6 Aug 2006

If Shakespeare had been Muslim

Well nice to get a Letter in the Observer but a bit cut, the point was that Israel's actions and those of George Blair are creating a huge growth in the worst kind of Islamic fundamentalism, interestingly Israel's actions are so extreme that there is now huge Christian support for Hezbollah.....anyway nice to get a positive letter about Islam into the press....also pasted on article about Shakespeare and Sufism. When the PLO were stronger there was no scare about Islam....also important to flag up what is most positive about Islam and get non Muslim's to think about Sufism.

'Sufis too have fought in wars but so have Buddhists. Sufism shines as one of the most culturally refined and sophisticated flowerings of religion on this planet.

However we must recognise that the invasion of Lebanon is strangling tolerance as even Christians are now signing up to fight for Hizbullah. The Left must reject Islamo-fascism but the actions of Israel, supported by Bush and Blair energise the growth of the worst types of fundamentalism. We are all poorer for this product of Foreign Office action.' WAS CUT!

If Shakespeare had been Muslim

Martin Bright is right to oppose 'the rise of radical Islam' (Comment, last week), if, by this, he means a Muslim ideology based on hatred, particularly hatred of women, the gay community and other religions. Yet as Bright has made clear, most Muslims in Britain and, indeed, in the world, far from being 'Islamo-fascists', are from Sufist traditions. Sufism is notoriously tolerent and pluralistic. Sufism has produced great musicians and poets such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rumi and Omar Khayyam. Sufi thinkers such as the great scholar Nasr have long advocated environmental concern and non-violence. Far from being anti-female, some of the greatest Sufis have been women such as Rabia al-Adawiyya.

It's a historical accident that Britain was conquered by Christians. But for a twist of history, we could be a Muslim nation; after all, Islam reached France in the eigthth century. We could have mosques instead of churches, beautiful shrines to Sufi saints and some rather different musical traditions. I would guess a Muslim Shakespeare would have still written Hamlet, although Othello might have been from Norway.
Dr Derek Wall
Windsor, Berkshire

November 1, 2004
Was Shakespeare a Muslim?

The exterior walls of the Globe Theatre in London will be illuminated with scenes depicting Islamic Culture during Islam Awareness Week (22 - 28 November), whilst inside the theatre will be a week of plays by William Shakespeare.

So what is the connection between Islam and England's most famous playwright?

Dr Martin Lings, a Sufi, is presenting a thesis on the 23rd of November, arguing that Shakespeare was a member of a Sufi or similar religious order. Dr Lings says that it is clear from Shakespeare's writings that he knew a lot about the beliefs and principles of Sufism or at least about a religious order holding similar beliefs and principles. He says that Shakespeare's plays show a struggle between the traditional system of spiritual values and the beginning of the modern world values of atheism.

In King Lear the character Edgar is assisted by angels and impeded by devils, whilst The Tempest's Prospero states "We are such things as dreams are made of". Both of these examples, according to Dr Lings, fit the teachings of Sufism perfectly.

So is it really possible that Shakespeare could have been a Sufi Muslim? According to Dr Lings, the answer is yes.http://www.bhmf.org.uk/2004/11/was-shakespeare-muslim.html

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