Reflections on Life on My Way to Bangladesh

Reflections on Life on My Way to Bangladesh December 27, 2019

reflections life Bangladesh
Photo by Jessica Newendyke on Unsplash

I sit here, just reflecting on life during a 16-hour flight to Doha, and then to Bangladesh. There is a sense of helplessness in trusting someone else to take responsibility for your life. We put our faith in the hands of someone else and their capabilities. I heard that an airplane is safer than driving in your own car, though. There, we take the faith of others and try to have faith in others. Many times, neither take responsibility, we take our own and each other’s lives.

Even now, I think of how we have a total lack of respect for other’s lives. We don’t care anymore. Look at the genocides taking place, the mass shootings, other acts of inhumanity; we do not care for others or ourselves. There is a high rate of suicide and hopelessness. There is no longer any sense of community.  All there is, is an absolute sense of evil and cruelty. We remain silent and inactive, mindlessly going about the movements of every day.

We have a false sense that religion will save us, when in fact, it is wrongfully used to segregate us more by people responsible for wars and genocides. Now, our phones have become our religion.  We look at our phones more than we talk to and look at each other. We put priority in our phones more than our spouses and children. We hand our children phones because we do not want the responsibility to properly care for them.

We need spirituality, which is the heart of religion. We feel that if we say enough prayers and zikrs, that it will make us more spiritually advanced people. It is also just as important to be a person of integrity and decency, and with a good heart, that doesn’t make another person suffer.

My favorite person mentioned in the Quran is Khidr. The reason I admire him so much is that he does what he feels is right, no matter what others think. He feels what he is doing is morally right. I have done things in my life that might have seemed questionable to others, but that I saw as morally and sensibly right based on the situation. While some may be hung up on culture and what others might think, I just try to do what is right.

We need spirituality, which is the heart of religion.

I think of this beautiful Earth and how we are destroying it. Such a beautiful Earth, such beautiful nature. Because of climate change and greed, the world is destroying itself and the many living things that exist on it. We think of exploring other planets for more sustainable places to live, but it will never replace this beautiful Earth. It was created for us.

Who will be chosen to go and live on other planets if this Earth is destroyed? What religions and cultures will be represented there? Who will be the ones chosen to live there, while all the others perish? We are outdoing ourselves in wars, poverty, and injustice. One day, all we will have is a nostalgic memory of this beautiful place. Unless we change ourselves and our hearts, we will destroy ourselves as well.

If we want to save our world and society, we have to be true to ourselves. We have to look at our own imperfections before we look at others. We have to be compassionate, as God is compassionate. We can practice prayer and zikr, but they are meaningless actions if we have no integrity or virtue, the highest form of character.

We should never intentionally hurt someone, unless it is for the cause of justice, for which we should stand up. We should stand up and not be silent. This is true Islam. We should at least say in our hearts whether something is right or wrong and make a stand. I feel that we should be very sensible, looking out for everyone’s best interest and what is good, rather than our own interest.

I do not see myself as a perfect human being; far from perfect, in fact. I grew up in the United States in this culture, and every year since I became a Muslim, I feel there is much to rectify in myself. I hardly get angry, because anger is a waste of emotion that only hurts yourself worse than the other person.

I feel as a parent, I had false expectations of my children, and actually hurt them emotionally by my own selfish expectations. Our children were meant to follow their own paths to God. As long as they are good hearted and decent, one day they can make a life for themselves.  Life has a lot of twists and turns; we do not know what to expect from anyone else’s life, or even our own. I wanted my children to be happy for themselves, not to make me happy.

If we want to save our world and society, we have to be true to ourselves. We have to look at our own imperfections before we look at others. We have to be compassionate, as God is compassionate.

I worry a great deal about this Earth. I worry about what my children and future generations will face. In California, every year we have severe wildfires because it is so hot and dry. There is flooding and extreme cold. Africa and the Amazon are burning up. What about the loss of homes and lives, of wild and domestic animals, and the beautiful nature? Stephen Hawking said that our Earth might only be sustainable for life for 200 years unless we do something about climate change.  I do not blame those who do not want to have children.

Being religious and spiritually inclined, we should focus on love. God is love. We live in fear of even God. I wonder why someone would want to worship a God that is out to torture us. There is another view of God, within Islam, that God loves us more than our own mother loves us. We must live by this example. God does not set out to torture us. He loves us. We see God as a stern, authoritarian figure who is punishing, but He is the most compassionate, kind and forgiving.

He created all the multi-universes out of His mercy, and He created this beautiful Earth for us. The creator within and without, constantly in the act of creation;the force that causes all the laws of science and physics to exist, and all of the inspirations of creativities and the arts. In the realm of His existence and power, He remembers all of us in this minute area of the universe, which is not even a microscopic speck, a burst of love and flame within each soul.

Overpopulation and the overuse of consumer goods are destroying this world. Our use of fossil fuel is polluting and destroying parts of the Earth. Our eating of cattle and the constant need for meat, and their waste, is polluting the air.

God does not set out to torture us. He loves us. We see God as a stern, authoritarian figure who is punishing, but He is the most compassionate, kind and forgiving.

People do not always live the same values that we do. We wish that others would abstain before marriage. Carelessly unwanted children are brought into the world. The cases of abortion are rampant. We should openly discuss family planning, and have education on moral maturity. We push our children into marriage or relationships at an early age. We do not let our children emotionally grow up and educate themselves, to become productive and good citizens or mature human beings. They need to be taught to make the right choices, especially to have the right judgment to find the right spouse.

People in this culture treat each other callously. Someone becomes very hurt and makes mistakes. Emotionally they are not prepared for this type of hurt and it may lead to bad decisions, even addictions and suicide. I believe very strongly that children should not be pushed into relationships or marriage early before they are emotionally mature, so that they can make the right choices about their souls and bodies. When it comes to marriage, we should think of our children’s likes and dislikes first,and respect their judgment, and not force them into marriages because it is for our own benefit or culturally expected.

I sit so long on a plane, just thinking about many things in life. As I look down out of the window upon our beautiful Earth, I love and respect it, as God would respect love it. We are precious to God, and we should hold Him and others precious, and know that the Earth and all of life is sacred. That is what spirituality is all about: love for ourselves and others. That is what it is all about, at least to me.

About Stephenie Bushra Khan
Stephenie Bushra Khan is a converted Muslim, a poet, and local artist in Temecula, California. She is originally from Winchendon, Massachusetts. You can read more about the author here.
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