07 December 2007
Almost Converted to Islam
Many years back, I got amused with Islam. There was no Abu Sayyaf back then. If there was, it might be in its infancy. No bombings just about anywhere in the planet. MNLF has not birthed MILF yet. Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan were not as famous. Saudi Arabia was the place to go to when you wanted to be rich. Osama bin Laden might be trying to grow a goatee yet. (Or was I just too preoccupied with other business in life so that I was not aware of them?)
In my Catholic upbringing, the daily rosaries and Sunday masses gave me an avenue for rebellion. I hated my grandma way back then who used to violently wake us up at four in the morning to say the rosary. Violence here means a tug in the ear, a smack in the butt, or a tweak in the groin. Sometimes my lola would employ the three. The painful scrubbing of my Mama during Sunday baths so we would be squeaky clean when we go to church would leave me crying and wishing the church be gone. I feared the priests telling us of eternal damnation, Satan piercing every bad kid with his trident and carting them away to hell where fire boils every skin-- eternally. Aside of course from the "fact" that priests would come out of our wounds when we were not careful, all bloody crap.
Islam gave me a different perspective. The "Allah u Akbar" chants, "Assalam u a'laikum wa rahmatu Allah", the many gold things including gold-capped teeth Muslims used to flashed around when I was young, the prostrating figures, the hooded women, the many wives! The hajj to Mecca and the thrill of travels. Calligraphy. Being young and brought up violently to justify the presence of God and with the rebellion in me uprising, these things made me wonder for a possible conversion.
A Muslim I met in one of my travels told me the greatness of Allah. I befriended him after I saw him prostrating in the corner. He told me of the ways of Allah. We discussed the five pillars of Islam of which Salat (the five-times daily prayers) was the only thing I can remember. Of alms-giving. Rakats. Purity. Abundance. Mankind. The Holy Quran. The need for a teacher. I remember now he told me in details how to prepare the body and mind for prayers.
I became a vegetarian for two years, thanks to him. Even a very small piece of pork in my food would ruin my hunger for vegetables. (Until now I rarely eat lechon no matter how tempting. A small portion of pork meat maybe found in my meal once in a while but almost always I avoid it.)
Sadly, all the things and rites I hated in Roman Catholicism were still the things they did in Islam, only in different forms and names. The Holy Quran, just like the Bible, is replete with explicit and implicit sanction and promotion of armed conflict, violence, and bloodshed by Muslims. The recent developments in the world have Islam on the back of my mind. In fact I hated some of them Muslims.
So what religion do I profess now?
Well- proudly, I am a non-practicing Roman Catholic. Who cares?