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The Lovers and the Meeting

In death he falls clinging
to ephemeral lovers beckoning,
Smiling and promising
with whispered lies

Perhaps. Perhaps.

He closes his eyes,
at the onrush of the Great Wall…

And in the Beyond,
The Intense Questioning begins.
A Great Reckoning.

“How was spent the time?
How was spent the wealth?
How was exerted the body?
How was gained the food, the clothes?”
The pen hovering, ready to sign.

In the Great Panic, he responds:
‘But this is not what was whispered,
to me in feverish dream, on death’s bed,
My lovers, my lovers will testify!’

Bring them,
The Lovers,
The selfish, sweet-tongued liars,
Always tickling the ears and the hearts
with their sweet venom,
Bring them ye to testify

In a swift rush of wings,
they are brought forth in chains,
Blind, their eye sockets empty,
Bodies bent and wasted away,
Lips cracked and teeth diseased
from all their spoken filth

He recoils in disgust. In fear. In hatred.
‘These are not they, the lovers pure
who whispered such sweet promises
in times of trouble and need’

But Truth manifests. And Silence holds sway.
The air grows heavy.
The sky itself darkens from fear.
The Presence.
The heart sinks, shattered,
hearing the dread response:

‘No.
See ye your lovers in truth,
with bridal veil uplifted,
the inward reality,
of your own darkly reflected lusts
and opinion from whim.
Yours for eternity.’

‘But their testimony! Their testimony!’
Cried in anguish, he pleads with The Witness,
To the old hags:
‘Speak! Speak! My Lovers if in truth you be!’

Laughing, crying, shrieking,
the lovers meld and join as one
Laughing, crying, shrieking, proclaiming, whispering:
“Indeed, The One had promised you the truth.
And I also promised you,
but I betrayed you.
And I had no authority over you except that I invited you,
and you responded to me.”(1)
Laughing, crying, shrieking,
The lover prepares for her wedding.

===========================================

(1):  Qur’an 14:21 – 14:22


The Mover

© Yunus Temple 2013

Bismillah-ir Rahman-ir Raheem and may Allah The Almighty SubhanaHu wa Ta’Ala send peace and blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad Salawaat

Ghafla: Transliteration of an Arabic word that translates as ‘Heedlessness’ and is usually used in the sense of one ‘being in a state of ghafla.’ In the Islamic understanding, the core concept involves being forgetful of the existence and presence of God, whether through deliberate rejection or through forgetfulness1. Though the state is associated with non-believers (or atheists) and hedonists, it also poses a very real danger against which the Muslim must always strive and be on guard.

One type of attack that persists (and succeeds) in driving Muslims to ghafla are ‘veiled’ attacks. These attacks are not outright denial or introduced via a confrontational debate, rather they are designed to draw your attention away from the religion (deen) and away from the affirmation that Allah is the One Power. For example, the Playstation is an amazing piece of technology, and its games are designed to engage the user in an all-encompassing world, so that the user forgets about the real world and is whisked away to an alternate reality for however long they wish. During this time, these users have an intensely strong incentive to forget everything but the game. To forget Allah, to forget their responsibilities, even to forget their own moral judgment (Grand Theft Auto being a good example). This is an example of a veiled attack on your faith (iman).
Another example can be found throughout our school literature. In these books, humans take control of the world through “advances in science,” we are given power over disease through our ‘genetic engineering,’ we can move the earth because of our engineering marvels and other machines and technologies that we design with our minds. Through reading these works, our attention vis-à-vis “cause and effect” is drawn away from Allah to ourselves and the world (dunya). In other words, we see not that it is Allah who heals the body of its ills, but rather we attribute our recovery to the doctor. In this fashion, society and its institutions reinforce the ideas that man is the creator, maintainer, and molder of the things of this dunya instead of the Rightful and Truthful One, Allah the Creator and Maintainer.

Another type of attack that we face are direct attacks on our deen and on our Iman. Indeed, in today’s modern world, one is hard-pressed not to run afoul of atheist arguments that flood our social media (especially Facebook). Such topics even enter into discussions amongst friends; often quite heatedly. Many times these arguments are crafted from one-liner questions designed to narrow or limit the bounds of thinking such that one feels compelled to agree with their premise or appear irrational, stupid, or ‘anti-science.’ One classic question is “If God is Love, why does God let bad things happen to good people? Why would He allow Hitler to commit his atrocities against so many innocent people?” And in many cases, such as this one, we can deduce a certain amount of information about the one asking the question, because the question itself reflects the spiritual and educational state of the one asking it.

With this in mind, one must understand that these questions arise from two types of intents: one valid and the other invalid. The valid intent is a desire to learn more about the religion (deen) or to quiet any internal temptations or doubts (wasswassas) against which we all wrestle from time to time. Such people should never be rebuked for asking such questions and indeed they should be encouraged to ask more. The invalid intent is nurtured by the human devils (Insii Sheytan): people who have deliberately rejected faith and take it upon themselves to join ranks in attacking believers. Their intent focuses on attacking the deen for the purpose of dismantling its cohesion, ruining iman, and returning people to states of ghafla.

