Dr. Dave Cashin shares about the desire of all humanity to experience God. Find out how Muslims have responded to this problem through Sufism.


 Here starts the auto-generated transcription of Sufism: The Hunger for God in Islam:


Let me tell you a story, about a Sufi meeting that I attended, in a pretty remote part of Bangladesh, and it was a meeting of a group called the Panchon Rosh, which means the 5 juices. I won’t go into all of what that means, but, it was a typical Qawali Sufi devotional meeting. It began about 9 o’clock at night with a big meal that we all shared together. And then there was a musical group, that were singing and, through their kawali music, through their singing, the audience is invited to, come and take part by dancing ecstatically, before the dais where they’re performing. And, I was sitting, quite far back from the main, you know, center of action.


And I was having a conversation with a a gentleman who was the principal of the local school that was just down the street from this kawali meeting. Round about 11:30, 12 o’clock at night, As we’re having this conversation, he’s kinda moving a little bit in his chair. And and all of a sudden, he says, I can’t talk anymore. So he said, I just gotta dance. And he stands up, and he runs down to the front of the dais and just begins to dance ecstatically, by the dais.


And I’m thinking to myself, looking around the the group, and there are 100 and 100 of people there. I’m thinking, this guy has undoubtedly got some of the students of his school sitting here in the audience. And he’s down there in the front, just dancing ecstatically. And it was just so different. What was interesting about it is that the it would be like going to a, an a dance, the Friday night sock hop, and the students are sitting in the audience, and it’s the teachers and the principal that are up in the front dancing around ecstatically.


I mean, it was just as as incongruous from an American cultural perspective as you could possibly imagine, that this guy wouldn’t be embarrassed to do this in front of his students. The longing, the desire for imminence, for experience of God, so powerful. And and if you think about that, for an adult, that might even be stronger than it is for a child. And therefore, a lot of the people up in the dancing in front of the dais were older people, not the kids. Well, once again, Muslim terrorists.


A terrorist. A terrorist. Islamist. Extremist. Now these are the mistrial terrorists.


And deadly. Newsflash America. These Muslim extremists are, are alive and well. They are not dead, and their video is not gratuitous, and it certainly is not irrelevant. It is a warning.


Welcome the Truth About Muslims podcast. The official podcast of the Zwemer Center For Muslim Studies, where we help to educate you beyond the media. Here are your hosts, Howard and Trevor. Alright. Welcome to truth about Muslims.


We’ve got a return guest in the studio today, doctor Dave Cashin with Columbia International University. Doctor Cashin spent quite a few years working with Muslims in Bangladesh? That’s correct. How many years were you there? 9 years.


82 to 91. Okay. And you were also instrumental. I don’t know if a lot of folks know this, but instrumental in the starting of the Zweymer Center back in 1979. Yeah.


I had the opportunity to work with doctor, Don McCurry. We traveled around the world in 1976. It was interesting. He was gonna do his PhD research, and, we sort of helped him with his planning. And then partway into the planning, we said, well, gee, we’d kinda like to tag along, and, he was open to that.


So from, June until September of 1976, we bounced around. We started in Indonesia. We went through, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco. We just covered everything. You guys all together went to all these countries?


Yeah. All those countries. Yeah. It sounds like a few other non Muslim countries as well on the way. It sounds like Paul’s missionary journey is his third one.


It’s like he has an entourage coming with him and Well, I wish I could say we were doing church planting, but it was mostly just to learn what what God was doing in the Muslim world at that point. And that was back in the days when there weren’t very many Muslims who’d come to faith. Right. The numbers were quite small in most areas. It’s interesting listening to Patrick Johnstone who mentioned when the book Operation World first came out in the sixties, he said there were perhaps, 4000 Christians everywhere, in the Muslim that is who were former Muslims who’d become Christians in the entire Muslim world.


That was his estimate back in 63 or 64 when the book first came out. And he said, today he estimates 10,000,000. That’s insane. And and, some of the countries that you guys named actually, you know, like, it would be very difficult for us to get into today. Right?


