Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bismillah ~ In the Name of Allah ~ On Behalf of Allah

Bismillah - Arabic calligraphy - mixed media - Sadiq M. Alam

And know that all of Allāh’s secrets are in the heavenly books, and all of the secrets of the heavenly books are in the Qur’ān. And all of which is in the Qur’ān is in al-Fātiḥah, and all of which is in al-Fātiḥah is in bismillah.. and if you probe further you may come to know that all of that is further contained within the tiny dot below the ba (the first letter of bismillah)
~ Traditional Sufi Saying

The above statement is an allusion to the holographic nature of the universe and reality as well where the part contains the whole and there is no separation, for reality is one. Quran is also a holographic text that must be studied with system meaning.

In a holographic universe information about every part is enfolded into every other part. In other words, at bottom the universe is undivided, indeed indivisible. If we use the word “atom” in its original sense (a- no, tom parts), the universe is the only true atom. 

Remember how Christ in his wisdom teaching compared the infinite kingdom of God with a tiny mustard seed? Thats also for the same allusion. Ahad or Oneness is what It really Is. Qul Huwa Allahu Ahad!

BismilLlah, BismiLlah, BismiLlah
BismiLLahir Rahmanir Rahim
Mawla tu Rahim
Mawla tu Karim

In Allah's Name, With Allah's Name, In Allah's Name
With the Name of the Essence Who is Universally Merciful, Exclusively Entangled Mercy
Lord You are the Exclusive Lover
Lord You are the Most Generous Giver

Barqaton ka peghaam mile
Kehne se 'la illah illallah'
Rehmaton ka salaam mile
Bas kehne se 'Bismillah'

Blessings descend upon us
on our utterance of la ilaha illaLlah
Salutation of grace saturates us
just by saying bismiLlah

Tere naam se shuru hua
Tere naam pe khatam lillah
Bismillah Bismillah Bismillah

With Your blessed Name is our beginning,
With Your blessed Name is our end, for You O Allah,
With Your Name O Allah, By Your Name O Allah, For You O Allah
On behalf of You Allah

Mushqile aasaan hui, saari aafat tal gayi
Oh Allah, Allah, Allah!
Nemate naazil hui 
marti khwahish pal gayi

Difficulties transform into ease, all troubles disappear
Oh Allah, Allah, Allah
Divine gifts befall us,
dead wishes come alive

Teri mil jaye panaah
mere kehne se bas Bismillah
Bismillah Bismillah Bismillah

Your salvation is received,
by me just saying Your blessed Name, Bismillah
With Your Name O Allah, By Your Name O Allah, For You O Allah
On behalf of You Allah

Kuch hidaayat kuch karam
Kuch inaayat kuch reham
Oh Allah... Allah
Kuch hidaayat kuch karam
Kuch inaayat kuch reham

Please send us guidance and grace,
mercy and compassion,
Oh Allah... Allah
Some guidance and some grace,
Some mercy and some compassion

Thodi hain farmaaishein jo ho zaraa gunjaaishein
Naa koi majboor ho barsa de jo tu noor toh
Iss lifaafe pe likha
Iss lifaafe pe likha hai dil se maine Bismillah
Bismillah Bismillah Bismillah .......

These few requests I have, more like enquiries,
When Your Nur (Divine Effulgence) rains down none is helpless
So I wrote on this envelope,
With my heart I wrote on this envelope, Oh Allah,
With Your Name O Allah, By Your Name O Allah, For You O Allah
 In Your blessed Name O Allah

Tere naam se shuru hua
Tere naam pe khatam lillah
Bismillah Bismillah Bismillah...

With Your blessed Name is our beginning,
With Your blessed Name is our end
With Your Name O Allah, By Your Name O Allah, For You O Allah
On behalf of You Allah

~ Original Lyrics by Irfan Siddiqui, retranslation in English by Sadiq M. Alam 

+ You may listen to this beautiful song and composition via Youtube here

A gnostic said: The letter ba' [of the bismilllah] is the glory of God (baha' allah), the sin ("s"), is the splendor of God (sana' allah), and the mim ("m") is the sovereignty of God, mulk Allah). Allah is the God of all things.

The bismillah is also considered a prayer in its own right, a source of divine knowledge and healing. It is said to contain, in addition to all the knowledge in the Qur'an itself, all the knowledge of the previous scriptures. It has been seen as a means of salvation and protection.


Beyond the Common Meaning

The common translation for bismillah is "In the name of Allah", which is actually an idiom, an expression that really doesn't make much sense on a literal word-by-word basis.

The phrase In the name of  is an idiom having the connotation of  with the blessings of, under the governance of, as an instrument of, in devotion to, in adoration of, on behalf of, with the support of, or for the glory of. In each of these cases, the idiom In the name of indicates that one is submitting to, honoring or glorifying that which is referred to.

Now, let's take a deeper look into the Arabic roots of this magnificent word bismillah.

The term bismillah, is a combination of three words:

* The particle bi  which can mean by, for, with the aid of, through or by means of and points toward that which happens next.

* The next word in this phrase is ism, based on the root variously reported to be s-m-w or a-s-m, which indicates the means by which something is distinguished, whether by use of an identifying mark, or by being raised up high so that it may be distinguished, and would include  a name, reputation, light or vibration, and points toward the very essence of something, the inherent qualities and signs of the existence of something, the underlying reality of something.

* The ending of the term is the word Allah, which is the Arabic name of the One. The Semitic roots of the word Allah extend back several thousand years to the Canaanite Elat, Hebrew El and Elohim, and Aramaic Alaha. These roots point toward unity, oneness, the eternal power which includes all of existence and of non-existence. (credit)


A Secret of Bismillah

It is Divine Will that the Supreme Creator willed that It/ He / She is to place Man as It's / His /Her representative/ khalifah / vicegerent / deputy on earth. Allah says to Man, "O human being I have created everything in the universe for you, and have created you for Myself." Allah honored the children of Adam for they are chosen as guardian of divine trust, they are His / Her representative on earth.