As our Muslim community (Ummah) interacts more and more with this modern world, we must be well-equipped to deal with these sorts of challenges to our reasoning, our logic, our iman, and our own lack of knowledge of the deen. For if we are not well-positioned to respond to such constant attacks, in the media, from our ‘friends’ or acquaintances, and even from within our own families, then we may quickly find ourselves rejecting faith2, God forbid (Naoozubillah). It is for this reason that our Prophet Muhammad Salawaat stated:

“Faith wears out in your heart as clothes wear out, so ask Allah to renew the faith in your hearts.”3

Before going further, I would like to point out that to defeat such deen-centric questions you must know whether the intent behind the question is valid or invalid. Someone asking a question arising from a valid intent (i.e., they sincerely want to know more about the religion) will normally be satisfied with the answer you give, presuming your answer fits into any preexisting sets of beliefs and conceptions. For example, taking the classic question mentioned above, one could answer: “When bad things happen to good people, it is a means of purification,4 5 a test in one’s belief,6 or because God desires for us to develop some spiritual quality and this is the means to do so.7” A Muslim or some other believer will accept this answer, presuming their faith is somewhat intact. Though this is not to say they won’t have further questions for clarification or to expand the amount of information they glean from you. On the other hand, atheists or enemies of the deen will accept no answer you give. They are working from discursive logic (i.e., an endless stream of questions designed to switch the subject ad nauseum) and their intent is to continually ask questions until they reach questions for which you have no answer. You will also notice, that should you provide a ‘checkmate’ answer (which forces the debater to accept your position), they quickly shift gears to another unrelated question.8 You must realize that in these situations you are not debating the human; rather, you are debating the dark sheytan that lies behind them whispering the questions that they should ask. Even Umar (Radia Allah Anhu) has stated: “I seek refuge from a strong disbeliever and from a weak believer.” For in both cases, the influence of sheytan is on the ascendant.

Should you ignore the guidance of your deen in dealing with such people,9 at best you will be left feeling frustrated, angered, and without any topical resolution. At worst, you will be filled with doubts which, if not treated effectively, can grow to be a spiritual cancer. If you think this does not apply to you or is not a serious concern, the amount of weak believers or even apostates to the deen is on a sharp rise.10 May Allah protect us from such a state, AMIN.

Mawlana Faizani and the Russian Gambit

Mawlana Faizani, a preeminent teacher from Afghanistan who lived in the later half of the 20th century, rightly points out that the most effective defense against this constant onslaught and pressure toward ghafla consists of the two core Qur’anic methods of remembrance (zhikr) and contemplation (fikr). His writings were published in Afghanistan while Russian influence crept throughout Afghan cultural and political affairs in the 1970’s. This strategy ended in the overthrow of the Afghan government and installation of the soviet-backed PDPA, a communist party.

During this time, one of the main weapons used by the Russians prior to their outright invasion was not made from metal. It was made from ideas.11 The Russians knew the same thing the Americans know (under whatever pretext is used, but invariably ‘freedom’ is its mantra): the idea that when invading a foreign land, the occupier must capture the “hearts and minds” of the locals. The problem was that throughout much of Islamic history, the heart of the Muslim was a fortress: impregnable and unassailable by non-Islamic influence. The Mongol invasion was proof positive of this: Millions of Muslims perished by their brute force, but within a generation, all the Mongols had become Muslim. The Mongols had not bothered with the Muslim heart in their victories, and so the Muslim heart prevailed.

Since the time of the Mongols, non-Islamic powers have come to know that the reason Muslims are not effectively controlled is due to their firm iman in their religious convictions and moralities. To penetrate the Muslims’ inner defenses, the “Islamic castle,” they must attack the raw material used to create that castle’s defenses: the very sources by which the Muslim inculcates, fortifies, and grows iman. Such an attack endangers the Muslim Ummah not only from the perspective of subjugation; it is far worse: worship (ibadaat) is not accepted from those who lack Iman and Allah’s punishment falls on those who after having seen the truth, instead reject it. By attacking iman, the Western powers not only sapped the very source of Muslim strength, they also inadvertently created a means by which Allah Himself could visit punishment upon them.12

In the case of Afghanistan, when the Russians began their stratagem, they began by inviting Afghans to come study at Russian universities.13 Visiting Afghans would be impressed by the grandeur of Russia and its technological advances, and during their term of studies, they would be bombarded by the Atheistic ideology which is a cornerstone of communism. When the students returned back to Afghanistan, they would now be the native spokepersons for Russia. And worse, they would be reciting (and believing in!) atheistic and communistic Russian ideas. Such ideas had the characteristics of spiritual sneak attacks: they rarely came across stating “Religion is wrong!” but rather, “Look what science can do!” By assigning a Divine Attribute (The Able) to an intermediary (in this case science), the Russian ideology created a type of ghafla (not remembering the divine) and shirk (assigning divine qualities to something other than Allah) for the Afghan mindset. Such ghafla and shirk were the first steps in transforming the believer to an atheist.14

In the midst of this ideological war, and via a thorough researching of Islamic theology and spiritual practice, Mawlana Faizani found the best and most effective means of defense against such as assault. As in any war: you must either defend the area being attacked or risk losing it. In this case, the area being attacked was Iman. So Mawlana Faizani introduced a program of Islamic methodologies designed to shore up, defend, and strengthen iman.15 The foundation of these methodologies rests on the two core Islamic practices of Remembrance (Zhikr) and Deep Contemplation (Fikr). The organization that Mawlana Faizani founded to promulgate these methodologies of Fikr and Zhikr exists to this day under the name of the Faizani International. It continues to make efforts toward peace and unity and hosts a conference each year on this topic.

Mawlana Faizani is important and relevant to the discussion primarily in two ways:

  • Firstly, that he identified in the 1970s something that continues to (successfully) assault the Muslim ummah today (i.e., the intense push toward ghafla via direct and veiled attacks on our Iman), and
  • Secondly, he is an example of a shaykh who, in response to a spiritual attack on the iman of the ummah, developed a methodology that defends against such attacks, and reverses the spiritual course of the practitioner’s life. Instead of being pushed toward ghafla and ultimately a state of atheism, through this methodology, one is pulled toward Taqwa and firm monotheism.

