On our TV screens every night we watch as millions of refugees flood into Europe while their homes, some of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, are destroyed. The countries of Syria and Iraq are being demolished, and its great heritage is being erased. At the heart of all this human tragedy is religious division.
The Sufi Ibn Arabi, a philosopher and mystic born in 1165 A.D. He lived in Andalusia (a region in Southern Spain), where people of many faiths, Jewish, Christian, Islamic and Greek traditions melded into a rich cultural tapestry of life. This true ‘melting pot’ influenced Arabi’s teachings which quite often discussed the unification and tolerance of one another. He wrote a poem in reference to his view of one another and how acceptance of thy neighbor leads to a path of love.
“My heart is capable of every form; A cloister for a Christian monk, and a temple for the Hindu idols; A pasture for gazelles, the votary’s Kaaba; The tables of the Torah, the Qur’an; Love is the creed I follow; Wherever turn his camels, Love is still my creed and faith.”
How is it possible to this day that words such as this have not become a way of life? Instead they are quotes we use to wish of a better day. Many of the greatest empires achieved tolerance through acts of violence and assimilation. Yet these policies have failed repeatedly throughout human history and we are no closer to a state of peace then the time of the Holy Wars.
Tolerance is only achieved through acceptance of a single principle. Though this principle is simple in words, it is difficult in practice.
“Acceptance can only be achieved by knowing that all faithful paths ultimately lead to the same fate… the end of our own time”