We who are blessed to be the khalifa of Allah on earth, whatever action we carry out, we carry out on His/ Her behalf. This consciousness is contained within the kalima, the sacred formula "Bismillah." The gnostic meaning of bismillah means, On Behalf of Allah. We are engaging, doing, carrying out this action on behalf of Allah, as Allah's deputy.

Allah is the Hearing, Allah is the Seeing. Real Hearing and Real Seeing and like that for all action, the Real Doer is always the Supreme Creator. We are honored to be able to participate that by the bestowal of Allah. We say, indeed we are His and to Him is the ultimate return of everything, be it our soul, our actions, the intentions, energy of our thoughts, everything - for they were never ours, they were a trust given to us and all trust must be returned to its rightful owner and Who else is the Real Owner of all but the Supremely Sovereign King? Huwa al-Warith. He is the Ultimate Inheritor of all. All that is in the earth and in heaven belongs to Allah and to Allah alone.

So a more accurate meaning, a more gnostic meaning of Bismillah is "On behalf of Allah","For Allah." May whatever we do, we are given the capacity to do it on behalf of Allah, in harmony of the Divine Will, for all enabling comes from Allah. Indeed our living, our dying, our prayer and our sacrifice all are for Allah. Bismillah!

Sadiq M. Alam / BUET Campus / Dhaka, Bangladesh

# Further:
* Detail meanings of Bismillah
* Secret of the Name and the Named One
* Sohbet and Bismillah by Shaykh Nazim
* Secrets to the Key of Paradise and Bismillah
* Bismillah MashaAllah
* Quran as a Holographic Text

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Study Theme for Humans who Aspire to be Awake



~ Idries Shah

A certain sufi teacher was asked, “If you were to give a number of study themes to the people present, which ones would you stress?”

Following were his answers in brief and bold. The texts in italic are commentaries by this author.

1. All approaches to a study or an individual may start with a desire for attention. However they start, they must never end up in this manner. 

Desire for attention of others is a pervasive, very hard to eradicate disease of nafs or the lower self. Thus even the apparent engagement of spiritual study, religious quest, to be associated with a pious and spiritual person or to be included in a spiritual circle, one need to be vigilant so that one does not fall in this trap of desiring attention upon the self. This tendency can be super subtle, almost invisible and very very hard for the individual to detect and it may disguise itself in the worst possible manner, camouflaging itself inside the apparently most noble cause or relatively unreal intention.

2. Study the assumptions behind your actions. Then study the assumptions behind your assumptions.

The reality of all actions are measured or evaluated by the intention behind that action. Most human beings are not that conscious enough to engage in action with intentions. Our actions are mostly unconscious because we are people who are far from being awake. So one good practice is to contemplate and probe into the assumptions behind the actions, even if we are well inside the action, for example we have started a new profession or have engaged in a study of a subject. If we probe sincerely and find out the assumptions, we may still have chances to correct our intentions, adjust our courses or make better intentions.

3. 'Why did I do such-and-such a thing?' is all very well. But what about 'How otherwise could I have done it?'

This is connected to the above points. The “Why..” question is the checking of the exact intention or intentions behind action and the “How otherwise..” question is to seek a better course and guidance to improve upon the assumptions and intentions. There are always room for improvement and the potentiality to better ourselves and our actions never cease to exist. Those who try, Allah helps them and literally the entire Universe conspire by the permission of the Lord of the Universes to reach that person to a better destination.

4. You have come a long way, and you do not know it. You have a long way to go, and you do know what that means.

This is self explanatory and only reconfirms the truth that the potentiality to better ourselves and our sanctions never become zero. That potentiality exists as long as we have our last breath still left.

5. In respect to some, you may have advanced. In relation to others, you have not progressed at all. Neither observation is more important than the other.

''He who knows himself knows his Lord", transmitted the Messenger. So knowing ourself is of paramount importance and its worth investigating in which areas we have advanced (if we really have over last 5 years or 10 years or 20 years) and in which areas we haven’t progressed at all (for example our bad habits, our anger, the way we speak when we are upset etc., our concentration in our prayers). To do so one must observe these aspects of the self. This is muhasiban nafs, accounting of the self.

6. If your desire for 'good' is based on greed, it is not good, but greed.

7. Exercise power by means of kindness, and you may be causing more damage than you could by cruelty. Neither approach is correct.

Equity and Justice is the keyword here, not kindness or weakness as that it may translate to or cruelty which again is of course a wrong approach.

8. The man who knows must discharge a function. The one who does not, cannot arrogate one to himself; he can only try to do so.

Everything has a right in this universe, including knowing of higher order. One who become a knower of God, at some point in time he or she will be moved to share that knowing with others. Allah does everything with a medium. Human heart is the best medium for imparting knowledge and gnosis and thus sacred knowledge of highest degree transmits from heart to heart.

9. Do not try to be humble: learn humility.

So true. 'The trying to be humble' ones suffer from a disease called self righteousness, may Allah save us from such calamity. We can never finish our learning of humility and some of the best places to be learn such humility is the study of the Life of Messengers of Allah, life of his holy family members, and his blessed companions. After that the next best arena to learn humility is the lives of the Awliya Allah (saints and friends of God). This learning is best complemented by finding someone who follow the spirit of Submissin, one who has mastered harmonious surrender (Islam) and who is a follower of the way of the Messenger, not just the outer aspects of it but as well as the inner.

10. Assume that you are part-hypocrite and part heedless, and you will not be far wrong.

This is an excellent wisdom. We have the tendencies of hypocrisy as we’ll as heedlessness in varying degree. In fact people in this last age are far more hypocrite and heedless than any other time in human history, but they are equally unaware of it. None of us are immune from such hypocrisy and heedlessness and our state of affairs are precisely so miserable because of this. The earlier we admin and acknowledge our hypocrisy and heedlessness, the better chance we have to be more conscious and knowingly avoid them.

11. To copy a virtue in another is more copying than it is virtue. Try to learn what that virtue is based upon.

The inner meanings of virtues, for example the real Sunnah or Way of the Messenger needs to be understood, reflected, internalized and practiced; rather than imitating the outward clothes, appearances and so on and so forth.

