mystical islam

جن و بشر میں دیکہ رہا ہے تو تنہائی میری
جانتا ہے تو ائے خدا بس توہی خوائش میری

Amongst jinn and men You see my isolation
You are well aware, O God, all I desire is You.
— 

Sraliz

Jinn o bashar mein dekh raha hai tu tanhai meri
Jaanta hai tu, aye Khuda, bas tu hi khowaaish meri

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Urs of Hazrat Fareeduddin Masud Ganjshakar, Pak Pattan.

Fareeduddin Masud was a great sufi saint, who was born in the village of Kothewal, Pakistan in 1175. After the premature death of Khwaja Qutubuddin Kaki and a year after the demise of Khwaja Moinudeen Chishti, a bulk of the work begun by the latter fell upon his shoulders. It was he who, in his 37 years as head of the silsila, ensured the propagation of Islam throughout India and the lands beyond.

His shrine is in Pakpattan, Khawaja Nizamuddin constructed the tomb. The shrine has two doors, Noori darwaza and Bahishti darwaza. Bahishti darwaza opens once a year during 5 Muharram to 10 Muharram and thousands of people pass through it. His death anniversary is celebrated every year on the 5th of Muharram.

Not only in Islam, he is well known in Sikhism too, his verses have been collected in Guru Granth Sahib under the chapter Farid’s Sayings by Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

West African Mosques 

Mosques built in parts of the Muslim world where Arabs migrated or took control of through wars developed a distinct tradition of domes and minarets. In areas where Islam spread mostly by returning traders, traditions of mosque building were determined more by local skills and approaches.

According to Al Sayyad, the Arab conquest of the Middle East was motivated by three aims that conform to the notion of colonialism: a divine mission of spreading the Islamic religion, the maintenance of political power by the ruling Arab elite whilst expanding trade and finally to gain profit from resources of conquered lands. However, the Arab conquest did not always encounter confrontation. On the contrary as in the case of Damascus and Sicily, Arab dominion was preferable to Byzantine exploitation:“Appropriating and dismantling the religious and political buildings of earlier civilisations became common Arab practice. The symbolism associated with such transformations cannot be considered anything but colonial. The takeover of churches, and their later transformation into mosques, and the constructions of ruler’s palaces in the center of new or existing cities, represent colonial urbanism at work.” In contrast, Islam’s penetration of Sub-Saharan Africa dates to around the 9th century via the Saharan caravan routes. Two strands of influence shaped Islam in West Africa. One was the link between the Maghreb and the Berber-African gold-trading centres such as the pagan Soninke state of Ghana. The other was the eastern route that connected central Sudan – Kanem, Bornu and the Hausa states with Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. Although characterised by regional and ethnic variety, one unifying factor in African Islam is the predominance of the Maliki madhab – the same school of thought adhered to in the Maghreb. In addition to the commercial link between the two regions, a spiritual bond existed with North Africa. Indeed, the majority of Sufi brotherhoods in West Africa originate from the Maghreb but the spread of the so-called turuq (Arab. ‘path’ used to describe the Sufi brotherhoods) did not happen until much later in the 18th and 19th centuries.

As the equivalent of the word “masjid ” in various African languages indicates, like its Arabic root, that the mosque is nothing more than a place of prostration: massallatai in Nigeria, missidi in Futa Diallon. By contrast, diakka in Wolof literally means to face east. West African mosques vary from simple roofless enclosures serving the function of places for communal prayer, to magnificent buildings. It would be impossible to do justice to the vast array of stylistic variants of mosque architecture in West Africa alone, therefore the regions covered here are primarily Senegal and Mali.
Mali was impregnated with a tradition known by the name of its dominant group, the Mande, whence Manding. Among them, those who were islamised were known as Dyula or Wangara. This group also covered a large area during their migration, spanning part of Senegal, Northern Nigeria, the Upper Niger Bend, Guinea coast and over to Kong in the Ivory Coast. Mande style is characterised by the use of conical forms particularly found on monumental entrances of courtyard houses and mosques. Decorated with pilasters and elements in relief alternating with voids, these façades are also found in Dogon architecture. But apart from the close affinity between domestic and religious architecture, additional elements such as the phallic pylons testify as to the integration of ancestral practices with Islamic ones.Thus the Mande style – which has come to be associated with the Soudanese style – was transmitted by traders who taught mystical Islam throughout this vast region. Nowadays, however, the transmission of the djennenké style takes place with the movement of master-builders whose craftsmanship is much sought after.

