Transcript: Mohamad Tavakoli:Islamic Universalism & Multiconfessionalism | Mar 25, 2006

Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi stands behind a wooden lectern in a church. He's in his late forties, with long curly brown hair and a bushy moustache. He's wearing rimless glasses, a black suit and a white shirt.

He says THE
ISSUE THAT I WANT TO RAISE IS
ISLAMIC UNIVERSALISM AND MULTI-
CONFESSIONALISM.
YOU MAY THINK THAT HELL THAT,
THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH
ISLAM BECAUSE YOU HAVE COME TO
KNOW ISLAM AS A FUNDAMENTALIST
RELIGION.
MUSLIMS AS BEING INTOLERANT OF
OTHERS AND BEING VERY PAROCHIAL
IN THEIR, IN THEIR VIEWS,
PARTICULARLY THIS VISION OF
ISLAM AS SORT OF AS COMBATANT
KIND OF RELIGION HAS BECOME
PREVALENT SINCE SEPTEMBER 11TH.
BUT MORE EARLIER PROBABLY GOES
BACK TO THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION
THAT BROUGHT AYATOLLAH KHOMEINI
TO POWER, AND A, A PERIOD OF
TIME THAT I IDENTIFY AS
POLITICIZATION OF ISLAM.
SO THE QUESTION THAT HERE I...

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Mohamad Tavakoli. Chair of Historical Studies. University of Toronto. 'Islamic universalism and multiconfessionalism.' Erindale United Church. October 6, 2005."

Mohamad continues WOULD LIKE TO BRING TO YOUR
ATTENTION IS THAT THE KIND OF
ISLAM, THE INTOLERANT ISLAM,
THE COMBATANT ISLAM, THE
JIHADIST ISLAM IS REALLY A
PRODUCT OF THE 20TH CENTURY
DEVELOPMENT.
IT HAS MORE TO DO WITH
NATIONALISM.
IT
HAS MORE, IT HAS MORE TO DO
WITH REGIONAL POLITICAL
DEVELOPMENT.
IT HAS MORE TO DO WITH THE
TRANSFORMATION OF ISLAM INTO A
POLITICAL IDEOLOGY THAT
ENHANCES PARTICULAR, PARTICULAR
NATIONALIST PROJECTS THEN IT
HAS TO DO WITH ISLAM.
IN A SENSE WHAT I WANT TO DO IS
TO BRING YOU BACK TO A KIND OF
ISLAM THAT HAS BEEN
HISTORICALLY PREVALENT.
ISLAM THAT IS COMPASSIONATE,
MERCIFUL, THE KIND OF ISLAM
THAT EVERY MUSLIM, EVERY
BELIEVING MUSLIM SORT OF
AUTHORS IN THEIR PRAYER OF
INITIATION.
MUSLIMS IN THEIR EVERY DAY
LIFE.
WHEN THEY START, YOU KNOW THEY
WAKE UP.
THEY SAY IN THE NAME OF GOD,
THE COMPASSIONATE AND MERCIFUL.
IF YOU LOOK AT A, AN ISLAMIC
BOOK OR BOOKS WRITTEN BY, BY
BELIEVING MUSLIMS IT USUALLY
STARTS IN THE NAME OF GOD, THE
COMPASSIONATE AND MERCIFUL.
AND THE, AND MUSLIMS IN THEIR
EVERY DAY LIFE TRY TO STYLE
THEMSELVES AS COMPASSIONATE, AS
MERCIFUL.
AND THOSE OF YOU WHO MAY HAVE
HAD SOME ENCOUNTERS AND YOU
HAVE, YOU MAY HAVE HAD MUSLIMS
IN AS YOUR NEIGHBOURS, IN YOUR
WORKPLACE, YOU, YOU SEE THE
KIND OF HOSPITALITY THAT SORT
OF THEY REFLECT.
AND THAT KIND OF HOSPITALITY I
THINK IS REFLECTED IN THESE
MODE OF KINDNESS OR, OR IN A
SENSE AN ETHOS THAT IS THE
ETHOS OF, OF ISLAM.
KINDNESS, COMPASSION, CARING
FOR OTHER AND, AND I WANT TO
IN, IN A SENSE BRING YOUR
ATTENTION TO A KIND OF ISLAM
THAT WAS PREVALENT IN PRE-
MODERN TIMES.
FOR EXAMPLE SEYYED RAZI, THOSE
OF YOU WHO ARE FAMILIAR WITH
THE SHIRAZ LINE KNOW SHIRAZ IS
ONE OF THE SORT OF PLACES IN,
IN, IN IRAN AND SADDI WAS BORN
IN 1184 AND DIED AROUND 1293.
