PROPHET’S ACADEMY – INSTITUTE OF ADVANCED PRACTICAL SUFISM
It is said that, thanks to the ever faster communications the world is becoming a global village. Cultural and sometimes the political differences are being reduced. But the direction of gap-reducing moves are mostly coming from nations outside the Western community which is Western Europe and
But the phenomenon is not unique in history. Cultures of persistent winners always made the losers to emulate the winners. In the East China greatly influenced its neighbours like
It is vain to resent this. Those outside the Western community must judiciously make their pickings from the Western model if they do not want ending up as indiscriminately aping them without the social and economic benefits.
So far the best policies in this matter seem to have been devised and implemented by the Japanese. This traditionally closed society complacently proud of its ways was shocked into a rude awakening when they suddenly noticed that
We Muslims have been both the neighbours and part of the West and could and should do better than the total outsiders the Japanese. But we could not.
To close the power gap between ourselves and the West without losing our ever-superior aspects we need both to know ourselves and the West and only on that basis adopt new ways from it. What is more, if we want to contribute to a better world we also have to teach and make accepted our own better values and ways by the West who had already adopted a lot from us since the times of the Crusaders. So this Certificate Course will explore these issues.
So long as technology was primitive the cold, wet and densely forested north
Until the flourishing of the Roman Empire what we call the West today was almost entirely confined to the shores of the Aegean Sea- Greece to the West and
Then arrived another import from the East. The Semitic religion eventually called Christianity which became an Hellenized form of Judaism.
With all above mixing we can identify the ingredients of today’s Western civilization as follows
A primitive pagan hunter-gatherer and often also nomadic civilization which has always been called by all others as ‘barbaric’. In this animal diet, alcohol, music and dance and profligate sex and incessant raiding of neighbours and warfare were prominent. Animism and ancestor worship were integral to a polytheistic mythological religion.
Greek ideas and ways spreading westwards into
Semitic spirituality in both Judaic and Gnostic forms as modified by Greek ideas- all of which became Christianity. This broth both harmed as much as helped the Western Europeans. It helped them by spiritualising and moralizing them and harmed them by suppressing their intellectual development and allowing them having such supersitions as to drive them to oppressive barbaric acts- witness the inquisition and the witch-hunts.
Islamic elements being added as from the Crusader era.
the so-called enlightenment and Industrial revolution all of which was financed by the massive profits from colonial expansion and exploitation.
We must briefly scrutinise all these before we can move forward.
THE PAGAN ROOTS
Anthropologists explain that primitive communities, whether nomadic or settled create and adopt a primitive religion based on animism and ancestor worship. This is coupled by the practice of magic and ritual which are designed to exploit and propitiate the gods and spirits believed in.
Animism (from ‘anima’, soul) is the belief that not only men and animals have spirits which survive death but almost all objects, especially the impressive ones do also have spirits residing in them. Trees, rivers, mountains, rocks… which impress the primitives as especially important for them may be regarded as gods and therefore worshipped. Mount Fuji in
While the earthly gods like the
Again, the primitives worshipped also their male ancestors and kept their graves tended for as many generations as possible. They prayed to them at these graves and made offerings of incense and even food. In most cases the ancestors were buried together with their utensils and foot items. The most spectacular of these are seen in the Pyramid graves of pharaohs.
In the settled and also well-developed civilizations the king also was a god and in fact in practice the most demanding and effective one. He was seen as the son of Heaven or the son of the chief heavenly god the sun. Both pharaohs and Japanese emperors were the sons of the sun. Roman emperors also liked to enjoy divine status although by then the intellectual development was too far advanced for this claim to be taken seriously except by the lower level of the populace. The elites continued to treat the emperor as an equal except in political authority and the emperor granted as much.
Last but not least by any means is the magical nature of paganism. All pagan religions believed in and resorted to magic. In strictly tribal communities specially endowed persons provided a link between gods and spirits on the one hand and living men on the other. This primal priest was variously called a shaman, a witch-doctor or medicine man etc… and by his traditional special methods drank and/or danced himself into a trance (self-hypnosis on the hysterical side) and produced revelations from the spirit world often in response to applications for information or cures on the part of the people. This should not be confused by prophethood as defined in Islam. The shaman actively seeks his inspirations and works himself into a trance by any means fair or foul. Fair, like music and dance and foul like asking a child to be sacrificed to the proper god before revelations can start. A prophet of Allah is not like that. He is unaware of his future mission and in fact would fear a prospect of prophethood. His preparation for it is neither conscious nor deliberate but takes the form and remains an instinctive tendency to think, meditate and worship. That was how sayyidina Muhammad sws was prepared as were the older Biblical prophets.
