13th century illustration depicting a public library in Baghdad, from the Maqamat Hariri. Bibliotheque Nationale de France

The Siddiqui Brothers have spent the last 700 years on The Other Side learning and exploring. For them, life on the next plane hasn’t been much different from when they were here. They have remained open to experience and continue to observe humanity. In their time, they were involved in the progression of not just the Muslim World but humanity. In the name of science and knowledge they taught and learned from all who came in their sphere.

Today, they marvel at all humanity has discovered. Yet, they are somewhat dismayed at the lack of progress, and in some cases regression of this current human experience.

Omar: Brothers, do you remember how much we used to love studying the skies?

Jafar: The best way to understand infinity.

Nasir: Remember the House of Wisdom? What a gift to the world! Centuries of learning and progress in one place! I am grateful that we were a small part of it.

Jafar: We and others like us taught and learned from each other.

Omar: We did all this in what is now called “The Muslim World.” But now, there is so much fear associated with that part of the world. That part of the world has come undone in many ways.

Nasir: They were helped and hindered by the Western world, but they have taken many actions that have harmed themselves.

Jafar: Too true, unfortunately.

Omar: Of course, what we are seeing now was in response to being conquered. Yet, you don’t respond to being conquered by degenerating and turning on yourselves.

Nasir: The Sunnis and Shiites just kill each other too often. In our time, there were judgments of course. There was fighting, but they still haven’t seemed to learn that is not the answer.

Jafar: And what some of them do to women… Keeping them locked in the house… Throwing acid in their faces if they’ve done something “wrong.” Lack of education and medical treatment. That is not Islam!

Omar: In some ways, they haven’t gone beyond our time, and in some ways, they’ve gone backwards. To chop someone’s head off and then claim Allah and jihad is so damaging to all. And they don’t care!

Jafar: I don’t understand how in 700 years some of them have not seen how they debilitate themselves by mistreating half of the population. We said it then and, we’re still saying it!

Nasir: Whether it’s 700 years ago or this time, the Progressives and the Moderates have to speak. Because of fear, they let these barbarous extremists drown out their voices. The Conservatives need to shut their mouths, too!

Omar: Ah, Nasir, whether in body or spirit, you plunge your words like a dagger. You always make me smile. But you are correct. The Conservatives are still too busy criticizing others for how they practice religion and force their interpretations on everyone. “She doesn’t wear hijab. Music is haram. You can’t talk to a woman who’s not your family. You don’t pray enough.” The list of their grievances has never ceased. They need to focus their attention on the cancer of extremism.

Jafar: Lack of education and resources contributes to ignorance. That will always be the case in the human experience. That is why it is the responsibility of those who with privilege to assist those who are without. Instead, those who have would rather hammer those who have not.

Nasir: Educating people and helping them evolve is how you squash extremism. Instead, many covet and zealously guard what they have. In many ways, their unity is gone. Forget partnering with those who are not Muslim. I never understood that. We’re all here together, created by one hand.

Omar: Did we ever really have unity among ourselves, as Muslims? As soon is the Prophet crossed to this side, we broke ourselves in two. When we educated ourselves, we could live with the schism. In this time, without the knowledge we used to seek like food, we are devouring ourselves. In many ways, we have marginalized ourselves.

Nasir: It’s all human nature. To separate based on what makes us different, not unite based on our common goodness.

Jafar: It’s all so simple. They have to unite for what is good and learn from everyone, like we did.

Nasir: When do human beings ever do anything simply?

Omar: The complexity of the human mind, their greatest attribute and their greatest weakness.

 

Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil…

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