Thursday, February 28, 2008

Az-Zuhd: Islamic approach on Asceticism

Be in this world
as if you are a traveler,
A passerby, with your clothes
and shoes full of dust.
Sometimes you will sit
under the shade of a tree,
Sometimes you will walk in the desert.
Be a passerby always,
for this world is not your home.
- Prophet Muhammad

For the family of God, Az-Zuhd means to leave this world for the world-to-come, the hereafter (al-akhira), which is the true state of al-Islam; this Islam being the inner state of your life, rather than an outside one. It also means to leave this world and the hereafter for the King (al-Malik). Here you are in the station of surrender to God, which is the station (al-maqam) of Abraham, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, in which all your speaking, all your time, and everything that you have will be toward Allah and for Allah alone. By this, you will reach the station of belief (al-maqam al-iman), leaving the questions of “Why?” and “What?” and “Where?” and leaving the desire for either heaven or hell, and the state of your heart will be always saying, “I want only to see You, my Lord.”

When you have finished with the station of belief (al-iman), you are taken to the station of excellence (al-ihsan). In this station you stand at the beginning of asceticism and renunciation. Now you will be like a stranger in the world in which you are, yet, at the same time, you are not.

It is as though you were only passing through it. Here you carry the holy meaning inside your heart and your soul. For this reason it is said, “Be a stranger in this world. Love God and then He loves you. Look not with desire to what is in the hand of another, and he will love you. Look at his heart and not at his pocket.” Understand that this renunciation is the right way of Islam from the beginning, for the Prophet Muhammad, may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, said, “Renounce the world and Allah will love you, and renounce what people possess and people will love you.” Through this the light will enter your heart, illuminating for you the way to Allah.

When the renunciation is true it reveals itself in hayat – the qualities of modesty, awe, politeness, respect and love. This hayat is more than taqwa, which is the quality of devotion and reverence lying between the essence of fear and the essence of hope in the presence of the King. The person who has this hayat will show patience in the face of difficulties, thankfulness for everything that comes to him, whether it is ease or hardship, and deep surrender to the decrees (al-qadr) of Allah.

When he has reached the deep humility of hayat, having left behind all attachments to this world and to the world of the hereafter, there is no fear after that, only the deepest awe for Allah. And the mercy is such that as he stands alone without anything before Allah, he is as Moses, may peace and blessings be upon him, who could not look at Allah because he would have been burnt up.

It has been said that there are three kinds of asceticism. The first is that of the fearful, of those who give up this world in order to save themselves from the fire. The second is the asceticism of the merchants, those who give up this world because they want the good things which Allah has promised them in the garden. The third is the asceticism of the lovers of Allah, and this is the highest and the most graced.

The lovers give up this world for the love of Allah, and not for fear of the fire, nor because of desire for the garden. They do not turn to anything but to their King, and they do not desire anything but to look upon His compassionate face. They keep on climbing for this, from station to station, until they are killed by the sword of Allah; and so they become martyrs in His love, in the qibla of Allah. They are the holy sacrifices of their Lord because they have sold themselves to Him, and He has bought them with the price of Himself.

So they are in Him and He is in them, and this is what is meant by the saying, “If you give, He gives.” And Allah, the All-Knowing, the All-Seeing, says, “Allah has bought from the believers their selves and their possessions against the gift of paradise. They fight in the way of Allah. They kill and are killed. That is a promise binding on Allah in the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur’an; and who fulfills His covenant more truly than Allah? So rejoice in the bargain you have made with Him; that is the mighty triumph.” (9:111).

These are the beloveds of Allah. The surrender for them is that if He gives to them, they are thankful, and if He withholds from them, they are patient. This is the beginning of asceticism from which they will continue without stopping, from station to station, ascending by His grace and mercy. Their asceticism is such that if Allah gives them anything they do not keep it for themselves, even if they may need this thing, but they prefer to give to another. They think of others before themselves and because of this, they have been sent as the mercy to all people.

Finally, asceticism means that a person does not give of his blood, except for Allah, and to die spiritually in the garden of His knowing. Then Allah is well-pleased with him / her, and he / she is well-pleased with his Lord, and now he / she deserves to be a true slave of Allah. amin.

from The Teachings of Shadhuliyya Path
excerpts only, read full here

credit: Sidi Muhammad Press
. more teachings Pin It Now!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Poverty of Prophet Muhammad

Faqr Fakhri
Poverty is my pride
- Prophet Muhammad

Ali Eteraz writes beautifully worth sharing here:

(...) the abject poverty that afflicted the Prophet Muhammad. Here was a man who was subjected to such a long series of painful episodes, and survived them all so miraculously, that it was almost if God put him here on earth to disprove despair.

That you could lose your parents within your first eight years and still become a man; that you could lose your family and their protectioin and still become a leader; that you could lose numerous sons in that age in which children are the most innocent and still be compassionate; that you could have stones thrown at your head till pools of blood accumulated in your shoes and still not give in to vengeance; that you could have your uncle impaled upon spears and his heart literally eaten and still forgive the killers; that you could sleep on mats of hay and still be regal; that you could be so lonely that rather than sitting in the city circles you had to withdraw to caves and yet still come down with a book like the Quran; in this survival, no, affirmation of life, is a miracle that underlies Islam.

when Prophet Muhammad was the ruler of whole of Arabic, when he had the choice to live a life of opulence and luxury, he chose to live a life of an ascetic in spirit yet performing all the duties of family, society and nation. its recorded that if some wealth came to his possession in the morning, by sunset he would distribute them among the needy. he demonstrated how to live in this world and at the same time above it. such was his model of character. thus to embrace asceticism of poverty both inward and outward is what sufis whole heartedly aspire to live. thus living a simple life not necessarily because of necessity, but by choice is a model of the Messenger of God.

the Prophet used to pray, "O God, grant me life as a poor, cause me to die as a poor and resurrect me in the company of the poor .." His wife asked him why he said that, and he replied: Because the poor will enter the garden of bliss before the rich. Do not turn away a poor man, even if all you can give is half a date. If you love the poor and bring them near you, God will bring you near Him on the Day of Great Resurrection. (recorded in Al-Tirmidhi book of Prophetic tradition)

its worth remembering the beatitudes of Jesus Christ where he said: "Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."

And Jesus himself declares: ".. I am meek and poor in heart .." (Matthew 11:29)

may Divine peace and blessings be upon both Messengers of God, Muhammad and Jesus. Pin It Now!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Movie | Bab'Aziz - The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul

to find the beloved, one must have faith - Bab'Aziz, the Movie (2006)

A visual poem of incomparable beauty, this masterpiece from Tunisian director Nacer Khemir (Wanderers of the Desert) begins with the story of a blind dervish named Bab’Aziz and his spirited granddaughter, Ishtar. Together they wander the desert in search of a great reunion of dervishes that takes place just once every 30 years.