Indeed, Mawlana Faizani’s ideas were so spiritually transformative and relevant to the time, that even governmental officials and military officers began seeking knowledge from him. This quickly drew the attention and ire of the Afghan President, and as a result Mawlana Faizani was jailed and finally made to “disappear” (i.e., martyred).

A Short Note on Method Versus Practice

Before going further, it should be emphasized that ‘practice’ is defined as the performance of an action repeatedly and regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency in it and ‘method’ is defined as “Orderliness of thought or behavior; systematic planning or action” and “A particular form of procedure for accomplishing or approaching something, esp. a systematic or established one.”16 These are similar but slightly different. For example, in coming to learn the piano, one can simply practice the keyboard using normal piano books, or one can enroll in a particular methodology like the Suzuki method.17 Both engage the student in learning the piano and practicing its science. Yet one is a methodology which incorporates the other.

In today’s manifestation of Islam, traditional methods based on the sunnah have been abandoned while the simple ‘practices’ and knowledge has been retained. To continue the example given above, it is like we are left with music books and instruments and generic teachers, but no methodologies. All too often we walk into a masjid and are faced with the “halaqa of the day” which usually consists in reciting some hadith and discussing what it means. This is not a methodology. It is a Friday night study circle and may be a practice (seeking out ’ilm, sitting with patience, etc.). But unfortunately, a year of Friday night study circles does not miraculously turn into a methodology any more than practicing the piano on Monday nights turns into the Suzuki method. Another less helpful (though good-hearted) way of sharing the deen which we may have experienced is the simple “gifting” of a book of hadith or tafseer. Again, this is fine from a practice standpoint and there is sawaab in it, but it is not a methodology.

Two Methodologies

As mentioned previously, Zhikr and Fikr are both designed to fortify and increase the light of faith in the heart to man. Furthermore, because faith is the determining factor in ultimate success, failure, and spiritual rank, one can then claim, through inferential logic, that all spiritual success is derived from these two practices. Both of these types of ibadaat, though obligatory (fardh) on Muslims, are considered ‘unconditional’ in that they generally have no restrictions. They are practices that can be done at anytime, anywhere, in any state of purity (i.e., with or without wudhoo) and in any amount or quantity.

By definition, Zhikr is itself the direct opposite (and strongest weapon) against Ghafla. Through Zhikr (dua, salat, and by calling on His Most Beautiful Names), you immediately call to mind, tongue, and heart the One God and His Qualities and Attributes. Your remembrance of Him is in direct contrast to ghafla, which is a state engendered through forgetfulness. Through such remembrance, you draw near to him18, purify your inner self (nafs and Qalb)19, and renew your faith.20

Fikr is a process by which you focus your exploring intellect (‘aql) on a created thing (existent) or process and you observe its qualities, characteristics, causes, and circumstances. While observing the existent (or its process) you constantly recall that Allah is the reason for the existent. And you also observe what He is expressing in this particular sign (ayat). For example, to observe the sunset, you note that it happens but once a day, for a short period of time, that it can have an incredible splash of colors or it can be subdued, gradually turning from blue, to pink and purple, to black. This phenomena is from Allah and is expressing His Beauty and is “painted” on an invisible surface (the sky).” When performing the fikr, you should work to reach a state of bewilderment at the Mastery, Power, and Beauty of Allah.

As with any struggle, one must be persistent in order to see results. For example, you may have a house or villa and a nice expanse of green grass or gardens laid out in front of you. If you mow your grass and tend the garden just once a month, for half of that time your grass will be overgrown and unkempt and your garden will not be very productive. If you watch over your property once a week, it will look tidy, neat, and your garden will be consistently productive though maybe you will lose a fruit to some insects or it will ripen when you are away; whereas if you are constantly taking care of your lawns and gardens on a daily basis, problems will be fixed as soon as they start, no weed will take root, and it will be very rare that you lose a fruit. Your property will be immaculate.

Likewise you must approach the methodology of Fikr. It must be done on a daily basis and with full attention. Such an approach to this blessed form of ibadaat is sure to provide a deep cultivation of faith for the sake of the hadith that comes to us through Abu Hurayra (ra), that the Prophet Salawaat stated:

“One minute of fikr is equivalent to a year of worship, and one hour of Fikr competes with 60 years of worship.”21

Remember that sheytan does not let up in his attacks on your heart, so you need to keep constant watch over both your heart and mind. This is no easy task especially when you remember that the waswassa of sheytan uses your own voice and desires of the nafs.

The remainder of this essay will discuss Fikr and its role in the spiritual life of the human being.

Fikr and the Foundation of Belief

The best (and for the believer the most easily accessible) way to firmly believe in something is to perceive it through the nexus of the five senses and heart. There is an old Western saying: “Seeing is believing” which illustrates the importance of this act. This “saying” is even more meaningful in this context since many atheist arguments include the “I don’t believe in something I cannot see” (though for an atheist to rely on such a statement reveals a profound mental disability22). The fundamental power of perception and its corollary ‘experiential knowledge’ can be illustrated by a farmer who over the course of time sees his apple tree bear fruit, observes the color of the apple’s skin, and experiences the apple’s taste. After perceiving the apple in this fashion, the farmer can speak with certainty about apples. He did not read it in a book or hear about it through hearsay (such knowledge being called ‘ilm al-yaqîn), no, the farmer knows from direct experience and without a doubt the apple’s reality, its qualities, and its uses. Should someone come along and attempt to convince the farmer that the apple does not exist, or that the apple cannot taste sweet, or that the skin of the apple is colorless, the farmer instantly rejects the propositions. He feels that no one in their right mind would accept such statements. The farmer would have to deny his own reality in deference to the, as yet ‘unproven,’ knowledge of the other. Such a transition in belief is well-nigh impossible to effect.