12. No practice exists in isolation.

Community and companionship must not be neglected.When migratory birds fly for hundreds of miles, they form such a formation where the birds in front give more energy and the vaccum created by their wings help the birds at the back to take rest and they change positions over time, helps each other to rest and travel together. Likewise there are mutual helping when spiritual journey is taken together in shared companionship and fellowship, the down periods of mind, heart and spirit of individual is protected and taken cared of by others in the group.

13. If you seek a teacher, try to become a real student. If you want to be a student, try to find a real teacher.

This is a real wisdom for those seekers who are impatient in finding a teacher or have found one but have been refused for the time being to be accepted as a student.

14. The more often you do a thing, the more likely you are to do it again. There is no certainty that you will gain anything else from repetition than a likelihood of further repetition.

When we are engaged in an action or practice which is repetitive in nature its important to not get caught with just the habit of it. If we refocus and reeducate and remind ourselves the significance and real reason of those practices only then we may avoid being caught in the pattern of repetition that fail to provide nourishment.

15. At first, you are not worthy of the robes and implements of the Sufi. Later you do not need them. Finally, you may need them for the sake of others.

This is a great hint for those who has the intelligence to understand. It encompass guarding against arrogance and vain pride and to replace that with humility, spiritual independence which is free from showiness and pretension and finally its about service to creation (haqqul makhlukat).

16. If you cannot laugh frequently and genuinely, you have no soul.

Humor is a sign of intelligence and one needs to develop a genuine sense of humor which again is a fruit of enlightenment.

17. When a belief becomes more than an instrument, you are lost. You remain lost until you learn what 'belief is really for.

We are reminded in the Scripture not to go overboard with religion or do excess in it. Even God doesnt care about belief that has no sincerity, fossilized rituals and fake religiosity.

18. When a dervish shows interest in your material welfare, you may be pleased. But it is frequently because you are not yet ready for anything else.

19. When someone asks for you to help in doing something, do you imagine that it is because he cannot do it unaided? Perhaps he is a Sufi who wants to help you by connecting you with his task.

Do you recognize the shift in focus away from the self? Thats what this Path is all about.

20. If you are lazy, count yourself lucky if someone points this out, giving you a chance to improve. Laziness is always your fault. It is the sign that a man has persevered in uselessness for too long.

Time is short. Our time in this world is extremely short, while awaits for us the unending afterlife in our Real Home, the Garden, the Paradise of Bliss. When we reach at the final breath our life may look like as if we have picked up a glass of water and have just finished taking a sip from it and have hardly put it down and its over. Yes that long this life may seem and yes thats how fast this life vanishes from us. So lets seek refuge to the Lord of Refuge from every laziness, from every moment which we have not used to remember the Real, hence have missed the opportunity to be more awake. "Allah there is no god but He alone Is. Ever Living, Peerless. He is Ever Awake (La ta'khudhuhu sinatun wa la nawm)."

These points are in fact exercises in outwitting the false self, which thrives on smaller satisfactions. The Sufi aims at Fana (passing away - of the Faise Self) and Baqa (remaining - of the Real).

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Friday, August 08, 2014

Story of a Reluctant Healer

There was a woman who had a son who became blind at an early age. The sorrow of the mother was very profound because her son could not see the colors of flowers, nor the play of clouds against blue sky, nor could play joyfully like how other children played. The heart of the mother was filled with sorrow. One day she heard of a saintly man who had miraculously healed many people.

So one day with great hope the woman brought her blind son to the saintly servant of Allah, who was known as Khawaja Ahmad Jam. About him it was popularly known that he was someone whose supplications would be accepted (mustajab al-d’awah) by Allah. On reaching the humble abode of the saint the mother requested that the saint wipes his hand over her son’s face so he may be cured.

It is said by the Messenger as a way of metaphor that the heart of man is within the fingers of the Merciful. "There is no heart except it is between the two fingers of the Merciful." So the condition and state of heart actually fluctuates over time, over period, over life time.

So when the mother requested the saint at that time the state of servitude (‘ubudiyyah) had overcome him and so, with much humbleness, he said, ‘I do not have the ability.’

The woman insisted and Khawaja Ahmad Jam answered the same. The exchange continued three to four times and when he saw that the woman was not accepting what he was saying, he stood up saying, ‘This work is that of Sayyiduna ‘Isa (Jesus Christ) he would cure the blind and the lepers. As to me, I don’t have the ability.’

The shaykh had only walked a little when it was revealed to him through inspiration (ilham):
‘Who are you? Who is ‘Isa (Jesus) and who is Musa (Moses)? Turn around and wipe your hand over his face. You are not able to cure and nor is ‘Isa. It is We, the Divine Authority Who do it (mami kunyam).’ 

On hearing this, Khawaja Ahmad Jam turned around and saying mami kunyam, mami kunyam wiped his hands over the boy’s face and he was cured by the Grace of God.

After narrating this story, one of the knower of Allah said, “Foolish people may think that he is saying mami kunyam from himself. This is not, however, his speech, is but the speech of the Almighty. When one hears a beautiful poem, then one repeats it and takes pleasure from it. Likewise, he was repeating the Almighty’s word mami kunyam on account of the pleasure of that ilham.”

On this subject great scholar Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi writes: “Regarding his saying, ‘But the speech of the Almighty…’ I say that this is the best interpretation of Mansur al-Hallaj’s saying, ‘I am the truth (ana al-haqq).’”


All day I think about it,
then at night I say it.

Where did I come from,
and what am I supposed to be doing?

I have no idea.

My soul is from elsewhere,
I'm sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness
began in some other tavern.

When I get back around
to that place,
I'll be completely sober.

Meanwhile, I'm like a bird
from another continent,
sitting in this aviary.

The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear
who hears my voice?

Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes?

What is the soul?

I cannot stop asking.

If I could taste
one sip of an answer,
I could break out
of this prison for drunks.

I didn't come here of my own accord,
and I can't leave that way.

Whoever brought me here
will have to take me home.

This poetry,

I never know
what I'm going to say.

I don't plan it.

When I'm outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet
and rarely speak at all.