With faith as their only guide, the two journey for days through the expansive, barren landscape. To keep Ishtar entertained, Bab’Aziz relays the ancient tale of a prince who relinquished his realm in order to remain next to a small pool in the desert, staring into its depths while contemplating his soul. As the tale of the prince unfolds, the two encounter other travelers with stories of their own – including Osman, who longs for the beautiful woman he met at the bottom of a well, and Zaid, who searches for the ravishing young woman who fled from him after being seduced by his songs.

Bab'Aziz Filled with breathtaking images and wonderful music, Nacir Khemir has created a fairytale-like story of longing and belonging, filmed in the enchanting and ever-shifting sandscapes of Tunisia and Iran. | 96 minutes | credit

An amazing tapestry of sufi Music, brilliant imagery & mastreful cinematography - Gerrie Timmerman

Bab'Aziz is a spectacular feast for the senses and the soul. Visually stunning and full of many of the classic Sufi story elements that those familiar with Sufi themes will know. Other than to say it is a series of stories within a story that winds upon itself delightfully, it would be cheating the future viewers for me to say anything more. Let them drink from this well what is meant for them. Bravo to these film makers - Youtube user comment

Filmmaker Nacer Khemir spins an exquisite, mystical tone poem of a film… the arrival of Bab’Aziz - The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul is, to misuse a dervish cliché, something worth singing and dancing about.”
- Phil Hall, Film Threat

An Arabian dream that weaves timeless story threads with mystical and Sufi elements into a beautiful film object… fascinating as reading a new chapter of 1,001 Nights. - Deborah Young, Variety

i am really looking forward to watch the movie which is now playing at NuArt Theatre here in Los Angeles just for this week only. check your local theaters or movie rental places. its a movie definitely worth watching!

[>] Watch Trailer via youtube, spanish, Typecast website

. review @ Spirituality & Practice| NY Times| Indiwire
@ Cinema without border, LA Time Pin It Now!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

activism on the internet | compassionate service and reach-out engagements without boundary

Recently Business Week featured Activism 2.0 slide show bringing in different ways people are venturing into the internet with online philanthropy.

"Online activism is branching out beyond the e-mail entreaty to give and get involved. Organizations dedicated to saving everything from lives to the environment are tapping new social Web tools to drum up support online, offline, and for the bottom line. In the process, they're spurring a new generation to get out and do something besides sign up and be counted."

Featured Online Activism activities include:

  • Click to Save Darfur: The Genocide Intervention Network has launched an Internet-calling application that can identify phone numbers for local politicians and then dial them for the member, providing scripted talking points for the conversation. It also allows members to sign up for e-mail alerts with links to articles the organization wants to boost in the "most read" rankings on news sites.
  • Help Just a Click Away: Two men, whose wives endured serious illness, run a social networking site,, to help mobilize family, friends, and communities to support loved ones battling illnesses. Nearly 10,000 support communities have been formed on the site, offering to provide help with everything from meals to transportation to the doctor's office.
  • When Facebook opened up its social network to third-party software developers, Project Agape founders Sean Parker and Joseph Green saw an opportunity to tap into the site's vast membership to support good causes. Parker and Green developed an application called Causes, which nonprofits customize for Facebook users to place on their personal pages to raise awareness and money.
  • The Habitat for Humanity page on MySpace has more than 5,000 members who post photos of the projects they have built and offer advice about volunteering in local projects.
[>] read the full Activism 2.0 feature in BusinessWeek
. post tips | Nipun Mehta - Charity Focus

Prapti:: Online fund raising to save life
i can share here my first hand experience on internet activism which was a great lesson and inspiration for me as well. is a group blog, a first kind in Bangladesh which provides blogging in native language with thousands of writers and readers. back in May 2006 the appeal for Prapti, a girl of only 4 years age who was diagnosed with Leukemia, a type of blood cancer. in a third country like Bangladesh, where health insurance is something for ultra-rich only, so for a regular lower middle-class family the cost of treatment can be a question of life and death and many are forced to surrender in the face of economic inability for treatment. the family of Prapti was in such a condition and made an appeal through a family friend in the group blog which is read and accessed by thousands.

initially the appeal didn't get enough attention, so i wrote a post with passionate call (a slightly modified english version here) which caught immediate attention to the bloggers and the reaction was phenomenal. thousands of bloggers came forward actively with compassionate heart for the cause, extending financial and other support. overwhelming response both within the country and hundreds from abroad raised fund and helped the family. i myself wrote that post while living abroad, in Singapore. fortunately it raised enough money to support the costly treatment overseas and by the grace of God, the girl is now out of cancer risk and doctors are positive about full recovery.

Arild Klokkerhauganother time when Chittagong landslide hit southern port city of Bangladesh and expats from all over the world wanted to raise money in a central place to send back to Bangladesh, i opened a paypal account and used blog platform to raise fund for the victims. the response was very positive and authorities organized the relief work and much needed distribution in the disaster zone.

both the case of Prapti and Chittagong landslide campaign was two good first hand experience as a testimony how powerful, fast and effective internet media can be. the kind of people willing to come forward for compassionate service and the right media that connects those people, such as internet can be a great marriage - you can believe in it!

# more resources and success stories of internet activism
. An Introduction to Activism on the Internet
. Open Training | Activism on the Internet
. The Virtual Activist 2.0 | training course
. Internet Activism via Wikipedia
. Social Activism and the Internet
. Social Change Activism and the Internet: Strategic Online Activities
. Internet activism saves rainforest in French Guiana
. Real world activism & blogsphere: Time for a wedding
. Source Watch | internet activism
. Zdnet | Online Activism 2.0
. Open Director for Online Activism
. Resources and Activism
// National Radio Project also published successes of internet activism in South Korea, how activists in Egypt and Bulgaria are bridging the digital divide for small non-profit organizations, and how an internet radio station helped to galvanize San Francisco peace activists at the start of the second Gulf War. read here.

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Mystical Insight

Mystical insight is much like the physical eyesight; a tiny piece of dirt in the eye impairs it’s vision as is mystic insight impaired by a small sin.

- Imam Abul Hasan al-Shadhili, may God bless his noble soul and sanctify his station.

. via another day in the dunya - blog
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Sufis of Kosovo and greater Balkan Europe

Albanian SingersCongratulations to Kosovo! now the youngest nation on earth. Last 17th February 2008 Kosovo declared its Independence from Serbia. Following the declaration by the Kosovar Assembly several countries such as United States, Turkey, Albania, Austria, Germany, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Australia, etc. announced their recognition. With more than 90% population are ethnic Albanian Kosovo is going to be a 4th Muslim majority European nation after Turkey, Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Interestingly the history of Sufism in Balkan region, including that of Kosovo is very rich. The southeastern Europe under nearly six centuries of Ottoman rule brought sufi orders at the heart of Europe with the religion of islam.

/ Quoted from the article by Huseyin Abiva, A Glimpse at Sufism in the Balkans: Indeed, among the nations that now comprise the Balkans Peninsula (Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) the visible Muslim component to their populations are readily evident.

As with other Muslim lands, the historical role that the Sufi tariqats played in the preservation and propagation of Islam in the Balkans cannot go without notice. It can be said with all fairness that the implantation of Islamic Civilization here could not have been possible without the efforts of these Sufi shaykhs and their orders.

