Categories
DISCOVER ISLAM

The Beloved

If envy is a sin then I am the incurable sinner for I envy every eye that ever caught a glimpse of you. I envy the waves that carried your voice, and the air that touched your cheeks. I envy even the ground that once served you, and I confess to you that despite my indulgent sins, my shameful whimsies and ugly flimsies, I confess to you, “I love you.” My confessions are as silly as my muted words. You have been loved by so many more substantial than I, and what good does my silence or confession possibly do? So many moments have I sat sheltered by the night in the midst of these books, my mind fulfilled but my heart calling for you. Only my shame restrains my words from filling pages of books and from whimpering into the night, “I long for you.” This Conference of the Books, in countless days and nights, ignited by your memory, calls upon the world to ponder your legacy. Despite the citations, the arguments, and refutations, nothing equals a blissful moment spent engulfed in your adoration. For all the enlightenment of books, the brilliance of beauty, and the purification of light coalesced in the moments of time that hosted your life – Muhammad, Ahmad, Abu al-Qasim, al-nabi al-‘amin, the messenger of God ﷺ. Permit me my Prophet, my own beloved Prophet, to tell you that I do not know you from the majestic debates of this Conference, I do not know you from the learned lectures of teachers, or from some infatuated delusional dream. No, I do not know you from the books full of sayings you reportedly said, and I even do not know you from all the reports about your life and about your likes and dislikes. I know you from a moment in time in which I fell in love with you. I know you because God taught you, praised you, and honored you. I know you because God comforted you, consoled you, and empowered you. I know you because God loved you. My Prophet, I know you through a heart that loves. I know you through every moment of compassion I extended to another. I know you through every moment of pain I felt for the agony of others. I know you through every moment of dignity and honor. I know you through that day my brother and I walked two miles in the desert heat to bring water to a dying cat. Or, the day we intervened to stop a man from beating his wife only to have her blood mingle with ours. Or, in those days in which we were never cool, current, fashionable, or popular because those values never existed in a household raised in your love. But I also know you through every moment of shame I felt for my weakness, arrogance, anger, and profanity. I think of you, an orphaned child, with wide pure eyes rejoicing at life. I see you in your youth, quiet and bashful, in your solitude, feeling the longing for God. I feel your tranquility in the arms of your wife, and your trembling body with the advent of truth. I see you sitting bewildered and sad in Ta’if, persevering through the trials of life. I think of you comforting your Companion in the Cave of Hira’ with your trust in God. I think of you instructing your soldiers away from the ants’ nest and mending the broken wing of the injured bird. I feel your beautiful smile tenderizing my world and hear your laughter in the midst of children. I watch you mending your cloth, and then playfully racing your wife. I ponder your poverty, and the agony of your grief over your dying children. I think of your kindness and forgiveness with every hypocrite and fool, and of the way you honored and dignified your followers. I think of the hypocrite ‘Abdullah Ibn Salul yelling at you, “You and your donkey stink,” and you refusing to hate, punish, or take vengeance. I think of all of this and I feel you in my heart, and I believe I know you. And yet, my Prophet, there are those who see your Sunna only as an endless array of legalistic and pedantic reprimands. They know you only through transmissions and reports, seeing you only through the filter of commands. There are those who understand the Sunna as mindless imitation and soulless regurgitation. But for me, and may God forgive me, your Sunna is a moment of unadulterated beauty spent in your love. Your Sunna is your beauty, and beauty cannot be mimicked. It must be felt and loved. All the descriptive manuals of the world cannot teach an ugly heart about beauty. And all the reports and transmissions of the world cannot teach the obstinate heart the Sunna of the beloved ﷺ

  • Excerpt from ‘Conference of the Books: The Search for Beauty in Islam”. ”

Categories
DISCOVER ISLAM The Human Psyche

Competition-I Want That Too!

It is interesting to observe in traditional cultures, especially in the Muslim world, that the marketplaces are comprised of rows of businesses dealing with the same product. In America, it would be considered foolish to open a business in proximity to a business already selling the same product. In Damascus, everyone knows where the marketplace for clothing is. There are dozens of stores strung together selling virtually the same material and fashions. Not only are the stores together, but when the time for prayer comes the merchants pray together.

They often attend the same study circles, have the same shaykhs, and are best friends. It used to be that when one person sold enough for the day, he would shut down and go home and allow others to get what they need. This is not make-believe or part of a Utopian world. It happened. It is hard to believe that there were people like that on the planet. And they exist to this day, but to a lesser extent. They are now old, and their sons have not embraced the beauty of that way of doing business. Today’s business culture glorifies cut-throat strategies, in which it is not enough to do well; destroying the competition is encouraged and celebrated.