- Jelal'uddin Rumi - 13th century Sufi mystic and poet
From The Essential Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks

Listen to this Beautiful Poem recited by Coleman Barks himself 

# Related on the Subject of Healing:
* Spiritual Energy Healing in the Sufi Way
* Spiritual Healing in Islamic Sufi Tradition
* Ephphatha | Healing of Christ and Sufi Invocation
* To heal is to become one with the Deep Love of God | from a conversation with Dr. Ibrahim Jaffe
* Abdul Hamid Khan | Tribute to a Silent Sufi Dervish & Healer
* University of Spiritual Healing & Sufism

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Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Two Poems on Beauty and a Prayer my Heart often Sings to the Most Beauteous One


The true nature of your Beloved.
In His loving eyes your every thought,
Word and movement is always -
Always Beautiful.

Hafiz Daniel Ladinsky, A Year with Hafiz: Daily Contemplations


We are the guardians of His Beauty.

We are the protectors
Of the Sun.

There is only one reason
We have followed God into this world:

To encourage laughter, freedom, dance
And love.

Every man, plant and creature in Existence,
Every woman, child, vein and note
Is a servant of our Beloved -

A harbinger of joy,
The harbinger of

We are the companions of His Beauty.
We are the guardians
Of Truth.

Hafiz Daniel Ladinsky, The Subject Tonight is Love


In the Beautiful Names of the Most Beauteous One

O You Who is Beauty Itself and You Who Love all that is beautiful

Please make my thoughts beautiful
Please make my speech beautiful
Please make my actions beautiful

Please make my interaction with others beautiful
Please make both my inside and outside beautiful

Please make my living and dying beautiful

My Beloved You are the Most Beautiful

Please saturate me with Your beauteous Beauty that has no end

By the most beautiful human being who is the locus of Your Beauty -
Your beautiful Habib *

Please accept this prayer O Beloved. +

Sadiq M. Alam

* Habib in Arabic means beloved and by it is meant Muhammad Mustafa, may Divine benedictions be upon his noble soul

+ Its recommended to make this above mentioned supplication prayer in Sujud or in State of Prostration with eyes focused on the place of prostration (for single mindedness) or you may keep your eyes closed. While you prostrate, you assume the posture of an unborn child within your mother's protective womb. The arabic word for womb has the same root (R H M) for the two divine attributes, Rahman and Rahim. When we are in prostration, we are as if again finding ourselves within the Presence of Rahman and Rahim. Calling upon the Beauty, like the unborn, we're waiting to be born again for the sake of the Beauty waiting for us. Innalillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun. Indeed we are Allah's and to Allah is the return (and rebirth).

ultrasound image of unborn within the mother's womb - similar posture as sujud or prostration

wasjud waqtarib - prostrate and draw (yourself) near to the Beloved
(The Quran 96:19)

In this supplication, the Prophet Muhammad is mentioned (as Habib), but if you have another Divine Guide who appear to your heart as the locus of Divine Beauty, according to your spiritual tradition, for example: Krishna or Jesus you may mention and remember that particular beautiful being. Such beings are testimony to what is humanly possible in the task of reflecting the Divine Beauty as human beings as they are a link to reach divine threshold. A true faithful makes no distinction between any of the Divine Guides, peace be upon them all (Quran 2:136, 2:185, 3:84, 4:152). Those sweet human beings are like the face of the gentle moon reflecting back to us the light of the Awesome Sun.

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Sunday, August 03, 2014

On the Subject of Beauty: A Sufic Perspective

In the Blessed Name of the Infinitely Merciful, Supremely Loving

Beauty…It bedazzles the eye, bewilders the mind, captivates, and, regardless of one’s beliefs, culture, or education, instantly raptures us to a world of its own. Beauty ravishes the heart, silences the mind, summons the soul itself into total surrender. It has always done so, throughout the ages, as if the shadow of Time. Like a magnetic force, Beauty subjects everything within its field to its effect, possessing faster than magic, waiving precautions and obstacles, erasing any and all resistance. Beauty commands, simply, without a word, through mere Presence, with a Majesty that eclipses that of the most powerful king.

To the question that imposes itself: “Why is Beauty to have such an overwhelming effect?” we propose the following answer: Beauty is Divine Articulation in the palpable realms, Divine Presence Manifested in Divine Language. Beauty is the Language of Divine Self Disclosure. Its words are tajalliyat, “unveilings” disseminated onto the mirror of the worlds; its intonation is Tajweed, uttered by the Pure Light of Meem (SAWS), everywhere Meem (SAWS) flows; its punctuation is the soul. Shining Its Own Light and projected through Light, Beauty infuses its meanings in us, requiring neither attention nor intellect, owning, through Light, not only the fields it reveals but the very vision that perceives them as well. The receptor for Beauty is the soul, the Eye of the individual (as opposed to his eye), and the reason for the overwhelming effect of Beauty is that the soul, having witnessed The Face of Divine Beauty in Qidam, recognizes The King in His relative phenomenal mirror image, and bows instantly and without reserve.

The Majesty and Beauty

As poetic as it might seem, this indeed is but a logical rationale of Beauty, one that imposes itself upon a throughout study of ahadiths, and of the huruf and abjad of “Jamal”, the word for “Beauty” in Arabic. We will below, Insha’AllaH, and to the extent that AllaH Wills, expound this.

AllaHu Jamilun, Yuhibbu Al Jamal”, once said our Beloved Prophet (SAWS), (AllaH is Beautiful, and He Loves Beauty), confirming that Beauty is an Attribute of The Divine. In fact, in Islam, not only is Beauty a Divine Attribute, but it is a most prominent one, for a full category of Names fall under its heading. AllaH’s Attributes are traditionally classified into three main categories: the first category consists of the Essential Names, those Names that refer to the Singular Essence of AllaH, and belong only to Him, such as Al Ahad, Al Wahid, Al Samad, Al Nur,… The second category consists of the Names that reflect AllaH’s Majesty, His Jalal. And the third category includes the Names that reflect His Beauty, or Jamal.

