Recently he admitted he had become too partisan, citing Muhammad Ali as another Muslim convert whose radicalism was tempered by time. “There’s always a zealous period,” he said. “I used to want to rebel against everything, and that was great. After that, you get back to the job of living.” Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens quoted in an article quoted here.
This was probably true of me at one time too. Different faith, same mechanism. I don’t think it was about rebelling for me though. But I’ve often thought that converting to Islam is probably about that for a number of people in the west. After all, there are fewer and fewer ways to really rock the boat these days. Ultimate rebellion: become extremely religious. Society has come full circle.
Regarding the zeal exceeding the maturity, this kind of ties in with what I said yesterday about it not being as simple as more religious = more moral. Dogmatism is a trap that it is easy to fall into when you believe that there is one right way and you are on it, and it leads to drawing divisions between people. In my old church great effort was made to view non-Christians as “the lost”, which implies need, but when it came to fellow Christians who were not following the rules, “the guilty” might have been a preferred term. The first is patronising although fairly innocuous; the second loses all pretenses of sympathy and sits in judgment instead. It interested me the other day to read on another blog a comment, by a religious person, linking love of God with lack of compassion, and lack of understanding. Why should this be, if God is compassionate? Usually when we love someone we emulate their ways and grow more similar to them. I’m also reminded of the Pharisees of Jesus’ time who were word-perfect in their religion but “like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones”. It’s something everyone interested in religion should be wary of.
Older people are often the most inspiring. I guess there is no fast track to spiritual maturity.