Dr. Quadir spoke on the topic of diversity as a mercy from God as it relates to Rumi’s teachings and the Quran.
Tarik Qadir, a member of the Rumi Research Center in Konya and an expert on Islam led a discussion on the subject “Diversity is a Mercy from God: Rumi’s Teachings and the Quran” at the Rumi Forum. Following a discussion on the rationale of Divine Mercy and the existence of diverse entities in the universe, Quadir discussed how this can help us understand the existence of religious diversity as well. The talk was split into 3 main sections: Diversity as a mercy from God, Religions as a mercy from God and the absoluteness of God.
Qadir begins the talk by addressing what he labels as the 3 reasons why God created such vast diversity in our universe. To Qadir, diversity is a blessing that God has bestowed on mankind, and is a hugely positive element of our lives. The first reason of God’s creation of diversity is that God, being infinite, “cannot reveal himself through just one thing.” In many ways, the variety of living and non-living organisms that can be found around us serves as a reminder of the immeasurable richness of God. Secondly, Qadir explains that “we know each thing by contrasting it with something else.” This is indeed how our cognitive awareness is created and how we learn to appreciate various aspects of our lives. Diversity in feelings, in experiences and in people allow us to truly deepen our sense of value and meaning. The final reason is that diversity helps to understand God. As Qadir explains, “diversity itself is a sign. What does a sign do? It helps to know God.” In fact, God’s description of diversity is so that we may come to “know each other”, in a sense commanding mankind to engage in dialogue.
Qadir expands on the concept of diversity in the second part of the discussion by describing the variety of existing religions and their ability to help us discover God. Due to the enormous differences that we witness in humans, through varying cultures, languages, and ethnicities, God touches people in multiple ways. It would in fact be surprising if God, through his infinite nature, was only understood in one manner. Moreover, “when you encounter great beauty from another religion, in a piece of art or poetry for example”, the arousing curiosity of these various religious interpretations, “help us know more about the nature of God”. The vast understandings of the creator therefore help deepen our vision of His boundless limits. Finally, by observing other religions and the similar themes they address to ours, we are reminded of our own beliefs. Qadir emphasizes that a typical human trait is forgetfulness, and that the observation of other beliefs contribute to a greater understanding of ours.
Qadir concludes the discussion by emphasizing the absoluteness of God. He explains that, unlike God, “religions are not absolute, they are simply different paths”. To describe this idea, Qadir ends by citing the prophet, “Oh people remember that your Lord is one, your father Adam is one, and Arab is not superior over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab superior over an Arab. Also a white is not superior over a black nor a black superior over a white, except by piety and God-awareness.”
Tarik Quadir is a Bangladeshi-American who studied Sufism, Islamic Philosophy, Perennial Philosophy, and Islamic Environmentalism with the renowned Islamic philosopher Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Dr. Quadir received an MA in Islamic studies from George Washington University followed by an MA in Indo-Muslim Culture from Harvard University. It was his love for Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi that first led him to Konya in 1998. And after receiving a Phd from the University of Birmingham (UK) on the subject of the Islamic response to the environmental crisis, he moved to Konya (Turkey) where he now works in the Rumi Research Center at Mevlana (Rumi) University.