The Human Cohesion Project — 25 Mar 2023
It has been a long day at work with the contexts and conversations ranging from neurology, corporate learning systems, conflict resolution, gender and patriarchy, to finally wrapping up with a lecture on techno-religion for a course I teach at a university. One thread seemed to run through the seemingly diverse work spaces I get to traverse: how is our humanity relevant at this juncture of our evolution?
It is perhaps this question that drew me to work with religion, after years of attempting to stay away from the notion and the institutions surrounding that notion. At some point, the personal and the political blurred. The choice was to look at that experience as a breach of boundaries, and therefore as trauma, or to acknowledge the pain and the shock of that experience and also harvest it as a portal that life afforded to step into a collective identity.
All religions, including Islam, speak of the necessity of holding up the collective identity, even as one pursues one’s own path. The salat al-jama’ah (congregational prayer), though mired in debate in terms of genderised practices around it, is a central practice in Islam, encouraged by the Prophet and several Caliphs and Imams that followed him. In the hadith Sunan an-Nasa’I 4020, it states, “I saw the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, delivering a sermon to the people, saying, “Verily, the Hand of Allah is over the united community, for Satan is with one who secedes from the community, running after him.” While it may seem like a diktat without rationale, all religions, in encouraging to find our space in the collective in various ways, seem to urge that our evolution, ultimately, is based on a collective decision. Even as we may do our individual role and fulfil our personal aspirations, at the end of the day, we draw from a common ecosystem that needs to be acknowledged and respected, for our fates are tied together. The Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius put it more starkly: “what is good for the hive is good for the bees”.
Ramadan Kareem. May we find nourishing ways to plug into our collectives.
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