Monday, 21 January 2013

Faith and its many faces

(as posted 26th Dec 2012)

Anonymous ART of Revolution
“The fault ... lies not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Similarity of all religion is often outweighed by the accent we place upon subtle differences.  
Without the
unifying element of the One God, each religion seeks to claim its independence of all others, each becoming separate and aloof to that which binds them at heart. 
We are told that had He willed, He would have made all the nations as one. But in His wisdom, we are perhaps defined by our struggle to make an effort towards one another, in reaching out; thus enabling ourselves a freedom from negativity in order to aspire spritually towards His light.  

It would be wrong to tarnish everyone with the same brush and it would be wrong to judge anyone by the way they look and yet today, people in Egypt  appear inevitably to do both. The reasons are obvious since many proclaim their identity and beliefs through particular dress codes. Even then, however, there are those who outwardly appear to belong to a certain group but who may do so whilst being quite differently motivated; dress codes are often not partisan related but rather predominantly due to conditioning of a social nature.
Apart from judgement being based upon superficial appearances it is all too often laced with self-righteousness.
All the while, behaviourial guidelines are dished out by those who see themselves as 'divinely self-appointed' to administer dictates regardless of whether guidance is solicited or not.
Were we to define belief as an innate faith, we would have those who, true to themselves do not feel the need to adopt authoritative positions where their faith is concerned. Their guiding light would free them from negativity and cynicism; summing up another's inner truth would feel intrinsically wrong.

Then there are those who feel inclined to do just that, assume they can peer into another's heart and programme it to their will. These will flaunt their religiosity for all to see and marvel at how well ahead they are in the queue to heaven; hence the saying 'holier than thou'.
And yet it is quite clear in all religions that before

  Our God each individual must stand alone.

The message comes only into its fullness with the concept of time having a clear duality: Chronological time: the order in which the religions have reached us, and relative time: the time it takes for a religious faith to reach a person in their own lifetime. 
Believing in a religion is often due to being born into one, however our faith in truth is determined by a number of other factors that relate to spiritual development throughout our lives.
The message we receive through the Qur-an is that whoever so truly believes, past, present and future, in a religion aspiring to Him shall be equally cherished by Allah. The implication is that there is always time for light to permeate a consciousness so long as willful stubborness of ego does not deliberately stamp it out. Hence, when a person perceives that notion as clearly implicit ... therein lies the grain of Islam ~ wittingly or unwittingly perhaps even its embrace.
  بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم 
136قُولُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ
 وَمَا أُوتِيَ مُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَمَا أُوتِيَ النَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful  "Say ye: We believe
In Allah and the revelation
Given to us, and to Abraham,                               
Ismã'îl, Isaac, Jacob,                                             
And the Tribes, and that given 
To Moses and Jesus, and that given                              
To all Prophets from their Lord:        
We make no difference
Between one and another of them:
And we submit to Allah." *(i)

Today, Egypt appears a country divided. Muslims are hardly recognised as true muslims if failing to belong to well-labelled islamists. 
With religion being exploited as a means to enforce a particular and often extreme and thus unbalanced ideology, we now have a scenario rife with contention on both the micro and macro scales, the personal and national scene. 
A people who for centuries have lived comfortably in their own skins, with interacting faith practices and a common language of everyday greetings and idioms, now find themselves bickering. 
All suffering from severe apprehension, challenged and confused by relentless images of piety that all too often appear to be discriminatory.
Egypt has always been a country endowed with Islam, it is part of the culture and does not dismiss other religions but quite on the contrary points to them as integrally incorporated within its very structure.
For Islam in its true essence to become apparent, those who exploit it need to be revealed.
Therein lies the irony as 'foreseen' nowhere else other than in the Quran itself. 

  بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم 

وإذا قيل لهم لا تفسدوا في الارض قالوا انما نحن مصلحون ١١
 إلا انهم المفسدون ولكن لا يشعرون ١٢
وإذا قيل لهم امنوا كما أمن الناس قالوا أنؤمنو كما أمن السفهاء ألا انهم هم السفهاء ولكن لا يعلمون ١٣

In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful  

...11. 'When it is said to them:                     12. Of a surety, they are the ones

"Make not mischief on the earth.                       Who make mischief,
They say: "We are only ones                              But they realise (it) not.
That put things right."

13. When it is said to them:
"Believe as the others believe:"
They say: "Shall we believe
As the fools believe?"- 
Nay, of a surety they are the fools,
But they do not know.' *(ii) *(iii)
Opression is perhaps the most abhorrent of all evils. Grains of it have been present throughout our history but with every new era new dimensions of it become palpable:
We presently witness a people reacting to the feeling of being quashed. A most unfortunate backlash has emerged. With religion becoming a means to control, a new vulgarity in the form of retaliation has surfaced, often noted as an address of a profane nature, one similarly disturbing and non-discriminative in its bite. 
In short, when one aspect of a society is off-key the whole of society is affected.

In addition to the present acrid mix, the former regime, with Machiavellian feel, appears to lurk behind the scenes. Military support is never far away, combining forces with the political party presently in charge and yet firmly liaised with the former, depending upon whatever happens to be most beneficial for it to remain grounded as the alternate parallel entity.
Most tragically and poignantly of all, nobody appears to have been made accountable for any of the atrocities that have hit a people whose only crime was peaceful protest~ not during the revolution.. not after .. and then again .. not since. 
The following image portrays Egypt's determination to defend itself against oppression as it sees necessary
in order to salvage its true identity that lies at its very core.

Here we have the Creed of Islam: to believe in (1) the One Universal God, (2) the message to us through Muhammad delivered by other Teachers in the past. These are mentioned in three groups: (1) Abraham, Ismã'îl, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes: of these Abraham had apparently a Book (Ixxxvii. 19) and the others followed his tradition: (2) Moses and Jesus, who each left a scripture: these scriptures are still extant, though not in their pristine form; and (3) other scriptures, Prophets, or Messengers of Allah, not specifically mentioned in the Qur-ãn (xi. 78). We make no difference between any of these. Their Message (in essentials) was one, and that is the basis of Islam


From the commentary: 
'We now come to a third class of people, the hypocrites. They are untrue to themselves, and therefore their hearts are diseased. The disease tends to spread, like all evil. They are curable but if they harden their hearts, they soon pass into the category of those who deliberately reject light.'
From the commentary:
'Much mischief is caused (sometimes unwittingly) by people who think that they have a mission of peace, when they have not even a true perception of right and wrong, By their blind arrogance they depress the good and encourage the evil.'

Translation and commentaries from Sahih International and 'King Fahd Holy Qur-an Printing Complex'.

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