I found this poem by the Arab Sufi poet, Ibn Farid, who lived from 1182 to 1235 in the anthology of religious texts, Sacred Books of the World, by A.C. Bouquet (London: Pelican 1954). The Sufis are Islamic mystics, like the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey. There are a number of different Sufi orders, rather like the monastic orders and lay brotherhoods of Christianity, and the Whirling Dervishes are just one of them.
The Sufis have a reputation for religious tolerance and syncretism. The teachings and practices of various orders may include elements drawn from the other religions around them. It’s also been claimed that where Islam has been spread peacefully by their preaching, rather than jihad, relations between Muslims and the non-Muslim population are much more peaceful and amicable.
The poem below is on the value of the other, non-Muslim religions, and illustrates this spirit of tolerance and syncretism.
Virtually no hand but mine tied the infidel’s girdle: and if it be loosed in acknowledgement of me, ’twas my hand that loosed it.
And if the niche of a mosque is illuminated by the Qu’ran, yet is no altar of a church made vain by the Gospel:
Nor vain are the books of the Torah revealed by Moses for his people, whereby the Rabbis converse with ~God every night:
And if a devotee fall down before the stones of an idol-temple, there is no reason for religious zeal to take offence;
For many a one who is clear of the shame of associating others with God by means of idolatry, is in spirit a worshipper of money.
The warning from Me hath reached those whom it hath sought, and I am the Cause of the excuses put forth in every faith.
Not in any religion have men’s eyes been awry, not in any sect have their thoughts been perverse.
They that heedlessly fell in love with the Sun lost not the way, forasmuch as its brightness is from the light of My unveiled splendour. And if the Magicians adored the fire – which a history tells us was not quenched for a thousand years –
They intended none but Me, although they took another direction, and did not declare the purpose they had formed.
They had once seen the radiance of My light, and deemed it fire, so that they were led away from the True Light by the rays.
And but for the screen of existence, I should have said it out: only my observance of the laws imposed on phenomena doth keep me silent.
So this is not aimless sport, nor were the creatures created to stray at random, albeit their actions were not right.
Their affairs take the course according to the brand of the Names; and the wisdom which endoweth essence with diverse attributes caused them to take that course in consequence of the Divine Decree.
ISIS really hate the Sufis, considering them part of the juhailiyya, or age of non-Muslim darkness and barbarism that afflicts everyone except them. The Sufis are especially despised for their fatalism, their believe that whatever happens is due to the Will of Allah, and Daesh are doing their level best to exterminate them, along with other persecuted religious groups, in Iraq and Syria.
And no wonder, if their great poets offer a way of religious dialogue, mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence. All ISIS and al-Qaeda have had to offer is hate, repression and bloodshed. A hatred that’s also expressed in the racism and bigotry of Western clowns like Donald Trump.
Let’s hope the way of peace and tolerance, like that expressed by Ibn Farid, prevails against the people of violence and butchery.