Yes. But you were just able to get in? I mean, they just had no problem letting you Well, Iran was completely open country. My wife, we we almost, passed as ships in the night. I didn’t know her at that point.


But, she was in Iran with Operation Mobilization going door to door selling Christian Bibles to Muslims. I love I love I love early strategies. It’s like, you know, let’s just do it. Can you imagine that that could have even been done? But that was done back in those days.


So, I mean, when we think about the Muslim world today, so much has changed. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. This was 40 years ago. You guys are traveling around the Muslim world.


What are some of the things that you think over the last 40 years of your watching, participating in Muslim ministry, that have been the most significant sort of milestones? Well, lots of things you could say about that. One of the important milestones, of course, were was the reality of Christians asking the question, how much of a Muslim’s culture can he keep and say with integrity that Christ is Lord of his life? The realization that Muslims, should not be trained to be westerners but should stay within their own context, and be able to witness and bring their own people to Christ. Don McCurry actually was the one who first, gave me that question about Muslim culture back in 1976.


And so we’ve been kind of grappling with that issue ever since, haven’t we? Everything from insider movements to, you know, issues of what what does a church planting movement look like in in the Muslim world. And how do you think that we’ve been doing as the church in kind of parsing that out, figuring that out? Well, I would say it’s more God Right. Quite frankly.


You know, we’re often thinking in terms of techniques and methods and that’s very anthropocentric. The reality is there are times when the spirit moves and God is doing a new thing in the Muslim world. I would be very, nervous about somebody saying, oh, we’ve got a method that works. I’m finding places in the Muslim world today where there is such openness to the gospel that any old method will work. Mhmm.


Just tell them about Jesus. That’s that’s really the, you know, frankly, the main method that needs to be done. Yeah. You mentioned Patrick Johnstone. I I listened to that interview as well.


And one of the things he mentions is that he really appreciates the missionaries that are coming out of Africa, particularly the Nigerian missionaries. Yep. And I was really excited to hear why, what was going on, what method were they using. And he said it’s because they actually believe in the power of the gospel. They don’t need a method.


They don’t need a model. They just actually believe that if you preach the gospel that the Spirit of God will move in the heart of someone and I thought, there it is. Yeah. Imagine that. So a lot of your work in Bangladesh has been with Sufism.


Your doctoral dissertation, actually, you studied in Stockholm, correct? Stockholm, Sweden? Yeah. Yeah. I studied at Stockholm University and all of the time that I was in Bangladesh, I actually was there as a student.


So I began with Indian history, did a master’s degree in Indian history at Dhaka University. But my my main interest was out in the villages. I went out and was involved in in church planting and that kind of work in in different villages outside of Dhaka. But I quickly became interested in that group of Muslims who believe in various ways in the possibility of knowing God. Now in Islamic Orthodoxy as Ismail Farooqi would put it, you cannot know, you cannot experience, you cannot have a personal relationship with God.


All you can know about God is his law, which is why Islamic theology is really a misnomer. It quickly bleeds into law or fiqh because it’s really not about knowing God. But the human heart, we are created in the image of God for the purpose of intimate relationship with God. And that need, that hunger of the heart is designed into every human being including all Muslims. So in spite of Islamic the denial in Islamic theology of the possibility of relationship with God, Sufis, amongst many groups of Muslims, nevertheless, long for that, seek for that, desire that.


And if you have I’ve I’ve spent hundreds of hours in different Sufi meetings. I I’ve watched them singing their devotional songs, often called kawali, in, the Indian subcontinent. And all those songs are a form of what they would call zikr or remembrance of God. And the remembrance is really an effort. You’ll even see pictures of them waving or or signaling to God to come down, come, come be with me as I remember you, as I devote myself to you, and the music is is really a vehicle for a fleeting sense of contact with God.


Now you said come down. Is that something that is common amongst Islamic theology? Like, this idea that God would come down and meet with somebody? Well, absolutely not. In fact, that would be considered shirk.


That would be considering you it would be considered, associating something with God. You cannot associate with God. If you think about it, the word association is a word we use for relationship. Right. To associate but to associate anything with God is the ultimate sin in Islam.


