Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Islam الإسلام

Though not such a good reputation in the world right now and – like Christianity – carrying forward a history of intolerance, superstition, and mindless violence; Islam also holds claim to some of the world’s finest inventions, advancements in science, medicine, mathematics, poetry and golden age periods of enlightenment, high philosophy, compassion and innovation. Already the world’s second largest religion with 1.7+ billion followers and the fastest growing of the largest religions (Bahá'í fastest during last 100 years), Islam’s influence is powerful and only ignored at the West’s peril. The Sufi branch may come closest to our lineages of doubt, understanding the sense and not just the words, the wisdom beyond belief.

The meaning of Islam is "Surrender" — a word that could be understood and practiced in a mystical way like Lao Tzu's "Wuwei;" or, if instead of directed inward, focused on an external religious figure, political leader, or belief; it could become a kind of mental slavery.

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Quotes (68)

“Islam, as it is currently understood and practiced by vast numbers of the world's Muslims, is antithetical to civil society.”

“The Muslim world is utterly deranged by its religious tribalism…The idea that Islam is a 'peaceful religion hijacked by extremists' is a dangerous fantasy—the dogmatic commitment to using violence to defend one’s faith, both from within and without to varying degrees, is a central Islamic doctrine”

“God does not have a name, He is too big to fit inside names. A name is a prison, God is free.”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from Sufi proverb

“They who believe not shall have garments of fire fitted unto them; boiling water shall be poured on their heads; their bowels shall be dissolved thereby, and also their skins, and they shall be beaten with maces of iron”

Muhammad محمد‎; محمد‎; 570 – 632 CE via George Seldes
from Koran

“To parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess.”

Muhammad محمد‎; محمد‎; 570 – 632 CE
from Koran

“We ought not to be embarrassed of appreciating the truth and of obtaining it wherever it comes from, even if it comes from races distant and nations different from us. Nothing should be dearer to the seeker of truth than the truth itself, and there is no deterioration of the truth, nor belittling either of one who speaks it or conveys it”

Al-Kindi 801 – 873 CE
(Abu Yūsuf Yaʻqūb ibn ʼIsḥāq aṣ-Ṣabbāḥ)

“Seek to win the hearts of your people and watch over their prosperity. It is to secure their happiness that you were appointed.”

Saladin صلاح الدين يوسف بن أيوب‎‎ 1137 – 1193 CE
(An-Nasir Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub)

“Renounce spiritual ignorance; return to The One – that is the religion called Islam.”

Ming Taizu 明太祖 1328 – 1398 CE
(The Hongwu Emperor, Zhu Yuanzhan)
One of the most influential emperors in all of Chinese history

“Benares is to the East, Meca to the West; but explore your own heart, for there are both Rama and Allah.”

Kabīr कबीर 1399 – 1448 CE

“Muhammad established a religion by putting his enemies to death”

Blaise Pascal 1623 – 1662 CE
One of the greatest French writers of all time

“Clerics and vicars, ignorant imbeciles, whom other ignoramuses who libel and slander the Mohammedan religion saying it is voluptuos and sensual; there is not a word of truth in it, you have been deceived on this point as on so many others.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet 1694 – 1778 CE via Raymond Naves, Shan Dao
from Philosophical Dictionary

“The Ambassador [of Tripoli] answered us that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Muslim who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

Thomas Jefferson 1743 – 1826 CE

“It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence”

Annie Besant 1847 – 1933 CE

“Christianity persecuted, tortured, and burned. Like a hound it tracked the very scent of heresy. It kindled wars and nursed furious hatred and ambitions. Like Islam, it sanctified extermination and tyranny. All this would have been impossible if, like Buddhism, it had looked only to peace and the liberation of souls.”

Santayana, George 1863 – 1952 CE
(Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás)
Powerfully influential, true-to-himself philosopher/poet
from Reason in Science

“Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs... Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home”

Mahatma Gandhi 1869 – 1948 CE

“Arabic philosophy is not important as original thought… Mohammedan civilization in its great days was admirable in the arts and an many technical ways, but it showed no capacity for independent speculation in theoretical matters. It’s import—which must not be underrated—is as a transmitter.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”
from History of Western Philosophy

“According to the mystics, every text of the Koran has 7 or 70 or 700 layers of interpretation, the literal meaning being only for the ignorant vulgar… they believed that the populace should take the Koran literally but wise people need not do so.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”
from History of Western Philosophy

“But the Mohammedan religion increases, instead of lessening, the fury of intolerance. It was originally propagated by the sword, and ever since, its votaries have been subject, above the people of all other creeds, to this form of madness... The forces of progress clash with those of reaction. The religion of blood and war is face to face with that of peace.”

