Author’s note: From here on out I’ll be providing citations from The Holy Qur’an: A Reformist Translation
Have you ever felt like a flower with no foundation? As if what you believed to be reality was completely swept from under your feet? For a long time ever since I was a child I struggled with what to live by. I grew up in a “Hislamic” household where I watched my Mother get abused physically and emotionally. A religion that worships God alone without associating anyone with Him and yet places Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on a pedestal above the other prophets, not so different from Christians believing that Jesus (PBUH) is the Son of God (9:31).
Ever since I was a child I knew that whatever I was being taught was wrong. I knew it was wrong of us to place Prophet Muhammad on a special pedestal (6:74; 7:138-139; 14:35; 21:52-67; 22:30; 74:5), knew it was wrong to beat women (4:34), and knew that we shouldn’t mix hadith with The Qur’an (6:114-115; 6:159; 9:31; 12:111; 31:6; 39:23). But at the time I didn’t have answers, none of us did. It wasn’t until I became a young adult that I began to lose faith in God, truly I felt like my foundation was poor. It wasn’t until I returned to Florida in 2012 from Kansas City, Missouri that I was introduced to the true teachings of Islam, as revealed through the late Rashad Khalifa.
This revelation was an immense breath of fresh air for me, that the mistruths I’ve been told throughout my childhood began to evaporate like boiling water. Yet I still struggled as I began to learn more pertaining to issues such as how many times a day I should pray (2:238; 11:114; 17:78; 24:58) or when I should observe Ramadan. Sadly during these times, even with this message revealed to me, I still felt lost. In fact, back in Ramadan 2016 I stopped halfway because I felt doubtful about whether it was the time to fast or not.
It was a miserable feeling to opt-out of fasting, it was as if I was defying God. It felt like hell was building up within me, this struggle caused me great depression and occasional considerations of suicide. This was something that I felt I couldn’t talk to anyone about because I thought that no matter what any mortal person could tell me, it’d be nil compared to God’s word. Compound that with the fact that we’ll be held accountable for our actions when Judgment Day comes, the prevailing fact of death, and the uncertainty of our ultimate destiny. Never mind the fact that it is I that is held accountable for the information I come across and to use my discernment wisely.
Lately I’ve been feeling very irritable, triggers that have been setting off my irritation especially. Some weeks ago I felt compelled to spend my morning upon awakening to go to the local shoreline to get some peace and quiet. What has really been getting on my nerves are these conflicting feelings that I have towards a certain someone I feel strongly towards. It’s the fact that she’s already with someone and that even if she were single, I still wouldn’t want to be with her. I’m not in the best situation financially, spiritually, and emotionally to be in any intimate relationship.
This certain person is my friend and is very special to me, I wouldn’t want to put her through any heartache if we ever were together, I’ve seen enough of it in my Mother’s life. I want to be a man that a woman would be proud of, a man that my spouse would be proud of having for a companion. However this feeling of frustration serves also as a fuel to inspire me to change my situation. Like I said before, she has no idea just how much she’s inspired me in the two months we’ve known each other. The thing with friendships is that even though you don’t know someone for that long, you feel as though you’ve known them forever and that’s the case with her. Whether or not we ever get together, nevertheless I want to be in her life and help her get where she wants to go.
It’s funny, it’s like all lifeforms in nature are on a collective mission, a mission to live. It’s like an MMO where every player agrees to the established rules in order to have a functioning balanced world. Seeds become flowers, caterpillars in the face of adversity still pursue to become butterflies, lions provide for their packs, sperm fertilizes the egg within the fallopian tube, etc. Every creation and every interaction creates a synergy that operates in harmony like a dance, something entirely unprecedented in any video game that we’ve ever created. It’s as though life is doing what it was designed or evolved to do with each life-form performing their respective role. It’s even more profound that no life-form is in direct conflict with another life-form, in the same respect that we have conflict or disagreements among ourselves. Whether one believes in intelligent design or an intelligent Creator doesn’t matter, you can’t deny the sheer beauty of it all.
