I spent last weekend with some friends in San Francisco. We took three energetic dogs to two different parks, watched cute girls pass us by as we ate lunch at Tartine’s – fabulous bakery on Guerrero and 18th. I had just met one of the girls in our group that day. She and my other friends apparently haven’t seen each other in a while.
In one of our conversations as we were playing chase with the dogs, she mentioned nonchalantly that she believes that all religions are a hoax and that she no longer believes in god. She punctuated her statement by adding she had bacon for breakfast the morning before.
To give you more of a context, the new friend is an ex-Muslim. I stopped petting my friend’s fluffy Chow as I contemplated the news she just broke.
She had asked me if I was a practicing Muslim. I had a hard time answering her.
Though I never missed fasting and paying Zakat (the Moslem tithe), avoid pork, drinking alcohol, smoking and drug, I pray sporadically as opposed to five times a day, own a dog with my girlfriend and am open about my homosexuality. Does being dog-loving lesbian makes me any less of a Moslem?
I try to be a conscientious employee, a devoted and loyal girlfriend, a filial daughter (That’s Confucian, isn’t it?) and caring friend. I contribute to society by volunteering and donating every month, educate myself and educate others in what I know best, organize and take part in participatory sports, pay taxes, recycle and abide by the communal and governmental laws. I am sure my apostate friend is as equally devoted at being an exemplary citizen of her community.
When I was coming out as a lesbian almost a decade ago, the conflict between my lifestyle choice and my religion had seemed irreconcilable. Can I be who I am and still keep my religion?
Anecdotally speaking, many gay folks I know still can’t resolve the inherently difficult issue. Many choose to go opposite extremes. On one extreme, I have witnessed individuals who choose to devote themselves to religion. They pledge their lives, love and soul to Jesus or Allah – Chrisbians, Mosbians as my friends would call them – denying themselves of the love of their lives with same sex partners. At the other end of the spectrum, I have seen a complete discard of religion to substantiate to their lifestyle.
Being dismissive or regarding any deviant lifestyle as intolerable is just to simplistic. I like to think I took the middle ground. I am able to balance both my homosexuality and religion by bearing in mind the fundamental principles of religion and leading a life focusing on these components to shape myself to my own definition of a well-balanced individual. Ultimately, the thing that matters the most is that I am at peace with who I am and with my relationship with God and my girlfriend. As religion is and should remain a personal conviction, I hope that all the chrisbians, mosbians, apostates as well as gay and non-gay Moslems can co-exist happily.
As a result, the answer I finally settled on was that I was indeed a practicing Moslem. I believe that religion is a personal conviction. In my opinion, the fundamental concept of any religion is to serve as a guideline for practitioners on personal, social and spiritual conduct. Many would disagree I am sure, but I don’t consider my lifestyle a deviation of my religion. Rather than looking at religion to define who I am, I use religion supplementary to how I live my life.