I was away from New Age Islam, because other ground level engagements have kept me tied down. I don’t write these days. Only sometimes I take to my laptop when the pressure to express crosses the critical limit of my ability to be indifferent.I guess I owe a few replies on this website.
To Mr. Mohiuddin sb, for whose faith in the written word, I have a great admiration for, I have to say that I would consider it bad manners to say “our path is the only path”, because it will be totally out of context for me.
To Mr. Sadaf, I must thank for encouraging me to pull me out of my shell. A write-up which I had put in cold storage, I am shortly posting under the caption “Towards Mughle Azam”, which Insha Allah will have the effect of raising the platform of discussion. I don’t believe in stereotypes. My replies so far have only been to question the stereotyped objections against Islam and Muslims, which lack depth.
Mr. Shahid is a new face here but I have gone through some of his comments. I would request him to persist, because it is important for him to persist. His contributions will be highly appreciated by a lot of persons who visit this website. Let me clarify to him that I have not left out ‘the group who argue in favour of contemplation and observation of natural phenomena to get to God’, because I have written my piece while being firmly rooted in that group. I guess there is a method called ‘phenomenology’ which helps us to advance our understanding of things by the study of phenomena. Of course the holy Quran itself exhorts us to follow this route. My effort to understand Islam will be come to naught if I discard this method because the other means is to meditate and reach God directly through Communion.
Most sufis have taken that route in their lives but I am not a sufi. In this respect, technically speaking, a genuine sufi seems to have an upper hand over us, phenomenologists or scientologists; because the prophet himself had reached God through meditation (when I say reaching God, let me make clear the colloquial use of the language here, because in truth, man can never reach God. It is God who reaches His seeker because He alone is capable of breaking the barrier).
Lest I should be misunderstood about sufis, I have to add that I see a sufi as a stand-alone piece who cannot be networked. To my mind, there may be ‘sufis’, but there cannot be sufiism -which means a disciple or a descendant of a sufi, being a sufi, (this simply cannot work on the theory of probability), or khanqah sort of thing etc. The concept of a ‘sufi’ therefore is largely of an academic or conceptual value for me (follow a seeker of truth, run away from one who has found it).
Mr. Shahid makes an interesting observation about ‘religion’. Obviously he has some serious take on the issue. I would become lengthy if I tried to untangle this but in an unpublished (lying in cold storage for last ten years) novel of mine (“A man of no consequence”) some of the questions relating to the true nature of religion have been discussed. In due course Insha Allah I will share those ideas, which rather float freely within the context of the novel without any fixedness (deliberate use of word because of its rhyming with wickedness).
However while discussing high ideas I do not lose sight of the ground reality. I have therefore always advised restraint while demolishing the idols, and so have profusely advised against throwing the baby with the bath-tub. This however is no guarantee that one day I will not be faced with a fatwa for asking a simple question, if that turns out to be inconvenient. But this is a professional hazard of being a Muslim and we should learn to live with it.