I met Islam after learning I could get free dinners at sundown. Then they told me I could sleep in any mosque and get free food as long as I was a Muslim and I said, “Sign me up!”
Homeland Security pegged me as the next Sargent Brody but with a stomach full of dates and hummus, and a roof over my head, I couldn’t have cared less.
Sometimes people ask me, “Leif, you’ve dabbled in a bunch of religions, which one do you think is the best?” I often respond in a nostalgic tone, “If you’re looking for the best religion, go for the one with the most freebies.”
A Freebie Based Approach To Religions
(this is just a joke)
Go with Christ for free wine on Sundays! The guilt builds up, but that’s what the wines for.
Sign up with Mohamed and you’re guaranteed an entire month of free food every year! The guilt is overwhelming but at least there’s…no, there’s no wine.
Join Judaism and get an all-inclusive trip to Israel. You’ll be persecuted as the promised people but how about those bagels, latkes, and cuddle, eh?
Hit up Hinduism for free yoga classes. By the time you try and figure out which god to worship, you’ll have developed some pretty toned thighs.
Or be one with the Buddha and enjoy the peace and quiet, and the soothing jasmine tea after your chants.
In all seriousness though, this freebie-based approach actually guided me through the teachings of every major world religion. As I ate my free fried vegetable burger, ramen noodles, latkes, or Christ crackers, the practitioners would enlighten me to their faiths.
What I Realized About The World’s Religions
You don’t have to be a theologist to understand that all the religions are fundamentally the same.
Whether through commandments, pillars or noble truths, they all teach an ethic of reciprocity underlined by compassion. They all promote faith in a higher power, whether it be in God or the God within oneself.
Aside from varying rituals that developed respective to the cultures in which they grew, they are all evolutions of the same core concept.
So Which One’s The Best?
This really depends on what your definition of the best is.
If you’re trying to figure out which religion can claim the moral high ground, the answer is none. Every major religion, even Buddhism, have histories stained with buckets of blood.
But if you’re trying to decide on the best religion for yourself, the answer is simple.
It’s the one that makes the most sense to you.
It’s the one that’s easiest for you to relate to.
It’s the one that gives you good vibes.
And it’s the one that makes you feel like you’re a part of something greater than yourself.
Because at the end of every mortal day, that’s all we really crave. We yearn to fill that void in our chests and transcend, if only for a moment, our lonely lives.
Some people find it in sports stadiums, others at concerts, some through religion, and even some at mass Egyptian Protests.
My Favorite Religion
While I often lean towards the Eastern Religions, I have no favorite religion. Like a Chameleon, I change religions when the culture calls for it. In Israel you can find me at Synagogue, in Egypt I might heed the call to prayer and hit up the mosque, and in the deep south I’m as Christian as they come.
A lot of people tell me that I can’t do this, that I have to choose one and only one. They think I’m being disrespectful or an opportunist just looking to fit in.
The truth is, part of me does do it to fit in. But most of me does it to quench my theological inquiries, to absorb what I like from each and discard what I don’t, and to feel a connection to the people, the culture, and become a part of something greater than myself.
Plus, I figure if I pray to every God and the God within, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll ascend to some kind of happy place.
There is no best or worst religion. There is only the religion that works for you. Don’t think you need to choose a single one, and don’t think that you need to choose one at all either. There are plenty of other mediums in which to seek spirituality.
All of the worlds religions have their flaws. But their messages are all positive ones. Just because Islam has gotten a bad rap recently doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try one day. Even if you can’t relate to it’s teachings, you ‘ll still get free dinners during Ramadan and make lots of new friends.
Travel, experience, learn, love, connect, and grow, and enjoy the freebies if they got em!