God is great. I bear witness that there is no God but The One God.
I am now aged 54 years in this lifetime. When I was 18 years old I developed a close friendship with a young man, only a year older than I, who had an amazing talent for languages. Though he came from a
Baptist Christian family he had already learned the Arabic language fluently in reading and writing, studying and memorizing Koran (Quran), the poetic holy book of Islam "dictated" by God to the Prophet
Mohammed (blessed be his name) who, if I am not mistaken, was virtually illiterate at the time. My friend Jim had also learned by that young age to play a number of musical instruments and compositions and sang the
songs of the Middle Eastern Islamic culture. He later went on to teach the Koran at the university from which I graduated in the Los Angeles area, and was a teacher of the Arabic language and the music and traditional
dances of that culture. He was the only Anglo-American deeply involved in the early years of the Friday gatherings in Los Angeles from which in later years developed the Los Angeles Mosque. Even later in his
lifetime, which ended by 1985, he was a technical translator between English, Arabic, and Russian languages after serving in the U.S. Air Force language services in Afghanistan and spending time there with Idres Shah
and learning about Sufism.
I say all this for perpective on the nature of his influence on my life as a young man in how he introduced me to the teachings of Islam which I embraced then as a teenager,
perhaps five years or so before my parents started studying about our beloved Swami, Sri Sathya Sai. Over the following years I began to recognize more similarities than differences between the teachings of the various
religions that I have studied and practiced along my own spiritual path. I attribute to these experiences my own understanding that all religions and indigenous spiritual practices are portraying exactly the same
deepest message (love, kindness, mutual affection, wisdom and respect as the pathways to peace) but only cloaked in the disguises of various languages, cultures and time periods of their revelations over the millennia.
It is from this perspective that I wish to offer some reflections on the meaning of this term Jihad, or "Holy War". I myself am not a scholar of Arabic or Koran but my perspective has
been influenced by the early teachings and compassion of my friend and the supreme insight of our Avatar whose teachings I have been slowly absorbing over these past years as best I can.
The very root
of the faith of Islam is in The Peace (Salaam) which comes into one's life by surrendering one's personal will to the Will of The One God (in Arabic called Allah, or "The" God).
The very root meaning of the word Islam denotes this surrender to peace. It is believed that only from this frame of mind may true familial relations manifest between all true believers in this Holy Faith. To the
extent that anyone does not surrender his/her personal will to the Will of God, this person is not truly Muslim. My personal perspective on this is not based on, or clouded by, personal interpretation of Koranic
scriptures, but these early teachings I received have always resonated true inside that place in my heart which I have come to understand more clearly by Sai association.
Now the problem comes between
those who are Muslim, as defined above, and those who persist in living a life motivated only by personal desires and attachments to goals, that is, following "personal will" instead of surrendering to the
guidance of the Will of God. The thinking of such persons is seen as the enemy of peace among all peoples and this error in thinking is the target of Jihad or Holy War. The objective of Jihad is not to hurt others
but to offer whatever sacrifice it takes to enable all human beings to understand and accept the value of surrender to "The Will of God" (Sha'Allah).
Only to the extent that this objective is accomplished is Jihad successful.
What are the tools or weapons of true and correct Jihad? Patience, Love, Compassion, Understanding, and most of all, setting a
good example for others that they may be inspired to accept and adopt this faith which directs that true peace is only available consequent to this surrender of personal desire, ego, arrogance, etc., and allowing
oneself to be instead guided by the divinity within one's heart where, among all places and forms, resides God whose Will can only there be known.
The "struggle" of true Jihad is not with
others. It is only with one's own mind, the struggle to overcome the human conditioning that establishes erroneous habits of human behavior.
The paradox here is that the harder one struggles, the more difficult it is to surrender. Therefore the struggle is only won by giving up or surrendering to what is already hidden or overlooked within the heart of every human being, God Itself.
One contemporary example of the nature of Jihad and its misunderstanding by English speaking peoples can be seen in its current manifestation in Israel. About ten years ago the leaders of the
Palestinian Center for Nonviolence and the Jewish Center for Nonviolence
both came to Santa Barbara, where I lived at that time, to speak on how they were trying to cooperate together in the cause of peace by employing Gandhiji's principles of nonviolence and Sathya-Graha
(Truth-Force) [Graha to my knowledge means: "to stick, to adhere to sth." - P.M.]. The Palestinian leader lamented as to how the Arabic word that they had chosen to represent their (Jihad)struggle, the word Intifada, was misinterpreted in English. He explained that it was generally translated into English as "uprising" but that more accurately
Intifada means the spiritual practice of "self purification" by which one's consciousness rises up to a higher spiritual level from which the problems may be solved, hence "uprising". He also
regretted that its understanding by his own, deeply frustrated, people has resulted so far only in the general acceptance of limiting violence to throwing stones.
Where does the fundamental error in
today's materialistically distracted Islamic faith come from? An answer may be found in deeper examination of an historic event in the origin of this religion, the ride into Mecca by the Prophet Mohammed (blessed be his
name) and his followers on the way to claim the Ka'aba in the name of The One God. As they rode into this trade center town, they rode with swords drawn and loudly proclaiming the seven syllable prayer Leh il leh heh
ihl Al-lah (there is no God but The One God). The townspeople were overcome by the power of this experience and surrendered to this new Holy Faith, without a drop of blood being shed. The mistake lies in the minds of
those who believe it was the fear of the sword which caused this surrender. If one understands that it was the spiritual power of the prayer which brought about this result, then one can recognize the true weapon for
a successful Jihad or "Holy War" that will bring peace to the entire Earth as every single human being surrenders to The Will of God, that is, embraces what truly Islam is, becomes Muslim.
This is what I believe that Jihad really means.
Om Sai Ram Aum Sai Ram Aoum Sai Ram
Torah-kum (The Law stands up [arises] -- Hebrew)
There is but one true religion, the religion of Love [Sri Sathya Sai]
Love One Another as One Self, for this is who you really are.
For a Sathya Intifada (self-purification for the uprising of truth), I am just the one called
David Crockett Williams, Jr.
[Daoud, ibn Daoud, Abdul Allah]
(David, son of David, Servant of The One God)
Tehachapi, California, USA 19Mar99
© Copyright 1999 David Crockett Williams