Linking Love and Justice

Omid Safi talks love, meditation, and being human.

Photograph by McNair Evans

Omid Safi is the director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center and, since 2014, a columnist for On Being, a public radio conversation, podcast, and website that asks, “What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?” Safi is also a leader of the progressive Muslim movement and the author of Memories of Muhammad, which examines the biography and legacy of the prophet Muhammad.

What is the role of meditation in your life?

Every person of Muslim background is encouraged to pray no fewer than five times a day. Prayer follows the apparent movement of the sun in the sky. Historically, this was done by going outside and orienting yourself with the sun, situating yourself as a tiny part of this much larger, beautiful cosmos. You are not so much locating the sun as you are locating yourself—Where am I? Who am I? What am I? What is it to be human, the grandest of all mysteries?

Those are daunting questions.

Part of asking those questions is rediscovering the mystery of the breath. Creation is not something that took place in some mythical past: Each of us is being born and reborn in every breath.…

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