Monday, November 28, 2011

Pluralist in Action


Pluralism. A philosophy that I've taken quite interested in. Because I think it's beautiful, and I think it's a transitional step to become a better person. Because from what I've seen and engaged, people with real pluralism in mind, they are really nice persons. These people - they act upon their belief. They are a bit like Muslims, where almost every step they take and things they do, they revolve around their principles. We may not realize it, but Islam is a very-very comprehensive and meticulous religion. Open up your Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Google, Safary or anything - and compare other religions with ours for good. You will be surprised by how our two main sources are preserved, and applied in our daily lives. Everything we do in our lives is an act of following the way of life of the greatest human on Earth - Prophet Muhammad. Peace and blessings be upon him.

But we are different in terms of faith. From one aspect, we feel relieved, calm, firm and assured by our faith because our physical proof which is the Quran is undeniably preserved and authentic - no doubt about it. And our creed comes with such a beautiful logic. It is like a nice person comes to our house, knocks politely, we feel safe, we like him and we invite him in. There's not an iota of doubt inviting him in. The same goes to our creed. Surah al Ikhlas in the Quran describes very well about our creed - that our God, Allah is the One and Only God. No father and son, independent, and nothing like Him. It follows the logic very well. It is our instinct to feel relief as we meet our purpose of life. We don't have vital conflicts to deal with - such as which one is greater? Jesus, the Father, or Holy Ghost? Nor we have any conflicting and contradicting premises between our scripture and our described creed such as Christians do. They have very much to deal, because the issues are fundamental - Original Sins, The Calling Eli Eli Lamma Sabatchani, who are the Sons of God, is there any other Alpha and Omega other than Jesus,  who are the real writers of important gospels and letters, does Christian's faith today is the real faith of Jesus or is it Pauline Christian, what about other sects that are dismissed especially during Council Of Nicea and many more. We can take another religions but it will be a very long list. While we Muslims, only have to deal with issues regarding misconceptions. So, it is a relief. Plus, we have a strong historical evidence and records following our stands, principles, and vital points of Islam.

Pluralists instead of referring to real physical records, evidences, and scriptures - they believe that truth lies everywhere. It is an entirely different context than we religious people (Read : Muslims, Christians, Hindus) usually believe. We believe that absolute truth is within our religion. Especially in Islam. We strongly believe that absolute truth is within Islam, and as for me, YES, I am confident that absolute truth lies in my religion. Is there any truth in any other religion? How can Muslims regard there is no truth in any other religion? Yes. We believe there have been some truths in other religion, as we believe Allah has sent thousands of messengers and prophets before Muhammad - two of them are Moses and Jesus(peace be upon them) which play a huge role in Judaism and Christianity. There is also possibility that Buddha and Hindu also originally a religion of Allah. But, as time passes by, we believe the essences are corrupted. And as Muhammad the last messenger of Allah, we believe it is a continuation and a completion of religion of Allah. Muhammad came and confirmed previous messages of previous prophets. We believe Muhammad did not create a new religion, but continued a legacy. In Quran for example, the proof that we believe there was a religion of God but carried different names - [2:62], Christians(Nasara), Jews(Yahudi - Haadu), Sabi'ins are example of it. The essence that should be in each of these old religions are belief in Allah, belief in the Day of Judgement, and the importance of good deeds. So if we take a verse from Chandogya Upanishad [6:1:2] "Ekam Evadvitiyam" which means "He is One without a Second" - yes, it is possible that once Hindu was also a religion of Allah. It is a normal perspective from any other religions that the absolute truth lies in theirs.

Islam, the last religion of Allah
Islam, is the last religion of Allah. A religion that will prevail to the end of time. The definition of Islam itself is sufficient to describe what does it really mean. Islam is not only a millah(religion) but it is the deen of Allah. Deen means 'way of life'. The word 'Islam' can be derived from three root words, 1. Aslama(to surrender) 2. Salima(pure, authentic) 3. Salam(peace). So, Islam means, "A way of life by submitting oneself to Allah in a pure and authentic way to attain inner peace and blessings". Why must I add 'pure and authentic' in the definition? To show you one of the differences between Islam and other religions. In Islam, everything we do have its sources. We worship Allah, the way Allah wants us to worship Him. Everything, is according to His wishes.

