In my new book Claimed by the Sheikh, I am integrating new material advocating ONE LOVE re people of different faiths following the brutal slaying of Moslem men, women, and children in the Christchurch Mosque attack.
Interestingly, before I shared this my readers one of my BETA readers urged me to take care with Islamic-centered themes.
“I think women love to read about Sheikhs. They are strong, sexy, exotic, spicy and unpredictable to us. Rudolph Valentino was huge. But right now, there is a lot of anti-Islamic sentiment in the world so tread lightly there.”
And she is so right. There is a lot of anti-Islamic sentiment—or rather there was a lot of malevolent feelings toward Muslim people. Especially prior to the Mosque slayings in Christchurch, New Zealand. I’m a New Zealander, and like many people globally I have witnessed the huge outpouring of love following this murderous act.
Since then sentiments have changed considerably. I’m proud to say that unlike other countries, rather than place the media spotlight of the villain, we are placing our attention of the people and their families he victimized. We are placing our focus on the innocents – of which there are many. Including some as young as two and three-years-old.
The youngest victim of the Christchurch terror attack was recently released from the hospital.
Two-year-old Averroes was saved from serious injury in the Linwood mosque attack because his father, Zulfirman Syah, shielded him from the bullets with his own body.
Syah is still in the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds. Interestingly All-Black legend, Jerry Collins also shielded his 3-year-old daughter during the fatal car crash that claimed his own life and his Canadian wife Alana Madill.
Again, because of his heroic actions, he saved his young daughter’s life. It was this scene that inspired my current WIP Claimed by The Sheikh.
And it is these recent hate-crimes in New Zealand that have inspired me to integrate more about the beauty of Muslim into my story and the values that unite us all.
Many of the Muslim killed in Christchurch people are new immigrants to our country. They have been fleeing the tyranny of distorted truths and power-hungry men of darkness. And no, it hasn’t escaped me that this hateful crime took place in “Christ …Church.”
Some men who claim to be Muslim’s have distorted the teachings of Islam—as tyrants have always done across many other faith-based teachings. Take Catholicism for example—one moment the Roman Emperor Constantine was murdering those who believed in Christ’s teachings—the next he was converting and turning his murderous degrees on those he once led and now branded as pagans.
Constantine established himself as the head of the church around 313 A.D., which made this new “Christianity” the official religion of the Roman Empire—look out if you didn’t willingly convert!
Instead of preaching and supporting universal God principals of love, compassion, unity, men of darkness only speak the language of feed fear, torture, oppression, and murder. They insist their way is the only way. Throughout history, this intolerance of others rights to believe what they like and to live in peace has fueled war after war after war.
There is no place in religion or spiritual beliefs for war. This is against all teachings. Those who encourage wars are flawed, wounded humans, not divinely inspired beings. Remember that.
Rid yourself of ignorance. Seek first to understand the unity that binds Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism, and other man-created segregation. Love. Love is the cure. Love is the road to redemption,
Give peace a chance. Do not fight back against acts of aggression with more aggression.
The ideal society according to the Qur’an is Dar as-Salam, literally, “the house of peace” of which it intones: And Allah invites to the ‘abode of peace’ and guides whom He pleases into the right path.
According to Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, there will be an era in which justice, plenty, abundance, well-being, security, peace, and brotherhood will prevail among humanity and one in which people will experience love, self-sacrifice, tolerance, compassion, mercy, and loyalty.
Help save the world from chaos, injustice, and moral collapse.
I hope from this tragedy in New Zealand that finally some good will come. My heart weeps with those who have been impacted by this cruelty. My heart prays for peace.
One of my favorite poets is the spiritual teacher is Rumi. Jalaluddin Rumi (better known simply as Rumi). He was perhaps the finest Persian poet of all time and a great influence on Muslim writing and culture. His poetry is still well known throughout the modern world, and he is one of the best-selling poets in America.
Mother Theresa once wrote, “We are all pens in the hands of a writing God, sending love letters to the word” Many of Rumi’s beautiful words hold much healing during this difficult time:
“The wound is the place where the light enters you” Rumi
“Your task is not to seek for love, But merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it!”
