What is religion?
Is religion meant to be structured?
I thought religion is what I feel between me and God.
Should someone else dictate the how of my communion with God?
Am I less of a muslim if I fail to have a beautiful voice to read the Sacred Text in?
Is religion communal or personal?
With so many rules it does not seem to be personal.
By reading the Sacred Text aloud do we need to feel in a group?
Is religion about comparison and judgment?
Do I need to measure up to a special point on someone’s meter stick of piety?
If the man next to me weeps more than me, is his connection with God better?
Is religious experience or conformity more important?
Should I hide what I feel in favor for what the group is feeling?
Are the rules to be taken as laws or guidelines?
Maybe these elements allow for a connection between all believers.
They provide a starting point for people to develop their own faith.
Maybe religion encompasses these elements but also so much more.
A constant tension I have found in the readings and lectures for this class is the group versus self divide as well as this tension between structured religion and more freeform, self made religion. I saw that very clearly in the “External Rules of Quran Recitation” reading. Some of the rules, like rule six about weeping or rule ten about reading the Quran beautifully, seem in a large part outside the control of the reciter. The entire idea of structured Quran recitation is one that we have talked about a lot.
This free verse poem was in reaction to all the questions that I felt when I read the reading on the rules. Many of the questions got to the root of my inquiries about religion itself. As a scientist, one of the most important things we are taught to do is question everything. The truth can only be found from constant questioning. This seems to not be the case in religion where there is no one right answer. This belief comes into conflict with the rules of Quran recitation though because they are so structured, just like math rules. Through my poem I tried to impart this battle between the fluid idea that I have come to associate religion with and the very rigid rules presented. In thinking these ideas over myself, I came to the conclusion that the rigid rules allow for some consistency which is good for the whole of a religion. There need to be some ties that pull everything and everyone together or religion becomes only a cultural entity.