Thursday, January 05, 2006

a weary heart

Over and over my lover torments my weary heart.

Hers is hard as stone, or else my own remains unknown.

I've written my heart's story on my face until it bled.

My lover sees the writing but the words remain unread.

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

Search word: weary

I woke weary this morning and I've asked my weary heart what it wants. It is heartily tired of hearing so many men pronouncing endlessly, arrogantly, ignorantly, on just what God wants. As if they could know. How can it be? How did we end up so flawed? I'm overcome by some of the opinions I've been reading in the Viorst book:

From Ch 2: The Murder of Farag Foda

"Can Islam be asked to grant life to apostates so that they may participate in its death?"
"Any fresh interpretations of the Quran are by nature harmful to Islam."
"If you interpret the Quran without the knowledge to do it faithfully, then you sin by conveying the wrong ideas to the people. And no matter how much you study, if you persist in your misinterpretation, you are an infidel."
"He criticizes the Quran! The Quran is the word of God; it is above criticism! This man has a pathological mentality. We should have put him directly into an insane asylum. This man is an ass."
"Interpretation has controls and criteria provided by scholars. It does not depart from God's path and what God has explicitly forbidden."
"We who are committed Muslims feel we have a mission to build a society in a way that satisfies God."
"We believe in human rights, but we claim that they are already in the Quran. We believe that the Quran commands that men and women be equal."
"No one has a right to speak against God. We are the slaves of God. God has the right to sentence us to death for insults. If I deny my creator, how can I ask Him to let me live? There are no human rights against God."

Milton Viorst: In the Shadow of the Prophet: The Struggle for the Soul of Islam

It is this kind of talk that has made my heart weary. No amount of discussion or dialogue seems capable of penetrating this wall of Muslim doggedness. It is not the only doggedness around but it is supreme in this quality. I suspect that this is indeed the heart and soul of Allah: to be dogged in one's defense of one's faith is to be a good slave of Allah. The opposing dogged voice is, of course, Voltaire with his: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

My weariness has found Rumi weary too, weary in the face of the stone-quality of "Her" heart. In this verse, God is depicted as a "She" but She has nevertheless the same stone cold indifference to Rumi's originality as the Allah above has to original or independent thought or interpretation. And yet "She" is and remains Rumi's beloved. Like Job, he can protest for all he's worth but, in the end, the power represented by Yahweh (or Allah or "She Who Must Be Obeyed") can but be admitted, accepted, and acceded to.

But somehow I sense that both Job and Rumi have succeeded too for their protest is there for all of us to read and, come the day of the last judgment, the judge might come to be the judged.


At Friday, 06 January, 2006, Blogger Bob Hoeppner said...

To paraphrase Lao Tzu, the way that can be defined is not the real way.


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