AND THIS POEM OF HIS HAS ADORNS
THE ENTRANCE TO THE, TO THE,
ONE OF THE ENTRANCES TO THE
UNITED NATION.
AND IT SAYS ALL HUMANS ARE THE
LIMBS OF THE SAME BODY CREATED
FROM ONE ESSENCE.
IF THE CALAMITY OF TIME
AFFLICTS ONE LIMB, THE OTHERS
CANNOT STAY AT REST.
YOU WHO REMAIN DIFFERENT TO THE
SUFFERING OF OTHERS DO NOT
DESERVE TO BE CALLED HUMAN.
IT IS THIS HUMANNESS.
THAT YOU'RE ALL HUMAN BEINGS
AND THE SUFFERING OF ONE
REGARDLESS OF YOUR ETHNICITY,
RELIGIOSITY AND, AND POLITICAL
BELONGING YOU ARE MEMBERS OF
THE SAME BODY.
AND THE PAIN OF THE OTHER IS
THE PAIN OF, THE PAIN OF ONE IS
THE PAIN OF THE OTHER, IS THE
KIND OF ISLAM THAT ACTUALLY,
THE KIND OF SORT OF ETHOS THAT
IS INFORMED BY THE KORAN.
A VERSE IN THE KORAN, A COUPLE
OF VERSES.
ACTUALLY FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO
WANT TO FIND OUT, ON CHAPTER
FIVE, FIVE, VERSE 32 IT SAYS,
WHOEVER KILLED A HUMAN BEING
SHALL BE LOOKED UPON AS THOUGH
HE HAD KILLED ALL MANKIND OR
HUMANKIND.
WHOEVER SAVED A HUMAN LIFE
SHALL BE REGARDED AS THOUGH HE
HAD SAVED ALL, MANKIND.
THIS IS A, SAYING THAT YOU ARE,
YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH, YOU,
YOU'LL ALSO SEE IT IN THE BIBLE
BUT THIS IS ALSO A PRINCIPLE, A
KORANIC PRINCIPLE, THE
PRINCIPLE FOR ALL MUSLIMS THAT
YOU RESPECT OTHER HUMAN BEINGS
BECAUSE OTHER HUMAN BEINGS ARE
CHILDREN OF ADAM CREATED BY GOD
AND CREATED, AND, AND AGAIN
WITHIN THE BIBLICAL LITERATURE
THAT ISLAM IS AN IMPORTANT PART
OF THAT BIBLICAL.
IN A SENSE BIBLICAL LITERATURE
IS ESSENTIAL COMPONENT OF THE
KORAN AND MUSLIMS UNDERSTANDING
OF, OF THE KORAN CANNOT BE
INDEPENDENT FROM THE BIBLICAL
LITERATURE, IN WHICH MUSLIMS
AND, AND THE KORAN VIEWS MAN AS
THE NOBLEST OF, OF BEINGS.
AS THE KORAN SAYS WE CREATED
MAN IN A MOST NOBLE IMAGE.
THAT IS IN THE IMAGE OF GOD.
AND THEN HUMAN BEINGS IN THE
KORAN ARE REFERRED TO AS...

[Speaking Arabic]

He continues DEPUTIES OF GOD ON EARTH.
SO IN A SENSE AGAIN, REGARDLESS
OF WHO YOU ARE, YOUR ETHNICITY,
YOUR RELIGIOSITY, YOUR
POLITICAL BELONGING, YOUR
REGIONAL BELONGING, YOU ARE ALL
VIEWED AS DEPUTIES OF GOD.
THESE ARE THE KIND OF THINGS OF
COURSE THAT, THAT MUSLIM
FUNDAMENTALISTS SUPPRESS.
AND
THE MEDIA THAT SORT OF FOCUSES
ON THIS COMBATANT ISLAM SORT OF
ALSO DOESN'T TALK ABOUT.
SO, WHEN ONE LOOKS AT ISLAM
PRACTICED HISTORICALLY...
YOU
SEE THAT WHAT, WHAT REALLY HAS
SHAPED ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION AND
ISLAMIC, SORT OF CLASSICAL
ISLAMIC LITERATURE IS GROUNDED
ON THESE CONCEPTS OF TOLERANCE.
WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE ISLAMIC
SPAIN, LOOK AT THE OTTOMAN
EMPIRE, LOOK AT THE MOGUL
EMPIRE IN INDIA OR THE...
