Friday 20 May 2011

Desperately Seeking: Divine Guidance

Desperately Seeking: Divine Guidance

I remember a long time ago (before my conversion to Islam) I wanted to lose weight and my belief was that I could only really effectively achieve that goal by 1. Reducing my fat and sugar intake and 2 increasing my physical activity. Essentially that’s all I had to do.

Anyone who has ever tried to do this will know that sticking at something that you know is good for you is sometimes not that easy. Sometimes we are tired or lazy. We are only human after all. What I personally found to be of benefit was reading magazine articles about nutrition, getting readers’ tips on what kinds of low-fat food items are out there on the supermarket shelves,  people’s opinions on what is tried and tested as tasty AND low calorie, suggestions to spice up the exercise routine. I read lots of magazines from different publishers, each with reader contributions – unbiased, genuine personal experiences and sharing what they found worked for them. I read personal testimonials, and saw before and after photos. I even got a training buddy so that when we made an appointment to go running together or to the gym, we actually stuck at it. Sometimes there were adverts at the back of the magazine for magic pills claiming they were THE only way to lose weight. Or special machines that were THE only way to get the perfect flat stomach. The magazine articles and reader’s contributions never claimed to be THE only way; the information was there to muse upon, be encouraged by, be tried out, tested for yourself, or rejected. The goal (lose weight) was always the number one focus.

I recently invited someone to join the Quranists Network forum and the invitation was politely declined with “Thanks for your invitation but I don’t think I can guide myself. I’ll trust God and let him be my guide.”

It was a statement that made me go into analysis mode. The reply seemed to suggest that being in a forum and trusting God were mutually exclusive. I am in online forums, but I let God guide me don’t I? I trust God don’t I? I analysed my suggestion and the reply I received. It seemed to me that my suggestion to join a forum was understood to mean an invitation to “seek Divine Guidance” from other than the Quran. Of course that was not what my invitation was. What was my invitation? To join a forum. For what purpose? I had to then analyse my own reasons for using online forums.


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