It is impossible to discuss religious values for very long before the word love crops up. Over the last ten years or so I have greatly admired those who seek a lone path in the pursuit of God. Those who love truth as a means toward knowing God. In my last blog I especially referenced those who are lone seekers. Eliot puts it well
"Old men should be explorers
Here and there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity."
But there is a form of Love for God and for one's neighbour and for children where the here and now matter very much. Good examples from the fifth issue of Critical Muslim are the modest but effective maternal love in the sewing of bags of fruit and nuts for the journey through Partition as described in My Resting Place by Irna Qureshi and in the self sacrifice of Kohla Hasan's mother in her decision to forgo Pakistan and embrace Bradford. The only uniqueness about these actions of Love is that they are well described. They are common place among mothers all over the world. My own mother patiently bore the loss of two other children.
There is a scene in the fine documentary Occupation 101 where a Palestrina mother describes the demolition of her home three times over whilst caressing the hair of her small son. They both smile.
It is put beautifully in Morning Song by Sylvia Plath
'All night your moth breath
flickers among the flat roses
A far sea moves in my ear.'
These two planes of the Universe, the smell of baby powder and the far constellations intimating immortality are brought together often in both the Qur'an and the Bible. My understanding is that the first small mosque in Medina was a 24/7 community centre and nothing could be more earthy that the stable in which Jesus was born.
In secular literature writers such as Arundhati Roy and Khaled Husseini can draw together the ultimate and the near; sufficiently close that the reader can, for a few moments, pinch together 'heaven's embroidered cloth' and the dust of which we are made; in a moment that lasts a life time.
Ken Mafham is a Muslim Insitute Fellow and a Town Planning Consultant with 40 years experience. His work has taken him to Mauritius, Bauch State Nigeria , Merseyside and the East Midlands. He has also taught lessons to 30-40 individuals a week for the last fifteen years, from Year 1 to A level. This leaves little time for hobbies but he does like to play the violin and sing. Not both at the same time though.