The Prophet in Makkah (Arabic)

و من لم يصانع في أمور كثيرة  

يضرّس بأنياب و يوطأ بمنسم

(زهير بن أبي سُلمى)

هذا البيت من معلقة زهير بن أبي سُلمى ، معناه أن من لم يجامل الناس و يداورهم في الأمور ، قهروه و غلبوه و أذلوه و ربما كشّروا عن أنيابهم و وطأوه بمناسم الإبل. هذا البيت جعلني أفكّر فيما كان للنبي ﷺ من أخلاق كريمة، و خُلُق عظيم. فإن النبي ﷺ لم يقض حياته قبل البعثة بين أحبابه و أصحابه ، بل قضى أربعين سنة قبل المبعث بين مشركي مكة، يخالطهم و يتعامل معهم في حياته ليلاً و نهارًا، و يتعاطى فيهم التجارة و هو عيش طويل طريقها، وعرة مسالكها، كثيرة منعطفاتها، تعترضها وهدات مما قد يصدر عن المرء من خيانة و إخلاف الوعد و أكل مال الباطل ، و عبقات من الخديعة ، و تطفيف الكيل و غير ذلك ، و الرسول ﷺ قد اجتاز هذه السبل الشائكة الوعرة و خلص و نجا منها نقيًّا سالمًا ، لم يصبه شيئ مما يصيب عامة الناس حتى لقد لقبوه بالأمين

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Ramadhan: The Healer

As much as I hate to admit it, I was of those who were wishing that the coming of Ramadhan was delayed this year. Drowning in the toxicity of this life, I didn’t feel ready. I didn’t feel like I had prepared enough. So as others were restlessly counting down the days and hours till this beautiful of guests was to grace them with their presence, I felt as if my tongue was empty in its sincerity. I found my heart hollow in its hesitance.

But the mercy of this month does not exclude even sinners like I. As the first sunset on that first day  dawned, I felt a loosing of knots within my soul- as if someone was breathing fresh air into my flailing lungs. Almost as if my soul was reaching out for all that it had been deprived in these last twelve months. As weak as it was, it was slowly but reaching for what it knew it needed- like a frail beggar extending his hand in dire thirst for just that one sip of water- knowing therein lay its remedy. Maybe sometimes our souls know things our physical faculties can never comprehend.

And so that night as each moment elapsed, I felt that knot slowly loosening…loosening. And as I stood there in prayer with complete strangers, a sense of solidarity overwhelmed me- we are all here prepared with our unpreparedness. Standing, untethered hearts in hand, with the anticipation that He will mend what is broken within us.

Al hamdulilahhi rabil aalameen. He is the one who hears me even when I am silent. The One who has always nourished me. How then, can I deny that His is the perfect decree? AlRahmaan Al Raheem. Cradling me like a child His mercy envelops me, irrespective of whether or not my human eye can see. Maliki Yawm iddeen. He is the One I will return to. It has never been about anything or anyone else. All that matters is me and Him. Ihdinas siratul mustaqeem. Guide me towards what is pleasing to you. O turner of hearts! Turn me onto your way. And though I may lapse and let go of you again and again, never let me go. Never leave me to myself.

And so as each crisp verse from the tongue of the imam echoed around me. Words from my Lord meant for an undeserving I, I felt the shackles I had fastened around my heart slowly slacken. I can never be fully prepared for the mercies he showers down upon me. I will always arrive bereft and negligent. But He sees me. He hears me. He knows me. He knows that each year, I will need these days to come and fill my wounds. How each year as my life progresses and I grow, my wounds will be different but the healing they yearn for will always be the same.

This Ramadhan may we all find our healing in Him.

The Nature of Prayer

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

The Quran speaks of two great worlds: the unseen and the visible (Q, 59:22); the world of matter and the world of spirit. We often refer to them as things visible and invisible – putting are sight as the main criterion for differentiating between the two great worlds. Yet, this is far from the truth. Indeed, the world of matter is all things made known to us by all our senses – the air we breathe, the sounds we hear, the things we touch, the food we taste; by the world of spirit we mean all those things our bodily senses cannot sense, perceive, feel, or make known to us.

