Tag Archives: God
Nelson Mandela, the South African liberator of hearts and minds, has passed away to his Creator. What inspires me most about his life is his capacity to forgive:
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
Few human beings in history have embodied this Christian principle of forgiveness better than Nelson Mandela.
May he rest in peace.
Here are a few messages which Pope Francis relayed to students from Rome’s universities:
“You must live, not just exist… Please don’t look at life from the sidelines, accept challenges… You must not be spectators but protagonists…
Don’t be mediocre, bored or like everyone else… You can’t live without facing challenges… Don’t stand on the sidelines; fight for dignity and against poverty…
Thoughts are fertile when they are in expression of an open mind that is able to discern, always illuminated by the truth, the good and beauty: if you do not allow yourselves to be conditioned by what everyone else thinks… you will find the courage to go against the current…
Plurality of thought and individuality reflects God’s multifaceted wisdom when it approaches the truth with honesty and intellectual rigour, so that each person can be a gift to others.”
Source: Vatican Insider
October 20, 2013 Top sociologist Zygmunt Bauman believes Pope Francis gives “entire humanity a chance”
Source: Vatican Insider
“I am in awe at everything Francis is doing: I believe his pontificate gives not just the Catholic Church but the entire humanity a chance.” This is according to Polish-born sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who coined the phrase “liquid modernity”.
In an interview with Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Bauman said “Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s rejection of legalism and the ability he has to touch people’s hearts are reminiscent of John XXIII.” “The current Pope has shown a fearless attitude: I’m thinking of what he did in Lampedusa and what he said about the outcasts of our globalised world,” Bauman said.
“Francis speaks to the spirituality of our times: followers of the “personal God” are not particularly interested in the moral prescriptions given by representatives of religious institutions but want to find a meaning to their fragmented individual existences. They are still awaiting for the Evangel, the original term for “good news””.
Things are spiraling out of control in Egypt, especially for its Coptic community, which has recently been attacked for allegedly helping oust the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood from power.
The Copts are Egypt’s largest Christian group who make up roughly 10% of the Egyptian population. Over the last several weeks they have witnessed a horrendous string of events that have ranged from murders to the destruction of churches and communities.
The hardest hit area has been Al Nazla, where Christian homes and shops have been covered in harsh graffiti that display anti-Christian sentiments. Sami Awad, a member of the Al Nazla church, stated that “First [Muslims] stole the valuable things, and then they torched the place. Whatever they couldn’t carry, they burned.” Some Muslims in the Al Nazla area have vowed to support the Muslim Brotherhood even if they have to spill blood.
Unfortunately, some Muslims in Egypt and around the world actually condone the racist and violent actions of some members of their faith. These kind of Muslim extremists would argue that it is okay for a Muslim to attack a Christian church. Other Muslims have cried out against such violence and have claimed that an attack on a Christian is an affront to God’s will. Other members of the Islamic faith have even physically protected churches in Egypt to show their solidarity with the Copts.
Ultimately, we have to figure out who is right: the extremists or moderates? To shed light on this matter, we should turn to the life and times of the Prophet Muhammad. How would Muhammad treat Christians around him? If he were alive today, what would he say about Muslims’ violence towards Christians in Egypt and elsewhere around the world?
A useful example to consider is the letter which Muhammad sent to Christian monks at St. Catherine’s in the Sinai, Egypt, in the year 628 AD. At the time, Christians sought refuge from persecution and violence, and Muhammad wrote a letter to the community to tell them that he would do everything in his power to secure their safety.
In a nutshell, Muhammad offered the Christians toleration and peace. He called on his fellow Muslims to ‘defend [Christians], because Christians are my citizens.” This command for his Muslim followers suggests that Muhammad envisioned an Islamic society as one that would be safe for Christians and people of other faiths to live in.
Muhammad’s letter also includes notes on how Christian judges are not to be removed from their offices, nor are monks to be forced out of their monasteries. “No one is to destroy a house of their religion,” Muhammad said, “or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses.” He added: “Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.”
The depth of Muhammad’s humanity can also be found in the Constitution of Medina, a document he created to make sure that the more vulnerable members of society felt safe and protected under the majority Muslim rule. Also called the Medina Charter, Muhammad’s Constitution gave equal rights to non-Muslims living under an Islamic government. “Strangers” in Muhammad’s Muslim society were to be treated with special consideration and “on the same ground as their protectors.” Acting as a social charter for all Muslims to live by, the Medina Constitution helped to actualize the idea of a single community made up of a diverse people living under one government and under one creator.
In his final sermon at Mount Arafat in 632 AD, Muhammad left a code of equality for Muslims to follow. “An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab,” he stated, “nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab… a white person has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety and good action.” The Quran and Muhammad’s final sermon show his apathy for judging people based on their beliefs or skin color and his indifference to a homogenous society based on exclusive requisites for belonging.
This last Sunday, a monastery in Degla, just south of Minya, did not hold Sunday prayers for the first time in 1,600 years. The time is ripe for Muslims to follow Muhammad’s example by defending Christians. It is now the onus of Muslim Egyptians to take up his banner of tolerance and human rights and protect the Copts no matter the cost.
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- Egyptian Muslims forget Muhammad’s letter to Christian monks at Mt. Sinai (craigconsidinetcd.wordpress.com)
- So what if a Christian writes about Muhammad (craigconsidinetcd.wordpress.com)
Tags: Al Nazla, Anti-Christian sentiment, Churches, Constitution of Medina, Copt, Coptic community, Defending Christians, Degla monastery, Egypt, God, Human rights, Islam, Islam vs. Christianity, Medina Constitution, Middle East, Mount Arafat, Muhammad, Muhammad final sermon, Muhammad letter to Christian monks, Muhammad on Christianity, Muhammad's opinion, Muslim, Muslim Brotherhood, Muslim society, Persecution, Prophet Muhammad, Religion, Religious minorities, St. Catherine's, Tolerance, Violence
By Craig Considine for Huffington Post Religion
The writings of Jalalud’din Rumi, the 13th century Sufi Muslim philosopher from modern-day Afghanistan, and the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the 19th century Christian transcendentalist from Boston, Massachusetts, are filled with lessons that enrich every human soul. Rumi’s and Emerson’s similar thoughts on religious tolerance, love, and care for the soul can help bridge the ever-growing chasm between the West and the Muslim world.
Both Rumi and Emerson viewed all religious groups as equal before God. If they were still alive today, neither would have a problem praying in a house of worship outside of their own religious tradition. As we will see in their poetry, essays, and lectures, Rumi and Emerson encouraged people to search for their own personal connection with God through existential and wondrous ways. Their love for everyone and everything, regardless of who or what they were, shows that non-Muslims and Muslims are not as different as many people imagine.
As a young man, Rumi was trained as a theologian and Muslim cleric, but he later became a mystical poet after meeting his mentor Shams in 1244. Rumi conveyed his thoughts mainly through poems, many of which speak to infinite tolerance and compassion for people outside of Muslim circles. Despite his Muslim background, Rumi did not discriminate against Jews, Christians, Hindus or even Atheists. In one piece of writing called “He Was in No Other Place,” Rumi wrote about his relationship with Jesus:
Cross and Christians, end to end, I examined. He was not on the Cross. I went to the Hindu temple, to the ancient pagoda. In none of them was there any sign. To the uplands of Herat I went, and to Kandahar I looked. He was not on the heights or in the lowlands. Resolutely, I went to the summit of the [fabulous] mountain of kaf. There only was the dwelling of the [legendary] Anqa bird. I went to the Kaaba of Mecca. He was not there. I asked about him from Avicenna, the philosopher. He was beyond the range of Avicenna… I looked into my heart. In that place, his place, I saw him. He was in no other place.
Rumi not only respected Christian teachings, but he also greatly admired the life and values shared by Jesus. In essence, for Rumi, all religions were more or less equally beautiful because they all sought the divine truth:
I am neither Christian, nor Jewish, nor Muslim
I am not of the East, nor of the West…
I have put duality away, I have seen the two worlds as one;
One I seek, One I know, One I see, One I call
(Divan-I Shams-I Tabriz, II)
Rumi did not judge people through a narrow interpretation of God. Instead he emphasized what we would today call pluralism, or the belief that there is not one consistent set of religious truths about the world and that all religions can work in harmony in a single society. Similarly, Rumi emphasized that there are many ways through which people can come into contact with God and that Islam is not the sole path to the hereafter.
Rumi’s fondness for interfaith dialogue between people of different faiths is visible in one of his “Quatrains,” in which he notes that
There is a path from me to you
that I am constantly looking for,
so I try to keep clear and still
as water does with the moon.
This moment this love comes to rest in me,
many beings in one being.
In one wheat grain a thousand sheaf stacks.
Inside the needles eye, a turning night of stars.
Rumi’s appreciation and devotion to interfaith dialogue and to people of non-Muslim backgrounds was also on displayed at his funeral in Konya, Turkey in 1273. Attended by people from all walks of life, it is said that a weeping Muslim man asked a Christian man, “Why are you crying at the funeral of a Muslim poet?” The Christian answered: “We esteemed him as the Moses, the David, the Jesus of the age. We are all his followers and his disciples.” It is the Christian man’s affinity for Rumi’s life work that has made the Sufi poet so revered in most, if not all, religious circles.
