Swept into this years electoral politics—and now devastated by Trump’s landslide this past Tuesday—it is easy to lose sight of actual faith. These are times that easily shore up religious identity: the far right attacks one because of it. The secular left, bless them, defends one’s right to it. But the truth is, beyond the staunch belief that no one should ever be persecuted because of it, I am not overly interested in religious identity. Faith is what actually drives me, defines me, returns me.
Faith is what I could not ever disavow, and what I have no choice but to assert. I looked up the definition of faith, hoping to find a template for describing what it is, exactly. But that was a mistake. Faith is so much more than a “strong belief in the doctrines of religion” to any person of faith.
So, I want to tell you about my faith. Partly so that you can decide if this is the stuff over which you’d like to see your Muslim neighbors and school children persecuted and harassed. Partly to suggest to you that 1.6 billion Muslims are engaged in something far less nefarious than either the American far right or ISIS would have you believe. And partly by way of introduction. It is a useful sort of introduction for this moment in America, because while each of us, in the deep intimacy of faith, is entirely unique, I also believe that faith, broadly defined, is the choir in which we all sing.
Faith was that thing that was waiting when I had nothing and no one else. It was the last hope for the most humble version of myself. Faith was for me that ultimate act of surrender, the moment in which I acknowledged that my assessments and desires were not only not the best guide for my life, but among the worst possible guides. I came to faith the way that many do, by creating unmitigated disaster in my life. And at that point of absolute ruin, felt the potential lightness of what remained.