Thursday, November 15

Is God a Man or a Woman?

Have you ever wondered about this? I know that our parents and teachers always discourage us from asking any questions related to God.. God as an Entity.. God as a Being.. God as a Material Presence. Yet, you can never shut up a child's imagination.

That was not the first inquiry I had about God. Like any other child, you expect me to have went through all the usual details of "What is God?", "Where is He?", "Why can't we see Him?", and so on. Never was I able to find an answer, or let me say.. a solid convincing answer.. to any of those questions. Everything I was told, after the warnings and threats of course, was so evasive.. Barely causing me to have a dangled chin and go like: "Huh?"

One might think that he/she is the only one having a problem understanding the answers that others are trying to make him reach. After all, the people uttering all this nonsense looked as if they were so sure and so serious about the "information" (if I can call it so) that they are giving. How funny it is, when you grow up to discover that those people had absolutely no idea about what they were talking about. Why didn't they just say that they didn't know? Why do they feel obliged to give answers? Why did they try making up meaningless sentences to confuse the person who is asking?

Apparently (as I've come to learn later), everything has a reason.. Doesn't have to be logical or real.. But there must be a reason somewhere.

For 3 whole years, I was forbidden to attend religion classes at school. Each teacher cleverly passed the wisdom to his colleagues, so they didn't even have to see for themselves why I deserved such a "punishment". I don't know what I did wrong then. School is all about curious students searching for answers, and experienced teachers satisfying this curiosity. I really didn't care to receive a definite answer.. All I wanted was anything that would aid me during my search. Or even a simple "I don't know," so that I can go on asking someone else.

Anyway, my questions were considered a crime.. Religion teachers thought that I intended to make fun of them and embarrass them in front of the whole class. They didn't even care to tell me those charges against me.. It was enough that I received the final sentence: No More Religion Classes for You.
On the other hand, you might find it extremely surprising that I passed all my religion exams. Of course they wanted to get rid of me.. They never dared to discuss my answers. I don't know what took place while my answers were being graded.. Probably I was the reason behind many heated debates among those great teachers.. Whatever took place inside that grading room, the result was that I passed and was never allowed to see my answer sheet.

It was clear they feared me. Maybe they thought I was demonized.. Or they simply didn't want me to awake any doubts or inquiries that have been resting in peace, buried deep down in their subconscious.. Never was I given a chance to question anything divine.

You may wonder: "what could she have done to deserve all this?" What sort of question did I ask?.. Well, normally the situation didn't reach this far as a result of a single question. My annoying habit of inquiring about reasons behind everything I heard.. along with openly objecting that some ideas were not clear enough.. in addition to seeking to verify that I understood the right meaning explained by the teacher.. all this made me unwelcomed. But sure, there was the straw that brought about all the catastrophic consequences.. It was the question you read in the title.

I don't remember what that day's class was about.. Still I can remember every single thing that happened after I raised my hand, requesting permission to ask about something.. I know what you might be thinking now.. No, I never regretted asking.