The Attributes of Jalal (Majesty) and Jamal (Beauty) have always been heavily contrasted, for a priori they do appear quite antagonistic. Majesty is an “exclusive” Attribute, in that it belongs exclusively to AllaH, with no analogy in Creation. Transcendent, Majesty involves Sovereignty, Eternity and Infinity, and can never be witnessed by man, whose nature is transient and limited. Hence, when AllaH unveiled His Majesty to Prophet Musa or Moses, Moses (as) lost consciousness, and when He (SWT) unveiled His Majesty to the mountain, the latter crumbled and vanished.

“If I disclosed the splendors of My Majesty, I would burn up everything as far as My Eye can see.”

Majesty is an Attribute that exists only in Absolute, Divine Form, and can only be witnessed with Divine Eye. As such, it separates and distinguishes AllaH from His Creation. Shaykh Al Akbar (ra) actually pushed this idea even further by advancing that Majesty is such an alien concept to man that when one thinks of the Attribute of Majesty, it is in truth the Majesty of Beauty that one is evoking, for the Reality of Majesty can never be approached by the human mind. Beauty, on the other hand, is an Attribute that AllaH has generously disseminated in His Creation, through His Light That flows the worlds (SAWS). Beauty, thus, is an “inclusive” Attribute, one that is common to both Divine and human realms, one that helps us relate to God and witness Him. And yet, as remote as they initially appear, the Attributes of Majesty and Beauty can never be totally dissociated, they in fact complement rather than oppose one another: Beauty is The Face of Majesty, its Zahir, and Majesty is the inner reality (Batin) of Beauty. Hence Beauty has its own “majesty”, and Majesty unveils as Beauty.

We will recall that when AllaH desired to be known, AllaH Manifested from His Most Mysterious State, Ghayb Al Ghayb Al Mutlaq bila Ta’ayun, symbolized by the Arabic Letter Alif, as a Light, and That Light He SWT called The Praised Light, Blessed Nur Muhammad (SAWS). “I created Muhammad from the Light of My Countenance”, says the hadith, or, in another version, “from the Light of My Beauty”. Taken literally, these words infer that AllaH’s Beauty and Countenance are one and the same, and that His Beauty has a Light of Its Own, a Light That Was even before AllaH Manifested Himself as Light. The Quran describes this Light as “a Niche in Which there is a Lamp” (24:35), the Niche of Ahadiyya from Which Flows the Light of Nur MuHaMMaD (SAWS). Beauty thus existed long before the worlds came into existence. It existed as the Inherent Radiance of The Essence. With the onset of Creation, The Divine Presence became perceived by the “outside”, and became The Face of Divine Countenance. Regardless, Beauty always indicates Divine Presence, both in manifested and un-manifested realms.

Arabic Letter "Meem"
AllaH Created Nur Muhammad (SAWS) from the Light of His Beauty, and, from the Light of Muhammad (SAWS), everything in existence was then created. Beauty and Light are thus inseparable. Not only Beauty is carried everywhere by Light, but Light is an intrinsic part of Beauty. Since everything was created from Nur Muhammad (SAWS), the Light That carries Beauty is the Light of Meem (SAWS). At times, this Light veils Beauty from us, and at other times, It instead unveils Beauty to us. Incidentally, the Quran gives The Prophet (SAWS) the epithet of “Burhan”, or “Proof”, because nothing testifies to The Presence of AllaH as much as Nur MuHaMMaD (SAWS). Yet, by the very effulgence of Its Unspeakable Brightness, Nur Muhammad (SAWS) also blinds eye, heart and mind from the direct contemplation of AllaH, and thus acts as The Greatest Veil of Majesty. This effect is of course purely out of Mercy, but confirms that Light can both veil and unveil at the same time.

Sufis have always realized that The Prophet (SAWS) is The Only One to have been in Direct (Divine) Presence, and the Only One to have Witnessed AllaH directly, or, as they say, The Only One in “Direct Presence and Witnessing”. But, to be in “Direct Presence and Witnessing”, to see AllaH without any veil, as indeed The Prophet (SAWS) reported He (SAWS) did during His Mi’raj, involves, by common sense, witnessing both AllaH’s Beauty and His Majesty, and bestows on The Prophet (SAWS) a Divine Eye most deny Him (SAWS) today.

Given the widespread presence of Beauty in the Universe and its heading of a full group of Attributes, one would expect the Name “Al Jamil” (The Beautiful) to hold its place in the usual compilation of the “99 Names” of AllaH. But instead, and quite surprisingly, one finds that it is not included in the list. This compilation was given to us by The Beloved of AllaH (SAWS), and, while it does not claim to include all of Allah’s Names, the omission of “Al Jamil” is nonetheless baffling, especially that “Al Jalil” (The Majestic), the Name that heads the Attributes of Majesty, is well present in the list. Only a deep understanding of the Reality of Beauty can explain such an absence.

Wheresoever you turn in pure, undisturbed nature, you will encounter the Face of Beauty

Beauty is the Language of Divine Self Disclosure

Truth is, as the hadith above hinted to, Beauty is not only an Attribute, but rather, it is the Face of Divine Countenance, the Countenance through Which AllaH discloses Himself, Essence and Attributes, to us. Beauty is thus the Language of Divine Self Disclosure. Being Divine Language, Beauty does not use words as its verbiage, for words are human, they can only relay relative human meanings, but fail to encompass Absolute Divine meanings. Hence, in the phenomenal worlds, Beauty expresses itself through “signs” or “ayats”, and, at the level of Essences, it expresses itself through the substrates of the Divine Names, the “A’yan”. Therefore Beauty needs not be individually spelled out as a Name by itself, for, being the very language in which all Names are expressed, it is an Attribute latent in all Names. Indeed, all of AllaH’s Attributes are Beautiful, all of His Names exhibit Beauty within (asma ul husna). Consequently, the Attribute “Al Jamil” is implied in all Names, not only the Names of Jamal and Jalal, but Names of the Essence as well. The fact that it is latent in the Names of Majesty clarifies how, when one thinks of Majesty, it is in fact the Beauty of Majesty that one is evoking. The fact that it is latent in all the Essential Names infers that Beauty is the Countenance of The Divine Essence.