If this is the case, why do we as a creation struggle so much when it comes to having a foundation, upon which to live and unleash our potential? Is it because we have free will (5:105)? If that’s the case then free will is like being given a candlelight in a sea of darkness, and that everyone arrives at their conclusion as a result of treading through that darkness. We have our nihilists, absurdists, fundamentalists, everyone with their own idea of how life is and what we should do moving forward. Makes me wonder, will humanity ever arrive at an objective truth of what reality is and what we should do moving forward? Quite fitting how the term “objective” is compared to the term “mission”, it’s no wonder that there’s no such thing as subjectives in military operations.
I truly believe that this is possible albeit a nerve-wracking, debateful, and arduous undertaking. It may not ever happen but I do believe that this objective truth exists, and for me that involves having Islam as my foundation. Not Islam the religion but Islam the way of life, the way of life that best pleases God and ultimately serves humanity in the best way possible. Even if I didn’t consider myself Muslim or if I didn’t believe in God, nevertheless life is worth living and fighting for even though our time here is brief.
Even if life possessed no inherent meaning, we as a creation create our own meaning. Do we create a world where we all live and thrive together or a divided one that’ll eventually collapse like civilizations of the past (9:69; 30:9)? In recent times with Trump’s selection as President of The United States, regardless of who he is as a person or what people may feel about him, there’s no doubting that he is a man who grabs his destiny by the balls. Not even Donald Trump but any other human being that hold themselves accountable for how they respond to life and what to make of the creative powers they have. Donald Trump may or may not be a “good” person but I nevertheless respect his tenacity, albeit I may not agree with his ideas.
It is those that stand firm to their ideals and persevere that truly pull the strings of human civilization, for better or worse. Over the years I’ve seen and encountered those that posit that life has no meaning or that nothing matters which personally is an argument that doesn’t hold much water. Even if life possessed no meaning, again we can create meaning, to claim that life has no meaning is a meaning in itself. One may not believe in God but still grab life by the balls and be the steersman/steerswoman of their lives. History has shown time and time again those that shape the world through perseverance such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Mother Theresa, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Norbert Wiener, Gustave Le Bon, Edward Bernays, etc.
Imagine for a moment if we as a creation possessed no creative powers to create civilizations, cuisines, languages, cures, policies, games, or cities. What would life look like? Would we still believe that life had no meaning? We’d practically be reduced to animals and yet even animals are driven. I’ve learned quite a bit over the years that led me to the conclusion that even if I lost faith or belief in God, I’d still persist in living.
As I’m writing this I can’t help but remember Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. In the series Edward Elric was shown to be an agnostic, one who doesn’t believe nor denies the existence of God. However, despite his troubles, his sins, the sorrow he’s witnessed to those around him, he still has something to live and fight for. One doesn’t particularly need to believe in God to be driven to survive, but what do we think keeps us alive in the first place? At any point in the story Edward could’ve given up which almost happened early on in the series, but in the end he sucked it up and persevered.
He wouldn’t have succeeded without his friends and those who wished to see him and Alphonse get their bodies back, in other words they had an ample amount of support. A number of us have done things in our lives that are so horrible we’re not willing to forgive ourselves for what we’ve done, in doing so we keep ourselves from growing. I know I’ve done my fair share of horrible things growing up and I regret doing them, although it’s a process I’m getting along with forgiving myself. I think a lot of us can relate to the Elric Brothers when it comes to getting past our sins but not forgetting about them, because surely we cannot hide our skeletons forever. Instead of wallowing in our own misery like a dog in dirt, why not make the darkness conscious?
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”
Throughout the story these characters struggled with coming to grips with what they’ve done and forgiving themselves, to move forward. On the flip side there are those like King Bradley and the homunculi who couldn’t care less about the well-being of humans. They stuck to their ideals and thus shaped a world, hundreds of years in the making, that didn’t serve humanity.
“Open your eyes. ‘God’ is nothing more than a construct created by man to inspire fear and promote order. If you wish to see me struck down, for all these atrocities, use your own hands to do so, not ‘God’s’.”
-King Bradley from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Episode 30
People such as King Bradley, the Illuminati, or anyone else for that matter, will step up to the plate and create the sand castle they want not considering the well-being of anyone else. They’re in service of themselves and have no qualms about using the masses as a resource to fuel their endeavor; and they’ll surely find ways to keep us in a state of inactivity, ignorance, confusion, and conflict one way or another. Education and exploration go a long way towards illuminating our place in life and our understanding of ourselves. I’ve been in a bit of a rut ever since I graduated high school nearly two years ago and I want out of it. Ever since I was a child I always wanted to travel the world, Japan especially.