The Sufis of the Ottoman Balkans added enormously both to the development of an Islam of the intellectual arena as well as a ‘folk’ Islam of the masses. Though now a mere shadow of a once vast manifestation, the influence of Sufism can still be felt at both the popular and academic level among the Balkan Muslim population. The extent of the impact of Sufism and its role in Balkan Islam can be seen through the number of tariqats (mystical brotherhoods) that functioned in the region over the centuries.

The largest and most wide-spread of these tariqats were the Halveti (Khalwatiyyah) and the Bektashi. Though minimally represented at present, these two orders dominated all others during the Ottoman Era. They were followed by the Naqshibandi, Qadiri and Rifa`i in size and distribution. All three of these tariqats have managed to survive to this day.

Kosovo MapThough the overwhelming majority of Sufis in the Balkans are associated with the Ottomans, the one of the first Sufis to have come into the area was the Bektashi saint Sari Saltik (Mehmed Buhari). Though most of the exact details of his life are clouded by legend, this fourteenth century Sufi traveled throughout the region decades well in advance of the Ottoman armies. His maqams (shrines) can be today found in any number of places including Bosnia (Blagaj), Romania (Babadağ), Macedonia (near Ohrid) and the most famous in Albania (Kruja).

Balkan Sufism beyond : It is important to note that the first Sufi lodge to be established in North America was the First American Albanian Bektashi Monastery. This center was founded in the early 1950's by Baba Rexhep (d.1995), native of the southern Albanian town of Gjrokaster. This remarkable figure managed to preserve the Bektashi identity of many Albanian Muslims despite the pressures from the anti-religious programs of his native land and the pull of assimilation in the United States. Over the decades the tekke (which is located outside of Detroit) expanded in size and membership. Following the death of Baba Rexhep, the tekke is now under the directorship of Baba Flamur Shkala, a very energetic and young shaykh who will hopefully serve his community well.

In the late 1970’s the Rifa’i Order made its first presence in the United States with the establishment of a modest center in the Washington D.C. are by Dr. Asaf Durakovic, who was a khalifah of both Shaykh Xhemali of Prizren and the Halveti-Hayati branch of Macedonia. The Rifa’i Order subsequently expanded in the 1980’s and 1990’s to include centers in New York, Staten Island, Toronto, Cleveland and most recently in Chicago. In fact, due to the genocidal warfare being conducted by the Serbs in Kosova, Shaykh Xhemali Shehu has taken up residence in the United States.

Also it is important to note the activity of two non-Balkan Sufi Orders into the region. The Halveti-Jerrahis (who had historically been present in the southern Balkans), began a program to assist Bosnian students achieve higher education in the United States. A history of the order translated into Bosnian may help establish its presence in the area. The Naqshibandi-Haqqani Order of Shaykh Nazim has also began to take root in Bosnia and Albania where his writings have been popularly received.

From the book, Religion and Politics of Identity in Kosovo, Gerlachus Duijzings writes: 'The Muslim mystic orders of this country (former Yogoslavia) have not only continued to exist, but moreover seem to be characterized by a renewal that is very curious and at the very least unexpected. This is all the more so as these orders, after a difficult survival at the end of 19th century and the first half of the present century, tend to dissappear from 1945 onwards. ... The dervish orders in Kosovo mainly has members from Albanian rural masses and the Bosnian community. ... The revival of popular sufism was largely confined particularly in Kosovo. Interestingly the Kosovan dervishes had difficult relationship with teh Bosnian orthodox muslim establishment.

Dervish orders in Kosovo: a survey (from Religion and the Politics of Identity in Kosovo) Due to the negative effect of communist power in Yogoslavia, most of the dervish orders were pushed underground. The dervish orders were labeled as reactionary and an obstalce to teh development of a proper religious life ... even later after 1950s, and 1960s. Many observers expected that dervish orders would cease to exist, as happened in mnay other Balkan states. However this was contradicted by an unexpected revival of the phenomenon in 1970s. In 1974 the Albanian sheikhs from Kosovo founded an association of dervish orders which has been headed since then by a Rufai Seikha from Prizren (Sheikh Xhemali Shehu). In late 70s, the Community of Dervish Orders was founded which now enjoys more than 100,000 followeres in Kosovo alone.

The Community recognizes 12 'authentic' orders of whcih nine were active before the start of the war in former Yugoslavia: The Rufai, Kaderi, Halveti, Sadi, Bektashi, Nakshibendi, Sinani, Mevlevi and Shazili. Among them Halveti, Sadi, Kaderi and Rufai have large membership and thousand of followers with wide network of sufi lodges. In some areas dervish orders flourished among the Gypsies.

When Compared with Bosnian Sufism, that of Kosovo and Macedonia is considered more ecstatic popular form of Sufism. Bosnian sufism is more elitist, somewhat quetist, sober and subdued.

/ In the article published in Front Page Magazine, Getting to Know the Sufis, Stephen Schwartz wrote: "(...) in Kosovo, Sufis played a major role, over decades, in resisting, sometimes by means of guerrilla war, the abuses inflicted on Albanians by the Turkish authorities, and later by Slavic imperialists.

... In places where Sufism is dominant, spiritual traditions may play a positive role in fostering civic values conducive to democracy. The Bektashi Sufis of the Albanian lands, counting 3 million members from Kosovo to northern Greece, for example, declare boldly that they are "the most progressive Muslims in the world!"--as I was vociferously reminded in 2003 by Baba Tahir Emini, their leader in Western Macedonia. They are especially known for their dedication to women's rights and popular education ..."

/ Serbia have been protesting the independence of Kosovo, so is their ally Russia. Green Sufi writes: Although it is a 90% Muslim land, of ethnic Albanians, some Orthodox Serbs wish to deny it's freedom and have launched a vicious campaign against it with the help of [anti-Muslim] sympathizers. It is nonsense to assert that Kosovars should remain under tyranny simply because they were "part of Serbia." Well for centuries before that they were all part of the Ottoman Muslim Caliphate. Stephen Schwartz writes, why Kosovo recognition is the right decision.

. Kosovo: A Muslim nation that chills out
. Alevikik Bektasilik
. Jasmine Tesanovic : Kosovo
. The Day After / Kosovo
. Kosovo touts 'Islam Lite'
. Religious aspects of the Yugoslavia - Kosovo conflict
. Tale from a Bosnian Sufi Pin It Now!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Iqra | recommended books

. BismiLlah .

Iqra: bi-ismi rabbika allathee khalaq / Khalaqa al-insana min AAalaq / Iqra: warabbuka al-akram / Allathee AAallama bialqalam / AAallama al-insana ma lam yaAAlam.

esoteric rendition | Read: In the Majestic Name of the Source, the Creator and Cherisher of Worlds / Who evolves every human form from a mere clot of blood / Read: Thy Lord, the Ultimate Source of sources is the Most Bountiful / Who teaches with the Mysterious Pen, the Universal Intellect / Unveils to the human intellect that which is veiled.
. The Quran 96:1-5 .

