The “I” World & Sufi Entrepreneurship

We have divided our lives into disconnected moods, feelings and formats which make it very tough for us to define ourselves. Sometimes while driving or sitting idly, we do think who we are actually? Am I the one sitting in the office working on business analysis, career development and money making? Or am I the one who listens to pop songs and starts jumping? Or am I the one who gets sad while listening to ghazals of Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Habib Jalib? Or the one who reads Sufism and gets deep into my own world of seven continents and four oceans? Who is the real “I”?

We are born to act in different ways in different scenarios. We have to behave and be modest with our parents, as it is ethically and religiously right. We have to be more frank and more interactive among friends so that the whole gathering can enjoy with us. We have to be sad and supportive during funerals while happy during happy events of people around us. Our behavior must have to change in accordance with the situation. It is what we are supposed to do in society. But what about the inner “I”?

Why we enjoy pop songs and gets sad on ghazals? Are we bad listeners!

Why do we have an ultimate feeling while reading one good book, and then next good book (entirely different from the previous one) changes the whole previous aura? Are we bad readers!

One has to leave “I” outside the door of Sufism and spiritualism. “I” has to be left in Islam, Buddhism and other spiritual domains of almost all the religions in the world. We live in an “I” world when others are dependent on us in organizations, offices, games, gatherings, etc. Similarly we try to be in the “us” world when we are dependent on others or want to show association with certain groups.

Sufism is humbleness, knowing oneself, unleashing the “I”, exploring internally and externally, and letting us know ourselves. We can have the same aura within the inside and outside world while anywhere. Sufism and spiritualism are not separated from our working lives. With Sufi approaches, we can have better success in our careers.

A  Sufi Entrepreneur will not focus on his goals but the overall goals of the organization. He will focus on the needs and wants of others, will not insult or embarrass anyone, will go on ethical business means, and will try his level best for win-win situations of everyone. He will earn money, will try to earn more fortune, but will remain within approaches of Sufism. Sufism can be the soul of a successful business. One who listens to Sufi poetry frequently and uses unfair means in business and career development, is perhaps a hypocrite.

Sufi business and Sufi entrepreneurship are related in the modern world today. We should be the firm-one internally regardless of the external set-up. We have to be the same person internally regardless of an external situation. We need to be emotionally stable. As said, a good person is not the one who is good with you at a restaurant, but the one who is good with everyone including the waiters.

Our business education system has to introduce Sufi and Spiritual approaches. The current focus is on career development and making money which is generating humanistic machines running for same materialistic goals in life. Colleges and Universities are hub where one learns about himself. They should remain such hubs of internal prestige where students are taught with a less materialistic (if possible) and more spiritualistic lessons. We need Sufi entrepreneurs in the modern world to end hunger and poverty all over the world.

We need to learn more of the “I” world than the outside world. 

 

Book Review: After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam by Lesley Hazleton

 

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Lesley Hazleton published a book named “After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam”. The book has focused on Sunni and Shia versions of the incidents on which there are differences among Muslims. But the main focus of the book can simply be seen as hate, which is evident throughout, along with biased opinions in the end. She has mentioned Quran as Word of God because of its beauty and divine message. She has also mentioned Prophet Muhammad PBUH as literally the Prophet from God because of the divine revelation of Quran on Him. It is highly regarded however I couldn’t understand is as she mentions herself as “Agnostic Jew” in a Ted Talk on Quran.

But apart from that, her study on Islam while writing on it was more than poor on various Islamic laws. She mentioned in Chapter 3 of the book:

For a wronged woman, there could have been no better outcome, yet the form of it would be cruelly turned around and used by conservative clerics in centuries to come to do the opposite of what Muhammad had originally intended: not to exonerate a woman but to blame her. The wording of his revelation would apply not only when adultery was suspected but also when there had been an accusation of rape. Unless a woman could produce four witnesses to her rate – a virtual impossibility – she would be considered guilty of slander and adultery, and punished accordingly. Aisha’s exoneration was destined to become the basis for the silencing, humiliation, and even execution of countless women after her.”

Here, like most of other Western authors, Lesley Hazelton has presented her weak knowledge and lack of study before writing the book. To come up with four witnesses is only in case of adultery or fornication. There is nothing like to present four witnesses when someone is raped. Some clerics in Muslim world, and recently in Dubai, have done as what Lesley Hazelton has mentioned, but these clerics and countries are not Islam. Islam is not what we are. Islam is Quran and Sunnah; and to judge Islam, one has to study Quran and Sunnah, not us.