Ralph Waldo Emerson devoted his young adulthood to studying Christian theology. During his time training to be a Unitarian Minister at the Harvard Divinity School, Emerson was considered by his peers to be “radical” for his post-Christian philosophy. In his posthumously published Journal, Emerson argued that while “[the] heart of Christianity is the heart of all philosophy… It is the sentiment of piety which stoic and Chinese, [Muslim] and [Hindu] labor to awaken.” Emerson, as you can see, shared a similar belief with Rumi in that all religions have great value and are thus more similar to one another than they are dissimilar.
Throughout his life Emerson had a particular interest for Hindu spirituality. In fact, it is said that much of his philosophy on “oneness” – a theme which I will return to later – is borrowed from Hindu scripture. For Emerson, the concept of “oneness” could be found in all nations, in which “there are minds which incline to dwell in the conception of the fundamental Unity.” “This tendency,” he stated in his Journal, “finds its highest expression in the religious writings of the East, and chiefly in the Indian scriptures, in the Vedas, the Bhagavat Gita, and the Vishnu Purana…” On several different occasions, Emerson singled out the Bhagavat Gita, which to him was “an empire of thought” and “the voice of an old intelligence.” This affection for Eastern philosophy no doubt proves that Emerson would be a major proponent of pluralism and interfaith dialogue if he were alive today.
Emerson, however, did not limit his non-Christian exploration to Hindu scripture. He also translated roughly 700 lines of Persian poetry, most of which was written by the Sufi poet Hafiz, whom he described as a hero and “a name of anecdote and courage… [a sally] of freedom.” Islam appears again in Emerson’s essay “History,” in which he mentioned Hafiz as “one of the great writers, in whom a reader may find.” Moreover, in his Journal Emerson wrote that Hafiz was “characterized by a perfect intellectual emancipation which also he provokes in the reader… He is not to be scared by a name, or a religion. He fears nothing. He sees too far,… such is the only man I wish to see and to be.” Emerson was not afraid of turning to Muslims in the hope of gaining knowledge. His inquest into Islamic writings makes Emerson one of the leading American philosophers who encouraged his fellow citizens to understand others through reading and research.
Emerson’s essays “Love” and “Herosim” also carry Islamic epigraphs. “Love” begins with the Quranic inscription: “I was as a gem concealed; Me my burning ray revealed.” “Heroism” begins with an epigraph from Muhammad: “Paradise is under the shadow of swords.” Emerson, however, did not perceive Muhammad as a violent prophet as many contemporary critics of Islam believe. He instead portrayed the prophet of Islam as a man of self-control: “Every great and commanding moment in the annals of the world is the triumph of some enthusiasm. The victories of the Arabs after [Muhammad], who in a few years, from a small and mean beginning, established a larger empire than that of Rome, is an example.” Here Emerson advocates that the ascendency of Islam was not due to “the sword” and violent expeditions of expansion, but rather faith in God and the universal appeal that so many people find in Islam.
In his essay “Essential Principles of Religion,” Emerson shows his appreciation for other religious traditions by stating that there have been noble saints among “the Buddhist, the [Muslim], the highest stoic of Athens, the purest and wisest Christian…” He added that if these saints “could meet somewhere and converse, they would all find themselves of one religion,” which reminds us of Emerson’s belief in the oneness of humanity.
Both Rumi’s and Emerson’s embrace of religious tolerance is a useful example in a world today which is increasingly fractured along religious lines. Instead of fearing one another, we can embrace, as Rumi and Emerson had done, our different religious interpretations as simply God’s hospitality for His own creation.
In addition to being open to ideas in other religions, Rumi and Emerson were also strong proponents of the power of love. Rumi’s poetry, for example, was only possible after his deeply felt personal experiences of God’s love. James Cowan, an internationally renowned author, stated that Rumi was “[p]ossessed by such an overwhelming vision of love, [that] he was unable to confine himself to any one spiritual discipline for his inspiration.” Rumi’s poem “Love is the Master,” supports Cowan’s thesis:
Love is the One who masters all things;
I am mastered totally by Love.
By my passion of love for Love…
In addition, “I am a child of love” shows Rumi’s true “religious” beliefs:
I profess the religion of love,
Love is my religion and my faith.
My mother is love
My father is love
My prophet is love
My God is love
I am a child of love
I have come only to speak of love.
The great Sufi poet did not limit his love to family members or fellow Muslims. He shared his love with people from different practices and beliefs, which is depicted on an inscription on Rumi’s shrine in Konya, Turkey, which reads:
Come, come, whoever you are
Wanderer, worshiper, lover or leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.
Come, yet again, come, come.
For Rumi, those who follow the message of seeking and spreading love are able to escape “the chain of birth and death,” as “the heart that is not in love will fail the test” of God’s judgement. For Rumi, God is the source of all love and it is this love which permeates the entire universe.
Love is an infinite ocean whose skies are a bubble of foam.
Know that it is the waves of Love which make the wheel of the
Heavens turn; without Love the world would be inanimate.
How is an inorganic thing transformed into a plant?
How are the plants sacrificed to become gifted with spirit?
How is the spirit sacrificed for the Breath, of which only a
Whiff was enough to impregnate Mary?
Each atom is intoxicated with this Perfection and hastens
Toward it … Their haste says implicitly: “Glory be to God.”
(Masnawi, V 3843 quoted in de Vitray-Meyerovitch, 1987, p. 102)
Like Rumi, Emerson was also passionate about the overwhelming feeling of love. His thoughts and feelings, which were brilliantly expressed in his essays and poems, make one feel as if he or she is empowered and uplifted. For Emerson, all living beings experience love in one form or another. Emerson’s famous poem “Give All to Love” echoes Rumi:
Give all to love;
Obey thy heart;
Friends, kindred, days,
Estate, good fame,
Plans, credit and the muse;
In this poem, Emerson encouraged his readers to extend love to all things and to never refuse love. Later in the poem, he stated that those who focus on love and loving are “wise and [are] becoming wiser.” To him, one cannot be loved unless he or she give love to others.
Emerson’s monumental essay “Love” reminds us of the benefits of being affectionate towards others. In “Love” Emerson states that he became “a new man with new perceptions, new and keener purposes and a religious solemnity of character and aims.” Although he was someone who greatly admired the beauty of nature, Emerson wrote in “Love” that a beauty more “secret, sweet, and overpowering” than that of physical beauty is “the sentiment of virtue.” Only if man pursues virtue, a component of which is indeed love, does Emerson believe that man can be in harmony with all of God’s creation.
Looking closer at the writings of Rumi and Emerson, we find the common theme of “oneness.” In his poem “One Song,” Rumi shares a desire for mankind to unite to end conflict and war, which he calls “an unnecessary foolishness, because just beyond the arguing there is a long table of companionship set and waiting for us to sit down.” Rumi encourages us to put aside our differences and to listen to each others’ grievances in an honest and calm way. He continued in “One Song” by writing,
What is praised is one, so the praise is one too,
many jugs being poured into a huge basin.
All Religions, all this singing, one song.
Rumi’s emphasis on the oneness of humanity is again found in another of his poems, conveniently titled “All Religions are but one:”
Since the object of praise is one,
from this point of view,
all religions are but one religion.
Know that all praise belongs to the Light of God
and is only lent to created forms and beings.
Should people praise anyone but the One
who alone deserves to be praised?
But they go astray in useless fantasy.
The Light of God in relation to phenomena
is like light shining upon a wall -
the wall is but a focus for these splendors.
Rumi cared not so much for religious differences and divisions but rather the “oneness” in everything. In theory, he believed that God existed before the creation of all religions and it is this universal idea of “oneness” in God that the human family should celebrate.
One of the key components of Emerson’s transcendental philosophy is non-duality, which essentially means “not two.” The time Emerson spent in the natural wonders of 19th century Massachusetts offered him many experiences of deep mystical union with the universe, of which its ultimate reality is “oneness.” If he were alive today, Emerson would likely speak about the world population as a single domain. He would not focus on religious or cultural divisions as a way of speaking about humanity.
Emerson’s theory of “oneness” is most clear in his essay “Over-soul,” which he argued that mankind should be united like “the water of the globe, [being] all one, and, truly seen, its tide is one.” The topic of the soul is in fact one of the the main sources of truth and the catalyst of spiritual growth for Emerson: “… within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related, the eternal One.”
A disdain for materialism and worldly pleasures is another common theme in the writings of Rumi and Emerson. In his poem “Heart,” Rumi scolded those who know “the value of every article of merchandise,” adding that, “if you don’t know the value of your own soul, it’s all foolishness.” Rumi believed that a person who was preoccupied by worldly possessions is a person that prevents themselves from living freely. Acquiring material objects is a way to please the spirit, but only for a short moment.
