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Books and Documents

Spiritual Meditations

Living Life: But for What Purpose?
Yoginder S. Sikand, New Age Islam

Living Life: But for What Purpose?
Yoginder S. Sikand, New Age Islam

This issue, of the macro-purpose of human life (which becomes starker when seen in the context of our inevitable death), is undoubtedly most important existential question that we could ask ourselves. And yet, how many of us ever care to think about it deeply? Many of us are so deeply engrossed in our innumerable immediate, micro-purposes of our day-to-day existence that we refuse to let our minds turn to the subject.  For some, the issue seems so baffling, forbidding and even frightening that they just don’t want to think about it. Others believe the question of the ultimate purpose of human life is simply unanswerable and hence not worth bothering about at all....

It is of Adam and Eve’s exile from and return to paradise, of frantic human effort to be, to mean, to escape the hell that life ordinarily is and be born again through love/gnosis. Dostoevsky’s answer to the question “What is hell?” is that it is “the suffering of being unable to love.”  And what is literature’s key issue? It is, as has been remarked, loneliness....

 

God-Consciousness Is Our Highest Calling
Belinda Espiritu

In a letter of the beloved disciple of Christ named John, he wrote that God is Love, and he who abides in God abides in love. Above all, God is the Loving one; in truth, He is Love. His nature is Divine Love. God is all beautiful – whether his name is Krishna, or Jesus Christ, or Allah – He is just all so beautiful because He possesses all the best qualities that make Him infinitely lovable. He is mighty yet gentle; strong yet tender; all-powerful yet all-loving.....

 

Gandhi’s Truth: Ending Human Violence One Commitment at a Time
Robert J. Burrowes, New Age Islam

Gandhi Jayanti – 2 October, the date of Mohandas K. Gandhi’s birth in 1869 and the International Day of Nonviolence – offers an opportunity to reflect on human violence and to ponder ways to end it. There may be a fast way to end human violence but, if there is, Gandhi did not know it. Nor do I. Nor does anyone else that I have read or asked either. But this does not mean there is no way to end human violence....

 
The Commandment of Writing
Dr Muhammad Maroof Shah

Indeed, to be is to write, to proclaim to the Muse Labbayka (Here, I am). It is, more primordially, to speak and to speak in the original or true sense is to sing poetry. We know Ten Commandments starting with love of God and love of neighbour. But few know that both of these commandments may be best embodied in the work of poets....

 

“Please God,” you pray, “take away these problems and troubles that beset me from morn till dusk. Remove the mountain that looms huge in front of me, don’t have me climb it, just take it away..!” Each one of us is in a tank of particular and inescapable circumstances. It is painful enough to stay in the tank, but in addition to our situation there are God appointed ‘catfish’ to bring sufficient tension to keep us alive, alert, fresh and growing....

 
Use Anger to Your Advantage
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Use Anger to Your Advantage
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

This world is a world of differences. Nature abhors uniformity. This means that ‘difference’ is a part of nature. Difference is there in every aspect of life. So it is in the case of religion. Who has the power to remove differences? If we in vain try to eliminate differences, we will only end up in frustration....

 

The need to urge the people to return to the Vedas arose because they had strayed from its light. Now, perhaps more than then, it is true that those who pass for Hindus — in myriad forms of that religious identity — are ignorant of and alienated from the Vedas. This is ironic since “Veda” means knowledge. You cannot be a Hindu and yet be ignorant and certainly, not ignorant of the Vedas....

 

Poetry helped save the faith of no less a person than Iqbal. After reading likes of Hafiz and Bedil and Wordsworth and Holderlin and Rilke one can’t afford conventional cut and dry atheism. Something of the Sacred invoked in and evoked by the Romantic poetry finds believers amongst new atheists such as Dawkins. Art and nature are revelations even for the secularists and understanding them aright leads one to the border of Book centric revealed religions. If one is truly a poet, one is a believer of a sort....

 

As these difficult people and situations are God’s ways to test our spiritual strength, we should tackle them calmly with an eye to pass our tests and then to move to a higher spiritual level. We should not only try to pass the multiple tests (depending on our level of spiritual evolution and past Karma) successfully, we should also help our fellow human beings to pass them with us, as that further uplifts our souls and helps in our eventual ‘Nirvana’. There shall always be unreciprocated ‘goodwill’ and ‘good deeds’, but those are due to variations of spiritual attainments. …

 

From Gandhi to ISIS, Political Branding Is All About Transcending the Obvious
Adil Rasheed

In fact, it is politics of yore that has taught modern advertising the nuances of public perception, crowd manipulation, mass hysteria, propaganda, misinformation and mind control, as was most evident in the fake WMD drum-roll leading to the Iraq War and the social media-driven mischief of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’. Ironically, the domain of subliminal messaging and brainwashing has never been as pervasive and misleading as in the ‘new media’-propelled campaigns of our times....

 

America, in fact, is founded on the idea of purpose: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. One election cycle after another, Americans rally around candidates personifying deeply rooted ideals of what our country is supposed to be. But, where does purpose come from? What is it? For over two millenniums, discerning our purpose in the universe has been a primary task of philosophers....

Biological Annihilation on Earth Accelerating
Robert J. Burrowes, New Age Islam

Biological Annihilation on Earth Accelerating
Robert J. Burrowes, New Age Islam

Human beings are now waging war against life itself as we continue to destroy not just individual lives, local populations and entire species in vast numbers but also destroy the ecological systems that make life on Earth possible. By doing this we are now accelerating the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history and virtually eliminating any prospect of human survival....

