In The Name of God, The Most Merciful, The Especially Merciful
“Purify your eyes, and see the pure world. Your life will fill with radiant forms.” ~ Rumi
Our children have inherited a world of unprecedented volatility – nothing it seems, wants to stay long enough with us. Modern life is known for its fragility, temporariness, vulnerability and inclination to constant change. To ‘be modern’ means to modernise – compulsively, obsessively; not so much just ‘to be’, let alone to keep its identity intact, but forever ‘becoming’, avoiding completion and staying under defined. This is what Zygmunt Bauman refers to as ‘liquid modernity’; the growing conviction that change is the only permanence, and uncertainty the only certainty.
So what do we do? Where do we begin? We can certainly begin by creating shared spaces; places where our young people can come and talk. Where they don’t feel that they are alone, and that there is, in fact, hope. Imam Ghazali, the great Muslim theologian characteristically reminds us that the state of hope produces sustained spiritual combat through actions, and perseverance in obedience, however fickle circumstances may be. Among its effects are finding pleasure in unbroken acceptance with God, contentment in private prayer with Him and fondness for deferring to Him.
In trying to create hope, we need to create a place where we can talk with people rather than at them. Peter Berger illustrates that man’s specific humanity and his sociality are inextricably intertwined. Homo sapiens is always, and in the same measure, homo socius. The danger is when people feel that they are no longer important and that there is no alternative. They will inevitably drift to the margins. There is then, only one option – and that is towards the margins. That is a very cold place. A place where no human should ever be made to go.
On my recent visit to Northern Ireland, the significance of creating safe places in our own communities was emphasised. Given the environment of hostility and mistrust we are now living in, the urgency for this is all the more important. It is only when we are ready to listen to others, to try to understand them, can we really begin to move forward together. This takes courage, it takes patience and ultimately, divine grace – The true love of God is to love beauty, truth, and goodness.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made this visit possible, the hospitality we received at Corrymella and made it a success in manifold ways.
Haroon Ebrahim Sidat