"Satu-satunya" cara untuk menggapai surga adalah "melalui jalan yang benar dan lurus" yang kelak disebut agama. Dengan memeluk agama, kita bisa menggapai surga; tempat yang penuh wewangian, senantiasa dinaungi kesejukan, dan penuh kedamaian. Tuhan amat gemar bermain dadu, Dia membiarkan jalan menuju surga teramat banyak namun hanya satu sisi mata dadu yang akan keluar dari kocokan. Bagaimana kita bisa yakin bahwa jalan dan "aliran" yang kita pilih lah jalan yang benar menuju surgaNya? Klaim bahwa "jalan yang saya tempuh adalah jalan paling benar" tak bisa dijadikan acuan. Ziauddin Sardar, mungkin merupakan salah satu intelektual muslim modern terbesar saat ini, menjawab proses "pencarian kebenaran" itu dengan cara yang menarik. Sebut saja Road to Mecca (Muhammad Asad) yang klasik; Through the Narrow Gate: A Memoir of Spiritual Discovery, The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness (Karen Armstrong), Struggling to Surrender: Some Impressions of an American Convert to Islam (Jeffrey Lang, sebenernya dia nulis banyak buku yang bertema "pencarian jati diri", contoh lain yang direkomendasikan adalah Even Angels Ask: A Journey to Islam in America, dll) hingga yang terakhir saya baca, Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation (Eboo Patel). Selain "pencarian kebenaran", mereka juga harus bertahan dari krisis identitas saat benturan peradaban dan kebudayaan yang mengalir dalam darah mereka bergesekan dengan kebudayaan asing di sekitar mereka. Sardar membahas dan mengkritisi agama yang bukan sebagai "jalan menuju langit" saja tetapi juga sebagai "jalan menjejak di bumi". Dengan lugas, Sardar mengkritisi gerakan Jamaah Tabligh yang sempat dia ikuti, sebuah gerakan Islam yang "menyerukan umat Islam agar kembali ke ajaran yang murni dan aktif menyebarkan kebaikan" namun sangat jomplang saat berinteraksi sosial. Sikap skeptisme sekaligus kritis yang diperlihatkan Sardar terhadap gerakan Islam tak hanya terhadap JT, tapi juga akan mempertemukannya dengan gerakan "revolusi" Ikhwanul Muslim hingga "totalisme vertikal"-nya Sufi, yang menjadi bab paling menarik dalam buku ini. Lewat buku ini, Sardar membuka pikiran picik kita bahwa "surga seolah tak ingin diketemukan". Bahkan beliau bersabda: Dia akan masuk surga kalau memang benar apa yang dikatakannya. Seolah dengan hanya melaksanakan kewajiban pokok ajaran agama, maka otomatis kita masuk surga tanpa perlu menjadi solusi sosial.
At first there was promise that Sardar has a sense of humor, along with indications of travel throughout the muslim world. A better book for outsider (western) observations on travel in (the state of) the current muslim world would be Journey to the End of Islam.
As the title suggests, the concept of Paradise is being examined with an intellectual magnifying glass of a Pakistani British Muslim, Zaiuddin Sardar. Describing himself as a skeptical Muslim, Sardar decides to embark on a journey around the Middle East, Islam place of birth, as well as notions, beliefs and opinions to answer his question; what does a Paradise really mean? When the author titled his books a journey, believe me, he means it! In addition to the interesting topics and thoughts this book enfolds, the completely fascinating writing style of the author is no less breath-taking!
The search, written by Mr Sardar was funtastiq.
Finishing books I've started has always been an unwritten law for me. It's only been recent (in the last five years or so) that I've allowed myself to not finish a book. So, I didn't complete "Desperately Seeking Paradise." I purchased it at that great Mecca of booksellers: Powell's City of Books with the understanding that it was a memoir. He said, "Desperately Seeking Paradise draws on an old Muslim literary tradition in which a man sets out from home and friends, ostensibly to make his pilgrimage to Mecca, but really to indulge his spiritual restlessness ... Interspersed through these adventures are meditations on episodes in Islamic history and other political and religious movements." A memoir, right? While the author of this book didn't play the victim, and he definitely took every opportunity to go on adventures and work hard and help his brothers and the ummah, and he definitely tried everything in his power to make a difference, I just couldn't stomach the constant restlessness and angst. the best way to connect with God. I admit that it is quite likely I have just missed the point of this book because, well, I'm not Muslim, and I'm of European descent -- different culture completely. Also, and this is my bad, since I went into the book assuming it was a memoir (even though the book's category is clearly stated on the back: Religion/Politics), I was stalled a lot of time with all the history that is woven in. So with the combination of almost constant religious angst, lots and lots of non-English names, a million dates, and a book packed with flash backs upon flash backs coupled with giant leaps forward in the author's lifetime -- in the end, I just couldn't follow it. He writes well, there are some charming stories/memories (I especially like the way he purchased a donkey saddle, and the tea story), and if you love history, you'll totally get off on this book. It's a history book. So, if you like good writing, already know about Islam and like history .... Read this book.
Some cynics may even view him as idiosyncratic and eccentric but personally I find him very refreshing as his answers to his own doubts revealed even more questions. And what is a book about Islam if one does not touch on Syariah. This obsession, he wrote, is not viable to the modern world and lead to perceive the Syariah as a panacea, the one-stage process for delivering Muslim society from the era of neocolonialism to the paradise of Islam (p.217). He exemplifies a modern Muslim individual whose devotion to the religion does not blind him but instead drive him to seek further answers to his doubts and perhaps, just perhaps, guide him on the road towards paradise.
Recent titles include Balti Britain: a Journey Through the British Asian Experience (Granta, 2008); and How Do You Know: Reading Ziauddin Sardar on Islam, Science and Cultural Relations (Pluto, 2006). His early career includes working as a science correspondent for Nature and New Scientist magazines and as a reporter for London Weekend Television.