jeudi 19 août 2010

The Muslims in the Middle

By WILLIAM DALRYMPLE

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S eloquent endorsement on Friday of a planned Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center, followed by his apparent retreat the next day, was just one of many paradoxes at the heart of the increasingly impassioned controversy.
We have seen the Anti-Defamation League, an organization dedicated to ending “unjust and unfair discrimination,” seek to discriminate against American Muslims. We have seen Newt Gingrich depict the organization behind the center — the Cordoba Initiative, which is dedicated to “improving Muslim-West relations” and interfaith dialogue — as a “deliberately insulting” and triumphalist force attempting to build a monument to Muslim victory near the site of the twin towers.
Most laughably, we have seen politicians like Rick Lazio, a Republican candidate for New York governor, question whether Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the principal figure behind the project, might have links to “radical organizations.”
The problem with such claims goes far beyond the fate of a mosque in downtown Manhattan. They show a dangerously inadequate understanding of the many divisions, complexities and nuances within the Islamic world — a failure that hugely hampers Western efforts to fight violent Islamic extremism and to reconcile Americans with peaceful adherents of the world’s second-largest religion.
Most of us are perfectly capable of making distinctions within the Christian world. The fact that someone is a Boston Roman Catholic doesn’t mean he’s in league with Irish Republican Army bomb makers, just as not all Orthodox Christians have ties to Serbian war criminals or Southern Baptists to the murderers of abortion doctors.
Yet many of our leaders have a tendency to see the Islamic world as a single, terrifying monolith. Had the George W. Bush administration been more aware of the irreconcilable differences between the Salafist jihadists of Al Qaeda and the secular Baathists of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the United States might never have blundered into a disastrous war, and instead kept its focus on rebuilding post-Taliban Afghanistan while the hearts and minds of the Afghans were still open to persuasion.
Feisal Abdul Rauf of the Cordoba Initiative is one of America’s leading thinkers of Sufism, the mystical form of Islam, which in terms of goals and outlook couldn’t be farther from the violent Wahhabism of the jihadists. His videos and sermons preach love, the remembrance of God (or “zikr”) and reconciliation. His slightly New Agey rhetoric makes him sound, for better or worse, like a Muslim Deepak Chopra. But in the eyes of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, he is an infidel-loving, grave-worshiping apostate; they no doubt regard him as a legitimate target for assassination.
For such moderate, pluralistic Sufi imams are the front line against the most violent forms of Islam. In the most radical parts of the Muslim world, Sufi leaders risk their lives for their tolerant beliefs, every bit as bravely as American troops on the ground in Baghdad and Kabul do. Sufism is the most pluralistic incarnation of Islam — accessible to the learned and the ignorant, the faithful and nonbelievers — and is thus a uniquely valuable bridge between East and West.
The great Sufi saints like the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi held that all existence and all religions were one, all manifestations of the same divine reality. What was important was not the empty ritual of the mosque, church, synagogue or temple, but the striving to understand that divinity can best be reached through the gateway of the human heart: that we all can find paradise within us, if we know where to look. In some ways Sufism, with its emphasis on love rather than judgment, represents the New Testament of Islam.
(…) Symbolically, the most devastating Taliban attack occurred last spring at the shrine of the 17th-century poet-saint Rahman Baba, at the foot of the Khyber Pass in northwest Pakistan. For centuries, the complex has been a place for musicians and poets to gather, and Rahman Baba’s Sufi verses had long made him the national poet of the Pashtuns living on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. “I am a lover, and I deal in love,” wrote the saint. “Sow flowers,/ so your surroundings become a garden./ Don’t sow thorns; for they will prick your feet./ We are all one body./ Whoever tortures another, wounds himself.”
One morning in early March 2009, a group of Pakistani Taliban arrived at the shrine before dawn and placed dynamite packages around the squinches supporting the shrine’s dome. In the ensuing explosion, the mausoleum was destroyed, but at least nobody was killed.
The good news is that Sufis, though mild, are also resilient.
Sufis are putting up a strong resistance on behalf of the pluralist, composite culture that emerged in the course of a thousand years of cohabitation between Hinduism and Islam.
Last year, when I visited a shrine of the saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in the town of Sehwan, I was astonished by the strength and the openness of the feelings against those puritan mullahs who criticize as heresy all homage to Sufi saints.
“I feel that it is my duty to protect both the Sufi saints, just as they have protected me,” one woman told me. “Today in our Pakistan there are so many of these mullahs and Wahhabis who say that to pay respect to the saints in their shrines is heresy. Those hypocrites! They sit there reading their law books and arguing about how long their beards should be, and fail to listen to the true message of the prophet.”
(…)A 2007 study by the RAND Corporation found that Sufis’ open, intellectual interpretation of Islam makes them ideal “partners in the effort to combat Islamist extremism.”
Sufism is an entirely indigenous, deeply rooted resistance movement against violent Islamic radicalism. Whether it can be harnessed to a political end is not clear. But the least we can do is to encourage the Sufis in our own societies. Men like Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf should be embraced as vital allies, and we should have only contempt for those who, through ignorance or political calculation, attempt to conflate them with the extremists.
William Dalrymple is the author, most recently, of “Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India.” (New York Times)

