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What's Liberating about Islam?
by Rita Karlsen
"What's liberating about Islam is that one is spared from having to think." This, essentially, is how a woman explained to me the change that had taken place in her life since her conversion to Islam. Since then, I've thought about her many times, especially because at that time I didn't know very much about Islam. Now I've learned more, have gotten to know many more Muslims, and just begun to worry about her lack of thought.
When she explained what was liberating about Islam, it amounted, more or less, to the following: "There are rules for everything. I'm spared from having to think. I just have to learn the rules, and then act. So I know that I'm doing the right thing. It's liberating."
To me, it sounded as if she had entered her second childhood. She was an adult, but had freed herself of responsibility for her actions. Responsibility lay elsewhere. Later, to be sure, her explanation caused me a good deal of unease, mainly because I have become acquainted with a number of the rules she lives by. When she decided to become a Muslim, it was a free choice, but having made that choice she is not free to choose which Islamic rules she will follow and which she will not.
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