Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mulana Techno Ruminates on Proposition 8

This article was published on 2008/10/16 - BEFORE the Proposition 8 vote in California.

Greetings and Blessings, dear sons and daughters. Or, as we say in the (Shi'a Muslim Minister) Maulana trade: marhabah was Salaam, wa barakah ya khaas ul aam! The "khaas ul aam" part is an inclusive statement, addressing those who consider themselves exceptional, as well as those who believe they are merely ordinary. This, my dears, is your first lesson from the inimitable Maulana Techno. The second lesson,

I was asked by Siliconstani, of the now deceased, what I thought of Proposition 8, the ballot measure prompting Californians to share their pounds' worth on the meaning of marriage. I told him my answer had to be presented with the understanding of a supercharged language, or, conversely, the benefit of a framework of increased understanding. This to me is the only way for my words to make the kind of sense I would want for my readers to receive. Thus I know that if I speak my answer out of turn, as in right now - it may not make sense the way it is meant to. (Except, as my friend Athene from puts it, for those who's sanity the rest of us might doubt ;*)

To begin, after we deal with the obvious question: What does this proposition lead to?
Answer: A redefinition of the word "marriage."

First thought that I need to expand on, is 'who is defining marriage'. That is important because, since I was just at a new-age Hebrew wedding (with a female rabbi named Sara,) and can speak with a bit of personal perspective. Marriage means something, and it has meant that for a long time. An insanely long time. In Islam it was originally a social contract between a man and a woman, even though ethno-culturally it has become a whole lot more. The Greco-Roman culture, which is now referred to as the Judeo-Christian context, also defined it in conventional terms, which we take to mean, "between man and woman." We need to arrive at an understanding that, just like among Jews the concept of Marriage is a whole lot more complex, and without the traditions addressed, there is no Marriage, Islam has become the same way. No such thing in Shi'ite Islam, but they do try. The proof is in Mutah, (temporary marriage of fixed duration, of convenience, with a stipulation of who takes care of any children that may result from the union,) but we can return to that if there is interest. Comment if you care.

We can see the proof of Muslims having made their marriages cultural affairs by attending a marriage of any Muslim from another culture, after seen at least one marriage, from any other culture. I have only once attended a Christian marriage, but there was more than a mere social contract taking place. But all this is besides the point that Marriage is already a charged word, and means many different things to many different people. The purpose of this proposition is not to make an existing concept to be more complex than it already is. So is the proposition about the same 'kind of' marriage then? This is question 1 to consider.

Secondly, we need to consider who is asking the question. It is human beings (so they have rights of free choice,) who are gays and Lesbians and possibly even hermaphrodites. What do they care about? The word, or the rights they receive through the passage of a new law in their favor? If they care only about the law, then why are we getting caught up in the semantics of the word being used to define this civil union? That's what it is - right? If this is agreed, then can't we come up with a new word - a word meant to describe that union for them, and just call it even? This way the traditionalists (okay, or whatever else you may wish to call yourself; let us not get caught up in definitions ourselves please!-) would remain happy that their concept of Marriage isn't being tarnished, and the Garriage and Larriage seekers (mere suggestions, yo!-) get what they want. I am certain we can come up with better words. Because, come to think of it, if a distinction is made then there might be need for Barriage as well as Tarriage, not to mention Harriage and who knows how many other 'iages that will be needed. So let us have the GLTB community come up with a term that they would like to call their Civil Union, if there is need to make it more 'kewl sounding' than 'Civil Union.' (I know GLTB's I don't blame you. I don't want to be 'Civil Unioning my partner any more than you do. So suggest something else that you would prefer instead, and take the matter into your own hands fully, instead of trying to overload the meaning of an existing term that is causing the measure to backfire!^)

Third thought, and I hope the final one, is best expressed through a quote I heard on "The Nature of Spirituality" today, from Rabbi Sara, who conduced the amazing and spiritual marriage of my friend Aviad Sar Shalom Gait, the founder of She spoke of spirituality in a way that actuated thoughts alive and running deep through my psyche, so I'll paraphrase what I heard from her thus:

When you have ordeals to deal with in your day to day life, and have an interaction with another conscious being; spirituality is your being conscious of their feelings and the effect you will have on _them_ rather than acting based on how you are feeling, doing, or otherwise are. Spirituality is apologizing first, or better yet - avoiding that argument before it even happens! Clear intention, held consciously, actuated in action: That is spirituality. Yet I have a story that'll throw this statement into a tailspin:

I was blessed to live in a Zen Monastery ( for two and a half years in San Francisco. We had a few practices, and these were our only "adherences". No mantras, no statues to bow down to. We all recognized ourselves as potential buddhas, living and learning to empower the master within us to step out and rule the conscious entity that the ego becomes, if we thus allow it. One of the practices was hot water - early in the morning. We'd wake up between 3 & 4 AM, and drink up to 4 liters of hot water, sometimes with a few herbs like licorish root, or rose hip. Some days, which for over a year was _every_ day, we'd drive to the house of the founder of the space, and starting at 5AM, would walk from there to the top of Twin Peaks - a 30 minute hike. Up on the mountain top he would teach, and usually prescribed Tai Chi or partner-Qi Gong to my fellow monks. But after my Qi-Gong (push-hands) partner left, he didn't prescribe me anything. So I continued the practice that I used to do even previously - which is invoke the islamic call to prayer and pray on a wall up there, facing East.

