Sunday, June 5, 2016

Another case of much ado about nothing (reprise)

Many years ago I met a Sufi master whose profound understanding of Islam truly impressed me.

But before I continue with this story, let me state that almost all the Muslims with whom I have had close friendships have either been Sufis - or were gravitating towards a mystical interpretation of Islam. The mystical approach is experiential and private; whereas ritualistic religion is regulated by public behavior and therefore tends to be tribalistic in nature.

I find it impossible to have an intelligent conversation with fundamentalists of any persuasion - whether Muslim, Christian or whatever. This is because fundamentalism is antagonistic to intelligence. Wherever violence erupts over religious differences, fundamentalism is invariably the root cause. Brawn and brute force override brain and heart when independent thinking is suppressed.

Looking up the word "fundamentalism" in my trusty digital dictionary, I found this concise summary:

"Islamic fundamentalism appeared in the 18th and 19th centuries as a reaction to the disintegration of Islamic political and economic power, asserting that Islam is central to both state and society and advocating strict adherence to the Koran (Qur'an) and to Islamic law (sharia), supported if need be by jihad or holy war."

There you have it. Fundamentalism is basically an outward manifestation of ego insecurity. An entire tribe or nation can suffer from ego insecurity and seek refuge in hardline dogmatism and fanaticism. You could say it's a pathological condition and, as such, can be quite easily cured - once the hidden hand behind the reactionary forces is revealed and surgically amputated.

In every case you will find that the chief puppetmaster isn't even a believer. He cynically exploits the gullibility of the mindless mob and manipulates its collective pain-body through control of the mass media and law enforcement.

Coming back to my Sufi friend who enlightened me about the essence of Islam. He pointed out the significance of a triconsonantal syllable in Arabic and Hebrew which expresses peace, harmony and wholeness: the Arabic SaLaM and Hebraic ShaLoM are the commonest embodiments of this key to being truly muSLiM.
Sin-Lam-Mim (Arabic: س ل م‎ S-L-M; Hebrew: שלם‎ Š-L-M) is the triconsonantal root of many Semitic words, and many of those words are used as names. The root itself translates as "whole, safe, intact."
Note that this triconsonantal syllable forms the root of the words "Islam" and "Muslim." This places the frequency of peace, harmony and wholeness at the very core of Islam and any sentient being that consciously aspires towards attunement and harmonization with the Whole of Existence is intrinsically Muslim.

When one has embraced the essence of Islam, no other rules apply. All observances, injunctions and rituals (specific to a historical and sociocultural context) immediately become irrelevant and meaningless and fall away of their own accord. As such, Islam in its pure, essential form can be said to be the ultimate guide to attaining cosmic equilibrium and liberation from illusion. This is precisely the teaching of wu-wei  found in the Tao Te Ching and it corresponds perfectly with the highest aspirations of Zen Buddhism. It also resonates effortlessly with the concept of yoga or sacred union with the Godhead or Source.

What about the name "Allah"? Does it have a special meaning? My learned friend explained that the word, written as Al-Lah means The Great Void - or The Nothingness from which Everything was born. In other words, Source.

Every Tibetan Buddhist aspires to return to and consciously merge with The Great Void. The Nothingness is a key element in Chaos Theory which postulates that Order (structured existence or an actualized state of being) emerges either randomly - or as a focused expression of desire and will from the Primordial Chaos (Infinite Potentiality). It all makes perfect sense to me.

The mystical understanding of Allah and Islam frees us from a narrow and limited distortion that can only lead to divisiveness and discord. Indeed, the way my Sufi friend explained Islam made me instantly receptive and I realized that this was truly a sophisticated philosophy with universal appeal and cosmic wisdom. No compulsion, no harsh and punitive rules, no exclusivity.

Alas, the crafty hoodlums who rule over unthinking mobs must of necessity opt for the most demented, inane and constricted interpretation of any belief system in order to have any control over the untutored passions of their flock. They will set up formal councils and academies to determine the parameters of belief and behavior and vigorously persecute (and even execute) anyone who preaches any form of "deviancy" from the orthodox doctrine.

We have seen what the Spanish Inquisition (which lasted from 1478 till 1834) was really about - the brutal and violent suppression of religious dissent and heresy for the benefit of a corrupt and greedy ruling elite. In this day and age we need a Malay Inquisition like we need a hole in the pocket.

Allahu Akbar! The Nothingness is All! So why so much ado about NOTHING?

[First published February 2010, reposted  5 August 2013]


A Arthur said...

Great article on Sufism. Thanks Anatares

Singam said...

Islam was not founded by Prophet Muhammad. It is the original religion revealed to mankind from the Source.