Emerson, too, spoke out against materialism. In an address to the Phi Beta Kappa Society in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1867, he stated that “the spiritual is stronger than any material force” and “that thoughts rule the world.” In addition, in his remarkable lecture “Religion” in 1836, Emerson even portrayed Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, as among a class of heroes who pursued virtue rather than “worldly riches.”
The world today is rife with suffering, mistrust, and wars, but by turning to the writings of Rumi and Emerson, we can find inspiration to build a stronger bridge between East and West, between Muslims and non-Muslims. The writings of these two mystical figures should remind us of the absurdity which is the “clash of civilizations” between “Western culture” and Islam. In Rumi and Emerson we have a confluence of civilizations, not a clash of them. As Rumi said in his poem “Look at Love:”
why are you so busy
with this or that or good or bad
pay attention to how things blend.
Follow Craig Considine on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ToBeCraig
Tags: Boston, Christians and Muslims, God, Harvard Divinity School, Hindu, Humanity, Interfaith Dialogue, Islam, Islam and Christianity, Love, Muhammad, Mysticism, Oneness, Philosophy, Poems, Poet, Poetry, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Religious tolerance, Rumi, Spirituality, Sufism
By Craig Considine
(also published on Huffington Post Religion)
Politicians and anti-Muslim activists frequently take to audiences and websites to criticize the term “jihad” as a form of Islamic supremacism, oppression, and violence. Muslim extremists, on the other hand, argue that “jihad” refers to a “holy war” against non-Muslims. Viewing the term “jihad” though these frameworks alone, however, would be playing into the hands of extremists who forego the other elements encompassed by the term “jihad.”
In Islam, “jihad” has several different components, which include personal struggles, such as the struggle against an addiction; social struggles, such as the struggle to become tolerant of others; and occasionally a military struggle, if and when necessary in self-defense. When asked, “What is the major jihad?” Muhammad replied: “The jihad of the self (struggle against the personal self).” Contrary to the rhetoric and misinformation about “jihad” in anti-Islam networks, Muhammad did not say that the violent struggle was the most important form of “jihad.”
The hype in America and abroad over “jihad” has brought me to consider the term through a Christian perspective. In this piece I aim to explore how forms of “jihad” are present in Christianity and pinpoint different ways of looking at “jihad” in Christian and Islamic texts. Doing so can help find common characteristics of “jihad” so that Christians and Muslims can build bridges of mutual understanding and tolerance.
Although the term “jihad” is not literally used in Christian scripture, the idea of struggling is at the very heart of Christianity. There are a number of instances in the New Testament which provide guidance for Christians who are struggling with different problems of dilemmas in their lives.
Perhaps the most important part of the Christian “jihad” is the practice of non-violence. When the Roman soldiers arrested Jesus and brought him to Pontius Pilate, the man who contributed to Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus said: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my [disciples] would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18: 35-36). Violence, therefore, is antithetical to Jesus’ teachings. He did not require his followers to take up arms to show commitment to his teachings. Indeed, it was quite the opposite. In Matthew (26:53), Jesus told his followers that “… for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” Jesus encouraged his disciples to struggle against the desire to use force when frustrated or antagonized.
Similarly, Islamic holy scripture also encourages Muslims to struggle against the use of violence. The Quran (5:32), for example, notes that “…. If anyone slew a person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land it would be as if he slew the whole humanity: and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of the whole humanity.” In another Quranic (2:190) passage, Muslims are told to “Fight in the case of God those who start fighting you, but do not transgress limits (or start the attack); for God loveth not transgressors.” It is clear that these two passages echo the Christian “jihad” of struggling in the name of non-violence.
Another element of the Christian “jihad” is to show love for those around you. Jesus wants Christians to “love your neighbor” and even beyond that, “love your enemies,” a point which arises in Luke (6:27). In Matthew (5:9), it is written that peacemakers are blessed, “for they will be called sons of God.” The New Testament demands that Christians struggle in the fight for peace, even if it means embracing your sworn enemies and those who wish to harm you.
The Quran also requires that Muslims search for ways of making peace instead of war. Muslims, for example, are required to speak well of others even if they are not believers of Islam. In the Quran (17:53-54), it is written that Muslims must “speak in a most kindly manner (unto those who do not share [your] beliefs).” There is also no way a Muslim can force others to believe in Islam, as the Quran (2:256) mentions that “there is no compulsion in religion.” The “jihad” in these contexts is one in which Muslims have to work on treating non-Muslims with respect and dignity.
The Christian “jihad” also requires that Christians do not retaliate “evil for evil.” Romans (12:17) demands that Christians “live at peace with everyone.” People who call themselves Christians, yet call for the demise of Islam and anything related to Muslims, should heed to the demand of this verse and search for ways to build bridges for peace instead of fanning the flames of hatred and bigotry. In a similar way, Muslims who call for violent “jihad” should remember that the Quran (4:9) asks Muslims to leave others alone if they leave Muslims alone: ” refrain from fighting… and offer [them] peace, then God gives you no way to go against them.”
The Christian “jihad” can be explored further in the examples left by Jesus’ disciples. Peter, for example, is considered “the rock” of Jesus’ church because he spoke about the struggle to maintain the Christian faith at all costs. In 2 Peter (3:14), he stated “… make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with [Jesus].” In this verse, Peter is highlighting one of the ultimate aims of Christianity – avoid wrongdoing and sins. A true Christian such as Peter cared more for fixing his own transgressions rather than attacking others for their sins. He encouraged Christians to struggle with overcoming their personal dilemmas first before bickering and complaining over the errors of others. In essence, he believed progress is rooted in the individuals’ ability to change their attitude and behavior in struggling to adhere to the teachings of Jesus.
In addition to Peter, Paul of Tarsus, another disciple of Jesus, also embraced the Christian “jihad.” In Timothy 6:12, Paul encouraged Christians to “Fight the good fight of the faith,” which can be interpreted as spreading peace and love in the spirit of Jesus. In addition, in 2 Timothy (4:7), Paul stated, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” There is an inherent non-violent tone in Paul’s statements. Never did he ask Christians to take up the sword or use violence as a means of showing faith in Jesus. Paul made “every effort to do what leads to peace” (Romans 14:19).
Moreover, in 2 Peter 1:5-7, Peter stated that a Christian must “make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control’ and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance; godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” Peter’s emphasis on doing good and searching for knowledge mirrors the Quran’s frequent emphasis on “ilm,” which means “knowledge” in Arabic. Indeed, few religions in the world place so much emphasis on knowledge as Islam. “Knowledge” is mentioned more than 700 times in the Quran.
In the Quran (58:11), God raises in rank “… those who have been given knowledge.” Muhammad also emphasized knowledge in a hadith, or saying of the Prophet, in which he said that “Seeking knowledge is a must for every Muslim, male or female, from cradle to grave in any part of the world.” Muhammad also stated in another hadith that “the ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.” Christians and Muslims, therefore, share a similar “jihad” in terms of their obligation to seek out knowledge and apply that knowledge in good faith for the betterment of humanity.
Jesus, like Muhammad, taught his disciples and future believers that struggling is a fundamental element of the Christian faith. He told his disciples to “strive to enter in at the narrow gate…,” which mirrors the popular Muslim notion of staying on the “straight path” and maintaining dedication to practicing Islam to the best of ones ability. Ultimately, Christians and Muslims are guided by their scripture to persevere in the face of their struggles. They are encouraged to struggle in this life, to maintain belief in God, in exchange for a higher reward when this life inevitably ends.
In essence, Christians and Muslims share a similar “jihad.” This “jihad” is one of non-violence, the love of humanity, the perfection of the soul, and the search for knowledge.
Follow Craig Considine on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ToBeCraig
By Akbar Ahmed
Source: Washington Post – On Faith
Allah has many names
Allah is Rahman
He is Rahim
He is also Ghafoor
And known as Noor
Some have called Him Zeus
Others address Him as Deus
Some name Him Brahma
Others see Him in Atma
If you want to know Him, whatever His appellation
Look around you at the population
Black and white and the rest
From the east and the west
And if you really want to love the Lord
You need to love each and every one of His Ward
“The universe?” From where did it come? How? When? By what energies did what we see only in tiny glimpses come into being?—the universe containing infinities of organized, living worlds, earths, suns, galaxies—cells, organic life, atmosphere— purpose, directions, and lawful order, fundamental forces at work everywhere and in everything—all of which emerged out of what? By what greater mind? By what intelligence did it all appear, an intelligence that embraces even the automatisms of Darwinian evolution on the ground of which everything from a mosquito to a Buddha appears on this earth? In such a case, self-knowledge and experience would not be a passive recording for manipulation of impressions from without, but a seminal generation of realities within realities—just as in any organism the telos or purpose of the whole generates the elements and organs and instrumentalities that maintain the inner world of the organism. And man? Of all creatures we know of on Earth, the intelligent self-regulating and self-creating force would have the added attribute that completes the structure of the universe we know—and that added attribute is conscious intelligence, consciousness as a force of nature, a universal energy. Who, looking at the “starry sky above and the moral law within” can really maintain that it all “just happened”?”
from What is God by philosopher Jacob Needlemen
Visit Professor Needlemen’s website
Tags: Buddha, Carbon-based life, Darwin, Darwinism, Earth, Energy, Evolution, Fundamental interaction, God, Inspiration, Intelligence, Jacob Needlemen, Nature, Photograph, Photography, Pictures, Religion, Universe, What is God
Published on Huffington Post Religion
Dear Pope Francis,
I have had the utmost admiration for you. Your new leadership in terms of interfaith relations, especially with Muslims, is such a breath of fresh air. You are such a welcoming leader. We can see it in your beautiful smile. We can see it in your everyday actions.
