Actionless Action – Mohammed Rustom


“It has indeed been a blessing to sit with the great Kenan Rifai’s commentary upon book one of Mevlana’s Mesnevi .Spending time with this book naturally led me to Kenan Rifai’s explanation of a famous tale in the Mesnevi  centered around ‘Ali b. Abi Talib tale is retold from Islamic tradition and is cast in Mevlana’s unique terms and worldview. The long and short of the story is as follows: in the heat of a one-on-one encounter with an enemy of Islam, ‘Ali gained the upper hand and thru this opponent to the ground. Just as he was about to finish him off withone blow from his sword, the enemy spat at ‘Ali’s face. When this happened, ‘Ali immediately dropped his sword and walked away. This per-plexed his enemy, and led him to ask ‘Ali in earnest why he had not killed him at that very moment. ‘Ali then speaks, telling the enemy that he only fights for the sake of God. But, when the man insulted him by spitting at him, the possibility that it would become a personal affair had presented itself to him. So he walked away from the situation. ‘Ali then explains that he never acts out of self-interest, but only for, in, and through God