The origins of the Soudanese mosque are not clear-cut: their monumental and fortress-like exteriors are reminiscent of the defensive architecture of West Africa known as tata. There may also be a relation between these mosques and domestic architecture. The Great Mosque of Djenné typifies the Soudanese mosque and furthermore it may have been the progenitor of this type of mosque architecture. Although it was rebuilt under the aegis of the French administration in 1907, the craftsmen, as along with the building technology, are more local than French. This vast mosque dominates the market place from its raised platform. Like its relatives, the mosque is characterised by its use of buttressing, pinnacles and attached pillars all of which are punctuated by the toron spikes. Unlike many other Soudanese mosques, the ceiling of Djenné’s great mosque are very high. The western side of the mosque opens onto a large courtyard at the rear of which are situated the women’s galleries, one on each side of the entrance.This mosque has become almost iconic in terms of West African mosque architecture and numerous village mosques in the surrounding area emulate the Djenné mosque albeit on a miniature scale. Dominated by their minaret tower, courtyard and the flat roof from where the adhan is made, each mosque has its own distinctive character.Relatives of the Soudanese mosques in Mali can be found in the Futa Toro in north-eastern Senegal. Here dwellings are generally preceded by a wooden veranda or mud porch typical of all Tukolor housing in the area. This structure is echoed in the sacred enclosure around Futa mosques consisting of a projecting straw roof supported by posts whose function is to accommodate the overflow of worshippers and protect them from the sun. As for the central and coastal area of Senegal, the influence of colonialism left its mark on mosque building and the mosques of Saint Louis, Gorée and Dakar (Blanchot) are all equipped with a front porch defined by arcades with pointed arches.

Text by: Kafia Cantone

Vegetarianism, Veganism, and Sant Mat, by James Bean, Plus a Compilation of Veg Quotes of the East & West

It’s hard to reach more subtle states of tranquility in meditation on an animal flesh diet based on the suffering of other beings.

“I must point out that animal food, even if a single particle is eaten, is detrimental to spiritual progress.” (Huzur Baba Sawan Singh)

The Way of the Saints and Mystics, Getting Back to Eden: “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.’” (Hebrew Bible, Genesis 1:29, New International Version)

Master Kirpal Singh speaking about Rumi and the other most advanced Murshids (spiritual masters) of Sufi mysticism once said: “Those who take up the practices concerning the lower centers in the body, do take meat – the Mohammedans and people of other religions also. But those who are anxious to rise above body consciousness and go into the Beyond have of necessity to eschew all that. This is the Path I have put before you. Liberation or salvation is something which starts only when you rise above body consciousness. For that reason, vegetarianism is the first essential.” (The Night is a Jungle, published by Ruhani Satsang)

The harshest words that Guru Kabir ever spoke were directed against the slaughter or consumption of innocent animals: “The man who eats meat is a demon in human form. Keep away from him – his company will ruin your meditation.”

Ahimsa (Non-Violence) and Diet

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” (Albert Einstein)

The following, on the reason why we in Santmat advocate following the vegetarian diet, is by Swami Santsevi Ji Maharaj from the book, The Harmony of All Religions (Sarvadharma Samanvy), published by Maharshi Mehi Ashram:

“The saints have addressed the sin of violence with particular attention to the foods which are eaten. Foods which are produced by killing living beings, as well as foods which are not pure and fresh, are considered tamasic. Consumption of these is prohibited by the teachings of the saints. This includes animal products such as meat, fish, and eggs. These foods inhibit the clarity of the mind and the health of the body. There is an old saying: 'Whatever kind of food we take in, its properties will also fill our mind.’ A parallel saying is, 'Whatever we eat, just so will our breath smell [indicates the visible effect of food].’

Further, Kabir Sahab says: 'The kind of food and drink which we consume directly influences how our mind will become. Even the quality of water which we drink will influence our speech.’ These words of Kabir Sahib are not merely rhetorical conjecture, but represent direct experience…

"A great yogi named Bhupendranath Ji Sanyal has said: 'It is preferable to always avoid the consumption of flesh and fish. This is because in the very cells of these animals there might be bad diseases. But even more significantly, the natural vibration of these creatures is absorbed into the blood. This can create agitation and even sickness, and will destroy the natural calmness of the mind. Also, one must not take intoxicants, as this is a great breach of the spiritual path and natural duty (dharma). [Under the influence of intoxicants people are unable to discern the right path of action].’

