Friday, November 11, 2005

clap without a song

You've stripped me of all signs and name: a soul

With hands that you make clap without a song.

No place holds a soul: Where should I go?

You've made me homeless; free as soul to flow.

#1812: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

Last night, I watched the airing here of 30 Days: Muslims and America (originally aired in the US in June of this year). Some aspects of it troubled me, mainly the careful avoidance of the dark side of Islam today. Most of my concerns are adequately dealt with by Debbie Schlussel in Unreal for 30 Days, in The Wall Street Journal.

There has been quite a bit of discussion of late (sadly much of it painful) in which I have spoken out against Arabs as a whole and Muslims as a whole. We undoubtedly do people an injury when we label them, set them apart, and then discriminate against them. However, we also all suffer from self-labelling, from strong identifications with certain groups. I believe that both Arabs and Muslims but especially Arab Muslims are especially guilty of that and I don't know how to say that without colluding in the labelling.

The morally preferable path may be to increase the good in the world rather than try to destroy what is perceived as evil or wrong. My talent, however, is in the latter. That is why I love Rumi so: his talent is in the former. Here he is today, having abandoned all labels, lost in a sea of non-identification. I can but embrace that ecstasy myself and, letting go of those labels, fly.


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