Its a known fact that many westerners are ditching the teachings of mainstream Christianity and exploring other belief systems, such as eastern philosophies, or rejecting religion outright denying the existence of a God, or doing something that would seem even more shocking and rebelious, alarming even, and
converting to Islam.
Family reactions to declarations of belief in ‘the One True God’ vary as much as the converts themselves. Whilst many parents and siblings reluctantly accept the choice of their brethren, possibly hoping it’s ‘a phase’, some converts find themselves ousted from their family. Some even receive support, or respect at least. But the word that is thought or whispered, that resonates with those left feeling stunned by these choices, is ‘brainwashed’.
Oh My God. She’s a Muslim. She’s must have been somehow brainwashed.
Now here’s the thing. From the day we are born, our parents bring us up, and for most of us that is done lovingly and with the best of intention, (for which we all should be immensely grateful, I know I am), imbibing in us the beliefs and values their parents taught them. Their parents in turn imbibed in them their own beliefs & values and it goes back, and it goes forth, and you have a belief system passed down from one generation to another, on the simple fact that ‘that’s what my parents believed’. Except for the orignator of the belief, did anyone conciously choose this course? And by that I mean – did they actually rationally examine other belief systems in the world and make a choice based on intelligence & merit, rather than comfort, convenience and familiarity?
ROASTING CHICKEN QUESTIONED
Here’s a story about roasting chooks. A man was in the kitchen, watching his wife cook dinner. She took the whole chicken, broke it up into pieces, cooked half in a batch, took it out of the oven when done, then cooked the other half. Slightly perplexed at this double time procedure, he asked his wife – “Why do you cook chicken that way?” “Because thats how my mother did it” she replied. So he went to his mother-in-law and asked her how she cooked chicken, the mother-in-law describing the same method he witnessed at home. When he asked her why she cooked it like this, he got the same reply, ‘Because thats how my mother cooked it’. Fortunately the wifes grandmother was still around, so he went to her grandmother and heard her describe the same method of cooking chicken. When asked why she replied ‘Because thats the only way I could fit it in our tiny oven back then’.
The same could be said for our belief systems. Why do we cook chicken the way we do? Why do we believe what we believe. Who reading this has ever earnestly asked why? (the belief bit not the chicken 😉
The fact of the matter is that people who convert to Islam usually do so after daring to question that which was imbibed. They read, they seek, they think, they contemplate. They read the Bible. They have questions. They seek answers. They explore other beliefs. The read up on them. They read the Quran. (The actual book itself, not the misquotes so often published in the media). They make a choiced based on common sense, based on God given intelligent thinking. Based on research. Based on soul search. Indeed this is the opposite of brainwashed.
WOOD CARVINGS QUESTIONED
The Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) (peace be upon him) was the son of an idol maker, born into a society steeped in idol worship. Abraham asked how they could worship as Gods that which they made with their own hands, that which could neither harm nor help them. Sentenced to death, but instead later banished for his daring freethinking, we could all do to take a leaf out of Abrahams book, who as we know became one of the great Prophets revered in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. (In fact Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) named his son (who died an infant) after him).
Fortunately for those of us who seek answers, any enlightenment would not end in the harsh punishments endured by Abraham (pbuh). But maybe a few whispers of ‘brainwashed’. Oh the irony!
“Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but not notice the log in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3, Bible