Twentieth century writers, intellectuals and ideologues in the Arab world were obliged to traverse the nationalist promises of freedom and independence from colonialism.

Anselm Turmeda, born in Majorca in 1355, was a Christian friar and author considered to be one of the founding fathers of Catalan literature. But he shocked his admirers in Europe by converting to Islam, emigrating to Tunisia, and becoming the accomplished author of Arabic polemics.

As a whirling dervish, more properly known as a semazen, I follow a path of discipline and joy. It is not a fluffy path, but one of steep tradition which calls forth the depths of quietude and ecstasy in equal measure.

Contradictions. Complexity. Uncertainty. Ignorance. The basic features of the postnormal condition are gratifyingly explored in The Givenness of Things by Marilynne Robinson.

This essay is written by an American Muslim to speak to my fellow Americans, as well as my Muslim brothers and sisters, to affirm the fundamental values of pluralism, tolerance, freedom, and human dignity.

We need to support individuals and communities facing persecution unconditionally. Their faith, ethnicity, political beliefs or sexual orientation does not matter. What matters is that their basic humanity and dignity is being violated – the most fundamental of human values. 

The entire point of values is not their fixity but that they are active agents of adaptation. The values derived from faith traditions have gone on to influence philosophies and ideologies good, bad and horrendous as much in the Western nations as elsewhere.