And if you think about that, that means that in in orthodoxy, as the Wahabis in particular would, interpret it, there’s no possibility, what whatsoever, for God to come down or for you to have an experience of God. Yeah. And I noticed that, with Sufis, they might, have be perceived as, heretics, I guess, maybe Oh, absolutely. Many Muslims. They’re under tremendous pressure right now.


They’re a little bit charismatic maybe. Right. Yeah. I was gonna say really akin to that. But at the same time, is it is it that, that it’s the tradition is so strong or they the the experience of it is that that compelling that they stay in Sufism?


Well, Sufism was a vehicle for many of these people groups to become Muslim. In other words, when the Muslim contextualizers came to places like India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, they recognized that some sort of a message in Arabic wouldn’t speak to people. And in fact, I have documents that I’ve translated from that period, where the Sufi guy would say, it’s impossible to do the Islamic thing here because they don’t understand it. So we’ll take what they do and we’ll baptize it into Islam. And they, quite frankly, were syncretizers in that sense and, borrowed local esoteric Vaishnava, Shoghodgia tantric ideas.


And someone actually called my thesis on this, you know, the story of the tantric Muslims. I don’t think that title would have gone over very well in the Muslim world. No. No. It wouldn’t.


It would would get you into trouble. But let let’s, we need an experience here. Since we’re talking about experience of God, we need we need to have an esoteric experience. So I’m feeling a little bit nervous. What I what I need esoteric experience.


So I’m feeling a little bit nervous. What I what I need you to do is is we’re gonna do a Sufi song together. Okay? And, you guys are gonna be the, backup singers and it’s real easy. All you have to do is drone.


Well, Howard’s already clearing his throat. He’s he’s gonna Okay. Yeah. All you have to do is it’s kind of like humming with your mouth slightly open. So you go.


Alright. Just kidding. That’s how it’s trying to harmonize. Yeah. We could do it at different levels.


I’ll try and And then if you need to take a breath, you know, just keep on going and then I’ll sing the melody line. Alright? Okay. Stop Now. You know, if you did this for a few hours, you would kind of go on a trip, wouldn’t you?


I feel a little light headed. I was missing. The choice of hyperventilation. Yes. I’m like, I don’t know how long I can hold it.


Now now let me translate the song for you. Hello? Hey, ladies. I’m from, Truth About Muslims podcast. Have you heard of it?


Yeah. Okay. So we want you to read an ad for us. Can you do that? You’ll be famous, like, world famous.


It’ll be amazing. C I u? C I u. C I u. CIU.


CIU. I’m Kevin Kekaisen. Kevin and George. Mama, wait a minute. Oh, wow.


Look nice. Luke Fainte. Luke Fainte. Luke. Alright.


CIU educates people from a biblical worldview to impact the nations with the message of Christ. You wanna read that again? Yeah. I feel like I’ll be so embarrassed to make it up there. What we sang was, or what I sang as the melody line to your backup, was, I, Mohammed, come, Mohammed, game wala, granter of all desires, I, hey, Allah, come, oh, God, amar buke aye, come into my chest.


And as you sing that song, you toke up on your hash pipe. Wait. That that that was just a part of it? That was yeah. That was part of the you know, in other words, God is synonymous with Muhammad, is synonymous with the hashish that you are imbibing into your chest.


And as you sing the song and smoke the hashish, you experience God. I feel it necessary to explain to people we don’t actually have a hash pipe. And we did not partake in that part. No. No.


Just the breathing part. There are standards at CIU. That’s right. We try to hold 2 here. So this this would be utter heresy to suggest that Mohammed could come and dwell a human It’s associating Mohammed with God.


Right. Which would be sure. The the grievous sin. This is as bad as it gets. Wait.


So wait. I didn’t get that from that song that, Mohammed you were inviting Mohammed in, but it was inviting Allah in. Right? Well, here’s an interesting thing. Within Sufism, there is a tacit critique, and sometimes it’s explicit, of orthodoxy.


In other words, I’ve had Sufis say to me things like this, We don’t follow the son of Abdullah, we follow the light of Muhammad. Now who is the son of Abdullah? Muhammad. Exactly. So who are the 2 different Mohammed’s?


