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Questioning the unquestionable

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Religion in Pakistan

Adolescence is strange. Stranger still is the seeping realization that you don’t fully believe everything that you’ve been taught since childhood. You have questions. You have doubts. You have a swarm of thoughts in your head — each more draining than the other. For me, it began with questioning my mortality and ultimately snowballed into questioning divinity. It wasn’t instantaneous of course. I’ve always had questions but questions such as these aren’t exactly welcome. Faith, after all, is supposed to be blind. Mine wasn’t. I don’t think I had enough faith to fill a thimble. Over the course of my adolescence, I heard friends tell me over and over to have faith or else. Of course they didn’t use those exact words but the implication was the same. Have faith or else you’ll go to hell or suffer in life or never truly be happy or whatever people say to justify their statements. It was amusing to me at first — an all-knowing, all-seeing entity would be enraged because an insignificant bacteria in this petri dish of a universe did not put forth whatever amount of their soul they could muster on to it.

I’ll be honest, though. Up until the age of 17, I was angry. I had a grudge against god. I couldn’t believe the sheer ignorance people put up with. There is so much pain and I don’t know how to not notice it; so much pain, I can’t keep myself from drowning in it most days and God did nothing. God continues to do nothing. What happened to divine intervention? What happened to the reign of the just? What was once innocent curiosity became fiery rage and in it’s own time fizzled into quiet desperation. I found myself begging. Not for me. I was fortunate and privileged enough to not suffer — of course everyone suffers in some way but not to the extent of deterioration (be it physical, psychological or financial). The same entity that created the light also birthed the concept of darkness (and of all that exists within that darkness).During those times of darkness, people around me prayed. I sight of their muffled sobs and whitened knuckles is engraved in my mind. All that yelling and pleading and sobbing… for what? The divine phone cord is disconnected at the roots. The amount of faith you pour into the receiver doesn’t matter, my friend.

I went through bouts of atheism to agnosticism to absolute resignation to my religion. Because what else? Anger is for those who have the energy to entertain it. I did for two years and it left me as a, quite frankly, hollowed version of myself. I wanted to believe. So badly. I came to admire those that had faith. It seemed so easy for them. They had a safety net (even if that safety net might not exist) and what did I have? Bitterness and resentment. It takes its toll on you when you’re raised in an society that heavily ingrains faith and religion in its youth. My curiosity was not welcome and whatever role other factors played, the blatant disregard set me off on this rollercoaster of a journey faster than anything else. In terms of a solution, I don’t think I ever came across one (or even the vague idea of one). The problem had never been concrete. Am I faithless? Am I angry? Am I dissatisfied with the idea of organized religion? Do I believe faith and religion are not mutually exclusive? Maybe all of these. Some are answered easier than others. I don’t know a lot of things but I do know this: I found a silver of faith in myself and I’m holding onto it as hard as I can. Humans wage wars in the name of religion. They argue, they fight, they kill. All in the name of Heaven. But no one entertains the thought that maybe God doesn’t believe in us anymore. Maybe we should.

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About the writer: Shahzaib Awan currently heads the Bisouv Publications and House of Entremuse Media Group. He writes for Times, The Guardian, The Nation, and other prominent newspapers. He’s currently studying Computer Science at Jacobs University, Germany. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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