The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Israel, Islam and Inclusion: Thinking like a Mystic

Over the last centuries, mysticism has been one of the least explored aspects of Abrahamic religions. This despite the fact that they have rich traditions of mysticism and are inextricably linked to one another. West Asia has had asceticism, monastic traditions and phenomenal richness of regional culture, music and poetry. The most proselytizing of the three, Islam and Christianity also showed remarkable adaptiveness in accommodating ancient animist beliefs when they tried to expand. They also largely adhered to inclusive principles such as "Love they neighbor" and directly experiencing the divine through mysticism. Sufism has been part of the Middle Eastern dance, music and poetry, among others. In a twist of irony, marked more due to political reasons, they all ended up believing themselves to be the only final, complete and correct one. This despite the fact that the legal traditions of the region as well largely upheld the rights of each other and followed tolerance until might rather than mysticism became the means to have Godly revelations.

For the myriad ways in which it manifests, mystics and messiahs have been mostly met with serious levels of resistance, if not outright intolerance. None other than Jesus’ crucifixion symbolizes it better. Notwithstanding, they were largely let to be.

Mysticism has the ability to bring vitality without exclusion, facilitate evolution without victimization and help one deal with the sense of loss. All of these happen to be at the root of what appears to be an irrecoverable search for peace.

In any case, the Middle Eastern politics need to come out of its image of non-compromise, iconoclasm and near dogmatic irrationalism. It can do so by letting mysticism initiate the region`s life, culture and politics indeed into self-reflection. Possibly, mysticism is one of those few sciences which can provide solace to people caught up in anarchic struggle of survival like Yoga does.

This paper proposes to explore the many possibilities mysticism offer for Israel and Islam to be more inclusive and welcoming towards each other.