A primary concern says the Rev. Jenne’ Gilchrist, vice president of the Virginia Council of Churches, is the expansion of Medicaid to about 400,000 low-income Virginians.
“We don’t see this as a religious issue so much as a common decency and compassion issue,” Gilchrist says. “It may be reflective in the doctrines we upheld in our varied beliefs, but overall it’s not even a partisan issue rather than a humanitarian issue.”
— Catherine of Siena
This is mad deep. Many people of faith may sometimes feel a reflexive need to defend their religion from perceived attacks. These reflexes often lead to an overreaction to the perceived attacks. Reminding ourselves about how quickly we can create idols out of our faiths is a sobering thought.
Having a plan to improve your life will more than compensate for any disadvantages/challenges you think you have. This is what comes to mind when God says in the Quran:
“And We charge no soul except [with that within] its capacity, and with Us is a record which speaks with truth; and they will not be wronged.” (Quran 23:62)
— Felipe and Mary Barreda from, Common Prayer - A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals
The title sounds like a really bad mix and it is. Recent actions by the Saudi government are forcing people to be dishonest about their faith. Hamza Kashgari posted doubts about his faith online and is feeling the wrath of Saudi authority. Faith is like a muscle and must be tested. God himself mentions several times in the Quran that he tests people’s faith. This requires honesty, sincerity and openness. Without this, faith, like an abandoned muscle, withers away and dies.
Attitudes such as the one exhibited by the Saudi authorities, will cripple Islam and kill vibrant, spiritual faith. A living faith is faith that questions, challenges, discusses, wonders, speculates and ultimately— GROWS.
Muslims must be honest about their doubt so that their questions can be answered and their challenges addressed. Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari wrote about faith and doubt:
“Having doubts in Allah Almighty is perfectly natural and one should avoid being too concerned about them. In fact, doubts and evil thoughts are a sign of one’s faith.”
When a Muslim approached him with doubts about Islam and the effectiveness of prayer, Sidi Abdulla Misra at Seeker’s Guidance begins his answer beautifully:
“I want to tell you that what you have done is very brave- trying to get help to clear your doubts about the Truth is something that is necessary for any Muslim to do. Many people live and suffer with the disease of doubt in silence for years while it takes a toll on their mental, spiritual and even their physical health.”
Recent actions by the Saudi government will only force Muslims with doubts to stay silent and this will destroy their spirituality and ultimately their faith. The great Muslim scholar Imam al-Ghazzali had a long and famous journey involving doubt. Imam al-Ghazzali began to question his beliefs and practices when faced with the diversity of religions and creeds:
He was struck by the diversity of religious and creeds, and by the fact that the followers of each religion cling stubbornly to their inherited beliefs. One consequence of his critical reflection upon this religious phenomenon was that he began to question uncritically inherited religious beliefs (taqlidat)….it was to lead him to the search for the inner reality of human nature, that is, mans primordial nature (fitrah), which on the earthly plane becomes the receptacle for the multiplicity of religious forms and expressions.
Everyone has doubts about their faith. That is exactly why preserving an open and honest forum for Muslims to ask about their doubts is essential. Only in this way can our faith become stronger. Doubts can sometimes push us to think harder and deeper into Islam, to find the truth, and to put more effort and time in working on our faith.
The following narration illustrates how the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) dealt with faith and doubt:
Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that once a group of people came to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and asked: “We experience such evil thoughts that it is impossible to bring them on our lips”. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Do you really experience these thoughts?” “Yes”, they replied. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “They are clear signs of faith” (Sahih Muslim).