Friday, April 21, 2006

love and pain

When I fell into your love, and its pain,

My poor heart fell to the depths once again.

It has fallen before, felt love and more,

But never till this time has felt such pain.

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

It is a central difference between Christianity and Islam that the first has its central archetypal hero actually suffering, actually in pain, while the second has him conquering lands and consummating the last of his several marriages with a virgin child. Worldly triumph and sexual privilege are also held up as rewards in the Islamic heaven. And yet many mystics, not only Rumi, have talked of the importance of pain as an initiatory experience. Today's quatrain is, for me, yet another that affirms an essentially Christian message, not an Islamic one.

Recently here in Australia an Anglican Dean asserted that 'Islam and Christianity can't both be right'. The newspaper reporting that then published a handful of letters from angry readers all of them criticizing the Dean's analysis, all failing to see his point, in every case blinded by their fear of religion, perhaps even their fear of any God. This is the most blatant example, for me, of secular prejudice and bias in our mainstream media. Time and again, I see God dismissed. I'll say this much for Muslims: they don't dismiss their God. They show a better commitment and loyalty then we do.

Mind you, a fear of the death sentence for apostasy would help that along quite a bit.


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