The world is today suffering not from supposed absence or hiddenness of God, but the noise of warring advocates of God. God seems to resemble a Prime Minister never speaking in the Parliament, while a commotion in his name, for him and against him, has been there throughout recorded history, especially in later times and most prominently during recent history when Godliness seems to have largely disappeared leaving place for God mongers. Advocates of Him are in plenty charging fees in His name. The funniest part of the story is that advocates are fighting amongst themselves for getting recognized as the best advocates. God is not tempted to speak, thus giving us a clue to His real nature. Despite executing a magnificent universe teeming with life, beauty, intelligence and countless examples declaring His glory for those who care to see, He doesn’t seem interested in explicitly showing off Himself or writing His name on any billboard or having a political party or forced conversion to belief or recognition of Him by sinning ungrateful mankind. So many slangs have been thrown against Him, so many times accused of being deaf or impotent or even dead, He is not tempted to clarify, to refute, to silence the accusers. God chooses to live, silently, in the hearts of saints, artists, prayerful hearts or tears and joys of believers, in the passion for truth in scientists, in the love that binds us all, in the beauty that attracts us all, in the joy that all seek, in innocence of children and in whatever is holy, grand, noble, sublime and wonderful. Mute yet eloquent beyond words are His words in flesh. The secret to the “gorakh danda” of which Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan sings appears to lie in patiently waiting, in seeing deeply, in witnessing without judging, in radical innocence, in openness to experience. No discourse, no fatwa, no narrative, no commentary on sacred scriptures, no sectarian textbook convinces us fully or ultimately, especially in these postmodern times. The Silence that scripture give voice to and lead into, drives us, like intoxicated lovers in search of the beloved, to the Heart of Reality that is God. The adage that “all advocates are liars” applies surely in the case of self-appointed advocates of God who are today fighting for the hearts and minds of youth.Today we are surrounded by politicians, by clergy and by ideologues of various hues invoking God’s authority or name to claim our allegiance. The question is who indeed speaks for the God who chooses to live in the broken hearts? What a joke that God’s sovereignty is said to be in danger and it has been left on the shoulders of poor fellows (who think deenuk themb chum seenes paeth…) to guard it against the whole erring world.
For traditional cultures, God has spoken in many languages and what he has spoken is not disputed, thanks to oral transmission and preservation. Written narratives and interpretations might be interminably debated or disputed but not what has passed as a practice of community at large (sunnah) or from the presence of the Teacher. No advocates needed to plead or interpret.
For the seers God rules with absolute power but with such subtlety that His signatures on orders or events – including on our tears and smiles – are not ordinarily decipherable. The State, the family, the civil society and countless nongovernmental agencies even if not constituting the mind of God as Hegel attempted to show has been great instruments, by every account, in realizing the project that God has in mind if we believe God is in full control every moment and not a fly’s wing is clipped without providence taking note. Let us note that in God’s world even Satan is ultimately in the service of some deeper design or plan of God. There has, in sense, always been “a state of Islam” or state of submission to the Real or orientation towards the Good of collective humanity though never a fully realized Islamic State or Hindu State or Puritan State. God’s Mercy is said to be writ large on the face of the universe. God is equal to his task and does arrange that all things return to Him as the Quran declares. God is not to be fooled or foiled, even if all the forces of Tagoot unite. “…Innal Batila Kana zahooqa.” The earth indeed belongs to God as does sovereignty belong to Him. This is indeed an existential, an ontological truth. Even a political truth if we can grasp larger divine scheme as embodied in history and how God dealt with erring communities. It needs profound understanding of doctrine of predestination and philosophy of history and a peep into the secret kingdom of angels and other forces that ultimately direct everything to see the point that God’s rule has always been there and what is called establishing his rule on earth by certain political or religious party is neither de facto a possibility nor de jure called for. All things evolve through certain deeper logic of history or destiny in Godward direction if we believe in the project of justifying God’s ways to men – theodicy. Isn’t God the real Agent of action as the Quran asserts and other scriptures concur? What on earth has been God doing if He has only been defeated by forces of Satan? Had God succeeded only briefly for few years in some classical or golden period in establishing his rule as projected or conceived according to one’s belief or He has always been somehow in control directing all things, from behind the screen if not in broad daylight? All religions believe the latter possibility. Ideologues of this or that brand of religious state in the former.
Is there a way of clarifying the problem of identifying true or God’s “interpretation” of His word so that all those who speak in His name are better identified? Not that we need to identify his real advocates as He has appointed none according to the Quran. God needs no advocates as He has appointed more convincing and powerful signs for all to see or contemplate. And what is blindingly clear by contemplating these signs is something of the following.
God, according to the Quran, has spoken so unambiguously and indisputably in anfus – in conscience, in our orientation towards the Good – in aafaaq – in breathtaking beauty and sublime majesty of nature. The scripture of the self (manich sipar) is for you and me to read. Few can claim to have read or realized it while so many fight that they have the right to interpret, even impose their reading of this scripture. He has spoken and prophets-seers have heard Him speak and we have some recording of His various recordings thanks to oral culture in almost all traditional cultures.
God is not tempted to speak now. And previously when He is believed to have spoken, He kept silence on many issues on which we find His advocates breaking heads. He didn’t divide the world into two warring or antagonistic zones – the zone of the Holy and Not so Holy (distant equivalents of narrow politicized understanding of the Abode of Peace (Darul-Islam) and Abode of War (Darul-Harb). He left the choice of political systems largely to the wisdom of people. He appointed no advocates to clarify His position later. He spoke most unambiguously against exploitation or injustice and in matters of niceties of theology and sha’ria, He is tirelessly reminding us not to dispute over its content. We are given the impression that God has a constituency, a political party and seeks power. ISIS and RSS – to name only two of the most political and least religious of them – claim to be God’s people calling us to God’s Kingdom. A religious class who wears piety on the sleeve thinks God is in the image of their leader. They don’t invite us to the depths of our own selves/being or God as the Ground of being or “our ultimate concern” or “our ideality” or the ever expanding horizon of our love for the other but to themselves, to the States where they will rule in the name of God. The scriptures in the name of which we are silenced are all silent regarding any earthly kingdom of God or God’s State; their chief interest lies in inviting us to the Kingdom of God that is within us and which is best contemplated in silence and requires humility or consent to be nothing.