"Therefore, we must be disciplined in what we eat and drink, and by being disciplined, our wealth and spiritual path are protected. This world becomes agreeable, and so does the next world, since we won’t be incurring the karmas from killing other living beings.” (Beloved Swami Santsevi Ji Maharaj, Sant Mat, the Path of the Masters)

All past and present Masters of Sant Mat, the most advanced Saints of Inner Light and Sound, advocate following the vegetarian diet. In fact, being vegetarian is a requirement in order to be initiated into the meditation practice of Sant Mat, Surat Shabd Yoga, Meditation upon the inner Light and Sound of God.

Sant Mat is a vegetarian Path for mystical, spiritual, ethical and theological reasons. The Masters teach that foods are of three kinds: Satvik, Rajsik, and Tamsik. This last category of foods, which includes all flesh foods, is to be completely avoided. Satvik (pure foods), the first category, includes: grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts. Satvik foods are considered by Mystics to promote relaxation, meditation, and spiritual experience.

The bad karma and other negative effects of flesh-eating darkens one’s vision of inner Light, interfering with concentration and meditation. It’s interesting to notice that the Satvik diet of Sant Mat, of Hinduism and the Yoga Philosophy of India is also: the life-extension diet, the anti-cancer diet, the diet for antioxidants and most of the other plant-based nutrients, AND the diet of the Light & Sound mystics, East and West.

A Young Kirpal Singh Meditating at an Early Age

“Kirpal began meditating at the age of four. When other boys and girls of his age were busy playing, he would be busy meditating. He never wasted his time with sports. He would sit quiet with eyes closed. He would see spiritual sights within and would traverse on spiritual planes. He would remain lost in ecstasy. But whenever this absorption in meditation would break after intervals of 2 to 3 months, he would feel very restless. His spiritual flights would, however, start again shortly afterwards.

Abstinence from Meat

"His family was non-vegetarian But he was averse to taking meat even as a child. While his brothers and sisters would ask for more, he would have none at all. He was content with bread and vegetables. His father asked, 'Pal, why don’t you take meat? It will do you good.’ He sweetly replied, 'It is very well, father, but is not meat dead flesh, and would you have me make a burial ground of my body?’ The father could only smile and the child had his own way.” (The Beloved Master – Some Glimpses from the Life of Sant Kirpal Singh, by Bhadra Sena)

The notion that vegetarianism is “cultural” and confined mostly to India is the inaccurate assumption of some new age or esoteric teachers in the West. It is true that many conventional world religions condone flesh-eating, but if you do some comparative mysticism you’ll soon discover that the serious esoteric traditions which have practiced Light mysticism, Sound mysticism, and Ascension mysticism through higher planes of heavens are all in agreement about the need for contemplative mystics to abstain from the flesh. The list of Western vegetarian paths includes: Pythagoreans, followers of the Hermetic philosophy of Egypt, the Sethian Gnostics, Theraputae, Essenes (and other Light-mystics within Judaism), the original Jewish Christians called Ebionites (see The Gospel of Jesus – In Search of His Original Teachings, by John Davidson), the Gnostic religions, Manichaeans, some Catholic monasteries, monasteries of the Orthodox Church – including the great mystery school atop Mount Athos in Greece, and the Sufi mystics of Islam who practice Zikhr of the Spirit, Light, and Sound. Most every path that advocates a present-tense spirituality about reentering Paradise or going Back to Eden during this life teaches vegetarianism.

A Western Master of Sound & Light by the name of Pythagoras once said, “Our Earth has abundance of such pure and harmless foods and there is no need for us to partake of meals for which blood has to be shed and innocent life sacrificed.”

