...yes, I've been exploring Islam as a possible faith path. As I listen to lectures online for non-Muslims I find them jargonistic and I recognize that self-forced belief thing that's present in every religion.
Sometimes it seems almost OCD that people say "peace be upon him" every single time they mention the name Muhammad. It might not be, but for me, it would become that very quickly.
I'm attracted to Islam because it's a desert religion and its theology is very simple, with lots of room to move.
But no matter what, I know these things.
I won't accept OCD in my spiritual path. That means there are obstacles in Islam for me.
Five prayers a day with very specific rules, not only for the prayers, but for the washing up ahead of time.
An apparent tendency towards putting trust in conservative Muslim scholars.
The use of "fear" in relation to Allah with the immediate caveat that Allah is "merciful."
Hence, my focus has become more on Sufism, which is mystical and focuses on love. Some Sufi teachers are pretty radical.
I'm also inspired by Michael Muhammad Knight's shocked discovery, as detailed in his road-journey book "Blue Eyed Devil," that there are half-assed Muslims just like there are half-assed Catholics.
Knight is one of the 1% of Muslim converts who are white in this country. At least a couple years ago when he wrote that book. I haven't read the book...just the first chapter. It's now on my short list for reading soon.
I've got this awareness of myself, as I turn forty in a couple months, that I need to take seriously: I don't like party-line sermons. I don't like peer pressure. I need the mystical. There is no way I'd become a conservative Sunni. Even if I did become Muslim and accept the five pillars (they seem simple enough), going on the Hajj I will NOT participate in ANY WAY in the traditional animal sacrifice that takes place on that pilgrimage.
I don't think any religious scripture is literal. Even if I were to convert, there is no way I could force myself to take the Qur'an as "not to be interpreted."
The modern "conservative" take on the Sodom and Gommorah story is just as misguided as the Christian take.
I'm still a seeker, still learning, just happen to find a lot which is appealing in Islam at this moment in my life. Two most important things I know:
1. I have to be true to myself.
2. I suspect, if I did it, I would not have the support of some people who do support me now. At least not in that decision.
I have to continue trusting that God (Allah, YHWH, whatever word you want) is in some way part of what moves me. I get so angry at God so often, and that's usually when I connect him to any kind of fundamentalism or anal-retentive religiosity.
So no matter what, I must remain a free-thinker.
Feedback that one religion is "better" or "truer" or more "gay-friendly" than another will be considered irrelevant here, because it's what I DO with the religion, what I TAKE from the religion that matters. I'm a child of God, in some way, and that means I am an equal partner in the relationship. It doesn't work if both partners aren't participating in the dance. And so I trust myself, and God (that's harder than trusting myself), in whatever steps I take next. And now, I haven't quite decided what those are.