Sunday, November 22, 2009

On Upholding Islam’s Life-affirming Resonance: Hans Kung, Sarvapelli Radakrishnan, Frithof Schuon, Abdu’l-Baha, Richard Smolens, Eveyln Undewood & John Witt

Is there one God, the God of the Christians and Jews, and other gods of other religions? Do muslims pray to the same God as Christians? Do all of us who live on this one planet go about our days under the loving protection of the One God. You betcha! -gw
David’s post is a type of polemic anathema to those of us (to include Catholic scholar Hans Kung, a leading proponent of interfaith dialogue on the global stage) who recognize the necessity to uphold Islamic spirituality and ethics as having deep commonality with and spiritual resonance with the most altruistic of Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Baha’i and other world religions’ teachings. Great writers like Hans Kung, Hindu thinker Sarvapelli Radakrishnan, Sufi Master Frithof Schuon and Baha’i leader Abdu’l-Baha fully support this thinking of Islam’s spiritually high altruism and powerful, life-affirming resonance, a resonance and beauty that embraces all of human kind. There are numerous Christian scholars as well who support this thinking, to include writer on Christian mysticism Richard Smolens, the great scholar of Western mysticism Evelyn Underwood, and Emory University Professor of Religion John Witte Jr. ...
Generally speaking, it appears to me [DG’s] comments in WAIS on Islam reflect some Christian clerical anti-Islamic polemic I’ve been exposed to, a common polemic being something like “the Christian God is a God of love, whereas the God of Islam is one of cruelty and power.” In today’s highly interconnected “global village,” such commentary is archaic and unnecessarily provocative, especially because from countless Muslims and others who study Islamic spirituality perspectives, such a statement is incredibly myopic as a descriptive of the Almighty in Islamic thought and scripture. Throughout a massive body of Muslim commentary on the Qur’an and Hadith one finds multitudes of odes to and analysis of God’s loving aspects, and one finds plenty that is respectful and loving towards non-Muslims (see the writings of Jalaluddin Rumi as an example of this, where he prostrates himself before a Christian, not to be outdone in humility because a Muslim’s duty is to be humble).

In the Mathnavi of Jalaladdin Rumi, who is one of the most famous writers and brightest lights of Islamic spiritual thought, it is stated, “Love is the astrolabe of God’s mysteries.” In Letter 53 of the Nahj al Balagha, a document I’ve written about or drawn from several times before in this Forum because it is one of the Islamic world’s most thoughtful treatises reflecting heights of Islamic altruism, Imam Ali (Spiritual successor to Muhammad in Shi’a theology and one of the four “rightly guided” Caliphs of Sunni Islam) states the Qur’an is a code written “ to establish a kind and benevolent rule, throwing light on various aspects of justice, benevolence and mercy, an order based on the ethics of Divine rulership where justice and mercy are shown to human beings irrespective of class, creed and colour, where poverty is neither a stigma nor a disqualification and where justice is not tainted with nepotism, favouritism, provincialism or religious fanaticism; and, on the other hand, it is a thesis on the higher values of morality.” (Ali b. Abi Taalib, Letters from Nahjul Balaagh)

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