EMPIRE IN IRAN.
THEY ARE OFTEN KNOW, OR KNOWN
FOR THEIR TOLERANCE OF NON-
MUSLIMS AND CREATING A KIND OF
POLITY, THIS IS AT THE TIME
THAT EUROPE WAS INVOLVED IN
DEEP RELIGIOUS WARFARES.
THAT THE KIND OF POLITY THAT
ALLOWED FOR THE COEXISTENCE OF
PEOPLES OF VARIOUS RELIGIOUS
POSITIONS.
FOR EXAMPLE IN, IN MEDIEVAL
INDIA A RULER WITH THE NAME OF
AKBAR TRIED TO CREATE WHAT HE
REFERRED TO AS DIVINE RELIGION.
AND I, I, I EXPLAINED TO YOU
THAT THIS NOTION OF DIVINE
RELIGION REALLY IS A PRINCIPLE
THAT IS GROUNDED ON THIS
UNIVERSALIST ISLAM.
A KIND OF POLITY THAT ALLOWED
FOR MEANINGFUL INTERACTION
AMONGST PEOPLES OF VARIOUS
FAITHS.
SO IN A SENSE AGAIN, THE KIND
OF COMBATANT ISLAM, JIHADIST
ISLAM THAT WE KNOW ARE MORE
PRODUCTS OF THE 20TH CENTURY
AND THE 20TH CENTURY POLITICAL
CULTURE THEN THAT OF ISLAM,
ISLAM OF YOU KNOW CLASSICAL
ISLAM.
I WANT TO BRING TO YOUR
ATTENTION A NUMBER OF VERSES IN
THE KORAN THAT REALLY EXPRESS
THIS KIND OF YOU KNOW
UNIVERSALISM AND
MULTICONFESSIONALISM.
AND THEN I WANT TO EXPLAIN THE,
THE FOUNDATION OF WHAT, WHAT IS
THE VERY FOUNDATION FOR THIS
KIND OF UNDERSTANDING?
ONE, THIS IS THE, THE CHAPTER
TWO, VERSE 177 OF THE KORAN
SAYS, RIGHTEOUSNESS DOES NOT
CONSIST IN WHETHER YOU FACE
TOWARD THE EAST OR THE WEST.
THE RIGHTEOUS MAN IS HE WHO
GIVES HIS WEALTH TO HIS
KINSFOLK, TO ORPHANS, TO THE
DESTITUTE, TO THE TRAVELLERS
AND FOR THE REDEMPTION OF THE
CAPTIVES WHO ATTENDS TO HIS
PRAYER AND RENDERS THE ALMS
LEVY.
WHO IS TRUE TO HIS PROMISES AND
IS STEAD, STEADFAST IN TRIAL
AND ADVERSITY AT THE TIME OF
WAR.
HERE THE KEY QUESTION AGAIN IS,
RIGHTEOUSNESS DOES NOT BELONG,
IS, IS NOT DETERMINED WHETHER
YOU, YOU PRAY TOWARD THE EAST,
TO THE WEST.
YOU'RE A MUSLIM, CHRISTIAN OR
OTHER RELIGIOUS, HAVE OTHER
RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION IS IN A
SENSE DETERMINED BY YOUR
KINDNESS TOWARD OTHER HUMAN
BEING.
WHETHER YOU CARE ABOUT OTHER
HUMAN BEINGS.
AND IT IS THIS PRINCIPLE THAT
OFTEN SORT OF REALLY CREATED,
IT, IT, IT HAD BECOME RATHER
ATTRACTIVE IN THE 20TH CENTURY
BECAUSE OF OTHER PEOPLE VIEW,
HAVE COME TO VIEW ISLAM AS A
SORT OF WELFARE RELIGION,
BECAUSE IT'S A RELIGION THAT,
THAT PROMOTES AND ENCOURAGES
CARE FOR OTHERS.
AND, AND, AND ONE REASON THAT
ISLAM HAS BECOME A POTENT
POLITICAL IDEOLOGY IS BECAUSE
OF THIS EMPHASIS ON, ON SOCIAL
WELFARE.
AND ISLAMISTS AND ISLAMIST
POLITICAL GROUPS USE THAT AS A
WAY OF PRESENTING THEMSELVES AS
AN ALTERNATIVE TO VALUES OTHER
POLITICAL IDEOLOGIES.
