This 2nd part of the 2nd article written by my sweet Palestinian Friend in Stockholm.. You can check the First part at this Link
And if you want, you can check also the FIRST article in this link
Now, Enjoy the 2nd part
I have a deep respect, acceptance, tolerance and understanding for people of other faiths and religions. Yet I did not really explore other religions or faith traditions as I was more secular than a traditionally religious. Yet I could never refer to myself as secular or as an atheist. I have always wondered, perhaps, that this may be because I grew up in Jerusalem, a region, it seems, where all societies, whether Druze, Christians, Jewish or Muslim, are dominated and influenced by their culture and traditions. So simply, even though my family wasn’t religiously conservative, I still grew up with an awareness of the existence of God. We were traditionally observant of religious holidays, festivals and many teachings. This was especially so in regard to social customs and life cycle events such as marriage, divorce, birth and death. So even when we weren’t religious, religion was ever present in the background, somehow dominating much in our culture and in our daily traditions.
The first time I had a serious conversation about reformed Islam was when my fellow Palestinian GLBTQ activists and I met the liberal lesbian Muslim activist Irshad Manji in Jerusalem. Irshad Manji is a Canadian citizen, born to an Indonesian Muslim family in Africa. She is an active liberal reformed feminist lesbian Muslim. She had a television show in Canada and she is the author of the book “The Trouble with Islam Nowadays”. Since that meeting I have realized that I no longer a need to wonder, ponder, and question why I was a Muslim or why I couldn’t be simply an atheist liberal! I am a Muslim because I was born within a Muslim background. It is a part of who I was as I grew up and a part of who I am today. I grew up believing in God. As simple as it may sound I realized I still want to be a Muslim, and there is nothing wrong in that. Ironically, during my experience as a Palestinian GLBTQ activist, I met several Reform and Masorti/Conservative liberal queer (and straight) Jews that believed in accepting and tolerating feminists and homosexuals in the Jewish world. This was so not only in the general civil society, but also in the synagogues and rabbinical schools. Women and homosexuals could be ordained as Rabbis and become a central part of the congregations, even leaders, practicing Jewish religious customs equally.
That has inspired me to join many other liberal Muslims in the world who have similar approach towards our Islam. The person who most influenced me in that period was the liberal Masorti/Conservative Rabbi Andrew Sacks. I was taught, and my thinking developed, to believe in the autonomy of the individual and a personal interpretation of the religious context (while maintaining a respect for the Law and others who chose to follow a different path).
In my approach to religion as a Muslim, I see a modern open minded Islam where diversity, constructive respectful criticism, transparent productive questioning and re-evaluation are honored. I see an Islam where Non-Muslims, and even Muslims with alternate ways of practice, are active and equal participants. I foresee women in religious schools and mosques, a respectful feminist reading of Quran. I anticipate a Muslim stream where Queer people are all welcomed, accepted, tolerated and praised.