The above verses were part of the first streams of Divine Revelation descending upon the heart of the Last Messenger, Prophet Muhammad which became the Last Testament, the Quran. The Quran started with the call, Iqra, meaning Read.

To learn, to obtain knowledge has always been accepted as a path of illumination. It is the path through the intellect. This path has been followed by a wide variety of traditions: such as Jnana Yoga (path of knowledge) in East and Habad in Hebrew Tradition. Habad (or Chabad) is an acronym of 3 words, Hokmah (wisdom), Binah (intelligence) and Da'at (knowledge).

We find sacred Prophetic tradition in Islam which instruct: "It is compulsory on every Muslim to seek knowledge." / "Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave".

In the spirit of Iqra, as a new feature on a regular basis i wish to share recently read / obtained books here. hope you will find them beneficial. you may follow the links of each book to read the reviews, look inside and buy via amazon.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Describing Sufis | Bhai Sahib Radha Mohan Lal

Radha Mohan Lal Bhai Sahib"We sufis are lovers of beauty. Because we have renounced the world, it does not mean that we should look miserable. But neither do we want to stand out and attract undue attention. We do not wear special robes, because that might create a barrier between other people and us. We behave like others and dress like others.

We are ordinary people, living ordinary lives. We are smart with smart people, simple with simple ones, but we never give bad example. We will always lead a life of the highest morality. We will always obey the laws of the land in which we live; but in reality we are beyond the laws of men, for we obey only the Law of God. We surrendered somewhere; we are completely free!"

- Bhai Sahib, Radha Mohan Lal. the sufi master of Naqshbandiyya Mujaddidiyya lineage from India. He left his physical body in 1966. may God sanctify his station.

. recorded in the diary of Irina Tweedie | 16 Jan 1962
. photo credit: one of the rare photos of Mahatma Radha Mohan Lal, who encouraged others to call him Bhai Sahib, in Indian language meaning, elderly brother.

. Golden Sufi carries the work of the lineage. Pin It Now!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Secret of "why sufis don't grow old"

for some years Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee's teachings in terms of his writings and audio, videos freely made available through Golden Sufi website have been a prominent source of inspiration for me. if i can remember correctly i am familiar with him through Golden Sufi site since 2005. but it was only last 17th February at Berkeley during Global Oneness Project event i had the honored chance to see him for the first time face to face. it was wonderful to be in the presence of someone whom you loved and followed for such a longtime remotely without seeing him really. so when i saw him on the stage the first thing that was striking to me was how young he looks compared to all his pictures and videos of past years.

later in the day, at lunch table his son Emmanuel, Founder & Director of Global Oneness Project was mentioning that earlier after Llewellyn's talks someone came up to him and commented, you have a nice brother! Emmanuel was like, father you mean! and it wasn't the first time. i can imagine that person because easily anyone can mistake Llewellyn (born in London in 1953) to be a brother of his son Emmanuel who is 27 now. and then Sheikh Llewellyn's wife jokingly reminded us the sufi aphorism that "sufi's don't age".

today while reading Lawrence LeShan's book, How to Meditate i came across the inner and outer hints that allude to why sufi's don't age. The author was mentioning the following in the context of why people meditate.

"... we meditate to find, to recover, to come back to something of ourselves we once dimly and unknowingly had and have lost without knowing what it was or where or when we lost it. We may call it access to more of our human potential or being close to ourselves and to reality, or to more of our capacity to love and zest and enthusiasm, or our knowledge that we are a part of the universe, and our knowledge that are part of the universe and can never be alienated or separated from it, or our ability to see and function in reality more effectively. As we work at meditation, we find that each of these statements of the goal has the same meaning. it is this loss, whose recovery we search for, that led the psychologist Max Wertheimer to define an adult as "a deteriorated child."

there goes the inner hint: whereas with time an average adult becomes a deteriorated child, as we continuously condition ourselves with overwhelming externalities that slowly poison and kill our inner child. on the contrary a sufi or a mystic preserve that innocence of the original inner child. there are a lot of commonalities between a child and a sufi. they live in a state of oneness, everything is (the face of) the one, Ahad in specific quality of Divine Oneness. they never cease to be in a state of wonderment and live in the presence. they live spontaneously. just as a little child doesn't hold to the self, infact the duality between self and other is not even there; so is the practice of the sufis to let go of the nafs (self) and its illusion created out of duality. to live in a non-dual state (realizing and embodying Tawhid, Oneness) is what makes a child and sufi on the same field of awareness and being.

a child has an open heart which is also the goal of a sufi. they both are non-judgmental. the same light that glows from the child, can be found in the eyes of sufis and mystics. a child has the infinite capacity to trust and love, as is the goal of a sufi. so the inner state or the heart and mind of a sufi emulate that of a child.

for a Buddhist Mystic or Zen path its explicitly said on a similar note that, "Zen is to have the heart and soul of a little child." - Takuan.

What is very central to sufi idea is also there in Zen as can be realized from these two quotes:

"The practice of Zen is forgetting the self in the act of uniting with something."
- Koun Yamada

"In the Zen the ego enters into God. God enters into the ego. Both."
- Taisen Deshimaru

Llewelyn and Emmanuel Vaughan-Leephoto | Emmanuel and Llewellyn (right) | Feb 17, 08 | Berkeley, CA

Physiological explanation | from a purely physiological point of view, since sufis (as well as mystics of any path) do practice meditation and prayer on a greater and importantly in a regular level, that might also provide the outer hint why the physical body retains youthful and with vitality on the outset.

despite huge advancement in medical science, human physical body (let alone spiritual) is still one of the most mysterious vessel in the whole universe. what we know is only a tiny fraction of what we still do not know. yet what is emerging from scientific research on the effect of meditation tells us that (quote from the book, How to Meditate): "Essentially meditation seems to produce a physiological state of deep relaxation coupled with a wakeful and highly alert mental state. Central to the response to meditation is the lowered rate of metabolism, the lowered rate of using oxygen and producing carbon dioxide.

The lactate concentration of the blood decreases sharply during meditation, nearly four times as fast as it does in people resting quietly. Blood-lactate level is related to anxiety and tension, and the low level found in subject during meditation or meditative state of being is very likely related to the relaxed state of the meditators." brain wave pattern is also different dramatically. thus there are a lot of positive physiological effects that is created continuously in the body due to meditation, prayer and altered state of being - which can not otherwise be created (neither drugs nor sleep or hypnotism).

also i feel, food is another factor. all mystics eat moderate or less and eat with mindfulness which does make a tremendous difference. as our physical body remains less dense, it becomes more and more sensitive to spiritual vibration. energy can work through better with a less dense body. from chinese traditional medicine's perspective such body have spontaneous flow of Chi or life-energy keeping one in youthful spirit independent of physical age.

many great indian yogis (mystics who aspire to unite with Divine) are great testimony of preserving youthfulness due to their inner and outer practices. Paramahansa Yogananda's physical body was so pristine that even days after his death, no visible sign of decay was there which astonished the medical personnel who examined his body. "This state of perfect preservation of a body is, so far as we know from mortuary annals, an unparalleled one" - was reported an account. a brief account can be read here. if one looks at the Lamas and Buddhist monks or nuns of great age one can find the same radiance that comes from a different state of being.

so these inner and outer states, points to the surface secret why sufis (and mystics) don't grow old. someone on the table that day was jokingly said, if we could train everyone to be sufi, we could save billions of dollars in the beauty and cosmetic industry! light of laughter was shimmering in Sheikh Llewellyn and everyone's eyes as you can imagine.