SO, SO IN A SENSE THIS NOTION
OF, OF KINDNESS TOWARDS OTHERS,
CARE FOR OTHERS, AND, AND
HELPING OTHER HUMAN BEINGS IS
WHAT REALLY ACTUALLY IN THE
20TH CENTURY HAS MADE ISLAM A
POLITICAL FORCE.
BUT ALSO GOING BACK TO OTHER
VERSES IN THE KORAN YOU SEE
THAT MUSLIMS, JEWS, CHRISTIANS
AND PEOPLES OF OTHER RELIGIONS
ARE CONCEPTUALIZED AS BELONGING
TO ONE ENTITY.
THEY ARE ALL BELIEVERS.
THEY ARE ACTUALLY IN THE, IN
THE DEEP SENSE THEY ARE ALL
MUSLIMS BECAUSE IN THE KORANIC
SENSE OF MUSLIM AS ISLAM, ONE
WHO SUBMITS, ONE WHO SUBMITS TO
THE WILL OF GOD.
ONE WHO BELIEVES IN GOD AND
TRIES TO CREATE A, A SORT OF
LIFE THAT IS IN THE IMAGE OF
GOD IN THAT SENSE, JEWS,
CHRISTIANS AND PEOPLE OF OTHER
RELIGIONS ARE CONTINUING THE
SAME CYCLE OF REVELATION.
AGAIN, I'LL, I'LL BE TALKING
ABOUT WHAT REALLY SHAPES, WHAT
IS THE PRINCIPLE FOUNDATION FOR
THIS.
LET ME CITE A VERSE AND THIS IS
VERSE, CHAPTER TWO, VERSE 136.
IT SAYS SAY WE BELIEVE IN GOD
AND THAT WHICH IS REVEALED TO
US, IN WHAT WAS REVEALED TO
ABRAHAM, ISHMAEL, ISAAC, JACOB
AND THE TRIBES TO MOSES AND
JESUS AND THE OTHER PROPHETS BY
THE LORD.
WE MAKE NO DISTINCTION AMONGST
ANY OF THEM AND TO GOD WE HAVE
SURRENDERED OURSELVES.
SURRENDERED OURSELVES MEANS
MUSLIM.
YEAH, SURRENDERED OURSELVES,
MUSLIM MOON.
SO IN A SENSE, ABRAHAM, ISAAC,
JACOB, MOSES, JESUS, IN THE
KORANIC SENSE THEY ARE ALL
MUSLIMS BECAUSE THEY HAVE
SUBMITTED TO THE WILL OF GOD.
SO IN A SENSE YOU HAVE TWO
CONCEPTIONS OF ISLAM.
ONE CONCEPTION OF ISLAM IS THAT
THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN, IN ALLAH,
IN MOHAMMAD AND IN THE KORAN.
THE OTHER ONE IS THAT MUSLIMS
ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN GOD
AND GOD'S REVELATION IN ITS
MULTIPLE FORMS, AND IN THE
PROPHETS OF GOD WHO HAVE COME
THROUGH AGES AT DIFFERENT
HISTORICAL TIMES.
SO IN A SENSE THAT UNIVERSAL
ISLAM IS THIS NOTION OF MUSLIM
THAT INCLUDES ALL BELIEVERS,
REGARDLESS OF WHICH
DENOMINATION OR RELIGIOUS GROUP
OR SECT THEY BELONG TO.
ANOTHER VERSE OF THE KORAN
LIKEWISE REPEATS THIS.
WHO BUT A FOOLISH MAN WOULD
RENOUNCE THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM?
WE CHOSE HIM IN THIS WORLD AND
IN THE WORLD TO COME HE SHALL
ABIDE AMONGST THE RIGHTEOUS.
WHEN HIS LORD SAID TO HIM
SUBMIT ASLAM, HE ANSWERED I
HAVE SUBMITTED.
ASLAMCO TO THE LORD OF THE UNIVERSE.
AGAIN, THE KEY THING HERE IS
THAT ISLAM IN, IN, IN THE KORAN
ABRAHAM IS VIEWED AS A MUSLIM.
AND MUSLIMS VIEW THEMSELVES AS
THE CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM.
SO
IN A SENSE WE OFTEN THINK OF
JUDEO-CHRISTIAN TRADITION, BUT
MUSLIMS VIEW THEMSELVES AS PART
OF JUDEO-CHRISTIAN, ISLAMIC
CIVILIZATIONS, CULTURES AND
RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS.
