Throughout history humans have always been in search of an answer to some basic questions such as; who am I, what is my purpose in life, or for what reason was I born? In response to such questions, answers have been provided by various likeminded people who had similar yearnings and quest for knowing. As such, various thinkers, researchers, scientists, philosophers, sages and prophets with great sacrifice have given answers to the aforementioned questions and concerns. Not always has their responses been the same, but what is essential is that they made an attempt in addressing a concern that went beyond the daily issues of basic survival.
On the other hand, there always have been individuals whose main concerns were limited to basic needs and perhaps would have viewed the first group’s efforts with disdain and disrespect. Unfortunately, this narrative is ongoing, for example, we are currently witnessing a multi-billion dollar fashion company, CAVALLI, who has copied a Sufi emblem of unity and peace to promote its misogynistic view of the world. CAVALLI’s promotion of seminude models in a line of merchandise for profit is offensive and disrespectful. To this blatant act of disrespect the Sufi students have mobilized to bring awareness to the issue.
Regardless of time, there has always been a group of people that place a heavy emphasis on issues mainly limited to the physical world such as finance, economic domination, the plundering of natural resources, and the list goes on. While there has been another camp that places an importance on issues that are not always physically tangible such as; love, knowing God, honor, respecting nature and fellow human beings, and other similar issues. As such, it is quite easy to see how these two camps do not necessarily see the world through the same vantage. This diversity of vision inevitably leads to conflict. Virtually, no area of our modern lives is untouched by this conflict. The heavy emphasis on physicality and the acquisition of natural resources for domination has been the story of mankind ever since the idea of colonization took shape.
Colonization has many shapes and forms and not all of it looks alike. The Oxford dictionary defines the word colonize as such; to appropriate (a place or domain) for one’s own use, also, (Of a country or its citizens) to send a group of settlers to (a place) and establish political control over it. Within colonization there is also the idea of “cultural colonization”. With cultural colonization what is plundered are not just resources but ideas and images as well. One of the best examples of cultural colonization in our time is the “swastika”. Most people today associate this symbol with hatred, genocide, and assault, while originally the emblem represented wellness and good fortune with its roots in Hinduism and the Buddhist faith. In other words, the symbol that stood for love, peace, and harmony was plundered to personify an agenda of economic, social, and racial superiority. This happened in the 1930’s.
To such atrocities, some would like to think that we have turned the page in our evolutionary development and we now know and act better. Yet a closer analysis of world affairs shows, to the contrary, not much has changed. The more things change, the more the nature of our problems remains the same. How so? It is such that in the year 2014, CAVALLI has identified a Sufi faith emblem and has started using it on a line of merchandise calling it the JUST CAVALLI line. To this insult of their faith, the MTO Shahmaghsoudi students have responded by starting a campaign called #Takeoffjustlogo, with support from www.sufirights.org. They recognize their faith could soon be associated with an image of seminude models or worse.
Ultimately in the events that culminated to the Second World War, the propagators of hate had grand agendas of world domination, while initially it seems Cavalli’s main interest is profit, this can easily become a symbol representing something else. As explained earlier, unfortunately the conflict between the two camps which can be characterized as materialism versus spiritualism is once again taking place. There is no doubt that this conflict will sooner or later be resolved. However in analyzing this incident, we need to search and find out, how is it that such issues are repeating in the 21 century? Why are the social systems so fertile that an organization gives itself the right to disrespect, harm, and insult a multitude of people with no regard for their human rights? Why is it that any time a group – in this case the Sufis- prescribe to concepts of non-violence, respect for human dignity, respect for life, they become victims of viscous attacks either in the East or the West? For how long are we going to pretend that plundering, war, suffering, rape are normal and acceptable human behavior? And when are we going to evolve from acting and behaving on a beast level to an elevated state of a HUMAN BEING?