Pythagoras also said: “As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”

Just like the Pythagoreas gathered together at sunrise, so did members of a Jewish sect of antiquity known as the Therapeutae, and like the Essene branch of Judaism, they were vegetarians. Josephus and Philo wrote about the Essenes and Therapeutae. Philo of Alexandria describes meals at a Therapeutae monastic community in Alexandria: “…And the table, too, is kept clear of animal flesh, nothing which has blood, but there is placed upon it bread for food and salt for seasoning, to which also hyssop is sometimes added…”

John the Baptist Ate Locust (Carob) BEANS, NOT BUGS

“John the Baptist belonged to a group of ascetics who believed in repentance and in leading an austere lifestyle. The carob bean was seen as the diet of the lower class who normally endured hardship and exploitation from the priestly class. So we can conclude that JTB ate (locust plant) seed from the carob tree.” (Wiki Answers Website) Also according to the Gospel of the Ebionites, John the Baptist ate carob beans, bread or cakes made from carob bean (locust bean) flour.

In recent years some of us have noticed the vegetarianism and even veganism present in the original teachings of Jesus and Original Jesus Movement or Hebrew Christians (Ebionites, Nasoreans) found in the Gospel of the Hebrews, Aramaic texts, and other scriptures once used during the early centuries.  

Vegetarian Sayings of the Historic Jesus and His Spiritual Successors (Apostles) in the Original Jesus Movement (Ebionites of Israel)

“Be on guard, so that your hearts do not become heavy with the eating of flesh and with the intoxication of wine and with the anxiety of the world, and that day come upon you suddenly; for as a snare it will come upon all who dwell upon the surface of the earth.” (Jesus, Luke 21:34, Evangelion Da-Mepharreshe — Old Syriac-Aramaic Manuscript of the Gospel of Luke)

Like the Essenes, Jesus, his family, and the original followers were also vegetarians and opposed to all sacrifice of animals in the Jewish temple.

“I am come to do away with sacrifices, and if you cease not sacrificing, the wrath of God will not cease from you.” (saying of Jesus in the Gospel of the Hebrews)

Stopping Animal Sacrifice in the Temple of Jerusalem

During the First Century AD, the Essenes were one of the three main branches of Judaism. They were opposed to animal sacrifices being made in the Jewish temple and they were also known to be vegetarians. The Essenes were the group that Jesus and the first Christians, the Ebionites, were closest to, sharing with them many of the same values and sacred texts. Unlike the Sadducees and Pharisees, the Essenes are never criticized in the New Testament.

“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the Temple, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said: 'Get out of here.’ (John 2:13-16)

According to the Gospel of the Ebionites, Jesus also rejected the Passover meal:

"Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover?”

To which he replied:

“I have no desire to eat the flesh of this Paschal Lamb with you.”

The first followers of Jesus, also known as Ebionites or Nasoreans, were not only kosher, but also strictly adhered to a vegetarian diet. The largest surviving collection of Ebionite scriptures is the Clementine Homilies and the Recognitions of Clement, which are vegetarian gospels that condemn animal sacrifice in any form. For example, the Book of Homilies states that God does not want animals killed at all (3.45), and condemns those who eat meat (7.4, 7.8). And the passages below also show that the diet of the Original Jesus Movement was vegan – plant-based (no eggs, no dairy, and no animal products), as plants are the only foods mentioned in all the texts!

Peter said, “I live on olives and bread, to which I rarely only add vegetables.” (Clementine Homilies 12,6; also see, Recognitions 7,6)

“And happiness is found in the practice of virtue. Accordingly, the Apostle Matthew partook of seeds, and nuts, hard-shelled fruits, and vegetables, without flesh.” (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 2, Chapter 1)

“John never ate meat.” (Church historian Hegesipp according to Eusebius, History of the Church II 2:3)

“James, the brother of the Lord, lived on seeds and plants and touched neither meat nor wine.” (Epistulae ad Faustum XXII, 3)

“James, the brother of the Lord was holy from his mothers womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh.” (Hegesippus, quoted in The Church History of Eusebius, book 2, chapter 23)

“James was a vegetarian.” (Biblical scholar Dr. Robert Eisenman, author of, “James, the Brother of Jesus”)

The following passage is from the Recognitions of Clement, another “Book of Acts”, an important scripture of early Christianity. This Ebionite Christian author has very nice things to say about those in India who worship One God, follow peaceful customs and laws, and are vegetarian or vegan, seeing parallels between his own religion and that of his brothers and sisters “in the Indian countries” of two thousand years ago:

“There are likewise amongst the Bactrians,
in the Indian countries,
immense multitudes of Brahmans,
who also themselves,
from the tradition of their ancestors,
and peaceful customs and laws,
neither commit murder nor adultery,
nor worship idols,
nor have the practice of eating animal food,
are never drunk,
never do anything maliciously,
but always revere God.”