AGAIN ANOTHER VERSE THAT MAKES
THE SAME POINT, BUT I'M
BRINGING THESE OUT TO YOUR
ATTENTION BECAUSE THESE, ARE
THE KIND OF CONNECTIONS THAT
ARE USUALLY FORGOTTEN,
SUPPRESSED, AND ONE DOESN'T
HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION TO.
AGAIN, THIS IS FROM CHAPTER
FIVE, VERSE 69 OF THE KORAN
SAYS BELIEVERS, JEWS, SABIANS
AND CHRISTIANS, WHOEVER
BELIEVES IN GOD AND THE LAST
DAY AND DOES WHAT IS RIGHT WE
HAVE, SHALL HAVE NOTHING TO
FEAR OR TO REGRET.
HEAVEN BELONGS TO ALL.
IT'S NOT JUST ASSIGNED TO
MUSLIMS.
AND, AND THIS IS THE KIND OF
THING THAT YOU MAY OFTEN HEAR
FROM SORT OF A, A ISLAM,
MUSLIMS WHO REALLY HAVE LIMITED
UNDERSTANDING OF ISLAM.
JUST ANOTHER VERSE TO CITE FOR
YOU, UM, AGAIN FROM KORAN,
CHAPTER FIVE, VERSE EIGHT SAYS,
DO NOT ALLOW YOUR HATRED FOR
OTHER MEN TO TURN YOU AWAY FROM
JUSTICE.
YOU KNOW THIS IS THE KIND OF,
THIS IS AN ESSENTIAL PRINCIPLE,
A, A HUMANIST PRINCIPLE.
A KIND OF, SORT OF PRINCIPLE
THAT GUIDES BELIEVING MUSLIMS,
EVERY DAY MUSLIMS, RATHER THEN
THE KIND OF HYPER, POLITICIZED
NOTION OF ISLAM, THEN YOU HAVE
THOSE KIND OF HYPER,
POLITICIZED RELIGIONS,
RELIGIOSITY, ALSO IN HINDUISM,
IN CHRISTIANITY AND IN JUDAISM
AND IN MANY OTHER RELIGIONS.
AND OFTEN WE DO RECOGNIZE THAT
THEY ARE THESE HYPER, POLITICAL
CHRISTIANS, HYPER, POLITICAL
HINDUS AND HYPER, POLITICAL
SORT OF JEWS.
AND WE DO NOT, WE HAVE LEARNED
BECAUSE OF THE EXPERIENCES OF
THE 20TH CENTURY NOT TO LUMP
PEOPLE ALL UNDER ONE LABEL, ONE
CATEGORY.
UNFORTUNATELY IN PART IT HAS TO
DO WITH THIS SORT OF, WITH SOME
MUSLIMS THEMSELVES.
THAT PEOPLE HAVE DEVELOPED THIS
SORT OF CONCEPTION THAT MUSLIMS
ARE INTOLERANT, THEY'RE
FUNDAMENTALIST.
THEY ARE SORT OF PURITANICAL IN
THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF, OF
RELIGION.
AND THEY, THEIR MODE OF
THINKING ABOUT RELIGION IS
RADICALLY DIFFERENT FROM
PARTICULARLY THE JUDEO-
CHRISTIAN TRADITION.
MY ARGUMENT IS THAT THIS
UNDERSTANDING, THAT IS NOT JUST
THE MEDIA, CREATION OF WESTERN
MEDIA, IT IS ALSO SOMETHING
THAT IS PORTRAYED BY PEOPLE
LIKE BIN LADEN AND HIS
FOLLOWERS, BECAUSE THEY SORT OF
POLITICIZE, THEY, THEY, THEY
CAPITALIZE ON THIS CONCEPTION
OF ISLAM THAT IS REALLY VERY
NEW AND, AND IF TIME ALLOWS I
WILL TALK ABOUT THIS A LITTLE
BIT.
NOW, I EXPRESSED THIS
CONNECTION BETWEEN ABRAHAM AND
ABRAHAMIC RELIGIONS, AND, AND
OTHER RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS AND
HOW THEY ALL CONSTITUTE A
DIVINE, PART OF THE DIVINE
PLAN, DIVINE REVELATION.
IN THE KORAN THERE IS A KEY
CONCEPT AND THIS KEY CONCEPT IS
OMERTICOP, THE MOTHER BOOK.
THE ARGUMENT IN THE KORAN IS
THAT ALL DIVINE REVELATIONS
FROM THE EARLIEST TO THE
LATEST, ARE BASED, WERE BASED
ON THE, ON THE MOTHER BOOK,
OMERTICOP, OR THE BOOK, BOOK OF
TRUTH THAT IS HELD IN HEAVEN.
