Saturday, August 23
The Elephant Story
Here’s something hypothetical. Read it first and then close your eyes and see the hilarity of the whole thing.
Imagine there is this big hall which is pitch dark. Imagine the darkness to be so dark that you can’t see a thing. And inside this hall imagine an elephant. Imagine many doors to this room and all doors are closed. Imagine a group of people trying to analyse the elephant. Imagine all these people knowing the elephant for itself but understanding only a certain part of the body to be the true representative of the elephant.
So when one enters the room and knows only the tail, he would go feeling all the parts until he finds the tail. Once he has found the tail, he is happy and keeps feeling the tail and only the tail and tells himself that `this is the elephant’. Familiarity and solace he has found in the tail! He would know the tail so intimately but he can only acknowledge the tail and tail only as a representation of the elephant. Then there are the other guys who would do the same with the head, the legs, the whole body, the trunk, the tusk. Imagine all these people feeling the elephant; each one feeling with great love and reverence, the part known only to him as the `the elephant’.
That the elephant might be made up of all the parts together is not witnessed or observed. Because they might have to accept the other parts of the elephant if they witness or observe it, their preference to stick to the known part is a proper way for each of them. So only the part that is familiar to them would do. None of these people saw or want to see the elephant as a whole for fear they might lose their belief in the part they believe in! None of them want to acknowledge the elephant as one unit but rather they compartmentalise their beliefs. They find comfort in these little compartments.
So when the time came to acknowledge the elephant as a whole, all the representatives of the respective parts began to fight with each other wanting to prove that their part of the elephant is the true representative and all the while the elephant as a whole stood straight, for all to see oblivious to the commotion that was being created for it knew it was ‘the’ elephant, period. Imagine all the representatives pitching against each other to prove their respective part is superior to the other and therefore is the elephant.
Just like the elephant story, Islam is being compartmentalised these days. I think we have 72 sects or so in existence! Sure, each of these sects acknowledge Allah and the Prophet (SAW) but in their own style and rhythm. Muslims are losing focus of the true preaching of Allah and the Prophet. And we Sufis are losing that lovely Sufi spirit. And that’s a shame.
Aren’t we supposed to be wise, learned, perceptive, intelligent, clever, prudent, sensible judicious? Aren’t we meant to be cheerful, happy, jolly, joyful, lively and always in good spirits and aren’t we meant to be charming, enchanting, captivating, attractive? Aren’t we supposed to be loveable dreamers of Islam? Haven’t Sufis been influential in spreading Islam around the world for the past many centuries? I am sure the Sufi saints did not shrug off non-believers and banish them to hell in the process. Our dear Prophet (pbh) is a prime and solid example of this and so were his Sahabas. Sheik Nazim is living proof of this can-do, can-be attitude. They have given us the way and all we need to do is to follow the path.
What are we waiting for?