Monday, October 30, 2006
Peace Be With You
"I'm not a member of any organized political party, I'm a Democrat!" Will RogersSo I went to central London intending to visit the Stephen Wiltshire gallery but I got sidetracked by the activities at Trafalgar Square. I was curious to find out what was going on. It was Eid in the Square, a celebration to mark the end of Ramadan, "the month of fasting observed by millions of Muslims across the world." The wonderful thing about the event was it was the first ever being held at Trafalgar Square. I figured I might as well join in the celebration.
"I want to know God's thoughts... the rest are details." Albert Einstein
I am very familiar with Ramadan because I come from a family that is part Muslim. My grandmother on my mother's side was raised a Christian; her father was a Methodist minister. She married my grandfather who was a Muslim. Their children were raised as Muslims. When their father passed away the children were given the option whether they wanted to remain Muslim or convert to Christianity. My mother and one brother converted to Christianity while another brother and sister remained Muslims. I was brought up as a Christian Methodist but I now follow no religion.
At Eid in the Square, I found there was a tangible atmosphere of peace in the Square. One performer said his music had both British and Arabic influence but his songs sounded more like a prayer. The presenters seem to emanate peace; even the applause from the audience sounded peaceful. It didn't really surprise me because Muslims always greet one another with "Salam Alaikum" which means "peace be upon you." Every performer started with "Salam Alaikum." I was so moved by the songs I wanted to stay for the whole ceremony. I figured I could visit the gallery the next day, but then I had a thought to visit the gallery as it was only five minutes away. I got there just in time before they closed. It turned out the gallery wasn't open the next day (Sunday).
After the gallery, which had amazing pictures, I was back at the square. I moved among the audience and felt myself being embraced by this peaceful presence all around me. In fact, the presence stayed with me hours later after I'd left the event.
For me, there is a definite difference between peace and bliss. Peace is a tangible presence, while bliss is an inner feeling of great joy and happiness. I can be embraced in this peace while still thinking; but when I feel blissful, I'm captured in bliss. When I went to Diwali on the Square two weeks back, the vibe was of joy and happiness. The songs were lively and people looked as if they were filled with joy. The vibe of Eid was that of peace.
The experience got me thinking about God. Most people believe God is love but love isn't all that God is. God is the sum total of all that is good which includes love, peace, joy, bliss, wisdom, power, life, freedom, harmony, beauty...etc. Now religions are based on a founder/leader/teacher's vision or realisations of God. I've studied Jesus' ministry in the Bible on which Christianity is meant to be based on. From his teachings and miracles, Jesus was demonstrating God's many attributes such as spirit, light, love, grace, peace, truth, freedom, harmony, abundance and life. These attributes are the gifts of Christianity. The reason why I could never be a Christian is because I'm only interested in the attributes of God not human doctrines.
At one point I was interested in Hari Krishna because of the devotional aspect of singing and praising God. I soon discovered you couldn't become a member without following the teachings of the religious leader. I got what I wanted and left the rest behind.
I believe Islam offers peace to the world and for that I am very grateful.
Related articles: Diwali - Festival of Lights; Peace that Passes all Understanding; The Chapel ; The Living God