Krishna said to Arjuna, 'For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the evil, for the preservation of dharma, I incarnate, age after age,'

This is echoed in Qur'an where Muhammad is told that 'Never have there been a people to whom I have not sent a Messenger.'

Anonymous said...

just another 5 sen thought.islam is and has always been life itself.Allah created humans and things from the smallest of nano-microbes to the biggest gigantic cosmic stellaristic system....with a purpose!when our ustaz thought us to read doa whenever we start eating or sitting on the toilet bowl,this reminds me that if this simple day-to-day life must also be governed by rules and laws...then surely Allah Almighty does hand-down to us humans some kind of laws and rules to manage humans of multi-plural beings!Fundamentalism is simply a term coined-up by whoever behind it.sufism is yet another term.bottom line is there's no difference between the two..if we were to go deeper!both are in and within us humans just as Allah does!i myself would never be ever writing this stuff if Allah does not allow it,fullstop!it just that we humans get too mess up with materialistic get my point in case..go and search the life of the beloved Prophet Muhammad pbuh himself and for a start,try the book 'Muhammad The Human Benefactor' by Prof.Naem Siddique!!!chow.

Ayu Azalea said...

Antares, I can't say how much I thank you for this. All these while I have been trying to explain to my love one about Islam and Buddhism, but words just don't come easily to me. This is what I have been seeking and this is what I have always believe in. And I will share this article with him. I truly hope he will finally understand and stop thinking that I'm going to leave Islam and embrace Buddhism. There's no reason for me to anyway, for what is Islam and what is Buddhism when they are but one? Thank you once again.

Anonymous said...

Today, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, Ayatollah Jannati, Ayatollah Yazdi, Ayatollah Khaz-Ali, and others like them are leading the Islamic regime’s hooligans and hoodlum and government’s baton and knife goons. They encourage their puppets to commit murder, torture and rape of the freedom seeking sons and daughters of Iran. If we look at their past history, these wicked and dangerous creatures were all threshold kissers at the king’s court during Pahlavi dynasty. At that time, under the banner of Hojjatieh Society [1], they were busy harassing the free thinkers, spreading superstitions, and hatred and animosity towards the Baha’is of Iran.

Patricia said...

I keep coming back here to see when you saw fit to write on this. And it was worth the wait.

What a beautiful piece. I'm going to 'share' it will my non-blog-reading friends :)

Anonymous said...


The Global Islamic population is approximately 1,200,000,000

ONE BILLION TWO HUNDRED MILLION or 20% of the world's population.

They have received the following Nobel Prizes:

1988 - Najib Mahfooz

1978 - Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat

1990 - Elias James Corey
1994 - Yaser Arafat:
1999 - Ahmed Zewai





1960 - Peter Brian Medawar
1998 - Ferid Mourad


Anonymous said...

The Global Jewish population is approximately 14,000,000
Only FOURTEEN MILLION or about 0.02% of the world's population.
They have received the following Nobel Prizes:

1910 - Paul Heyse
1927 - Henri Bergson
1958 - Boris Pasternak
1966 - Shmuel Yosef Agnon
1966 - Nelly Sachs
1976 - Saul Bellow
1978 - Isaac Bashevis Singer
1981 - Elias Canetti
1987 - Joseph Brodsky
1991 - Nadine Gordimer World


1911 - Alfred Fried
1911 - Tobias Michael Carel Asser
1968 - Rene Cassin
1973 - Henry Kissinger
1978 - Menachem Begin
1986 - Elie Wiesel
1994 - Shimon Peres
1994 - Yitzhak Rabin


1905 - Adolph Von Baeyer
1906 - Henri Moissan
1907 - Albert Abraham Michelson
1908 - Gabriel Lippmann
1910 - Otto Wallach
1915 - Richard Willstaetter
1918 - Fritz Haber
1921 - Albert Einstein
1922 - Niels Bohr
1925 - James Franck
1925 - Gustav Hertz
1943 - Gustav Stern
1943 - George Charles de Hevesy
1944 - Isidor Issac Rabi
1952 - Felix Bloch
1954 - Max Born
1958 - Igor Tamm
1959 - Emilio Segre
1960 - Donald A. Glaser
1961 - Robert Hofstadter
1961 - Melvin Calvin
196 2 - Lev Davidovich Landau
1962 - Max Ferdinand Perutz
1965 - Richard Phillips Feynman
1965 - Julian Schwinger
1969 - Murray Gell-Mann
1971 - Dennis Gabor
1972 - William Howard Stein
1973 - Brian David Josephson
1975 - Benjamin Mottleson
1976 - Burton Richter
1977 - Ilya Prigogine
1978 - Arno Allan Penzias
1978 - P eter L Kapitza
1979 - Stephen Weinberg
1979 - Sheldon Glashow
1979 - Herbert Charles Brown
1980 - Paul Berg
1980 - Walter Gilbert
1981 - Roald Hoffmann
1982 - Aaron Klug
1985 - Albert A. Hauptman
1985 - Jerome Karle
1986 - Dudley R. Herschbach
1988 - Robert Huber
1988 - Leon Lederman
1988 - Melvin Schwartz
1988 - Jack Steinberger
1989 - Sidney Altman
1990 - Jerome Friedman
1992 - Rudolph Marcus
1995 - Martin Perl
2000 - Alan J. Heeger