You have made us proud to be Catholic again. We love your warmth, your kindness. You have brought new life into our Church.
But there is just this one thing, Pope Francis.
You must take a firm stand against the continuing child sex abuse scandal.
This is an on-going scandal which is so gross, so against the most basic teachings of our Lord Savior, Jesus Christ.
How can we look up to our Church leaders if they are criminals?
How can we look up to our Priests if they are following such a misguided path?
We need leadership, Pope Francis!
How can I be proud to be Catholic if the leaders of my Church are covering up crimes for criminals?
How can I go to Church knowing that the man conducting the Eucharist might be complicit in a horrible sex crime?
Pope Francis, it is time for you to take a very firm stand against this completely unacceptable development in our Church.
It is time for you to send a loud message to the world saying that these crimes have no place in the Catholic Church.
I am one of your young and bright leaders. I attend Mass everyday. I give thanks to God. I am proud to be Catholic. I receive the Eucharist everyday. I take my faith seriously.
But when these reports continue to leak, when the cover-up at the highest levels of the Church persist, it makes me want to rip my eye balls out. It makes me want to quit the Church entirely.
You are at risk of losing an entire generation of young leaders. This should not come as a surprise to you. The Church-going numbers are already down to abysmal levels.
It is time for you to take action. In the name of God and Jesus Christ, please!
Pope Francis continues to impress on the interfaith scene. His latest remarks on anti-Semitism among Christians should only strengthen the bonds between Christians and Jews.
In a speech today in front of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, Pope Francis said that due to the common roots shared with Jews, “a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic!”
The Nostra Aetate, which can be read in its entirety here, states that “God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers.”
In addition, the Nostra Aetate claims that “the Gospel’s spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.”
In turning to the Nostra Aetate, we also have an idea of where Pope Francis stands in terms of engaging with Muslims. The Nostra Aetate also respects Islam in stating:
The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.
In his speech today, Pope Francis also suggested that bridge building between Catholics and Jews “is a journey for which we must surely give thanks to God.” He ended his speech by encouraging Jews and Catholic to get involved in interfaith dialogue.
Tags: Anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, Anti-Semitism, Catholic, Catholic Church, Catholic news, Christianity, Christians, God, Interfaith Dialogue, International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, Jews, Nostra Aetate, Pope, Pope Francis, Religion News, Second Vatical Council, Second Vatican Council, The Vatican
A short documentary I shot and edited has recently been picked up by a prominent website in Alabama. The title of the article is “Manchester, Tenn., meeting displays hatred of Muslims, malleability of masses (By. Kay Campbell). AL.com writes:
Last week, within shouting distance of the peace-love-music temporary village that will be Bonnaroo June 13-16, people packed a meeting room to cheer when a photograph of the firebombed Columbia, Tenn., mosque was shown.
There was the soft-spoken Muslim woman who braved the cries of “Watch out! She might blow up!” as she attempted to tell people what it’s like to be a Muslim in Middle Tennessee. There were the federal officers trying to explain to the people that they are on their side – if that side is the one of law and order that protects all people, no matter where they worship.
“Love your neighbor” means weeping, not cheering at the sight of a firebombed prayer hall. “Love your neighbor” means radiating God’s love so that the neighbor wants to know about your faith, not forcing them to dodge your spittle.
Read more of the AL.com article here.
Tennessee is the battle ground for the integration of Muslims in the U.S. I visited there in 2009 with the “Journey into America” team. Jonathan Hayden, a friend of mine, wrote an extremely moving article on the local response to the original mosque burning in Columbia, Tennessee. Jonathan writes:
One of the things that struck me about in speaking with the community was the irony of it all. We’ve found a range of feelings towards Muslims in our travels. A lot of good words and thoughts, some negative. Some think all Muslims are terrorists. As Daoud said, they were now the ones attacked by terrorists. His child had been mocked in school, called a terrorist and teased mercilessly, as children often do to one another. It was a hard thing to hear—a child, the victim of terrorism, being called a terrorist.
Watch the short documentary:
I worked on this documentary on-and-off for about four months. It is inspired by some research I conducted for an article in the Huffington Post Religion.
Akbar the Great is an extraordinary figure in history. Who is he? What did he stand for and what can we learn from his legacy? These are some of the questions which are touched upon in this short documentary.
- Finding Tolerance in Akbar, the Philosopher-King (craigconsidinetcd.wordpress.com)
- Pluralist working towards making interfaith cooperation a norm in U.S. (craigconsidinetcd.wordpress.com)
Tags: Akbar the Great, Arts, Din-i-ilahi, Documentaries, Documentary, Documentary film, Film, Film-work, God, Ibidat Khana, Ibn Arabi, Islamic documentaries, Mughal Empire, Pluralism, Religion and Spirituality, Short documentary, Sufism, Tolerance
With so much misunderstanding surrounding Islam in countries like the United States, it is imperative to have calm and authoritative voices who can speak clearly to the American people in hope of educating them on this subject. Thankfully, Americans have my mentor Ambassador Akbar Ahmed of American University to speak to them in a very simple way.
Ambassador Ahmed just appeared on “This is America” with Dennis Wholey to discuss his new book The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam. Before discussing this sensational book, Wholey asked Ambassador Ahmed a question about the basic principles of Islam, to which he responded:
The basic principles derive from the Judeo-Christian tradition. Certain “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots.” Basically a life of piety, showing compassion, particularly towards the poor, neighbors, and family. Constantly remember that we are hear on this Earth for a short time and therefore walking in humility, with a soft tread as it were. And above all being good human beings. Avoiding violence, I want to emphasize this because to me as a Muslim scholar Islam is a religion of compassion and peace theologically. God’s two greatest names out of the 99 names he has in the Quran are Rahman and Rahim, which mean compassion and mercy. So God describes himself as merciful and compassionate.
Ambassador Ahmed’s description of the fundamentals of Islam might come as a shock to many people, especially Americans who are unfamiliar with the faith. After all, we never hear of words like compassion and mercy when we see stories about Islam in the media or blogosphere. Basically, we need to amplify the voices of thinkers like Ambassador Ahmed, who simply goes back to the basics to prove his point. Isn’t this what all great scholars do?
- Let me know if you’ve found knowledge (craigconsidinetcd.wordpress.com)
Tags: Abrahamic tradition, Akbar Ahmed, Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Basic principles of Islam, Compassion, Dennis Wholey, God, Islam, Islamic values, Judeo-Christian, Judeo-Christian tradition, Mercy, Qur'an, Scholar, This is America
By Craig Considine for Huffington Post
Akbar the Great, ruler of most of South Asia in the 16th and early 17th century, rejected bigotry and made unprecedented moves to help non-Muslims feel at peace in his Mughal empire. In reflecting more closely upon his character and conduct, we can see how Akbar’s actions are antithetical to current discrimination and violence against vulnerable religious communities around the world today, especially in Pakistan, a land he once ruled.
Born in Umarkot, India in 1542, Akbar the Great took over as ruler of the Mughal empire when he was just 14 years old. Although Akbar was born into a Sunni Muslim family, he received an education by two Persian scholars on religious matters, which likely had an impact on his tolerant vision for Mughal society. After several triumphant military conquests, which expanded his empire as far north as modern-day Afghanistan and as far east as Bengal, Akbar began to implement an inclusive approach toward non-Muslims, ushering in an era of religious tolerance based on the Sufi concept of Sulh-e-kul, or “peace to all.”
Despite never learning how to read or write, Akbar the Great was a curious thinker who constantly yearned for knowledge. His son Salim, who would later take the name of Emperor Jahangir, stated that Akbar was “[a]lways associated with the learned of every creed and religion” and always in “intercourse with the learned and the wise.” Throughout his rule, Akbar invited theologians, poets, scholars and philosophers of Christian, Hindu, Jain and Zoroastrian faiths to his court to carry out a dialogue about religion. As his interest in other religions expanded, Akbar amassed a library that consisted of more than 24,000 volumes of Hindi, Persian, Greek, Latin, Arabic and Kashmiri texts.
Akbar was so convinced of the commonalities among religions that he even attempted to unite them in creating his very own religion, known as the Din-e-Ilahi, or “the religion of God.” In borrowing ideas from Sufism, most notably from the scholar Ibn Arabi, Akbar looked at how major religions could be synthesized in their shared belief in the almighty. In creating the Din-e-Ilahi and breaking away from the notion of Islam’s superiority over all other religions, Akbar achieved his single greatest feat: “liberating the [Mughal] state from its domination by the [clerics],” as suggested by leading historian R.S. Sharma.
