I have been reading about incarnation and reflecting on what it means. The question of how a good God could allow inexplicable suffering is one that I think about from time to time as I witness injustice. As Tim Keller writes, embracing the doctrines of the incarnation and Cross brings profound consolation to the suffering, and I think that is what drew me into Christianity — the fact that Jesus walked with people. Keller also writes about the palingenesis (palin: again, genesis: birth in Greek), in which the universe would wind down, history would be purified and start over.

Dostoevsky wrote:

I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.

C. S. Lewis wrote:

They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. 

However, I cannot fathom what it means for Jesus to return and purge the universe of all decay and brokenness. I wonder how people have interpreted these texts in history, how they think about them today, and what it personally means to people as they go about their daily lives.

Community on Campus

During Spring break I was fortunate enough to go back home and participate in and event by the David Project called “Latinos and Jews United”. The David Project isa Israel advocacy group that works on campuses to promote Israel, but I didn’t really see any heavy right-wing Israel propaganda on the trip to Israel in January. However, this project in Miami had a bit more bias in it and excluded the other side of the conflict, while holding tighter t their narrative than usual. I wasn’t offended or disappointed, but I was actually trying to gauge why this was happening and the reason for it was because some students in this cohort did not go on the trip to Israel and the David Project always has to mention Israel because that’s what they try to represent on campus.

The conference was basically a way for members of the Jewish and Latinx community to share activities to have a bit of a cultural exchange, but there were always Latin Jews who were part of both communities who were well aware of the other. In my opinion it was a great conference where we all learned a lot, but there aren’t really any examples of Jews and Latinos against each other on the media (Although it does happen from time to time). It got me thinking that on an American campus members of the Latino community don’t have anything against the Jewish community, but sometimes members of both the Jewish and muslim communities refuse to meet because they see the other as an enemy. Because of this I am hoping to have a cross-religious event between Jews and Muslims at the end of April and hope to work with some of the people that have made it happen on our campus before.

I also started thinking about BU and some other college campuses and how members of mainly the christian and Jewish faiths have more representation than other religions. One thing I love about Hillel and Marsh on BU; however, is that they are open to accepting all and that is something that matters. I hope that one day we can all come together peacefully without preconceived notions of what others think about us or what we believe about them and I also hope that I can help start an organization that caters to muslim students on campuses throughout America such as Hillel.

Dark Nights, the Human Condition(s), and Lenten Seasons

One of the most personally defeating feelings is not exactly a sense of failure, but a sense of meaninglessness. Even in the midst of plans and assignments and future hopes and goals, I have recently begun to feel like my march towards graduation has, while maintaining pace, changed from a march to a painful trudge. Personally created existential tensions, seasonally-caused exhaustion, a withdrawal from social supports, habitually-created restless nights, week-long illnesses, and spiritual burnout has led me towards a state of unbalance in the midst of a time when I feel, or at least sense, I should be happy and driven.

But, it takes courage to keep trudging, to take a breath every morning and conclude that the stories we tell matter, our stories matter, the work we are doing matters to at least ourselves. Further, there are reasons why we value our values, and why we do the work we do. Ideally, it makes us come alive. And overall, our actions can impact those around us. It has the potential to matter to more than just ourselves. Our work has the potential to matter to somebody. And arguably, the impact on others should matter, because those around us matter. I am not the only one who breathes, who cries, who laughs, who thinks, who cares, who loves, who fears, who tries, and who has doubts and convictions. Others do that, too.

Our stories, ideas, and personal actions have the ability to impact the human condition(s).

So, my only conclusion as to a course of action in the midst of a darker, gloomier personal season such as the one I am in now, is to clutch closely to my personally meaningful stories – and know that these stories include people who felt this way before over millennia – and to hold onto those close individuals in my life, pushing my personal boundaries against personal withdrawal. This is because while interacting with my close friends and communities scares me, my communities balance me. Finally, perhaps my trudge needs a slight change of pace and my nights can use a little more rest, and a little less technology. While I have the assignments I need to complete, I am sure resting might actually improve my abilities to effectively complete them.

And again, I can assure myself that I’ve been here before, people before me have been here before, and my God is found in the deaths of God and of Meaning, for it is within the season of Lent that Easter springs out.


Over Spring Break I had an assignment. Partially because someone I cared about told me to do it, but mostly for myself. The aforementioned person pointed out to me that I like to be in control and know what’s in store for me and that maybe the reason I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately is that, as a graduating senior, a lot of things are unknown. He suggested I make a budget, not the most fun task, but an important one that would perhaps bring me some peace of mind. I sat down with my mother, an accountant and we got to work. We looked up the salary ranges for the types of jobs I’ve been applying for, calculated how much I usually need to spend on food, household supplies and still have some left over for leisure and finally, the part I was dreading, what paying rent in Boston would look like. It was a slow start where I was barely able to locate a tiny studio in my price range, but my mom is wonderful and even as I started to resign myself to anxiety, kept searching. She showed me several places I could see myself living and we could see me being able to afford. I was renewed with a new sense of hope, which actually made me apply to MORE positions than I had been when I was just freaking out. In short, the budget was a good idea.