 

The Space between Belief and Disbelief
Tabish Khair

That is why thinking atheists cannot do away with the concept of god. That is also why the religious cannot claim to know god. We become human in exactly that space where we are not animals (whose possibility of knowledge is restricted to what they already know) and where we are never ‘god’ (whose possibility of knowledge is complete and infinite)....

 

Why War? Building on the Legacy of Einstein, Freud and Gandhi
Robert J. Burrowes, New Age Islam

He successfully applied his strategic understanding of nonviolence to the Indian independence struggle against British colonial rule. But while Gandhi was happy to acknowledge his debt to those who had gone before, he was not shy in proclaiming the importance of finding new ways forward: ‘If we are to make progress, we must not repeat history but make new history. We must add to the inheritance left by our ancestors.’....

 

Reflections on Good Parenting: What More Damage Could One Do than to Spiritually Cripple One’s Own Child
Yoginder S. Sikand, New Age Islam

If, as all religions tell us, the purpose of human life is to evolve spiritually so that we lead a God-oriented life in this world and are suitably prepared for the world that comes after death, such parents, by completely neglecting their children’s spiritual needs, are doing them the most terrible disservice. It is nothing short of criminal. After all, what could be worse than being complicit in denying one’s own child the possibility of fulfilling the very purpose of its life, of its very creation? What more damage could one do than to spiritually cripple one’s own child so badly that it ruins its life in this world and in the life after death, too?...

A Nonviolent Strategy to Defeat Genocide
Robert J. Burrowes, New Age Islam

A Nonviolent Strategy to Defeat Genocide
Robert J. Burrowes, New Age Islam

Why then should those under genocidal assault expect supportive action from the UN or international community in general? The factors which drive these manifestations of violence serve a diverse range of geopolitical interests in each case, and are usually highly profitable into the bargain. What hope justice or even decency in such circumstances?....

 

An Open Letter to People with 'Mental Health' Issues
Robert J. Burrowes, Ne Age Islam

Human beings have a brilliantly diverse and complex array of emotions and hence potential emotional responses as a result of the evolutionary pressures that shaped the emergence of hominids over millions of years. An extraordinary emotional capacity is one of the defining features of our humanity and, I would argue, far more important than any other feature such as our intellectual capacity....

 
Why not Consider Inferior Minds
Dr Muhammad Maroof Shah

Major figures in Islamic intellectual tradition are distinguished by their comprehensive review of existing state of art affairs, ability to invoke the First Principles, keen insight on zeitgeist of their age and great moral-spiritual credentials. They are ultimately valued not in themselves but in leading us or connecting us to the Fountainhead of Ilm/gnosis. Popular writers/preachers may often suffer from certain ideological prejudices and don’t command requisite qualifications to make accessible the best of the legacy of Elders. It is sin against intelligence to debate and regurgitate what is cheaply or popularly available. Likes of Ibn Sina, Mulla Sadra, Anwar Shah, Heidegger, Whitehead are not/can’t be popular....

 

Paradoxically, instead of promoting an intelligent criticism of religion, new atheism ends up generating hordes of theologically and spiritually alienated people who are even more likely to be recruited by cults and religions, and who will thereafter vehemently deny that they are so much as a little bit influenced by religion. They simultaneously refuse to study religion, whilst denying that they may be under the influence of underlying religious ideas. But how can you know, if you don’t even care to study how religion truly works?...

God Is A Never Ending Reality
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

God Is A Never Ending Reality
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

If one’s mind is constantly directed towards God, then one will repeatedly experience new manifestations of His glory; time and time again a new divine light will shine on him. Just as God’s virtues are interminable, so a believer’s search for knowledge of God is a journey that never comes to an end…..

 

Living the Truth Is A Tough Road, but Living in Delusion Is the Path of Cowards
Robert J. Burrowes, New Age Islam

One inevitable outcome of the phenomenal violence we all suffer as children is that most of us live in a state of delusion throughout our lives. This makes it extraordinarily difficult for accurate information, including vital information about the endangered state of our world and how to respond appropriately, to penetrate the typical human mind. 'Phenomenal violence?' you might ask. 'All of us?' you wonder. Yes, although, tragically, most of this violence goes unrecognised because it is not usually identified as such....

 

Identities That Imprison Us from Birth to Death
Mamdouh AlMuhaini

Each one of us is born with pure human identity. However, this identity does not last long. We are labelled with all the religious, sectarian, ethnic and national identities that bury this original identity until we become completely unaware of it. You see yourself through the prism of religion or sect, and naturally weaken the original sense of being spontaneously connected to others. The sectarian strife that we are continuously witnessing is mainly due to this acute and profound classification since childhood.....

What else would explain the Taliban giving a go-ahead to men’s cricket in Afghanistan but not to women’s? Even the green-lighting of men’s cricket had more to do with the sheer popularity of the sport in Afghanistan than the fact that the gentleman’s game, unlike football, which the Taliban disapproves of, doesn’t let the knees show because of full-length trousers, as the Taliban would argue....

 
A Life of Service: Role of Proper Parenting
Mohammed Farooq, New Age Islam

We are in this world to please God, and we can please God through serving God’s creatures—humans as well as others—who are in need and are suffering. Helping others, as I understand it, is not an end in itself, but a means to please and serve God. This is something that people of different religions would, I think, readily agree with....

 
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