So they’re deifying Mohammed. In other words, they’re saying the the son of Abdullah was the human Mohammed who gave us the Sharia. We don’t really follow Sharia. We follow the light of Mohammed which is a kind of a spiritualized reality of Muhammad revealing God to us. And they would claim that all of their spiritual techniques were derived from the teaching of Muhammad, But the way they do that is by taking Arabic terminology, that nobody understands or at least didn’t in the Middle East and excuse me, in in Bangladesh and, we read new meanings into it.


Let me let me give an example. You know, you’ve all heard the word Bismillah Ar Rahman Ar Raheem, in the name of God, the merciful, and the compassionate. Well, quite frankly as by those who were Sufis in the medieval period, and is, of course, the Sanskrit word for or seed or mantra. Okay? So Bismillah became the mantra of God in their thinking and then they would they would use mantras to experience God through the whole meditative process.


Yoga is involved in this, various forms of other kinds of esoteric techniques to achieve ecstasy is involved in this and this became what Islam was. In that area. In that area. So wait, so is Sufism just confined to a certain area, geographic area of the world or is it now spread out everywhere? You’ll find Sufis everywhere.


And and I think Sufism and your use of the word charismatic revival is actually a good word because in a sense, Islam at its core is a no holds barred Pharisaic legalism. Right. Law law. And and if you look at what ISIS does today, ISIS pulls up the most arcane, obscure elements of Islamic law, you know, like sex slaves or, you know, executing sorcerers, and and pulls that up and makes it, you know, front page news for all Muslims. This is exactly how we have to behave.


And I think Don McCurry I’m actually copying Don McCurry at this point. McCurry felt that Sufism arose out of the hunger of the Muslim heart for imminence. Imminence is our Imminence is our response or reaction to And in Christian theology, we talk about the, transcendence of God but we also talk about the imminence of God. God is transcended. He’s above all.


He is other in that sense, but he’s also present and, of course, within Christianity incarnationally present. He’s imminent in his creation. So this is the importance of trinitarian theology is that we have the transcendent God the Father and we have the imminent, Christ and then we also have the indwelling Spirit of God. Exactly. So this Trinitarian concept, they actually write into Muslim essentially, by making Believe it or not, you’ll love this.


Yes. About 30 years ago, one of the Sufis in Bangladesh published a book and it almost got him killed. It got his house burned down. It got into all kinds of trouble. But the title of the book was, which means, gentlemen, the trinity, the truth of God.


He was a Trinitarian Muslim. And Is there such a thing? Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Within Sufism because he understood that apart from Trinity, you can’t have relationship.


In other words, trinitarianism teaches you that within God, within God’s person, there is complexity and therefore there is relationship. Father, Son, Holy Spirit in eternal relationship. Human beings created in the image of God are invited into that relationship. Well, there’s the, Al Ghazali is often quoted, and I’ve never been able to find this quote. I’ve read extensively his works looking for it.


But he’s often quoted in saying that God is incapable of love because there would have to be a recipient of his affection. And because there is no trinity Mhmm. Therefore, law would not be capable of love. Now, I’ve never found the quote. A lot of Christians have quoted it and there’s never an accurate citation.


Yeah. But in essence, our Trinitarian relationship with God does demonstrate that that God is doesn’t need humanity to be a God of love because he is complete in the God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit equally, loving and receiving love relationally. Right. And that’s there at the core of Christian theology. I can even show you where that comes from in in the early, Islamic texts.


This would be in Bangladesh Islamic, texts of origin, power, and destiny which are at the core of all cultures. Our culture now is controlled by evolutionism as our myth of origin, power, and destiny. If you go into the earliest documents, that would give you the story of of how the world arose, you know, where did what was the origin, in every one, you had a similar problem within monistic Hinduism that within monism, how can there be plurality? How can there be relationship? And, within, the Brihat, Ranyaka Upanishad, which is of the earliest of the Upanishads, you have this myth of the original, unity somehow gains self perception.