I spent some more time reflecting on budgeting and how much time we spend on the concept. Humans budget everything— money, time, energy, space and calories. How much can we do in a day? How much can we spend in a weekend? How much can we stray from routine and still be on track with our goals? Then I remembered that there is one resource we never run out of, for God has granted us an infinite supply. Love. No matter how tired I am, or busy my schedule gets, I still have an infinite supply of love for my family, my friends, my faith and my vocation. In that moment I felt that even if I run out of time or space in a day, or have to postpone my goals, that reserve of divine love will still be within me and sustaining me to get past any obstacle. Of course, in moments of stress, I’m apt to forget, but this week I’m committed to reminding myself to breathe, meditate on this infinite love and know that I’ll be ok.

Privacy of Religion

I have been thinking about my faith more seriously recently, and am slowly reading The Reason for God by Tim Keller with my friend. I have wanted to get into this book for a year now, and am really glad to have finally started reading it! One discussion on the divisiveness of religion and how people may be inclined to keep their religion out of the public sphere stood out to me from the first chapter. To what extent does the division between church and state extend to? How does religion influence public policy? How do we engage with people of different faith backgrounds? However, Stephen L. Carter of Yale responds that it is impossible to leave religious views behind when we do any kind of moral reasoning at all:

Efforts to craft a public square from which religious conversation is absent, no matter how thoughtfully worked out, will always in the end say to those of organized religion that they alone, unlike everybody else, must enter public dialogue only after leaving behind that part of themselves that they may consider the most vital. 

Keller continues on to discuss marriage and divorce laws as a case study:

Is it possible to craft laws that we all agree “work” apart from particular worldview commitments? I don’t believe so. Your views of what is right will be based on what you think the purpose of marriage is. If you think marriage is mainly for the rearing of children to benefit the whole society, then you will make divorce very difficult. If you think the purpose of marriage is more primarily for the happiness and emotional fulfillment of the adults who enter it, you will make divorce much easier. The former view is grounded in a view of human flourishing and well-being in which the family is more important than the individual, as is seen in the moral traditions of Confucianism, Judaism, and Christianity. The latter approach is a more individualistic view of human nature based on the Enlightenment’s understanding of things. The divorce laws you think “work” will depend on prior beliefs about what it means to be happy and fully human. There is no objective, universal consensus about what that is. Although many continue to call for the exclusion of religious views from the public square, increasing numbers of thinkers, both religious and secular, are admitting that such a call is itself religious.

I am really interested in how different religious views have impacted the formation of laws and beliefs in the public sphere. This prompts me to reflect on how I have shared my faith with others, and what I can do as an individual. In addition to questioning my beliefs, I am also wondering what my friends and family, my ancestors consider the purpose of marriage to be.

Thoughts from Week of Feb. 5

How does the world understand time when there is such diversity of religion, background, and identity? I have been grappling with the fact that the world agrees universally (at least the connected world) that the year is 2018. Why did the whole world come to agreement that year 0 is according to the Christian Bible, a.k.a the birth of Jesus? These questions came as a shock to me because I learned AD and BC in early elementary history class. So the notion that the year is based off Jesus should have been clear to me, shouldn’t it have? Why have I never questioned this before? And why have I never com across these questions in conversations in interfaith contexts or critical analyses of Christian authority?

Soren assured me that it is not that terrible of a Christian-centric practice. It was just an easy way for a congregation of countries to interact with each other in a universal way. Additionally, the Internet and computers would not work unless there was universal agreement on the year. While these points helped me understand why leaders needed to universalize time, I am not convinced that my questions are answered. Why Jesus’ birth? Why not begin at year 0 whenever this convention took place and declare that everything before then was ‘pre-time’ or ‘pre-globalization’ or something like that? I am convinced that this is a gargantuan example of Christianity dominating the globe, regardless of the globe being mostly non-Christian. Why did the Gregorian calendar have such precedence?

These questions can go even further in the micro scale… Why did the world decide on 7 day weeks? The notion that Saturday and Sunday are weekend days? One could argue that this stems from Hebrew context, but Judaism definitely didn’t have global cultural dominance, so it is more likely because of Christian culture.

Soren and I got into an interesting discussion about how Christianity especially pervades much of the culture we have today regardless of the [seeming] fading or unpopularity of Christianity in popular culture…

Talking With God

Last week I was interviewed by Méli Solomon for her project “Talking With God”. Méli is seeking a Masters of Jewish Liberal Studies in Global Interreligious leadership degree from Hebrew College, as far as I know it’s the first of her kind. She began her project in 2014 and has interviewed people of various faiths and denominations to the gauge the religious experience of the participants. As she writes articles and leads workshops regarding these interfaith experience, she also expects to write a book. She is an exceptional individual.

