About Noon

“There are no others.”
– Ramana Maharishi

The great saint of the 20th century, Ramana Maharishi was once asked “how are we to treat others?”. He replied: “There are no others.”

This essentially classical Indian insight is central to Project Noon. We seek to understand the other while simultaneously recognizing that in the cosmic scheme of things we are all like the multiple, identical rays of light emanating from a single Sun, as Sri Krishna teaches in the Bhagavad Gita. Or as God speaks in the Quran:“O Mankind!, we created you from a single self”, and elsewhere: “Your creation and resurrection is like that of a single self.” The unity of the Atman that underlies us all is our fundamental common ground.

This acceptance of the Other as oneself must come not with the desire to subsume the Other into onself, but indeed, to respect and cherish the particularity of the Other as the Other. “If God had so willed, He would have made you one community”. But He clearly does not.

Project Noon represents an interfaith quest for meaning in the modern world. Engaging leading scholars and academics on Indic – Hindu, and Muslim – traditions through extended podcasts, in-depth essays, and book and film reviews.

Dr. Saad Ismail

Editor, Project Noon

Saad is an MD Physiology resident at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University. He has served as an editor and podcast host at the CIME – Center for Inerreligious and Multidisciplinary Ethics (formerly Taseel Commons), where he engaged and interviewed leading thinkers and scholars from various fields, including the philosopher Raymond Tallis, anthropologist Arthur Kleinman, psychoanalyst Josh Cohen, the Hindu scholar Anantanand Rambachan, the historian Juan Cole, and the Oxford philosopher Shabbir Akhtar to name a few.

His essay on the spirituality of Sadhguru has appeared in the quaterly journal Critical Muslim (Hurst Publishers, UK). He has presented various papers at conferences on philosophy, religion, and medicine. His paper “Big Pharma in Clinical Trials: A Critical Appraisal” was presented at the first “International Conference on Bioethics in the Health Sciences” organized in India by UNESCO. His paper on the meaning of life was presented at a conference on contemporary ethics in Jharkhand. He is also pursuing a Masters in Philosophy.

“I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss my writings with Dr. Saad Ismail for his podcast. Dr. Ismail obviously invested time in preparing for our conversation. He demonstrated impressive familiarity with my writings and public lectures and asked probing and relevant questions that gave me the opportunity to clarify and expand my views. As an interviewer, Dr. Saad is warm and engaging. I was worried if we could sustain a dialogue for 90 minutes, but the time truly flew by as we immersed ourselves in the depths of the Advaita worldview.”

– Anantanand Rambachan,
author of The Advaita Worldview: God, World and Humanity

“It is a special pleasure to meet that rare thing – a doctor who is also interested in philosophy. Saad is a fantastic interlocutor.”

– Raymond Tallis,
author of Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity

What does Noon signify?

Noon is an attempt to seek the full Shams in the darkness of the Kali Yuga.

The letter ‘ن‘/noon in Arabic is the symbol of the inkpot, which allows the pen/qalam to create meaningful further symbols. It is that which precedes all words. It represents a semicircle which is detached yet intangibly linked to its center point. An incomplete picture, that is perhaps best coupled with the Sanskrit letter ण्/ṇa to form a complete circle.

“The Hindu tradition and the Islamic tradition are the only ones that explicitly affirm the validity of all the other orthodox (religious) traditions. And if this is so, it is because being the first and the last in the course of the manvantara, they must equally integrate, although in different modes, all these various forms which have arisen in the interval, so as to render possible a ‘return to the origins’ by which the end of the cycle must rejoin its beginning, and which, at the starting point of another manvantara, the true sanatana dharma will again externally manifest.”

Rene Guenon, ‘Studies in Hinduism’

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