It has been, it seems, at least two years since I have logged in to my WordPress account. However, I have not forgotten my little blog, nor my enormous ambition when I graduated from college five years ago of being a student forever and using this blog to record what I learn.
I don’t think I am ready start writing long posts again, but tonight I somehow feel compelled to log in and write about my recent thoughts.
Random Thought #1: I have been reading a book, Anatomy of an Illness by Norman Cousins. Tonight, I read the chapter entitled “Creativity and Longevity”, in which the authors writes of his encounter with Pablo Casals when he was almost 90 years old. Casals said his favorite composer is Bach but the composition most meaningful to him is Brahms’ B-flat Quartet. Apparently, it took Brahms 9 months to write the quartet, and it was completed on the same day, same month, and same year as when Casals was born… I thought that was amazing. Later tonight, I looked up the author, Norma Cousins, and found that he died a few days after I was born. Somehow, I was touched by this fact. I am part of history. One person dies, another person is born. I am alive now and it is my time.
Random Thought #2: Last night, through a search of video lectures on real analysis, I discovered the webpage of Professor Francis Edward Su, a professor of mathematics at Harvey Mudd College. I read all of his writings and found them very inspirational (especially his essay on “grace”). I was delighted to find that he is also interested in theology, and I was amazed and my heart filled with happiness when I read this quote on his webpage:
From Geoffrey A. Studdert Kennedy, The Wicket Gate :
Religion leaves a million questions unanswered and apparently unanswerable. Its purpose and object is not to make a man certain and cocksure about everything but to make him certain about those things of which he must be certain if he is to live a human life at all.
Religion does not relieve us from the duty of thought; it makes it possible for a man to begin thinking. It does not put an end to research and enquiry, it gives a basis from which real research is made possible and fruitful of results; a basis without which thinking only means wandering round in circles, and getting nowhere in the end, and research means battering at a brass door that bruises our knuckles, and does not yield by the millionth part of an inch.
This is exactly what I think. I have held this opinion ever since I became Muslim seven years ago.
Earlier this year, someone asked me, what has been the greatest psychological benefit of religion to you? I said, ever since I became a Muslim, I have stopped stressing so much over the big questions on life, such as: Why am I here? What is the purpose of life? The questions that haunted me in my teenage years. In other words, religion has relieved me of the stress and anxiety generated by the uncertainties that come from not being able to answer these questions.
However, that does not mean I have stopped thinking about these questions. Thinking about these questions was what brought me to Islam, and Islam in turn provides me with a beautiful framework to help me think even more deeply about these questions. To me, religion is a home from which I can safely explore the world. It provides me with a vantage point without which I would find the world quite a disorienting place. It gives me peace and frees up my mind to think about deeper questions in life.
It is always amazing to find out that someone felt exactly the same way I feel. That is why I love reading. I love meeting these people whom I would otherwise have never met, and learning about what they think.
It’s late now. I have to end this post. I have been corresponding with a guy in the past two months, and it is time to write him. It is nice to have someone to write to and to feel connected to another person. I don’t think anyone truly enjoys being alone. Our genes compel us to be social, even only with our minds.