Beauty, present within each Name, impacts its shade on all Names: in other words, Beauty partially veils each Name with its own radiance. Of course, the veil it impacts to each Name differs according to the specific Name. In some instances, this veil helps give coherence to an Attribute that by itself would not be accessible to the human mind, as with the Attribute of Majesty. By being the common foreground of all Names, Beauty also helps categorize AllaH’s Infinite Oneness into a number of Attributes that make His Infinite Oneness humanly conceivable. In reverse direction, it helps weave back all Attributes together into Divine Oneness. But always, regardless of its specific action, Beauty acts as a Veil: it is not only a partial veil for each Name, it is a Veil for Divine Oneness as a whole. It is a Veil of Oneness, or Tawhid. It is also a Veil of Wholeness, that of “Huwa AllaH”. Beauty is the Veil of Ahadiyya.

The Sura of Beauty

In this context, it is worth mentioning that the Quranic Sura that bears the name “Surat Al Tawhid or Al Ikhlas” at one time was also called “Surat Al Jamal”, or “The Sura of Beauty” (Tafsir Kabir of Razi). This is the Sura that was revealed when the Children of Israel or Jews asked The Prophet (SAWS) about the lineage of His Lord. It is a short Sura, consisting only of four ayats, but what ayats are these! They are ayats that unequivocally describe AllaH’s Sublime Oneness, at all levels of Existence: AllaH is Al AHaD in His Ahadiyya, Al Samad in All His Attributes, and, for human understanding, AllaH does not beget and is not begotten, and there is no one else with His Oneness. AllaH’s Oneness Encompasses all planes, and Transcends them all. It can never be expressed in words, and can only be witnessed through “Qul”. “Qul” is literally translated as “Say”, but its numerical value is 130, or 4, the same numerical value of Meem and Dal, and thus, beyond the simple meaning of “Say”, “Qul” also denotes a State of Total Encompassing of Essence and Attributes, the Locus of Convergence of Ahadiyyat Al Jam’ Al Ula.

Another subtle meaning of this Sura is thus: “AllaH’s Majesty is beyond expression and can never be directly witnessed by humans; but it can be witnessed through “Qul”, the direct Shuhud of Meem, as The One Source of all levels of Existence. This Source has no “lineage”, for to AllaH (Alone) belongs Al Wujud Al Dhati, but It Radiates a Light That Encompasses all manifestations, the Light of Wahdat Al Wujud (the Unity of Being). Hence Surat Al Tawhid ends with “And there is none else with His Oneness”. AllaH’s Presence begets everything in existence, infusing plurality with the Reality of Unity, granting everything life and meaning.

AllaH Encompasses everything, but can never be envisioned. This constitutional, total inability of all “created” beings, even Prophets, to directly envision the “Non Created” is symbolized in the Arabic language by the Letter “Lam”, a letter which, by itself, constitutes an absolute negation. Together, “Alif Lam” point to the Realm of Ahadiyya, Hahut and Lahut, that no human being ever can access.

Alif and Lam are also two letters often used as Muqatta’at. The Muqatta’at are those letters that appear at the beginning of a few suras of the Quran. For centuries, ulemas have wondered and disagreed about their meaning. The Muqatta’at involve 14 letters of the total 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet, and constitutes the “Divine Alphabet”. Some in fact consider “Alif Lam” as a letter by itself, a 29th letter for the Arabic Alphabet, and, incidentally, the Muqatta’at open 29 of the Quran chapters. Since these letters are Divine, they express both Divine and created, and multiple meanings are possible for their combinations, with the best meanings, always, being those disclosed by knowledge infusion in The Light of The Prophet (SAWS).

an Arabic Calligraphy Expressing Alif Lam Meem

In the context of our present discussion on Beauty, we would like to consider a potential relative meaning for one of the Muqatta’at, specifically the combination “Alif Lam Meem”, which opens six different suras of the Quran. While “Alif Lam Meem”, in its Absolute meaning, refers to the fact that only “Lam” (nothingness) separates Alif from Meem, it also emphasizes, just as it sounds, that the Divine can never be witnessed directly (Alif Lam), that It can only be witnessed through Meem, both in the Dzat of Meem (Meem) and through the Creation (Waw) Meem shines into Existence.

How then is It witnessed? Although there are many ways to witness AllaH, AllaH is spontaneously, instantly, involuntarily, irremediably and so naturally witnessed in any instance of Beauty, for Beauty is Divine Tajalli, all veils that veil us from AllaH Divinely removed, except for the Light of Meem, as the letters of the word “Jamal” indicates. Indeed, “Jamal” spells with 4 letters: Jeem-Meem-Alif-Lam.

However, if we consider Alif Lam as the 29th letter of the Arabic Alphabet, “Jamal” then consists of only three letters: Jeem – Meem – and Alif Lam. Should we contemplate the sequence of letters, we find that, read conventionally from right to left, in the “human” perspective, this sequence is “Jeem”, then “Meem”, then “Alif Lam”. But, read in the opposite direction, (as if before the mirrors of words), the sequence of letters becomes instead Alif Lam – Meem - Jeem. It then becomes obvious that the first two letters together, “Alif Lam - Meem”, echo one of the famed Muqatta’at of the Quran. Of course, coming from AllaH SWT, Who “taught Adam (as) all the names”, this is not a coincidence, but rather a Divine reminder that “Alif Lam” can never be witnessed directly, that, in spite of the overwhelming effect Beauty has on us, it is not AllaH’s Absolute Beauty that we are witnessing in any encounter with Beauty, but only a relative aspect of His Beauty projected by the Light of Meem onto the mirror of the worlds, and captured by “Jeem”, the last letter in the word “Jamal”.
And what is “Jeem”? “Jeem” has an Abjad value of 3, pointing to the “third” dimension in human beings: it represents the Soul, whose seat is the heart, the human mirror by excellence. Beauty thus is a sign, in Divine Language, from “Alif Lam” to “Jeem”, uttered in the Light of “Meem. Jeem acts as the “Eye” of the individual.

