Islam's Eid ul-Adha reminds me every year that what we believe about God doesn't matter as much as whether we believe in God in the first place.
I'd like to ask my Muslim, Christian and Jewish brother and sister believers a quick question: Even if we believe our source texts come from God Most High, does that change the fact that what we make of them -- the doctrines and dogmas that make up the things that sometimes make our faiths so very different -- is something made by us?
Because I think Muslims, Christians and Jews should have a problem with caring too much about religious dogma, and I think Muslims should have the biggest problem of all because of Eid ul-Adha, the Feast of Abraham.
Muslims like me are frequently described with labels like "liberal" or "moderate" or "progressive," but I actually think of myself as a staunch conservative, and have been since the day I believed, first as a Christian, and then as a Muslim.
To make a long story short, I left Christianity when I learned that not quite everything the Church's leaders had taught me, things they had claimed had God's stamp of approval that I absolutely positively had to believe if I wanted to be sure God approved of me too, actually had "biblical" support if I checked it all out for myself.
Bottom line, I wasn't interested in toeing the party line just because they told me I had to if I wanted to be one of them: Even as a child I knew I served God, not men.
So I joined Islam, only to find out that Muslim leaders have sometimes played fast and loose with what the Quran and Muhammad said and did too. And while saying that often draws me into conflict with some Muslims who follow certain scholars, to them my response is the same as it was to those dogmatic Christians: I follow God's Word and Muhammad's example as best I can, not them.
I don't think Jesus said he was God, because I don't think "Ego Eimi", that he said when he said "Before there was an Abraham, I am" -- that certainly admits to some sort of pre-Abrahamic existence -- is the same as "Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh" that's so often translated as "I Am That I Am" that God said to Moses, Declaring God's Self-Sustaining Eternity.
And I honestly don't think that means I'm not a follower of the Christ, even though Christians excommunicated me for it. I just don't agree with modern day Christianity.
Frankly, since the Four Square Gospel Alliance excommunicated my mother for dating my dad (and they simply became evangelical Lutherans), excommunication doesn't scare me.
But similarly, I don't think Arabic is the language of Heaven, or that God prefers Muslims to Jews or Christians either, because I honestly think God says exactly the opposite, very explicitly.
I also respectfully disagree with Muslim scholars about the status of women and the stoning of adulterers among a few other things, but I don't think that makes me non-Muslim either.
Because frankly, someone declaring Takfir on me doesn't scare me either.
But that brings me to why I love Eid ul-Adha, the Feast of Abraham.
Jews, Christian and Muslims don't know much about what Abraham believed about God, we just know he believed Him, and we know that's all that mattered. Our texts all agree it was because of that simple faith that God made promises to Abraham that launched Judaism, Christianity and Islam together, that empower all three Faiths through to today.
And because of Abraham's belief IN God, Muslims still go to Mecca every year to remember the Faith of Abraham, because that's another promise God made to Abraham.
I had a great Hajj a few years ago: I found forgiveness and purification and miracles. I drunk from a well that supplies millions of pilgrims with water in the middle of the deepest desert, that when Muslim scientists tried to source by foot-printing it's chemical signature told them it came from Russia: two miracles, also proving God has a sense of humor.
I shaved my head without sunscreen and walked under the desert sun for days with no burn to my virgin scalp, proving without a doubt that God looks after fools who love Him too.
But most of all, I learned about Abraham, who loved God, and followed God and served God without claiming to understand God, and who begged God to bless all his children, that all of us no matter which Faith we follow believe we are.
And I learned why believers believe at all, but also why we should take those beliefs less seriously than we do, and why God cares more about intentions and actions than words and hypotheses about Him.
But I think the most important thing I learned was just how much alike we all become, no matter what we believe about God when we obey God. And because of all I learned there, I'd like to ask my Muslim brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia to lift the ban on non-Muslims visiting Mecca, because that ban is only supposed to apply to idolaters -- people who believe their beliefs give them power over God Most High -- rather than to those among all our Faiths who are honestly trying to seek and serve Him for the sake of Abraham.
Because Jews and Christians could learn those same lessons Muslims learn there too.
And on this blessed Eid ul-Adha, I'd like to wish a hearty Eid Mubarak, to All!
For the sake of Abraham.