Marie Harmony and I have a nice connection. I write and she comments and together we have built an understanding. Through this understanding, I am able to ask her questions about her faith and she is able to answer.
It is not my job to bring her to Islam. It is only my job, as a Muslim, to inform her and invite her.
Yosra: Asalamu Alaykom, Marie. Thank you for agreeing to a dialogue.
Do you believe in The Oneness of God?
Marie: Yes I believe in the oneness of God.
Yosra: Alhumdulillah. Therefore, you really could say, "La illaha il Allah". There is no other God than God.
When you were raised with The Trinity, did it make sense to you? Does it make sense now?
Marie: As a Christian I learnt about the Trinity, everybody said to me this is a mystery you can't understand but you have to accept. It did not make sense at the time, It does not make much sense now. I just lived years with it without thinking much about it.
Yosra: I don't do well with accepting that which doesn't make sense. I think, on some level, none of us are able to be authentic when we feel that we're signing off on a group belief that we don't personally hold.
Do you pray to other entities? Saints? Statues? Jesus (peace be upon him)?
Marie: I used to pray a lot to statues and saints, to Jesus and Mary. I used to spend hours in church saying my prayers. As I started looking deeper in Christianity and learning about Islam, I realized this did not make sense. But I have to admit I talk to Mary quite often.
Yosra: My mother has a strong affinity to Mary (blessings onto her) though she is not Catholic. I gave my mom the translated chapter of Mariam in the Quran but I think that the pamphlet has only gathered dust.
I wonder if you feel interested to talk to God with the openess you speak to Mariam? Actually, we know that it is God that hears you---whether you believe you are talking to Him or not. What if you set your heart on having the conversation with Him? Perhaps you feel comfortable talking to a mother but a mother is an earthly creator whereas The Heavenly Creator cares for you on a higher level.
Does your Egyptian husband provide you with information about Islam? What is it that you've gained from talking to him? From observing him?
Marie: My husband does not teach me much about his religion, not that he does not want, I think he respects my beliefs and doesn't want to influence me too much. We did fast together for the Ramadan last year, it gave me a chance to know more about Islam. My husband is working on the sea and unfortunately does not have the freedom to really practice his religion.
Yosra: I do think that he could step it up a bit, Allahu alim. You are such a searcher and he holds many answers. Maybe he's waiting for you to knock on the door before he opens it up. However, if he truly believes that Islam is a way to live better then he could give you more chance to enter in and explore it together with him.
I think a great moment between a husband and wife is (no, not sex...well....yes, sex but better than that) praying together. That union of spirt is so satisfying. To have a husband lead a wife in prayer on the rug is really a synchronizing of bodies, minds and souls. It's so nice and I hope you get a chance to join with him while he prays. Follow him and his movements and even if you don't know all the words you will benefit from the time together in front of God inshahallah.
It's GREAT that you fasted this past Ramadan. I can't imagine having a Muslim husband and not ever fasting. How would his life-partner then know the extreme feelings a month-long fast brings about? Mashahallah, may Allah accept your fasting.
When you came to Egypt, did part of your journey mean learning more about Islam?
Marie: Not really. I looked around, witnessing life is regulated by the prayers and people live every minute according to their religion. It's quite interesting.
Yosra: I'm so glad you got a chance to come here! I only wish we could have met.
Life here is really regulated by observance of faith. That's why it's harder in Non-Muslim countries to be in Islam because it's the opposite; worship of God is regulated by life. For instance, when it's time to meet in a Muslim country, you say "after Magrib prayers". However, in the U.S., you would set an appointment by the clock and then afterward figure out how to fit your prayers around it. Life is easier, in some ways, if you only pray on Sundays but I've found the five prayers help me organize my life to be more fulfilling.
Have you read Quran?
Marie: I read the Qu'ran, it was very interesting. I gained a better understanding of Islam and discovered it is very different that what the media are telling us.
Yosra: Alhumdulillah that you read it. There are so many different translations. Some will speak to you more than others. Personally, I don't like Pickthall's translation because it sounds too much like the King James Bible with all its arcaic "thee" and "thou". Make sure that you try other versions to find the voice which speaks to you. I love the Mohammed Asad translation, the Ahmed Ali translation and the Al-Azhar translation.
