Who is there that can say where the light of spirituality begins and where it ends? Whence arises that deep seated urge to connect with a power higher than oneself, not just with that which we see, but also with that which we can only feel? Every heart has its own language of communicating with the divine, every spirit its own path that it takes to journey through the cosmos.

Every so often we will find a clash of spiritualities between people, a disagreement over the right path to follow round the cosmos. The language of the heart, though difficult to decode, is forever being claimed and fenced in as territory by the proprietors of godliness. And yet, when you look deep, the clash of spiritualities is nothing but a tussle of egos, that basest and most common human desire for supremacy. Sometimes manifested outwardly as a desire to ‘guide’ the other to the right way, is it not perhaps a deep seated desire to prove one’s own self right?

In Elif Shafak’s international bestselling book The Forty Rules of Love, the sufi poet and scholar Shams Tabriz narrates a deeply moving tale. “One day Moses was walking in the mountains on his own when he saw a shepherd in the distance. The man was on his knees with his hands spread out to the sky, praying. Moses was delighted. But when he got closer, he was equally stunned to hear the shepherd’s prayer.” The shepherd’s prayer was a strange one, wherein he professed his deep love for god by offering to ‘give’ things to him and to ‘do’ things for him. “I will do anything for thee, just say the word…” he prayed, enumerating all the things he could do. “Afterwards I would wash thy feet and clean thine ears and pick thy lice for thee. That is how much I love thee.”

Moses was most annoyed at the man and yelled at him that god has no feet and no hands and needs none to feed and clean him. “This is not prayer. This is sheer blasphemy,” said Moses.

The shepherd was stunned and ashamed and asked Moses to teach him the ‘right’ prayer. And Moses was pleased. But that night when god spoke, Moses was surprised. For god told him that the man’s heart had been pure and his intentions sincere. “His words might have been blasphemy to your ears, but to Me they were sweet blasphemy.”

Sweet blasphemy is what is born of the purest, uncorrupted heart that seeks to reach out to divine light — sans the pomp of rituals, sans the bragging rights of so many prayers made and so many texts memorised. Sweet blasphemy is that which is born of nothing but pure instinct that makes you turn towards your creator, as the newborn turns instinctively towards the warmth of the mother.

The light which spreads over the universe originates from a single source: white light that hides within itself the colours of the rainbow, white light that enables every single entity to glow with its own distinct colour. Without this light every speck of the world is dark, dull, black and grey. White light throws everything else in relief, being absorbed and reflected in different ways by everything that it touches, enabling us to see the world in all its shimmering, multi-hued glory. We are all aglow with the light from that single source yet we glow in our own colours. This is the light that differentiates us to highlight our uniqueness, and unifies us to highlight that everything must ultimately merge into the one.

Zehra Naqvi