Peace, one and all…
The beginning of knowledge draws to a close in the art of relationship. That is, intellectual reflection leads on to the realisation that our actions impinge on others, and that therefore we have an obligation before the face of others. Ethical action is both the fruit and the testing-ground of knowledge. Furthermore, knowledge and action, understood within the all-encompassing context of God, produce `ilm, or spiritually-informed praxis. Thus `ilm should guide our hand in all that we do, and in all that we seek to honour.
Because of this, honouring the ‘other’ cannot truly occur unless and until that other is allowed to present themselves and their reality, in their own way. ‘Honouring’ as a metaphor must therefore be a dialogue of contexts, as the ‘other’ context and my own come together as fully realised, independent wholes. In a sense, they must become parents to a new, mutually shared context. This move towards interdependence becomes relationship, which is to create something new, a third space of newly shared meanings.
Lover, beloved and love itself move in a never-ending relationship to one another. Sometimes I am the lover and sometimes I am the beloved. In other words, these are roles which each person, each world, must take on for the uncovering of life in all its fullness. Lover and beloved come together and a child is born to them: love itself, pure and gleaming. This child of love transforms lover and beloved, freeing them from the specificity of their assigned roles, allowing them thereby to also become love itself. Love is the child, it is also the parent, in that it guides and liberates those it touches.
I seek relationships based on equality and so I must confront issues of power and control, of inequality, both within and beyond myself. I must realise that life is not mine to conquer, to control or to own. All of us are gioven opportunities to hold the initiative for a while, until the time comes to pass it on once more. Injustice is thus an attempt to hold on to that power, that movement, beyond right and to the exclusion of others. As I am discovering, the unregenerate human soul is a slippery customer – maintaining control even as it strives to appear meek and selfless. So it is then that control is, at best, a fleeting illusion, a misunderstanding of the way things really are. Like King Canute, I stand upon life’s shore and like that king of yore, I have no control over the tides of the sea. Life obeys its own laws, and not my imaginings. The world marches to a different drum altogether: la hawla wa la quwwata illa bi Allah (‘there is no power or strength except in God’)
Wa akhiru da’wana an il hamdu lillahi rabbil alameen.