-"Yes, Fantasia."
-"Mr. M, We always refer to God using the pronoun 'He'. Why's that?"
-"That's how God ordered us to call him."
-"Does this mean that God is a man?"
-"No, no. Of course not! May God protect us from the devil! God is not a man. He created all men and women."
-"Yes, I know that. But we suppose that God is a man, cause we use 'He' to refer to him, right?"
-"No. We use 'He' because we only have 2 pronouns in Arabic. And 'he' is perefered to 'she'."
-"Why is that? I believe they are both the same, but one refers to the male and the other to the female."
-"Don't you know that in Arabic when we want to refer to a group of girls, we say 'honna' (plural female pronoun in Arabic)."
-"What if this group had 100 girls and one boy?.. In this case we say 'hom' (plural masculine pronoun). So can you now see that a single 'he' in the middle of 100 'honna' is able to change the pronoun to the masculine?"
-"OK. Now I understand.. This means that God is a man."
-"Oh.. God forgive you. I told you NO."
-"But It can not be otherwise, Mr.. God sent us his religion in Arabic. He could have changed these language rules if He was not a man."
-"God sent his message in the language that the people spoke."
-"Did all people speak Arabic at that time? I don't think so. He chose the language and He chose the people who speak it."
-"What do you want to reach Fantasia?"
-"I want to say that God is a man. Because whether in Arabic or English or French, we refer to him with the masculine pronoun."
-"That's not right. God does not have a gender. Forget about pronouns."
-"OK. Why did he favor males to females then?"
-"God doesn't favor except those who obey him."
-"No. He has favorites. It is so clear that He wanted us to know that He is a man."
-"Fantasia, let's talk about this later. Don't waste the time of the class."
(Lots of students kept begging him to answer my questions)
"No. This is not the time to talk about such things. It is 7aram to talk about God in this way."
-"Mr, it seems that you insist that God is not a man. OK.. Is God a woman?"
-"WHAT?!!.. Are you crazy?.. Beg for God's forgiveness! Beg for God's forgiveness!"
-"Why? I didn't insult God. And you were not angry when I asked if God is a man. What's wrong with asking the other way round?"
-"You do not realize the huge sin you are committing.. I am not willing to burn in hell because of a crazy girl like you."
-"What sin? I am only asking.. Why will you burn in hell if you answer me? Does God hate women that much? Why did He create them then? And if God has no gender, why will it be a sin to refer to God as 'She' for example?"
-"Enough Fantasia. Go out! Out!.. I have put up with your madness for so long. That's enough."

I left.. And as soon as I closed the door behind me, Mr. M. kept warning all the students that anyone who will ask similar questions about God will burn in hell for eternity. He kept shouting and shouting, till he was almost out of breath. He could have had a heart attack on this day. When the bell rang, he rushed out of the classroom, clearly avoiding seeing me. The next time I met him, he told me that I can never attend his classes again.. If I want to succeed in religion, I have to shut up during his class and never utter a word, or else I was not welcomed at all.

I refused to be treated in such a way.. I didn't commit a crime. God said that people must seek knowledge. He didn't mention that we should exclude Him while seeking that knowledge.. The thought of having the choice of not attending was far more better than sitting like a silent dog in the classroom. How can a student learn when his/her inquiries will be punished by eternal damnation?.. Which questions are fine to ask and which must a student avoid?.. How will someone have true belief in something that he/she is not even able to inquire about?.. Why did God create curiosity in young minds?.. I won't shut up Mr. And I don't want to succeed in your subject. I will gladly bear the cross that you tied on me.

Young Fantasia was being discriminated against by a religion teacher!.. He feared that her question will throw him in eternal hell. It never occured to him that discrimination is an actual sin. It never occured to him that refusing to perform his duty towards one of his students is a sin. It never occured to him that terrorizing his students with eternal damnation is a sin. And it never occured to him that.. after all.. God could be a woman!


على باب الله said...

nice post < and good questions

i will try to give you some of my ideas as a catholic person

but they're strictly my own understanding of things .

well unfortunately , god could not be a woman ,( female )

nor a man ( male )


cause God's one of a kind

and obvious enough .. it needs 2 to be man and a woman ..

even plants and animals that are self reproductive .. scientists don't call them male or female

they classify them as either :

1-insects/plants < that possess both male and female characters in 1 creature : they call them hermaphrodite


2-or organisms that reproduce in a nonsexual way (asexually )

and since god ( according to my belief of course ) doesn't possess
male/female organs or characteristics

and doesn't reproduce asexually

God can't be called by either one .

there's no other god that we could differentiate them on the male/female basis


exactly like if we had no -ve charge , then accordingly we wouldn't have a +ve charge either

we would just have ( a charge )

cause naming the charge +ve while having no other kinds is utterly absurd

no need to differentiate if you only have one

and why we call god as he . while he's not a male ..

well i will answer you with a question

why we call the table as she ?

hazehy tarabeeza !

does that mean that it's a female ?


frankly if i were that mr. in your story , i would have told you

" you may call god by he or she or whatever u like , i give u permission ... "


على باب الله said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
شريف ابو زاد said...

