Sunday, October 30, 2005

The difference between muslim history and Islamic history

While Sufis may have little interest in Muslim history, they have an abiding interest in Islamic history. Muslim history concerns the events which transpire in relation to what Muslims do and/or what is done to them, and, unfortunately, this, all too frequently, has very little to do with Islam. Islamic history, on the other hand, focuses on the descent of Divine revelation, on the lives and teachings of the Prophets, on the lives and teachings of the close Companions of the Prophets, and on the lives and teachings of all the other friends of God.

Islamic history is about the sacred journey of individuals whose destination is the realization of essential identity and unique spiritual capacity as expressions of God’s Divine Plan underlying and permeating the purpose for which Creation was originally brought forth. Islamic history is about the potential, and realization of, fitra or primordial spiritual capacity - first of all in the Prophets, Companions and Saints, and, then, in all those who sincerely pursue Deen toward that same end.

Islamic history is not about culture, language, race, ethnicity, oil, politics, terrorism, social intrigues, economics, revolution, art, the destruction of Israel, architecture, fashion, careers, institutions, empires, ambition, exploitation, natural resources, technology, and the like. In fact, people who suppose that the foregoing elements are part of Islamic history, are not only confusing Muslim history with the former, but fail to understand, or appreciate, why the distinction is, unfortunately, necessary.

Islamic history is about God and God’s relationship with the purpose of Creation. Muslim history is about Muslims and their relationship with themselves and others, and, as such, may be quite apart from, if not in conflict with, the spiritual potential which God placed in humankind. Muslim history is not primarily concerned with what God wants but with what Muslims want - although all too many Muslims conflate and confuse the latter with the former.

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