IT IS THIS HEAVENLY TEXT,
DIVINE TEXT THAT HAS MANIFESTED
ITSELF IN THE FORM OF VARIOUS
DIVINE TEXTS THROUGH TIME.
SO AT ONE IT WAS THE OLD
TESTAMENT, NEW TESTAMENT, YOU
KNOW THE AND, AND THEN LATER
KORAN AND OTHER RELIGIOUS
TRADITION.
SO ALL ARE PART OF THIS
OMERTICOP, MANIFESTED,
EXPRESSED IN DIFFERENT
HISTORICAL TIMES, IN DIFFERENT
LANGUAGES, FOR DIFFERENT
PROBLEMS AND DIFFERENT PEOPLES.
SO IF ONE UNDERSTANDS THIS KEY
PRINCIPLE THAT ALL REVELATIONS
ARE PART OF THIS OM, SORT OF
GROUNDED IN THIS OMER-
OMERTICOP, THIS HEAVENLY TEXT,
HEAVENLY TAB, TABLET, AND
REVEALED THROUGH TIME,
UNDERSTANDING THAT ISLAM IS
PART OF THIS DIVINE PLAN OR
DIVINE REVELATION, UNFOLDING OF
REVELATION THROUGH, THROUGH
TIME THEN ONE COMES OUT WITH A
DIFFERENT UNDERSTANDING.
THAT JEWS, CHRISTIANS, HINDUS,
ZOROASTRIANS, MUSLIMS ARE ALL
PART OF ONE PLAN.
AND
ACTUALLY IT IS THIS DESIGN,
THIS UNDERSTANDING OF DIVINITY
AS I, I EXPRESSED BECAME
PREDOMINANT IN THE 16TH
CENTURY.
INDIA AND RULERS LIKE AKBAR
DEVISED WHAT, WHAT WAS CALLED
DIVINE RELIGION...
[Speaking Arabic]
AND
WOULD BRING FOR THE FIRST TIME
PEOPLES FROM VARIOUS, RELIGIOUS
TRADITIONS AND HAVE VERY CIVIL
SORT OF DISCOURSE, DIALOGUE.
AND, AND IT WAS THE INITIATION
OF, THE BEGINNING OF DIALOGUE
OF RELIGIONS.
A KIND OF DIALOGUE THAT WE ARE
THE SEEKING AT THE MOMENT OF
CRISIS, THIS WAS A PRODUCT OF
A, A 16TH CENTURY ISLAM.
GOING BACK, REVERSING WHAT I
SAID EARLIER THAT SAYING THAT
ALL DIVINE RELIGIONS, ALL
BELIEVES IN GOD, ALL SORT OF
MONOTHEISTS ARE MUSLIM.
THEN THE OTHER PART OF IT IS
THAT A MUSLIM MUST BE ABLE TO
UNDERSTAND GOD FROM THE POINT
OF VIEW AND, AND REALLY
COMPREHEND GOD FROM THE POINT
OF VIEW OF JEWS, CHRISTIANS,
ZOROASTRIANS, HINDUS AND
PEOPLES OF OTHER RELIGIOUS
TRADITIONS.
AND, AND THIS IS THE CONCEPT
THAT A NUMBER OF MEDIEVAL
ISLAMIC PHILOSOPHERS HAVE
DEVELOPED, IN ITS FULL EXTENT
IN A KIND OF, THE CONCEPT OF
UNITY OF GOD AND MANIFESTATION
OF, OF GOD, AND, AND DIVINE
EXISTENCE.
AND YOU SEE THAT IN THE POETRY
OF AS I NOTED EARLIER, SEYYED
RAZI BUT ALSO RUMI, THAT HAS
BECOME ACTUALLY RATHER POPULAR
THESE DAYS.
AND PART OF IT IS AND, AND
POPULARITY OF RUMI, THIS
MEDIEVAL AGAIN PERSIAN, MUSLIM
POET, IS BECAUSE THE MESSAGE IS
NOT SECTARIAN.
THE MESSAGE OF ISLAM HAS BEEN
HISTORICALLY UNIVERSAL,
FOCUSING ON HUMANITY AS A
WHOLE, KINDNESS TOWARDS
HUMANITY, RATHER THEN TURNING
ISLAM INTO A POLITICAL IDEOLOGY
THAT HAS BEEN USED, UNDENIABLY
IN THE 20TH CENTURY, IN THE
LATER PART OF THE 20TH CENTURY.
