IN ATIME and a world where so much seems desperately out of balance, it’s good to remember that – as Muslims – we are not lacking in ballast or healthy preventatives against the passions and conflicts which appear ready to engulf us all. In this issue, we give in to our long cherished wish of featuring Mawlana Jalal ai-Din Rumi as one of our main topics.
Without sacrificing coverage of the struggle for Iraq, the horrific tragedy of the Tsunami and the passing of a number of prominent individuals bent on making their ideals and hopes a tangible reality; we feel that the sublime and enlightened vision of Rumi speaks to us at a time when he is most needed. Indeed, when it seems we are most assailed by the divine aspect of the Jalal, the Divine Rigour, we are able to look beyond appearances to the Jamal, or Divine Beauty that is never absent in God’s all-encompassing Presence.
In the process of making room for the Mawlana, we found that even the darkest stories took on a new aspect The terrible catastrophe that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives became a cause for one man to go beyond giving lip service to piety and to put faith in action. In the chaos of Iraq, the first election in decades gave Iraqis a chance to raise voices which had been stifled for too long. The death of Pope John Paul II, and more recently Dr Martin Lings, gave us all a moment of silent contemplation about how our lives may somehow amount to something greater than the sum of its parts if the goal of pleasing God remains foremost.
Even the New Age hijacking of Rumi, it seems, has done more to promote a sensible and compassionate Islam to those still leery of things Islamic, than a thousand dedicated preachers and spin doctors ever could.
Quite simply, there are times when the glass must be seen as half full.
Other stories – ranging from Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore’s journeys in Morocco to an in-depth discussion of the role of traditional theology in Islam today, to a sobering appraisal of the Van Gogh debacle in Holland – seem ready made to support this issue’s underlying theme: There is a part inali of us which, should that part go bad, the rest of us is for naught. That part – known to most Muslims from the hadith – is the heart.
Nor have we neglected many of our regular features. In the Psychology section Dr Ibrahim Rreps looks at relationships, while the Arts section takes an in-depth look at what exactly is meant by “Islamic Art” The Obituary section takes a look at the legacy left behind by the late Sheikh Ahmed Kuftaro, Grand Mufti of Syria.
In light of the sturm und drang that seemed so omnipresent as we move into the twenty-first century, it comes as a welcome relief to be able to bring our readers a glimpse of the flashing wisdom of Rumi, the delicate hopes for a new Iraq, and the idealism and vision of some of Islam’s elder statesmen whom God has seen fit to call home, with the clear message to those of us still here that a torch has been passed and a responsibility undertaken – to use such light to scatter the darkness which may lie ahead.