“The retrieval of mercy and balance will only be possible, however, when we examine ourselves by turning within, to rediscover the luminosity of the fitra, the natural way od din, which is the compassionate way of the heart which is the only stable foundation of da’wa and for honouring Abraham’s prayer for Ishmael and his descendants:” make the hearts of mankind incline towards them.” (14:37)”
– (Murad, Pg 141)
Travelling Home is a set of essays by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad touching upon some of the current themes plaguing the “Ishmaelites” (Muslims), as he calls them. He invokes the story of Ishmael and his epic journey; born of an egyptian slave mother who faced estrangement all his life, despite being the heir to KhalilUllah (Friend of Allah).
Fast-forward, thousands of centuries, living in the heart of Europe, the “Ishmaelites” experience a similar alienation, despite residing here with an established religio-cultural heritage, for centuries now. The modern Muslim faces a crisis of faith and identity, now more than ever. The various responses to this crisis are in the shape of Islamophobia, religious zealotry and fanaticism, all of which Murad, profusely disregards.
He argues for the return of the fundamental, overarching themes of Islam; “forbearance in the face of adversity and “ihsan- doing beautiful”. He argues for a more intellectually mature understanding of Islam which he explains via the classical analogy of the epic, eastern, folklore of Laila and Majnun. The Majnun is the disenfranchised, often clueless wanderer in the fragmented, global, political landscape; living in the age of nation-states. Laila, is the Transcendental Divine Love residing deep inside the soul of the Majnun but clamored by an exoteric, legalistic, ostensible, religious garb, packaged to suit the modern reality; nationalism and ideology
The modernist packaging, he argues has only ravaged the meticulously constructed knowledge foundations by the “custodians-ulema” of the Faith and the resulting ego-centric and perverse manifestation of Islam has only successfully spun a web of fear, hatred and hostility between peoples of different faith, colour, race, culture.
He contemplates on the tragedy of the “Age of Tanfir”, where Muslims are “spiritually eroded and morally unfixed”. The pre-modern Islamic concepts of self-rectification to avoid fitna are relevant now more than ever.
Hence, this volume, though set in the backdrop of Europe, holds equal relevance to the Muslim in the Global and the local context.