“Sorrows are the rags of old clothes and jackets that serve to cover, then are taken off. That undressing and the naked body underneath is the sweetness that comes after grief.”
“This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all. Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
“The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
“Ignore those that make you fearful and sad, that degrade you back towards disease and death.”
I share more of Rumi’s beautiful teachings in my photo book Flower Power (see details at the end of this post).
big love – developing the spirituality, or more precisely the inner character
So, while there is darkness in some peoples hearts towards Islamic teaching, in millions of other hearts there is tremendous love. Like many of the Muslim people who have had to flee Somalia, Indonesia, Iraq, and other countries, Rumi too had to flee his country.
Increasing Mongol incursions (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasions_of_Afghanistan) when he was around the age of eleven forced his family to leave Afghanistan, who traveled to Baghdad, Mecca, Damascus and finally settled in Konya in Turkey. Rumi lived here for most of his life.
Rumi was the son of a renowned Sufi scholar, and it is more than likely that he was introduced to Sufism from a young age.
Sufism is a branch of Islam primarily concerned with developing the spirituality, or more precisely the inner character, of a Muslim.
This is not what Muslim extremists and fundamentalists teach. This is not the world of ISIS. In fact, the Truth of Isis is that she is a goddess. A goddess of magic, healing, and the giver of life. She was one of the most powerful of the Egyptian gods and goddesses, using her great powers to the benefit of people. In her capacity of the Divine Feminine, she still does.
You can read more about this beautiful Egyptian goddess of rebirth on Sharon Turnbull’s inspiring and informative site— http://www.goddessgift.com/goddess-myths/egyptian_goddess_isis.htm
As Sharon shared with me when I was researching my historical novel (still in progress) Mona Lisa’s Secret or Lisa and Leonardo (I’m not sure what to entitle my renaissance novel because someone used the former title in another work),
“There are numerous references on the web to the depictions of ‘Isis and Horus’ being the template for so many of the famous ‘Mary and Jesus’ paintings and, indeed, most Mother and Child art.”
The goddess Isis also inspired Leonardo’s da Vinci’s portrait of Lisa Giocondo – more famously known as the Mona Lisa. My friend Thierry Gallier writes more about this in his extraordinarily fabulous and intriguing book, Mona Lisa Revealed— http://www.mona-lisa-revealed.com/
experience life yourself, rather than blindly following the scholars of the day
Back to the timeless wisdom of 13th-century Persian poet, and mystic, Rumi. Both he and his father were firm believers in the revelations of the Qur’an but criticized the mere outwardly legal and ritual practice that was being promoted at the time. In fact, much of his work is dedicated to waking people up and encouraging them to experience life themselves, rather blindly following the scholars of the day.
This is so important and speaks to why organized religions (or controlling religions) with dangerous men at the helm with their own malignant agendas can be so poisonous—and yes they are men—men who exclude women from leadership positions. These organized religions, including Catholicism, distort the true teachings and specifically incite the hatred, blame, persecution, and subjugation of women. As a recovering Catholic, and a woman, I speak with authority.
Another woman who speaks with authority is Queen Rania of Jordan. She is a beautiful example of a powerful Islamic woman and world leader. She has also been particularly vocal about the importance of cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue to foster greater understanding, tolerance, and acceptance across the world.
It is an absolute lie that women should not be educated knowledge is power. Malevolent men who seek to control others know this. I love the way Rania and her husband both rule Jordan as lovers, as leaders and as equals – king and queen united to rule with light together
lovers of God
Rumi spent his early years, like many Muslims of the time, learning and studying Arabic, law, ahadith (the body of sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), history, the Qur’an, theology, philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy.
By the time of his father’s death, he had become an outstanding scholar in his own right. He took over his father’s position as one of the highest scholars in the country at the young age of 24.
He spent his time teaching and giving lectures to the public, and until the age of about 35, lived a fairly non-descript life.