This is covetousness puffed up to an obscene degree. As a result, whole societies are wounded spiritually; for the business culture is never contained among the merchants, but flows through the veins of a nation. The Imam says that for this reason we need to purify ourselves of these vile characteristics like covetousness. What makes the process difficult is living in a time when the abnormal is made to seem normal. The Quran warns that Satan seeks to adorn things before human eyes, so that we do not see things for what they are. As such, even covetousness is adorned. It is stripped of the stigma it so rightly deserves; it has now been placed under the rubric of “smart business.”

The terminology changes, though the essence survives shamelessly. The Prophet said that “competition is the disease of civilizations.” The propagation of the philosophy of “us against them” will spare no one, neither “us” nor “them.” According to that world view, everyone is considered “them” to someone else. Unnecessary competition grows into animosity. That’s how deep and insidious this disease is. Covetousness leaves one with the feeling of desiring more, which leads to a culture that can never be satisfied.

The Greeks differentiated between types of desire. They had a concept called eros, which is a longing for something which is never really fulfilled—wanting more and more. The Prophet said, “Nothing will fill the mouth of the son of Adam except the soil of his own grave. If he had one mountain of gold, he would only desire a second.” The Prophet also said, “Two people will never be satiated: seekers of knowledge and seekers of the world.” Covetousness, if it is not for God and His religion, will be for worldly things.

Imam al Mawlud next personifies desire and says “If you could ask desire about his trade” it will answer “earning humiliation!”. As for its father, it would say : “Doubt concerning the divine apportioning [of provision],” meaning being skeptical about how material provisions are allotted to different people.

Excerpt from the English Translation of Imam Al-Mawlud`a Matharat al-Qulub (Purification of the Heart).

Categories
DISCOVER ISLAM

A Tale of Two Cities

1. I am only the house of your beloved, not the beloved Himself: true love is for the treasure, not for the coffer that contains it. "The real beloved is that One who is unique, who is your beginning and your end. When you find that One, you'll no longer expect anything else: that is both the manifest and the mystery.

1. I am only the house of your beloved, not the beloved Himself: true love is for the treasure, not for the coffer that contains it. “The real beloved is that One who is unique, who is your beginning and your end. When you find that One, you’ll no longer expect anything else: that is both the manifest and the mystery.

This is A Guest Post Post By Abdullah Intekhab. In the Writer`s own words: I’m an Engineer; and no I cannot fix your TVs and DVD players. But I can, however, say the most random things and then later defend them with great zeal: that requires a lot of reverse Engineering.

I’m a student of knowledge (I try); insomniac; food junkie and a wannabe fatty (well, who am I kidding  ). O and last but not the least; a “diehard” wannabe writer (I’m not necessarily any good) and photographer (although I don’t have a camera). The Writer Also Blogs HERE!.