Akbar the Great’s departure from orthodoxy also appears in a letter from 1582 to King Philip II of Spain. Rather than learning only from Muslim scholars in his court, Akbar stated that he mingled with “learned men of all religions, thus depriving profit from their exquisite discourses and exalted aspirations.” Akbar added that too many people do not investigate their religious arguments and instead blindly “follow the religion in which [they] were born and educated, thus excluding [themselves] from the possibility of ascertaining the truth, which is the noblest aim of the human intellect.” In challenging people to open their minds to knowledge outside of their own religious traditions, Akbar insinuated that no single religion has a monopoly on the truth.
Akbar also went to great lengths to integrate non-Muslims into the Mughal empire. After conquering the area of Rajput, he did not forcefully convert Hindus to Islam, but accommodated their religious demands by securing their freedom of public prayer, and allowing Hindus to build and repair their temples. Granting Hindus the ability to freely worship baffled many critics, including his own son Salim, who once asked his father why he had allowed Hindu ministers to spend money on building a temple. Akbar responded to Salim: “My son, I love my own religion… [but] the Hindu [m]inister also loves his religion. If he wants to spend money on his religion, what right do I have to prevent him… Does he not have the right to love the thing that is his very own?”
Ensuring equality for all his subjects was one of Akbar’s paramount concerns. In abolishing the jizya, or poll tax on non-Muslims, and allowing for conversions to and from Islam, Akbar set an example: one did not have to be Muslim to be treated fairly in the Mughal empire. Akbar was especially concerned with the state of Hindus, so he made sure to participate in Hindu religious festivals and order translations of Hindu literature into Persian, the official language of the Mughal state. Akbar’s respect for Hindus is also recorded in his visit to hear the songs of Mirabai, the wife of his rival Prince Bhoka Raj of Chittar. Fearing being identified by Prince Bhoka, Akbar and his court musician Tansen disguised themselves when they entered the temple in which Mirabai was singing. Deeply inspired by Mirabai’s soulful music about God, Akbar went to place a diamond necklace at the feet of Mirabai’s statue of Lord Krishna, a Hindu God, as a sign of respect. Akbar’s tribute to Mirabai is a symbol of his willingness to be open to cross-cultural interaction as a means of building bridges across religious barriers.
Akbar the Great’s tolerance of other religions is also noticeable in his marriages to women of various faiths, most noteably Jodha Bai, a Hindu daughter of the House of Jaipur. Akbar also took a Christian wife, Maria Zamani Begum, who had her own chapel in one of Akbar’s palaces. Akbar’s regard for Christianity is also visible in the Buland Darwaze, a large gate-structure at the city of Fatehpur Sikri, on which he had transcribed the Quranic inscription: “Isa [Jesus], son of Mary, said: This world is a bridge. Pass over it, but build no houses on it. He who hopes for an hour may hope for eternity. The world endures but an hour. Spend it in prayer, for the rest is unseen.” In addition, Akbar had his son Murad instructed in the New Testament. According to Akbar’s court companion Abdel Kadir, Murad started his New Testament lesson by stating “In the name of Christ” instead of the usual Islamic gesture “In the name of God.”
One of Akbar’s greatest legacies is the Ibidat Khana, or “House of Worship.” Built in 1575 in the city of Fatehpur Sikri, the Khana originally served as a forum for open debate among Sunni Muslims. Following several petty debates which turned Sunni men against each other, Akbar changed the Khana into an edifice where people of all religions could gather to participate in interfaith dialogue. In the Khana and elsewhere, Akbar “would recognize no difference between [religions], his object being to unite all men in a common bond of peace,” as noted by historian Muhammad Abdul Baki.
Despite his efforts in building an empire based in tolerance, Akbar’s pluralist vision for Mughal society was short-lived. His great-grandson, Aurangzeb, who also reigned as a Mughal emperor, would end religious tolerance altogether by taking measures to reimpose the jizya and demolish Hindu temples. Not long after Aurangzeb’s rule, the Mughals were invaded by the British, who swiftly conquered the divided Indian subcontinent and imposed their traditions and values upon the Mughal population. Ultimately, Akbar the Great’s life shows us that when tolerance reigns, societies flourish, and when tolerance ceases to exist, so do empires.
Tags: Akbar the Great, Akbar the Great and other religions, Christianity, Din-e-Ilahi, Fatehpur Sikri, God, Ibidat Khana, Interfaith Dialogue, Knowledge, Mughal Empire, Philosopher-King, Poets, Religion, Religious freedom, Scholars, South Asian history, Spirituality, Sufism, Sulh-e-kul, Tolerance, Tolerance in Islamic history
About a year ago Melony and I visited a beautiful place called Glencolumbkille, Ireland. We found the beautiful Maghera Beach on a memorable day trip.
By Craig Considine
Although they are typically seen to represent overwhelming opposites, the Prophet Muhammad and America’s founding fathers shared many common characteristics and beliefs, which can be seen in historical documents. By comparing the speeches and texts that they left behind, we can learn of the similar viewpoints that Muhammad and the founding fathers held on issues pertaining to equal rights and religious liberty.
Prophet Muhammad and the American founding fathers shared an interest in protecting people regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or sexuality. Muhammad, for example, received revelations from God, who directed him to celebrate diversity and cherish it as a staple of Muslim society. Muhammad’s encounter with God would later be recorded in the Quran, which states, “O mankind, We created you from male and a female and made you into tribes and nations that you may get to know each other.”
Furthermore, in his final sermon at Mount Arafat in 632 AD, Muhammad left a code of equality for Muslims to follow. “An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab,” he stated, “nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab… a white person has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety and good action.” The Quran and Muhammad’s final sermon show his apathy for judging people based on their beliefs or skin color and his indifference to a homogenous society based on exclusive requisites for belonging.
America’s founding fathers had a similar apathy for determining a person’s societal worth based on ethnicity and heritage. In 1776 several of America’s founding fathers gathered in Philadelphia to write the Declaration of Independence, which held a strong and clear position on promoting equality similar to that of the Quran and Muhammad’s final sermon. The second paragraph of the Declaration states that Americans are “to hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” which mirrors the progressive spirit of Muhammad written down over 1,000 years prior to the founding of the United States.
When the American Constitution was ratified in 1787, the founding fathers also put into practice that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise therefore,” which suggests that by law no particular group is to be treated as superior to another group in the United States. Similarly, the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution “prohibits the denial of suffrage based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” which again cements a culture based on civic principles instead of more absolute and ethnocentric requirements.
The founding fathers’ interest in safeguarding equality in diverse circumstances is similar to Muhammad’s concern for tolerance in his multifarious Muslim community. Muslims worldwide and Americans would be wise to remember this balanced approach in finding parity in their own communities today.
Historical documents also show that Muhammad and America’s founding fathers were compassionate men. The depth of Muhammad’s humanity can be found in the Constitution of Medina, a document he created to ensure that the more vulnerable members of society felt safe and protected under the majority Muslim rule. Also referred to as the Medina Charter, Muhammad’s Constitution gave equal rights to non-Muslims living under an Islamic government. “Strangers” in Muhammad’s Muslim society were to be treated with special consideration and “on the same ground as their protectors.” Acting as a social charter for all Muslims to live by, the Medina Constitution helped to actualize the idea of a single community made up of a diverse people living under one government and under one creator.
Ten centuries after Muhammad’s charter, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would adopt a similar societal structure as the basis for their new nation. In 1783, Washington wrote that “the bosom of America is open to receive… the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions, whom [Americans] shall welcome to a participation of all [their] rights and privileges… They may be [Muslims], Jews, or Christians of any sect.”
Likewise Thomas Jefferson, who authored the Declaration of Independence, wrote in a document for the Virginian colonial legislature that “the Jew, the Gentile, the Christian, and the [Muslim], the [Hindu], and infidel of every decimation” are accepted as equal citizens in the United States. The Constitution of Medina and documents of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson show that welcoming vulnerable groups who are perceived as outsiders is a central component of what it means to be Muslim and American. Muslims worldwide and American citizens should defend the creeds of their founding fathers and fight against prejudice and discrimination in their respective societies.
Muhammad and the American founding fathers were keen to respect Judaism. Muhammad’s Medina Charter singled out Jews, who “shall maintain their own religion and the Muslim theirs… The close friends of Jews are as themselves.” Muhammad added in the Constitution that “those who followed [Jews] and joined them and struggled with them… form one and the same community.” Muhammad’s tolerance of Judaism is strikingly similar to that of Washington, who in 1783 wrote in a letter to the Jewish Community of Rhode Island that “the children of the stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, [will] continue to merit and enjoy the goodwill of their inhabitants.” This tribute to Jews by Muhammad and Washington is an important reminder for Muslims worldwide and Americans in their own struggles against anti-Semitism.