I was a little nervous during the interview because I was hoping to clear up some of my practices as a non-denominational muslim as they differ from typical orthodox practices. She made me aware that this conversation was not about Islam as an institution, but how I as an individual practice what I believe in. It mad me comfortable to say the least. I didn’t feel pressure to speak up for all muslims or condemn the acts of radicals that I do not agree with when she said this, I was just speaking for myself. In many cases when I’m asked questions about my faith I feel as though I have to clear up assumptions and explain all aspects of faith and my point of view, but not in this case. It was simple to explain how I connect with god and my prayer practice and to simply speak of god in this sense because there were no right, wrong, or in between answers; only the answers that I believed in. She helped me see my way of my practice and that was beautiful. I hope to help Méli close out her journey and help her plan workshops for the project in the future, InshAllah.


Today I was reading an interesting study in Nature, “Moralistic gods, supernatural punishment and the expansion of human sociality” by Purzycki et al, which explored prosociality and religion. The researchers’ hypothesis is that “cognitive representations of gods as increasingly knowledgeable and punitive, and who sanction violators of interpersonal social norms, foster and sustain the expansion of cooperation, trust and fairness towards co-religionist strangers.” They tested this hypothesis through ethnographic interviews and two behavioral games designed to measure impartial rule-following among people. The methods of studying cultural evolution is fascinating!

What stood out was the role of religion in forming societies:

Moreover, when people are more inclined to behave impartially towards others, they are more likely to share beliefs and behaviours that foster the development of larger-scale cooperative institutions, trade, markets and alliances with strangers. . . . In addition to some forms of religious rituals and non-religious norms and institutions, such as courts, markets and police, the present results point to the role that commitment to knowledgeable, moralistic and punitive gods plays in solidifying the social bonds that create broader imagined communities (Purzycki et al).

I am interested in how religion has formed bonds and severed relationships between people throughout history and am looking forward to exploring this topic further.

God’s Plan

Drake, the hip-hop mogul and rapper of global fame, came out with a single entitled “God’s Plan” a few weeks ago. To be completely honest, I think the song is actually really good. The beat, like much of Drake’s work, is danceable and inventively suave. The lyrics resemble his thoughts on how through adversity he has been blessed with success and a group of people that have helped him achieve it. “I can’t do this on my own,” he says, “Someone watchin’ this real close.” The music video for “God’s Plan” features Drake personally handing out cash and cars to numerous impoverished people living in Miami, Florida. In total, Drake gave away $996,931.90, his entire production budget his label gave him for filming the video.

As I watched Drake give away the hefty stacks of Benjamins, and new Acuras, I was proud of him. Most rappers glorify their wealth or their riches and their ability to waste it all without recompense. Yet, I still had a moment of pause. At the Ash Wednesday service, the gospel I read regarded the giving of alms. In the verse, Jesus tells his disciples to give so that their, “left hand does not know what they’re right hand is doing.” With over 31,000,0000 views and counting on Youtube, I’m not quite sure if the video has really gone according to “God’s Plan” (pun intended.) The question I now pose is this: should we as a society be grateful that such an acclaimed artist is doing good for those who most need it, or should we remember that Jesus asks us to give in secret, without recognition?

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

I finally finished my last assignment. I turned and looked at the clock. It read 4AM.

After cleaning up a little, I retreated to my room and turned the lights off and, after saying my prayers, got into bed to sleep.

As I looked up and around my dark room, I could not help but feel unsettled. Even now, as a 22-year-old, I still don’t really like the dark. It’s honestly frightening.

That night, however, a distinct thought of irony crossed my mind, and rapidly the fear began to subside.

I reflected as I looked around the dark room and continued to gather the minimal sensory information there – I could not see anything – on the fact that, roughly several hours earlier that day, I was exhausted after the previous late night of assignments. I tried to take a brief nap during the day or just sit around and do nothing for a moment or two in my room and I vividly remembered closing my blinds and trying to darken my room a little in order to make sleep and rest easier.

What, exactly, is so spooky about darkness? Is it the lack of sensory information? Is the slight dreadful uneasiness simply a consequence of evolutionary psychology? Am I experiencing what primitive man felt in the dark, where predators and dangers lurked invisibly around the corner? Is it some psycho-social construct relating darkness to danger or evil? Or, is it something else born of modernity?

I remembered looking around the room that night and thinking about how it was a moment of potential stillness. I remembered looking around the room and thinking, ‘interesting. In this darkness, instead of feeling dreadful about God-knows-what sitting here in my secured apartment on campus, maybe I could just not think for a while. Isn’t this the very space I was wishing for earlier today?’

But, perhaps it was not the space I was wishing for per se, but the space I needed. Maybe it was the feeling of idleness and the proceeding emptiness that night, at 4AM, that was scary. Maybe I have gotten too comfortable with being busy, and not comfortable enough with being still. I know a little bit of stillness would pull me out of this over-stimulating reality I have been presently living in with all these moving parts and plans and that, once I am pulled back, I would be forced to ponder a little more about it all. It’s scary to ponder, and it’s even scarier to not ponder and just simply be. Being idle is scary, and yet, in most theologies of the Sabbath, it is in this stillness that life is regenerated best.

Maybe I should turn off my phone hours before it’s time to sleep, and maybe I should go back to reading and resting more late at night.