Religion as a Cult of Personality
Every religious tradition is based on the story of a man who shattered all the institutions of his time. We measure time by him, imitate his attributes, and testify to his divinity in some cases. — People no longer believe in prophets walking around, but the historical record is full of saints regarded as manifestations of God. Some religious traditions anoint a living pope or imam as the representative of God. Whether selected by birth or high council, this spiritual leader is considered part of an infallible lineage.
However, I reject the notion that spiritual excellence is inherited or approved by an elite decision-making process. A social worker can be more saintly than a priest. How is leadership chosen in the community of believers then? It was generally agreed in the Islamic Golden Age that every generation had to select its own. Since all true saints are humble, it was quite likely an anonymous saint could be more holy than one favored by the public.
Since mysticism views all believers as saints, everyone is eligible for that high office of the “axis of our time”. But in the modern era of religious frauds, how can we ensure a fair election? Multiple people will fit the consensus for a perfect sheikh, but our focus should be on filtering frauds from the list.
Desperate poverty is the first requisite. Celebrity, showmanship, and big net-worth earn you zero credit in the spiritual world. Ibn Arabi says that the perfect man imitates the Mercy of God in his servanthood, but never the Lordship of God in His Majesty or Might. A plastic smile is an instant disqualifier.
Such a community of gnostics does not exist. Mystics of the world, unite!