Both Muhammad and the American founding fathers also worked to assure women’s rights. In a time when women had few – if any – rights in Arabia, Muhammad helped liberate women with divinely sanctioned social, property, and marital rights. The Quran states that men and women were created “of a single soul, male and female.” Under sharia, or Islamic law, women were able to own property, freely spend their earnings, and agree or disagree to marriage arrangements – all unprecedented rights prior to God’s revelation to Muhammad. He also requested that men treat their daughters and wives with dignity and respect. “Do treat your women well and be kind to them,” he is reported to have said in a hadith, or saying of the Prophet Muhammad.
In the same disposition, the language of the Declaration of Independence, although written at a time when women were not considered to be equal to men, later inspired American women to fight for their “inalienable rights,” such as the right to own property and vote in elections. Although it did not explicitly verify the human rights of women, the Constitution was later reformed in the Nineteenth Amendment that prohibited voting discrimination on the basis of sex. The on-going struggle of equal rights for women in the United States and around the world is also an effort to reaffirm the democratic outlook of Muhammad and the founding fathers. Muslims worldwide and Americans should commemorate their standpoint by treating women with the utmost courtesy and respect.
The impartial temperament of Muhammad and the American founding fathers is being challenged today by people who proclaim that Islamic principles and American values are incompatible. The example of Muhammad and founding fathers like Washington and Jefferson should remind us of our duty to uphold universal ideals even when intolerant people and dogmatic organizations seek to destroy bridges for mutual cooperation.
Tags: Civic principles, Color blind, Congress, Declaration of Independence, Democracy, Equal rights, Equality, George Washington, George Washington and Jews, God, Humanity, Islam news, Jews, Medina Constitution, Mount Arafat, Muhammad, Muhammad and Jews, Muhammad's final sermon, Muhammad's Medina charter, Muslim society, Pluralism, Prophet Muhammad and American founding fathers, Qur'an, Quran and the U.S. Constitution, Race, Religion, Religion News, Religious freedom, Scripture news, Thomas Jefferson, U.S. Constitution, United States, Women's rights
“I have been struck [...] by the human and moral values which Americans as a people share with Islam. We share, first and foremost, a deep faith in the one Supreme Being. We are all commanded by Him to faith, compassion, and justice. We have a common respect and reverence for law. Despite the strains of the modern age, we continue to place special importance on the family and the home. And we share a belief that hospitality is a virtue and that the host, whether a nation or an individual, should behave with generosity and honor toward guests. On the basis of both values and interests, the natural relationship between Islam and the United States is one of friendship. I affirm that friendship, both as a reality and as a goal [...] [and] am determined to strengthen, not weaken, the longstanding and valued bonds of friendship and cooperation between the United States and many Muslim nations.” - President Jimmy Cater (February 7th, 1980)
“I wanted to know the best of the life of one who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind… I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle. When I closed the second volume (of the Prophet’s biography), I was sorry there was not more for me to read of that great life.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“The Islamic teachings have left great traditions for equitable and gentle dealings and behavior, and inspire people with nobility and tolerance. These are human teachings of the highest order and at the same time practicable. These teachings brought into existence a society in which hard-heartedness and collective oppression and injustice were the least as compared with all other societies preceding it….Islam is replete with gentleness, courtesy, and fraternity.” – H.G. Wells
“Islam is a religion of success. Unlike Christianity, which has as its main image, in the west at least, a man dying in a devastating, disgraceful, helpless death… Mohammed was not an apparent failure. He was a dazzling success, politically as well as spiritually, and Islam went from strength to strength to strength.” – Karen Armstrong
“… since September 11th event, in many occasion I always come forth, with a defense of Islam. Islam like any other major tradition. I think the very praising Allah means love, infinite love, compassion, like that. I understand Islam, they usually carry rosary, all 99 beads, different name of Allah, all refer compassion, or these positive things.” – Dalai Lama
“Islam brings hope and comfort to millions of people in my country, and to more than a billion people worldwide. Ramadan is also an occasion to remember that Islam gave birth to a rich civilization of learning that has benefited mankind.” – George W. Bush
“Love Sufism …’the divinity of the human soul… Within Our spiritual heart there is a direct connection to God… I have respect for all faiths. All faiths. But what I’m talking about is not faith or religion. I’m talking about spirituality.” – Oprah Winfrey
“… the religiosity of Muslims deserves respect. It is impossible not to admire, for example, their fidelity to prayer. The image of believers in Allah who, without caring about time or place, fall to their knees and immerse themselves in prayer remains a model for all those who invoke the true God, in particular for those Christians who, having deserted their magnificent cathedrals, pray only a little or not at all.” – Pope John Paul II
“It was the first religion that preached and practiced democracy; for, in the mosque, when the call for prayer is sounded and worshippers are gathered together, the democracy of Islam is embodied five times a day when the peasant and king kneel side by side and proclaim: ‘God Alone is Great’… “ - Sarojini Naidu
“I have been struck [...] by the human and moral values which Americans as a people share with Islam. We share, first and foremost, a deep faith in the one Supreme Being. We are all commanded by Him to faith, compassion, and justice. We have a common respect and reverence for law. Despite the strains of the modern age, we continue to place special importance on the family and the home. And we share a belief that hospitality is a virtue and that the host, whether a nation or an individual, should behave with generosity and honor toward guests. On the basis of both values and interests, the natural relationship between Islam and the United States is one of friendship. I affirm that friendship, both as a reality and as a goal [...] [and] am determined to strengthen, not weaken, the longstanding and valued bonds of friendship and cooperation between the United States and many Muslim nations.” – Jimmy Carter
“After I have read the Quran, I realized that all what humanity needs is this heavenly law.”
“The legislation of Quran will spread all over the world, because it agrees with the mind, logic and wisdom.” – Leo Tolstoy
Tags: Allah, Compassion, Dalai Lama on Islam, George W. Bush on Islam, God, H.G. Wells on Islam, Interfaith Dialogue, Jimmy Carter on Islam, Karen Armstrong on Islam, Leo Tolstoy on Islam, Love, Mahatma Gandhi on Islam, Muslims, Non Muslim quotes on Islam, Oprah Winfrey on Islam, Oprah Winfrey on Sufism, Peace, Peaceful religion, Pope John Paul II on Islam, Prophet Muhammad, Quotes on Islam, Qur'an, Religion, Religion and Spirituality, Sarojini Naidu on Islam
Go on a journey into the heart of Islam’s mystical side – Sufism. Explore the roots of Sufi music, art, poetry, etc. Sufi music is particularly thrilling and attracted me to study more about Islam. I highly recommend this short piece from Channel 4. The presenter takes the audience to Sufi shrines of the Virgin Mary and examines in more detail the Sufi links to Christianity. Enjoy!
Tags: Challenging stereotypes, Channel 4, Christianity, God, Interfaith, Islam, Muslim, Muslims, Peaceful Islam, Pluralism, Religion and Spirituality, Sufi, Sufi music, Sufis, Sufism, Sufism and Christianity
Here’s another interesting response to yesterday’s post. I’m interested in hearing how people would answer the question in the title.
I don’t believe extremism, like ignorance, can be reasoned with. It comes from such a deep place inside someone, a place of fear. I think even Jesus recognized some people were not able to be reasonable… that is if this quote was written accurately in the bible: Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” -Attempts at holding conversations with extremists (religious or political) are a waste of time and energy because they’re not capable of mentally processing another point of view. The strength of their emotion doesn’t allow it. I’m not saying that to be condescending or judgmental, I simply think it is a fact, no more, no less. It is what it is. Humans are for the most part, emotional creatures. – I believe we each walk our own path and that we must all be allowed to do so. – Some choose to walk in darkness and fear.
Tags: Bible, Christian, Emotions and religion, God, Jesus and religious extremists, Matthew 7:6, Reason and religion, Religion and fear, Religion and Spirituality, Religious commentary, Religious extremism
That was a simple poem with a lovely sentiment. Thanks for that.
As a Muslim, I would’ve been outraged before. But I’m beginning to see that I call his God ‘Allah’ and he calls my Allah, ‘God’. Its a British-football-American-soccer thing. I feel a majority of people grasp this now.
What emanates from the comment is a ‘cult’ approach to religion – where there are teams instead of principles. Its a battle of cultures/nations as opposed to one of ideologies. And this has led to us all believing that when talking about ‘believers’ – the Bible means (mostly white) Christians and the Qur’an, (most Arab) Muslims. That’s simply not true.
All of this has to do with geography and boundaries of religions (Muslims / Christian / Hindu countries). As nations integrate more and more people from other religions – when I hear of Christianity from a brown man – I will understand it better. And vice-versa.
Peace out, brother.
About three weeks ago I wrote a poem for the Huffington Post Religion called “Allah or God, It Doesn’t Matter to Me.” While the poem did not receive a ton of attention, a few Huffington Post users left their thoughts, of which one stood out more than the others. Alongside posting several biblical passages which had no context or description, the user said:
“Allah is a fake God that does not exist and is the heart of deception. No real Christian that believes in God/Christ of the scriptures can have anything to do with cults and doctrines of demons.
You will, with your own eyes, see the resurrection/rapture and all of the cults, interfaith movements, emergent churches and nonbelievers left behind to face Gods wrath.”
The user also posted a video (below) on his own preparations for the rapture.
