The tale of a mystic, an enlightened man, who paid with his life for committing so called blasphemy, made a deep impact on a young man. The boundaries between normal and paranormal, piety and blasphemy, sainthood and insanity, enlightenment and ignorance are subjects conducive to years of rumination. And Fazludheen Thangal is a man who has delved deep into the conundrum.
With his schooling in orthodox Islamic educational institutions, one could argue that religion was an integral part of his life. But schooling is only a springboard for learning. Extensive reading, contemplation and the company of those who thought beyond the written word has extensively influenced his thinking and understanding of all that he had been taught throughout childhood. It is safe to say, he has polished the seeds sown in him at an early age, to a brilliance that is now touching many lives. A committed psychological counsellor and healer, he resigned from the Health Department to follow his passion.
Learning and contemplation are two sides of the same coin, feels Thangal. He believes that if one analyzes and meditates over the various religious texts and treatises, the universality of all religions will be difficult to refute. The man reiterates that he is not saying anything radical. ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ is an intrinsic truth expounded by the saints and texts of ancient India. Simplistically, it means that ‘I am Brahman’ or ‘God is in me’. Realizing that one is not separate from one’s Maker is ‘awakening’. This is not blasphemy; this is the very truth that every religion propounds. Religions are created by man merely to show the path, to provide a structure or inculcate the discipline to realize the divinity within.
Unfortunately, today the means has become more important than the end. Religion is what we defend, what we fight for. In this day of religious intolerance and distrust, it is imperative that one is constantly reminded of the godliness within each of us. The message of tolerance and universality of faith and oneness cannot be set forth enough. Again it is the message that is important, not the means or the medium.
Thangal points out how communication shapes minds, perceptions and builds bridges. While the birthday of a prophet Jesus Christ is being celebrated by more people with each passing year, the birthday of an equally influential prophet, Muhammad is commemorated by a few madrasas and is confined to a few mosques. Islam preaches the same message of love and peace. The Prophet Muhammad’s message is as relevant as those of other messiahs and saints.
These circumstances prompted Thangal to explore a means of popularising the Prophet’s words and making the essence of His lessons acceptable to all. As it is nearly impossible to bring all his lessons to the people at once, he had to choose one message to impart. In Thangal’s mind there was no question of what it would be – Ana-al Haq.
The story of Ana-al Haq goes back centuries and took place in Baghdad, Iraq. Mansur al-Hallaj was a renowned poet, teacher and mystic born in the year 858. While his eventful life and teachings make for an interesting read, he is most revered and spurned for his utterance or Shath, Ana-al Haq (I am the Truth). ‘The Truth’ is one of the Ninety Nine names of Allah. Was the mystic claiming to be God? Or was he aware of the paramount truth, that God has made man in the image of His self ? Sufism upholds that God can be experienced by love. God is not in the clutches of the priests nor is He confined to the houses of worship built by man. To love Him is to surrenderone self, unconditionally. The s tory goes that the Sufi, Mansur al-Hallaj transcended his worldly reality; that he was almost overcome with his faith. He proclaimed ‘I am the Truth’ which the Islamic establishment saw as blasphemy and awarded him the death penalty.
This story of unification with God resonates with meaning centuries later. As story telling would reach a limited audience, music was chosen as the medium for its popularity and reach. Thangal was adamant that the song he would produce would not bear the stereotypical hallmarks of a Mappila song. The tradition of Sufi music seemed to be the best choice to impart such a universal message.
Sharing the idea with his friend and singer Ranjini Jose, who was on a visit to his home in Chittethukara, Kakkanad, saw the concept begin to take shape. While some could easily imbibe the essence of the message, some could not share the vision. Slowly a group of people who appreciated the message and saw the relevance of the concept came together.
The dedicated and talented team worked zealously behind the making of this single and its video. The lyricist, Shabreesh Varma, skilfully put Thangal’s thoughts into words. He is a songwriter and actor, who has proved his mettle in the tinsel town in a very short span of time. The simple yet profound lyrics evocatively bring out one’s futile wanderings in search of a God that lives within. The aesthetically picturized video, starring the singer Ranjini Jose in the lead, add another dimension to the song. The well crafted video is directed by Ambili. S. Rangan and the talented cinematographer Niel D Kunja’s touch s evident in each frame. Beautiful costumes, elegant choreography and soulful rendition make it an appealing and inspiring single. The exceptional production sets it apart from the host of Malayalam music videos that one is used to.
The music video, Ana-al Haq – The Alchemy of Love was released on Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. The glittering function was held at the Marriot Hotel, in Kochi. Attendees from all walks of life, including the cinema, fine arts and literature took part. The music video has since been garnering rave reviews on YouTube and social media platforms. Thangal and the team are justifiably pleased that their endeavour is taking wings.
The scion of a prominent Thangal (Sayyid) family of Palluruthy, Kochi, Fazludheen Thangal has an incredible legacy to uphold. His father, (late) Dr. P. A. Poonkunji Koya Thangal, was an ayurvedic and a Medical Officer in the Indian Systems of Medicine department. People came from far and wide to seek his advice and counsel at Thangal Nagar, Palluruthy, Kochi. Fate indeed played a cruel trick when it snatched the beloved father from this young boy. It is probably fitting then, to know that it was his father’s library that fuelled Fazludheen Thangal’s journey of self awareness and set him on the path to Oneness.