The Muslim faithful of old used to shun the limelight and, if they feared they were becoming famous, would abandon their circles altogether, to wander off in search of obscurity.
That is why I am sceptical of our modern soothsayers’ pursuit of wide acclaim and their focus on building their brand. It does not seem to me to be the prophetic way, wherein the wisest and best tirelessly preached the oneness of God, but were mostly rejected even by their own people.
The One calls us away from ourselves and back to Him. Modern devotees to each acclaimed sheikh-ul-Islam call us instead to their beloved master, showering them with praise far beyond their due, replacing servitude to the Creator with devotion to mere mortals.
Worse still than the fanatic groupies: the egotistical sheikh himself, showering himself in applause. The grand titles he bestows on himself. The followers, likes and shares he hoards like jewels and pearls, as he manicures his brand. The constant refrain: “I am, I am, I am” and “I did, I did, I did.”
The One calls us back. We have seen through the antics of the modern gurus, brought to life through popularity contests, exaggerated résumés, symposiums, partisan media, stupendous followings, manufactured controversies, fictitious supporters, artful alliances and preposterous posing before crowds.
The One calls us back to Him. So return.