July 18, 2010
It’s not easy to study Islam. Dar al-Islam teaches “normative” vs. “descriptive” Islam, that is, the historical origins of the tradition vs. controversial contemporary manifestations. I’ve really come to appreciate this approach. I now understand that Muslims consider the Qu’ran so sacred as the word of God that it cannot be changed, although various Schools of Law interpret it differently. There are also differences from country to country and from region to region within a country. Differences occur between urban and rural areas and, of course, between more and less educated areas.
We have been cautioned against “presentism” or “tempocentrism,” that is, evaluating the past from the perspective of today. (Our Spanish friend, Raimon Panikaar, pioneer in east-west dialogue, calls this same error “catachronism,” the opposite of anachronism.)
Fr. Dave and I have just “come home” to Dar al-Islam, which feels more and more like home, after our all too brief day off. We were so tired we hardly talked for 24 hours. We did four loads of laundry and watched a little TV. I slept in till 8 am today! Then I did some research on the study project we’re sharing with Paul Bradley, who teaches at Eastern Christian High School in North Haledon, New Jersey. (The 18 of us have divided into groups according to interests.)
We three have decided to compare stages of growth in Sufi mysticism (the mysticism, or inner life of Islam) with stages in Christian Mysticism. Most of the people here use the internet extensively, and I long for our Desert Foundation library at home! But I forced myself to look at some Sufi web sites on line and will then fill in with mystical reflections and poems from our wealth of books in Crestone.
I hear the others returning from various outings to the Taos pueblo, Christ in the Desert monastery, Los Alamos, the Mexican fiesta at Las Golandrinas, and hiking at Bandelier Monument, so I’ll close. It’s almost time for dinner, and I’m hungry! The food here is excellent: healthy to eat and beautiful to look at, with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.