And they often use the story of of the godhead somehow seeing himself in a mirror. Where the mirror came from, I don’t know. But somehow he sees himself and he becomes infatuated and, frankly, the the picture of creation that emerges is one of sexual intercourse. He essentially unites with himself and the particulars of the universe emerge from that. If you go into the earliest Muslim text in Bengali that describe origins, it’s the exact same thing.


You have Allah gaining the perception of himself in some sort of a mirror and engaging in some kind of cosmic intercourse conjoining out of which the universe emerges. In other words, if you’re gonna have relationship, you’ve gotta have complexity. You can’t have an absolute unity. And, so, yeah, Ghazali was correct. And in Ghazali’s Sufism, he did try to reconcile Sufism with or orthodoxy.


And what he was really aiming for is we’ve gotta have a sense of imminence in this situation where Allah is so distant. So how does that imminence happen? Well, he called it the halal, which is the alighting. And and his theory of emanations was we never really get to God, you know, but there are these veils, these emanations that come from his power and at some point we can connect with the emanations of God. Like like rays, like sun rays kind of thing?


Yeah. You never get close to the sun but you might be able to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. The effect of the sun. Okay. So that’s this is a typically Islamic problem.


But for most of the Muslim world, that did not answer the question. They want imminence. They want God that you can know and touch and feel and experience. You know, this is interesting because Augustine really has this in his theology in the early church fathers with this idea of desire. Like, desire in and of itself is good, but our desires are corrupted and what they’re desiring is good.


They desire relationship with God. They desire the imminence of God. Exactly. So they created Sufism in order to have it. But there is some things in the Quran, right, that would give them, you know, text that they could build on.


For instance, God is closer to me than my own jugular vein would probably be a text that the Sufis would just love. Oh, yeah. It’s also interesting that the ultra orthodox like the Wahhabis, if you go into Ibn Kathir’s tafsir al Quran where he takes that particular verse. He claims Quick translation, he means commentary. Yeah.


Commentary. Tafsir means commentary. And, ibn Katiir basically interprets that verse to be not Allah but an angel. And, so there’s a in other words, he wants to get rid of any possibility of of imminence. But there are those who disagree with him at that point.


But the Sufis pick up on everything, and they also pick up, as I said before, particularly on the word remembrance, zikr, the idea that remembrance is of the nature of relationship and you remember God and through the ecstasy of remembrance, you experience God. Interesting. Because in the past podcast, we’ve been talking about how, a foundation of Islam Remembering the law, remembering and it seems like their vehicle is to do this in a very experiential Yeah. Experiential way. Now let’s take this to a missiological application.


Please. Macquarie’s viewpoint was that if it were not for Sufism, Islam would have collapsed of the sheer weight of its obscurantus legalism. Alright. So this show wouldn’t be possible without sponsors. And at this point in the show is where if you wanna partner with us, we would put your ad.


So if you wanna be a part of the show, you wanna partner with us, you like what we’re doing, you wanna be on our team, what have you, bringing this show to the world, then email us and let us know. Pure, you know, Pharisaism on steroids, where everything is just law law law law law, and it doesn’t satisfy the hunger of the heart. So Sufism became a way of restoring a sense of imminence to the imbalanced, utter transcendence of the Allah of Islam. And, McCurry was of the opinion that this not only was the leading edge of Islamic missions, but that it was the very thing that preserved Islam in the, you know, centers of Islam, in the middle in the Middle East and in the North Africa because it restored that concept of imminence. What’s interesting now is particularly Islamic State, Jabat al Nusra, Al Shabaab, all of these other, jihadi groupings have essentially declared war on Sufism.


And, there are suicide bombers that have gone into Sufi shrines in Pakistan. They did 5 different shrines were blown up in the period of a single year in Pakistan with hundreds of people blown apart in while they were doing their ecstatic worship. The all of the shrines of, North and and Central Africa, in Timbuktu, for instance, were all bulldozed, when, the local Al Qaeda, group took over in in Mali. If you go into, the Islamic State in Syria, they I just watched a film yesterday where they mowed down the so called, Moses tree in Syria. It’s a it’s a great big old oak tree, that different Muslims through the centuries have revered and they they hang little, prayer requests off the branches of the tree and and they just came with a big bulldozer and they knocked the whole thing down and then they burned it.