Other than eliciting revelations from gods and spirits, priests (which the shamans were the earliest forms) devised magic to help theirs and people’s wishes come true and fears go away. Magic ultimately boils down to a procedure designed to create a belief about something crucial to the seeker. It can take either of two forms or a mixture of both. Mental magic is based on suggestion which today is the basis of medically approved therapeutic method called hypnosis. Some gifted people have the ability to play so masterfully on the mind set of others by a combination of verbal suggestions and assuming of airs that they are able to modify, at least temporarily, the physiological or psychological condition of their clients or audience. Pains of a sufferer may disappear and even a cure may be triggered on. Or the client or audience may be put into various forms of emotion as the hypnotist (‘magician’ in old terminology) like fear, love, generosity, hatred and even madness.
The suggestions are made even more powerful by surrounding them with special effects like a haunting music, smoking candles and incense, arresting dress, dark etc. It was by such means that shamans, yogis, witch doctors or priests, call them what you want, could work up their audience to almost any emotion and belief and make, for example, one of them to drop dead (from an heart attack) by suddenly and unexpectedly direct at him an arm bone or skull or chin bone in the middle of frantic dancing to the accompaniment of desperately beaten drums. When Christianity came to
As for the other kind of magic, namely the physical this has always been based on creating illusions by chemical and mechanical and nowadays also electronic means. Allah explicitly explains the magic of the pharaoh on that basis. The ‘incredible feats’ made by modern stage magicians, like being sawn into two under a giant saw are illusions created by laser-based visual illusions which now are being put into military use, like creating ghost planes or tanks to deceive the enemy. One way or another and for better or worse the West is still sticking with its pagan and magical inheritance
GREEK IDEAS AND CHRISTIAN INFLUENCES
Greeks have a mixed origin in that they eventually became a recognized nation after at least four races flew into the pot of races over about two thousand years. Mycenaeans, Dorians, Achaeans and Ionians fused over time into a single identity, the Hellenic. Beginning from settlements around both sides and in the islands of Aegean Sea they spread to Cyprus, Western Anatolia, Greece proper, Macedonia, Epirus etc which together became the Greek homeland and then sent colonies settling throughout the Mediterranean basin, from west nortb African and Spanish coast to Syria in the east and beyond.
Avidly learning from the older civilizations of
When the Greek world reached its both geographical and spiritual zenitn, namely the times of Alexander the Great (4th cent BC) it was extending from Spain in the West to Altai mountains in the East although not as secure as in Greece itself. It taught its ways in all these lands and left many monuments to its greatness.
The main route of the penetration of the Greek culture into Western Europe was through
Ironically however this very same cultural Hellenization of the West was nearly undone when
Salutary was its inspiring great piety and charity into minds made and prepared for them (in those not so it only produced crass superstition with no moral gains). Deleterious was its literalist dogmatism and persecutive fanaticism. Therefore we soon find the sons of Socrates and Seneca fighting bitterest possible religious and sectarian wars among themselves as well as directed to the pagan barbarians of the north, like the Teutons and the Vikings. The war against the barbarians is the very first example in history of religious warfare and predates Islam’s jehad by at least four centuries. Popes headed armies advancing north and converting the pagan barbarians theyt met to the cult of Christ at the point of the sword. They killed all who opposed without giving quarter or mercy and pillaged and stripped to the last asset the vanquished. What is more they were equally ruthless and atrocious within their own ranks torturing and killing each other on account of barely discernible differences of dogma like “was Christ the Son of a similar or the same substance as the Father?” with both positions equally unsupported by the scripture in any case. This dogmatism and doctrinal intolerance justifying even the most atrocious treatment of the opponent survived the decline of Christianity in the West and took the new garb of ideological zeal.
Post-Christianity Europeans (as from late 18th century and beginning with the Great French Revolution of 1789) repeated the record of their Christian evolution by inventing secular ideology after secular ideology each as fertile in breeding sub-sects and nurturing and displaying murderous persecutive fanaticism no less than Christianity’s. For example the most pet ideology of all, namely socialism bred forms from the most dictatorial (e.g. Bolshevism in Russia) to the most liberal-anarchic which preached complete individual freedom to all in the hope that it wouldn’t end in anarchy but the human nature was good enough for peace harmony prevail, especially since private property (supposedly) was the only source of crime and oppression. None worked as expected and each party blamed its failure to deliver the promised utopia on the hypocrites, traitos and saboteurs among their ranks which they chose to deal with characteristic Medieval Christian persecutive mania- censure, terror and torture! Hence the Bolshevik and Nazi attrocities.