COMMENTAIRE DE DIVERCITY
NOUVELLE EPREUVE POUR LE PRESIDENT OBAMA
Se quoi s’agit-il?
Du soutien que le Président métisse a accordé au projet de construction d’un « Islamic cultural center »situé « à un jet de pierre » du World Trade Center, suivi d’un timide démenti ce qui montre à quel point ce dossier est devenu soudain sensible et risque de polluer le climat politique et de déclencher un mouvement d’opinion hostile au Président plus menaçant que le désastre écologique provoqué par BP.
En effet le « Cordoba Initiative » (l‘initiative dite de Cordoue, ville andalouse mythique en, raison du voisinage pacifique qui y régna au moyen âge entre l’église, la synagogue et sa somptueuse mosquée) qui est à la base du projet est soucieuse de “improving Muslim-West relations” and interfaith dialogue. » 
Cette noble idée est battue en brèche par un fort courant de détracteurs — as a “deliberately insulting” and triumphalist force attempting to build a monument to Muslim victory near the site of the twin toners-
Rick Lazio, candidat au poste de gouverneur de l’Etat de New York va jusqu’à soupçonner publiquement l’imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, le plus pacifique des imams et principal défenseur du projet, d’avoir des liens “with radical organizations.”
Nonsense! Le problème c’est que si nous sommes tous en mesure de faire la distinction entre diverses formes de christianisme, (Qui songerait à soupçonner in intégriste catho tendance Lefèvre d’accointances avec « the Irish Republican Army bomb makers», ou à assimiler tout chrétien orthodoxe aux criminels de guerre serbes, « or Southern Baptists to the murderers of abortion doctors. »)  en revanche, nombreux sont les politiques qui, comme le Hollandais Wilders, pratiquent délibérément l’amalgame « and see the Islamic world as a single, terrifying monolith».  
Et de préciser que « Fei sal Abdul Rauf of the Cordoba Initiative is one of America’s leading thinkers of Sufism, the mystical form of Islam, which in terms of goals and outlook couldn’t be farther from the violent Wahhabism of the jihadists. » « But in the eyes of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, he is an infidel-loving, grave-worshiping apostate; they no doubt regard him as a legitimate target for assassination» 
Précisons à toutes fins utiles que les Sufis sont à l’avant-garde d’une mobilisation en faveur de la modération, du pluralisme et adversaires acharnés « of the most violent forms of Islam. In the most radical parts of the Muslim world, Sufi leaders risk their lives for their tolerant beliefs». « Sufism is the most pluralistic incarnation of Islam — accessible to the learned and the ignorant, the faithful and nonbelievers — and is thus a uniquely valuable bridge between East and West»

A UNIQUELY VALUABLE BRIDGE BETWEEN ESAT AND WEST
Le célèbre sufi que fut l’immense poète Rumi estimait «  that all existence and all religions were one, all manifestations of the same divine reality. What was important was not the empty ritual of the mosque, church, synagogue or temple, but the striving to understand that divinity can best be reached through the gateway of the human heart: that we all can find paradise within us, if we know where to look. »
Et William Dalrymple de conclure que, à plus d’un égard , « Sufism, with its emphasis on love rather than judgment, represents the New Testament of Islam. »
(…)« A 2007 study by the RAND Corporation found that Sufis’ open, intellectual interpretation of Islam makes them ideal “partners in the effort to combat Islamist extremism.”
Le courant sufi est donc assurément le meilleur des remparts conte le radicalisme, l‘intégrisme et le jusqu‘au boutisme islamiste; l‘islamisme étant, répétons le clairement et inlassablement, un instrumentalisation du Coran à des fins politiques nationalistes visant à l‘islamisation du monde par le glaive du terrorisme.
On l’aura compris, Barack Obama en prenant parti pour la construction de ce centre islamique a certes réaffirmé son engagement personnel en faveur d’un dialogue entre religions et civilisations: toutefois, à la vieille d’une élection importante, il risque bien, par ce geste hardi d’être à la base d’une vaste polémique diffamatoire.
Mine de rien , le candidat républicain Rick Lazio lui a lancé une première pierre. Or depuis René Girard, nous savons que c’est la première pierre qui est susceptible de déclencher le terrible processus mimétique qui consiste à diriger toutes les autres pierres vers le bouc émissaire faisant office de victime expiatoire…
MG

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