Firmly Held Beliefs

by Esmat

Every topic should be allowed to be questioned, ridiculed, made-fun-of and anything else. Including those topics that many human beings hold close to their hearts and are sometimes “offended” just by other people questioning them.

Seeds of Peace has taught me this. No it hasn’t made my firmly held beliefs weak in it’s nature, but I have been shown that the way to building firmly held beliefs is by knowing anything and everything about my beliefs – not ignorance. I have learned that I should first ask the tough questions and then get the answers rather than just assuming that I know the answers. During my first year at camp in 2014, during the dialogues I got mad and angry at people who didn’t believe in what I said, and the same thing happened to the opposite side. The more important thing is that people should try to know that – as much as they have firm beliefs in an ideology, the case will be the same for the opposite side as well, so the only way is to try to listen to each other, rather than just trying to win an argument.

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There is this other ‘personal’ side when it comes to firmly held beliefs.

The first time I had an interfaith dialogue at camp. I was very conservative, very hold-back kind of person, trying to keep my faith intact. Although during the dialogue I had a lot of questions on my mind, I didn’t really ask much. Because from a very early age, most of us, have these weird ideologies thrust upon us, often by our parents, and they make sure to nail those ideologies firm so that we keep it that way for the rest of our lives. From my experience, religious scholars don’t really like people who ask tough questions or any questions for that matter.

The reality is that –  within minutes that we are born, our families decide which ethnicity we belong to, what is our name, what are our values (regardless of its moral validity), which religion we belong to and so on and so forth. Why? They might think, that we are enlightened and ahead of the others, but what they are doing is sort of not morally okay. In fact, those little kids who night and day memorize ancient scriptures in Madrasses are not doing it because it’s fun, but because they are taught to be afraid of He who is up there, keeping tabs on every aspect of their lives; instead of learning mathematics and sciences which is more valid. Actually I think the reason parents do this to their children is because they are afraid as well, for the same reasons those Madrassa kids are afraid of, they were raised to be afraid and now they do the same to their children because they think it’s right.

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Everything aside, through these interfaith dialogues I have learned that religion is a very personal thing, including every aspect of it, and how much a person believes in it; but we should be allowed to discuss and debate religion just like we debate and discuss any other topic and we should allow ourselves to ask tough questions, because tough questions makes us understand things more. Not asking questions leaves people ignorant and stupid. Let’s be clear, someone’s faith and belief specially in a religion is that sole person’s business and no one else’s.

In the light of Ramadan, people need to be prepared to ask questions now when they are putting their faithful-hats on. People should be okay with asking questions even the tough ones.

Now more than ever, I am okay with the fact that anything I say can turn out to be wrong, I am perfectly content to admitting that. It’s progress when it’s proven that 99 other ways are wrong and there is only 1 way that is right.

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Seeds of Peace will host another international camp this year in the woods of Maine, I am sure that a lot of firmly held beliefs will be questioned and ridiculed. And that is OKAY.

Bonus – there is a new video that Seeds of Peace has made…and I am in the video, see if you can spot me. Check it out!