. image credit: zen brush | sufi dancer
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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

ego stands mute before Essence

cosmos galaxy universe
changing time-bound ego
...... stands mute
before changeless,
timeless Essence.

looking up at the mirror
the mystic sees no face.

zen asks: show me your original face
before you were born!

there is no answer.

ephemeral ego
. stands mute.

the grand silence
reaching the far edges of cosmos,
starts its return journey
................... again and again.

silence upon silence,
the Reality of Presence.

.... "Allah"

split open the Secret,
.......... and behold!

al-Lah : The Absolute Nothingness -
all and everything
the Divine Essence
.... veils
and encompasses.

(c) MysticSaint
Feb 7, 2008

. dedicated to and inspired by comment of Ron Marson which is borrowed in the beginning four lines.

+ The Divine name Allah (Alaha in ancient aramaic language of Jesus Christ), traditionally seen as a contraction of arabic article al and ilah (God), simply meaning The God. Also on the esoteric level many sufis interpret it as al (the), La (No, Nothingness). In the teaching of Naqshbandiyya Mujaddidiyya, the sacred phrase, la ilaha illa'Llah is often translated on mystical dimension as there is nothing but Nothingness. It alludes to the mysticism of Via Negativa, to speak of God in terms of what may not be said or expressed about God.

Via negativa starts from the point of unknowability of God. Unless Divine reveal ITself, man can conceive nothing of IT. The true reality of Divine is beyond mind, it is ineffable. It is what referred as neti-neti, (“not this, not that”) of the Upanishads, the Sunyata (“Void”) of the Buddhists, or "the Darkness beyond Light" of Dionysius. The Essence is 'wholly other', and qualitatively different from creation. Only God fully knows God. Walam yakun lahu kufuwan ahad - And there is nothing comparable unto the One. - Quran 112:4. Limited human mind needs opposite to compare, to comprehend and the Divine has no opposite, without a comparison; hence incomprehensible.

This is also the reason for the advice of the master of mystics, Prophet Muhammad, "Do not reflect upon the Essence of God" because universal-synthetic gnosis is beyond the powers of reflection to grasp (it is impossible to demonstrate that which is Itself the cause of demonstration).

Thus the proper site of reflection is the conscious apprehension upon "the Signs" of God. The Final Testament, Quran enjoins to reflect upon the signs: "Those who remember God in all states of physical being, and reflect upon the created manifestation." - The Quran 3:191

+ On the Dynamics of Nothingness | The reality of nothingness is at the core of the mystical path and interpenetrates all of life. Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee in a series of talks explores the dynamics of nothingness. [>] click on the talks below to listen to the mp3 audio.

1. Nothing But Nothingness
2. Love & Emptiness
3. The Hidden Face of God: part1, part2
4. Dangers of Nothingness Pin It Now!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Thoughts on carrying and transmitting consciousness | from laymen to king

Kings of Egypt1.
when it comes to carrying and transmitting consciousness, depending on the nature of the message, on the nature of age and the target audience - the transmission can be different. obviously a consciousness destined for grandness eventually reach a grand audience. but interesting to note from world teachers of humanity that there are examples where consciousness is first transmitted to the kings rather than the laymen or it can work in parallel.

the mighty prophet Moses was inspired and commanded to go to the King of Egypt first to carry and speak the consciousness to and to deliver the message. instead of the ordinary / lay people it was a contrast to observe. for most of the world teachers, the carrying and transmission of the consciousness started with the ordinary. Jesus started his ministry by calling ordinary fishermen in a fishing community near the sea of galilee. his followers during his lifetime where all these ordinary people of the society. the early community of the follower of Muhammad also were the poor, the slaves and the marginals of the society. in the case of Prophet Muhammad throughout the more mature part of his ministry he continued to write to other kings of different nations to the Unity of Divine.

its interesting that for Moses it was other way around. he was sent to the King to deliver the message.

"Go thou to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds."
- The Quran 20.024

Global Oneness Project2.
in the context of global oneness project, there is a strongly feeling that given the context of the consciousness it will be effective to send the message to the people of tangible power (be it political or economic), those who are on the top of our complex social chain.

global oneness project is about "the fact that all life is interconnected, and that everything affects everything else. Modern global realities have made this inescapably clear -- we are no longer separate from one another." the major component of global oneness project is ecology, environment and how we relate to it.

now there is no doubt that for real change - a collective consciousness is what we need. this has been one of the central motto of global oneness project to raise awareness and to help into this emerging consciousness by including more individuals. holding consciousness in each individual can help others to access that and in that way a greater consciousness can take effect.

but somewhere there is a strongly feeling that given the nature of the goal of the problem of our planet, from global warming to poverty, from unequal economic system to human right abuse - in order to effectively address such issues, the kings of our time needs to be included in the consciousness reach out. the transmission must include them who are in the authority. lay person no matter how hard they try, no matter how beautiful it is to say theoretically that "real power is in the hand of people", but on the ground reality, power in terms of policy and resource channeling its with the kings.

its the decision makers, politicians, congressman and country presidents across the globe need to be shown global oneness initiatives. no matter how much we dislike them or what amount of misdeed has crept into their way of doing things, there is no denying that they have a lot of access to make change happen from the policy level and how action is driven from governmental level which still is the major share of change in our world.

there is no denying that each of the movies and projects that it focuses on do have tremendous power to raise awareness and even if only two in twenty leaders are inspired by the vision of oneness, can bring some tangible changes on the ground. if passionately inspired, what even a single person can do is unbelievable. the story of Dr. Muhammad Yunus and his mission of micro-finance is a great example for that.

just as global oneness project videos can be screened to the masses, at the same time whenever possible if its possible to bring them to "the kings" i personally believe it will be helpful to initiate the lost visions (in heartless leaders and intellectuals) in whatever capacity possible. though Moses was hesitant in the beginning to go to the King, after all the message taken carrying the consciousness did make some radical changes back in thousands of years ago. Divine permitting, it can do in our times as well.