One day I complained to him, saying that you aren't prescribing any Tai Chi for me, and I am wondering if I should feel left out - because I don't. He said: But you are already going Tai Chi! I argued back, not yet realizing what this zen master had just said. He explained: What is Tai Chi? Tai Chi is "Prayer in Motion". He said that in Tai Chi you make an intention, and then you consciously actuate the motions of your intention, which is exactly what he sees me do. He even said that what I do is the highest form of Tai Chi he has ever seen anyone do. I tried to explain, in vain, that the outward form that he was observing was actually going on inside. He cautioned me, asking me not to try to judge that which I may not understand. And then I went up on my wall and sang my call to prayer, and looked at the dawn sky as I meditated for a while before praying. I had a mystical experience that morning, and not merely because I felt I was seeing things in the unseen as I was going about the same motions that I had missed so many morning. I had an experience because the words I was speaking inside me were now being augmented by another language, one of sight, being heard by my senses as I went through the motions of prostration and obeisance after standing and sitting. I felt I got something that day, and realized that no Muslim may have known what a treasure we have on our hands. Yet how do we look at is?

If this is what (I know from Islam) we call prayer, then I have to redefine it. I have to call it Spiritual-Consciousness. Some may call it Ibadat, and others may call it spirituality. But I know the fact, because I have lived its truth, that prayer is "always on, always happening, always alive", and if we cannot maintain that state of prayer in our dealings with other aspects of Divinity that God has placed on this planet for us to learn from, then we are not being spiritual at all. Islam says that "believers" (Momineen) are "Mirrors unto each other." How clean am I coming across in the mirror that you see yourself in, when you look into my eyes? How about when you interact with me? Or when I reflect to you that which you are attracting, whether consciously or subconsciously?

My concluding thought, and the reason for all this "background calibration" is this:

If we are thus to live in spiritual essence from moment to moment, then what harm is there for us to allow greater peace to a large fraction of our population, that is asking for it? We have examples upon examples before us, from the turning the other cheek to submitting our desires for the greater good - example upon example from great figures or less so, throughout history into the present, many more than Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Gandhi, Mandela, Al Gore, and - yes - even Musharraf! The story of Sodom & Gomorra isn't lost on me. I understand that condoning something that religion considers so blasphemous is almost being party to it. But then we have to recognize that it is the same God who calls homosexuality sinful that creates these people. The same God has made our world such that we cannot deny what has always existed. Even throughout history this was known to happen. It is just more openly accepted now, because The Bill of Rights is not complete unless everyone gets their rights. So who are we to deny these creations of the One Infinite Creator what they consider their need, for them to be able to live in peace? Who are we to decide that our definition of marriage takes precedence over what they take its meaning to be? And if we, the elite bastion of the status quo, are so frenzied about our definition of marriage, then cannot the GLBT community come up with a different term that gives them what they want, while not taking away from the clingers-on of history their comfort in knowing that their sacred union isn't trifled with? Besides, whether this measure is defeated or not, the situation isn't going to change. The rights of a minority that is intent upon receiving them can merely be delayed. They cannot be denied, and cannot be held back for too long. Why don't we just lead here, and step up with a solution that works for everyone, instead of one that merely appeases the larger majority, or even just the largest minority?


Abbas Zaidi said...

This is DONE! *phew* This view has been exciting to share, and took quite a while to write! I have already had quite a day today; drummed a party with a bunch of friends into a tribal frenzy, and danced my heart out! Also sang a song which - yaay - is recorded. The song was a blessing, across many religions and traditions, and is something that I will be adding on as 'Maulana Techno - Public Sermon #1.' Why? Because I would want the world to know why this Maulana (and yes, I am a Zakir who has given khutbas, taught classes, and spoken Muharram sermons in english at during the Ashura of 2006.) Yet I have also lived in a Zen monastery as well as a shi'ite mosque for an entire summer as well as two muharram seasons, and also am a Native American vision quest returnee, with the third name I have received: Gentle Grandfather Wolf of Wild Ferocity. Gentle, key word there. But I digress, and this was said just to tie together the reasoning for why, as my friend Sabahat (of says, Maulana Techno's message must be made accessible to Muslims, if not the larger community of the world that the Muslims share and need to be understood by: This message ties together the knowledge that is available in our world, and presented with a unified world view. Do not hesitate please to write to me or comment here, specially if you wish to share a particularly juicy thought. I hope to keep returning to this page repeatedly, and allow the message that is coming through me to be refined and improved, so that those who come down the road of time benefit more than myself, and those who have been patient through the process of my writing this. (Barak Allah wa ahlain! [Blessings of the One Infinite Creator and my greetings!] To all my children, my elders, and my friends!-)

Erawtic~8~ said...

Hope 2 C this alternate reality in print along with all yur revelations~ so nice to get more familiar with the words you think, write & share~ *smile*