From Paganism to Islam
As you may have noticed, I haven’t been keeping up with this blog as much as I used to. The truth is that from 2017-Present I have gone through a series of events that have forever changed my life, and challenged me to my very core. To make a long story short, I went through cancer and the death of a very dear friend (who was also one of the biggest fans of this blog). In the midst of my suffering, I could not use antidepressants, alcohol or even vitamin supplements to help relieve the pain because of potential interaction with my chemo drugs.
So in the midst of my pain, I delved even deeper into my spirituality than before. As I describe my journey from paganism to Islam, it is not my purpose to disparage paganism, or any other religious belief, but rather just to describe my own personal journey. If anything, much of the spiritualities I explored previously were actually helpful in leading me to my current path, which is why I have decided to keep this blog up and running.
I came to paganism at 13 years old because the teachings of the Catholic Church did not make sense to me. Why did we have a Heavenly Father but no Earthly Mother? Was God a divorced dad? It was at 13 that my goth friends introduced me to Wicca, a spirituality with a divine mother and father. This seemed more comprehensive to me. I think there is much beauty in Wicca, in terms of connecting to the divine feminine power of nature.
However, as I got more interested in studying ancient pagan traditions, I found that in many ancient pagan traditions, they believed in a supreme god that was above the other gods.
I am not saying that all primeval religions were the same. But many have similar themes.
For me personally, it got confusing having so many different gods to worship. I wondered, if it is legitimate to worship the Celtic goddess Brighid, then why not worship all the gods? I also wondered why I should limit myself to just Celtic gods. Just because I am ethnically Celtic, does not mean that the African gods and Egyptian gods have no power? And I do also have some small traces of Iranian DNA, so do 2% of the gods I worship have to be Persian? I had a strong desire to get in touch with the supreme creator of the whole world. I wanted to have a connection with a god that was the god of everyone. I wanted to feel a sense of brother and sisterhood with all mankind, not just fellow Celts. And given that I have some extended family members who are not white, it seemed weird to me to limit myself to only people of my ethnic background.
More than serving the one supreme creator of everything, I also wanted to transform myself. I wanted to make myself better through a powerful spiritual alchemy. I wanted to become worthy of serving my creator.
As I researched religions, I found that the core message of Islam was the closest to what I was looking for.
And they were not commanded except to worship God , [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give to charity. And that is the correct religion. (Quran 98:5)
Of course there are all sorts of Hadith (reported sayings of the Prophet Mohammad PBUH) out there that call for extra things, cruel things. Some argue these hadith are not authentic and some argue that they are. I am not gonna touch that hot potato. All I am going to say is that it is some of these Hadith that scared me away from Islam for a time. But then when I did my own research, I found that the Quran was written around Mohammad PBUH’s lifetime, and the final version was compiled under the Caliph Uthman about 20 years after Mohammad PBUH’s death. Whereas much of the hadith (written sayings about Mohammad) we have today were written more than 150 years later. So in terms of my own Islam, I mainly focus on the message of the Quran since it is more of a primary source.
The Quran is a revelation given to the prophet Mohammad from God in 7th century Arabia. The message is that there is one supreme benevolent creator and the purpose of life is to serve this creator. One serves their creator through worship, fasting, doing good deeds and giving to charity. But the interesting thing is that the Quran also makes the point that God doesn’t actually need anything from us.
O mankind, you are those in need of God, while God is the Free of need, the Praiseworthy. (35:15)
So I realized it was to MY benefit, not God’s benefit, for me to do these acts of worship. And as I committed myself to prayer, volunteering and building self discipline through fasting, I did find myself transformed as an individual, like a sword tempered in burning flames.
Maybe some might say my journey to Islam from Paganism is strange. Maybe even hypocritical. But even Abraham in the Quran experienced a similar journey.
And when Abraham said to his father Azar, ‘Takest thou idols for gods? I see thee, and thy people, in manifest error.’ So We were showing Abraham the kingdom of the heavens and earth, that he might be of those having sure faith. When night outspread over him he saw a star and said, ‘This is my Lord.’ But when it set he said, ‘I love not the setters.’ When he saw the moon rising, he said, ‘This is my Lord.’ But when it set he said, ‘If my Lord does not guide me I shall surely be of the people gone astray.’ When he saw the sun rising, he said, ‘This is my Lord; this is greater!’ But when it set he said, ‘O my people, surely I am quit of that you associate. I have turned my face to Him who originated the heavens and the earth, a man of pure faith; I am not of the idolaters.’ His people disputed with him. He said, ‘Do you dispute with me concerning God, and He has guided me? I fear not what you associate with Him, except my Lord will aught. My Lord embraces all things in His knowledge; will you not remember? How should I fear what you have associated, seeing you fear not that you have associated with God that whereon He has not sent down on you any authority?’ Which of the two parties has better title to security, if you have any knowledge? Those who believe, and have not confounded their belief with evildoing — to them belongs the true security; they are rightly guided. S. 6:74-82 Arberry
Also, the Quran states that prophets were sent around the globe to all mankind. Meaning many of the spiritualities and beliefs of our world potentially came from a single, universal truth. (10:47)(35:24).
Another interesting thing many westerners don’t realize about Islam is that the Quran is supposed to be a continuation of the message of the Bible. Indeed there is much language in the Quran venerating Jesus, Mary and the prophets of the Old Testament.
“And believe in what I reveal, confirming the revelation which is with you.” (2:41)
“Those who believe (in the Quran), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians – Any who believe in Allah And the Last Day, and work righteousness, Shall have their reward.” (2:62)
Say: Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel – for he brings down the revelation to thy heart by Allah’s will, a confirmation of what went before. (2:97)
To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it and guarding it. In safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have We prescribed a Law and an Open Way. (5:48)
And [as We exalted Moses, so, too,] We made the son of Mary and his mother a symbol [of Our grace], and provided for both an abode in a lofty place of lasting restfulness and unsullied springs. (23:50)
So what am I going to do with MetalGaia now? I have taken a long break from the blog as I thought through that question. But I still think exploring the different spiritualities of the Earth is relevant. I still think grappling with universal truths is important. Also, it is necessary to explore these subconscious truths as they emerge in the art and music of our time. This is vital because we are living in a time when synthetic/toxic values are destroying the planet (and by consequence human life). We need a message of spiritual truth to save us now more than ever.