(Recognitions of Clement, Book 9, Chapter 22, Brahmans, Volume Eight, in a New Testament Apocrypha Section of, “The Ante-Nicene Fathers”)

“The consumption of animal flesh was unknown up until the great flood. But since the great flood, we have had animal flesh stuffed into our mouths. Jesus, the Christ, who appeared when the time was fulfilled, again joined the end to the beginning, so that we are now no longer allowed to eat animal flesh.” (pro-vegetarian early church father Hieronymus)

Gnostic Vegetarianism and the Vegetarian Prayer of Thanksgiving in the Nag Hammadi Library (Gnostic Gospels)

The ethics of Jewish and Christian Gnostic sects of antiquity included vegetarianism. The Prayer of Thanksgiving, one of the Nag Hammadi scriptures unearthed in Egypt, describes a vegetarian communal meal as being part of Gnostic worship. The Manichaean Gnostics were known to be vegetarians. The Prophet Mani’s parents were followers of the Elkasites, which was a Jewish-Christian sect related to the Ebionites and Essenes. They were veg. Mani was the founder of Manichaean Gnosis and was vegetarian, and his inner circle of followers or initiates were as well. A group in China known as the Church of the Light , related to the Manichaeans and Syriac-Aramaic branch of Eastern Christianity, were vegetarians. Their beautiful scriptures are known as the Jesus Sutras.

The Gnostic and Hermetic Prayer of Thanksgiving in the Nag Hammadi Library, also a text found in the Corpus Hermetica of Egypt, describes a vegetarian communal meal or Gnostic love feast. At the end of the prayer the final verse reads:

“When they had said these things in the prayer, they embraced each other and they went to eat their holy food, which has no blood in it.”*

* “Vegetarian food” — footnote from the Marvin Meyer’s translation of this in, “The Gnostic Scriptures”.

* A vegetarian meal. This passage is also found in the Epilogue of Asclepius, in “HERMETICA,” translated by Sir Walter Scott: “Having prayed thus, let us betake ourselves to a meal unpolluted by flesh [animalia] of living things.”

* The G.R.S. Mead translation of the same passage: “With this desire we now betake us to our pure and fleshless meal.”

* “With such hopes we turn to a pure meal that includes no living thing.” (Asclepius, translated in “Hermetica”, Brian Copenhaver, Cambridge University Press)

The Vegan Evolution of Humanity: Vegetarianism is Going Vegan

Traditionally, Santmat and the yoga philosophy have advocated the lacto-vegetarian diet: abstinence from meat, fish, fowl, and eggs, but allowed dairy. Vegan means complete abstinence from all animal products and strictly adhering to a plant-based diet: no dairy, eggs, or meat of any kind, or products made from animals. Based on the current cruel practices of the dairy industry in India and around the world that violate the principle of ahimsa or non-violence, plus all the scores of medical studies showing that dairy consumption adversely affects our health and well-being, I believe if they were here today, the classic Saints such as Mahavira, Guru Kabir, Guru Nanak, Tukarama, Ravidas, Tulsi Das, Namdev, Dariya Sahib, etc…  would not only be advocating a vegetarian diet, but a vegan diet. These days, many are making this transition to vegan, including a growing percentage of those following Sant Mat. This is the compassionate direction that the vegetarian movement is headed in. Vegetarianism is going vegan.

For the medical, human health aspects of veganism, see the research of Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of, “The China Study”, and Dr. Michael Greger, author of, “How Not To Die”, and creator of the NutritionFacts dot ORG website, a great online resource.

The Reality of Dairy Cruelty – the Final Destination of Dairy Cows is the Slaughterhouse

The following is excerpted from a document called, “My Visit to a Dairy Farm”, published by Pravin K. Shah of the Jaina Education Committee of Jainism (the vegan Jain movement), Jain e-Library, and the Jain Study Center:

“I visited a dairy farm located on Route 2 north of Burlington, Vermont (USA) in May of 1995. The dairy owns approximately 150 cows. All of its milk production is used to make ice cream.

