I thought I would start my first foray into the world of webblogs with an entry on why and how I became interested in the subject of Islam. Let me first state that I am an architect by training and have never had any courses on Islam, its history, its jurisprudence, or its various expressions. My interest is simple a matter of “redemption”. In the books I read and the movies that I watch, I have always been fascinated with the notion of the fall and the process of redemption. This is why I have been particularly fascinated with Westerns over the years. Here I can recommend Unforgiven or Apocalypse Now (not a Western, but exploring similar terrain).
How does this relate to Islam? I came to be interested in Islam, again, not as a philosophy, but rather, looking at Muslims and how they dealt with Islam, particularly after September 11. I wanted to know how Muslims perceived the events that were spiraling out of control around them. I wanted to understand how something that was so beautiful to me (my personal search and practice of the faith) could be seen as something to be feared, not only in the West but in the Muslim world as well. I was searching for where the sparks of hope and voices of empowerment would come from and the manner in which they would speak. I was looking for hidden strands of Muslim practice and thought to emerge that have remained quite for centuries while more rigid and normative practices became defined as the true Islam. I looked for these voices to resonate and cast into a positive light my faith and the faith of over one billion living souls.
Thus, I began my pursuit to listen closely for this resonance in the hope that the combined sounds would indeed shatter the confines of that which has remained dormant for far too long in Islam: the use of the intellect, and Islam’s inherent humanity. September 11 has been described as a wake up call for America. It has been a wake up call for me as well and cast me on an intellectual search, one that continues to lead directly into the heart of darkness, into the values that define who I am. My fall came when the first plane hit the tower, I have been looking for redemption ever since.
Here then are some of the voices that have struck a chord with me. Not all of them are well written and many can be criticised, but each of them have helped me to stake out my own position. It is my hope that you too will find something to critique and to also help you clarify.