The musician Salman Ahmad (from the Pakistani Sufi rock group Junoon; previously discussed on PP here and here) and Deepak Chopra, who has previously written the bestselling books Buddha and Jesus, will be discussing his latest book Muhammad: A Story of the Last Prophet, where he shares the life and insights of Muhammad.
Dr Chopra was recently interviewed by the New York Times about the book’s contents and his motivations for writing it. It’s a very interesting article, and indicates that as a “semi-fictionalised biography”, the nature of the book may not necessarily be quite what many people may expect. The article also includes some comments about Sufism and current issues such as the ongoing controversy surrounding the Sufi Imam Rauf of the Cordoba Initiative’s Park51 (the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque”). Three quotes in particular stand out:
Are you concerned someone will issue a fatwa against you?
I wrote the book factually and with respect. Beyond that, I can’t control anyone’s reaction.
You refer to Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is overseeing the planned Islamic center in Lower Manhattan. Are you saying Sufism represents the reform branch of Islam?
Yes. Traditional Islam is a mixture of all obedience to Allah, and if that requires militancy, so be it. Whereas Sufism exalts beauty, intuition, tenderness, affection, nurturing and love, which we associate with feminine qualities.
If someone asks what religion you are, what do you say?
I say God gave humans the truth, and the Devil came and said, “Let’s organize it, we’ll call it religion.”
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