As Muslims, we must strive to be like this farmer. We must use our ‘aql and observe the world around us, keeping in mind Allah and thanking and praising Him as we engage in this ibadaat. Through repeated practice, this fikr affords one what is called the ‘eye of certainty’ (ayn al-yaqîn). There is nothing ‘secret’ or ‘mystical’ about this. It is simple: you are now like the farmer. The Farmer KNOWS how the apple tastes, he doesn’t need to believe it. He KNOWS how long it takes for the apple to ripen, he doesn’t need to believe it. And etc. Like the farmer and his apple, through fikr on His created things, you will come to KNOW Him through His Qualities as He expresses them in the creation. When an atheist suggests to you ideas or attempts to shake your belief, your heart will right away effortlessly reject what is said.23 You will clearly be able to see through the argument and view it as nonsensical; just like trying to tell an apple-farmer that apples aren’t red or that they don’t grow on trees: the farmer would think the man or woman had lost all sense.

Such rejection of falsehood has little to do with a conceptual process but is the result of a logical conclusion based on experience and observation. This difference can be illustrated as follows: it is conceptual to read about an apple being red, but it is experiential to SEE that apples are red. Both are types of knowledge and both are correct, but the second experiential knowledge is superior to the conceptual knowledge gained through studying and reading. Experiential knowledge sits in the heart whereas conceptual knowledge sits in the mind. When an atheist comes to you and argues, they want your responses to be conceptual and limited to the mind. It is for this reason that Atheists discount “observed phenomena” and “experience” in their arguments: because such phenomena comes from experiential knowledge, is generally irrefutable, and leads directly to belief. By discounting that reservoir of experience from the discussion, they defend themselves and hold off defeat a while longer. Interestingly, it is exactly in this fashion that the Qur’an argues with the pagans of Arabia during the time of its revelation.24 25 26

This mechanism of belief via experience is the reason why many refuse to belief in Allah: they have not seen Him, they have not heard Him, and they have not perceived Him (one cannot ask them to come to belief in such a state for it would be violating a Qur’anic principle!27). To believe in Allah for these people is as sensible as believing in a ‘purple flying spaghetti monster.’28 And so parodies, jokes, and satirical takes on religion arise. These people are in effect doing what the believer does: they believe in what they see; which for them is nothing. And so they are atheist. Tragically, such a lack of fikr, for the unbeliever, will be a cause for entering Jahannum:

“They will say: “Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we should not be among the companions of the blazing fire!” (67:10)

So for this very people, as a means for them to come to belief and as a medicine for the disease of unbelief that sits in their hearts, Allah has prescribed Fikr. If you read through the Qur’an, never does it demand of the unbeliever acts of ibadaat except for the ibadaat of fikr; and in these cases, only as a means for the unbeliever to come to belief. Thus, we see that the core act that draws the human being to belief is that of Fikr.

Furthermore, Fikr is even prescribed to those who have iman, though it may be incomplete. Such people might believe in parts of the deen, but have doubts regarding other parts. If you think about your social relations and friends and family, inevitably you can think of one or two people who argue that the rule for alcohol does not apply to them (for some reason) or that salat isn’t truly Fard, or that Jesus (as) was not born of a virgin mother (Naoozubillah). For these types of believers, Allah also prescribes fikr as a solution and medicine. Perhaps some of the strongest language comes in 22:5 as a recommendation to those who have trouble believing in the resurrection:

“O People, if you should be in doubt about the Resurrection, then consider that We created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop, then from a clinging clot, and then from a lump of flesh, formed and unformed – that We may show you. And We settle in the wombs whom We will for a specified term, then We bring you out as a child, and then [We develop you] that you may reach your [time of] maturity. And among you is he who is taken in [early] death, and among you is he who is returned to the most decrepit [old] age so that he knows, after [once having] knowledge, nothing. And you see the earth barren, but when We send down upon it rain, it quivers and swells and grows [something] of every beautiful kind.” (22:5)

While the idea of a bodily resurrection is a central tenet in Islam, it is one that can at times be hard to understand or imagine. For this reason, Allah time and again throughout the Qur’an explains the means by which we can come to understand and accept this reality through fikr.29

Indeed the practice of Fikr is so rooted in the Islamic tradition, that even if one comes to full faith and bears witness to His Majesty, Fikr itself becomes a type of Zhikr, such that “Whichever way you turn, there is the face of God. For God is all-Pervading, all-Knowing.” (Q. 2:115). The faithful believer is constantly in a state of Fikr. These are the people who do not simply hear this ayat but they actually experience this ayat. They perceive the presence of God in all things. Other ayats specifically refer to these masters of Fikr as being able to glean spiritual meanings that otherwise remain hidden from others, for:

“Lo in the creation of heavens and the earth and in the alternation of night and day there are indeed signs for men of understanding” (3:190)

And also:

“He has subjected to you, as from Him all that is in the heavens and on the earth; Behold, in that are signs indeed for those who reflect” (45:13).

