The War in Iraq: A Message from Pir Zia
March 13, 2003
Toward the One, United with All
Beloved Ones of God, Fellow Mureeds of
Hazrat Inayat Khan,
In recent days I have been frequently asked about
the "official position" of the Sufi Order International
on the possibility of a U.S.-led military campaign
in Iraq. Other religious organizations, including the
Catholic Church, have made official statements.
Given the momentousness of what is unfolding,
many wonder why the Sufi Order has not done so.
Since its origination in London in 1917, the Sufi Order has consistently maintained a policy of political noninvolvement. This policy is codified in the 1923 Constitution (article 5, line 2): "[the Sufi Movement] denies itself all interference in politics, internal or foreign."
Study of Murshid's teachings reveals that this policy was not merely a legal expediency; it reflected the modus operandi that Murshid considered necessary for his mission.
Consider Gatheka 2:2 ("Sufism not Passivism"):
"The method for world reform which different institutions have adopted today is not the method of the Sufi movement. No doubt for the general good there are political and commercial problems to be solved and little can be done in that direction before several difficult problems have been solved; but that must not debar individuals from progress through the spiritual path which alone can bring about the desired condition in the world."
As a colonial subject, Murshid was highly aware of the serious consequences of the geopolitical imbalances of his day. He valued the work of institutions promoting reform in the political and economic spheres, but focused his own work exclusively on the expansion of the consciousness and conscience of humanity through spiritual development, individual by individual. In this way he built an order composed of mureeds with a broad spectrum of religious and political beliefs, but united in the clear intention to progress, inwardly and outwardly, toward the ideals of Love, Harmony and Beauty.
Pir Vilayat has maintained this same approach over the decades. While he has taken courageous stands in his life - for example, serving as a mine-sweeper in World War II, and documenting the Algerian freedom movement - he has been scrupulous in refraining from using the Sufi Order as a platform for political expression.
I hope it is understood that the apolitical orientation of the Sufi Order does not imply that mureeds are discouraged from acting on their convictions. On the contrary, in the spirit of spiritual liberty, the work of the Sufi Order is to support mureeds in their inner unfoldment, culminating in the full flowering of the human personality, in which wisdom and willpower move in perfect synchronicity.
While I shall not use my role in the Sufi Order to advocate a "position," I do heartily encourage us all to recite Murshid's Prayer for Peace (given below), meditate upon the Divine Peace (Ya Salaam), courageously and compassionately confront and transform the sources of fear and hostility within ourselves, embody peace (which, of course, is not the same as laxity) in all of our relationships, and reflect the essential unity of the human family in all of our dealings.
If a bombing campaign does commence, I suggest maintaining a daily fast (i.e.,
abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset) throughout the course of the bombing, as I plan to do. In Sufism fasting is described as a form of death. Yes, it is very small in comparison with the large-scale real death that would result from military action, but it is a significant somatic pneumatic device to help us stay aware of the victims of war.
As a basis for further study, I have collected a number of Murshid's statements on war and peace, which reflect multiple elevated perspectives. These are appended below.
The Message will resound throughout the world the moment we ourselves hear it
resounding in our bodies, hearts and souls, and be and act in resonance.
In the service of the Message of Love, Harmony and Beauty,
Zia Inayat Khan
Quotations from Hazrat Inayat Khan (with adjustments to neutralize gender):
A Prayer for Peace:
Send Thy Peace, O Lord, which is perfect and everlasting, that our souls may radiate peace.
Send Thy Peace, O Lord, that we may think, act and speak harmoniously.
Send Thy Peace, O Lord, that we may be contented and thankful for Thy Bountiful
Send Thy Peace, O Lord, that amidst our worldly strife we may enjoy Thy Bliss.
Send Thy Peace, O Lord, that we may endure all, tolerate all in the thought of Thy Grace and Mercy.
Send Thy Peace, O Lord, that our lives may become a divine vision, and in Thy
Light all darkness may vanish.
Send Thy Peace, O Lord, our Father and Mother, that we, Thy Children on earth,
may all unite in one [family].
Maybe many people will not think as I do, for instance those who believe strongly in pacifism, in the peace ideal. They will say, 'Is it not madness that anybody should make a war!' But everything one does, though it may look better or worse, yet belongs somewhere in the scheme of life, and we have no right to condemn it. The principal thing for every individual is to become conscious of the duty for which he is born.
War comes from God in the same way that peace comes from God.
The fact that at this time and at this stage of human civilization and evolution, when hardly one in a thousand individuals wants to make war, such dreadful wars should have taken place, is due to the influence of the planet working through the minds of those who live on it.
Where does war come from? From chaotic action. When there is chaotic action,
nations become involved in war; by chaotic action the whole world may be involved in war.Occupations such as war and preparation for war cannot be called civilized occupations. It is a pity that in this period of civilization man should have wars; and yet we think that we are more civilized than the people of ancient times!
[Humankind] has made his life so artificial that [one] can never imagine how far [one] is removed from what may be called a normal, natural life for [one] to live. It is for this reason that we need the art of discovering peace within us. We shall not experience peace by improving outside conditions. [Humankind] has always longed for peace and [people have] always brought about wars; at the same time every individual says [s]he is seeking for peace. Then where does war come from? It comes because the meaning of peace has not been fully understood. [Humankind] lives in a continual turmoil, in a restless condition, and in order to seek for peace [one] seeks war; if this goes on we shall not have peace till every individual begins to seek peace within [oneself] first.
In this present age it seems that the knowledge of warfare has developed; but on the other hand the knowledge of peace is absent; for the full knowledge of warfare is both the knowledge of battle and the knowledge of peace. This can be learned according to the mystics by battling with oneself, and by bringing about peace with one's own soul. The life of an individual being is not very different from the life of the world. An individual person's home is not different from the world. An individual's body and mind and spirit form the whole universe. An individual life can fill the gap between the dawn of creation and the last day.
What the world needs today is not so much preaching or religious teaching; what the world needs most is the mystical outlook, to look upon the world with the mystic's attitude, and to see the whole of humanity as one, the single Being, the only Being. In order to bring this idea to the world it is not only necessary that there should be esoteric centers, but also that the message of universal [kinship] which is essential to mysticism should be given freely to all people, to those who sympathize as well as to those who are not yet ready to understand it. It is by bringing this idea to every soul one meets and can speak to that one will be able to accomplish the work which many institutions in the world today are trying to accomplish, calling themselves peace leagues and various other names. [A person] may have a good motive, but a good motive can only give good results with right methods. Whenever there is a good motive but not a right method, the good motive will be of no avail; on the contrary, the good motive can bring very bad results. And throughout world history whenever real [kinship] has been taught to humanity, it has always been conveyed by the mystical ideal.
It is useless to discuss the peace of the world. What is necessary just now is to create peace in ourselves that we ourselves become examples of love, harmony and peace. That is the only way of saving ourselves and the world.