AND A KIND OF MILITANT ISLAM OR
A KIND OF SORT OF WHAT AS I
REFER TO AS FRONTLINE ISLAM
THAT HAS COME, EMERGED IN THE
EARLY PART OF THE 21ST CENTURY.
IF ONE UNDERSTANDS ISLAMIC,
HISTORY, ISLAMIC LITERATURE,
ISLAMIC PHILOSOPHY, IN ITS
DEPTH AND ITS, ITS HISTORICAL
DEVELOPMENT, ACTUALLY
IMMEDIATELY RECOGNIZES THAT
THIS KIND OF ISLAM THAT
PRESENTS ITSELF AS A TRUE ISLAM
HAS NOTHING IN COMMON WITH THE
TRADITIONAL, CONVENTIONAL AND
EVERY DAY, ISLAM.
LET'S FOCUS ON ISLAMIC
MYSTICISM.
ONE OF THE KEY IDEAS IN ISLAMIC
MYSTICISM IS THE UNITY WITH THE
BELOVED.
IN ORDER TO BECOME UNITED WITH
THE BELOVED YOU HAVE TO
OBLITERATE YOURSELF.
YOU HAVE TO RECREATE YOURSELF
IN THE IMAGE OF THE OTHER SO
THAT YOU BECOME UNITED.
SO HIGH, THE HIGHEST ACHIEVMENT
FOR A MUSLIM MYSTIC WOULD BE
OBLITERATION OF THE EGO
CENTERED SELF, IN ORDER TO
BECOME UNITED WITH THE OTHER.
THE OTHER COULD BE GOD.
THE OTHER COULD BE BELOVED.
YOU, THE OTHER COULD BE A WHOLE
LOT OF OTHER, OTHER, OTHER
THINGS AND, AND BEINGS.
AND THUS IN A SENSE ONE COULD
SAY THAT THE SPIRITUAL MESSAGE
OF ISLAM HAS BEEN BECOMING THE
OTHER, RATHER THEN NEGATING THE
OTHER.
OBLITERATE THE SELF IN ORDER TO
BECOME UNITED WITH THE OTHER.
NOW IF YOU LOOK AT THE SORT OF
THE INTOLERANT ISLAM THAT IS
PORTRAYED IN, HAS BECOME
DOMINANT IN LATE 20TH CENTURY
AND EARLY 21ST CENTURY,
ACTUALLY THEIR FOCUS IS ON
OBLITERATION OF THE OTHER.
AND, AND, AND YOU SEE IT IN THE
KIND OF DECLARATIONS THAT BIN
LADEN AND HIS ASSOCIATES HAVE
BEEN ISSUING IS THAT THEY
CONSTITUTE MUSLIMS, JEWS AND
OTHERS AS THEIR ENEMY.
AS ENEMY THAT HAS TO BE
OBLITERATED.
WELL, IN HISTORICAL ISLAM, IN
CONVENTIONAL ISLAM, IN THE
EVERY DAY ISLAM YOU'RE
ENCOURAGED TO RESPECT THE
OTHER.
YOU BECOME LIKE THE OTHER AND
BE HOSPITABLE AND BE MERCIFUL
AND COMPASSIONATE LIKE, LIKE
GOD.
AS, AS YOU RECALL AGAIN IN THE
PRAYER OF INITIATION EVERY STEP
THAT MUSLIMS TAKE IN THEIR
EVERY DAY LIFE, THEY SAY IN THE
NAME OF GOD, THE COMPASSIONATE
AND MERCIFUL.
AND HISTORICAL ISLAM, ISLAM HAS
BEEN SORT OF EXERCISED THROUGH
TIME HAS MORE TO DO WITH THIS
TYPE OF PRACTICE RATHER THEN
THE KIND OF INTOLERANT ISLAM
THAT HAS BECOME PREVALENT IN
THE RECENT YEARS.
NOW, OFTEN ISLAM MUSLIMS ARE
ALSO IDENTIFIED WITH
INTOLERANCE.
AND I JUST WANT TO GIVE YOU A
COUPLE OF EXAMPLES OF HOW THIS
ISLAMIC TRADITION IS REALLY,
HIGHLY DIVERSE.
AND, AND OFTEN OF COURSE THERE
HAVE BEEN HISTORICALLY VERY
LITERALIST, INTERPRETATION OF
ISLAM, BUT THEY HAVE BEEN
HIGHLY SUBVERSIVE AND THE
CONSTRUCTIONIST CONCEPTION OF
ISLAM BY LEADING PHILOSOPHERS,
BY LEADING SORT OF THEOLGIANS
OF ISLAM.