How do you feel about the rapture? What does the response and video tell us about religious extremism in general?
Tags: Allah, Bible, Christian, Christian fundamentalists, Christianity, Christianity and Islam, God, Huffington Post, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, Religious deception, Religious extremism, The rapture
One of the best phrases in the human language: “Tikkun olam (Hebrew: תיקון עולם or תקון עולם), meaning “to heal a fractured world.”
Note: My fellow Needhamite Dr. Abdul Cader Asmal Ph.D. wrote a powerful response in Wicked Local Needham to the Boston marathon bombings. Dr. Asmal previously served as president of the Islamic Center of Boston and the Islamic Council of New England. He is a retired physician and is also a current member of Needham Clergy Association and Needham Human Rights Committee. Dr. Asmal is clearly writing in the pluralist spirit of the American Revolution.
By Dr. Abdul Cader Asmal
It is sad that it takes a tragedy to remind us of our common humanity and the fragility of our existence. From it we should all learn to work together to promote peace harmony and goodwill in our great country, and throughout our fractured world. As a miniscule but significant start in the direction of recognizing our universal commitment to these ideals we can start by immortalizing the youngest, and the one Islam views as completely free of sin because of his age of innocence, Martin Richard, already guaranteed a place at God’s side, by signing his guest book at http://www.legacy.com/guestbooks/guestbook.aspx?n=martin-richard&pid=164273823 May his memory forever be etched in our collective psyche as a reminder of this day of infamy.
Read the full article
Tags: American Revolution, Boston, Boston Marathon, Boston Marathon bombings, Boston marathon bombings reaction, Dr. Abdul Cader Asmal, Facebook, Fractured world, Freedom, God, Humanity, Islam, Islam in Boston, Islamic Center of Boston, Islamic Council of New England, Martin Richard, Muslims in Needham, Needham, Needham Clergy Association, Needham Human Rights Committee, Needham Massachusetts, Religion and Spirituality, Twitter, United States, Wicked Local Needham, WickedLocal
“I searched for God among the Christians and on the Cross and therein I found Him not.
I went into the ancient temples of idolatry; no trace of Him was there.
I entered the mountain cave of Hira and then went as far as Qandhar but God I found not.
With set purpose I fared to the summit of Mount Caucasus and found there only ‘anqa’s habitation.
Then I directed my search to the Kaaba, the resort of old and young; God was not there even.
Turning to philosophy I inquired about him from ibn Sina but found Him not within his range.
I fared then to the scene of the Prophet’s experience of a great divine manifestation only a “two bow-lengths’ distance from him” but God was not there even in that exalted court.
Finally, I looked into my own heart and there I saw Him; He was nowhere else.”
Tags: Christianity, Constantinople, God, God location, Heart, Hira, Islam, Istanbul, Kaabar, Mysticism, Photography, Picture, Poems, Poetry, Qandhar, Religion, Rumi, Süleymaniye Mosque, Searching, Spirituality
*Published on Huffington Post Religion*
I’m a Catholic
but I think Islam is beautiful
Some think I’m interested in converting
No, I’m not
it just makes me think of the one above
Whether it’s called Allah
it doesn’t matter
I think of him
I think of heaven
A place of no worries
A place of peace
A place with no pain
A beautiful place
for all kinds of people
Isn’t this what matters?
Here’s an article by Alayna Ahmad, which was recently published on the Huffington Post Religion page. Below the article, I’ve also posted an ITV documentary on “The Muslim Jesus.”
Islam is a deeply monotheistic religion and thus forbids any partners or associations with God. Although all prophets including Jesus were mortal and gifted in their own way, they could not be part of the divine. The life of Jesus has always been an inspiration although many of its aspects remain obscure factually; yet we cannot doubt the significance of this remarkable man even 2000 years after his death. Whilst recognising the validity of Professor Lawson’s argument, I sincerely believe the shared love Muslims and Christians feel for Jesus can be the basis for mutual understanding and inter-faith dialogue. The three Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are undoubtedly linked. However, even though the Judaic tradition rejects Jesus, Islam has always accepted him. Given that belief in Jesus is central to the Muslim faith, why does the West persist in remaining so hostile to Islam?
- How the new pope could bring Muslims and Christians together (onefilm911.wordpress.com)
Tags: Abrahamic tradition, Christian, Christianity, God, Interfaith Dialogue, Islam, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus in Quran, Life of Jesus, Muslim, Muslim Jesus, Prophets, Qur'an, Religion, Similarities Islam Christianity
Akbar the Great, ruler of the Mughal Empire during the late 16th and early 17th century, was a true pioneer of interfaith dialogue. Akbar’s desire to build interfaith bridges is clear in a letter he wrote in 1582 to King Philip II of Spain”
“As most men are fettered by bonds of tradition, and by imitating ways followed by their fathers… everyone continues, without investigating their arguments and reasons, to follow the religion in which he was born and educated, thus excluding himself from the possibility of ascertaining the truth, which is the noblest aim of the human intellect. Therefore we associate at convenient seasons with learned men of all religions, thus deriving profit from their exquisite discourses and exalted aspirations.”
Here is my Huffington Post Religion article and a short documentary I put together for you to learn more about the life and tolerance of Akbar the Great:
- Pope Francis I, Akbar the Great, and the Jesuits (craigconsidinetcd.wordpress.com)
One of the three penitential principles of Lent is almsgiving, or making voluntary contributions to those in need. In my celebration of this solemn observance, I recently walked around Dublin and carefully gave away money to those who need it more than I do.
First, the church has to address the abuse scandal that has been devouring the institution from the inside. Step one is to release every document, no matter how embarrassing or costly, relating to child abuse and the protection of criminal priests. The Vatican has to throw open its doors and establish an independent, secular organization charged with rooting out victimizers and reconciling, as best as possible, with victims. In addition, the church should end the absurd ban on marriage within the clergy and welcome women to the priesthood. Of course, this is asking a lot of an institution that recently concluded the sexed-up culture of the 1960s was to blame for priests raping children.
Second, the new pope should declare that the Vatican is refocusing on God’s command to do good works. This has always been the most attractive feature of Catholicism and this is a world that desperately needs generous souls to work on behalf of the poor, the sick and the hungry. The pope should sell his scepter and pay for some young, out-of-work idealists to wash, feed and clothe the poor, just as Jesus is said to have commanded, “go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
Third, the pope should use his pulpit not to preserve the ancient superstitions of a repressive religion, but to preach about the concerns of the modern world. What a blessing it would be if Ratzinger’s successor would look past condoms and pornography for the root causes of our suffering. By my estimation, murder and usury do more harm than the alleged sin of homosexuality. What is the church’s position on drone strikes? What does the Vatican have to say to the people who run Visa and JPMorgan Chase? Sex slaves and factory workers in Vietnam need a champion. It’s not going to be General Electric, and it’s not going to be the United States.
The ancient sages at Delphi always stated to their visitors: ‘know thyself’. No doubt these are wise words, but should we take it further, we could also ‘love thyself’ explicitly so that we can love others. If you don’t love yourself, you won’t have that deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. However, if you become friends with yourself, which is certainly no easy feat, then you can find that there is no obstacle to opening your heart and your mind to others. To have compassion and to practice it outwardly is the key to your happiness as well as to the happiness of those around you.
What are your feelings when watching this? Are you happy or sad? Motivated or depressed? Something totally different?
I’d appreciate your feedback in the comments section. Thank you.
- Film-work: “Nothingness” (short film based in Ireland) (craigconsidinetcd.wordpress.com)
Via Chris Hedges ‘McGovern: He Never Sold His Soul’ (Truth Dig)
From secrecy and deception in high places; come home, America.
From military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation; come home, America.
From the entrenchment of special privileges in tax favoritism; from the waste of idle lands to the joy of useful labor; from the prejudice based on race and sex; from the loneliness of the aging poor and the despair of the neglected sick—come home, America.
Come home to the affirmation that we have a dream. Come home to the conviction that we can move our country forward.
Come home to the belief that we can seek a newer world, and let us be joyful in that homecoming, for “this is your land, this land is my land—from California to New York island, from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters—this land was made for you and me.”
So let us close on this note: May God grant each one of us the wisdom to cherish this good land and to meet the great challenge that beckons us home.
And now is the time to meet that challenge.
Good night, and Godspeed to you all.
RIP George McGovern
Published in ‘Young India’ (1924):
‘I wanted to know the best of the life of one who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind… I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle. When I closed the second volume (of the Prophet’s biography), I was sorry there was not more for me to read of that great life’.
The light: that spark, that thought in your head,
the wisdom from without and in turn within.
Give thanks for without it we’d be empty and stricken by blaze.
I dream before I even dream and I think before I even think,
I’m ahead even when I’m behind and I have little idea of how it happens.
But it does, and when it does,
it’s an uncontrollable,
After Reynold A. Nicholson
Jesus passed by three men.
Their bodies were lean and their faces pale.
He asked them,
‘What has brought you to this plight?’
‘Fear of the Fire’.
‘You fear a thing created,
and it behoves God
that he should save those who fear’.
