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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Eating Peanut Butter

Five years ago, I was dragged into the faith of Islam when my family and I began attending Mosque # 13. Islam taught me to be more appreciative of other religions and make me a better individual. Although I never enjoyed going to the mosque and I was always doing the opposite of what the faith required. In fact I hated the faith. But in spite of my dislike for the Islam at first, I’ve tried to understand and love this religion that others may call peace.
This sect of Islam is called The Nation of Islam. It has the basic principles of that of the Suni or Shiite tribes, but target the minority or oppressed people of America. Some important people have come from the Nation of Islam; Malcom X, Louis Farrakhan, and Elijah Muhummad. Knowing this, it felt kind of good to be involved in Islam. I was proud but I still disagreed with a lot of the beliefs.
Muhammad’s Mosque # 13 is a little building that can hold about 200 people and is located in Springfield, Massachusetts. Because of my unwillingness at first to go to mosque, my mother deprived me of free time with my friends. This made me want to jump off a bridge into a pile of clams.
My personal beliefs never used to mix well with Mosque # 13. My Minister’s ideas bothered me. His lectures were mostly about how we all have some purpose in life and one given fate depending on how we live are life. I know that’s not what the Nation was about at all. It’s about following in the way of Allah through the methods given to us by the prophet Muhummad written in the Holy Qu’ran. I never cared for what he said anyway. I think that statement could also apply to the other members that mysteriously disappeared or did not attend the Mosque regularly. At times, there would only be 6 people that attended a night meeting out of the 70 people that were considered active participants in the Mosque. I was kind of ashamed and felt that everyone who didn’t attend was Hypocritical. I was one to talk.
My mother said, “If you don’t have God, then you have nothing at all.” As a person who likes to live life day by day with no concern about Heaven or Hell, I tended to accept that there was a God and that he loved me for living. At home my mother insisted that I do my five daily prayers, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. I would go into my room and set up the carpet in front of my mom and close the door. Then I would sit on my prayer rug and read the next five issues of my favorite video game magazine. Instead of finding time for God, I read codes and cheats for some of the hottest games on the market.
I nearly gave up on what little faith I had completely when I first found out there were dietary restrictions. While attending Mosque # 13, I read two manuals. The How to Eat to Live volumes were two books that contained information about foods I could or couldn’t consume. They stated that peanut butter is unhealthy for the digestive system because it takes too long to process. I didn’t believe this was true because I ate peanut butter all the time and it never slowed me down. I loved peanut butter. I ate so much peanut butter it flowed quicker than water through my body. Not eating peanut butter was just another idea I threw away in the deepest dungeons of my mind where all other stupid thoughts are stored away. It’s like the trash can that you see on computer desktops. Don’t like an idea, throw it away, but always be able to bring it back up again. The whole idea that there was a restriction on food at all was ridiculous because no one should tell a person how much of what they can eat. If a person wants to indulge himself in Hometown Buffet and eat all the onion rings and chicken he can, then who is to stop him.
I continued to eat the foods that I was required not to eat. Slowly I noticed a change in my physical behavior. I started getting sick off of all the junk food I was eating. Pork and Chinese food in general were among some of the reasons for this. I’d also gotten slower and my reflexes weren’t so slick, which is exactly what the dietary manuals had mentioned would happen. I was gaining weight which didn’t look to good on the swim team either. And let’s face it, playing football after eating fried chicken is not the brightest thing a person can do. After all this I decided to change my eating habits. I now do not consume light bread, collard greens, salmon, caviar, pancakes, fried chicken, chips, and beverages with food coloring in them, and pork.
All the emphasis that was put into my studies and prayer also had an effect on what I thought about the faith. The more I was forced to study the more I actually wanted to study. It was interesting to learn how Adam and Eve were not the first people on the planet, but the first sinners. They were the first to deviate from the original people. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried to resist the fact that I actually needed this faith in my life, it never seemed to satisfy me with success. Finally, I came to the realization: Why fight it?
Also, my ideas about prayer and faith started transforming completely from semi-agnostic to semi-orthodox (as if). When praying in a peaceful mindset with no distractions, I now feel closer to a supreme being in which the minister would call Allah (God). I actually enjoyed having a one on one relationship with god through prayer. Islam began to have a positive impact on me.
Through all the disagreements and fast food sicknesses I finally accepted the faith of Islam. Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Although it took me a whole 3 years to actually get used to this new lifestyle, it was actually quick enjoyable. Not that I’m saying that Islam is all fun and games, it’s just that I rejected it without giving it a second thought to it. The same happens to one person from another. You don’t really know a person until you give him a chance right? So, even though I eat what is required now, the one thing I refuse to compromise is my eternal love for peanut butter.

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