A Sense of the Sacred: Building Bridges Between Islam and the West
By His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales for Sacred Web
I hesitated a long time before suggesting that it might be worth trying to use this occasion to hold a seminar on a Sense of the Sacred and its relevance to the problem of understanding between the Islamic and Western worlds. I am only too aware that this is not a typical or, for some people, an easy or comfortable way of looking at what are often seen as intensely practical issues. But I am encouraged by the fact that, whenever I have summoned up my courage to speak about this subject in the past, even to groups of hard-headed, practical people like international financiers or property developers, it seems always to have struck an extraordinary chord, and captured a remarkable degree of attention. My belief is that in each one of us there is a distant echo of the sense of the sacred. but that the majority of us are terrified to admit its existence for fear of ridicule and abuse. This fear of ridicule, even to the extent of mentioning the name of God, is a classic indication of the loss of meaning in so-called Western civilization.
I start from the belief that Islamic civilization at its best, like many of the religions of the East—Judaism, Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism—has an important message for the West in the way it has retained a more integrated and integral view of the sanctity of the world around us. I feel that we in the West could be helped to rediscover those roots of our own understanding by an appreciation of the Islamic tradition’s deep respect for the timeless traditions of the natural order. I believe that process could help in the task of bringing our two faiths closer together.
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