Woah. And that was on I got that film from ISIS yesterday. And and these are all aspects of saying we will get rid of any expression of imminence of God in creation. We will destroy it. Now, I’m assuming that Sufism is not a huge percentage of Islam.


I would say quite the opposite. In Bangladesh, we used to guess 80%. I mean, let me give you an example. I I used to walk through the villages, particularly in the wintertime, January, February when it’s fairly cool. And, I went on a 15 mile walk one time going into a very remote area of Sylhette.


And we did it in the middle of the night. I don’t know why. Probably not a smart thing to do with snakes on the pathway or whatever. But we were never out of earshot of a group of singing Sufis. In the middle of the night, in the middle of the night, 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock in the morning, somebody would say, well, why are they all singing in the middle of the night?


We see Orthodox people have to get up at 4 in the morning to say their prayers. So, when they all go to bed by 8 or 9 o’clock. So if you wanna have fun and sing your songs and not be disturbed by the Orthodox coming around to beat you up, do it in the middle of the night. So the Sufis come out in the middle of the night while the Orthodox are asleep. Kinda putting this into our own, context as Christians, do you see a correlation with, looking at church history when the Christian church becomes incredibly inward looking, overly, maybe theological.


I know that seems like an oxymoron overly theological, but they kind of forget the, the imminence of God and the experience of God. It seems like there is revival. Yeah. We can we can sort of trace the ebbs and flows of Church history with revival and, you know, shakers and Quakers and Pentecostal revivals and all of these things that happened throughout church history. And right now it seems the Pentecostal Church is probably the largest church and fastest growing movement within Christianity.


Absolutely. Do you see any correlations there with that same sort of For sure. Yeah. There are different ways that you can attack imminence. Islam does it at a theological level by denying the possibility, but the Western world did that through rationalism.


You know, the rational movement, the enlightenment project really reached its apex, in the late 19th early 20th centuries where, you know, human beings thought that through technology, through logic, through science, we would solve all of humanity’s problems. And that was really even right up through the 19 fifties. My own dad, you know, I can remember him talking to me when I was a little kid saying, you know, son, by the time you get to be my age, they’ll have a pill that you can take then you live to be a 150. You know, of course, who wants to be a 150? I you know, that’s you’re gonna be really decrepit.


But here’s the interesting thing, you know, here’s the interesting thing. You you’ve got this rationalistic, and and with rationalism basically came the deist idea that God was the cosmic watchmaker who basically turned the clock on and walked away from it. Had nothing to do with it. Unitarianism came out of this, you know. And and why is it why is it important to call it Unitarianism?


Because Unitarianism taught that, okay, there’s a God but he’s an absolute unity. He’s not involved in us. There’s no imminence. There’s no incarnation of Jesus coming down to earth. And at at the apex of that thinking in the early or late 19th early 20th centuries, the charismatic movement began.


And it was really a reaction against the rationalism, the lack of imminence, the lack of of ecstatic, emotional, experiential love relationship with God. And and it’s interesting to note that in the 18 nineties, less than 1% of the world population, Christian world population was charismatic, Pentecostal. Today, they’re 37%. Yeah. And and I feel the I feel the need to say.


I’m not by any means suggesting that Pentecostals are charismatic or not orthodox, Christians. I I well, and those of you that know me, I was actually saved and my wife too in a Pentecostal revival in in Brownsville, Pensacola in the late nineties. And, Dave, if I’m not mistaken, you came out of something very similar, a charismatic movement, the Jesus movement. And Yes. And and I would say Jesus movement broadly, speaking was of that nature.


Although I wasn’t in a, you know, I was part of Campus Crusade for Christ, which is not a Pentecostal organization by any stretch of the imagination. But, they were in by any stretch of the imagination. But, they were impacted by that reality. And and I think, if you look at the churches in Africa, Asia, Latin America, all deeply influenced by the concept of the imminence of God. Right.