Just as senses put us into connection with the material world, so to does our Faith put us into connection with the spiritual world. Faith is to the spiritual world what sense perception is to the material. Thus, Faith is often called the eye of the soul. But this is only partially true: Faith is not only the eye by which the soul can see, it is also the ear by which it can hear, the hand by which it can touch, the nose by which it can smell and the tongue by which it can taste that which the body cannot. Our senses realise the world of matter by making it real, substantial and evident. The work of Faith is to realise the world of spirit; to make it real, substantial and evident. This work of Faith is plainly described in the words, “This is the Book, wherein is no doubt; a guide to the God-fearing, who have Faith in the Unseen” (Q, 2:2-3).  Its task is to draw us out of the physical and material and place us before the presence of the unseen, invisible and spiritual.

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Spiritual Lineage of the Tariqas

Sincerity%20Tatton%20Red%20RugIn Sufism, as in hadith studies, there exists a lineage that connects each disciple with their shaykh, who has also taken it from his shaykh, and so on, in a continous chain back to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace). The spiritual lineage of my own teacher, Shaykh Asad Madani, comes from its prophetic origin through a number of tariqas. The main ones are given below: Continue reading →

No Gain Without Pain

mathnawiTo show that there is no gain without pain in the path Mawlana Rumi tells us the following tale in his ‘Mathnawi’:

The strong men of Qazwin were accustomed to have themselves tattooed. One customer calls for a lion to be emblazoned on his shoulder. The tattooist starts work on the lion’s tale; but the pain is too much for the customer who insists that the tale be left out. The same happens when the tattooist begins to draw an ear and again with the lion’s belly. Enraged, the artist flings down the needle: ‘Whoever saw a lion without a tale, ear and belly? Allah Himself never created such a lion.’ 

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Sufism: Distinguishing the Kernel from the Shell

sufism Any sane person would agree that having upright good-moral character is an objective of Islamic Law; that Ikhlas (sincerity) is a noble trait; that jealousy and pride are blameworthy characteristics. All and sundry would agree that ridding oneself of blameworthy traits and adorning oneself with praiseworthy traits are Shariah-countenanced aims. Yet the moment the word Sufism, Tasawwuf or any other of its synonyms is mentioned it becomes a bidah or reprehensible innovation.

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Ibn Ataillah’s Aphorisms on Sincerity with explanatory notes by Shaykh Abdullah Gangohi

Works are like lifeless forms and the presence of sincerity endows them with spirit.

Works, like ritual prayers, fasting and hajj without sincerity are like lifeless forms. They are like pictures of animate beings and the presence of sincerity therein endows them with life. Sincerity means to perform works solely for the pleasure of Allah. The presence of sincerity renders the work fruitful in the hereafter, and its absence renders it fruitless. Continue reading →

Ibn Ataillah’s Hikam with explanatory notes by Shaykh Abdullah Gangohi

How can the heart be illumined whilst images are reflected in its mirror? How can it travel to Allah, whilst it is still shackled with the fetters of desire? How can it hope to enter Allah’s presence whilst it has not purified itself of forgetfulness? How can it hope to understand subtle secrets whilst it has not refrained from offensive acts?  

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Shah Waliullah: The Objective, Benefit and Pre-requisites of the Pledge

Perhaps you might say tell me about the Pledge (bay’ah)

(1) Is it obligatory or Sunnah? (2) What is the wisdom behind its legislation in Sacred Law? (3) What are the pre-requisites of the shaykh? (4) What are the conditions of one who takes the pledge? (5) How does one fulfil the pledge, and how does one violate it? (6) Is it permissible to repeat the pledge with one scholar or multiple scholars? (7) What are the transmitted words of the pledge?

So I say: Continue reading →