The Reality of Vision is thus quite different from the one traditionally taught in Medical School. Visual receptors, optic nerve, occipital and cerebral cortex are but physical milestones in the visual mechanism. The Reality of Vision, however, is a matter of Light that starts and completes in the heart, the seat of the soul, as Quranic Aya 22:46 explicitly clarifies: “For indeed, it is not the eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breasts”. Moreover, vision is veiled or unveiled, at Divine Will, by the Light of Meem (SAWS). As The One RuH from Wujud AllaH That Fathers all souls, at all times Meem (SAWS) has full power and priority over souls, and grants each soul the power to grasp what its physical receptors are perceiving, or veils it from grasping the meaning of its vision. This indeed is made explicit by another Quranic Aya, 33:6: “Al Nabi Awla bil mu’mineen min anfusihum”: The Prophet has priority over the souls of the believers).

Such a deep reality of vision happens to be the only mechanism that can explain how two persons with exactly the same physical “visual pathway” and the same “visual power” don’t automatically perceive the same beauty within one and the same object, as each perceives a Beauty specific and proportional to the light granted to their soul. This mechanism is also the only one to explain how the same one person does not always perceive the same Beauty within the same object, as “perception” is a matter of Light, and the Light of the soul can vary from day to day.

Arabic Letter "Waw"
Beauty thus is always inseparable from Meem (SAWS): in every instance of Beauty, there is the Presence of Meem (SAWS). While both the Dhat of Meem (SAWS) (Meem) and the creation Meem shines into existence (Waw) reflect Divine Beauty, there is however a deep difference in the Beauty they respectively expose, a difference well illustrated by the difference in their calligraphy. The two letters indeed start with the same Circle, which represents Infinity, but in Meem, the tail moves down in a straight vertical line, depicting that Meem flows Mirrorless Beauty from AllaH’s own Beauty, and Infuses the worlds with It as It brings them into Existence; while in , the tail curves as it descends, its concave side (or cave, or Core) going around the circle above, as if mirroring it, but not quite, incompletely: for Waw is made of a “substance” that is not Pure Essence and thereby is only a “relative” mirror for Divine Beauty.

As often happens with language, the complex reality of Beauty is expressed in English within a simple popular adage: “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder”. The Beholder is AllaH, Who beholds both our souls and their vision in His Gaze. The “Eye” is the soul, the “Jeem” of “Jamal”, the ray of Light from The Divine that enables us to “see”, according to the amount and shades of Light it is allowed to behold. AllaH being the Beholder, we see only through AllaH’s Light and Will. “Fear the sight of the Believer, says the hadith, for he sees with the Light of AllaH”. A believer sees not with his eyes, but with “Basirah”, the “Ba” of “Sirah”, the transparent soul purified from the clouds of the nafs and enabled to see through Light.

That the Soul is the Eye of the human being is best rendered in Arabic, the language AllaH chose to descend the Quran in, for in Arabic the word “eye” is “Ayn”, but “Ayn” is also the word for “Essence”, and is one of the fourteen letters of the Divine Alphabet.`

Will the Abjad of “Jamal” prove or refute what the study of the word Jamal have hinted to?

Jeem-Meem-Alif-Lam adds up to 3 + 40 +1 + 30 = 74, a number which can be reduced to 11. And what is 11? It is 1-1, the “mirror” number by excellence, where the Source (the first 1) is reflected in the mirror (the second 1). SubhanAllaH! “Jamal”, the word for “Beauty” in Arabic, read before the mirror of worlds, consists of the Muqatta’t “Alif Lam Meem” followed by the letter “Jeem”, and has an Abjad value of 11, the mirror number, secretly conveying that in the phenomenal world Beauty is the Mirror of Alif Lam, as projected by the Light of Meem and captured by “Jeem”. AllaH’s Signs hum their own tajwid, so humbling when perceived.

nature mirroring itself

There is no wonder then that Beauty has such a compelling effect on human beings, since, when faced with Beauty, they are witnessing Divine Countenance in Its phenomenal Mirror. Even in its relative, scaled to human perception image in the “mirror”, beauty still hints to the Absolute Divine Beauty the soul once witnessed in Qidam, and totally overwhelms us. By its nature of “Tajalli” (unveiling), all veils Divinely removed, Beauty is a vertical vector that dissolves all boundaries and transport us into Divine Presence. Beauty instantly lifts us from our phenomenal realm to the Realm of “Wahdat Al Wujud”, that of Light, and Light needs no word or understanding, Light simply penetrates, infuses, colors, shapes, owns, Light accomplishes by the power of “Kun” (Kaf-Nun). Although Light itself is one of the most potent veils of Majesty, the soul, itself made of Light, grasps The Majesty behind the “Light”, and unconditionally bows, whether one thinks he is a believer or not. Nothing proclaims AllaH’s Majesty as uniformly and unconditionally as Beauty, wherein believers and non believers alike equally bow to The One King, much like poor and rich come side to side in prayer in Islam. Beauty is the Tajwid of “Qul Huwa AllaH AHaD” without words: it declares AllaH’s Oneness beyond belief.

Nowhere is the overwhelming nature of Beauty as powerfully illustrated as in the story of Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) (ra). Yusuf’s Beauty was such that it inspired his father to love him more than his siblings, incited jealousy and revenge from his brethren, and lead women who came in his presence to lose all self control. Envious, his brothers dumped him alive in a well, and he ended as Zulaikha’s, the Egyptian vizir wife’s slave. Zulaikha became so magnetized by Yusuf’s Beauty that she offered herself to him, but AllaH Loved Joseph and protected him from sin by bringing Himself to Joseph’s Eye at that specific moment. When Joseph resisted, Zuleikha cut his shirt from the back, and became the rumor of town for trying to have an affair with her slave. Yet, Zulaikha was an intelligent woman, she well perceived the Divinely compelling nature of Joseph’s beauty. Hence, she invited her backbiting friends, gave them each a knife, and summoned Joseph in their presence. At his vision, all the women, without exception, lost control and cut their hands with their knives, exhibiting the exact same reaction they had mocked Zulaikha for, confirming thereby the Divine power of Beauty to override human will.

