Thursday, February 11, 2010

“A Compassionate, Spiritual and Dialogical Islam”

Istanbul 16-18, August 2005:  

Hartford Seminary, USA & Istanbul Foundation for Science and Culture, Istanbul, Turkey 

“A Compassionate, Spiritual and Dialogical Islam”
Kamran Mofid, PhD

Man came to this world to be perfected by means of knowledge and supplication. In regard to his nature and abilities everything is tied to knowledge. And the foundation, source, light, and spirit of all true knowledge is knowledge of God, and its essence and basis is belief in God.” Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (b.1876 eastern Turkey - d.1960 Urfa, Turkey)

In the Risale-i Nur, Said Nursi on the one hand attempted to reply to the challenges of modernity, and on the other, offering a new understanding of Divine revelation, he emphasized above all else the order, harmony, measured ness, and beauty of the world, which he called the book of the universe, and in this way set out to demonstrate God’s existence together will all His Most Beautiful Names. Thus, in the very place that modern materialist philosophy attacks belief and instils doubts, he demonstrates convincingly foremost God’s existence, the hereafter, and prophet hood.

In this paper I argue that the marketplace is not just an economic sphere, ‘it is a region of the human spirit’. Whilst considering the many economic questions and issues we should also reflect on the Divine dimension of life, Moreover, and should, in contrast to what is practised today, be concerned with the world of heart and spirit. Although self -interest is an important source of human motivation, driving the decisions we make in the marketplace every day, those decisions nevertheless have a moral, ethical and spiritual content, because each decision we make affects not only ourselves but others too. Today’s modern economists consider their discipline a science, and thereby divorced from ethical details, the normative passions of right and wrong. They have turned their discipline into a moral-free zone.

The study moreover, argues for the creation of an "ecumenical space", for dialogue amongst civilisations and the building of community for the common good by bringing economics, spirituality and theology together. A cornerstone of promoting ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue is that world religions can be paths, rather than obstacles, to peace. Religions can jointly contribute to the process of peacemaking by sharing the depth of their accumulated wisdom and reflective resources. Through education and meaningful interaction in settings of openness, dignity and respect, people of faith can bring about significant societal transformation.

Therefore, what the world needs now is a “Spiritual Revolution”. If we truly want to change the world for the better, all of us, the politicians, business community, workers, men and women, young and old, must truly become better ourselves. We must share a common understanding of the potential for each one of us to become self-directed, empowered and active in defining this time in the world as an opportunity for positive change and healing. We can achieve a culture of peace by giving thanks, spreading joy, sharing love and understanding, seeing miracles, discovering goodness, embracing kindness and forgiveness, practicing patience, teaching tolerance, encouraging laughter, celebrating and respecting the diversity of cultures and religions and peacefully resolving conflicts. We must each of us become an instrument of peace, promoting kindness, justice, spirituality and the love of God and His Creations.

One of the main causes of today’s global disorder is the absence of justice and the rise in the false religion of materialism. When justice disappears, it becomes no wonder to see oppression, corruption, occupation and terrorism reigning. So, applying justice is a key factor and necessary step towards restoring peace and security in the world. Coupled with this, materialism, the philosophy that argues what matters most is the matter itself, denies the existence of all spiritual entities, and God Himself..

The major religions of the world prescribe the unselfish love and service of others. Only when this love extends to all humanity without exception can a dignified and peaceful human future become possible. The Hindu faith states that in service to others is happiness; in selfishness is misery and pain. For the Sikhs, God is love and love is God. St. Paul wrote, "Love (agape) is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs" (I Corinthians 13). Buddhism teaches us to cultivate universal compassion. Judaism teaches that "those who are kind reward themselves" (Proverbs 11:17). The Qur’an reads, "My mercy and compassion embrace all things" (Qur’an 7:156). In these and other traditions, unselfish love is deemed a Creative Presence underlying and integral to all of reality, participation in which constitutes the fullest experience of spirituality.

What is Justice? An Islamic Perspective

Justice is described in the Qur’an with two important words: Al-`Adl and Al-Qist. Al-`Adl means “equity, balance.” It means doing things in a proportionate manner, avoiding extremes. Al-Qist means “share, portion, measure, allotment, amount.” It means that every one and every thing has a due. One who gives every one and everything its due is “Muqsit” and the one who takes away others dues is called “Qasit”.

Allah says: (... and be fair: for Allah loves those who are fair (and just). (Al-Hujurat: 9)

Justice thus means to maintain the balance and to give every one and every thing its proper due. It means living one’s own life in a balanced way maintaining the balance between the needs of the body, mind and soul. It also means recognizing:

1. Huquq Allah - rights of God,

2. Huquq Al-A`Ibad - rights of human beings, and

3. Huquq Al-Ashya’ - rights of things.

Islam teaches that we should be just in every aspect of our life, to all people and things and at all times.

The opposite of justice in Islam is not only injustice, but oppression and corruption. The opposite of `Adl is Zulm, which means “disorder, wrong, oppression and evil.” Wherever there is injustice, it will lead to oppression, exploitation, evil and corruption. There is a very nice saying of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” When people do injustice or tolerate injustice in one place, sooner or later its terrible effects reach to other places. Injustice brings the downfall of mighty nations. Imam Ibn Taymiah (d. 1328) used to say: “The nations may live long in spite of their disbelief, but they cannot live long when they do oppression”.

Read full paper:

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

Revd Ian S. Markham, Virginia Theological Seminary, USA in his book 'Engaging with Bediuzzaman Said Nursi' refers to Said Nursi as 'A Model of Interfaith Dialogue.'

"Often interfaith dialogue is generic and unfocused. Often it involves 'liberals' from each tradition coming together to criticize the 'conservatives' in their own traditions. This book provides a model for interfaith dialogue that challenges very directly the 'dialogue industry'.

Engaging with Bediuzzaman Said NursiThis book involves a Christian theologian in deep conversation with a Muslim theologian. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1877–1960) was born at the end of the Ottoman Empire and lived through the emergence of an aggressive secular state. He had to think through, in remarkably creative ways, the challenge of faith within a secular environment, the relationship of faith and politics, and the implications and challenge of diversity and difference. His entire project is captured in his magnum opus 'The Risale-i Nur'."

Brief Profile: Bediuzzaman Said Nursi

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