The key to these ayats is that the benefit comes only to those who do the fikr and gather knowledge through taffakoor. Indeed this secret is so profound that over 2000 verses of the Holy Qur’an discuss taffakoor and its importance in the lives of the believers.

Benefit of Fikr

Without a doubt, the main benefit to fikr is the strengthening of the light of faith (Iman) within the heart of the believer. For without bearing witness to the six articles of faith30, we fall short of Islam and risk our life in the Akhirah (the hereafter). Fikr is the very means by which we as Muslims perceive the divine. Through it we come to know, little by little, and perceive the attributes of The Prime Mover, the One Creator who after bringing into existence the plenitude and enlivening it, continues to watch, manage, maintain, sustain, and regulate every single mote, every single existent thing within it.

How can someone claim to know a friend if that person never spends time with the friend, observing the friend and seeing how the friend behaves in different scenarios? Likewise, how can we claim knowledge of our Rabb (Lord) if we run about all day from our job, to our home, to our children and wives, paying the bills and maintaining our wealth and during this time never spend even a few minutes each day sitting quietly, observing how Allah works within the world around us? Without knowledge of Allah and His Greatness and His Perfection gleaned from observing the management of the celestial bodies around us how can we then stand in salaat and proclaim His Greatness? If we haven’t spent time investigating the very physical body in which our souls rest, our complex and finely tuned nervous system, the intricate maps of our blood vessels and capillaries, and its system of maintenance, how can we proclaim His Perfection, Control, Ability, and Sublime nature?

Fikr is that which informs our hearts to such an extent that in the moments of our ibadaat, when we cry out to the Lord of the Worlds, The Lord of Man, The King, and when we beg forgiveness from Him, in these moments… we MEAN it. We have arrived at sincerity in our deeds and find ourselves protected from the Quranic warning:

“So woe to those who pray, [But] who are heedless of their prayer” (107:4 – 5)

Through Fikr, we distinguish our worship vis-a-vis our relationship with God (italics added for emphasis):

“Is it not better to be one of those who meditate in the night, prostrating and staying up, being aware of the Hereafter, and seeking the mercy of their Lord? Say, “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” Only those who possess intelligence will take heed.” (39:9)

Furthermore, presuming we have belief, Fikr is such a valuable spiritual discipline that one can list a host of additional spiritual benefits made available to those who sincerely make it a part of their worship. The favors and benefits that Allah bestows upon us when we engage in Fikr are related to the type of fikr being performed and your persistence in the contemplation. When we seek to know Allah, He will use all of existence to teach us!

For example, it is reported that Imam Junayd al-Baghdadi (R.A.) said,

“My teacher in the Way of meditation is the cat: One day, I was passing in the street, and I saw a cat sitting and watching the hole of a mouse, so absorbed in it watching this hole that not one of its hairs was moving. I was bemused by its concentration and watchfulness, and felt a call within me: ‘O you with the lowly determination! Do not let Me be in your purpose less than the mouse, and you, in seeking, do not be less than the cat.’ “

Likewise, another example of how the world can teach us about Taqwa, Shaykh Hamza Yusef comments:

“Once, a Mauritanian shaykh and I saw a mouse coming out of its hole, and we noticed that every time the mouse heard a sound, it would stop and shoot back into the hole. “That’s taqwa,” the shaykh explained. Taqwa is worrying about being eaten alive by your own mistakes.” 31

In these preceding examples, the fikr was applied outwardly toward existent things (i.e., the tangible world around us). But Fikr on our own selves and our final destination is more meritorious. So much so the Qur’an reminds us:

“We will show them Our signs in the universe and within their own beings until it will become manifest to them that it is the truth.” (41:53)

And in this case, again, the spiritual benefit is related to the type of fikr you do. For example, Daqaq (R.A.) says,

“Whoever remembers death frequently, will benefit in three ways: he will hasten to repent, he will become content, and he will be active in worship. Whoever forgets death will be punished in three ways: he will delay repentance, he will no longer be content with what is sufficient, and he will be lazy in worship.”

Without a doubt, the Islamic tradition is a huge reservoir of spiritual methods. As Muslims, we are responsible for leveraging these resources in developing ourselves, bettering our families, and, Allah willing, becoming a means of guidance for the rest of mankind. Through analyzing hadith and the Qur’an itself there is no doubt to the emphasis placed on fikr and zhikr as the key methods of protecting and growing our Iman and coming to states of deep sincerity in our deeds and ibadaat. These methods are the key to success for our own souls’ salvation as well as the betterment and guidance of mankind. Do not ignore them, do not risk having your ‘clothes wear out’, do not leave your garden untended.

To this end, the Gospel (Injeel) of Jesus (as) holds a valuable lesson. It gives us a parable of a master and his servants and I quote it here so that you can contemplate on its message and see the deep importance that fikr holds for the religious practitioner.

“A man was going on a journey, and called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have at least invested it with businessmen, so that when I returned I would have received a gain.

“So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever makes effort will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever makes no effort, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Mathew 25: 14 – 30).

Allah has entrusted us, his servants, with the best types of wealth: the very breath of Allah as our Rooh, our ‘aql (exploring intellect), our five senses, our bodies that function for us without thought (stomach, intestines, lungs), our hearts, and our minds. We have been sent here to worship Allah and be tested in our deen. If we return to Allah without having used these treasures to our own gain (for indeed we are to be asked about all of our wealth), then indeed we have lost the supreme goal.

