Faiths Act Fellow gets inspired by the story of Noah
“Start a large foolish project like Noah” Rumi
The first time I heard this statement of the great Sufi mystic Mevlana Rumi, I thought long and hard about what he’s actually asking us to do. I was able to find an understanding of it when I turned to the Quran and looked up the story of Noah’s ark, a narrative which is also found in the Bible. What Rumi was referring to was the fact that when Noah, who Muslims also know as the Prophet Nuh, began to build the ark following the command of God, those who passed by him began to ridicule him for doing what appeared to them as foolish. However those who did believe in Noah and his message and came aboard the ark were saved from the devastation of the flood. My understanding is therefore that Rumi is calling on us to start something or do something which to others may appear foolish, may appear too big to do, but we do it because we know it’s important and necessary.
What is our “large foolish project”? Quite simply it is to bring faith communities together in a spirit of interfaith cooperation to help end the suffering and deaths caused by malaria. In a world where there might appear to be more conflict than cooperation, we need to show that just as a mosquito doesn’t distinguish between a black or white person, a Christian or a Muslim, we too need to be indiscriminate in our response by working with everyone to help save lives. At times this does appear to be a difficult thing to achieve. Getting people of various faiths and beliefs to unite on a common agenda isn’t easy; but it’s possible. So let’s exploit this possibility and do something which can make a difference to communities in our own countries, and those communities where we’re working to save lives.
The New Year is a time to reflect on the year which has passed, but it’s crucially a time to look ahead to the coming months. It’s the optimum time to renew and redouble our efforts to really help make a difference at home and abroad. The Prophet Noah, Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King have at least one thing in common in my opinion: they all started a “large foolish project”. What will be yours?
Usman Nawaz, Faiths Act Fellow