Marjorie in hijab.|
At my desk in the office, some male colleagues who teach English-as-a-Second Language were openly pleased and encouraged me, saying it looked nice and was an interesting experiment.
They spoke of students who wore hijab and Burqa in their classrooms. Later, I made copies of the handout for a few people in the office who’d asked to read it, including the woman who had previously been dismayed. The discussion ended there as teaching and prepping for classes were more important. [Read more]
|Hanan with Priest John's Family|
"Ahlan Wa Sahlan" was the first greeting I received from John's family at Minneapolis St. Paul international Airport in Minnesota, the US. Lynnell, a typical American wife (white blonde with blue eyes), and Jackson, the middle son who's learning Arabic and wants to be a language teacher, helped me carry my heavy luggage and stuff it into their car to drive me to the University of Saint Thomas's dormitory — where I'd begin a two-month press fellowship. [Read more].
|Jonathan in Muslim attire.|
Only seconds after walking back out into the terminal one thing was for sure – I would definitely have something to write. As I walked through the airport every eye followed me. Most people tried to be subtle: when I caught them staring they would quickly look away. A handful, including the first guard at the security checkpoint, weren’t so quiet about their feelings.
The guard stared and stared at me – not necessarily with a look of hostility but definitely with suspicion. His gaze said: why are you here? You don’t belong here…[Read more]
The man who claimed responsibility for 9/11 and numerous other attacks changed the lives both of Americans and many others across the world. While some celebrated his death, I and most here reacted with hope for a new life – that our country and world can now live with a little less fear and pain, a little more safety and peace.
I also felt sad. Every human life is God’s precious creation, and the loss of any human life is cause to mourn. I grieved for bin Laden’s family that lost a father and husband. [ Read more]
So the story begins... A Muslim, a Christian, an agnostic, an atheist and a "non- religious but spiritual" person go to Bethlehem for Christmas Eve. The only Muslim on the trip happens to be me.
I am also the front seat passenger (even though I have the shortest legs), and my role includes Christmas singing (for not being able to find any decent radio stations). [Read more]