I believe that, in a world where terrorists use God’s Name for their vicious agenda, and mischief-makers degrade It for their profit and pleasure, all faiths must take back Its integrity, however one may call It. Even people of no faith should stand with us if we want to make the world a better, more peaceful place for our children and future generations. It is too bad that we must waste our energy on chaos callously wrought by petty exploitation for financial gain, while innocents die and suffer everywhere in ‘civil’ and ‘religious’ wars caused by misinformation and misguidance, whether on purpose or not.
To fight the greater war on terrorism, we must choose our battles wisely. More so in this Age of Information, where the pen is mightier than the sword and the tongue is an instrument of good or evil — like fire, a life-changing tool akin to the personal computer, it is a good servant but a bad master. Therefore, the meanings behind words — what words represent — should be made consistently clear to counter those who would misuse the power of words for their own selfish agendas.
While the slow dance of legal battles are in the works, many of the students of Sufism are not content with standing by while Cavalli’s logo creates confusion among consumers. We hear of successful protests in recent news, among them: the Lakota’s #siouxperdrunk Twitter campaign against a university t-shirt associating Sioux images with drunkenness; the cancellation of the Washington Redskins’ trademark after due process for the disparagement it causes to Native Americans; and the removal of religiously-offensive products by H&M and Urban Outfitters: a t-shirt featuring a Star of David against a background of a skull and socks depicting Jesus and Ganesh. In the past, American Apparel offended military veterans and lawmakers with their products’ use of the Big Red One symbol, even though it was a deal made with the military.
With these examples in mind, Sufi students doggedly campaign in cities all over the world, rain or shine, whether they are fasting or not fasting, young or old, fit or physically-challenged, Muslim (in the way most people use the term) or non-Muslim, from spiritual or scientific backgrounds (or both). Why do we bother?
Here is the symbol that moves thousands all over the world, of various nationalities and from different backgrounds, to protest its misuse:
Here are the many ways the teachings of this school have made a profound effect:
http://mto.org/main/sufi-master/sufi-art-architecture/ (unique Sufi art & architecture)
http://www.mto-publications.org/ (Sufi books bridging religions, as well as science & religion)
http://www.mto-hhc.com/ (Sufi healing by professional doctors and certified alternative healing therapists)
http://www.sufipsychology.org/en/conferences.html (conferences, retreats and publications with professionals in the field of psychology, the Science of the Soul)
http://www.sufisociety.com/events.html (interfaith community activists)
http://mto.org/gsa/events/169-2/ (example of an event hosted by the German branch of MTO’s global Sufi association)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmCdQftewLE (a short video of Sufi music and dance group Zendeh Delan, with images of Sufi art & architecture)
…among many, many more…
Most people unfamiliar with Sufism or this particular school of Sufism have probably heard of Sufi poets such as Rumi, Hafiz, Rabia and similar ones such as Khalil Gibran. Perhaps the sensuality in Sufi poetry gives ignorant people “reason” to take such class and equate it with something crass. This is how the Sufis do it:
“I am he whom I love, and he whom I love is me; we are two spirits dwelling in one body” by Al-Hallaj
“If I die of love, before completing satisfaction,
Alas, for my anxiety in the world, alas for my distress,
O Healer (of souls) the heart feeds upon its desire,
The striving after union with Thee has healed my soul,
O my Joy and my Life abidingly,
You were the source of my life and from Thee also came my ecstasy.
I have separated myself from all created beings,
My hope is for union with Thee, for that is the goal of my desire” – from My Beloved by Rabia Al-Basri
She drank a cup of ruby wine and sat by my side.
Seeing and holding the lockets of her hair
My face became all eyes, and my eyes all hands” – from Thief of Sleep by Rumi
And gave you a full wet
Doesn’t mind answering astronomical questions
You would surely start
Reciting all day, inebriated,
This” – from An Astronomical Question by Hafiz
Then review Cavalli’s past inappropriate imprint of Hindu deities on skimpy bikinis or his current licentious line with provocative ads of an implicitly-naked model,*(see note) flirting in the nude with an equally-exposed man — I am not a prude but this is inappropriate! Though art is subjective, ordinary people can discern fine art from plain smut — clearly, intention makes a difference. Consider a Biblical parallel: How Jesus was on a completely different wavelength regarding God’s Kingdom and how the zealots misunderstood it as an earthly one, attempting to manipulate it for political purposes. Let me present yet another angle: When beachcombing tourists in Bali, clad in swimsuits, drop by a temple, rarely do they protest the covering of their indiscreet clothing with sarongs and sashes. Paraphrasing Hazrat Pir Nader Angha’s words: “you do not cry at a wedding; or laugh at a funeral.” Everything has its place. The opposite of order is chaos.
In this month of Ramadan, when the universal electromagnetic waves are strongest, please pray in your own way for, or think kindly of, our #TakeOffJustLogo rallies currently going on in London for the 3rd time (as of the time of this writing). Tomorrow, we have one in Chicago and upcoming rallies are scheduled in Cologne on 5th July and Vancouver, Berlin, and Gothenburg on 12th July, Alicante on 16th July and Toronto on 26th July. How many more are needed before Cavalli redresses our grievance and either removes the logo or changes it significantly from ours?
Let the Love in our Hearts be our guide that our words, thoughts and deeds may contribute to good rather than bad. We are all drops in the same Ocean and interconnected; no human is an island. Our actions cause reactions; consider them carefully. While human rights include the freedom to express oneself, such rights should not be abused as an excuse to be disrespectful.
*NOTE: I edited this line to redress the misleading headlines of tweets from news agencies that incorrectly state: “Georgia May Jagger’s Just Cavalli campaign offends Sufi Muslims …”
The model in Roberto Cavalli’s ads is not the reason for the Take Off Just Logo campaign nor is she responsible for Roberto Cavalli’s misuse.
The real issue is Trademark infringement by Roberto Cavalli that causes confusion over a sacred, trademarked logo of an esteemed Sufi school, disparaging its students and misleading their families and friends. The fact that Cavalli promotes his too-similar version with ill-suited, sexually-provocative ads further adds insult to injury.
Links and additional reading:
(about sensuality in Sufi poetry)
(about that Star of David shirt)
(about those offensive socks)
(about the Big Red One)
(about cancellation of Redskins’ TM)
(more on the Redskins’ issue, with links documenting due process)
(people standing up for one another)
(more examples of religiously-offensive marketing/products)
(comprehensive article about our cause)
http://newswirehouston.com/roberto-cavallis-misuse-of-a-sacred-sufi-emblem-starts-an-international-campaign-by-offended-sufi-students/ (another recommended read about our cause)
http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2014/may/29/roberto-cavalli-perfume-offends-sufi-students?CMP=twt_gu (balanced, well-researched article about our story)
http://www.indiawest.com/life_and_style/fashion/article_89cd8508-f80b-11e3-ac46-001a4bcf887a.html (cites MTO’s London branch initiating cancellation action against Cavalli’s logo with European and U.S. trademark offices)
http://www.mediabistro.com/prnewser/sufi-muslims-around-the-world-are-protesting-designer-roberto-cavallis-perfume-logo_b94968 (great article & message for R. Cavalli)
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-06-29/news/chi-perfume-protest-in-chicago-20140629_1_roberto-cavalli-symbol-logo (well-written article correctly uses the term ‘students of Sufism’ and I love the last line)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEsbEwcTP3Y (educative video w/history lesson)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0Sb1lUIb3k (multilingual, multinational video)
Thanks for reading.
Peace and blessings to you and yours. Namaste. Mitakuye Oyasin (All Are Related.)
© 2014 Emilia Yonge