"Here is the summary of what I saw and learnt:

"It was milking time (5:00 PM) and the cows were being milked in 3.5 minutes each by a machine. This is done without regard to how hard it is on the cow. It was extremely difficult to watch the cows’ sufferings during the milking. The machine has no feeling. To extract the last drop of milk sometimes traces of blood get mixed with the milk.

"Since cows produce the most milk after pregnancy, they are kept pregnant for their entire fertile life through artificial insemination.

"Every morning hormones or drugs are injected into the cows. They are also fed a diet geared toward high production of milk. The dairy cow produces about 8 times the amount of milk a cow on the traditional family farm produces.

"The gestation period of cow is 9 months same as human does. If a male calf, of no use to the dairy industry, is born, he is shipped to the veal industry within two or three days of birth. The evening I was there, the farm was shipping three baby calves in a truck to a veal factory. The mother cows were crying when their babies were separated from them. I cannot forget the scene and can still hear the cries of the mother cows.

"The veal industry is the most cruel meat industry in the world. It produces very tender meat that is considered a delicacy. The baby calves are raised in darkness in a very confining crate, which allows practically no movements. They are fed an iron-deficient diet. This way the meat gets very tender and properly textured. They slaughter the baby calves after six months. There is much literature available about cruelty in the veal industry.

"Within two months of delivery, the cows are impregnated again. I did not have the stamina to watch the process of artificial insemination that the farm was showing off.

"About four to five times a year, this farm would take the cows outside for a walk. Otherwise, the cows are tied in one place and they have no choice but to defecate where they are confined. It badly stunk when I was there; the farm would wash the confinement areas once or twice a day, and the remaining times the cows would live in their own waste.

"The life expectancy of cows is about 15 to 20 years. However, after about 4 to 5 years, their milk production capacity drops significantly so these cows are sent to the slaughterhouse for cheap meat which is used in fast food restaurants, hot dog filler, dog & cat food and a variety of other 'foodstuffs’. The rest of the body material (by products) turns up in the products like floor wax, pet-food, medicines, insulin, gelatin, footwear, upholstery, taco filling, cosmetics, candles, and soaps.”

“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” (Jiddu Krishnamurti)

Compassionate Vegan and Vegetarian Quotes From Supreme Master Ching Hai, and Buddhism

“A true vegetarian diet is vegan: Most of the milk production causes suffering, first of all because the babies of the mother cows are taken away at birth. Deprived from mother’s milk and mother’s love, they’ll be killed as soon as they’re taken away. Then, the mother is forcefully hooked up to a machine that can cause tormenting pain along with illness, just so that humans can take her milk.”

“This killing of other beings must be stopped for humanity to evolve as a civilization.”

“Making a vegan choice is thus a true advancement in the evolution and goodness of our humanity. And then we also know that like attracts like, goodness attracts more goodness. As we share this compassionate truth with others, not only will our own humanity be further uplifted, so will the world’s.”

“It’s the high time that the human race should rise to a higher level of consciousness. They should be noble, kind and compassionate. Go veg, be green, do good, is not just for the planet, it’s for the whole human race ennobling, spiritual merit and quality. They should do it, just for the sake of being noble.”

“We have to turn back to our caring and compassionate nature inside our heart. That’s very simple. We are that. We are compassion. We are merciful; we are caring.”

“If we truly wish to see real harmony born between humans and animals and nature and Heaven, we must be the harmony, we must live in harmony and act also in harmony, which includes the act of eating harmoniously each time we come to the table.”

“Even if the world reduces greenhouse gas emissions, the planet will take time to recover from the gases already in the atmosphere. This is why it is necessary to focus on short-lived gases, namely methane. Organic vegan will produce a beneficial, cooling effect as it will cut down methane and other greenhouse gases which are fatal to our survival.”

Change the World by Changing Ourselves: “It begins with us. Since time immemorial, evolution always begins with the individual. If we want to change the world, we change ourselves first. Now, even if the government forbids smoking or drinking or drugs, but if people individually continue, then we have not made much difference. So now, we have to change.“

“The more people who eliminate meat and, indeed, all animal products from their lives, the more we have a chance to save the planet and not only that, to actually restore our earthly home to her original grace and beauty and even more so, more than what we have known, more beautiful, more abundant, more peace, more gladness than what we have known up to now.”