Then in 1244 Rumi met a traveling Sufi, called Shams (or Shamsi Tabrizi) and the whole course of his life changed.
Shams became fast friends with Rumi, in whom he recognized a kindred spirit. The two developed a very close friendship and it was at this point that Rumi became more and more secluded, shunning the society of those he previously would discuss and debate matters with.
His relationship with Shams caused great jealousy in his family and other students, and after a few years, Shams disappeared. Many believe he was murdered, but Rumi himself did not think so.
He traveled for years looking for his friend, and it was this loss that led to the outpouring of his soul through his poetry.
He wrote numerous lines of love poetry, called ghazals, but though they outwardly seem to be about Shams, it is not difficult to see that they are in fact poems describing his overpowering love of God.
Shams’ effect on Rumi was decisive. Whereas Rumi had before preached Islam soberly, he became, through Shams’ influence, filled with the love of God. What was inside his soul finally came out.
love of God is what unites all faiths
I love this. Love of God is what unites all faiths. Where things stray dangerously is the various names people called GOD. A number of traditions have lists of many names of God, Some Quakers refer to God as The Light.
Another term used is King of Kings or Lord of Lords and Lord of the Hosts. Other names used by Christians include Ancient of Days, Father/Abba which is Hebrew, “Most High” and the Hebrew names Elohim, El-Shaddai, Yahweh, Jehovah, and Adonai. Jehovah’s Witnesses call God Jehovah. Allah—meaning “the God” in Arabic—is the name of God in Islam.
There are multiple names for God’s Various Forms worshiped as Deities (Devata and Devi) in Hinduism.
“The one God”, used to signify a monotheistic or ultimate Supreme Being from which all other divine attributes derive, has been a subject of ecumenical discourse between Eastern and Western scholars for over two centuries.
What is needed, as it has always been needed—is the development of closer relationships and better understandings. What is needed is more tolerance and acceptance of people’s right to believe what they like in the name of peace, love, and healing.
I am a New Zealand author. I stand for love. I write about love. I tell stories about forgiveness, healing, and compassion.
The terrorist attack in Christchurch against people who are also standing for love, praying in their sacred place, is shocking and distressing to me.
War, prejudice, and hatred have no place in our hearts.
Say no to hatred, bigotry, violence, and retribution.
Affirm yes, yes, yes to love.
Say no to glamorizing, and publicizing and making famous through over-indulgence in the media the stories of those who perpetrate acts of terrorism and unconscionable crimes against humanity. Yes, yes to sharing real and heartfelt stories of the lives of those impacted through everyday senseless crimes. Bring into our consciousness, our hearts, and our deepest compassion the innocent lives who suffer needlessly.
proud to be a New Zealander
I am proud to be a Kiwi – especially when I see the tremendous outpouring of love following the attack. I am especially proud of our Prime Minister (who also inspired scenes and dialogue in my romance novel Claimed by the Sheikh).
She has embodied the divine feminine qualities of love, compassion, and strength. She ruled quickly to outlaw weapons of mass destruction – semi-automatic rifles that make it easy for cowards to slay innocents.
She ruled that we shall not allow him to bask in publicity. We shall deny him his murderous misclaim to fame.
Inform, educate, break down barriers… see what unites
Here’s a wee draft excerpt from Claimed by The Sheikh:
“For an educated woman you are very misinformed,” Tariq said, his tone laced with sardonic derision.
He stood in front of her—a tall man, broad-shouldered and formidable, the starkly moulded framework of his face highlighted by the spurt of flame from the torches.
He exuded authority and a compelling magnetism that still keep her pulse soaring. But Melanie’s face heated under the sting of his criticism. She silenced her retort and looked steadily at him, imploring Tariq to enlighten her.
“There is more that unites us then divides us. Islam is not about oppression. It is not about murder. It is not about suppressing all that is beautiful. Beauty is God. God is love. Evil, malevolent men have taken the teachings of Mohammed, God’s messenger on earth, and twisted them. We believe as Christians believe, as many people believe, in the language of love. God commands us to be of service to mankind. Service to humanity. Service to ensuring peace and kindness and generosity. Above all we rever beauty. We honor and celebrate and dedicate ourselves to the beauty that Allah, the creator, God, call him what you, has enabled us to create. This is the true path. It’s what distinguishes us from animals.”