مبروك يا فنانة على البلوج الجديد، ايه الموضوع الرهيب ده،استغفر الله العظيم،انتي ازاي تعملي كده بجد؟؟ لا حول ولا قوة الا بالله،، معقوله كده واحدة طفلة صغيرة تحاول...تفكر؟!!! توؤ توؤ توؤ،،،وكمان طفلة مصرية ومسلمة،،،والاكادة بقى كمان في حصة دين!!!! ده انتي مستبيعة يا فنانة خالص من صغرك))) الاستاذ المدرس صعبان علي اوي تلاقيه مش قادر ينسى اليوم ده لغاية دلوقتي وعمال يردد السؤال لنفسه وكل ما يظبط نفسه بيفكر في السءال ده يستغفر ربنا ويقول تلاقي النت الي سالتني زمان دي شيطانة ربنا بعتهالي تضلني!!! بجد كلامك حلو وممتع وروح دعابتك تجنن

انا بقيت بعلق بكتير وكمان بحماس وده مش كويس عشاني،، ربنا يا فنانة يا جريئة لاهو راجل ولا ست طبعا انما اللغات قاصرة اوي يعني المفروض مثلا العربي كان يخترع ضمير جديد غير هو وهي لو اراد الدقة والانجليزي كان يعمل حاجة غير هي آند شي، انما كان فيه تعمد بشري ذكوري طبعا للايحاء بطبيعة مذكرة للإله من أجل إضفاء مزيد من الهيبة والجلالة الذكورية كما هو سائد، يعني محدش قال ربنا له جنس محدد لكن كل التصرفات بتوحي بقربه من الذكور اكثر عشان الناس تهابه اكتر،، يمكن ده كان مرتبط بعقلية البشر ساعتها ويمكن لو غالبية الناس في المستقبل بقوا بيساووا فعلا بين الراجل والست يمكن الصفة الذكورية دي تقل شوية ويتعمل ضمير تالت للاشارة الى الله

كمان الاجابة على حكاية هذه ترابيزة بتاعة ((على باب الله) سهلة اوي، المائدة او الترابيزة وكل ما يؤنث لغة هو طبعا مش مؤنث جنسا انما فقط اصطلح على الاشارة له بهذا الضمير دون غيره ثم جعل التعود من الامر بالنسبة لنا امرا عاديا،، يعن حرب تقول ((هذه كرسي))) خمسمية مليون مرة وانت هتلاقي نفسك بتضحك علي الي يقولك ((هذا كرسي)) ومثلا حضرتك تعرف ان نفس الاسم في لغات تانية بيشار اليه بضمير تاني،، يعني مثلا الانجليز طلعوا اذكي من العرب والفرنساويين وعملوا ((إت)) عشان يحطوا تحتيها كل غير الحي العاقل، الفرنساويين بيقوا على الشخص ((لا بيرسونن) في حين ان كلمة شخص عندنا مذكر!!! ما يعني ان هذه كلها اشارات اعتباطية فرضتها الضرورة وتعود عليها الناس حتى اصبحت وكأن لها معنى، اتمنى فكرتي تكون واضحة انا مش بعرف اكتب كويس انا عارف بس بحاول ابقى واضح

تحية لعلى الباب الله المفكر المتسامح

تحية كبيرة للفنانة الي محضرتش حصتين دين على بعدهم في المدرسة:))

شريف أبو زاد

Fantasia said...

3la bab allah,
thanks for being the first to support this blog with your interesting comment. i can see your point clearly, and probably that's the same thing the teacher was trying to explain. the problem with him is that (like the majority of people) he believes that God can only be called "He", and that making the mistake of calling God "She" is a sin that deserves eternal damnation.
He even has a theory that explains his point of view, and according to this theory the female pronoun becomes related to inferior beings.
That is the problem. I bet that nothing in religion says that. I searched for his explanation everywhere and was never able to find it. that's what i meant in the introduction to this story. people in general, not only teachers, make up theories and tell them to others as if they are part of religion. you will never find someone who is honest enough to say "i don't know." he'd rather make up an answer. and if he failed to convince you, then it becomes your mistake. that's what happened with me and that's what's happening everywhere around us nowadays with the religious frenzy spreading and rising among us.
almost every day you hear a man of religion's opinion being passed as a religious fact. usually this is associated with a warning for those who might deny or question its authenticity.
when i said that it never occured to this teacher that God could be a woman, i meant that he was never willing to see that he might be wrong. he had a strong belief that i was really committing a sin by merely asking about this. it is so obvious that the his reflected his own perception of these pronouns on religion and on God himself. He thinks that God shares the same perception he has (that 'she' is less than 'he'), and therefore will be so furious at anyone who dares refer to Him using this female pronoun. Mr. M. could even imagine what God's punishment for this sin would be. Such an insult doesn't deserve anything less than burning in hell. And he replaced God's judgement by his own judgement.