Who indeed was Yusuf? He (as) was a young man whose stunning beauty Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) described in a hadith as follows: “When I met Yusuf (as), I saw that Allah had blessed him with half of the beauty of the whole world, while the other half was spread over the rest of it” (Muslim). Yusuf had received his “shirt” from his father, himself a Prophet (as), and had dreamt that “the sun, the moon, and eleven stars prostrated to him”. In his “story”, Yusuf (as) was a man who suffered deep, continued injustice, first at the hand of his brothers who could not understand his merit, then at the hand of Zulaikha who could not understand his beauty, but who forgave and honored both anyway. In his “symbolism”, Yusuf illustrates the beautiful soul who, pursued by evil, does not fall into evil, but, through Divine Light, answers evil with goodness, and in doing so diffuses evil. It is not the beauty of his body, but the Beauty (Light) of his soul radiating through his body, that magnetized Zulaikha and made all her friends uncontrollably cut their hands. We will recall that Yusuf (as) is the prophet Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) encountered during His Mi’raj at the third level of Heaven, after meeting Adam (as) at the first level, and Jesus (as) at the second level. He thus illustrates man (Adam) after his encounter with Spirit (Jesus), and human transformation through Divine Light from a mere being to a Wali, a Friend of God that AllaH SWT elects, protects, and grants special knowledge to. As Yusuf’s story illustrates, Light controls and is able to swerve hearts in any direction AllaH Wills. Light can be blinding, and act as a veil, as it did with Yusuf’s brothers and Zulaikha; and Light can lead to Wisdom, as it did with Yusuf (as). Light can both veil and unveil. Its only compass is AllaH’s Mercy. Often, Light is best revealed within the abyss (of injustice), when all else crumbles and one is left alone in the darkness of the “cave”. In the phenomenal world, Light often condenses as Beauty.

Because AllaH’s Beauty is part of His Essence, and we humans are made from His Essence, there is no way to resist or escape the effect of Beauty, for Beauty captures us from within, its dominion is innate. This brings us to the subject of the female veil, which in truth is not unique to Islam, but rather was initially advised by all religions. While the West, and many Muslims today, have epitomized it as the symbol of woman oppression in Islam, the veil in itself is a tribute, rather than a mark of degradation or the stamp of a lower cast.

For one, ALLaH Himself is Veiled, and only those pure enough are allowed to witness His Face. The Veil renders woman “haram” to look at, just like the Ka’aba, in its Kiswa, is “Al Masjid Al Haram”, but the veil itself in no other way limits what a woman can or cannot do. Further, and as the Quran explicitly clarifies, the veil is never just a piece of cloth enjoined as a dress to woman, but rather it is a “curtain” of interaction (Quran 33:53), a matter of “lowering one’s gaze and guarding one’s modesty”, enjoined to BOTH men and women (Quran 24: 30-31). Indeed, since woman embodies Beauty in the physical world, she can, by her Zahir, become a veil of Beauty to man, veil him from the highest pursuit in life, that of God, beside falling herself mistaken for only her Zahir, a pretty face and long legs, as often happens today. Hence her physical appearance should be veiled. Not only is woman created from the man, and thus part of “his own” that is impossible for him to resist, but man will also find in her, in addition to Beauty, satiation, clothing, companionship, and everything his nafs longs for, enticing him to search no further. Moreover, woman also symbolizes the veil of Love for man, a veil even more difficult to overcome. It is in this symbolism, and never in the purpose of her oppression, that woman is veiled in Islam.

For those who have ever experienced Divine Ishq, there is a flaunting analogy between Ishq and Beauty, if only by their common compelling magnetism that waves all resistance and induces instant, total surrender. It is that Ishq and Beauty relate to the two different phases of the famed hadith Qudsi: “I was a Hidden Treasure, and I Longed to be Known, so I made Creation in order to be Known”. Ishq relates to the first part of the hadith “I was a Hidden Treasure, and I Longed to be Known”, for Ishq requires no “vision”, no senses, no knowledge, no Macrocosm whatsoever, its realm is the Microcosm, the heart, “that part of the servant that alone can contain God”, and that expands with unrestrained and overwhelming Love in response to Divine Unveiling. Hence, before the mirror of words, Ishq spells Qaf-Sheen-Ayn, meaning: to stand (Qaf) in Shuhud (Sheen) of the Essence (Ayn). Beauty, on the contrary, is a “visible” Sign from The Divine, uttered in Divine Language and echoed in the manifest worlds. Its Source is The Face of Divine Beauty, and its mirror is the Macrocosm. Beauty thus relates to the second part of the hadith: “So I made Creation to be Known”.

Love & Beauty in Cosmogenesis

As Shaykh Al Akbar (ra) emphasized, Love and Beauty hold very important roles in cosmogenesis. AllaH Created the worlds through Love, and Mirrored His Beauty through them. This Love is foremost Love for Himself, and the whole worlds exist only as a place to express and consume this Love, they are but “wedding beds” for The Divine. If AllaH did not infuse them with His Presence, if He did not maintain them in His Gaze, they neither would exist nor would have any meaning. Indeed, Beauty often leads to Love, often unveils the Love it mirrors, and yet, there comes a stage on the path where both Beauty and Love dissolve, where form, feeling and thought all evanesce into The One Source, where nothing Is but AllaH, where Essence outshines even Presence. Then Unity transcends plurality, and everywhere the eye pauses there is Beauty. AllaH’s Presence indeed Is everywhere, but each individual Eye perceives Beauty only according to its own content of Light and its own characteristics, according to the Names it reflects most. To AllaH belong the Beauty of the worlds and the Heavens, and the Intrinsic Beauty of Ahadiyya, all stunningly projected through Meem (SAWS). Beyond Beauty and Love, each so vast, beyond Presence and Uns (Intimacy), is the Oneness of The Pure Essence, grasped uniquely in Union.

We humbly dedicate this poor writing to Meem (SAWS), AllaH’s Beloved and The Most Stunning Expression of Divine Beauty and Love. Salawat wa Salam AllaH ‘ala Imam Al Haqiqati Al Mubin, MuHaMMaD RasulAllaH (SAWS), wa ‘ala Alihi wa Ashabihi Ajma’in.

by Hala Agha, may Allah reward the author and benefit us from this transmission

Ramadan 1435 / July 2014

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