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In the Name of God بسم الله

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  1. Salaam brothers and sisters, I've never been very religious even though I've been born into a Shi'a Muslim family. I mostly just follow the basics of Islam because it's what I've grown up around, not because I understand them necessarily. Recently, however, I've been trying to get closer to God and find out answers to some questions I've had my whole life. However there are some questions that I'd like answers for that are more personal than factual, and they are presented below. Some of these questions are to do with facts, but I would really like your own opinion on them. I would highly appreciate if you guys could attempt to answer these to the best of your ability. A little disclaimer: I am not trying to be rude or disruptive or disrespectful, although some of these questions may come off that way. I am just trying to present the questions the way in which they are laid out in my head. I apologize in advance if I have offended anyone. Anyway, here are my questions: 1. Why do we have to pray salah in order to "talk" to Allah? Why does there have to be such a formulated method? Can't we just talk to him as our hearts desire and at whatever time we need instead of at certain times during the day in a certain way? Can't we show our love and gratitude to him in a more personalized/unique way? 2. What is God? (I'm sorry if this question is offensive, I swear I'm not trying to be rude.) I've read somewhere that Allah doesn't have emotions, and that if we say he gets angry it means we have disobeyed him and that when he gets happy we have obeyed him. Doesn't that boil down to him just being a bunch of laws? Or as Agnostics say, is God not something but everything, as in he is in our hearts, he is nature, etc etc? 3. Why must one worship Allah in order to gain paradise? Isn't being a good person enough? Why is salah or reading the quran necessary? 4. Why does Allah have such severe punishments for some presumably small things like not wearing the hijab properly or listening to music? I understand there is some reasoning behind everything, but Allah is all-merciful? 5. Continuing on from the previous question, sometimes it feels like God is trying to catch me/us out (for lack of a better phrase), since he is always testing us. Why? Personally, I feel closer to the Imams than to Allah because he seems too BIG and INTIMIDATING, and I even do things for the sake of the imams than for Allah, which is totally wrong. I hope these questions make sense and that you guys answer them. Thank you for your time and for sharing your knowledge. :)
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