1970 - Paul Anthony Samuelson
1971 - Simon Kuznets
1972 - Kenneth Joseph Arrow
1975 - Leonid Kantorovich
1976 - Milton Friedman
1978 - Herbert A. Simon
1980 - Lawrence Robert Klein
1985 - Franco Modigliani
1987 - Robert M. Solow
1990 - Harry Markowitz
1990 - Merton Miller
1992 - Gary Becker
1993 - Robert Fogel


1908 - Elie Metchnikoff
1908 - Paul Erlich
1914 - Robert Barany
1922 - Otto Meyerhof
1930 - Karl Landsteiner
1931 - Otto Warburg
1936 - Otto Loewi
1944 - Joseph Erlanger
1944 - Herb ert Spencer Gasser
1945 - Ernst Boris Chain
1946 - Hermann Joseph Muller
1950 - Tadeus Reichstein
1952 - Selman Abraham Waksman
1953 - Hans Krebs
1953 - Fritz Albert Lipmann
1958 - Joshua Lederberg
1959 - Arthur Kornberg
1964 - Konrad Bloch
1965 - Francois Jacob
1965 - Andre Lwoff
1967 - George Wald
1968 - Marshall W. Nirenberg
1969 - Salvador Luria
1970 - Julius Axelrod
1970 - Sir Bernard Katz
1972 - Gerald Maurice Edelman
1975 - Howard Martin Temin
1976 - Baruch S. Blumberg
1977 - Roselyn Sussman Yalow
1978 - Daniel Nathans
1980 - Baruj Benacerraf
1984 - Cesar Milstein
1985 - Michael Stuart Brown
1985 - Joseph L. Goldstein
1986 - Stanley Cohen [& Rita Levi-Montalcini]
1988 - Gertrude Elion
1989 - Harold Varmus
1991 - Erwin Neher
1991 - Bert Sakmann
1993 - Richard J. Roberts
1993 - Phillip Sharp
1994 - Alfred Gilman
1995 - Edward B. Lewis


Perhaps the world's Muslims should consider investing more in standard education and less in blaming the Jews for all their problems.

Muslims should ask 'what can they do for humankind' before they demand that humankind respects them!!

Anonymous said...

Regardless of your feelings about the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians and Arab neighbours, even if you believe there is more culpability on Israel 's part, the following two sentences really say it all:

'If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence.
If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel '.

-Benjamin Netanyahu

Anonymous said...

When did the Nobel Prize become the be-all and end-all judge of humanity?


masterwordsmith said...

What a fantastic post! I have always been fascinated by Sufism. Thanks! Take care...

Azazel said...

Hello Buddy, its been a long time since i posted a comment, its me your little devil friend Azazel from a few years ago. Not sure if you remember me. I was gone for ages because i was too busy changing my life so that i can be ready for the coming collapse of civilization. Learning survival skills requires a lot of time but im glad im no longer city boy material.

Interesting write up about religion, in my opinion religion is nothing but another creation of humans who are all out to destroy this planet without even knowing it. Religion gives people the feel good factor so that they can continue to do wrong things. Sorry for being blunt but if we were to wake up from deep slumber, one needs to splash cold water on that person to fully be awake.

Look, i got no problem if one wants to believe in something, after all Religion was created with a noble cause so that society will do good instead of bad (like not sticking a knife inside someones body to rob that person) but for goodness sake, do it for yourself, find out for yourself, analyse it for yourself dont depend on some priest, pope, mufti, child molesters to tell you what is right or wrong!! Its your life for goodness sake, run your own life dont let others tell you what to do. Thats why we still think that politicians will solve our problem, they will never solve it, just look at history. Dont depend on someone named Najib or Anwar or Kunji to make your life better.

If you want to be a Christian, go read your holy book the Bible, read it 10 times if you must and understand what it says, you can seek opinion of others if you're unsure or do some research but please, dont let someone else tells you what it means. If you're a Muslim, do the same with the Quran, read and understand it. If religion is so important to you then why we dont read and understand what the holy book says instead wasting our time on facebook?

I'll end with this famous quote from J. Krishnamurti :

“I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. ... The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth.”