Pluralists believe that the truth may come from other religion as well - and none of these religions contain all the truth. They believe that everything in this world is inter-connected. Their main pillars are universal values - peace, human right, love, justice and many more. They acted on these values, and you can see that they are not biased to certain sides or groups. When you engage with them, you will learn to respect them. Because of how much efforts they have put to stand and act on what they believe. And I dare to say, although there is no actual pillar or reference to this belief, they hold it really firm. Truth can come from anyone, anywhere. In short, every religion is the same. Same in the context that it does not only bring people to the truth, but to the extent that details of each religion are not as important as the purpose of the religion itself. Contradictions are normal. When I first know about this philosophy, I was thinking, how can you live with all those contradictions in yourself? I mean, because they regard religions are all the same - and when they choose they want to live as a Muslim, they also think it's okay to wear cross or pray in a Gudwara to Satnam because nothing changes. Whoever God you worship, you will arrive to the truth. I myself don't understand how is this even possible. Such contradiction is unbearable.

Pluralism in Physics
But later, I come to understand the situation as I read a book "Isms and Oologies" by 'I don't remember who'.  The example is as follows. In physics, there are two 'contradicting' situations. Newtonian Mechanics and Quantum Mechanics. In Newtonian Mechanics, everything can be predicted and calculated. You can know an object will travel to where, its speed and arrive when - you just need enough information. But in Quantum Mechanics as Michio Kaku describes, 'nothing is certain'. It's a probabilistic world. You can never be sure, NEVER. For instance, you can only know either the momentum of an electron or its position. You can never know both. Never. Regardless how advanced the technology is, you will never know. It's the uncertainty principle.  For example, a specific electron can be at two places at one time. That's the quantum world. It behaves that way. Another example, if you shoot an electron at a big hill, there's a chance that the exact electron will create a tunnel through the hill and be at the other side of the hill. When we bring this example to macroscopic level, it is impossible. Earth cannot be at two places at a particular time. When we throw a ball to a thick hard wall, there's no way the ball could make a hole to that wall and be on the other side and the wall return hole-less. You got the idea? Quantum Mechanics is usually used to deal with things at microscopic level ie electrons and protons, while Newtonian Mechanics is used to deal with things at macroscopic level ie planets and stars. Today's scientists use both to deal with different problems - although in real life it's contradicting, but they use both to solve problems from both worlds. That's what we call pluralist. Still, in this scientific community, there are other people who believe in the theory of eveything - a theory that describes literally everything. They believe one day, the 'truth' they want will be found in the theory of eveything. While pluralist is okay with contradictions, this kind of people (monism) believes that absolute truth is contained in one entity. This kind of people is really much alike with us religious people. They are in search for ToE and they are not satisfied until they are able to explain why are Quantum Mechanics and other mechanics are so different etc. Except for each of us Muslims, Christians, and Jews believes that the absolute truth was already found and is within our own religion. (Read : QM as for now can also be applied to some aspects at macroscopic level)
Ada Shrodinger's cat di situ. Haha

He's a magnificent pluralist
He is very nice. He smiles, treats people nicely, and an ardent advocate of peace. When you talk to him, you will come to know that he is a man of principle. As for now, he often posts at an FB group - a group with various people with various faiths and religions; United Religions Initiative. Here is the example of his posts in the group.
They are forever free who renounce all selfish desires and break away from the ego-cage of 'I,' 'me,' and 'mine' to be united with the Lord. Attain to this, and pass from death to immortality." (Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 2.71)

"Torah abides only with him who regards himself as nothing." (Judaism. Talmud, Sota 21b)

"O son of Man! If you love Me, turn away from yourself; and if you seek My pleasure, regard not your own; that you may die in Me and I may eternally live in you." (Baha'i' Faith. Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, Arabic 7)

"The Man of the Way wins no fame,
The highest virtue wins no gain,
The Great Man has no self." (Taoism. Chuang Tzu 17)

"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." (Christianity. Mark 8.34-36)

"In the evening do not expect [to live till] morning, and in the morning do not expect evening. Prepare as lone as you are in good health for sickness, and so long as you are alive for death." (Islam. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 40)

"He who has no thought of 'I' and 'mine' whatever toward his mind and body, he who grieves not for that which he has nott, he is, indeed, called a bhikku." (Buddhism. Dhammpada 367)

INNERWORK self-reflection for the week: "What does my faith/belief say about the Ego and Self-Denial?