This feeling I have of being in a rut, I equate to a player spending prolonged periods of time in one small area of a map in an open-world game. Life Online is massive, much to see and much to experience. I can’t lose hope or give up now when I haven’t even seen the world. I’d like to explore the world metaphorically and literally because there are ideas to learn, people to meet, viewpoints to learn, ways of life to understand, etc. My total experience and my ideas don’t sum up to the world that is out there and I’d like to see it.
This was one of my reasons for starting New Game Infinity, to create a platform that not only serves to educate, inspire, and inform my fellow players of Life Online but also to serve as a learning experience. One day I hope for this platform to inspire someone’s life for the better even if it is one person. As the famous novelist Richard Bach said:
“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.“
In this present age of confusion, many of us are looking for answers. I can’t say that I’m well-informed but I definitely have some grasp on what is happening in the world albeit learning never ends. Like in any video game where the game designer gives the player everything that they need to function within the game space, so too did God give us all the tools we need to confront the many problems that our race may encounter on this planet. With regards to critical thinking I highly recommend “relearning” what’s called the Trivium Method.
Many of you who may read this have various opinions and perspectives, I’ll not impose on anyone what they should believe; however I find more value in sharing to others how to think and not what to think. The Trivium Method is a method of intellectual self-defense that can be applied to learn virtually any subject or unknown situation to attain certainty. It is a method that was stripped from American public schooling a century ago for the sole purpose of “dumbing down the masses.” Another great resource to check out is Richard Grove’s TragedyandHope.com which provides PhD-level research into the status quo. I highly recommend beginning with the Peace Revolution Podcast Episode 23 on How To Free Your Mind which sets the stage for further learning.
Recently I made the decision to get my hands on the Qur’an: A Reformist Translation to relearn and solidify my Islamic faith. I have to mention that Islam is not a proper name, that it is the paradigm of all those who submit themselves peacefully to God alone. It isn’t a religion founded by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as it is falsely claimed. Islam is a descriptive name meaning submission and peace, it is a way of life that emphasizes personal freedom from all powers by accepting God alone as the only absolute authority. When I said that it’s as though every life-form is in on a collective mission, this ties with what is said in the Qur’an (41:11) that the entire universe including the material bodies of rejecters, is Muslim, since every particle, atom, molecule, planet, star, light, galaxy in the universe submits perfectly to God’s law. In other word’s submission to God in peace and peacemaking (Islam) is the law of the universe.
In Life Online, although our circumstances can be determined by hereditary and environmental factors, ultimately we as a creation have a degree of control over our destiny. The great Islamic thinker Muhammad Iqbal put it very apt in his magnum opus Reconstruction of Religious Thought In Islam:
“If history is regarded merely as a gradually revealed photo of a predetermined order of events, then there is no room in it for novelty and initiation. Consequently, we can attach no meaning to the word ‘creation’, which has a meaning for us only in view of our own capacity for original action. The truth is that the whole theological controversy relating to predestination is due to pure speculation with no eye on the spontaneity of life, which is a fact of actual experience. No doubt, the emergence of egos endowed with the power of spontaneous and hence unforeseeable action is, in a sense, a limitation on the freedom of the all-inclusive Ego. But this limitation is not externally imposed. It is born out of His own creative freedom whereby He has chosen finite egos to be participators of His life, power, and freedom.”
(Iqbal, Muhammad. The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. Kitab Bhavan, 2000.)
As a creation endowed with free will, we each are held accountable for our choices and our growth. Think of it like us tending to flowers in a garden where we are the flowers. Every flower needs its nutrients in order for it to grow, no one is going to do it for us. We succumb to the natural elements of life just like any other life-form, the difference between them and us is our ability to change our destiny. All the great achievements of human culture were results of human effort such as The Eiffel Tower, The Civil Rights Movement, Quran: A Reformist Translation, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gurren Lagann, The United States of America, etc. At the end of the day when all is said and done, after many of our stumbles and challenges; when our reserves of motivation and willpower become bone-dry, the question that always pervades our lives is this: