Tag Archives: Love
Source: NCR Editorial Staff
Long overdue in the American church is a reasoned and deep discussion of U.S. militarism, the proper use of force, the state’s responsibility to protect and defend, and the role of people of faith in all of this. To this point, Catholic teaching has had little effect in distinguishing us from any other segment of society when it comes to participation in wars and militarism.
Shouldn’t young Catholics, instead of hearing rousing support for the military from their pulpits and parish bulletins, be told that the nonviolent Christ and his command to love enemies might pose an obstacle to a military career?
Tags: American church, Catholic, Catholic Church, Catholic teaching, Catholicism, Catholics, Christ, Christianity, Enemies, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Love, Militarism, Non-violence, Peace, Police, Pope Francis I, Protest, United States, War
The Huffington Post – Religion made this sweet little picture after the publication of my Rumi-Emerson comparison, which is based on the themes of religious tolerance, love, and “oneness.” Sheila Musaji of The American Muslim also republished the piece. You can read that here.
- Rumi and Emerson: A bridge between the West and the Muslim world (craigconsidinetcd.wordpress.com)
Tags: Comparison, Huffington Post, Huffington Post Religion, Love, Oneness, Picture, Quote, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Religion, Religion and Spirituality, Religious tolerance, Rumi, Rumi and Emerson, Rumi quote, Sheila Musaji, The American Muslim, Toleration
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
A few weeks ago, I put together a gift for my lady Melony. This is one of her pictures which she took on an ocean somewhere. I put some words to it to make a little poem.
This is a documentary about my dad, Christopher Michael Considine, who was born on April Fool’s Day in 1948. He grew up in the country of New Hampshire and Vermont. My dad served as Captain during the Vietnam War, a conflict which some of the greatest figures of his generation avoided. Years after serving in the U.S. Army, my dad met my mom and they lived pretty much happily ever after. When his children were born, he groomed them to be great athletes, and great athletes they became. When my dad was older, he had to see his children off into the real world. But now, things have come full circle.
Tags: April Fool's Day, Chris Considine, Christopher Considine, Dads, Documentary, Family, Father, Father's Day, Film, Grandfather, Happy Father's Day, Husband, Love, Needham Basketball Association, New Hampshire, United States Army, Vermont, Vietnam War
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.
Tommy Robinson, leader of the anti-Muslim group English Defence League, used some racy language in his response to the recent killing of a British soldier by a young British Muslim man in Woolwich, London. Referring to the actions and religion of the murderer, Robinson stated that “This is Islam… They’ve cut off one of our Army’s heads off on the streets of London. Our next generation [is] being taught through schools that Islam is a religion of peace. It’s not. It never has been.”
Robinson’s statement, however, is contradictory to the lives of several Muslim leaders and thinkers in Islamic history. In highlighting the character and conduct of the Prophet Muhammad, Akbar the Great, and Rumi, we can see that the Muslim faith is not inherently violent. In fact, many Muslims throughout history have actually behaved in the opposite manner of what Robinson suggested – with goodwill and peace.
To counter Robinson’s message we should turn to the beliefs of the Prophet Muhammad, who in his final sermon in 632 AD planted the seed of peace for his people and for future generations of Muslims. In stating that “An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab” and that “a white person has no superiority over black nor does a black have any superiority over white,” Muhammad made it clear how important it is to embrace diversity and secure equality when it comes to building a cordial and tranquil society.
The Medina Constitution, a document Muhammad created to ensure the protection of non-Muslims in an Islamic society, is another example of the prophet’s interest in building amicable relations among his diverse band of followers. Muhammad believed that “strangers” were to be treated with special consideration and on the “same ground as their protectors.” He extended his call for peace by focusing specifically on Jews, who he said “shall maintain their own religion… The close friends of Jews are as themselves.” Muhammad even encouraged Muslims to spread peace through small, everyday acts by using modest and kind language. In the Holy Quran, offensive name-calling is forbidden: “Let not some men among you laugh at others … Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connecting wickedness” (49:11).
The life of Akbar the Great, ruler of the Mughal empire in the late 16th and early 17th century, also contradicts Robinson’s idea that Islamic values are antithetical to peace. Shortly after taking power Akbar the Great implemented 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.” Borrowing ideas from Sufism, Akbar synthesized major religions in creating the Din-e-Ilahi, or “the religion of God,” which focused on finding peace by reconciling religious differences among his subjects.