The whole boot is written without citations and endnotes, making it more vulnerable. However the book is written in a balanced way like;

  • To praise the dimensions where Sunnis and Shias have no conflict.
  • To defame the dimensions where there are conflicts. The book is meant to present the differences, but not the hate and biased views.

Mood of the author also seemed to change frequently. On some stages it is felt as the author is angry with Islam, and on other sides her mind is blown away on the remarkable early successes. She is confused in certain areas, and makes this similar effect on the reader. But still, the overall book is a piece of knowledge. People who want to learn more can read Al-Tabari from where she has gathered material for her book mainly, however her personal opinions have ruined the tastes in various places, as well as made some beautiful points as well.

While presenting history, authors should be careful. At least they should be honest as a researcher, as well as a writer. They have the right to opinionate certain aspects, but they should have thorough grip.

In the end of the book, there are some current political scenarios mentioned by the author, which are strongly mentioned. These are lessons, messages and things to remember for Muslims. Some of these fragments are as follow;

Whatever balance there was would be changed utterly by World War I and the consequent partitioning of the former Ottoman Empire. Western intervention reshaped the Middle East, often in what seems astonishingly cavalier fashion. The British enabled the Wahhabi-Saudi takeover of Arabia, installed a foreign Sunni king over Shia majority Iraq, and shored up the Nazi sympathizer Reza Khan as Shah of Iran. After World War II, the United States took over as prime mover. Motivated by Cold War ideology, it helped engineer a coup d’état against Iran’s newly elected prime minister Muhammad Mossadegh and reinstated the autocratic regime of Reza Khan’s son, Shah Reza Pahlavi, under whom Iran first aspired to nuclear power—with American encouragement. Successive U.S. administrations backed the Wahhabi-dominated kingdom of Saudi Arabia not only for access to its oil but also as a bulwark against Nasser’s pro-Soviet regime across the Red Sea in Egypt. In the 1980s the United States joined forces with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to fund the anti- Soviet mujahidin—literally jihad fighters, or as Ronald Reagan preferred to call them, freedom fighters—in Afghanistan, and in a rather stunning example of unintended consequences, these troops later formed the basis of the Taliban. In that same decade, the United States found itself arming both sides in the Iran-Iraq War, supporting Saddam Hussein in order to counter the fierce anti-Americanism of post revolutionary Iran, while also supplying Iran in the murky “arms for hostages” Iran-Contra affair.

Sunni and Shia radicals alike called on a potent blend of the seventh century and the twentieth: on the Karbala story and on anti-Westernism. By the 1980s such calls were a clear danger signal to the pro-American Saudis, who were highly aware that radical Sunni energies could come home to roost in an Arabian equivalent of the Iranian Revolution. Their answer, in effect, was to deal with radical Islamism by financing it abroad, thus deflecting its impact at home. The Saudis became major exporters of Wahhabi extremism and its bitterly anti-Shia stance, from Africa to Indonesia, countering a newly strengthened sense of Shia identity and power—“the Shia revival,” as it’s been called—energized by the Iranian Revolution. The Sunni-Shia split had again become as politicized as when it began.

 As the United States has at last recognized, with thousands of American troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Westerners enter such a power struggle at their own peril, all the more since many in the Middle East suspect that Western powers have deliberately manipulated the Shia-Sunni split all along in order to serve their own interests. The chaos unleashed by the invasion of Iraq in 2003 may have resulted in yet another unintended consequence in American eyes, but it was not so unintended in Iraqi eyes. “The invader has separated us,” declared Muqtada al-Sadr in 2007. “Unity is power, and division is weakness.”

The Karbala story has endured and strengthened not least because it reaches deep into questions of  morality—of idealism versus pragmatism, purity versus compromise. Its DNA is the very stuff that tests both politics and faith and animates the vast and often terrifying arena in which the two intersect. But whether sacredness inheres in the Prophet’s blood family, as the Shia believe, or in the community as a whole, as Sunnis believe, nobody in the West should forget that what unites the two main branches of Islam is far greater that what divides them, and that the vast majority of all Muslims still cherish the ideal of unity preached by Muhammad himself —an ideal the more deeply held for being so deeply broken.