A Surprising Conversation About Religion

Last Monday, I met someone who is neither a Muslim nor a Christian.

I know there are many people like this globally, but I had never met a Nigerian living in Nigeria who didn’t believe in organized religion. When we exchanged names, I automatically assumed she was Muslim, but she corrected me. So I said you’re Christian? And she said none. I was shocked. Not shocked because I found it wrong, but I was surprised.

There are many religions in the world but the major religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Christianity, Taoism, and Judaism) differ in many respects, including how each religion is organized and the belief system each upholds. Other differences include the nature of belief in a higher power, the history of how the world and the religion began, and the use of sacred texts and objects. Source

As a Nigerian, you’re either a Christian or a Muslim. I’m not sure all the forms we fill permit “Others”. My Dad was born into a Muslim family, and my Mum, a Christian family. By default, my Dad grew up a Muslim and my Mum, a Christian. After my Mum married my Dad, she was converted to Islam and given a Muslim name. She even went on the holy pilgrimage to Mecca at some point and was addressed as an Alhaja, but she never lost her Christian side. She was what you’d call a Chrismus.

Me on the other hand, I was mainly a Christian until secondary school. I went to a primary school where we all had a “songs of praise” and would sing hymns at the assembly every morning. We had bible studies classes and would pray in the Christian way whenever it was time to. I never went to a Church except to attend weddings, and I don’t remember ever going to a mosque (siblings, please correct me if I’m wrong).

I had to choose between Christian Religious Studies and Islamic Religious Studies in secondary school, and I chose IRS. I was a Muslim, after all, because my Dad was. I learned about my religion from jss1 to ss3. I learned the five pillars of Islam, the six articles of faith, the hadith, how to perform ablution, origin of Islam, the revelation of the Quran, how to pray, surahs, duas, most of what I know today at school. It was an exciting journey to learn and transfer what I was taught to action.

As I talked some more with my new “friend”, she told me that she believes in God and prays to God but in her own way. She said organized religions are a foundation of man-made principles and practices that have sucked too many people away from God’s purpose. As she spoke further, I could see things from her perspective in a weird but interesting kind of way. She knows there’s a higher source, a higher frequency, a creator, and a guide and would rather acknowledge Him in her desired way.

Coincidentally, her Dad is a Muslim and her Mum a Christian too. She actually tried both religions before she tried none, and its been working for her, for years. When I asked her what her religion is, “she said, my religion is love”. I felt that!

I know a couple of people that would have been alarmed by her point of view, stopped the conversation and possibly cursed her out. I’ve always been liberal when it comes to religion. I consider myself more of a spiritual person than a religious person because I know my personal relationship with “God” or my “Creator” trumps religion. Also, there’s a verse in the Quran that says “there is no compulsion in religion” and It’ll be nice if people didn’t impose their religion on others.

Nonetheless, it was an exciting conversation and I’m curious to know what you would have said or done if you were in my situation? Would you speak from a place of judgment or acceptance?

Mariam Shittu

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Hi, my name is Mariam Shittu and I live in Lagos, Nigeria. I’m a poet, but I also write about my travels, places in Lagos, my lifestyle and things that inspire me. I enjoy sharing my knowledge with the world and nurturing the human mind. Thanks for stopping by!

6 thoughts on “A Surprising Conversation About Religion

  1. Great post and thanks for teachi g me something about Nigeria. I am so clueless when it comes to other countries.

    I live in the UK and have a distrust of organised religion too. Spirituality is fine with me and my point of view is like hers 🤗😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe it’s because I’m from Britain and you can find a multitude of different religions practised in one area but I didn’t think anything unusual about this womans point of view.

    I know as many people who believe in God and speak to him in their own way as I do people who strictly practice a religion and consider anyone who doesn’t is forsaken.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Total acceptance not to mention envy. I wish I was this brave. I don’t blame her for her point of view at all because I see what organized religion has become especially in Nigeria, and to say I’m deflated is an understatement. I feel like God is mostly just SMHing us here whenever he thinks of us. Big ups to her abeg.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Definitely a place of acceptance. To be fair, organized religion has done a lot of harm and we have MANY examples to prove it. I stay side eyeing some Christians when they make certain comments and pass judgment on others. Like, we can’t possible be serving the same God.

    Liked by 1 person

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