Akbar also went to great lengths to accommodate Hindus in his Mughal empire by securing their freedom of public prayer and allowing Hindus to build and repair their temples. In response to his son’s question about why he allowed a Hindu Minister to build a Hindu temple, Akbar responded by saying that “I love my religion, but others also love their religion.” He added: “If they want to spend money on their religion, what right do I have to prevent them? Do they not have the right to love the thing that is their very own?” Finding ways to build peace through religious dialogue was of the utmost importance to Akbar the Great because he understood that finding common ground amongst his diverse population was imperative to establishing a stable and prosperous society.
One of the biggest omissions in Robinson’s theory that Muslims do not practice peace is his disregard for Sufism, or Islamic mysticism. The work of internationally renowned Sufi poet Rumi, a 13th century mystic, is one case in point. As a practitioner of Sufism, a popular ascetic movement inspired by Christian ideals, Rumi was inspired by finding peace through loving one’s self and loving others. According to Rumi, human beings “come from love, are made by love, and cannot cease to love.” In Rumi’s mind, the ultimate task for people is to seek love by finding “all the barriers within [ones self] that [they] have built against it.” Rumi calls on people to break down the barriers which exist between groups so that they may find common ground and understanding.
There are many more leaders and moments in Islamic history that disprove the myths espoused by Robinson, whose attempt to rewrite history is part of an increasing transnational movement to demonize Muslims in Western societies and to tarnish Islam. What we need now is not imaginative stories but rational discussions between Muslims and non-Muslims, who can only come to better understand each other through face-to-face encounters and cross-cultural interactions.
Tags: Akbar the Great, Anti-Muslim Groups, British Muslims, Compassion, English Defence League, Islam in the U.K., Islam news, Islamic Mysticism, Islamophobia, Islamophobia News, Jews, Love, Median Constitution, Muhammad, Peace, Racism, Religion News, Religion of Peace, Religious tolerance, Rumi, Sufism, Tolerance, Tommy Robinson, Woolwhich Attack
“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
You can read more about the life of Akbar the Great in my Huffington Post Religion article, “Finding Tolerance in Akbar, the Philosopher-King”
A lovely picture of Mel and I in the small village of Howth, just outside of Dublin, Ireland. It reminds me of this love poem by Rumi…
A moment of happiness,
you and I sitting on the verandah,
apparently two, but one in soul, you and I.
We feel the flowing water of life here,
you and I, with the garden’s beauty
and the birds singing.
The stars will be watching us,
and we will show them
what it is to be a thin crescent moon.
You and I unselfed, will be together,
indifferent to idle speculation, you and I.
The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar
as we laugh together, you and I.
In one form upon this earth,
and in another form in a timeless sweet land.
Kulliyat-e Shams, 2114
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.
Taken in Prague, Spring 2011
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
One day, a man in rags approached Rumi and changed everything. The following exchange, according to legend, occurred:
Pointing to Rumi’s legal books,
the man in rags asked,
‘You wouldn’t understand’,
Rumi responded disdainfully.
The man in rags
fixed Rumi in a stern gaze,
waved his arm,
and set the legal books on fire.
He waves his arm a second time,
and the books went back to their normal appearance.
Shocked at what happened,
‘What was that?’
‘You wouldn’t understand’,
the man in rags said.
He then disappeared.
The man in rags was Shams of Tabriz. After meeting him, Rumi decided to end his profession as a scholar of sharia to follow the mystical path of love and spirituality (Sufism) which Shams of Tabriz represented.
The book is designed in a nonlinear fashion, ‘transcending the usual laws of logic and habitual experience which the Virgin Birth of the beloved Jesus also transcends’. The book also reads, in essence, as a long prose-poem. Sheikh Ozak intends for the reader to have a ‘mystical virgin birth’ within its receptive heart – ‘a miraculous birth or purity and illumination, comparable to the experience of the blessed Mary‘.
In his Foreword, Sheikh Muzaffer Ozak makes it clear that Christian readers may not agree with a few of his points. He also, however, makes it known that the ‘Islamic and Christian lovers of the Virgin Mother of Jesus breathe different atmospheres’ but represent ‘two distinct global traditions’. Through his book, Sheikh Muzaffer Ozak hopes that love will bring Christians and Muslims together. He wants the reader to ‘achieve spiritual harmony and love for all humanity without exception, rather than to engage in religious debate or warfare’.
