Chicago - How did we relate to our history, how did we understand it, and how can we process reform?... What did govern our relationship with other religions and how did we approach to the diversity of our directions and our sects?..... How can we challenge the contemporary issues and how can we form our understanding of the others?
Chicago – How did we relate to our history, how did we understand it, and how can we process reform?… What did govern our relationship with other religions and how did we approach to the diversity of our directions and our sects?….. How can we challenge the contemporary issues and how can we form our understanding of the others?
In the bottom of our hearts and in the deepest corners of our minds, questions raise on our identity and the complexity of its structure. Our awareness of our selves and our knowledge of the constituents of our local world- this is what we call society; have been a concern for many of our scholars, sheikhs and leaders and are forcing us today to reflect on our history, religion and our culture so we can find answers to the many questions we have and share.
Generally, philosophers investigate the mind and its functions, theologists question religion and creation and artists work with substances. Their choices, directions and tools vary to comply with their work. Yet, the three of them work impressively to influence our thinking of what constitutes our being. The problem raises when we try to understand and bring our understanding to realities. Here, every one chooses his or her own strategy to influence and manipulate. Here, every one tries to dominate and advance one single direction of thought and one single conclusion. Here, the other becomes an obstacle, and in worst scenarios, an enemy. An enemy that you have to fight and destroy. Here, difference serves no goal and continues to cause gaps and distance us from each other.
Can we isolate ourselves from history? Can we disregard the historical contexts in our thinking of today and the challenges of today? Of course not. No one could and those who try hard to introduce pure realities would always fail.
The truth lies in the spaciousness of thought and in our ability to see beyond our perspectives. A verse from Quran or a Bible, a quote from a philosopher or a poet, or a painting work or a musical tone of an artist can not tell the whole story. This is what Augustine did in his confession, and Blaise Pascal in his mathematical analysis, and Jean Jacques Rousseau in his reviews and LeoTolstoy in his faith. This is what Al-Ghazali did in his Sufism and Ibn Tufail in his story and Ibn Rushd in his classes and Mohammed Abdo in his unification, and Taha Hussein in his days. This is what Abdallah Al-Arwi did in his book “ Al-Sona wa Al-Islah” and this is what Mohamed Abed AL-Jabri did in his criticism of our Arabic mind. They could inter-act and re-act to different disciplines and abstract from different resources of knowledge so they can introduce us to broader sense of reality.
Some times we may politicize our thought and our language to serve our ideology and present it as an icon of truth so the killing or exploitation of others can be excused, and injustice can be justified and tolerated, and our lies can sound perfect truths. This can happen and it happens in the details of our daily life; with our relatives and our friends; and can also happen and it happens at larger contexts, international level, where those so called great nations or democratic nations utilize excessive power of damage and destruction to manipulate and influence the rest of world.
Of course what matters is our position in the middle of this nothingness and chaos that are ruling the world of today. Our lands are occupied, our hearts are wounded and our efforts to construct and build our identity are handicapped by our investment in our ignorance and our inability to understand ourselves as individuals and as communities.
From the beginning, I refused to be obedient to one single direction of thought and I gave may self enough space to see in the horizons of diversity and multiplicity of thought.“ I read the Republic of Plato prior to his dialogues and conversations, Politics of Aristotle prior to his Post-Naturalism, Philosophy,Religion, and Politics of Baruch Spinoza prior to his Ethics, Elements of the Philosophy of Right of Friedrich Hegel prior to his Phenomenology…etc.” Of course the list would continue to grow and with its growth, knowledge prospers and nurtures our minds and opens us new alternatives of thinking.
In philosophy and history, we feel free and we think freely of our steps in the paths of Babel and in the valley of the Pharaoh kings. We do not stop at one single sign and we do not hesitate to explore more and investigate more. In religion and theology we see the words of Allah in our hands and in the works of the the great believers and not only in sacred texts. We failed because we could not see beyond the prayers and blessings and we forgot that our prophet was a man. A man who could bring a civilized and a sophisticated structure to scattered and chaotic tribes and troubled people.
Today, our heritage is composed of merely moments of reflection on loss and chaos, a debate on what works and what does not and a concentration on technicalities. Religion can not be a set of commands that are now leading to misconceptions. Religion is a choice of life that should integrate deeper understanding of the world of politics and an awareness of a rule that have been governing the mankind since his beginning. This rule is simply benefit or profit. The question now is: how can we benefit and how can we profit?
The answer could be a heavy dose of of investigation and evaluation of a cracked structure. Let us look at the texts and engage in a process of explanation and elaboration. Let us think of other alternatives for our wrong historical choices. Let us debate the conclusions of the past and reconstruct new knowledge of ourselves, our history, and of our religion.
To be continued…
This work was inspired by “Al-Sona wa AI-Islah” of the great Moroccan Historian and Philosopher Abdallah Al-Arwi