Just as many other people, I have acquired my religious affiliation as a Muslim from my family. My grandparents from both sides were Muslim, and they raised my parents Muslim, too. Similarly, all of my uncles and aunts were raised Muslim. As for my cousins, as part of our family, they have been committed to Islam and have strong religious views. MAIN CLAIM: As a result of my investigation, it turns out that religion has played a very important role of keeping my family together over years and being a source of harmony in our relationships.

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First of all, being Muslim means a lot for the members of my family. Islam has provided us with an identity and a specific mindset and the ways in which we respond to life. Under identity, I mean the culture that we all share and the values that we use as guidance in our everyday lives. In particular, Islam has taught the members of my family various aspects of ethical existence. The values that we have taken from Islam include mercy (because God is merciful) and treating other people with empathy, because all are believed to have been created by God. Besides, Islam has taught us to treat the Universe with care, respect, and gratitude, because God created it and gave it to humans as a gift.

The identity as Muslims means to the members of my family that they serve God and have a hope to be admitted to God’s paradise after they die (unlike non-Muslims). Also, it means that the members of my family support certain political views, which they find relevant to their religious foundations. Since my family live in a culture which is dominated by Shia Muslims, their religious affiliation allows them to feel themselves parts of the society. In addition, their religious affiliation helps them go through difficult times in life, they have said, because they can explain everything that happens through the lens of Islam. Only I have tried joining something different in my life. Specifically, I have converted from Shia to Sunni.

I can explain it as a move towards a better, more secure future, since now I live in a culture in which there are far more Sunni Muslims than Shiite Muslims. Apart from this that conversion has been possible because of my rethinking of the foundations of Shia Islam. In my family, Islam has been viewed as a key topic for conversations and as something to which we adjust our life goals and daily activities. The values of Islam have been named as a sort of ideal that everyone in our family strives to achieve. All in all, sharing the same religious mindset helps or family understand one another well, gives our lives a special meaning and importance, and determines our readiness to help and support one another in different situations. As a result of this specific mindset, our family remains very close over years and we trust one another. Because of this, the members of my family are involved in doing various joint activities (e.g. running a business or doing sports) and spend time discussing what exactly and how exactly they do it.

Additionally, Islam is a source of harmony in our family. Because Islam is a hierarchical religion, much is said about the relationships between parents and their children. Children, who are thought to be lower in status and responsible for taking care of parents, are unlikely to quarrel and argue with their parents. They are more likely to remain silent, avoid unpleasant conversations, or fail to engage in open conflicts with those, who, as they believe, gave them life. Besides, harmony is achieved through the use of traditions in all memorable events including weddings, funerals, and family gatherings.

Finally, if to think about my family’s religious affiliation, I have been surprised by how they manage to utilize religion as a key and guidance in their relationships with others and how it helps them deal with various difficult situations. I have noticed a pattern of greater religiousness and zeal among middle-aged people or among the elderly in comparison with younger generation. As to the role, religion gives our family the role of glue that sticks us all together and does not allow us to go apart. We know that the family can be a safe haven and that it is important to support each other and, especially, provide support to those members who really need it.

Overall, religion has played a distinctive role of keeping my family together over years. It has been a source of harmony in our relationships and has taught us to forgive.