– Quotes above are from Supreme Master Ching Hai, SMCH Association, from the online book: “From Crisis To Peace: The Organic Vegan Way is the Answer”

“The eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great compassion.” (The Buddha, “Mahaparinirvana Sutra”)

“Veganism is simply letting compassion guide our choice of food. As such, it is a basic Buddhist practice that ought to be expected of everyone who takes refuge vows.” (Norm Phelps, “The Great Compassion: Buddhism & Animal Rights”)

“The Buddha’s teaching leads us to the realization that we must always strive to harm no sentient being, human or nonhuman, whether or not it is in our selfish interest to do so.” (Norm Phelps, “The Great Compassion: Buddhism & Animal Rights”)

“Meat eating and a compassionate religion do not go hand in hand.” (Bodo Balsys, “Ahimsa: Buddhism and the Vegetarian Ideal”)

Vegetarian Diet, Guru Nanak, Guru Kabir, Other Sikh Gurus and Scriptures

Nanak abstained from animal food and enjoined against cruelty to animals: “Having prohibited his disciples to drink wine and eat pork, he (Nanak) himself abstained from eating flesh and ordered not to hurt any living being.” (the Persian historian Mohsin Fani, DABISTAN-E-MAZAHIB)

“To take what rightfully belongs to another, is like a Muslim eating pork, or a Hindu eating beef. Our Guru, our Spiritual Guide, stands by us if we do not eat those carcasses. By mere talk, people do not earn Liberation. Salvation only comes from the practice of truth. By adding spices to forbidden foods, they are not made acceptable. O Nanak, from false talk, only falsehood is obtained”. (Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 141)

“Countless are the cutthroats who trade in violence. Countless are sinners who keep on sinning. Countless are liars, wandering lost in their lies. Countless are the impious who live on unwholesome food.” (Guru Nanak, Jap Ji, Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 4)

“Living by neglect and greed, the world eats dead carcasses. Like a goblin or a beast, they kill and eat the forbidden carcasses of meat. Control your urges, or else you will be thrown into the tortures of hell.” (Guru Arjan Dev, Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 723).

“Kabeer says, the dinner of beans and rice is excellent when flavored with salt. Who would cut throats to have meat with his bread?” (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1374)

“Kabeer: for those who consume marijuana, fish and wine, no matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, they will all be consigned to hell”. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1377)

“You keep your fasts to please Allah, while you murder other beings for pleasure. You look after your own interests, and so not see the interests of others. What good is your word? O Qazi, the One Lord is within you, but you do not think or contemplation on Him. You do not care for others, you are mad about religion, this is why your life is wasting away.” (Kabir, Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 483)

“You kill living beings, and call it a righteous action. Tell me, brother, what would you call an unrighteous action? You call yourself the excellent sage; then whom would you call a butcher?” (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1103).      

Bhai Gurdaas Ji said: “They eat meat by cutting throats, what will their own condition be?” (Vaar 24, Pauree 17)

“One who does not steal, commit adultery, slander anyone, gamble, eat meat or drink wine will be liberated in this very life (i.e. Jeewan Mukt)”. (Guru Gobind Singh, 10th Sikh Guru, “Sudharam Marag Granth”)

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STILLNESS

Stillness, then silence, then random speech,
Then knowledge, intoxication, annihilation;
Earth, then fire, then light.
Coldness, then shade, then sunlight.
Thorny road, then a path, then the wilderness.
River, then ocean, then the shore;
Contentment, desire, then Love.
Closeness, union, intimacy;
Closing, then opening, then obliteration,
Separation, togetherness, then longing;
Signs for those of real understanding
Who find this world of little value.

Mansur al-Hallaj

Understanding the different sects of Islam

Muslims are not merely divided into liberal, secular, conservative, hard-liner, Islamist, and extremist, nor are they simply just Shiite or Sunni. There are also very different schools of thought and their views on issues from women’s rights to apostasy vary immensely from one another. I just want to focus on the major ones, to give people a better understanding of how diverse the Muslim world is.

Hanafi (Sunni) Muslims - The largest number of Sunni Muslims belong to the Hanafi school of thought. It is the major school of Islamic thought for most of the Muslims in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the former Soviet countries, as well as significant number of Muslims in India, China, Iraq, Russia, and the Caucasus.

