LONGMONT — At least 25 people crowded in and around the small living room, singing and praying and listening. Especially listening.
Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani was speaking. Of peace. Of faith. And especially of unity. “For the Olympic torch, they are taking it all around the world and all the governors, presidents and mayors are watching for the coming of the torch and marching in the parades,” said Kabbani, a prominent scholar and leader of Sufi Islam. “All the sports people are from different faiths, but under one torch. “Why are we, as Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists — why are we not under one torch?” he said. “I think we have to come to an understanding.”
Kabbani‘s Colorado visit would take him to Denver’s Iliff School of Theology on Saturday and St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Denver on Sunday, for an interfaith program called the Abrahamic Initiative. But before all of that, on Saturday afternoon, he came to Longmont to visit the home of Michael Granger and his family.
“Anybody of this importance to me and such a spiritual light to come into my house, it’s kind of mind-blowing,” Granger, a Sufi Muslim, told the Times-Call in an article that ran Friday.
It was a pleasant visit as well for Kabbani, who seemed to know the names of all the friends and family gathered around him. He often enjoys his trips to Colorado, he said — the mountains and valleys remind him of the lands where Islam was born.
Kabbani himself was born in Lebanon, but has lived in the United States since 1991, opening a number of Sufi outreach centers. The Sufi practice is often described as a mystical tradition within Islam, whose teachings include the need to let go of self as one embraces God.
Kabbani explained the Sufi path as a reaching toward excellence. In Islam, he explained, there are three levels: the basic obligations such as fasting and prayer; then belief in God and his angels, prophets and words; and finally a state of excellence in which a person tries to replace their worse traits with a better way of life.
“You consider how to stop cheating, lying, gambling and doing things God does not like, and on the other side, you see how to build relationships with the community, to visit the sick, help the homeless,” Kabbani said. “The Sufi path IS the path of Islam. It is the highest level of enlightenment.”
Kabbani will be making a presentation Sunday night called “Religion as a Source for Peace in the World” from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at St. John’s Cathedral. It’s a difficult time for that message to be heard, he acknowledged, but it’s one with a deep heritage.
“We are not the messengers,’ he said. “We are only people following in the footsteps of the great people who brought the message.”
And while unity hasn’t been reached yet, Kabbani holds out hope. No one has seen its fruits, he said, or even its leaves and branches — but the trunk may be becoming visible.
“It takes only one thing,” he said. “Let go of your ego, your arrogance, your pride. Truly be humble and work hard. That’s it. ... If we keep standing on our positions, how are we going to move forward?”
Kabbani said he found some inspiration while visiting an Anglican church. Near the pulpit, a stone had the engraved words: “One Unity, One God, One Faith.”
“That is what we have in common,” Kabbani said. And that’s what he wants to see, he said — the servants of God coming together under that creed, that understanding of one another.
Maybe, he mused, the faiths of the world need their own Olympic games.
“We could bring all the religious people together every two or three years in one city,” he said with a grin as the small crowd began to chuckle. “And we could let the rabbis and the priests and the imams go running in the field.”
[Original article located here: http://www.timescall.com/Local-Story.asp?ID=7920]