I am just about done with a book on The Arab World, its history by E. Rogan. I think that I am still in a bit of shock at the extent of the killings, selling each other out, massacres, environmental destruction or whatever goes with these; in the Arab world over the last few centuries. Some of these matters I can perhaps understand, but I cannot understand the killing of Muslims by Muslims all over this world because of the struggle for power and territory. I ask myself on so many occasions: Is this part of the nation of the Messenger (ﷺ)? Some of the atrocities committed against innocent people, even women and children, are best left to the pages of the book. Everything that Islam stands for, has been trampled under their feet by people who refer to themselves as part of the Islamic Ummah and even, my word, as Muslims.
Our first introduction to our Lord in the Qur’an is with the words Allah (ﷻ), the Most Merciful and the Most Beneficent. When hundreds of thousands of people are massacred in the most horrendous way by brother Muslims, what has happened to the words of the Basmallah? The first Name of our Lord that we learn about is the Name “Allah”, which encompasses all His other Names, and then two of the Names that have to do with mercy. I read the book, page after page, going through atrocity after atrocity, massacre after massacre, rape after rape; I ask myself: What has happened to us that after a few centuries of Islam there is almost nothing left of two of the most celebrated Names of our Lord?
On numerous occasions I scold in my letters about small things which you do or small things which go wrong. After reading the book, I expressed my gratitude to my Lord that I was born in Cape Town amongst people who exhibit decency and morality, because these characteristics have long gone out of the Arab world. I have read about the atrocities committed by the Nazis in the extermination of the Jews, and of the Germans in Namibia exterminating the Herero people, and other lesser exterminations on this continent. But I never thought that I would come across systematic horrendous extermination of Muslims by Muslims. I never thought so. The book has just increased my extreme disappointment in the Muslim part of humanity and the aberrations we still see today just increase the disappointment. The events in Syria, for example, are such horrendous events of what has been going on with this Ummah for centuries. What are we going to say to our Lord one day? How are we going to explain away what we commit against each other?
The events in this country during the last few decades do not have a patch on events in Syria, for example. In fact, if you want to be honest about these matters, then what happened here pales into insignificance when compared to what happened in Algeria, for example. I have always said that the night the swords and spears of Muslims entered the body of Sayyiduna Uthman (r.a.), the course of history in Islam changed. But I never thought that that changed course would be so bad. The struggle for power and territories are two of the most devastating actions in any history. In the Muslim World this struggle, aided and abetted by what is called the West, reached limits which are almost indescribable. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and so many more wounded in unbelievable massacres to keep or attain power, or to keep or attain territories.
Today there is a sense of relief in me that I acquired an understanding of Islam that is so different from what I read about in The Arab World. If I look at us in Tariqah, I am now convinced more than ever that we should find our destiny in those Tariqahs in which people reach out to their Lord, and try to let their lives be governed by teachings of Islam which embrace mercy and beneficence. In Tariqahs, the brotherhood or sisterhood of human beings is of the realities that we experience in our relationship with our Creator. This brotherhood, not always very strong, has helped us to cut across all those divisions that separate human beings from each other. And so, under the banner of mercy, of love and of their very similar characteristics, we embrace each other. Mercy, love and similar characteristics and embracing each other, have long ago been taken out of the hearts of the Muslims in the world in which they live. Everything that the Qur’an and the Sunnah teach, have quietly disappeared from the discourses prevalent amongst Muslims and replaced by a destruction of each other that the Companions of the Prophet (r.a.) would not even have dreamt of. The banner of enlightenment which this Prophet passed on to them has been trampled under the feet of later generations in their struggle for political power. I do not think that there is anything left anymore in the Muslim world of those characteristics that bring about the blossoming of the personalities of people. I don’t think there is anything left anymore. In many cases we have become like our enemies who teach us how to behave and also provide us with weapons to kill each other.
The rulers of Syria, like the Wahabis previous to them, are all inheritors of the perpetrators of violence against Muslims. Like those from previous generations, they slaughter and massacre people at will with no respect for human life, age or gender. These are the people that the Muslim world is sitting with today. Most of us who accepted the Wahabi discourse, for example, inherit from a discourse born in and fed on violence. They say that they have done this to purify Islam.
I do not know what to say anymore about the nation to which we belong. I am deeply grateful to our Lord for putting me in Tariqah where my concern is Him and not political power, and where my concern is His work and not the work of my enemies. I do not know what many of us would have done without the shelter of Tariqah. To us Tariqah has given us the protection and religious sustenance that we need as human beings. It could so easily have been otherwise. Many of us who had come into Tariqah for such sustenance have now left to seek sustenance in a world described as a “carcass”. We ask our Lord for guidance, amin.
[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]