Or at least, his poetry.
Kabir (a name derived from Al-Kabir, “The Great”, one of the names of Allah), is a somewhat mysterious figure, the true history of whom has been blurred by time and folklore. It is believed that he was born around 1440 in Benares, India, and brought up by a family of Muslim weavers (there is some debate as to whether he was “born Muslim”, but ample evidence to suggest he was raised Muslim). He was influenced by the the religious thought of his locality, his poetry painted in colors of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. At the same time, he decried dogmas in all their forms and spurned caste systems – so, yeah, he wasn’t exactly popular in life. In death, however, his legacy was ironically claimed by Muslims and Hindus alike. His poetry is at times reverent, at times confrontational or even rude, but always thought-provoking.
Brother, where did your two gods come from?
Tell me, who made you mad?
Ram, Allah, Keshav, Karim, Hari, Hazrat –
so many names.
So many ornaments, all one gold,
it has no double nature.
For conversation we make two –
this namaz, that puja,
this Mahadev, that Muhammed,
this Brahma, that Adam,
This a Hindu, that a Turk,
but all belong to earth.
Vedas, Korans, all these books,
those Mullas and those Brahmins –
so many names, so many names,
but the pots are all one clay.
Kabir says, nobody can find Ram,
both sides are lost in schisms.
One slaughters goats, one slaughters cows,
they squander their birth in isms.
I guess I have a thing for bad boys. 🙂
I have been doing a lot of reading lately. I recently finished “Believing Women” In Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Quran, by Asma Barlas – a wonderful read! It really helps one to understand the difference between Islam and its interpretation/practice, while offering a very clear interpretation that doesn’t oppress women.
In addition to reading, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and praying… Since I have found little value in the Hadith myself (and it bears repeating that I say myself and don’t think those who disagree are wrong), I have been spending quite a bit of time trying to understand prayer. The Quran doesn’t say exactly when or how to pray – it mentions prostration, it advocates praying audibly and habitually, and of course their are Ayat that begin with “Say:…”, so one could easily recite these as prayers. Various Quran-only sects have pages and pages of hypotheses about the “right way” to pray – and no two theories are the same. So what’s a deviant little Believer to do? I could just copy the instructions of the Hadith, but I really don’t find the formalized prayer to be all that helpful – and I’ve read many complaints online from Muslims who feel disconnected in prayer, even if they do each movement correctly. I’ve worked out my own method of praying which embodies the same general principles of the five-times prayer: prostration, recitation, meditation – you get the idea, I’m not going to get too specific because I’m not trying to tell other people how to pray, just find my own way – all ideas found in the Quran. I also regularly pray without any specific formula when I feel the need to reach for God, usually silently. Here’s the thing… my understanding of the Quran has led me to theorize that we aren’t meant to only think of God while praying at specific points each day – I think we’re supposed to try to always keep our minds turned to God. Not a radical idea, really, but it’s certainly not easy. I mean, try to do a simple algebra problem in your head. Now try to do it while also contemplating the Oneness of God. How did you do? Anyways, this is what I’ve been musing about for the past few weeks.