anyway, i want you to know that i'm way over all this now. i can never forget this incident though, because it says a lot about how people think in our culture. those are the same people who are responsible for building the minds of this country's new generations. and i'm positive that after all those years that have passed since this incident, things are still the same. we keep repeating our mistakes because we don't accept any different opinions.

thanks for providing an alternative theory for those who may be wondering about the same thing. we should never stop thinking. i'd also ask you to check mr. sherif's comment on your example of using pronouns with objects.
looking forward to more interaction here and over your blogs as well.

Fantasia said...

i consider this the best thing that ever happened to me at school :))) of course at the time when this happened i hurt and felt rejected. but later on i realized that i was lucky for not receiving any more religion lessons. those classes corrupt the mind and destroy character. i feel like, as opposed to what the teacher believed, on that day God was glad with what i said and decided to award me. His award was helping me to shape my mind freely and saving me from the negative influence of such teachers.
i actually thought about going to meet this teacher again and thank him for his kind decision to cut me off those classes. i never did that though, because i was sure he won't understand me, and would probably think i came back to make fun of him.
thank you for all the praise. hope i'm deserving every compliment. but why are you worried about commenting with enthusiasm? i believe that intellectual interaction is one of the best joys in life (if not the best of them all). commenting with vigor and in detail gives way to lots of topics and invites more brain activity. ideas keep generating other ideas which branch out in all directions. this is the ideal tree that doesn't exist in nature (like Plato's ideal forms). and this is the only tree under which i can rest while feeling the protected by its shade.
shoft el7etta di.. fannana ba2a :)
i liked so much the way you analyzed 3la bab allah's example of the table. and i particularly admired the idea you mentioned of how getting used to something turns it into the only possible fact. you can use the same example to explain many things that people follow blindly, thinking that this is the only right thing to do. it is true also that as time goes by, some of these concepts change, and you find people reading history making fun of the solid facts of their ancestors. human beings are so weird! they are all weirdos. hahaha..
and if you read my reply to 3la bab allah, you'll find me reaching the same conclusion you mentioned about choosing the masculine pronoun to refer to God. but why can't many people reach the same conclusion? weirdos! :))
keep commenting.. glad that you found your way to this blog as well. it's always a pleasure to know your feedback.

The Alien said...

نفس اللي حصلي بس ف الكنيسة
طبعا مع شوية إختلافات ف التفاصيل وليس المضمون
وكمان إن ف اﻷخر أنا اللي قررت مرحش الكنيسة
طبعا قبل ما هما يمنعوني :)


Fantasia said...

the alien,
what a coincidence! i won't ask you to tell me details, but i want to know about the main question that led to this misunderstanding. i don't think that people can easily reach the limit when they are no more welcomed at church. maybe i was wrong. or maybe the limits differ from one church to the other.
mesh 2oltelak e7na btoo3 elqella elmondassah? :) ba2eena 7ezb elmatroodeen mn elgannah ahoh :))

The Alien said...

هي دايما بتبدأ ب أسئلة
مش مهم أسئلة نوعها إيه
المهم إنها أسئلة ملهاش إجابة وهما دايما بيجاوبوا

التعصب هو الطريقة الوحيدة لوضع حد للشكوك التي تكدر روح البشر علي الدوام


Jasmin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fantasia said...

