Aisha Kabiru Mohammed
Aisha is a Nigerian Law student by day, and a writer/poet always. She spends her time watering her plants, reading, and enjoying food.
Of Reverts and Atheism
The earth and sky would be black and white, right or wrong if everything was meant to be black and white, we must realise that even beliefs, and our existence cannot be painted like this. Three years ago I reverted or converted to Islam ( Muslims believe that everyone is born Muslim) I did this after many people, about ten of my new Muslim friends who I had in my first year of university told me I had to pick a religion before then I was agnostic, my parents never knew this because how do you tell your Muslim Father and christian mother that you are agnostic?
Growing up with a multi religious and Multi ethnic background. Is one the most liberating things about my life, growing up with no stereotypes and basically have very little to unlearn as I grew up, I never acknowledged or recognized that till I grew up and went into the real world, a federal university up north. I was Christian in my practice of a religion for a few years until I graduated from Secondary school. My mother always took me and my three younger brothers with her church sometimes, she even bought bibles for us, we also attended catholic and missionary schools for most of our primary school education. My father didn’t take us to Islamiyya or teach us the Quran, Sunnah an Hadith, the only Islamic thing we practiced was going to the prayer ground every Eid. I decided I wanted to be Christian as a rebellion, I held so much resentment towards my dad for not teaching me Islam and leaving my brothers and I to sneak around trying to be Christians, I remember when I was 15 and told a friend that I would remain Christian and not tell my father because I wanted to drop the bombshell on him just before I left home, I defied every Muslim thing he brought to me and my mother never knew why I wanted Christianity, she believes that children could not have a religion, in many ways this helped my belief system it pardoned my agnostic beliefs as a child. I was agnostic between the ages of 15-18, Christianity for me was just and act of rebellion and I never connected to it.
Islam was very strange to me growing up, even though my father was a Muslim, I never understood anything about it, I assumed it was the hardest religion on earth, until I got admission into ABU, Zaria a predominately Muslim university in my home town, which I didn’t know well. I learned about Islam there after reading much about it and finally reverting one night during Ramadan, till date my mother believes I learnt Islam and practice it because she asked us to understand both religions before we (my brothers and I) decided which religion would be our life guide.
Having knowledge about both religions and even a tad bit about African traditional religion and Judaim without being so deeply rooted in any of them has liberated me. It has saved me from being indoctrinated by Islamic teachings, it has also made me hold no bias against anyone not even Atheists or Agnostics, I understand what it means to doubt God and why people would not believe in God. I am not a religious person, I believe religion is a guide to spirituality and morality, it is the way we connect to God whichever form we choose to call him, as long as we believe he exists. Religion for me is a mean to an end, a passage rite that teaches me the difference between good and evil, the end of that passage rite, being with God. One of the few reasons I picked Islam was because I wanted rules,16 year old me. alone in the real world, tasted independence, and got drunk on it. I needed a strong guide for every single thing I did in my life and Islam gave me that, it also promoted my Feminist beliefs.
Karl Marx in his book “Religion is the opium of the people” writes some opinions that even people who do not believing in marxism will agree with.
At the core of his beliefs are the established rule that religion makes the poor and oppressed happy, that religion is pure illusion, although I do not believe in all of Karl Marx’s idealogies on religion I, however believe that the oppressed and the poor use religion as a means of happiness, Humans, in our constant quest for validation and justification of our existence, in our search for our purpose on the earth depend on religion, we need it to make sense of who we are and what we are here for. I watch my mother a woman so strong, so intelligent and brave, yet faced with so many struggles in her life. I watch as she dips herself into her religion in the most submissive way and I watch my father, a man who built himself a legacy out of almost nothing do the same for his religion. I am from Northern Nigeria, were most of the religious people are the poor and middle class, a place were the religious extremists, are the poor and oppressed Economic and social classes. The same applies to the Nigerian society, religion is basically the only thing we can control in our lives poverty, horrible infrastructure and barely functioning systems are things that we have no control of, we can control how many times a day we pray, we can control what church or Masjid to pray in, who to give our tithes and Zakat to, we also let religion consume us because we want an escape from the horror that is our everyday lives we want to feel good about ourselves all the time and so we perform these religions. A religious belief system is a thing we cannot do without, it is in at the foundation of who we are as People, so we cling to it. The thing about religion is that it clouds our empathy and the lens we use to see people do things, we forget about morality and spirituality and get lost in the performance that is being a Christian/Muslim.I believe my existence in itself is a revolution, one that it is possible to not fit people into boxes of stereotypes, I am not your average anything, I am not you average Hausa woman, I am not your average Muslim woman, I am not your average Nigerian, because of my upbringing and background I have been able to separate the wonderful teachings Abrahamic religions, that is Judaism, Chritianty and Islam which are the major religions in Nigeria, the parts that teach us to be God Fearing and to love our neigbours and do good these have made me aspire to be a good person. When we were children, they would tell us if we sinned we would go to hell, which worked sometimes, however for someone as stubborn and free spirited as me I wouldn’t really grasp it, I can say that a lot of us did not my mother only got to me when she would tell me that lying broke trust, that whenever I steal I was hurting someone who has worked hard for their money, she taught me empathy because she couldn’t get to me with the teachings of the bible which I barely read, I grew to become this Muslim revert with a supportive christian mother and a heart full of so much empathy, coupled with my multi ethnic background it is hard to hate anyone because of who they were or what they believe in because I understood from a very young age that belief systems are an important of a human beings life, belief systems and shaped by a number of factors my religious belief system, my belief in Islam and it’s teaching was shaped by my bi religious background, and I could not judge anyone because of theirs. The fact that I looked at religion objectively more objectively than most people would. taught me that for religion, a lot of people who were agnostic and Atheist might not quite understand a lot of the religious teachings that were forced down their throats as children. A lot of religious people use God as a cover for a lot of horrible things they do, religions like Christianity and Islam which were introduced to a certain group of people at a certain time and were influenced by these people have tainted the religion, you cannot separate the people practicing the religion from the religion, these have influenced the religious belief systems of Atheists and Agnostics, nonetheless I have considered these and I have analyses my faith logically and I have applied my religion where For me, a proud muslim feminist I remember that Islam is a feminist religion and that Arabian Culture is patriarchal unlike Hausa culture. When I was learning Arabic I saw the very patriarchal customs the Arabians had I saw yet another problem with religion most religious people swallow up religion with the culture of the first set of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Sufism brought a lot of clarity to Islam for me I liked the idea of spirituality, I embraced Islams teachings better after reading about sufism, knowing that Islam had a spiritual innovation helped my faith. I believe like my mother that Children cannot and shouldn’t have religion, they should reach an age where they can decide for themselves what religion they want, after learning about every religion they are interested in , they,should get all the support from their parents, I had that from my mother, She would say
“I tell people who tell me that I should make all of you Christians, I would tell them that if God be God he would make all of you Christians if he wants you to be Christians.”