The important thing for Muslims to understand from above is this: The West, among other its cultural products, exported this dogmatic persecutive fanaticism to the rest of the world where groups were bred to formulate all sorts of ideologies, not only in the secular field but also the religious. So, while some Muslims went secular and copied nationalist or socialist ideologies from the West others went more fanatically religious and formulated versions of Islam in the spirit of Western Medieval Christianity- hair-splitting in dogma, unforgiving of difference and actively persecutive and conquest-oriented in policies. Even more surprisingly Islamic dogmatic and factionalist militancy chose to emulate Marxist movements in that it became almost completely political, subversive and saboteurish in organization (underground cell structures training the members in propaganda, disinformation, sabotage and assassination) and even legalizing the funding of activities by thefts and robberies- exacty like Marxist guerrilla organizations.
That Islam influenced the West in a much bigger way than so far realized or acknowledged is a fact. We have seen the almost barbaric condition of the Medieval West above. It was a civilization lost in superstition of spirit and atrocity of behaviour. Its record in dealing with its own people and those outside, especially its dealings with Islam beggars belief in ignorance and barbarity. Yet today this same civilization is in many ways a beacon of universal toleration and humanity in general. How could such a child come such a bad parent? If we explain this with the re-discovery of the Hellenic past that will only be half the answer. For the Greek civilization was more distinguished in ingenuity than humanity. Like all ancients and most moderns they were racists and as such totally unscrupulous towards ‘barbarians’, i.e., non-Greeks. Jews similary dismissed and despised non-Jews as ‘goyim’, i.e. gentiles, Arabs despised non_Arabs as ‘Ajam’ (pl. A’ajim) and in fact Arab’ meant ‘beautiful’ as if others were ugly. The Chinese were equally proud racists etc. All believed in slavery and owned slaves whom they mostly like animals in the unenlightened sense. These attitudes are only partially abandoned today.
Being so proud and arrogant Greeks as well as all other rather successful races had no scruples whatsoever but would treat others like fair game. At least until recently the West regarded and treated other geographical groups similarly and for example recognized no human rights whatsoever for the natives of colonized lands like the
such were normal in ancient Greek thinking.
Hence, history had to wait for a single and unprecedented character to rise against such beliefs and attitudes. Neither that holy Buddha nor that even holier Christ even raised the question. The Buddha accepted the cast system of Hinduism as natural order while as far as Gospel evidence goes was a prophet could only be sent to dear Israel and others were ‘dogs’ (Matt. 14: 26) which were not entitled to Divine guidance. Only
Islam did not only preach and Muslim did not only profess this first time ever Universal equality principle. They also practiced it to a large extent. Only today the West is coming to this stand and that is yet patchy in theory and even patchier in practice. What is certain, this holiest of all humanitarian principles is a gift from Islam to all and the West in particular.
Islam also helped Christianity to shed, if partially and painfully, a lot of its deluded restrictions like the ban on divorce as well as helping it to understand the value of cleanliness and the success and salvation coming from scientific thinking. It was Islam again which cut down to size the absolute power and the supposed divine right of kings and lords and made them responsible for their actions. So it is possible now in the West to question and investigate, try and convict anybody including the prime minister. Islam could not be more positive and explicit on this equality of all before law and offered many instances of its implementation.
The mark of Islam is all over the better features of today’s Western civilizations as no other’s and we should never forget this when considering the West as a model.
1. WHY CONTEMPORARY ISSUES
THE LAW OF CHANGE
Change is so intrinsic to all existence that it is quite legitimate to consider change as the real existent instead of the forms which, due to the slowness of their changing we mistake as fixed realities. For example, a house seems to us unchanged day after day, because at daily rate its decay is too small to be noticed. But a mass of rain clouds variously roll, spread and roar in so fast succession that we cannot take any given instant’s configuration as a fixed reality. We only see how over-ruling and dramatic change can be when visit some friends after many years of separation- sometimes we are shocked by the deterioration in them.
To see how change applies to Islam as well, both in the sense of physical and philosophical let us compare the Prophet’s sws late Medinese Islam and Islam at its Abbasid stage.