May Allah grant us the best tawfeeq in using these beneficial resources with which He has gifted us through His Qur’an and blessed servant Prophet Muhammad Salawaat; may He accept from us our deeds, remove from us any hardship in drawing near to Him, grant us clemency, and inspire us to ever higher levels of ibadaat and praise for Him, Most High and Great. Amin Ya Rabb.


1. See http://tayyibaat.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/ghafla/

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2. Abu Hurairah (Ramahtu Alaihy) said “The Prophet Salawaata said, ‘Woe to the Arabs from the great evil which is nearly approaching them: it will be like patches of dark night. A man will wake up as a believer, and be a kafir (unbeliever) by nightfall. People will sell their religion for a small amount of worldly goods. The one who clings to his religion on that day will be as one who is grasping an ember – or thorns.’ ” (in Ahmad)

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3. Narrated by al-Haakim in his Mustadrak and al-Tabaraani in his Mu’jam with a Saheeh isnad.

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4. Jabir ibn Abdullah narrates that Allah’s Messenger Salawaata said, “On the Day of Resurrection, when people who have suffered affliction are given their reward, those who are healthy will wish their skins had been cut to pieces with scissors when they were in the world.” (in Al-Tirmidhi #1570)

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5. Al-Hasan Al-Basri advices us: “Do not detest the misfortunes that befall you, for what you detest may be the cause of your salvation and what you like may be the cause of your ruin.”

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6. Qur’an 29:2 (translated by Pickthall): “Do men imagine that they will be left (at ease) because they say, We believe, and will not be tested with affliction?”

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7. See Qur’an 2:155 – 2:157

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8. Qur’an 61:7 – 61:8 (meaning taken from Sahih International):
“And who is more unjust than one who invents about Allah untruth while he is being invited to Islam. And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people. They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it.

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9. See the article entitled Spiritual Disease and Muslim Health

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10. See http://pjmedia.com/blog/muslims-leaving-islam-in-droves/

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11. Regarding wars of ideas: “They are, indeed, genuine wars, even though the physical violence might be minimal, because they serve a political, socio-cultural, or economic purpose, and they involve hostile intentions or hostile acts. Wars of ideas can assume many forms, but they tend to fall into four general categories (though these are not necessarily exhaustive): (a) intellectual debates, (b) ideological wars, (c) wars over religious dogma, and (d) advertising campaigns. All of them are essentially about power and influence, just as with wars over territory and material resources, and their stakes can run very high indeed (Echevarria 2008 Wars of Ideas and the War of Ideas)“ Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College (SSI).
For more information on “wars of ideas” and how it is applied against religion, refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_ideas

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12. Qur’an 14:6 – 14:7 (Translated Yusuf Ali):
“Remember! Moses said to his people: “Call to mind the favor of Allah to you when He delivered you from the people of Pharaoh: they set you hard tasks and punishments, slaughtered your sons, and let your women-folk live: therein was a tremendous trial from your Lord. And remember! your Lord caused to be declared (publicly): “If ye are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you; But if ye show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed.” “

The determining factor here being to “show ingratitude.” This implies a knowledgeable rejection of a favor or denial of its Giver. In this verse, the precursor to His punishment is not ignorance but ingratitude for favors given.

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13. David B. Edwards. Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad. University of California Press, 376.
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14. See http://www.ndu.edu/press/lib/pdf/books/understanding-war-in-afghan.pdf, pages 19 – 23.

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15. In the end, Mawlana Faizani wrote a series of 52 different books, ranging in technical details and addressing a host of challenges faced by the Muslim Ummah.

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16. Both definitions were taken from Google dictionary.

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17. See http://suzukiassociation.org/teachers/twinkler/

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18. See ayat 2:152 “Remember Me and I will remember you” and also the Hadith Qudsi:
“I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assemble better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.”

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19. Narrated by Anas ibn Malik (RA): the Prophet Salawaata said: Allah, the Exalted, has said: “O son of Adam! Certainly I shall continue to pardon thee so long as thou supplicate Me and hopest (for My forgiveness), whatever may be thy faults and sins, I don’t care. O son of Adam, even if thy sins pile up as high as the sky, and thou asketh for My forgiveness, I will forgive thee. O son of Adam, if thou comest to Me with an earthful of defaults and meetest Me, not associating anything with Me, I will come to thee, with an earthful of forgiveness.” Al-Tirmidhi – Hadith 442

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20. The Messenger of Allah Salawaata said, “Renew your faith!” It was said, “O Messenger of Allah (Salawaata), how do we renew our faith?”
He Salawaata replied, “By saying la ilaha illa Allah (‘There is no god but God’) a lot” [Ahmad and Hakim]

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21. Muslim, “Qadar,” 34; Ibn Ma’ja, “Muqaddima,” 10; Ibn Hanbal, 3:366

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22. “Is it conceivable that a Spirit which is invisible, and imponderable, and impalpable, and yet which is the seat of physical and moral powers, really occupies the universe? The infidel scoffs at the idea. We observe, however, that this same infidel implicitly believes in the existence of an all-pervading luminiferous ether, which is invisible, and imponderable, and impalpable, and yet is said to be more compact and more elastic than any material substance we can see and handle.” George H. Bennet in the Methodist Review

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23. Qur’an 21:18 (translated Yusuf Ali) “Nay, We hurl the Truth against falsehood, and it knocks out its brain, and behold, falsehood doth perish! Ah! woe be to you for the (false) things ye ascribe (to Us).”

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24. Quran, 17:51 “…Or some other created things which may seem to you most difficult to create. They will then say. ‘Who will revert us back?’ Say: ‘He Who created you in the beginning’. Still they will shake their heads at you and say: ‘When will it be? Say: ‘In the near future’.”

