It is one day after the killings in Borough Market, London, by ISIL extremists, and nine days into the holy month of Ramadan. Seven people are dead and 21 remain critically injured. Londoners will continue, as Londoners always do, about their daily tasks, with glancing echoes of half-remembered Churchillian rhetoric in mind. And rightly so.
We make a terrible mistake, and I see it in news media daily, of referring to the terrorists as Islamist or Muslimist extremists. Teresa May did it again today, when she decried the tolerant attitude of Britain towards Islamist extremism. Politicians have, of late, experimented with terms like Daesh and ISIL but we seem to have settled on “Islamist extremism,” for reasons unclear. This phrase only fuels intolerance towards our peace-loving Muslim neighbors, particularly from right-wing groups, ready like powder-kegs in a drought. The only justifiable case for it is as a way to pressure good Muslims to deal with their bad Muslims. We must, though, be disciplined in our word choices—truly, the devil is in the detail–because loose language causes our friends fear and pain, subjecting them to prejudice and injustice, day after day after day.
I’ve been trying hard to understand how extremist violence can fit at all with the beautifully interwoven spiritual and material realities of this sacred time of Ramadan. The solid, material fact is that it doesn’t, and we need to put distance between our ideas of ISIL terrorism and the fragrant, sacred beauty at the heart of Islam. “Ramadan Kareem” to all our peace-full and Spirit-full Muslim brothers and sisters at this holy time. Salaam aleikum all.
RUMI & NATURE
I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels blest; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones, ‘To Him we shall return.’
“Is the sweetness of the cane sweeter
than the one who made the canefield?
Behind the beauty of the moon is the moonmaker.
There is intelligence inside the ocean’s
feeding our love like an invisible waterwheel.
There is a skill to making cooking oil from animal fat.
Consider now the knack that makes eyesight
from the shining jelly of your eyes.
Dawn comes up like a beautiful meal being served.
We are hungry and distracted, so in love with the cook.
Don’t just be proud of your mustache
as you drive three donkeys down the road.
Instead of gemstones, love the jeweler.
Enough of these exhaling sounds.
Let the darling finish this
who turns listening into seeing.”
“Be like the sun for grace and mercy.
Be like the night to cover others’ faults.
Be like running water for generosity.
Be like death for rage and anger.
Be like the Earth for modesty.
Appear as you are.
Be as you appear.”
“Are you jealous of the ocean’s generosity?
Why would you refuse to give
this joy to anyone?
Fish don’t hold the sacred liquid in cups!
They swim the huge fluid freedom.”
RUMI & THE HORSE
“The mind is an ocean…I and so many worlds
are rolling there, mysterious, dimly seen!
And our bodies? Our body is a cup, floating
on the ocean; soon it will fill, and sink…
Not even one bubble will show where it went down.
The spirit is so near that you can’t see it!
But reach for it…don’t be a jar
full of water, whose rim is always dry.
Don’t be the rider who gallops all night
and never sees the horse that is beneath him.”