Hanabali (Sunni) Muslims - Considered by many Muslims as the most extremist form of thought, Hanabali is the forerunner for the Wahabbi-Salafi extremist ideology in Saudi Arabia. Hanabali school of thought is found primarily in Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, with smaller numbers scattered around the world.

Maliki (Sunni) Muslims - The Maliki is the main school of thought in Africa, including North Africa. It is also very significant in the United Arab Emirates, and to a lesser extent parts of other Arab Gulf countries.

Shafai’i (Sunni) Muslims - This school of thought is followed mainly by Muslims in Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and other parts of Southeast Asia. It is also, to a smaller extent, followed in East Africa, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, by the Kurds, small parts of Egypt and Yemen.

Zahiri (Sunni) Muslims - A very tiny group within the Sunni schools of thought, Zahiris make up a small minority communities in Morocco and Pakistan.

Twelver (Shiite) Muslims - Often referred to just as Shiite, the twelvers are by far the largest group of Shiite Muslims in the world making up over 90% of all Shiite Muslims. They believe in “12 Imams” having succeeded Muhammad, with the 12th Imam expected to appear on judgement day with Jesus. Known as the Mahdi, he is said to bring peace to earth with Jesus. According to Shiite beliefs, the Mahdi will be looked upon to prepare for the reign of Jesus who will rule for a time after. The twelvers make up the majority of Muslims in in Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain, with lesser, but very significant populations in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Kuwait and the heavily persecuted community in Eastern province of Saudi Arabia.

Alawites (Shiite) Muslims - As a branch of the Twelver Shiites, they are a group of Muslims who incorporate many Christian and Gnostic elements in their beliefs, and seen as very secular. Historically they have been heavily persecuted and resorted to concealing their beliefs in Sunni ruled regions. They number around 3-5 million people scattered mainly in Syria, Turkey, and Lebanon. 

Alevi (Shiite) Muslims -  As a branch of the Twelver Shiites, they mainly focus on philosophy and tradition. They are also widely secular and they incorporate many sufi and non-Islamic elements in their customs. There are around 24 million Alevis worldwide, with the majority in Turkey, and the rest mainly in the Balkans, Albania, Azerbaijan, Iran and Syria.

Ismaili (Shiite) Muslims - The Ismailis and Twelver Shiites both accept the same initial Imams and share a lot in common. However, they disagree on the succession of the Sixth Imam. Most Ismaelis originate from the Indian subcontinent and many later migrated to Africa. Their population is around 15 million worldwide, and they are scattered in different parts of the world.

Druze (Shiite) Muslims - A very small number, branching from the Ismaili sect of Shiite Islam. They are one of the small groups of Muslim sects that do not accept converts. Some Druze do not even consider themselves as Muslims. There are currently around 2 million Druze in the world, with the majority in Syria, and smaller but very significant populations in Lebanon and Israel. 

Zaidi (Shiite) Muslims - The Zaidis, similar to the Ismaeilis, share a great deal with the Twelver Shiite Muslims, as they all accept the same initial Imams. However, the Zaidis disagree on the succession of the 4th Imam, as to who should have been the 5th Imam, and hence they are sometimes referred to as “Fivers”. Their only major concentration is in Yemen, where they make up about 40% of the total Muslim population. 

Sufi Muslims - Considered to the spiritualist mystical Muslims, the Sufis have been persecuted in many countries. Historically Turkey and Iran were the two major centres for the Sufis. In recent years Sufism has spread to several other countries, despite being persecuted, it is celebrated as a spiritual mystical form of Islam. Sufism, however, is not a separate sect, but more of an approach. There are Shiite Sufis and Sunni Sufis.

Ibadi Muslims - The only country where Ibadi Muslims have a significant following is Oman, with a significant number in Zanzibar as well. They are neither considered to be Sunni or Shiite.

Ahmadi Muslims - The Ahmadiyya community is a minority Muslim sect in every country of the world. There is no country that even comes close to being Ahmadiyya in its school of thought. Pakistan has the largest population of Ahmadi Muslims. 

Note 1: The Jafari Shiite school of thought is the jurisprudence of most Shiite Muslims, followed by Twelvers, Alevis and Ismailis, as well as many of the Zaidis.

Note 2: There are many other smaller groups within Islam, and also several Islamic schools of thought which have gone extinct.