Jesus left them and passed by three others,
whose faces were paler and their bodies leaner,
he asked them, saying,
‘What has brought you to this plight?’
‘Longing for Paradise’.
‘You desire a thing created,
and it behoves God
that He should give you that which you hope for’.
Jesus went on
and passed by three others of exceeding paleness and leanness,
so that their faces were as mirrors of light,
‘What has brought you to this?’
‘Our love of God’.
‘You are the nearest to Him,
You are the nearest to Him’.
What is the hardest task in the world?
I would put myself in the attitude to look in the eye an abstract truth,
and I cannot.
I blench and withdraw on this side and on that.
I seem to know what he meant who said,
No man can see God face to face and live.
a man explores the basis of civil government.
Let him intend his mind without respite,
in one direction.
His best heed long time avails him nothing.
Yet thoughts are flitting before him.
We all but apprehend,
we dimly forebode the truth.
I will walk abroad,
but cannot find it.
It seems as if we needed only the stillness and composed attitude of the library to seize the thought.
But we come in,
and are as far from it as at first.
in a moment,
the truth appears.
wandering light appears,
and is the distinction,
But the oracle comes,
because we had previously laid siege to the shrine.
It seems as if the law of the intellect resembled that law of nature by which we now inspire,
now expire the breath;
by which the heart now draws in,
then hurls out the blood -
the law of undulation.
So now you must labor with your brains,
and now you must forbear your activity and see what the great Soul showeth.
Every soul is a celestial Venus to every other soul.
The heart has its sabbaths and jubilees in which the world appears as a hymeneal feast,
and all natural sounds and the circles of the seasons are erotic odes and dances.
Love is omnipresent in nature as motive and reward.
Love is our highest word and the synonym of God.
We can gain a sense of young Benjamin Franklin’s thoughts on religion in A Witch Trial at Mount Holly, which raised the concern of his Puritan parents that he held ‘erroneous’ religious opinions. Franklin was not himself an emphatically religious man; while he believed in God, he did not subscribe to one particular creed. What we do know about Franklin’s personal beliefs is that he frowned upon religious orthodoxy, writing to his mother, in citing Matthew 26, that ‘I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue’. To escape the clutch of his parents and Puritanism, the young Franklin ran away to Philadelphia, a city more diverse in its religious makeup (with Quakers, Jews and Christian sects). It was here in Philadelphia where Franklin famously raised money to build a new ‘religious hall’ that would be ‘expressly for the use of any preacher of any religious persuasion who might desire to say something’. And while colonial Philadelphia had few Muslims, Franklin also suggested that ‘Even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service’. Franklin’s virtue was on display when in 1788, he donated money to each religious group in Philadelphia, including a sum for a new synagogue of the Mikveh Israel Jewish community. Later in 1790, Franklin was carried to his resting place by clergymen from every single religious group in Philadelphia. How is that for respect? We as Americans would be wise to heed his message.
Tags: American culture, Arts, Benjamin Franklin, Craig Considine, Franklin, God, History, Interfaith, Islam, Jews, Judaism, Matthew 26, Mikveh Israel, Muslims, Opinion, Personal, Philadelphia, Pluralism, Quakers, Religion, Spirituality, Tolerance, United States
As part of Journey into America – September 2008 at the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I was lucky enough to film right up there.
Tags: Adhan, Art, Beauty, Call to prayer, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Rapids Iowa, God, Iowa, Islam, Journey into America, Jummah, Mosque, Music, Muslim, Muslims, Qur'an, Religion, Religion and Spirituality, Singing, United States
… [T]here is so much misunderstanding of Islam. The debate on Islam that is in full cry in the West since September 11 is too often little more than a parading of deep-rooted prejudices. For example, the critics of Islam ask: ‘If there is such an emphasis on compassion and tolerance in Islam, why is it associated with violence and intolerance toward non-Muslims and the poor treatment of women.
The answer is that both Muslims and non-Muslims use the Quran selectively. The Quranic verses revealed earlier, for example, Surah 2: Verses 190-4, emphasize peace and reconciliation in comparison to the latter ones like Surrah 9: Verse 5. Some activists have argued that this means an abrogation of the earlier verses and therefore advocate aggressive militancy. In fact, the verses have to be understood in the social and political context in which they were formed. They must be read both for the particular situation in which they were revealed and the general principle they embody.
Take the first criticism of Islam: that it encourages violence. The actions of the nineteen hijackers had little to do with Islamic theology. Killing a single innocent person is like killing all of humanity, warns the Quran (Surah 5: Verse 32). The Quran clearly preaches tolerance and understanding. Indeed, there is an anthropologically illuminating verse which points to the diversity of races: ‘O Human Beings! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and female and have made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to know one another… The noblest of you, in the sight of God, is the best in conduct’ (Surrah 49: Verse 13).
The idea of a common humanity is central to the Muslim perception of self. By knowing God as Rahman and Rahim, Beneficient and Merciful – the two most frequently repeated of God’s 99 names, those that God Himself has chosen in the Quran by using them to introduce the chapters – Muslims know they must embrace even those who may not belong to their community, religion, or nation. God tells us in the Quran to appreciate the variety He has created in human society: ‘And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colors. Lo! Herein indeed are portents for men of knowledge’ (Surrah 30: Verse 22).
Verses about fighting Jews and Christians – or Muslims who are considered ‘hypocrites’ – must be understood relative to a specific situation and time frame. What is important for Muslims is to stand up for their rights whoever the aggressor: ‘Fight against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities’, the Quran tells Muslims (Surah 2: Verse 190). Men like bin Laden cite this verse and the next to justify their violence against Jews and Christians in general and in particular the United States, which represents the two religions for them. They give the impression that God wants Muslims to be in perpetual conflict with Jews and Christians. They are wrong. Not only are these verses taken out of context, as they relate to a specific situation at a certain time in the history of early Islam, but the verses that follow immediately after clearly convey God’s overarching command: ‘Make peace with them if they want peace; God is Forgiving, Merciful’ (Surrah 2: Verses 192-3)
Misguided Muslims and non-Muslims, especially the instant experts in the media, are both guilty of this kind of selective use of the holy text to support their arguments. In this case the Muslims would argue that violence against Jews and Christians is allowed; the non-Muslims would point to this line and say it confirms the hatred of Muslims against others. They imply that the idea of fighting against Islam is therefore justified.
The discussion around the number of women a Muslim many may marry suffers from a similar fate (see below chapter 4, section ii, ‘Veiled Truth: Women in Islam’). Misguided Muslims cite Surah 4: Verse 3 ; ‘Marry as many women as you wish, two or three or four’ – to justify having four wives; misguided non-Muslims, to point to Islam’s licentious nature. Both ignore the next line in the same verse, which insists that each wife be treated equally and with ‘justice’ and, as this is not possible, then one wife is the best arrangement.
Source: Ahmed, Akbar. Islam Under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World. Polity: UK, 2003.
Tags: 9/11, Al-Baqara, Christian, Christians, God, Intolerance, Islam, Jews, Militancy, Muslim, Muslims, Non-Muslims, Peace, Prejudice, Qur'an, Religion, Surah 2, Surah 4, Surah 5, Surrah 30, United States, Violence, West
Ibn ʿArabī (Arabic: ابن عربي) (Murcia July 28, 1165 – Damascus November 10, 1240) was an Arab Andalusian Sufi mystic and philosopher. He is sometimes referred to as “the Son of Plato” (Ibn Aflatun) for his devotion to Plato.
My heart has grown capable of taking on all forms
It is a pasture for gazelles
A table for the Torah
A convent for Christians
Ka’bah for the Pilgrim
Whichever the way love’s caravan shall lead
That shall be the way of my faith.
Tags: Allah, Arab people, Christianity, Christians, Dialogue, God, Heart, Ibn Arabi, Interfaith, Islam, Jews, Judaism, Ka'bah, Kaaba, Love, Muslims, People, Philosophy, Plato, Poem, Poetry, Poets, Religion, Religion and Spirituality, Spirituality, Sufism, Torah
I just picked up Eboo Patel‘s Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation at New England Mobile Book Fair in Newton, Massachusetts. To be honest, I wasn’t searching for it; I pretty much stumbled across it randomly in the extremely small ‘Islam’ section (it’s small in comparison to the ‘Judaism’ section, which, I think, symbolizes a lot about the Book Fair, the city of Newton, and the country we live in). Anyways, before the Table of Contents, Eboo includes these three quotes to give the reader a feel for his story:
I am large, I contain multitudes
The road of Creation
Resolves into music.
Start a huge, foolish project,
The first quote from Whitman reminds us that as people we’re complicated, have many layers and no core identity.
The second quote from Tagore reminds us… actually… I’m not entirely sure… Any theories?
And the third quote from the Prophet Noah reminds us to be ambitious and to never lose faith in ourselves or God along the journey of life.
Eboo Patel actually appeared in the documentary Journey into America (2009) which I directed with Akbar Ahmed. I’m looking forward to reading his book and applying it somehow to my research on the experiences of young Pakistani men.