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25. Quran, 64:7: “The unbelievers claim that they will not be raised again. Tell them. ‘Why not? By my Lord, you will certainly be raised again, and then informed of what you had done. That is easy for Allah’.”

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26. Qur’an 45:25 “And when our clear revelations are recited to them, they have no other argument but to say: ‘Bring our ancestors back if you are truthful.’”

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27. Don ‘t follow that of which you have no knowledge. Verily the ear, the eye, and the heart, each will be questioned. (Surah Bani Isra’il, 17: 36)

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28. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

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29. Refer to the following Qur’anic ayats:
Let man reflect from what he was made of: He was created of spurting water issuing from the loins and ribs, Allah has the Power to resurrect him. (86:5—8)
Does man think that he will be left to himself, alone? Wasn’t he once just an emitted drop of semen? Then formed into an embryo? Then he fashioned, shaped and proportioned and assigned it sexes, male and female. Doesn’t He then have the power to bring the dead back to life? (75:36—40)
Did We fail to accomplish the first creation? And yet they are still in doubt about a new creation. We created man and surely know what doubts arise in his mind. (50:15)
And he makes comparisons for Us, and forgets his own (origin and) Creation: He says, “Who can give life to (dry) bones and decomposed ones (at that)?”
Say, “He will give them life Who created them for the first time! for He is Well-versed in every kind of creation!-
“The same Who produces for you fire out of the green tree, when behold! ye kindle therewith (your own fires)!
“Is not He Who created the heavens and the earth able to create the like thereof?” – Yea, indeed! for He is the Creator Supreme, of skill and knowledge (infinite)!” (36:78 – 36:81)

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30. I.e., One God, angels, that which was sent down by Allah as messages (Qur’an, Torah, Injeel, etc.), the prophets of Allah, the Day of Resurrection and Judgment, and fate (predestination).

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31. Shaykh Hamza Yusef. Hayward, California 1999.

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Optimism and the Law of Attraction in Islam

Chicago DT12

Have ever wondered why some people are so successful and happy in life, while others are not? Have you ever noticed that good things seem to happen to happy people, while bad things happen to angry and pessimistic people?

Not long ago, a book was published, which had a great success, and it was entitled: “The Secret”. It tries to give an answer to the previous questions, and it claims that the secret of happy and successful people lies in what is called, “the Law of Attraction.”

So what is the Law of Attraction, and do we have it anywhere in the teachings of our religion? I will tell you what the secret and what the Law of Attraction are, then I will explain that the belief in this so-called secret, which was told about by our Prophet and revealed in the Quran in the most simple and expressive ways, is in fact essential for a true Islamic life-style. It is essential for the inner life of a true Muslim and believer.

We need to remember that a Muslim is not a Muslim only by how she or he looks and what she or he does. Yes actions are very important, but only when they have a spiritual foundation. That’s why intention is so important in Islam. Intention can make all the difference between two identical acts. Consider the act of praying. The act is the very same. But when we pray to God, we are blessed, while those who pray to be seen by people as righteous and devout believers are doomed hypocrites.

“Woe to those who pray, those who are unmindful of their prayers, who pray but to be seen”. Quran 107:4-6

Therefore we need to focus on and take care of our inner world, because it makes all the difference. Our inner world is formed of beliefs and feelings, of images and memories, of hopes, wishes, expectations, fears, etc. All those things are the elements of this inner world which we need to pay attention to and adapt to the teachings of Islam. We need to be Muslims, to fully submit to our Creator, from the inside out. We can’t fully do that until we take control of our inner life.

Please keep that in mind while I am telling you what the Law of Attraction is. It’s very simple: you attract what you think of, you get what you expect. This is the secret. This is why some people are so successful and others aren’t. And indeed this is so clearly stated throughout the Quran, the teachings and the example of the Prophet.

According to the Law of Attraction, if you’re pessimistic, bad things will happen to you. If you do everything in a spirit of fear and despair, you won’t get any positive results.

So what’s our religion say about that? The prophet mentioned that God says: “I give what my servant is expecting from me.” There is the whole Law of Attraction! It explains the real force behind this law. It’s not the universe that gives you what you expect, it’s a divine law. If you have hope in God, if you are certain that He will give you what’s good, then this is what He indeed will give you. But if you don’t, it’s like you’re saying to Him: I don’t trust You. God is the Generous, if you don’t have hope in His bounties, it only means that you don’t even believe He is really Generous. Do you realize how serious this is?! Now consider all of God’s names and attributes, He is the Forgiving, The Giver, The Provider, The Light, the Generous, the Merciful, The Opener, The Just, the Patient, the Thankful, the Loving, the Enricher, the Guide. Think that, if you fear poverty, you don’t believe He is really the Enricher, the Generous and the Provider. If you fear that your efforts will be fruitless, you don’t believe that He is the Opener and the Grateful, He opens doors and opportunities for you and He rewards you for every good you do,

“We don’t waste the reward of those who do good” Quran 18:30

If you fear injustice, you forget that He is the Just. If you are confused and you don’t think you’ll find your way, you forget that He is the Guide.

Remember that the reason to mention all that is to prove that a Muslim should be positive and focus on the positive; it’s how we Muslims should build our mind and our inner world.

Consider this beautiful verse from surat Al-Baqara:

“Satan promises you poverty and encourages evil doing, and God promises you forgiveness from Him and abundance” Quran 2:268

Did you read that? Poverty is the promise of Satan, while forgiveness and abundance are God’s promise. Which promise are we to believe!?