1. I am only the house of your beloved, not the beloved Himself: true love is for the treasure, not for the coffer that contains it. “The real beloved is that One who is unique, who is your beginning and your end. When you find that One, you’ll no longer expect anything else: that is both the manifest and the mystery. “There will be no town which Ad-Dajjal will not enter except Mecca and Medina, and there will be no entrance (road) (of both Mecca and Medina) but the angels will be standing in rows guarding it against him, and then Medina will shake with its inhabitants thrice (i.e. three earthquakes will take place) and Allah will expel all the non-believers and the hypocrites from it.”1 (Al-Bukhari) ‘There’s nowhere else on earth I’d rather be; here I am, this is me.’ Brian Adams wrote these words for a VERY different reason but anyhow, we take the good with the bad and the ugly right! I want to tell you a story, nay, not a story; in fact, I’m going to share with you a feeling. (Ed`s Note: if you think we are advocating music, then think again. HARAM bro, HARAM all year round, not just Ramadan:P) Mecca and Medina are the two places that everyone in the Muslim world feels an attraction towards; after all these are the holiest pieces of land on God’s dear earth. The two words seemingly roll off of our tongues in unison as though they are two parts of whole. But for all the unanimity and shared heritage the two cities couldn’t be more different in their ambience and general aura. Before I begin, I’d like to mention a little dua’a that a GREAT, GREAT man once made, this was Prophet Abraham (alaihi salam) and the occasion was the building of the Kaa’ba: ‘…”My Lord, make this (Mecca) a secure city and provide its people with fruits – whoever of them believes in Allah and the Last Day.”…’2 2:126 When you enter Mecca you can feel this sense of security but with it comes an overbearing sense of something much, MUCH grander. You feel humbled and overawed by the might; you can feel that the Majesty and Glory of the ذَا الْجَلَالِ وَالْإِكْرَامِ is eminent in the streets. The safety is a by-product of that presence. The air is different; an awe-inspiring, all-encompassing feeling takes over ones existence and one is no longer an individual but a part of a bigger whole. As you walk towards the Kaa’ba a crescendo builds up to a heart shaking silence. It is here that you realize the importance of using the phrase “revert to Islam” instead of “convert” because this is most definitely our origin, we all come from Islam. We answer to only One Power in all its Magnificence. Words don’t come to you like they do in normal life, and I always wonder how it is that people can describe the “magic” of this city; I can’t possibly imagine how you can do that. The “magic” is in the indescribability. Now we look at the stark contrast of the feeling above; we take a Journey approximately 350km north to Medina. Medina, o lovely Medina! “O Allah! Bestow on Medina twice the blessings You bestowed on Mecca.”3 (Al-Bukhari) You remember one of those films in which the hero sees the heroin for the first time and the time kinda stops and the wind kinda picks up and everything moves in slow-motion but is still somehow a blur? Well, no actually, think of it as the best feeling you’ve ever felt and then multiply it by a hundred. Umm, no, that’s not it either but that’s Medina… When the muhajiroon first came to Medina, it was riddled with disease and discomfort. And many of the Prophet’s (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) companions felt extremely homesick. That is when Rasool Allah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) made the dua’a that Medina’s love be put in the heart of every Muslim till the last day; and that it be dearer to the Muslims. And isn’t that so? For my personal experience I’ll have to say: yes! The city is peace in itself, it is love and infinity; and they say that love is dead that it lives no more, I say come here and breathe in it. This is the place where the greatest man who ever lived, lived. This is where Islam found home after a tumultuous start in Mecca. The air is calm and serene and peaceful, you feel so at home that you forget whence you came from. There’s no longer the over-bearing sense of Grandeur just a wholesome feeling of love that takes over your existence. The Majesty and Might in Mecca smoothens down to serenity. It is as if the whole universe is at peace with itself.   2. In love one finds that infinity may no longer be an irrelevant concept Both cities are absolutely mind-bogglingly beautiful; both cities are places where I’d LOVE to spend the rest of my days. ( And I don’t know if I’m right in saying this) But if I’m being truly honest, and if “the home is where the heart lies” then mine surely lives in Medina. References: 1.        Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari 1881, In-book reference: Book 29, Hadith 15, USC-MSA web (English) reference: Vol. 3, Book 30, Hadith 105 2.        The holy Qur’an, Chapter 2 (Al-Baqarah), Verse 126 3.        Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari 1885, In-book reference: Book 29, Hadith 19, USC-MSA web (English) reference: Vol. 3, Book 30, Hadith 109”

Categories
DISCOVER ISLAM

When The Clouds Spoke

“And how many Signs in the heavens and the earth do they pass by? Yet they turn (their faces) away from them!”(Surah Yusuf)

-This is a guest post by a writer who wishes to remain anonymous-


“And how many Signs in the heavens and the earth do they pass by? Yet they turn (their faces) away from them!” (Surah Yusuf, ayah 105)

Clouds fascinate me. Rather, I’m obsessed with them. Whenever I step outside, I love to observe the clouds. Unlike most obsessions, I can identify the exact incident which triggered this one.

When I was 14, an Aunty in our neighbourhood underwent a sudden transformation. From a hijabless, all-night partying kind of lady, she became a hijabi, Quran-studying, Arabic-teaching lady inviting others to Allah’s (s.w.t) obedience. The pendulum had swung from one end to the other with amazing speed. It transpired that one day, she had seen “Allah” written in the clouds. The spectacle struck her as a sign from God and made her mend her ways.

When I got to know about this, my teenage brain immediately started yearning to see “Allah” written in the clouds too. I was sure that Allah s.w.t could show it to me too. And I was sure that I too would as a result become pious overnight. It was an exhilarating thought that all the struggles (e.g. praying 5 times a day) would evaporate and I would become a practicing Muslimah. So I made dua and I waited and I waited and I observed the clouds whenever I got the chance. I had vivid daydreams of the day when I would see this sign and call my family to witness it too. And we would all be struck by the majesty of it and make prostration and suddenly become ‘naik’.

This continued for more than a year! In the school bus, in the car, I would always take the window seat to do my cloud-watching. The beauty of the clouds, the amazing artistry, the variety, the changing hues and shapes started to fascinate me. I had my “Wow” moments seeing clouds as big as mountains, as inviting as cotton candy, as artistic as anything overhead.
I would point it out to people around and would be amazed at how oblivious they were to the sky above them. Anyhow, time passed and I did not see the awaited Sign but I actually did see it. I did not see “Allah” written in the clouds but I actually did see it! It so happened that Allah gradually opened my heart. Maybe it was because I had started to skim through the translation of the Quran for the first time and my brain was gradually becoming tuned according to it. One hot afternoon in the desert of Arabia, I noticed a majestic, towering cloud that looked all cute and fluffy at the same time. There and then, it dawned upon me. There was “Allah” written all over it. Not the Arabic alphabets alif-laam-laam-ha. But it was as if I could see what the cloud wanted to show. I could hear what it wanted me to see. It was a sign of Allah s.w.t; a miracle, if you like. This cloud suspended like this; it was very clearly saying: Allah SWT created me. The one who is Al-Azeez, Al-Jabbar, Al-Musawwir, Al-Khaliq, He created me. And he changes my form every moment. I could hear the tasbih of the sky as if it too was proclaiming:

“Kulla Yaumin huwa fi shaa’n”

(Every day, He has a matter to bring forth; Surah ar-Rahman, ayah 29)

This observation became a turning point. I am utterly grateful to Allah (s.w.t) for opening my heart like this. My cloud-gazing become more persistent but now it was not an anxious gazing filled with waiting for the moment I would see “Allah” written in the clouds. Rather, I had achieved my goal. I had seen Allah’s (s.w.t) power and glory in the clouds. I had heard the clouds doing His tasbeeh. My sight and hearing had reached new dimensions. And then my cloud-obsession became wider and wider until it encompassed all of nature. I would go around as if I was walking in a museum displaying Allah’s (s.w.t) creations and recognizing the artist and his attributes. Countless “Wow” and “SubhanAllah” moments followed. The ayaat sprung forward from nature. Visits to the beach, mountain trails, fruit orchards, rivers etc. became the mega-boosters, cherished for the dose of Imaan and nearness to Allah (s.w.t) they provided.

But then, gradually, man forgets and man changes. Ten years later, a particularly beautiful, rainy post-Fajr morning walk in Islamabad became the impetus to write this article and to encourage the readers to ponder over the creation of Allah. We are so cut-off from nature, so engrossed in man-made gadgets that we miss out on the Eeman banquet Allah (s.w.t) has spread around us. See the signs of Allah(s.w.t) for what they are: Signs from Him! This concept is discussed at numerous places in the Quran. Countless ayaat invite us to open our eyes and to observe nature and recognize Allah.

“And how many Signs in the heavens and the earth do they pass by? Yet they turn (their faces) away from them!” (Surah Yusuf, ayah 105)

So when was the last time you gazed at the stars or winked at the moon or smiled in the rain or observed the clouds and the flowers and remembered Allah (s.w.t )with all of this. Feel the caressing of the wind, the kiss of the sun. See, Hear, feel, Smell, Think, Ponder; and Recognize Him!
It’s ones of lifes sweetest and most easily available pleasures. Don’t miss out on it. Get in sync with the universe in making tasbeeh of Allah (s.w.t) and remembering Him.

“And how many Signs in the heavens and the earth do they pass by? Yet they turn (their faces) away from them!” (Surah Yusuf)

May Allah s.w.t make us sincere and show us the Beauty of His Face just as He has shown us the beauty of His Creation.

Categories
DISCOVER ISLAM The Human Psyche

Dear Sister!

“So flee to Allah...”
“So flee to Allah…”

Dedicated to a Very Dear Friend, You Know Who You Are.

My dear sister! Know that you leave me distressed, that my heart weeps for you! Know that when you cry, I cry!  Oh my sister! We may be far but know that I feel your hurt, your pain is mine! That your tears fall not just on your cheeks but on mine too!

Dear sister, take heart! Be strong! Remember that this too shall pass!
“Verily, with hardship, there is relief ” (Quran 94:6)

Remember also that people are placed in our path by Allah Ta`ala, Our Rab, He who is Ar-Rehman, Ar-Raheem to mold us, to bring us closer to Him. Look at them my sister but look beyond! They are only here to teach us a lesson from the Almighty. They are for our own tarrbiyyah. To show us the error in our ways.

Look within my dear sister, look within. For there-in you`ll find the solution.

My dear sister, Know that the path is straight, yet we are lost! And He in His infinite mercy puts these obstacles in our life to bring us back to the path.  To remind us that there is but only ONE objective in life and ALL else is just a means to an end. Know my dear sister that all this, is JUST to bring us back to Him. “So flee to Allah…” (Surah Thariyat).

For He is Allah s.w.t, He takes us back, though we may repeatedly sin.  Say: “O Ibadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Az-Zumar, 53)

Know my sister that words are after all just that, words. And that we are Naqis. We are needy of our Rab. So my sister return to Him! For only in Him, there is peace. He is As-Salam.  (Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.) (Qur’an 13: 28).

My sister, KNOW that His mercy engulfs you. That HIS love is the ONLY love.  That there is ONLY HIM and all else is a delusion. He, ALONE is the truth!  “…And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion?” (Qur’an, 57:20)

Finally my beloved sister, Know that every being, every particle, every pint of blood, each strand of hair, every blade of grass, every hill, every mountain, each drop in the oceans, every single thing in the land and the skies Glorifies Him.  Pay heed, my dear sister! Glorify Him! Be like them!  Be in sync, in harmony with the universe. Be at peace.

“So flee to Allah...”
“So flee to Allah…”