By Frithjof Schuon
A vintage, written from the point of view of why Muslims think of their religion.
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The gap of some thousands of years separating the stone age of the Red Indians from the material and literary refinement s of the white man counts for nothing compared with the contemplat ive intelligenc e and the virtues, which alone impart value to man and alone make up his permanent reality or that something which enables us to evaluate him in a real manner, as it were in the sight of the Creator. To believe that some men are lagging behind us because their earthly dream takes on modes more rudimentary than our own- modes which are often for the same reason more sincere - is far more naive than to believe the earth is flat or a volcano is a god; the most naive of all attitudes is surely to regard the dream as something absolute and to sacrifice to it all essential values, forgetting that what is "serious" only starts beyond its level, or rather that, if there is anything "serious" in this world, it is so in terms of that which lies beyond it.
The differences between traditional worlds are not limited to differences of perspective and of dogma, there are 31 Understanding Islam also differences of temperament and of taste: thus the European temperament does not readily tolerate exaggeration as a mode of expression, whereas for the Oriental hyperbole is a way of bringing out an idea or an intention, of marking the sublime or of expressing what cannot be described, such as the apparition of an angel or the radiance of a saint. An Occidental attaches importance to factual exactitude, but his lack of intuition regarding the "immutable essences" (ayan thabitah) counterbalances this, greatly diminishing the range of his spirit of observation; an Oriental on the contrary has a sense of the metaphysical transparency of things but is apt to neglect - rightly or wrongly according to the case - the exactitude of earthly facts; for him the symbol is more important than the experience.
The style of the revealed Books is always normative. " 5. In his Kitab fzhi mil fzh, Jalal ad-Din Rumi wrote: "The Quran is like a young married woman: even if you try to unveil her she will not show herself to you. If you discuss the Quran you will discover nothing and no joy will come to you. That is because you have tried to pull off the veil and the Quran refuses itself to you; by employing cunning and making itself ugly in your sight and undesirable, it is saying to you: 'I am not that which 41 Understanding Islam "God speaks tersely ," say the Rabbi s and this also explai ns both the bold ellipse s, at first sight incom prehen sible, and the superi mpose d levels of meani ng found in the Revela tions.
Understanding Islam by Frithjof Schuon