I read a story today of this guy living in the Middle East in this really corrupt community; full of drunkards, cheating businesses, aggression, anti-social behaviour. He’d had a rough childhood himself – orphaned by 6, sent to live with his grandfather, who then died.
He’d ended up with his uncle, followed him into his business, and done pretty well. But he couldn’t help feeling the society around him was in some ways rotten… Believing anything and nothing, and violently opposing anyone who thought different. He got so tired of it he’d take time out of his business and go and meditate and pray in a mountain retreat. Like the Desert Fathers had done. And it was there he felt God speak to him: he should just start living with a group of people honestly, justly and hospitably, with a rhythm of prayer. Simple. And radical. Totally in tradition with Abraham, and Jesus… worshipping the One God.
So he did. And the people where he lived hated him for it – persecuted him and this little group of people trying to live this simple, radical life. In the end, they left and moved to another place that welcomed them, and the community grew.
His name? Mohammed. PBUH.
What happened? Where has this simple, just, radical community got lost in the smoke-screen that has become international Islam and western Islamophobia? Am I wrong, or was Mohammed trying to return people to the simple faith of a Christianity gone very wrong? And if so, is there an ’emerging Islam’ that we can connect to?