“For a Muslim to participate in Unity, it is not a leap of faith, but a deepening of faith.”
—Reginald Oliver, Unity Magazine, July-August 2013
The 9/11 destruction of the twin towers in New York generated a degree of fear of Islam in the community. Fear is overcome by love, so let us look at what there is to love about Islam. There is a lot to love, and Islam may be closer to Unity teachings than you might think.
In Unity we seek knowledge of the Divine through meditation and prayer. For most of us, I would guess, this means possibly once or twice a day. A practising Muslim does this at least five times every day so God (or Allah) is deeply integrated in his or her every day world. And the call to prayer, beginning and ending:
La ilaha illa Allah
God is most great,
There is no god but God.
—is this not another way of saying as we do in our Statement of Faith:
There is only one Power and one Presence
in our lives and in the universe
God the Good
As stated on a BBC web page, “In the ritual prayers each individual Muslim is in direct contact with Allah. … Praying together in a congregation helps Muslims to realise that all humanity is one, and all are equal in the sight of Allah.” Indeed, one of the great Islamic ideals is tawhid or making one. As expressed by Karen Armstrong in her book Islam: A Short History, this represents the divine unity, which Muslims seek to imitate in their personal and social lives recognising the overall sovereignty of God—or, as we say in Unity: There is only one Power.
Many of us will have heard of two major branches of Islam: the Sunnis and the Shias. The Shias emphasise a mystical approach to the Divine, as do the Sufis (a mystical sect of Sunni Islam). We are very familiar with the Sufi poetry of Rumi, Hafiz and others. These writings resonate well with the teachings of Unity.
There is so much fear in our society when Muslims are mentioned. Why should this be so when the very name of their religion, Islam, means peace. It seems to me that the only explanation is bad press. Our mass media over-report bad things and under-report good things. How much good news was there on last night’s television news? We read and hear much of the actions of a few extremists but we find little in the media reporting the good works of organisations such as the Agha Khan Foundation that is doing so much to relieve suffering in the world. Reginald Oliver wrote in the article quoted above, “As the Klu Klux Klan has historically used Christianity [as] their cover for hate and violence, so now have a small number of Muslims used Islam.” Do we judge Christianity by the actions of the KKK?
Reginald Oliver’s article in Unity Magazine tells how Unity added to his Muslim faith. Perhaps there is something we in Unity can learn from Islam. First we must replace fear with love.