Winston Churchill 1874 – 1965 CE
from The Story of the Malakand Field Force

“We do not know whether Hitler is going to found a new Islam. He is already on the way; he is like Mohammad. The emotion in Germany is Islamic; warlike and Islamic. They are all drunk with wild god.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist
from The Symbolic Life (1939)

“We do not know whether Hitler is going to found a new Islam. (He is already on the way; he is like Mohammed. The emotion in Germany is Islamic; warlike and Islamic. They are all drunk with a wild god.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist

30. No War

“I lead no party; I follow no leader. I have given the best part of my life to careful study of Islam”

Muhammad Iqbal محمد اقبال 1877 – 1938 CE

“People hate Buddhist monks and nuns, Mohammedans, and Christians. But no one hates a Taoist. To understand the reason for this is to understand half of China.”

Lǔ Xùn 鲁迅 1881 – 1936 CE via Lin Yutang
(Zhou Shuren; Lusin)
Insightful satirist representing the "Literature of Revolt"

from Epigrams of Lusin

“Sufis have no set belief or disbelief. Divine light is the only sustenance… and what they see in this light they believe, and what they do not see they do not blindly believe.”

Inayat Khan 1882 – 1927 CE

17. True Leaders

“For five centuries, from 700 to 1200, Islam led the world in power, order, and extent of government, in refinement of manners, in standards of living, in humane legislation and religious toleration, in literature, scholarship, science, medicine, and philosophy.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Age of Faith

“The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex of order and freedom, culture and peace, can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Our Oriental Heritage

“Tracing the Islamic society bak to its origins, we find that it is itself a fusion of two originally distinct societies: the Iranic and the Arabic… both originating from an extinct society, the Syriac.”

Arnold Toynbee 1889 – 1975 CE via Shan Dao
from A Study of History

“The Mahometans, according to the principles of their faith, are under an obligation to use violence for the purpose of bringing other religions to ruin; yet they have been tolerating other religions for some centuries. The Christians have not been given orders to do anything but preach and instruct; yet they have been exterminating by fire and sword all those who are not of their religion... Christians enjoy the fine advantage of being far better versed than they are in the art of killing, bombarding, and exterminating the Human Race.”

Arnold Toynbee 1889 – 1975 CE
from An Historian's Approach to Religion (1956)

“The Hindus criticize the Muslims for having spread their religion by the use of the sword. They also ridicule Christianity on the score of the Inquisition. But really, who is better and more worthy of our respect—the Muslims and Christians who attempted to thrust down the throats of unwilling persons what they regarded as necessary for their salvation, or the Hindu who would not spread the light, who would endeavor to keep others in darkness, who would not consent to share his intellectual and social inheritance with those who are ready and willing to make it a part of their own make-up? I have no hesitation in saying that if the Muslim has been cruel, the Hindu has been mean; and meanness is worse than cruelty.

B.R. Ambedkar 1891 – 1956 CE
(Babasaheb)
from Annihilation of Caste

“The Hindus criticize the Mohammedans for having spread their religion by the use of the sword. They also ridicule Christianity on the score of the Inquisition. But really speaking, who is better and more worthy of our respect?… if the Mohammedan has been cruel, the Hindu has been mean; and meanness is worse than cruelty.”

B.R. Ambedkar 1891 – 1956 CE
(Babasaheb)

“Belief is the systematic taking of unanalyzed words much too seriously. Paul's words, Mohammed's words, Marx's words, Hitler's words---people take them too seriously, and what happens?…sisters of charity selflessly tending the victims of their own church's inquisitors and crusaders.”

Aldous Huxley 1894 – 1963 CE
from Island

71. Sick of Sickness

“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent… separating yourself from the rest of mankind.”

Krishnamurti 1895 – 1986 CE
(Jiddu Krishnamurti)

“The Egyptians lost themselves in trying to preserve the bodily form, the Greeks in trying to capture the beauty of the human body, the pre-Columbian Americans, by establishing cosmic laws over human considerations, Christianity and Islam—the daughters of Jewish monotheism—by overpowering the human mind through dictatorship of a a partially world-creating and at the same time world-negating spirit.”

Anagarika​ (Lama) Govinda 1898 – 1985 CE
(Ernst Hoffmann)
Pioneer of Tibetan Buddhism to the West

from Inner Structure of the I Ching

“In the Bible, eternity withdraws, and nature is corrupt, nature has fallen. In biblical thinking, we live in exile… But once you reject the idea of the Fall in the Garden, man is not cut off from his source.”

