Friday, December 23, 2005

Peace of the Heart --by Tariq RAMADAN

Who among human beings can affirm within the depths of his soul not to sometimes know violence, aggression, hatred, the excitation of a destructive instinct, or anger? Self control, serenity, respect of the Other, and tenderness are not natural but are acquired and exact a price of permanent personal effort. Such is the toil of men: they approach the shores of humanity through long and hard, thoughtful and measured work on one’s self. Each individual knows this, each heart feels it.

All literature, since the dawn of time, reflects this tension which at times quiets down, at times agitates, sometimes tears the intimacy of men. From the Bhagavad Gita to the Torah to the Gospels, from Dostoyevsky to Baudelaire, the human horizon remains the same. The Qu’ran confirms this everyday experience:

“By the soul and what balanced it and inspired its liberation and piety. He will most certainly be content he who purifies it, he will most certainly be lost, he who corrupts it.”

Both paths are explicit and instruct in a manner both superbly animated and ethical to the ever present reminder of the afterlife. Life is a test of this balance for men, for better or worse. This spiritual force is symbolized by choosing the path of righteousness, good deeds for oneself and for others.

“It is He (God) who created death and life so that he may test you and show who is best amongst you in conduct.”

To reform best one’s inner space, to soothe one’s heart close to the recognition of the Creator and in the density of an action which is both human and generous to love in transparency and live in the light: such is the meaning of Islamic spirituality. It links the horizon of all spirituality requiring man to acquire a force of being, rather than to undergo despotic relentlessness of a life reduced to mere instinct. This tension, leading to mastery of the self, is translated into Arabic as the word jih├ód. God wanted this tension, and made its management an ultimate condition towards accessing faith and humanity.

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