The Virgin Mary, after all, is the bridge between Christians and Muslims. Look at Surrah 3, Verses 45-55 and Surrah 19, Verses 16-36 of the Qur’an.
Most non-Muslims don’t know that women have a very special place in Islam. Check out this story:
A companion once asked the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): Who is the most important person for the soul in Islam?’ The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) replied: ‘The mother’. The companion pressed the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for more information. ’Who is the next most important person?’ Once more, the Prophet Muhammad replied: ‘The mother’. The companion repeated the question a third time. He received the same answer. Finally, on the fourth repetition of this question, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) resonded: ‘The father’.
A hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), in addition, reads: ‘Paradise lies at the feet of the mothers’. The Virgin Mary, moreover, according to Sheihk Muzaffer Ozak, holds an even higher position in Islam than Amina, the mother of the Prophet Muhammad because Mary appears prominently in the Qur’an. These are just a few references to highlight Islam’s reverence of women.
When you here non-Muslims claiming that Islam doesn’t respect or appreciate women, you can share Islam’s position towards the Virgin Mary. You could also encourage them to read Blessed Virgin Mary.
- Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) honored By US Supreme Court In 1935 (themuslimvoice.wordpress.com)
- Let us turn to the Virgin Mary with a thought for Lourdes. (fraternitysdm.wordpress.com)
Lovers trust in the wealth of their hearts
while the all-knowing mind sees only thorns ahead.
To wander in the fields of flowers
pull the thorns from your heart.
The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border? – Pablo Casals
By Patrick Lane
You miss your woman when she’s gone.
You sleep on her side of the bed even when
you say you won’t, imagine her cut under you
like strange wool newly clipped. And fold away,
fold away. There’s broken things around you
you can’t fix. Blood in a boy’s head and a bullet
in a man. You say grief to a chickadee
and the only tears are rain. I live too much sometimes.
You miss your woman when she isn’t home.
Strange wool. That and broken things still running.
Were I to care about it,
It might be wise to think,
but with these good things now
I have no desire for truth.
No grudge, no grievance
with some answer from why.
A comfortable numb, an ease,
On lies that simmer over us.
Alas, it has no meaning.
Except the trump of deceit,
It is a flicker, a quick thought,
Full circle and complete.
© Craig Considine
If you need reassurance in love,
I suggest you walk away now.
If you’re thinking about getting close to me,
Forget words like stability, security, and consistency.
I’m restless and fidgety;
don’t expect me to stand still.
If you want to be with me,
prepare for impatience.
If you’re sensitive, move away;
keep your distance.
I get uncomfortable when you get too close.
And please, don’t ask me ‘why?’.
I won’t tell you.
Nobody has access to my soul but me.
But, I’m friendly and loving.
I get along with everyone.
I’m a conversationalist.
I’ll be the life of the party.
I crave and love audiences,
whether male or female,
but it never goes beyond this;
unless, of course, you doubt me.
Don’t bind me
and never, ever, doubt me.
I’ll never indulge in adultery;
I yearn for loyalty.
I’ll trust you,
but only as much
as you trust me.
I’m not the jealous type.
I’ll never be possessive.
I may lack passion,
but I don’t lack in romance.
I’ll cuddle with you,
and protect you.
And don’t forget,
I’ll make an excellent husband.
I’ll bring you flowers.
I’ll bring you candies and cards.
I’ll treat you like a Queen.
If you want my heart,
assure me that I’m your one and only.
But remember, don’t smother me.
I’ll gladly love you
and let you into my world.
I have many personalities.
I’m an enigma.
I’ll be there for you,
but it won’t be the same,
as being always there with you.
My word of advice:
keep up with me!
Don’t worry if you get tired;
I’ll stop for you and grab your hand.
I’ll always give you the strength
to run with me again!
© Craig Considine
There is a young Dublin man who had been ‘lost’ for nearly 10 years. ’I have seen it all, done it all, laughed harder than most, and definitely partied harder than all. I had all the pleasures in the world – beautiful women, a good physique, and charming looks’, he said. The young Dublin man also asked himself, ‘Why aren’t I happy?’ I could tell he was being honest with himself. I knew he was in severe pain deep down inside of his soul.