Joseph Campbell 1904 – 1987 CE via Shan Dao
Great translator of ancient myth into modern symbols
from Power of Myth

“As in all religions, invisible crowds are of the greatest importance, but in Islam, more strongly than in any of the other world religions, these are invisible, double crowds, standing in opposition to each other.”

​Elias Canetti Елиас Канети 1905 – 1994 CE via Carol Stewart
from Crowds and Power (1960)

“Islam exhibits all the unmistakable traits of a religion of war, but it has, nevertheless, branched out into a religion of lament more concentrated and more extreme than any to be found elsewhere: the faith of the Shiites, the official religion of Iran and Yemen, and strongly represented in India and Iraq.”

​Elias Canetti Елиас Канети 1905 – 1994 CE via Carol Stewart
from Crowds and Power (1960)

“Islam is now Wrestling with Western thought as it once wrestled with Greek philosophy, and is as much in need as it was then of a 'revival of the religious sciences'. Deep study of al-Ghazali may suggest to Muslims steps to be taken if they are to deal successfully with the contemporary situation. Christians, too, now that the world is in a cultural melting-pot, must be prepared to learn from Islam, and are unlikely to find a more sympathetic guide than al-Ghazali.”

William Montgomery Watt 1909 – 2006 CE
"The Last Orientalist"

“Jews, Christians, Muslims believed that the true answers had been revealed by God to his chosen prophets and saints, and accepted the interpretation of these revealed truths by qualified teachers and the traditions to which they belonged.”

Isaiah Berlin 1909 – 1997 CE
"the world's greatest talker"
from The Proper Study of Mankind

“Countless Muslims have never abandoned their dream of a world ruled by a unified caliphate, and in the meantime push to establish sharia, or religious law, as the civil law of a nation.”

Lewis Thomas 1913 – 1993 CE
Gestaltist of science and art
from The Religious Case Against Belief (2008)

“Buddhism and Taoism—unlike Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism—are not whole cultures but critiques of culture: endearing, non-violent revolutions or 'loyal oppositions' to the cultures they live in.”

Alan Watts 1915 – 1973 CE
from Psychotherapy East and West

“The rise of Islam offers perhaps the most impressive example in world history of the power of words to alter human behavior in sudden, surprising ways.”

William Hardy McNeill 1917 – 2016 CE
Historian
from Keeping Together in Time, 1995

“Submission (in Arabic, Islam) was the very name of the religion that surfaced through the Qur’an… the possibility of there being something that, better than we are in every respect, could infuse us with goodness as well as power, were we open to the transfusion.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE
from Beyond the Postmodern Mind

“A postcard of a beautiful lake is not a beautiful lake, and Sufis may be defined as those who dance in the lake.”

Huston Smith 1919 – 2016 CE

“All culture is based on the past. For example... Islam is the reediting of Judaism and Christianity.”

Hua-Ching Ni 1925 CE –
from Complete Works of Lao Tzu

“The doctrinal differences between Hinduism and Buddhism and Taoism are not anywhere near as important as doctrinal differences among Christianity and Islam and Judaism. Holy wars are not fought over them because verbalized statements about reality are never presumed to be reality itself.”

Robert M. Pirsig 1928 – 2017 CE
from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

“Whereas the entire meaning of the Quran must easily be interpreted by the lives of Muslims, Islam's followers abandoned its essence.”

Abdul Sattar Edhi عبدالستار ایدھی 1928 – 2016 CE
Pakistan's "Father Teresa"

“It is evil to think history is to end with a return to Zion, or with the classless society, or with the Islamization of all living infidels...”

James P. Carse 1932 – 2020 CE
Thought-proving, influential, deep thinker
from Finite and Infinite Games

“In Jewish and Islamic mythology God provided us with a garden but did not, indeed could not, do the gardening for us. It was only a garden because we could respond to ti, because we could be responsible for it.”

James P. Carse 1932 – 2020 CE
Thought-proving, influential, deep thinker
from Finite and Infinite Games

“What is most necessary for people and what is given us in great abundance, are experiences, especially experiences of the forces within us. This is our most essential food, our most essential wealth. If we consciously receive all this abundance, the universe will pour into us what is called life in Judaism, spirit in Christianity, light in Islam, power in Taoism.”

