Lived religion is both altruistic and pluralistic (Mystic Mantra Column in Asian Age by Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi)

Word for Peace

Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi

The “great soul” of India, Mahatma Gandhi beautifully combined religion as mystical path with peace, pluralism and conflict resolution. His concern was to offer a model for religious observance that simultaneously creates tolerance. Mahatma’s concept of lived religion was both altruistic and pluralistic. Today, we need to examine it as a model for our contemporary societies bringing together people across the myriad faiths and traditions.

Fethullah Gulen, a contemporary Sufi who inspired the faith-based global movement, Hizmet (altruistic service to mankind) has rightly pointed out that “ideology tends to separate, while religion means enlightenment of the mind together with belief, contentment, tranquility of the heart, sensitivity in conscience and perception through the real experience”.

Throughout the human history, religion, as an ideology, has played havoc across the world, causing bloody wars, fanaticism, hatred and intolerance. But the very entity, when professed and practiced as a spiritual path to eternal salvation, contributed to great civilizations with a commitment to progression, peace and conflict resolution.

Thus, it cannot be denied that religion, as a mystic path, had large share in cultivating humane gestures-unconditional love, humility, interpersonal repentance and reconciliation. This is precisely why Sufi mystics attach more importance to the articulation of huquq-ul-ibad (rights of human beings over each other) than even huquq-ul-lah (God’s rights).

In fact, mystics in any religion do not belong to any particular creed or political ideology. They rather profess that all creeds, faiths and religions are different paths, which ultimately converge at the same goal. Gulen focuses on the very common ground for his Islam-based peace activism and interfaith dialogue. He believes that the goal of mysticism within the world faith traditions is not simply to destroy materialism. Rather, it is the dialogue of sprit and mind which is well-embedded in all religions. Therefore, he says: “As a Muslim, I accept all Prophets and Books sent to different peoples throughout history, and regard belief in them as an essential principle of being Muslim”. He further elucidates that, regardless of how a follower implements his/her faith in the daily life, there are, generally, believers who unanimously accept the universal values such as love, respect, forgiveness, mercy and freedom exalted by religion. “Most of them are accorded the highest precedence in the messages brought by Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, as well as in the messages of Buddha and even Zaratushtra, Lao-Tzu, Confucius and the Hindu scholars,” Gulen writes.


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