2.‎"Every sacrifice is a boat to heaven." (Hinduism. Satapatha Brahmana

"Lo! We have given you abundance; so pray to your Lord, and sacrifice." (Islam. Qur'an 108.1-2)

"Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (Christianity. John 15.13)

"One must have the courage to face life as it is. to go through sorrows and always sacrifice oneself for the sake of others." (African Tradition. Kenyan-Kipsigis saying)

"A bodhisattva resolves, 'I should accept all sufferings for the sake of sentient beings, and enable them to escape from the abyss of immeasurable woes of birth and death... Why? Because I have set my mind on enlightenment in order to liberate all sentient beings; I do not seek the unexcelled way for my own sake.'" (Buddhism. Garland Sutra)

"Let all your deeds be done for the sake of Heaven." (Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 2.17)

Inner Work self-reflection & self-awareness guide for the week:

To our Muslim brothers and sisters: Bayramiz Eidil Adha Mubarak Olsun!

To me, a person with this kind of paradigm is nice and kind. He takes good values from every faith, and appreciates it very well. This kind of person, you will have a hard time to start comparing which one is better, your religion or his ideology. You know why, unlike other religions, this philosophy ACCEPTS truth might come from anyone. So they are the kind of people who is very open-minded. For example, when you face people from another religion, it's easier(Read : not EASY) as you can start comparing, and they have 'something' to defend - something fixed - the religion itself. You know what are their weak spots, and you know how exactly they will react. But with pluralists, it's kind of like this "Yeah.. each person has its own opinions" without getting anywhere close to being challenged or provoked at all. And his life revolves around his values. One of the good things that I learned from him, is he really wishes he could stop 'religious-motivated violence'. As he views religion as something beautiful, he wants people to stop using religion as an excuse to do violence. Until now, I do not know, how to really deal with it. Care to give any ideas? The only thing that we Muslims have, is the real assurance of the Oneness of Allah, greatest example of Muhammad, and the outstanding Quran - which lead us to believe we are on the right track. And I know, they only rely on the beauties of their values.

He really is a nice person, and I pray to Allah so that one day, Allah will bless him His hidayah. Amin..

[Declaration of Global Ethics]
Their declaration.

There has been a major confusion to Muslims about how to regard this philosophy. Pluralism, is a philosophy that puts every religion as equal and each religion will bring you to the truth. We believe that Islam is the only way to the truth. We are taught by Prophet Muhammad, to respect another religion and faith, to treat people as nice and kind as possible even though they are people from different faiths, and to live Islam as our way of life. "Lakum diinukum waliya diin" Surah Al Kaafirun. They have their own ways of lives, we have our way of life too. We don't need to be the same as them. Pluralism instead is about lowering your 'fences' to let people in and accept them. Acceptance is the key word. Because the way they see, these fences and differences are the contributing factors to religious-motivated violence. We Muslims have no urgency to lower our fences or dissolve our limitations and prohibitions, because our beloved Prophet had taught us, that he also can live peacefully with the Jews at Madinah without 'lowering any fences'. It's the akhlaq of the prophet that we need to constantly embrace.
Freedom and Justice Party

You can also have a look at a new party in Egypt, Freedom and Justice Party - their vice president is a Coptic Christian. People say that this party is very closely related to Muslim Brotherhood, Al Ikhwan Al Muslimun - but IM says the party operates separately. :) Even a proponent of Daulah Islamiah can have a Coptic as their vice. Still, before the first meeting the Muslim members went to the mosque to pray together. What a view! Video

* This is a post ignited by my amazement towards my friend, a pluralist - May Allah bless him Hidayah! Amin.

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