March 13, 2005

Islam vs. Unitarian-Universalism

EternalWallflower wrote: "But can one be a practising Muslim, continue to attend one's Mosque, and add on membership in a UU congregation?"

I'm a former Catholic turned (briefly) UU turned (eventually) Muslim.

IMO, my short answer would be "yes, one probably could," but for myself I would add, "why bother?"

For me, Islam is the priority; UUism is a luxury. Islam, as Muslims will tell you, is a way of life, not merely a religion. Islam is very pervasive in our lifestyles, affecting many aspects of life that (for example) Christianity does not affect. For example, in terms of prayer, the necessity of doing the five prayers daily is much more important than attending a church once per week. (If that. The UU congregation I had joined closed down their church every summer for about four months. I realize not every congregation is like that, but the experience made me question how serious these people were in their religious beliefs - something you don't worry about with most Muslims.)

Moreover, the UU service has always seemed to me to be more in the way of a sermon about some topic that may or may not touch on religion, with the congregation being more interested in coffee and discussion as opposed to prayer. There's nothing wrong with coffee and discussion, of course, but each has its place. A church, to me, is a house of prayer and, well, one ought to pray in it. :)

The other issue I think is a problem is that there are some significant differences from a philosophical perspective between the two religions. The Unitarian side of the church I think, historically, was a Christian attempt to come to the same position Islam came to; i.e., there is only one God (Allah - swt), and that Jesus (pbuh) was only a prophet as opposed to being a part of the trinity. That was the aspect that had originally drawn me to UUism. Of course, now, UU members have diverse opinions regarding whether to believe in God or not (the humanist/atheists vs. the theists), including the split between the UUA and the AUC.

On the other side, the Universalist position (how could God ever put someone in hell?) just goes completely against the grain of Islam. As a Muslim, I don't accept that idea. And there are other issues, primarily social, where Islam and UUism clash (e.g., gay rights, death penalty, abortion, etc.). Islam, I'm afraid, is too conservative for most UUs.

And so, as a Muslim, I feel my priority as good a Muslim as I can possibly be, but that if I were interested in some coffee and discussion, I *might* consider visiting a UU church some Sunday. (But don't expect me anytime soon. ;) )

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