Searching For the Secular Sufi
By Aruna Jethwani
Feb 27, 2013
A British author has described Jesus as a Sufi. Jesus was pure; he was love personified. Love is the motif of Sufism. Perhaps that is the reason why the author is calling Jesus a Sufi. In the same way, scholar Sheikh Saleem Ahmed has described Guru Nanak, Buddha and Kabir as Sufis. Their purpose was to unite and not to divide. They came to quench the burning flames of hate and terror, torture and persecution with the waters of the spirit.
Spiritually speaking, the Prophets Jesus, Mohammad, Guru Nanak and Buddha were Messengers of Peace. But religion is a culture of self-identity; instead of uniting it has led to wars between self-proclaimed sects of the same religion or between the followers of different faiths. Regions across the world bear sufficient witness to this.
Religion has been hemmed in by boundaries. Boundaries are the cause of hate and war. Boundaries are the cause of persecution and oppression. Religious dogmas are practised as superiority challenges. How can one religion or faith be inferior or superior to another? In fact, religion is a way of life or is a faith that comes from the pure consciousness of prophets or avatars. They bear the same Light, the same Divinity that is within.
For this very reason, saints like Swami Ramakrishna Paramahansa internalised the experience of all religions of the world. They came to the conclusion that Ram and Rahim, Krishna and Christ are the same divine light of the Infinite One. Yet we have imprisoned God; we have drawn boundaries around the Divine, and in the process created bloodshed. I think that is reason enough to say ‘no’ to religion, and say ‘yes’ to spirituality.
Once in London, taking shelter under a tree during rain, an Englishman asked Sadhu Vaswani, “India is supposed to be ‘the ancestral home of the world’s religious consciousness. Will you tell me in three words, what is the essence of religion?” Smiling softly, Sadhu Vaswani said: “The essence of religion in three words! The first word is Love. The second word is Love. The third word is Love.”
Love is the spiritual quality of every religion, be it Hindu, Muslim, Jewish or Zoroastrian. Love is not an attribute of God, love is God. It is this love which makes thorns blossom; it is this love which brings peace. It is this love which makes life the wonderful journey that it is.
Spirituality as expressed in love, forgiveness and compassion has no caste, no creed, no sects and no divisions. Spirituality has no boundaries. Those of us, Sindhis and Kashmiris or whoever, who have grown in composite cultures, knows this. During the partition of the country, all that my family brought with them was a wooden cut-out of an angel with the words ‘Abide With Me, Fast Falls The Eventide’ inscribed on it; my mother brought her sacred Sukhmani — The Jewel of Peace, and my grandmother had the picture of her guru, a Muslim Pir of Rohiri. My father, a Sikh, practised Vedanta; my mother’s family worshipped a Muslim Pir, but practised Sikhism.
“Spirituality is synthesis,” said Sadhu Vaswani. In other words it is Oneness. It is oneness of love; it is oneness of infinite divinity. And therefore my heart cries out:
I hope, I pray, for the mandala of love,
For the return
Of our true Sufi Fakirs,
Sai to Shirdi, Lal Ded to Kashmir,
And Buddha to his own,
To make this earth
A peaceful home!
Ghulam Muhiyuddin Sahab,
I fully agree with you that "Whatever one's belief system may be, the task must be to humanize it, liberalize it, make it more inclusive and more rational."