Is my religion really my choice?
I was born into a Muslim family, so naturally for most of my life I’ve identified as being Muslim. But because of this I wonder if the only reason I’m a Muslim now is because it’s what my parents brought me up to believe is ‘right’. If I’d been brought up with parents with different sets of beliefs would I still identify as a Muslim? Are we just expected to believe everything our parents have taught us?
As we grow older we start to gain our own experiences and we begin make our own choices and as a result, other views that our parents might have passed down onto us begin to change and evolve, so why is it less common for our religious views to change as opposed to our general opinions? Is it because it’s something so deep rooted within us we’re too scared to question them? Or is it because we grow up with so much confidence in them that there’s no need to question them at all? The fact that my religion now has been massively influenced by my upbringing makes me question;
if I’d been born into a family of a different faith or one of no faith at all, would I then identify with the set of beliefs I’d have been brought up with otherwise?
If so, are the religious views I hold really my choice? Or are they a result of experiences and ideas that have been taught to me since birth? I don’t want the fact that I happened to be born into a Muslim family to be the main reason I am Muslim. I want to be able to choose it for myself.
My parents didn’t let me have social media until I was 14. Most other kids had had it since they were 11 so I didn’t understand why I had to wait so long. But when I think about it now and I realise why they didn’t allow me to have it. At an age when I was so young and impressionable it probably wouldn’t have been the best thing for me to be spending excessive amounts of time on. My parents did what they thought was best for me, and it just so happens to be that I think they made the right decision about this case in particular.
But is it then ok for them to make a decision for us regarding something as important or personal as our beliefs? Is it ok for our parents to reinforce their own beliefs onto us? Or does that limit our own freedom? I think in many cases it’s only inevitable that they do because they’re only trying to do what they believe is right? They want to give you the best chance in living what they believe to be a good and fulfilling life. But should we be allowed to decide for ourselves as what a ‘good’ or ‘fulfilling’ life means?
Is it fair that we’re brought up with our minds already made up? You could argue that we do make our own minds up as we grow older because we either strengthen in our childhood faith or we become weaker in it. But would it actually be a choice? Or would it be something that has been influenced by what we were told to believe when we were younger? Are we seeing those beliefs for what they really are or looking at them with an unconscious bias that has stemmed from what we’ve been taught since birth? That’s what makes me question whether or not our beliefs are a choice or instead a result of information we’ve been fed since we were young.
But where do we draw the line? Because right from when we are born we look towards our parents for guidance and for them to help us when we need it. They teach us what is right from wrong, how to handle situations we otherwise might not know how to, how to treat others and ourselves – the list goes on.
Again, I think it’s only inevitable that religion comes into it because a lot of what they pass on to us they’ve learnt from the teachings own their own religions. We need that direction and support from a young age but when does it become too much? When do they start to steer us too much towards the left? Are our parents teaching us how to live our lives before we’re even able to think for ourselves?
Right now I don’t know what or who I identify as.
I’m not saying I’m not a Muslim but I’m scared to say I am because I don’t know if I believe in Islam because I think it to be true or because it’s something I’ve identified with for so long and has been present in every day of my life since I was born.
I have so many questions but I don’t know where to begin. The very idea of the religion I’d been brought up with to be untrue scares the hell out of me. For the past 16 years of my life, I’ve been brought up as a Muslim, with a Muslim family in Muslim community with Muslim friends and lived my life according to Islamic morals and beliefs.
But I don’t know if I’m a Muslim because I genuinely believe in Islam or because of the influence I’ve felt from the people closest to me. I don’t know what or who I identify as. I’m not saying I’m not a Muslim but I’m scared to say I am because I don’t know if I believe Islam to be true or if it’s just something I’ve practised and identified with for so long that I can’t accept the fact it may not be true. I want to make sure it’s my choice and that I’m not just following one religion because it’s what I’ve been told to do by the people or society around me purely because it was the one I was born into.