Cultural Activity Forums
Sponsored by The Human Foundation with the Collaboration of The Egyptian Society for Spiritual and Cultural ResearchTranslated by Dalia Hakim
Introducing the forums:
Those who restrict the Right to what they perceive are not Right. (Master Rafea Mohamed Rafea in his Reflections)
Within the confusions that prevail everywhere in the world about religions and violence, there emerged the need to conduct forums with an integrated subject and a clear methodology at the cultural activity of the Egyptian Society for Spiritual and Cultural Research ESSCR, in association with the Human Foundation HF . This aims at spreading the culture of self introspection, and the ability to build bridges with others through dialogues. These forums opt to train the attendees to rethink of all premises that might imprison the ability to think freely; hence it hinders the path to reach spiritual freedom. The main reference of these cultural forums was the book "Islam from Adam to Muhammad and Beyond". (Also published under the name: The Book of Essential Islam: Spiritual Training System of Islam)
In these blogs, I tackle the main issues which were handled in these forums. I wanted to make sure that each blog relates to the previous ones and prepares the readers to the second. This is done – I hope – in systematic, cohesive and integrated manner.
Although these forums were based on the mentioned above book, they tackled the same issues from different perspectives, and opened the way for the attendees to share in the discussion, and to present their reflections as to clarify the vision even more.
The main objective is to lay the foundation of the message of peace and love that aimed to gather all humans on a common ground for the goodness of humanity. For this reason, Islam was introduced as a road for peace with oneself, all humans, and with nature. Because Islam in the core is a complete submission to Allah The Ever-Exalted, The Omnipotent, humans in their complete surrender to Allah, turn to be a tool of goodness and love here on earth. We pray that the whole world gets aware to the fact that there is only one religion and one law of life (one path that manifested and still manifesting in diverse ways), and that it doesn't stick to a transient fanaticism, and that the main aim is Allah’s sake. The world should learn to address everybody through dialogue, not the language of aggression and predominance, and to search for a common ground.
There are many roads to be taken to reach this goal. In these forums we have chosen to present Islam as a message for peace, and love, where we receive the Qur’an verses through our hearts; we do not interpret texts, rather we contemplate, think and rethink and build a dialogue that revolves around these holy verses and that great Revelation.
We do no not provide a one-sided view that we force on others. We rather present a type of contemplation that springs from believing that peace is the message of all revelations throughout ages, and that peace is never achieved except when humans reach self reconciliation , thus they harmonize with nature and respect it, as well as with their human brothers and sisters. All should compete for the sake of goodness. Such self reconciliation springs from human’s ability to perceive their main aim of their existence and of their creation. As we read in Qur’an, Allah blew His Holy Spirit in Adam, and took from him and his children the pledge to recognize their Creator, and not to be oblivious of this knowledge that He bestowed on them. We believe that human beings everywhere are endowed with the capability to reveal this hidden message embedded in their hearts.
Such revelation can never be indoctrinated or taught, but is rather earned by all humans through experience if they are really honest in striving to know the truth about themselves. Just then, they receive blessings and lights of the Holy Revelation to illuminate their minds and hearts. Humans may get to know what they would have never imagined to be able to know.
Hence, our methodology is “Silence”, “Listening”, and “Receiving”, which requires preparation with supplication and prayers. Our methodology is to listen to the bestowal of the Holy Qur’an to the heart of each of us, and to exchange the lights that the Qur’an has provided for each of us. We have to realize that the more we are filled with reverence, silence, listening, and receiving, the more the energy of bestowal spreads. It is really a Holy Qur’an that never stops giving whenever we ask Allah to teach and guide us.
Our methodology is never to dare Qur’an and say, “It says”, but to enter its gate prostrating with reverence and say, “We have opened our hearts, hence, this understanding was Allah’s bestowal to us; we ask Allah for more, and we ask for His forgiveness if we misunderstand, and we seek His mercy to know what we never knew”.
Our methodology is to exchange views and respect each others’. We do not aim to set a right view versus wrong one, but to understand different views and respect them and attempt to reach higher level of understanding. Our methodology is to open our hearts for each other and to listen to each other, thus learning from each other.
Our innate tendency has dictated that we realize that Allah’s comprehensive mercy is never restricted to a nation to make them better than another. Thus, His guidance reaches all people everywhere, which makes us believe that there is only one religion revealed with various cultural languages east and west, north and south, known and unknown. Some of these languages were older than the Abraham’s religions, and some of them were revealed from the conscience of the great human masters inspired by Allah.
The main question is: is there any rooting to this innate approach and this view in Islamic teachings? These blogs are responding to this question.
Those who have been following the cultural and spiritual activities of the ESSCR have been convinced that the spiritual experience transcends cultures and religions, and have a power of its own. There remains the question how can this knowledge reconcile with the Islamic teachings as revealed in Qur’an and Sunna.
This question imposed a duty, which brings these forums as to respond to this inquiry. Although these forums addressed the audience of the Egyptian Society for Spiritual and Cultural Research, they actually target a wider population and coincide with the mission of The Human Foundation as to cultivate religious cultural awareness. The Human Foundation plans to fulfill this mission through The Oneness of Humanity Project which includes among other things enabling a safe environment within Egypt through cultural forums. In order to contribute to this end, we need humans who are in peace within themselves, so that they can spread peace around where everyone contributes to improve the quality of life for all beings.
For this reason, these forums address this view in the message of Islam revealed to us and in the biography of the Prophet (PBUH) that expresses his message. However, we had to discuss critically the different views that have divided religions and messages into true and false and that which claimed that people must follow one literal path and one specific ritual, or else they get lost.
Hence the cultural objectives of those forums crystallized as follows:
1- Training to read the Holy verses of Qur'an, contemplating its meaning and open our heart as to maximize our capability to receive the blessings of the Holy Guidance.
2- Studying the relation between Islam as revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) and the previous messages.
3- Considering the interrelations among the main concepts that form the base of Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) message.
4- Tackling the concept of da'wa (inviting people to Islam) and the problems it raises.
5- Discussing the relation between Sharia and the social order.
6- Linking between the previous pivots methodologically.
7- Enriching the ideas introduced in the book with other original resources.
8- Experiencing the spiritual power of the verses and get inspired by revealing some of their connotations.
9- Earning skills of dialoguing with those of different opinion and views.
Issues to be Tackled during Seminars
Because the core issues discussed in these forums are deeper that might appear to be, they should be examined thoroughly, as not to avoid reductionism. Therefore we chose to get into deep discussions around some of those critical issues, where we prepare ourselves to be ready to welcome various opinions and views, and try to resolve contradictions and differences. The following are some of these issues:
The difference between the unity of religions and the oneness of religion- spiritual trainings- integrated spiritual methodology- the methodology of reading texts between absolute fanaticism versus interpretations that ignore the common meaning of words - human unity- pantheisms - monotheism, heavenly message versus earthly messages- primordial nature- messengers and mission - wisdom- The Wise- Human Masters-- Philosophy and Religion- Sharia and Truth- Jihad- societal organization- paradox between meaning and form- human experiences and revelation- internal awareness and derivative desires - worships and spiritual trainings, and more.
Until the next blog