Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Our Quests and Crusades...

BBC Radio Scotland
Thought for the Day – Wednesday 22nd December 2010
Dr. Amanullah De Sondy
Visiting Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies
University of Miami, FL.

Nial Macdonald, A Gaelic television and radio presenter aims to become the first person to row solo from New York to Stornoway on Lewis. He’ll set out from New York in May 2011 and reach his home town at the beginning of September. The Celtic rock band, Runrig, are also promoting this venture which will raise money for the Scottish Association for Mental Health. Macdonald has made it his mission to help people speak more openly on mental health issues based on his own battles in the past.

This brave mission by Macdonald has made me think about how our quests and crusades are both private and public. When I first moved to the United States I felt like I was following in the footsteps of my late Father who traveled the world before settling in Scotland. I’ve realised that moving from your comfort zone is always good. And that my understanding and research of Islam comes from my proud Scottish upbringing but with equal pride in my Pakistani roots.

Just as I have many influences – Scotland – Pakistan – now America, my aim in class is to make the students aware of the fact that world religions, be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism all attempt to present a meaning and guide to life, and exploring them can often help us become more aware of ourselves. But I also think lived experiences are vitally important for a continued education and journey in any faith, including Islam.

Influences come from everywhere. Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to help plan the visit of the Dalai Lama to the University of Miami. The Dalai Lama spoke on the quest for happiness in the world today and highlighted that peace prevails when one cultivates an inner peace through love and trust. It reminded me of the advice that the Prophet Muhammad gave to his followers. He prohibited them from forms of faith that isolate the private from the public, as the two need to work together. I guess finding a balance is a journey and quest for us all.

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