Sufism may be powerful antidote to Islamic extremism With its spiritual tradition, ‘the Sufi way’ is an age-old alternative for radicals and modernists alike.
Speaking of Sufism, I gained a new appreciation for "The Matrix" the other day when lecturing on Islam. The various scenes when Neo discovers the underlying (un)reality of the Matrix in which he lived provide handy metaphors conveying some basic insights into the difference between our World of Multiplicity and the Malakut, and other Islamic cosmological concepts for young people today steeped in pop culture rather than the literature and scripture that informed the imaginations of previous generations.
Of course, "The Matrix" has its pedagogical limitations for these purposes. It may well convey a sense of reality being illusory that mystics can appreciate, but the Ultimate Reality to which its cosmonauts escape when "unplugged" is nightmarishly grim and uninspiring, one more likely to inspire revulsion or dread than ecstasy or longing. ("Wait, Morpheus, on second thought send me back. What, you say I won’t be able to believe in it anymore? And you point is what exactly? I want to ‘see’ sunshine and grass again, illusion or no. You can keep your dismal enlightenment. " I’d scratch my way back up that rabbit hole, whatever it took.)
But back to the salt mine. I have finals to grade, and a multitude of Matrix-worthy Excel haikus to compose, such as