Remember that poverty is not only lack of money, which is only a manifestation; poverty is first of all a state of mind. Those who live in this state of mind are following and believing Satan instead of God. The poverty state of mind is what leads to being a miser. One can be poor while having tons of money, whereas those who truly believe in God don’t hesitate to give, even if they are not so rich; it’s because they don’t have this poverty state of mind. That also explains why the Prophet used to give so much that his companions said he used to give in the manner of a person who fears no poverty; this is the example of the Prophet who wasn’t really rich as we know.

Let’s also look at some other indications of this Law of Optimism in Islam. The Prophet says “Ask God with firm conviction that He will answer your prayer.” Now imagine the state of mind of a person believing this saying of the Prophet. Imagine that you pray to God and ask Him for good and Halal things, then you go about in life certain that God’s mercy and generosity will give you what you wish. Imagine how much power this will give you, how much enthusiasm and how much hope! It’s true that God will not answer your prayer on the spot, not immediately, but you know He will, and your worries disappear.

Imagine that you have a problem, then you get to meet the President himself and he gives you good promises, how would you be feeling when you leave him? Wouldn’t you be happy and hopeful and full of energy? Well it shouldn’t be any less when you pray to God and ask Him for something too!

I’d also like to share with you a thought about an interesting verse in surat Al-Israa (chapter 11) where God says:

“Man prays for evil just as he prays for good; and Man is ever hasty.”

This verse truly caught my attention, do we humans ask for evil or bad things the way we ask and pray for good things? I think this verse confirms the same idea of the Law of Attraction. I see prayer here as meaning expectation: when you expect the bad, when you are pessimistic, it’s like you’re asking for it. The verse also links this attitude of asking for the bad to being hasty, notice that pessimism is usually connected to impatience as well; a pessimist loses hope as soon as he is challenged, whereas hope can’t be there without patience, because you don’t really expect the good to happen overnight. Reasonable and hopeful people realize that, so they are not hasty and impatient to have what they want.

We also know of the story of a very difficult time that the Prophet and his companions faced, during the battle of the Trench, when Muslims were in Medina expecting a huge coalition of armies coming to attack them. They were outnumbered and by no means were they in a position to defend themselves. The companion Salman Al-Faresi suggested the idea of building a trench around the city. They left their wives and children back in the city and instructed them to remain in their homes and defend themselves if the men get defeated and killed. A very hard time!

Now look at something very interesting and powerful that the Prophet did. While he was hitting a stone, he saw something in the sparks, and he told his companions that they would indeed conquer the great powers of their time, like Persia. This sounded like a huge impossibility. But think of what it did, it created high expectations and high hope in the spirit of those fighters, because they believed that their Prophet would never lie. They needed this hope to keep them moving and trying. This is a very practical indication of how the Prophet actually used the Law of Attraction, of hope and good expectation in order to raise the spirits and inspire power in his followers’ hearts. Eventually his predictions happened after his death, but just think of the attitude of those who listened and firmly believed him, they continued their lives and work confident that they will move from a state of weakness to a state of power.

I will conclude with another beautiful example of how believers keep their hope and optimism. In the story of the Prophet Jacob, in surat Yusuf, we learn how Jacob lost his most beloved son Joseph when he was a kid. Yusuf/Joseph must have been away from his father for at least 20 years, if not 25 or even 30 years. But then what happens when Jacob, after all those years, now that he was even an older man, and he loses yet his second beloved son, Joseph’s brother? Listen to what he says to his other sons as a response to the new and terrible news of losing the second son:

“Oh Sons, go and enquire about Joseph and his brother, and never give up hope in Allah’s mercy, truly none despairs of Allah’s spirit except those who have no faith.” Quran 12:87

In this verse lies the whole story of optimism in Islam. You can hope for the seemingly impossible, but then you’ll have to work for it. In this verse, Jacob asks his sons to go and search, with hope in God’s mercy, even though it seems so unreal to search for Joseph after all those years or decades, but this is the hope of the true believers. And it comes with active action.

Hope induces action and productivity, while pessimism leads to inaction. We need to focus on that from the inside out, we need to train ourselves to have permanent, unfailing hope in God’s mercy and bounty, a hope that will keep us active and working for the good of ourselves and of Mankind, so that we can perform the duty of Man as a deputy and agent of God on earth.

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Music with no instruments

Modern Muslims didn’t meet Muhammad, nor did modern Christians meet Jesus Christ. You can go on and mention all followers of all old religions and beliefs. There is no way to meet Jesus and ask him whether he was divine (according to Christian belief) or just a human messenger from God (according to Muslim belief). Prophets and messengers came with miracles that only those who have seen them could witness. Those miracles are useless as a proof for all of us who were not there. And there comes the meaning of what Islamic scholars say: the only forever valid miracle of Islam and of Muhammad is the Book; the Quran.

Today I will not go into any details other than an artistic one. I love music. But if you go into any mosque (place of worship of Muslims) you will not find any musical instrument, and you will never find one in the near or the far future. In a mosque, we can get our music from the recitation of the Quran. See the video below as an example of the music of the Quran. The language of the Book is so unique and special, and it’s very common among Muslims to see people who memorize the whole Quran by heart since a very young age. It is certainly the only book of its size that is known by heart by millions all over the world. This is explained in the Quran itself, where God says that He made it easy to be read and recited. Beauty makes things easier and more accessible. I myself see any truth as inseparable from being beautiful!

“And certainly We have made the Quran easy for remembrance, but is there anyone who will mind?”
Quran, 54:17


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