Dear jasmin,
how can i forget you! i missed interacting with you a great deal. you were among my first supporters and i always remember your encouraging words. i was so sorry to know that you had to give up your laptop to be able to concentrate on your studies. thought that you'd forget all about my blog by the time you are through with your exams. i am delighted that you proved me wrong :)
welcome back dear. it is a pleasant surprise that you chose to comment on my brand new blog. as you see i am expanding my space in order to tackle different subjects. and thanks to you for encouraging me to get more personal while addressing my readers. i used to think that my personal experience won't interest anybody. until i received your nice comment on "why i love my period". then you made me realize that there maybe some inspiring stuff to share. that's what fantasia's shrine is all about. here i am communicating with others through providing a full record of my mental and spiritual journey. i hope that many people can relate to some of the things i will mention here. and hopefully i might be able to reach those who are still embarking on such a quest.
i was so happy to learn that you got exposed to different religions in college. some people spend their lifetime without knowing anything outside their own faith. your aunt sounds so much like all the adults i met when i was young. hell is a central part in our religious culture, actually more central than what to do in order to avoid it. here when you ask someone to describe paradise, you can expect to hear 2 or 3 sentences. but if you ask them to describe hell, you can hardly get them to stop. there are full books written about single aspects of hell. while on the other hand you won't be able to find one booklet dedicated to the description of paradise. that's why our whole culture is based on fear. and that's why many people have double standards or double lives. it was very common to find my school buddies lying in order to escape punishment, no matter how trivial their mistake was. lying seemed the easiest and safest choice. coz all what people think about is their fear of punishment. honesty was always considered risky and dangerous. that's what made me vocal back then, and that's why i'm being vocal now through my blogs. i want to hold a mirror for everybody. i want them to be able to face reality even for once, and then decide on how they wish to spend the rest of their lives.
i need to know how your exams went. and i wish that you would continue to provide me with your feedback and inspiring comments.

Jasmin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

IF and only IF there is A GOD..
SHE must be the most beautiful 40 ish BLACK woman everr..:o)

love you FANTA..betganeny...mwaah!

Raouf said...

Fantasia asks the following penetrating questions:
"Why didn't they just say that they didn't know? Why do they feel obliged to give answers? Why did they try making up meaningless sentences to confuse the person who is asking?"

They probably did not do it for your benefit but for their own.
What else could it be except the big fear that they cannot face?
The fear of not knowing is something that every person must deal with but very few are honest enough to acknowledge that fear, even less have the courage to face it.
When one cannot face that, then the only alternative is to accept the canned answers which are sanctioned by the authorities.
These are the ones you find in books but not in your heart.
And that goes for all aspects of religion, instead of looking in one's own soul for what is good and evil, it is much easier to point the finger at the others and quote to them the verses of morality and proper behavior.

On the other hand facing the fear of not knowing means that one has to look sincerely and relentlessly.
It means no easy answers and no false certainty and most importantly no one can really give us the answer but we must find it on our own.

Fantasia said...

dear radwa,

thanks for your comment. the way you imagined God is so lovely. in fact, i find it so admirable in some cultures that they try to imagine God in a form that is close to them.. that is to say, they make the concept of the divine more familiar and down to earth, this helps them in developing a stronger connection with God.

hope to hear more from you.

Fantasia said...

dear raouf,

i absolutely agree! and i would add that the key to searching for truth is finding out that those who act as your primary source of information do not really know that much!

from my humble experience, i found out that religion teachers are the worst victims of ignorance. that should act as knowledgable no matter how confused and lost they are. they are supposed to have an answer to all the questions that they themselves were never allowed to think of! teachers in general are put into this situation.. they are considered as walking encyclopedias.. and they are pushed into confirming this image about themselves in order to prove that they are qualified enough for their job, although their job descriptions do not state that as a requirement.

parents on the other hand feel the same obligation towards their kid.. they are too afraid to show that limited knowledge in front of their children and they seek some comfort in self-deceit.. thinking that underestimating the intelligence of their kids would bring everything into balance!

thanks for your thoughtful comment and wish to keep in touch.

Raouf said...

There is a saying:
"Those who speak do not know, those who know do not speak"

It is expressing the view that the direct experience of the divine is beyond the capabilities of words and logic. Those foolish enough to voice opinions are speculating about something that they do not understand nor will they ever do if they keep following words.

By the way, you are correct about parents being afraid what to tell their children. They think it is a weakness to tell them that they don't know, if only they knew that this is the greatest strength.

Deva said...

Thanks for writing this.