In my spiritual explorations and studies, i have found that there are many levels of understanding to be found in all religions. All religions have brothers and sisters who are spiritually undeveloped and whose religious zealotry often manifests as the violent treatment of others. It is unfortunate that these few bad apples seem to ruin peoples notions of the whole barrel.
Depending on ones media culture, religion and country, one may have a very poor opinion of those of other religions. In non-Islamic countries, Islam has come to be mistakenly seen as a violent and hateful religion, a religion of intolerance and self-righteousness. We in the west understand that the often oppressive Taliban regime were Islamic, and we in the west hear everyday of the resistance organizations who attest to being agents of Islam and engage in horrible acts of violence.
However, we would be mistaken to allow these people and these current events portrayed by the sensation loving media to create for us our understanding of Islam and the huge portion of the earths population for whom Islam is the religion of choice. Could it be possible that all these millions of people are hateful and violent, that they all believe in war, that they all hate everyone else.
No, this has not been my understanding of Islam at all, but i have spent time exploring its wisdom paths and poetry. The poetry of Persia has long been understood to be some of the most spiritual and moving poetry in the history of literature. It was through this doorway that i discovered Islam and have found much wisdom in the gardens of verse planted by Rumi and others.
WWe must listen to the more spiritually developed teachers and versions of religions. Religions, like all things change. Religions are the conversations we are having about what it means to be human and about our relationship God, with life, with the universe and what our highest principals are. Like the Constitution of the United States, it is an ideal we strive for, that we may not have reached yet, but that we believe in attaining. As our understanding of the world and ourselves increases and becomes less vague, so do our religions. But many of our highest ideals were encapsulated in our earliest philosophies and earliest versions of many religions.
The Sufi order of Islam believes that it is possible to draw closer to God and to more fully embrace the Divine Presence right now, in this life, in this very moment. Sufis seek to restore within themselves the primordial state of fitra, described in the Qur'an which is simillar to the concept of "Buddha Nature." In achieving this state, the sufi abandons all notions of dualism, including the concept of an individual self, and instead realizes a divine oneness.s.
I recently ran across a final discourse of Kwaja Mu'inuddin Chishti, known more popularly as Hazrat Khuaja, a renowned teacher of Sufi Islam who was born in 536 AD. Khwaja or Khuaja is a title meaning "Master of Wisdom." I found it to resonate with a spirituality in tune with high spiritual development and humanitarian heart. These words were spoken just before his death and was his last advice to his followers about their ideal conduct:
Mere talk of peace will avail you naught.
Mere talk of God and religion will not take you far.
Bring out all the latent powers of your being and
reveal the full magnificence of your immortal self.
Be overflowing with peace and joy,
and scatter them wherever you are
and wherever you go.
Be a blazing fire of truth,
be a beauteous blossom of love
and be a soothing balm of peace.
With your spiritual light, dispel the darkness of ignorance;
dissolve the clouds of discord and war and spread goodwill,
peace, and harmony among the people.