I entered Islam on the basis of questioning within an unquestionable and most certain foundation. Like a toddler taking her first steps, exploring the world through taking in everything she can find, I read everything I chance across, and I question when I can’t seem to grasp something.
The current path is like this: I read freely, and when I chance across something that I don’t understand or doesn’t seem quite right, I search for my answer. Google search has become my best friend. But what I’ve realised in my search is that it is so easy to be misguided. The internet has scores of articles and information on what I am searching about. Most of the time, they differ greatly in points of view, but they are presented in a way that the author’s point of view gets mixed with facts and become printed as a fact in itself.
And here’s the dangerous part: it’s so easy to believe anything that sounds convincing, and for converts with no specific, step-by-step guidance, it’s so easy to fall from the truth. Even for me, though I am fortunate to have a few learned people around to answer my questions, I still feel like I’m feeling my way around in the dark, feeling and clinging on to the first thing I come across. It’s unstructured, scattered searching, and I don’t like it.
It gets a little frustrating after a while, and I’m frankly a little surprised that even though Islam is a religion which encourages continuous knowledge, muslim converts in Singapore are left to fend for themselves after their conversion. My search for an Ustazah- a teacher whom I can rely on to guide me in my reading and my questions- have been futile up to now. The thing is that I don’t know where to start, or how to proceed.
I tried the basics- by reading on how Islam came to be- reading Muhammad, His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Ling. Most comprehensive and detailed book which earned awards in the Muslim world, hailed as the “best biography of the prophet in English”, you can’t possibly go wrong from there, can you? Turns out you can. I only found one paragraph in the book which, by it’s subtle phrasing and lack of more information, made me a little disturbed on the portrayal of our Prophet (s.a.w). But it was enough to make me doubt the contents in the rest of the pages- a true example of how an author can mix personal opinions within a factual work.
And the internet has loads of it. I feel like my sense of discernment has been put on overdrive, trying to sift what’s true from what’s not. The only thing guiding me at this time is Prophet Muhammed’s words,
“I have left behind me two things, if you cling to them you will never go astray. They are the Book of Allaah and my Sunnah” (al-Haakim)
As such, I have abandoned the internet. My current read will be on the Risale-I-Nur books, which insofar I feel to be really good at giving me the reasons from a fundamental level- why we believe there is a God, why we must worship him, the beauty of the 5 prayers etc.
But the difficulty still remains: questions will always come. To whom do I direct my questions to?