“Everything is Islam. Islam is the spotless purity of the heart, it is a vast ocean. If God’s teaching is there, it is Islam. To act out the qualities of truth and embrace with true love, that is Islam. The tired hearts, the hurt ones, to embrace them with love, and give them the milk of love, embrace them face-to-face, heart-to-heart, in unity, that is Islam”
~ from The Illuminated Prayer: The Five-Times Prayer of the Sufis, by Coleman Barks & Michael Green
On the outside, I’ve been struggling a bit. I’ve been horribly sick with the flu for the past week, I’ve been worried over everything from my lousy job to whether my boyfriend and I will ever be able to marry (and what marriage even means to me), let alone have children (I’m 25 and the clock is ticking BIG TIME), trying to keep up with school and job and housework (two out of three ‘aint bad), and generally feeling, to quote Bilbo Baggins, “like butter scraped over too much bread”. On the inside, I’ve been struggling with harder things… questions about myself, about what I want out of life, about the kind of person I want to be – and overwhelmingly, about finding my way to God. I’ve been feeling somewhat discouraged in my journey, lately. Between the nasty comments here (of which there are several I elected not to publish) generally telling me not to bother learning about Islam, and the things people tell me about Islam that scare the #@!% out of me, the fact that I know absolutely no Muslims/Muslim converts outside the internet (my fault for being too wussy to enter a mosque), and I don’t currently have any close friends who are terribly religious… I realize this struggle is ultimately one only I can face, but I feel very alone. I am no less determined, but I am so, so tired.
So, its time for a bit of inspiration. I’m becoming quite fond of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, who inspired much of the book I quoted above. I decided to reread a little of it today to pick myself up and dust off the self-pity. He was a Sufi mystic from Sri Lanka who showed great wisdom and compassion for all those who came to him, regardless of religion or background. He’s been called a guru, a sheik, a holy man – whatever the name, he sought to bring unity to the faithful of all religions and beliefs. He was familiar with a wide range of beliefs and practices; Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, etc. According to Bawa:
“You are a Cristian because you believe in Jesus, and you are a Jew because you believe in all the prophets including Moses. You are a Muslim because you believe in Muhammad as prophet, and you are a Sufi because you believe in the universal teaching of God’s love. You are really none of those, but you are all of those because you believe in God. Once you divide yourself off with religions, you are separated from your fellow man.”
“Children of any religion who have true faith must realize that God is the only One who knows all of everything. Therefore, only God can judge whether a person has faith, certitude, and determination or not and whether a person lives with that purity that can be called Islam or not. No one else can give that judgment. Do not wave your religion like a banner and go out to capture others. Only one kind of war is permissible in the eyes of God: the war you wage within yourself to defeat the demonic forces of lust, anger, jealousy, desire for revenge, and other evil feelings and attributes that may exist within your heart. God has sent each of the prophets as witnesses to the grace of God and as supports to help us in this inner war. This is the reason for the Qur’an. It is to help the true Muslim fight this inner battle and win victory over his own base desire’s that God sent the Messenger with the Qur’an.”
What can I say? I’m impressed, I’m moved. Sufism is sounding more like what I need every day. I’ll end with what may be my favorite teaching from Bawa Muhaiyaddeen:
“For those who have come to grow, the whole world is a garden. For those who wish to remain in the dream, the whole world is a stage. For those who have come to learn, the whole world is a university. For those who have come to know God, the whole world is a prayer mat.”
Salaam to all my friends in blogland – may we all find what we’ve come for.