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Dark Night of the Muslim Soul

Is Faith a Choice or a Gift?

Is Faith a Choice or a Gift?
Powerful faith is a gift because it tends to afflict those who are most resistant to it.

Belief is a choice, and it requires an active conscious commitment to an intellectual process.  But faith is a blessing and not a choice.  Belief is an intellectual response to reality.  Faith is an emotional one.

I will prove that faith is not a choice by soliciting the help of those who are obsessed with the absoluteness of proof; the atheists.  But before we start with proofs, we must agree on definitions.  Faith – A belief in the absence of evidence.  Atheist- Someone who believes in the power of  faith.    This is not an oxymoron, it’s an assertion I make based on the objective definition of faith.

An atheist takes an absolute stand about something that cannot be proven. He has complete faith that God does not exist.  Therefore he believes in the power of faith.  Maybe I am being a bit facetious.  So let me try again.

Atheist-  Someone who  cannot prove in the existence of anything that  cannot submit to a definition because definitions place limitations on the object  they try to define.    In other words –    God is infinite, and definitions are finite.  And so proof of God for a believer or an atheist becomes a function, not of evidence, but of an emotional response.

Faith in the one who believes in God is experienced as an intense emotion.    And lack of faith in God is experienced as the absence of emotion.  But if you do not have faith, and most of us do not have the kind of faith I am alluding to here, you can still have belief.  Belief is a choice and an intellectual one.

The desire to have faith is one of the most indispensible prerequisites towards receiving its blessings.  And that desire stems from the understanding that faith is the greatest achievable emotional state.

For a believer with no faith and a believer with faith, the difference is only a matter of degrees, not in kind.  A believer with no faith is still a believer.  But the difference between two men without faith – but one is a believer by choice, and the other a denouncer by choice – is a difference in kind and not degrees.

There is no possibility of redemption if you actively renounce God.  In other words, there is no possibility that your emotions can respond to God’s presence because you have actively intellectualized them out of existence.

To an atheist, faith and its corresponding emotions are dismissed as a biological response to a psychological need.  Emotions are defined as the automatic integrations of external stimuli into the subconscious.   So an atheist is quick to diagnose the believer with the only tools he has – standardized testing.

But it has now become abundantly clear that just as some of the brightest minds in the atheist community are sane minds, in spite of their lack of faith,     the brightest minds in the religious community are also equally brilliant and totally sane, not in spite of faith, but sometimes because of it.

So the insanity plea that atheists have been making to discredit their pious counterparts is now obsolete, because the logical and sane now exist on both sides of this spectrum.   In fact, faith informs believers in ways that allow them to overcome the pitfalls of logic through the exercise of compassion; which is not always a logical response to reality.

So how does one get this blessing of faith?   First, you must be humble enough to believe, not because you perceive in God, but in spite of your lack of perception.

As Huston smith, the world- renowned theologian demonstrated in his book,Cleansing the Doors of Perception,chemical adjuncts can be used to stimulate a feeling of God’s presence.  But I propose that humility and the conscious act of surrender are more powerful chemical adjuncts, minus the paraphernalia, than the ones we can ingest.

When prayer is a means to an end as opposed to drugs, there is no confusion whether the effect is divine or demonic, real or induced, permanent of fleeting.  For those who cannot let go but will let go just enough to admit that they can’t let go, they can try this prayer:  Dear God, I pray for the miraculous resurrection of a gullible unsullied mind.

Yes, we have all equated faith with a gullibility and blindness at some point, and for me it was a blindness I had always wished for.  A kind of blindness that allows you to see what you want as opposed to what is. And so how does someone with that degree of arrogance ever open the doors of perception, let alone cleanse them?  He does not, and he cannot.   This is where divine intervention gets in.

Faith is peace

Powerful faith is a gift because it tends to afflict those who are most resistant to it.  It is a violent experience which erupts when a drop of humility enters your blood stream and rips through the darkness of your soul like lightening.  And for those with the potential to achieve the greatest faith, this usually happens not as a process, but as a life altering event.

This is an event which, to the person experiencing it, is nothing short of a miracle. Proud people demand miracles they did not earn.   But you must go through the motions minus the emotions in order for God to split the Red Sea.  To split that impossible gulf between you and Him, is to split your  congested brain matter,  evict  your intellect , and annex the last remnants of your mind, flooding it with the unfiltered blood of a beating heart after years of living off a ventilator.   That feeling is a kind of miracle you don’t like to share because you do not want to undermine the extraordinary experience by subjecting it to the reactions of ordinary believers.

But be forewarned that faith is not a permanent condition and must be nourished by religious practice.  Many people once had faith and lost it.  And now they live off the memory of what it once felt like, until the memory starts to fade and spiritual amnesia threatens their very survival.

This is a phenomenon coined by John the Baptist (Prophet Yahya)  as the “Dark Night of the Soul.”  It’s a period in time in a person’s life when the light goes off completely, and the place where God once resided becomes completely vacated.  It’s a time which can last for decades. It’s a time when you feel you are completely lost and without a sense or a feeling that God exists, and yet you persist in your search.

Some of the world’s greatest religious and spiritual leaders have experienced this emptiness, and during those times the only thing which connected them to a seemingly indifferent non -existent God was their humility, which is the humble realization that He is there even though I do not feel Him, the humble realization that I must find Him.

It’s the same feeling that makes you search for God who can make His presence known but prefers to torture you with His absence.  That torture can be purification or a petrifaction, it all depends on you, it is your choice. download

But remember this: patience is not about waiting in line for loaf bread.  It’s about waiting in line without knowing whether your salvation or a guillotine lies at the end of it.  It’s about standing still in defiance of every impulse you have to run.  It’s  about standing still while the anger courses through your veins because the devil himself has granted you,  of all the people,  the pleasure of his company,  by making himself real,  making  his love clear, and offering you the world and everything in it.  And this devil will constantly remind you that your God has forsaken you but he is there for you.

To desire faith over good fortune during those moments takes a spiritual giant.  And spiritual giants are not people who have persevered with their prayers and stuck it out with God.  On the contrary, spiritual giants are the first to sell their soul, but not to the Devil, who is always the highest bidder,    but to the lowest and weakest losers.  Because a spiritual giant understands that only a degenerate soul could claim a high price, and only a tortured soul can find refuge in self-deprecation.  And they would rather be tortured than corrupt.  They choose self-destruction over survival because life without God is unbearable.

The noted linguist and mathematician Alfred Korzybski once said,

“There are two ways to slide easily through life; to believe everything or to doubt everything.  Both ways save us from thinking.”

But to think is to doubt, and you should think, and you will doubt.  And when you do, be patient, and never ever give up on faith, because you will not only be brought back to God through the gift of faith, but you will start perceiving Him as if He were standing right next to you.  That is the logical equation,   and the proof of it-   is in your heart.

First published: July 2014

About Inas A. Younis

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