I I work at a Korean church and we have this kind of joke because we have all these Korean denominations in my city, in Augusta, Georgia. And, they all act the same. They’re Presbyterians, you know, like, they speak in tongues, you know, they’ll they lift hands. I mean, they just they they weep, they pray, you know. And then the method Methodists, same thing.


The the, you know, the Assembly of God, same thing. I mean, it’s not you don’t find any difference, really. It’s weird. Well, how about the Baptist spirit filled the Koreans. Yeah.


The Baptist too. Yeah. How about how about the Baptist in Uganda who appointed themselves a bishop? Alright. How’s that for a variation on the theme?


Yeah. So at this point, give us some stories. Give us some some some Sufi stories, either some folks that you know I know a great one for you. I’ve got a great one for you. And it’s not my personal, but, it’s one that, and again, I only use my own personal stories or stories of those who are close friends of mine.


And this is a Don McCurry story. In 1962, there was a young Sufi influenced Urdu poet by the name of Daoud Raqbar. Probably Sufi influenced, you know, a poet, a musician, a really, really top notch professional level qawali musician, singer, player of the sitar. And, he came to the United States, to do his PhD work, but not in music or music theory or that sort of thing. He actually did his study in Islamics.


And in 1963, the book that he produced, was published by, Leiden, EJ Brill or In Leiden by EJ Brill in the Netherlands. And the title of the book was The God of Justice. And, basically what Dawud Rahbar did was he studied the texts of the Quran as a Sufi influenced person, but he was looking really for Sufism and for imminence and for relationship to God because his music, that’s what it’s all about. It’s contact with God, it’s relationship with God. And at the end of his study, he concluded that the God of Islam was a God of pure, retributive justice.


That there was no imminence. There was no relationship. He was a God who defined Himself in terms of law, defined relationship to human beings purely and exclusively in terms of law, and at the end of his study, Dawud Rahbar, left Islam. And he left it with a powerful thought. And the thought was this, quote, I cannot worship a god who does not understand understand human suffering.


I cannot worship a God who does not understand human suffering. And when you get into incarnation, what’s the biggest problem that Muslims will, raise with Christians about the incarnation of Jesus? Well, it’s a very simple thing. When Jesus died, was God dead? Legitimate question to ask, but what it really means, if you think about it, you can throw that question you can reverse it to a Muslim and say, okay.


Does that mean that your God has no concern, interest, or experience, or understanding for human suffering? And once you remove imminence, you and you have an absolute unity in tawhid, the oneness of God, you therefore have a God who really couldn’t care less about human beings. We’re just puppets to be played with because he’s the only action in the universe. And everything he does is totally self referentially within himself. You could almost argue that he doesn’t even know himself in that kind of a context.


That led Daud Raqbar eventually to become a follower of Christ. I might call him the early fruits of a coming wave of Muslims turning to Jesus. Because in Jesus, yes, it’s a mystery. When Jesus died, what did that say about Trinity? What did that say about God?


I don’t know. And I don’t really care. What it does say is, I have a God who fully understands what it means to be human experientially. He knows suffering, but who through his suffering restores relationship, brings us back in through this process of imminence into intimacy with God. And frankly, that is a message that has increasing power across the Muslim world.


And as ISIS and these other Wahhabi groupings smash Sufism wherever they find it, and in most cases violently smash it, it, there is a hunger of the heart that is coming across the Muslim world as fanatic legalism not only doesn’t satisfy the hunger of the heart, but it does not create the utopia that these guys are talking about. It creates hell on earth. There’s gonna be a hunger amongst Muslims. Millions of Muslims looking for a way out of the hell that Sharia creates. Dave, thanks so much for being with us today and sharing a little bit about your time in Bangladesh and helping us to see how God is working despite what is oftentimes so discouraging.


And so thanks for being with us. Yeah. Thank you, Dave. I was just gonna say, like, I don’t think we should keep going. I think that point was so poignant.


At the end, I’m like, we just gotta we just gotta end it and let everyone think about it. Just gonna just gonna cut it right there. Right. Yep. That was so good.


Invite me back sometime if you dare. And we might sing some more.