What started as a genuine desire to learn about Islam actually brought me to a place where I started to seriously like and appreciate Islam and even toyed with the idea of trying to pray the Muslim salat for a week or two just to see what it was like. The journey into Islam also made me seek deeply to understand the Trinity, as compared to the relative simplicity of the Muslim understanding of God the Christian one is quite honestly ineffable, extremely difficult and quite frankly beyond reason altogether. This doesn’t mean that I as a Christian don’t believe in the Trinity, but I do not understand it, nor do I think it’s possible to understand it other than by faith and to appeal to Tradition and Mystery.
I was brought to a point where i tried to put myself in the shoes of a devout Muslim and thought that honestly Islam is pretty straightforward, much more so than Christianity, especially the more sacramental and mystical traditions with Christianity. I imagine it is easy to believe in God, in one God, but it is NOT easy to believe in a Trinitarian God. It’s not intuitive or easily graspable. I can also see how it’s possible to believe that a man received a message from God, but it’s NOT easy to believe or understand that God became man and that Jesus Christ is somehow both True God, true man and the Second Person of the Trinity.
Until I studied Islam I took for granted Christian teaching as pretty much self evident, a part of the air we breathe in even nominally Christian cultures. Seriously delving into Islam shattered that, and made me somehow go through what could only be called a crisis of Faith and understanding– something I smugly felt could never happen.
I am now at the point where I always was, faced with fideism, unable to really make sense of stuff like the Trinity or the Incarnation other than to appeals to Tradition, Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi and the witness of the Church through the centuries. I find everything I’ve read from the Fathers and the Councils on the subjects to be academic, abtuse and beyond my ability to really grasp. I suppose all I can do is cling to faith, to continue to take that leap into the dark like Peter walking on water when he kept his eyes on the Lord.
I didn’t expect to be so shaken by my studies of Islam but I was, and somehow remain shaken. There are many things I don’t accept about Islam as a Christian:Muhammad as exemplar; polygamy; the fact that if Islam is true all I thought about religion was false…Christianity fundamentally getting wrong who Jesus was…it would be a mess to accept.
I’ve ALWAYS made it through these sort of tops turvy times so I know I will get past that this. It was just…unexpected!
Strangely about the ONLY thing that I have clung to throughout this topsy turvy and disorienting time has been the Jesus Prayer. It’s as if when the whole world is upside down that’s about the only lifeline I have and it seems to work.