FOR EXAMPLE, TAKE THE NOTION...
[Speaking in Arabic]
THERE IS NO GOD BUT GOD.
THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE
PROFESSION OF FAITH.
TO BE A MONOTHEIST YOU HAVE TO
SAY THERE NO GOD BUT GOD.
NOW THE MUSLIM PHILOSOPHERS
ARGUED THAT ACTUALLY SAYING,
JUST SAYING THAT...
[Speaking in Arabic]
THERE IS NO GOD BUT GOD, YOU
DON'T BECOME A MUSLIM BECAUSE
YOU REALLY DON'T UNDERSTAND
THIS.
TO BECOME A TRUE MUSLIM THEY
ARGUE, SAY THAT YOU HAVE TO
EXPERIENCE...
[Speaking in Arabic]
AND HOW DO YOU EXPERIENCE IT?
YOU TURN IT INTO MOMENTS OF
EXPERIENCE.
FIRST YOU EXPERIENCE THE REALM
OF...
[Speaking in Arabic]
THERE IS NO GOD.
AND IT'S THE BEWILDERMENT THAT
YOU EXPERIENCE BY NOT BELIEVING
THAT MAY CREATE THE PATH FOR
YOU TO ENTER THE NEXT STAGE,
BUT GOD.
[Speaking in Arabic]
SO IN A SENSE UM, THE ISLAMIC
PROFESSION OF FAITH THAT ALL
MUSLIMS TAKE AS THE KEY CONCEPT
OF ISLAM, BY MUSLIM
PHILOSOPHERS, MUSLIM
THEOLOGIANS THROUGH TIME HAS
BEEN ALSO INTERPRETED IN THIS
WAY.
THAT WE CANNOT, THE VERY
PRINCIPLE OF FAITH IS TURNED
AROUND, DECONSTRUCTED AND
TURNED AGAINST IT SELF.
IT'S NOT A SIMPLE FORMULA.
AND, AND IT'S BECAUSE OF THESE
THAT YOU KNOW THERE, THERE ARE
VARIOUS INTERPRETATIONS OF
KORAN, OF KORANIC HERMENEUTICS
AND SAYING THAT WHAT APPEARS IS
NOT JUST, THE FACE IS NOT
SUFFICIENT, YOU HAVE TO DELVE
DEEPER AND OFTEN YOU KNOW LIKE
THE, THE, THE CASE THAT I
EXPLAINED...
[Speaking in Arabic]
THERE ARE, VARIOUS OTHER LAYERS.
SO IN A SENSE TO BECOME A TRUE
MUSLIM YOU HAVE TO REALLY LIVE
IN THE REALM OF NO GOD TO
UNDERSTAND GOD.
NOW ANOTHER IDEA OF THAT IS
GROUNDED, KEY IDEA...
THAT, THAT GROUNDS THIS ISLAMIC
UNIVERSALISM AND
MULTICULTURALISM IS, IS THE
CONCEPT OF...
[Speaking in Arabic]
UNITY OF BEING, THAT A UNIFIED
SORT OF LORD HAS CREATED THE
WORLD IN HER OR HIS IMAGE AND
WHAT YOU SEE THROUGH TIME IN,
IN FORMS OF VARIOUS RELIGIONS
ARE MANIFESTATION OF GOD.
AND A NUMBER OF ISLAMIC
MYSTICS, MUSLIM MYSTICS AND
PHILOSOPHERS HAVE USED THAT TO
REALLY CONCEPTUALIZE SOMETHING
UNIQUE.
SOMETHING THAT OUR TIME REALLY
NEEDS IT AND WE NEED TO RECOVER
IT.
AND THAT IS IF WE COME TO
CONSIDER AND IN A SENSE
ADDRESSING MUSLIMS, ISLAM AS
THE FINAL REVELATION AS GOD'S
LAST REVELATION, THEN MUSLIMS
MUST BY DEFINITION BE ABLE TO
UNDERSTAND GOD FROM THE POINT
OF VIEW OF JEWS, CHRISTIANS,
ZOROASTRIANS AND HINDUS.
AND A TOTALITY OF ISLAM IS A
KIND OF ISLAM AND A KIND OF
MUSLIM THAT HAS THE ABILITY OF
COMPRE-COMPREHENDING GOD AND
DIVINE REVELATION THROUGH THESE
DIFFERENT MANIFESTATIONS.

Watch: Mohamad Tavakoli:Islamic Universalism & Multiconfessionalism