"And I have prepared thee for Myself.
Go, thou Moses and thy brother, with My tokens, and be not faint in remembrance of Me. Go, both of you, unto Pharaoh. Lo! he hath transgressed (the bounds). And speak unto him a gentle word, that peradventure he may heed or fear." - The Quran 20:41-44

. previous + related post: Thoughts on carrying and transmitting consciousness | from inner to outer and outer to inner

. with whom to start? How about the Elders of our Global Village?
The Global Elders or The Elders is a group of public figures noted as elder statesmen, peace activists, and human rights advocates. The goal of the group is to solve global problems, using "almost 1,000 years of collective experience" to work on solutions for seemingly insurmountable problems like climate change, HIV/AIDS, and poverty, and use their political independence to help resolve some of the world's most intractable conflicts. details.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Thoughts on carrying and transmitting consciousness | from inner to outer and outer to inner

while being at Global Oneness Project's event on Consciousness & Global Change, and listening to the vision and teaching of oneness, few stream of thoughts on how to effectively carry or transmit consciousness was coming to me which i will share here in 2 part posts.

the methods of teachings of great world teachers is something really fascinating to look at in that regard. each world teachers such as Moses, Buddha or Muhammad - it's a source of great teaching and inspiration to see how they not only had very personal inner awakening of consciousness but they also went to the market place, to laymen, to the society deeply busy in mundane business to share that great awakening and consciousness. the methods might be different, but that great sincerity of each of such world teachers who single handedly inspired and changed lives of nations, ages after ages - are mind boggling. for the enlightened beings such process was a journey from inner plane to outer.

first each had a profound deeper experience which was totally inner. examples can be drawn from Moses' mystical conversation with burning bush, Buddha's experience of Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, Muhammad's Enlightenment in the cave on the Mountain of Light. now all of these experiences had a very personal nature which was coming from deep within. surrounding those special moments, prior and after those experiences each of such world teachers had long contemplative time about how to liberate humanity, the people of the society from suffering, injustice, all the bondages etc. what is fascinating is how they translated their inner experience to tangible outer practices for the lay persons which would help them journey from outer to the inner, ultimately in the close proximity of what the teacher experienced and to live that consciousness.

sufi master Bawa used to say, 'only one in million goes back to God'. so the one in million who goes back to God (who happen to be given the direct and royal Divine Experience) once having the experience of Divine, bring that inner to outer and gives to the world the experience and consciousness in a manner which helps the ordinary to have a journey from outer to inner. for the rest one million minus one ordinary and lay people its a reverse process. and thats how it has always been. thus for the ordinary people its really important to start from outer because they don't hold that higher consciousness or don't necessarily have that space to do that.

human nature is forgetful. thus if the teaching of consciousness is given only as a theory, in majority of the cases are forgotten as soon as such laymen step out again in the world, in the market place. also the inner experience can be very abstract for those who live in the ordinary conditioning and thus may not be able to successfully be connected.

in that regard i personally feel a particular teaching or consciousness in order for it to be transmitted, a successful transmission always has to come with a process that will help the ordinary to journey from outer to inner. from tangible work, practices to higher consciousness which may look abstract in the beginning (when i was listening to question from many, such point was being affirmed more and more). the way the higher consciousness comes to a teacher is not necessarily applicable for the ordinary. if we look at the world teachers we find practices given, which are nothing but tools for the ordinary to work their way from outer to the inner, the very inner from where the consciousness and teaching ordinate from.

such practices, tools, real direction which will translate to a practice as simple as praying on a regular basis or giving away certain amount of personal wealth or engaging a certain portion of time every year for self-less work - needs to be there for the ordinary. only training, physical engagement, work on ground is what works affectively for the one million minus one population.

for a teacher the journey of realization and process of transmission is inner to outer. for the ordinary and those who wish to be recipient of the transmission it works from outer to inner. things are changing on a very rapid speed, but this spiritual law still exists. if we look at the level of mental evolution of the lay people or ordinary people around it will affirm that as well. (except for highly adept souls / disciples who become the successor of the teacher eventually, can share and take-in the inner experiences directly because they already have the affinity and readiness).

. in the next post, i would like to share same stream of thought which has to do, transmission to whom - laymen or kings?

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Meditation on Bhagavad Gita | with Ram Das

Those who realize true wisdom
rapt within this clear awareness
see Me as the universe's origin

all their words and all their actions
issue from the depths of worship,
held in my embrace they know Me
as a woman knows her lover.

Creatures rise and creatures vanish;
I alone Am Real, Arjuna,
looking out, amused, from deep
within the eyes of every creature.

I Am the object of all knowledge,
Father of the world, its Mother,
Source of all things, of impure and
pure, of holiness and horror.

I am the goal, the root, the witness,
home and refuge, dearest friend,
creation and annihilation,
everlasting seed and treasure.

I am the radiance of the sun,
I open or withhold the rainclouds,
I am immortality and
death, am being and non-being.

I am the Self, Arjuna, seated
in the heart of every creature.
I am the origin, the middle,
And the end that all must come to.

Those who worship Me sincerely
with their minds and bodies, giving
up their whole lives in devotion,
find in Me their heart’s fulfillment.

Even those who do no know Me,
if their actions are straightforward,
just, and loving, venerate me
with the truest kind of worship.

All your thoughts, all your actions,
all your fears and disappointments,
offer them to me, clear-hearted;
know them all as passing visions.

Thus you free yourself from bondage,
from both good and evil karma;
through your non attachment, you
embody Me, in utter freedom.

I am justice: clear, impartial,
favoring no one, hating no one.
but in those who have cured themselves
of selfishness, I shine with brilliance.

Even murderers and rapists,
tyrants, the most cruel fanatics,
ultimately know redemption
through My love, if they surrender

To My harsh but healing graces.
passing through excruciating
transformations, they find freedom
and their hearts find peace within them.

I am always with all beings;
I abandon no one. And
however great your inner darkness,
you are never separate from Me.

Let your thoughts flow past you, calmly;
keep Me near, at every moment;
trust Me with your life, because
I Am you, more than you yourself are.”
(text credit)

[>] Listen to this text read by Ram Das via Youtube

+ Bhagavad-Gita translated by Sir Edwin Arnold

About | Bhagavad Gita means the Song of God or The Song Celestial.

Krishna, as the speaker of the Bhagavad Gita, is referred to within as Bhagavan (the divine one). The Bhagavad Gita is revered as sacred by Hindu traditions. The content of the text is a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. During the discourse, Krishna reveals his identity as the Supreme Being Himself (Bhagavan), blessing Arjuna with an awe-inspiring glimpse of His divine universal form.

For a comparative religion's perspective, Krishna is the manifestation of God and the conversation of Gita can be compared with Hadith Qudsi or sacred sayings of Prophet in Islamic tradition where God speaks through the Prophet himself. Although Hadith Qurdis are recorded as God speaking directly, interestingly they are not part of Quran or Direct Divine Revelation. It gives a hint how the nature of Divine Revelation can take on multiple forms, not just a single static format.

. 40 Hadith Qudsi with audio.
. About Ram Das
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Currently @ Berkeley

i am now at Berkeley, California to be at the the Global Oneness Project's event on Consciousness & Global Change.

it was wonderful to hear sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee share his vision and to watch few of the extra-ordinary works going on around the world carrying the consciousness of this oneness which is so fundamental to life and our being in this world.

there was a screening of films from Global Oneness Project which are also available online. you can watch there here.