For 10 years, this young Dublin man thought he was invincible. He did things to his body that were undoubtedly risky. He broke girls’ hearts without a flinch. He played with love like it was a game. He disrespected his parents, elders, and friends. He would even pick fights with people when he was younger. He had very little boundaries both inside and outside of his home. If he felt the urge to do something, he was going to do it. He hardly ever thought twice. For him, things were the way they were because ‘that’s just how they were’. He didn’t believe in the saying ’you get out of life what you put into it’. He said he was spiritual but not religious.
Things started to change for this young Dublin man when he met an older pious Muslim man from India. This Muslim man was a local religious leader at a nearby mosque. The two had a natural friendship from the minute they met. They didn’t have to hide anything from each other. The Dublin man felt comfortable and secure in the company of the pious Muslim man. The pious Muslim man saw the young Dublin man as his own ‘work in progress’. He thought he could help him and bring him closer to his Creator.
When the young Dublin man went to the mosque, he was moved by the community’s dedication to faith, the clarity of their minds, and the sincerity and care they had for their fellow brothers and sisters, even when they weren’t Muslims.
The young Dublin man left the mosque one evening and was struck by an overwhelming sense of fear. ’Why are these people so much stronger than I am?’, he asked himself. He also asked himself: ‘What have I been doing these last ten years? Why have these things – both good and bad – happened to me?’
The young Dublin man was thankful for all his blessings, but he was distraught over how far he fled. He was connecting all of his earlier wrongdoings to his lack of faith. He wondered to himself, ‘Would all of these negative things have happened to me if I had a foundation to guide me?’
Therefore, the young Dublin man went home in somewhat of a dilemma. In one sense, his life was flashing before his eyes. In-turn, he decided to rid himself of all the negative belongings around his room. He tossed it all in the trash. This was a way for him to cleanse himself of all the things he didn’t need in his life. He then went for a long walk in search of some answers.
While on his long walk, the young Dublin man felt something following him. He said, ‘The street lights were flickering like crazy. Everything was in slow motion. Birds were flying all around me. There were weird explosion sounds coming from the devices on the nearby buildings. The sun was piercing down on my face. Then, suddenly, a massive gust of wind pushed me back’.
The young Dublin man had a strange feeling overcome him. He felt like something or someone was trying to send him a message.
He knew this was the time to make a change.
In the coming weeks, the young Dublin man rededicated himself to the faith he was raised with. He started attending mass everyday in a local church. He started praying. He started thinking about his actions and their consequences.
More importantly, he opened his heart.
But there was this one thing really bothering the young Dublin man. The problem had to do with a woman. This woman used and abused him over-and-over again. When she walked away from him, the young Dublin man’s head was filled with confusion and anger. She weakened his heart. She even made him question ‘love’. When she walked away from him, the young Dublin man had nothing to fall back on. He had given his everything to her. Now that she was gone, he felt he had absolutely nothing.
The young Dublin man thought about her and his recent transformation. He decided to act on both.
Instead of continuing with his hatred and anger for her, the young Dublin man started to pray for this woman. He prayed for her mental and emotional well-being. He prayed she would get healthy. He prayed she would stop abusing those around her. He also prayed for all the men who would cross in her dangerous and destructive path.
At the same time, this young Dublin man, while praying, would ask for signs that his prayers were acknowledged. He needed reassurance of some sorts to confirm he was listened to.
However, one day, everything changed. The prayers of the young Dublin man were answered. They were answered in a very surprising and subliminal way, but they were answered nonetheless.
When the young Dublin man received the news, he was not angry. He was not mad. He was relieved. After all, his prayers were answered.
In essence, the young Dublin man figured out his problem. He thought all his worries and troubles had to do with this woman, but in essence, he was wrong. He identified his problem.
It was never her.
It was him.
This story shows how the power of faith itself is not always a divisive mechanism. A pious Muslim man can awaken a non-Muslim and bring him closer to his Creator. At the same time, the young Dublin man confirmed for the pious Muslim man how members outside of his faith community can learn from his message. This brought the pious Muslim man great comfort as it served for him as a sign that his message was indeed worthy in the eyes of his Creator.
The young Dublin man now walks with a different aura about him. He has a clearer mind and a bigger heart. He is now stronger both mentally and emotionally. He is ready to love again.
This is the mystery of faith.
© Craig Considine