Have you studied about the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)? Do you feel he was a prophet?
Marie: I am sure Mohammed was a Prophet. I did not yet looked into his life, thought I would like. If you have any books / lectures to recommend, please do so.
Yosra: Alhumdulillah. You really could say the second part of the shahaddah then, "Muhammadar Rasullulah." Muhammad is a Prophet.
It doesn't mean that you negate everything you already loved about Jesus (peace be upon him). You can still identify with Jesus and want to cling to him. There were so many prophets (peace upon them all). The reason that there were so many is that God kept sending different voices for different listeners. If what you need is to remain faithful to the teachings of Jesus, then you are free to do that AND be Muslim.
The only thing you can't do is believe that Jesus is son of God (astragferallah). We all are creations of God. If you are able to see that Jesus was a man (and not a third of the trinity) then you aren't really Christian.
Another part of the Christian faith is to believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) took away our sins when he died. As Muslims, we don't believe he died and he certainly didn't die to give us life. Each one of us has our own life and our own deeds. None of us can give our good deeds to clear another's bad deeds.
I really like Karen Armstrong's biography on the Prophet (peace be upon him). She is not Muslim but is very affirming of our faith. What I like about her approach is that it's very sensible and straight-forward. Anyone could read it and not feel like they were an outsider.
There is so much on the internet about the Prophet (peace be upon him). I was searching just now for what I could recommend. This biography starts with the whole lineage of the Arabs, which does give his life more framework. I'm hesitant to recommend it, as I haven't read it entirely. I could maybe only suggest it.
On my own blog, I have typed out the information from an Al-Azhar pamphlet, "Why the Prophet Muhammad Married More than One." This tells a lot about his character and his life. It used to be one of the most read posts on my blog so I'd like some more readers to take a look at it (then maybe once again it would appear on the sidebar).
What would you say is the tie joining you to other religions?
Marie: God's love.
Yosra: Alhumdulillah. The universal truths are found in every faith and that is a biggie. You are, of course, one of the most loving people I've met on the 'net so you do embody what you say.
What would you gain if you came to Islam? What would you lose?
Marie: As we say never say never, If I come to Islam one day I think I would gain directions for my life, a sense of belonging to a community, I would have the same religion as my children and maybe would be more able to guide them on the journey.
I think I would lose the way I see life - for me what is important is what is in the heart, you can do everything that your religion says is good to do, if there is no love in your heart, all these things are meaningless. I would be in constant research of what is good or bad. I don't think there is one religion better than the other, so I would be a bit lost. And I would miss this special connection with Jesus teachings and Mary.
Yosra: I really do hear the positives---especially about sharing a new bond with your children. It's hard not to share faith. I have it going the other way with my older teens. They were not allowed to chose Islam and so they've been raised in a nowhere land by a non-observant father. They know about Islam but we don't share it together. It's always been on the outskirts and not fully embraced. With Mr. Boo, their younger brother, we have a closer bond from our ability to share Islam.
You would lose the way you view life but that isn't so much a negative as an eventuality. We never really do stay stagnant; we keep evolving (hopefully).
I know what you're saying about "heart". I think that really is intentions. Does that resonate with you? Your intention is your everything? In other words, if your intention isn't pure then it's meaningless. Actually, that is a core belief of Islam.
It probably seems like Islam is all about halal and haram and that the list is long and tiring. It is tiring for the first couple of years as there is a lot to learn. Alhumdulillah we are not taken to task for anything we are unaware of. So, as we learn what's right from wrong we adjust and it's a process; an unfolding.
I do feel that one religion is better than another for me. It doesn't have to be....in fact CAN'T...be the religion for everyone. Whatever gets you through this life and into the next is best.
Imagining yourself five years from now...how would you hope your spirituality would have grown?
Marie: In 5 years I would hope to be at peace with my choices of a religion or no religion.
Marie: Thanks Yosra for giving me the chance to share my ideas. Stay blessed always.
Yosra: Thank you for being so open and willing to share! Love and light to you, Marie, now and always.