“Are you saying that rather than seek to dominate the world that Islam encourages unity and equality among all individuals, regardless of age, color, gender or social status? Don’t you don’t support the creation of a totalitarian state?”
“Isis,” Tariq said simply.
“Exactly,” Melanie said, more confused than enlightened.
“Isis is not an organization,” he said, the force of his anger flaring in his eyes. “Isis was a woman. A goddess. An agent of healing. Those who taken her name have taken this Truth and twisted her and made her an object of evil just like they did with the swastika in Indonesia. Just as they distorted Mary Magdalene, the Virgin Mary, and other powerful women. Sinister, flawed humans take strong powerful women and then turn the divine feminine into something malevolent. The world is in danger of being overcome by fear and tyranny. I for one stand against this. What does ISIS stand for?
Melanie shrugged, “Islamic State?”
“I and S. Where is I and S and I and S. They don’t make sense. Rational, right minds know this. They should be called ‘WAS’…. they are nothing,” Rage ignited his words. “No, not nothing,” he corrected. “They are evil. They seek to repress all that is beautiful. This is how you see their true face. They are the face of darkness. They make everyone wear black. They force everyone to abandon the beauty of color. We must recreate beauty. We must be the face of light. We must be the lamp of love.” As he spoke the torchlight arched toward him, illuminating his amber eyes, sparking with intense emotion.
“The group’s use of Islamic scripture is illegitimate and perverse. The practices employed by the Islamic State, who incidentally have no sovereign authority to speak on behave of Islam are explicitly forbidden by Islam—torture, slavery, forced conversions, the denial of rights for women and children, and the killing of innocents. It is abhorrent.”
Melanie felt her respect and admirable for Tariq soar in the wake of the passionate conviction with which he spoke. She had misjudged him. She had been ignorant. And worse, she had been manipulated into believing all Islamic people supported the Islamic State.
“I will continue to lead my people to rise up against evil, to expose their distorted truths, to shed light on their lies, to fight against all that stands in the way of peace—their reign of terror will die. In the end, love wins. We know love wins.” He looked at her deeply and intensely allowing the word to linger in the space that separated them.
“I’d like to believe that,” she said. “Sometimes it just seems so—” she shrugged. “I don’t know. It just seems like there is so much evil in the world. I just feel so powerless. But I’d like to do what I can. I’d like to help you create something beautiful here in N’avana. Something to show the world that we care.”
A smile danced across his lips. “You really are the most beautiful woman.”
For a moment she was thrown with this unexpected compliment.
“You are beautiful not just on the outside but on the inside. Kindness, compassion, beauty shines from your eyes,” he said drawing closer to her. “There is more that unites us then divides us, my love.”
She could hear her chest rise and fall as he stood in front of her, not taking his gaze from her face. She studied her toes, kicking the hot desert sand with her left foot.
Tariq lifted her chin with his long, tapered fingers so that her eyes met his. “Love wins” he said and then he pressed his sensuous lips to hers and kissed her.
I hope you enjoyed that wee excerpt. It’s just a draft at this stage. One that, together with my blog post, may give you, what I hope, is an interesting insight into my writing process.
MENTIONED IN THIS POST
Flower Power: How Extraordinary Beauty Can Change Your Life
Who doesn’t love flowers?
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Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, performs at the National Remembrance Service following the Christchurch Mosque attack at Hagley Park—https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB4M2Z8x9-0&w=560&h=315
- Credit. Thank you to Haydar Hatemi for his informative blog post on Rum
- Rudolph Valentino (May 6, 1895 – August 23, 1926), was an Italian actor who starred in several well-known silent films including The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Eagle, and The Son of the Sheik. An early pop icon, a sex symbol of the 1920s. His death, which occurred at age 31, caused mass hysteria among his female fans and further propelling him into icon.