Sufism: What goes round...What goes round...
Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi lived in Central Anatolia in the early 13th century, and he died around the time of Dante's eighth birthday. How Rumi came to outsell any other poet in America in the late 1990s, at least according to the LA Times, is an unlikely story. Because God can best be reached through the gateway of the heart, Rumi believed you did not necessarily need ritual to get to him, and that the Divine is as accessible to Christians and Jews as to Muslims. All traditions are tolerated, because in the opinion of Rumi anyone is capable of expressing their love for God, and that transcends both religious associations and your place in the social order: "My religion," he wrote, "is to live through love." Yet for all this, Rumi himself always remained an orthodox and practising Sunni Muslim. As Lewis rightly notes, "Rumi did not come to his theology of tolerance and inclusive spirituality by turning away from traditional Islam, but through immersion in it." Before the first world war there were almost 100,000 disciples of the Mevlevi order throughout the Ottoman empire. But in 1925, as part of his desire to create a modern, western-orientated, secular state, Atatürk banned all the different Sufi orders and closed their tekkes. "In Turkish culture, Sufism has always provided the religious justification for the fine arts. It is like the sea and a boat: one cannot exist without the other. All our fine arts found themselves in Sufism. In Istanbul alone there were 700 tekkes. This is where the arts of poetry, music and calligraphy were all developed and passed down."
Scholar says this generation’s Muslims face a momentous choice
Khaled Abou El Fadl, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, has a scholarly manner and speaks in soft tones. He is driven by what he sees as a global crisis: the fight between "moderates" and "puritans" to determine who represents authentic Islam. "Nothing less than the very soul of Islam" is at risk, says the 42-year-old Abou El Fadl, who is calling upon moderates to reverse their declining influence and reclaim bold leadership of the faith. This is a "transformative moment," he says. In his view, Islam is suffering a schism as dramatic as the 16th-century Protestant Reformation that split Christian Europe.