Jacob Needleman 1934 CE –
American religious scholar, historian, philosopher, and author
from American Soul

“I maintain that Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism all hold up love as an ideal, seek to benefit humanity through spiritual practice, and strive to make their followers better people.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE –

“From the point of view of the Madhyamaka school, these other approaches... earlier Buddhist philosophical schools, theistic Hinduism, Vedantism, Islam, Christianity, and most other religious and philosophical traditions... can be grouped together into three categories: the eternalists, the nihilists, and the atomists... atomisitic pluralism”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

The idea in the Western world is bringing the Kingdom of God to earth, or trying `to create the ideal Jewish level which is really a poverty-stricken way of viewing it. As long as we condemn ourselves, no confidence can take place. People are bewildered and only rely on technicians, technocrats, theologians, politicians...”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from A Buddhist Approach to Politics

“My problem with some current critics of Islam is that their criticism is neither accurate, fair, nor well-informed. I am sure they do not intend this, but in the 1930s and '40s in Europe, we learned how dangerous and ultimately destructive this kind of discourse could be.”

Karen Armstrong 1944 CE –
Champion of the Golden Rule and perennial philosophy

“The Middle East is the crucible of conflict and the graveyard of empires.”

J. Rufus Fears 1945 – 2012 CE

“The spread of Islam was not just a spiritual event but a historical, political, and military event that changed the history of the world.”

J. Rufus Fears 1945 – 2012 CE

“Religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today.”

Salman Rushdie 1947 CE –
Fearless antagonist of Islamic fundamentalism

“What is needed is a move beyond tradition, nothing less than a reform movement to bring the core concepts of Islam into the modern age, a Muslim Reformation to combat not only the jihadist ideologues but also the dusty, stifling seminaries of the traditionalists, throwing open the windows to let in much-needed fresh air.”

Salman Rushdie 1947 CE –
Fearless antagonist of Islamic fundamentalism

“In Islam there is something called the principle of common good... whenever one is confronted by something that is not mentioned in the scriptures, one must observe what benefit it can bring. Does it serve the common good, does it protect the spirit, and does it serve God?”

Cat Stevens 1948 CE –
(Steven Demetre Georgiou, Yusuf Islam)

“See them coming now, can’t you hear them shout? Stop running from, stop stealing from, stop pointing guns at... My People, keep on keeping on.”

Cat Stevens 1948 CE – via My People
(Steven Demetre Georgiou, Yusuf Islam)

“Islamism is a modern, instead of an ancient, political tendency, which arose in a spirit of fraternal harmony with the fascists of Europe in the 1930s and '40s.”

Paul Berman 1949 CE –
Insightful political commentator and expert on totalitarianism
from Wall Street Journal, 2010

“The future course for Islamic societies [is] in a synthesis between adherence to the faith and adjustment to the modern age.”

Benazir Bhutto بينظير ڀُٽو‎; 1953 – 2007 CE

“Islam is the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book. [Comparing Islam to Judaism] is beyond stupid. There aren’t 5,000 militant Jewish groups. They didn’t do a study of treatment of women around the world and find that the Jews were at the bottom of it. There weren’t 10 Jewish countries in the world that were putting gay people to death just for being gay. It’s idiotic.”

Bill Maher 1956 CE –

“The Muslim world is utterly deranged by its religious tribalism…The idea that Islam is a 'peaceful religion hijacked by extremists' is a dangerous fantasy—the dogmatic commitment to using violence to defend one’s faith, both from within and without to varying degrees, is a central Islamic doctrine”

Sam Harris 1967 CE –
One of the "Four Horsemen" of New Atheism

“Islam is part religion, and part a political-military doctrine. The part that is a political doctrine contains a world view, a system of laws and a moral code that is totally incompatible with our constitution, our laws, and our way of life.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali 1969 CE –
Powerful voice for Islamic reform

“Wishful thinking about the peaceful tolerance of Islam cannot interpret away this reality: hands are still cut off, women still stoned and enslaved, just as the Prophet Muhammad decided centuries ago.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali 1969 CE –
Powerful voice for Islamic reform
from Infidel

“see even the Islamic State as an errant offshoot of the global culture we all share... radical Islamists have been influence by Marx and Foucault as much as by Muhammad... Islamic fundamentalism may indeed pose a radical challenge, but the 'civilization' it challenges is a global civilization rather than a uniquely Western phenomenon.”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

“True, hundreds of millions may nevertheless go on believing in Islam, Christianity or Hinduism. But numbers alone don’t count for much in history. History is often shaped by small groups of forward-looking innovators rather than by the backward-looking masses.”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow

“When I think of the mystery of existence, I prefer to use other words, so as to avoid confusion. And unlike the God of the Islamic State and the Crusades – who cares a lot about names and above all about His most holy name – the mystery of existence doesn’t care an iota what names we apes give it.


Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018)

“The prophet Muhammed's death in 632 was followed by what, at the time, was simply a disagreement over succession... There is no reason to think that the fighting that followed was meant to evolve into a conflict that would last 1,400 years... the Sunni-Shi'a split.”

Deepak Malhotra 1
"Professor of the Year"

from Peacemaker's Code

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