Why I bought THE BOOK

Religion is a guide to a peaceful and fulfilling life, not the chains that curb your freedom.
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I was born into a Muslim family. I grew in the shades of Mosques, with the loud callings of Azan and the sweet melodies of Qur'an recitations. Reciting Qur’an, praying five times a day, and even calling my brothers and sisters for prayer through Azan was a routine; helping people around in whatever way, speaking truth, abstaining from stealing, and staying away from all the evil. All inherited and not gained through research and questioning.

Surroundings changed and so did my way of thinking and doing things. I went outside of my state for higher studies coming across different ideologies of ‘Feminism’, ‘Communism’, ‘Atheism’, and a hundred more isms.

Feminists argued that every religion is unjust towards women - promoting inequality. Communists argued that religion is the ‘opium of the masses, it chains people and keeps them in slavery. Atheists argued that a person need not practice any religion as it snatches one's freedom.

This clouded my mind in such a fashion that I took a break from all the religious practices. I did not want to treat women unequally nor did I want to consume religious opium and of course I wanted all the freedom in the world. So, I was out in the wilderness, had no authority controlling me from above, and no chains at all.

A year passed. I was busy with studies, relationships, and trends. I strangely respected women. I fooled anybody talking of God and I was a loyal slave to my desires. But I felt empty from inside and my soul craved for peace. Amidst this chaos and a continuous tussle between my body, mind, and soul - I decided to go back to my roots and I decided to get a copy of The Holy Qur’an for all the wrong reasons. I didn’t know the Arabic language so it was an English one. I wanted to collect all the verses that promoted hatred, curbed our freedom, and encouraged inequality and slavery. Reading it verse by verse till the end, highlighter in hands, I highlighted some verses: on property sharing, and most of the time Allah guides us to share it unequally among men and women. Women receiving half that of man's share. It was a triumph.

Upon completion of this err-finding mission, I came to a realization and a very shaming one. I had ignored all the good teachings, the wisdom, solutions to the problems of my body, mind, and soul. I realized that The Qur’an is the complete way of a peaceful and fulfilling life.

Going back to those highlighted verses, I found answers to all my illusions right there. Men get double the share of the property but they are given the financial responsibility of the house and family. The same was with other highlighted verses. Now I also realized that The Qur’an preaches us equality and not identicality. We often confuse one with the other.

What did I realize through this process spanning four years? identicality is not equality. There is no better feminist than the one who treats women in the light of the Qur’an. To be the slave of your desires is real slavery. Religion is a guide to a peaceful and fulfilling life, not the chains that curb your freedom. And Qur’an is the best way of life. If abided by its pure teachings, a person becomes a better human being. And if every other person follows the same path, this world would be a better place to live in.

To conclude, I call my brothers and sisters who are in their teens and early 20’s, stepping into the chaotic world. Please never accept any ideology and its concepts without questioning including the Qur’an. Don’t turn away from your religion and the holy book merely because you hear so many people repeat some jargon and isms. Read Qur’an under the guidance of learned ones. Follow its noble teachings and see for yourself that you become a better human being and a blessing for the world.

Jahangeer Ahmad Lone is from kupwara and has studied at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) and Jawaharlal Nehru University ( JNU)

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