Dear Muslim and non-Muslim friends and well-wishers, academics and scholars, as-salamu 'alaykum,
there is so much common ground among virtually all the Muslim sects in the world that it is a gross travesty that differences are emphasized while the commonalities fall by the wayside. This situation is not new to any growing religion; Christianity also went through their Reformation phase, their many splits, which though still not quite reached its quiescent state of full reconciliation, what with the Catholic papacy now experiencing its own von klempt, at least sees Northern Ireland enjoying some peace and harmony.
The decay among the Muslims has not yet experienced any reformation for at least 300 years -- ever since Western colonialism took over our lands and minds. But perhaps we had invited it with stagnancy. While we grew in numbers, we contracted our minds and reach in evolutionary terms. Before our stagnancy however, there were many successive reformations – just the transitions to various empires was a transformation, a reformation of the previous empire's excesses and inequities (to of course newer ones). Once Western colonialism took hold of our stagnant minds, we have actually become ossified. And now we positively suffer from the plague of Occidentosis imported from the West. That is principally how we can never escape this web of stagnancy.
Our Reformation need not be like Christianity's. They had to give up their heritage to rise above it. We have to extract from our heritage to rise above our stagnancy. Our transformation, in fact, can be a lot more progressive and reach quiescent state with a lot less pain but without stagnancy. By Quiescent I don't mean quiet. I mean uniting on principles to form a single nation, an Umma, without any one sect's hegemony or coerced uniformity, a pluralistic Muslim Umma that works together in empathy despite its differences, rather than remain at loggerheads. In theory of course. In practice, I am convinced it is an NP complete problem (CS jargon) and until the Day when all the Beatitudinous promises of the Holy Quran (and the Bible) are fulfilled, Muslims will remain at each others throats, perennially ripe for harvesting as the jetsam and flotsam on the grand chessboard – until such time that we finally see a dictatorial supranational world government forcibly put an end to all wars, and all religions. And we shall lose our religion for a thousand years until that empire of the new oligarchs dies its own death, which it will.
Nevertheless, while I acutely recognize the international trends du jour (only the Muslim academics seem to be blind to it) as well as the twisted reality that some fundamental differences are simply irreconcilable among Muslim sects, it does not hurt to try to create at least a common sensible understanding where it is trivially possible to do so. So trivial in fact, that it makes me mad that our learned turbans, I don't mean our antediluvians, I mean our exuberant sectarian and wholly self-righteous scholars, leave these low hanging ripened fruits on the tree while eagerly picking among the rot on the ground.
By that I mean, instead of going to each other's congregation and sharing and exchanging discourses, they almost always preach to their own parochial choir, incestuously reinforcing the same dogmas over and over again. We see this across the board. The shia do not go to the sunni gatherings, and vice versa. And when they do hesitatingly venture on special invitation, each is either upset by the other's dogma, or matters are so sanitized by the pulpit in the presence of the guests so as not to upset anyone. I have yet to see a real empathetic exchange -- perhaps it exists someplace on everyday basis -- where different sects actually come out of that exchange both wiser, and closer to each other. I have never seen that happen in my lifetime affected from any pulpit, in any mosque, in any forum -- but I have seen it among ordinary peoples, and among friends, albeit infrequently, and not to the depth necessary to usher in a bottom-up reformation of the Muslim pubic mind.
In that spirit, of reaching for the low hanging fruits which even I, as a non-expert most ordinary plebeian, can trivially reach with a modicum of due diligence and some commonsense, I have started a new website. I invite you, both shia and sunni, and those merely interested in Islam academically, to read the first article there if you have the time.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013