Wasalamalaikum. I have noticed that in mainstream “intellectual” circles, there is this deliberate tendency to substract Islam from works of Muslim artists especially when their creative endeavor reflects pure genius and grace. This is what has happened with the work of Jalal-ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi better known as Rumi, the world’s most read poet; in my eyes he represents the greatest exemple in this inclination to extract the religion and tradition of Islam from Muslim geniuses’ work. The authentic context of his profound poetry, which is Islam, has been extracted from most books on him translated/published in the West. Or he is simply labeled as a “Sufi” poet, excluding the whole Islamic culture and practice that shaped his life and work.
Since there is great fear around Islam itself it may be that for marketing purposes, it is convenient to “mask” Islamic artistry with other terms. Yet Sufism remains an expression of Islam regardless of the widespread aversion toward Islam which is also subtly fed by many scholars who are as rigid as the system they serve. Because Sufism has great appeal thanks to its excellent, profound artistic expressions, academics who want to profit from it, have managed to “separate” it from Islam as if to perpetuate the isolation of Islam from its own graceful reality which actually is animated since the beginning of the Creation and not since the 7th century as Eurocentric historians would have us believe. (please read “The Transcendence of Islam” for more details.)
This tendency to dissociate Islam from its truth is very dangerous because it deprives people of the opportunity to discover the Light of this universal Pathway, of its long prophetic chain from the first prophet Adam (as) all the way to the last one prophet Muhammad (saw). It also diverts people from the Holy Qur’an and the spiritual nobility of prophet Muhammad (saw), in truth there is no Sufism whatsoever without Islam/Surrender, its very shell.
“And withhold yourself with those who call on their Lord morning and evening desiring His goodwill, and let not your eyes pass from them, desiring the beauties of this world’s life; and do not follow him whose heart We have made unmindful to Our remembrance, and he follows his low desires and his case is one in which due bounds are exceeded.” (~18: 28 Holy Qur’an)
With the centuries-old, systemic attempt to demonize Islam and its followers, it is currently convenient to subtract the Islamic element from the works of Muslim geniuses whose divinely-infused arts have lit hearts all around the globe for hundreds of years. Even though the substance which has molded their creativity for centuries is completely omitted from the way big corporations present their works, it is important to remember that there is this dimension in us that pulsates with the Truth only so when it exteriorizes itself it is indeed to remain and to expand in spite of all human scheming.
copyrights 2007 Aida Toure