Thoughts [>] on carrying and transmitting consciousness | from inner to outer and outer to inner

. about Global Oneness Project Pin It Now!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

when poets call from the rooftops

last night those who can not sleep
in their inner-ear somebody
whispered and echoed
the weeping of the lost children of humanity.

the weeping was heard as they say,
in the streets of Kabul, Sao Paulo
Gaza, Grozny and Colombo,
in Port-au-Prince, Kolkata
Baghdad and Jakarta
Darfur, Kinshasha and Manila ...

as it kept coming and coming,
echoing and echoing
from all corners of the world,
wailing and lamenting so intense!

Heart, I said, what an agony it has been
to be witness to the weeping of humanity,
to feel the pain of the Divine,
Who calls to every inner ear of poets and prophets
calling not from far, but near
calling, calling since the aeons of time

calling since always to wake us up
from this mad slumber.
calling to free ourselves
from this bondage of slavery
we orchestrated so thoroughly.

now let the poets stand up
and give call from the rooftops,
in every inner-ear of every heart
let the call of humanity be heard.

(c) MysticSaint
Feb, 2008 Los Angeles, California
first edition published @ Poets for Human Rights

+ Inspired by the vision of human rights poets and activists, Larry Jaffe and Stazja McFadyen. Dedicated to you both. May your work bring more light to the hearts and may your pen speak the voice the humanity.

+ Poets for Human Rights | Words of Freedom
The goal of Poets for Human Rights is to improve conditions through words of hope and freedom. For Human Rights to be observed, poets must shout them from the rooftops. Founded by human rights poets and activists, Larry Jaffe and Stazja McFadyen. It is a network of like-minded active poets that believe in human rights and the dignity of humanity and work to better the conditions of this planet.

Picture Collage Children:: graphics credit: Our Children in Iraq via MR
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Friday, February 15, 2008

mud cookies | poverty and utterly sad state of humanity

mud cookiesHave you heard of mud cookies? Imagine cookies made of dirt, salt, and vegetable oil! Few days back Dr. S. Amjad Hussain, a Toledo surgeon whose column appears every other week in The Toledo Blade shared an article he wrote about utter poverty in Haiti where people had resorted to eating dirt to stave off hunger. Dr. Hussain writes:

... Haiti where poverty and starvation are forcing the poor and the destitute to eat mud cookies called terre made from yellow clay, salt, and vegetable oil.

Haiti is not, by any stretch of imagination, the only country in the world where people are starving. Poverty and hunger are worldwide phenomena and these numbers attest to that assertion. Each year more than 80 million people die worldwide because they cannot afford to stay alive. More than 1 billion people, 1 in every 6 persons, live on less than $1 a day and a great majority of them go to bed hungry and get up hungry.

There are reasons and causes galore for poverty and being lazy or unmotivated are not among them. For an overwhelming majority it is not their choice. Instead they are often the pawns in geopolitical struggles and governmental policies that favor the rich and the affluent.

One way to eliminate poverty and hunger would be to beat our swords into plowshares. The world spends a staggering $1 trillion every year on instruments of war and devastation, of which the United States spends two thirds, or $650 billion. Having all those plowshares would be good as long as the rich and the powerful would stop coveting poor men's natural resources. Add to that the long-standing practice of wars, famine, and geopolitical upheavals, and you have a recipe for poverty, hunger, and human degradation.

The most glaring reason for poverty, however, is the widespread corruption among the leaders, who are responsible for lifting their people out of a seemingly intractable poverty trap. Such misrule is often the rule rather than exception among a vast number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa and many other countries scattered around the world. They include the likes of Papa Doc and Baby Doc, two brutal dictators from Haiti's recent past, who have been responsible for depriving their countries of the wealth that belongs to the people. Most of these dictators flee the country when they lose their grip on power and live out their remaining life in splendid exile.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund work on big scale and speak the language most of us do not understand. Do we, as individuals, have an obligation to help those who are, for no fault of their own, down in the pits? (credit)

"He who sleeps with a full stomach whilst his neighbour goes hungry is not one of us." - Saying of Prophet Muhammad

"If the debtor is in a difficulty, grant him time till it is easy for him to repay. But if ye remit it by way of charity, that is best for you if ye only knew." - The Quran: 2.280

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Karen Armstrong on free speech and contraditions in western values | Europe's anxieties about Islam

In Guardian, prominent author and religious scholar Karen Armstrong wrote on the issue free speech in the context of Danish Cartoon back in July 2007. She is also the author of two biographies of the Prophet, Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet and Muhammad: A Prophet of Our Time.

Quoted below is from her article: An inability to tolerate Islam contradicts western values:

"In the 17th century, when some Iranian mullahs were trying to limit freedom of expression, Mulla Sadra, the great mystical philosopher of Isfahan, insisted that all Muslims were perfectly capable of thinking for themselves and that any religiosity based on intellectual repression and inquisitorial coercion was "polluted". Mulla Sadra exerted a profound influence on generations of Iranians, but it is ironic that his most famous disciple was probably Ayatollah Khomeini, author of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.

This type of contradiction is becoming increasingly frequent in our polarised world (...)

(...) the cartoonists and their publishers, who seemed impervious to Muslim sensibilities, failed to live up to their own liberal values, since the principle of free speech implies respect for the opinions of others. Islamophobia should be as unacceptable as any other form of prejudice.

When 255,000 members of the so-called "Christian community" signed a petition to prevent the building of a large mosque in Abbey Mills, east London, they sent a grim message to the Muslim world: western freedom of worship did not, apparently, apply to Islam."

[>] read the full article here.

. Europe's buried anxieties about Islam from History

Also noteworthy to mention part from the Introduction of Karen Armstrong's book Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet which sheds light on some interesting historical context.

"When the Muslim empire was established in the 7th century CE, Europe was backward region. Islam had quickly overrun much of the Christian world of the Middle East as well as the great Church of North Africa, which had been of crucial importance to the Church of Rome. This brilliant success was threatening: had God deserted the Christians and bestowed his favour on the infidels?

Even when Europe was recovering from the Dark Ages and established its own great civilization, the old fear of the ever-expanding Muslim empire remained. Europe could make no impression on this powerful and dynamic culture: the Crusading project of the 12th and 13th century eventually failed and, later, the Ottoman Turks brought Islam to the very doorstep of Europe. This fear made it impossible Western Christians to be rational or objective about Muslim faith. At the same time as they were weaving fearful fantasies about Jews, they were also evolving a distorted image of Islam, which reflected their own buried anxieties. Western scholars denounced Islam as a blasphemous faith and its Prophet Muhammad as the Great Pretender, who had founded a violent religion of the sword in order to conquer the world. 'Mahomet' became a bogy to the people of Europe, used by mothers to frighten disobedient children.

This inaccurate image of Islam became one of the received ideas of Europe and it continued to affect our perceptions of the Muslim world.

... We should also remember that 'fundamentalism' has surfaced in most religions and seems to be a world-wide response of late-twentieth-century life. Radical Hindus have taken to the streets to defend the caste system and to oppose the Muslims of India; Jewish fundamentalists have made illegal settlements on the West Bank and Gaza Strip and have vowed to drive all Arabs from their Holy Land, Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and new Christian Right, which saw Soviet Union as the evil empire, achieved astonishing power in United States during the 1980s.

