Alas, the fragrant Sufi core of Sunniism is drying up

Nauman Naqvi in Outlook India:

ScreenHunter_18 Oct. 06 14.57The pogrom-like atmosphere gathering apace vis-a-vis its minorities in Pakistan is a far graver threat to society than is commonly realised. Sunnis, the majority community, do not appear to perceive that what is at stake is not an ‘altruistic’ concern for some weak, insignificant others. The larger framework of our lives—capitalism, and its partner in the abomination of our collective existence, nationalism—works to make us think and act as if ethical action towards others is reserved for exceptional moments of ‘altruism’, rather than being the everyday condition of a decent life. This destitute conception of ethics has come to pervade more and more of our lives, including our ‘religion’, which increasingly appears as a domain distinct from its own heart: ethics. Like everything around us, our ethics and religion too are fast becoming content-free.

What is at stake is the character, meaning and quality of life as such, inclusive, above all, of Sunniism and the integrity of its own nature and traditions. It is one of the key teachings of the Abrahamic faiths (and beyond, for example, in the Indic concept of karma) that what is of equal concern in acts of injustice and violence is the impact they have on one’s own soul. This cosmological insight is also at the origin of the philosophical tradition where, in Socrates and Plato, virtue is cultivated in the care of one’s own soul. Both rest on one fundamental: the most basic, enduring pleasure of life—the ground and potential of all other pleasures—is the pleasure of one’s own soul. Simply put, one cannot be a scoundrel to others without becoming a scoundrel to oneself. It cannot be denied that there are pleasures to be experienced in the ego of the scoundrel, but their destitute and transient quality is a common experience.

More here.