Iljas Baker’s book of poems Peace Be Upon Us has now been officially released by Lote Tree Press, Cambridge, UK and is available from most large booksellers (including Amazon) in hardback and paperback editions. Hopefully there will at some stage be a Kindle edition. Apart from Ruslan Moore’s Al-Baz translations of the writings of Hazrat ‘Abdl al-Qādir al-Jīlānī, Peace Be Upon Us may be the first book published by a Muslim publisher that openly and positively refers to Subud. Iljas’s book also gives a brief description of Subud in a glossary, contains a poem about Bapak mentioning his full name, and contains numerous poems inspired by the Latihan. Iljas has stated that in mentioning Subud and Bapak in the book his intention was not to promote Subud but simply to bear witness to the importance of the Latihan in his life. Here is part of the book’s preface.
“I came to Islam through practicing the latihan kedjiwaan (spiritual exercise) of Subud, which I still practice and value for its role in my spiritual development. The spiritual exercise shaped my understanding of the need for and the role of Islam in my life and gradually opened up to me experiences of the ḥaqīqa (truth/reality) of Islam. For me, Islam, as expressed particularly in the Qurʾān and in those aḥādīth that don’t contradict the Qurʾān, is guidance and support for living the present life while preparing for the life after death. This involves, above all, worshipping our Creator and the full expression of this worship goes beyond ritual worship and sharīʿa compliance to an engagement in the quest to realize the status of al-insān al-kāmil (the perfected human). Such a quest in the present era might seem fanciful, but the hope for abundant Divine assistance makes it otherwise. This quest informs a number of the poems presented here as does my fondness for East Asian poetry …. The poems I have presented here are relatively short, simple poems that invite contemplation. The poems appear on a single page no matter how short they are. Hopefully this will help readers to refrain from moving on as quickly as possible to a new poem and encourage them to stay with the one they have just read and let it go beyond their surface mind and emotions. May these poems bring refreshment to hearts and minds. If a poem, a line or even a word should touch something deeper, I take no credit for that.”
Although many of the poems contain Islamic references it is hoped readers, including Subud members, will be able to go beyond the surface meaning and find something that resonates inwardly and in this way appreciate the poems in the spirit they were intended.
The following text is from the inside fold of the front cover:
“In this sublime book Iljas Baker gives us a glimpse – in poetic form – of his spiritual journey through Buddhism, the spiritual exercise of Subud, and Islam. Many of the poems use Chinese and Japanese poetical forms, especially Haiku, Haibun and Tanka, but express somewhat uniquely an Islamic rather than a Buddhist worldview. The presence of some examples of the world-famous calligrapher Haji Noor Deen’s Chinese interpretations of Islamic calligraphy adds a beautiful and complementary graphic element to the subtle marriage of East Asian literary forms and Islamic spirit to be found in this book.
Iljas’s poems and poetic artistry demonstrate the universality of Truth which, being Absolute, can and must manifest in every culture and in every art form, and both penetrate and embrace human life from the most mundane to the most exalted.”
-Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Founder and President of Cordoba House
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is also the author of numerous books on Islam including Moving the Mountain: Beyond Ground Zero to a New Vision of Islam in America and What’s Right with Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West.