(...) It is wrong, therefore, to assume that Muslim extremists are typical of their faith."

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Responding evil with hateful ignorance | Danish newspapers republish Muhammad caricature

Danish Muhammad Cartoon CaricatureNo sane, intelligent person, be muslim or non-muslim will support the handful fanatics' reaction and willingness to harm and kill the cartoonists who depicted the caricature of Muhammad. Obviously the cartoons and the caricatures were wrong in the first place as they were done with political bias with no fair understanding of Islam or the teachings of the Prophet. Those who drew such cartoons stupidly equate a handful of terrorists with the teaching of Islam, which condemn such behavior in the slightest degree let alone killing innocents. I bet those who drew and decided to publish those cartoons never cared about reading the life of the Prophet Muhammad for real from any reliable sources or his teachings. Sadly they still live in medieval Europe's ignorant mentality where Muhammad was used to be depicted as a blood thirsty anti-Christ figure.

If it is terrorism, which all people of the world condemn, then it made much more sense to draw Osama Bin Laden (who was infact an ex-CIA contact and supported by U.S. while fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan not so long ago, incase you didn't know) instead of the Prophet of Islam. Instead of drawing caricature of a real terrorist, when cartoons of a religious figure is drawn given the sensitivity of the faith, its no brainer to understand the lack of intellect and ignorant intention.

Danish police conducted a series of raids Tuesday (Feb 12, 2008) morning and arrested several individuals suspected of planning to murder one of the 12 cartoonists whose unflattering depictions of the Prophet Muhammad led to worldwide protests. Those arrested include several people with both Danish and foreign citizenship, according to the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which originally published the caricatures in the autumn of 2005. The paper reports that cartoonist Kurt Westergaard was the target of the plot and that Danish authorities have been investigating the threat for some time. (credit)

Now, whole-heartedly all muslims do condemn mindless terrorism and such plot to kill a paid cartoonist. It doesn't represent the ideology of true spirit of Islam yet the media is always eager to portray it in that fashion.

Now here is THE IRONY: More than a dozen Danish newspapers and European media today republished a controversial caricature of the Prophet Mohammed (also written as Muhammad) which shows the prophet with a bomb in his turban, saying they were trying to send a message in support of free speech! what a shame!

I ask, then what's the difference between editors / decision makers of these European and Danish Newspapers and the fanatics, who both are equally ignorant and we have same style of bigotry in display here! It is nothing but responding evil with hateful ignorance. Freedom doesn't mean 'do whatever you like' and discriminating others just because they are minority. It is a naked display of promoting islamophobia and intolerance when world needs it no more. Just as terrorism is abhorrent and unacceptable, so is intolerance, encouragement for fanaticism and promoting hatred in the excuse of terrorism.

Reaction from Muslim leaders | "There could have been other ways to do it without the drawing, which I personally do not like," said Abdul Wahid Petersen, a moderate imam, according to the Associated Press.

In Denmark, all eyes turned toward the Islamic Faith Community, a network of Muslim groups that many Danes say provoked the riots of 2006 by embarking on a Middle East tour seeking support for their fight against the paper that first published the cartoons. Group spokesman Kasem Ahmad said even though printing the cartoons "was like a knife in our hearts," the group would not take action this time.

"We are so unhappy about the cartoon being reprinted," said Imam Mostafa Chendid, head of the Islamic Faith Community. "No blood was ever shed in Denmark because of this, and no blood will be shed. We are trying to calm down people, but let's see what happens. Let's open a dialogue. He told Reuters that the decision to republish these images is unfortunate. "We are not against freedom of speech, but we are opposed to continued discrimination of the Muslim minority in Denmark".

The British Muslim Initiative, a group devoted to fighting what it calls Islamophobia worldwide, said the republication showed the West's double standards. "Every time they say: 'We have the right to offend,' and then they tell you don't have the right to be offended," said Ihtisham Hibatullah, the group's spokesman. (credit)

Cartoon of Mohammad Muhammad Jyllands-Posten. Why image of Prophet Muhammad was an issue and why it should not be big anymore for Muslims

In the earlier days of Islam Prophet Muhammad himself forbade other to draw his image or make idol because he didn't want repeating what happened to Christianity to be repeated again in Islam. Sects of Christianity turned from worshiping One God to worshiping Jesus and taking him as God Icon which was even against the teachings of Christ himself. Thus Islamic law (which is dynamic, and came into formal shape many years after the Prophet's death) opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favourable.

Depiction of Prophet was forbidden as graven image or idol primarily because of concern that it could lead to idolatry in a pagan arab society of 1400 years ago, where idolatry was an active practice then. The Kaba of Mecca itself held 360 idols in pre-islamic time.

Infact the discouragement about make image or icon of Prophet is also inline with respect for 2nd Commandment of Torah. Remember the 2nd Commandments that read, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: (...) and keep my commandments. Islam doesn't claim to be a new religion but a continuation of what was revealed to mankind from ageless time, thus the universal spirit of not worshiping anything other than One God is part of its religious teaching.

Thus no image is used inside any mosque, since its a place of worship of One God, Who has no likeness and no comparison. Similarly making image of any Prophet, Messenger or Apostles of God was and is discouraged.

Because it happened repeatedly in the history of mankind that people start to worship that messenger instead of God and forget the real teachings. All sort of idolatry start to happen. They become busy making huge statues instead of following the very principles. This happened in case of Buddha, Jesus Christ, Hindu avatars and other religions in the past.

In modern day's perspective, the image of Prophet Muhammad is not used or will be used for idolatry or worshiping icon. That intention is not there any more. Nobody is going to worship a picture (or cartoon) which was the original case in tribal pagan society. So the treatment of the instruction of the Prophet make little sense from islamic point of view in modern day to push it to extreme agenda as far as viewing it as blasphemy. Muslims all over world also need to understand this before they jump with useless and nonsensical over-reactions.

From social, civilization, integration and cultural point of view its now more of an issue about defining freedom of speech in its full-circle, respecting another faith (which still is a fundamental component of human society) and being sensitive / tolerance of a religious practice. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right no doubt, everyone deserves and wants that irrespective of any differences. So how freedom of speech in a progressive society can be ensured and still can maintain respect for the people of that very community is what people needs to engage with intellectually. Ignorance and mis-information about neighbors is a real shame in our increasingly integrated global village where information and knowledge is what we nurture.

# previous posts on this issue
. When we lose the sense for sacred : Imaging Prophet
. Who is really disrespecting the Prophet?
. this is Mohammad | writings from Alphonse de Lamartine

+ Norwegian press won’t touch "Mohammad" cartoons
+ Islamophobia in Europe
+ European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia report: Muslims in the European Union: Discrimination and Islamophobia
+ Cartoon Censor | Osama Saeed writes: ... censorship by the powerful troubles nobody, and instead we just have hand-wringing about Muslims and the threat they pose to free speech.

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