The Birth of a Child
in Process Perspective
Meet Aylin, born to Farhan Shah and Sawera Mahnood on Dec. 3, 2018.
Welcome, Aylin, into the process community. We are so glad you are here.
A World that is Good for You
We know you don't know about the process community at your young age, and that's OK. But we'll offer a word of explanation for others who might read this note to you.
The “process community” is not a church, synogogue, mosque, political party, business organization, or nation-state. It is an informal network of friends -- educators, musicians, philosophers, theologians, and ordinary citizens -- who live in different parts of the world and who are affiliated with different religious and philosophical traditions, but who share a common hope. It is that we can help build multi-cultural, interfaith communities in local settings that are creative, compassionate, participatory, ecologically wise, and spiritually satisfying, with no one left behind! Communities that are good for children like you, Aylin.
Many of us in the process community are influenced by the pioneering philosophies of Muhammad Iqbal and Alfred North Whitehead, both of whom see the universe as a vibrant, creative “process” in which all things are interconnected and in which human beings are loved and beckoned by a creative source – Allah, God – to become fully human by realizing their potential for love and wonder. We think of your father Farhan, as a beloved member of our community; and we are delighted that he is developing a uniquely Muslim form of what we call process theology. Click here for more on his work. And we think of your mother, too, as part of the community. She is a creative spirit with a love of life. We also know that they are members of many other communities, and that is important to us. They are members of the Ummah and of an extended family of Pakistanis living in and outside of Pakistan.
Don't worry. We do not ask you to be just like your mom or dad. You are your own person, and that's what we love about you. We want you to become who you are called to become, whoever that is, and along the way to realize your potential as a channel of God's grace, a vicegerent in service to the world. Here's how your dad puts it in one of his essays:
A Qur'an inspired philosophy begins with this sense of a vibrant universe worthy of respect and awe, and with respect for human beings, each and all, as God's vicegerents -- people who are called by God to care for and protect the earth, with special care for those who are vulnerable.
Yes, we hope you can be a vicegerent in this sense. But there are many ways to do this, many forms of vicegerency. Most of them have to do with qualities of the heart which are then translated into action.
Vicegerency begins on the inside, with an act of faith, of surrender, to the many names of God that reside as potentials within your own heart. Deep down you already have this faith. You already have a sense of tawhid, of that oneness that precedes all things and give birth to all. It begins with fitra: your original disposition.
We trust that your parents - Farhan and Sawera -- will help you in grow in a fulfillment of your fitra. We have ideas on how they might do this. See Marriage and Parenting: Process Perspectives. But we know that your parents cannot and need not do it alone. They need the support of a larger extended family and, for that matter, a wider society. They need the support of the more-than-human world, too: the hills and rivers, trees and stars. May all of them lend their support to you.
A Sign of God
But one thing is clear to us. Just in being yourself, at this time in your life, you are a vicegerent to us. You are a vicegerent in your innocence, your sense of wonder, your emerging capacity for laughter and play, the gradual development in you of a sense of "I." These qualities of heart and this process of becoming an "I" is a teaching to us: an expression of vicegerency.
And you are giving your parents fulfill their fitra, too. You are helping them understand that the world does not center around themselves alone, but also around another life -- you -- entrusted to their care. You help their egos become relational egos. In their care for you they are growing closer to God.
We want for you what they want. We want you to be happy and whole, loving and playful, creative and responsible. You want this for yourself as well. It is God's prayer for you, and in you.
Gradually, in time, you can hear this prayer for you in itself, through the sounds of the Qur'an and other sounds as well. But already you hear it in their callings to you. In the sounds of their loving voices, consoling you when you cry and laughing when you laugh, they are saying welcome Aylin, hear your calling. And in your responding to them, however you respond, you are saying: "I am here and I hear."
Thank You and Thanking God
Welcome, Aylin, we are so glad you are here in God's beautiful world, which you, in your very birth, in your innocence, help make all the more beautiful.
We hope it's alright to say to you, even now, thank you for being you. In our thanking you we are thanking the One from whom you come and to whom, many many years from now, you will return. You are a blessing, blessed to be a blessing to others. Already you are that blessing. Thank you.
-- Jay McDaniel (on behalf of the process community)