Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Do we really need a guide in spiritual journey?

Sharing Together

A visitor of Inspirations and Creative Thought site recently asked, "Why people look to other teachers, saints, etc for so much guidance. Shouldn't our devotion come from within? Do we really need all these saints and guiders to show us truth, devotion, spiritual enlightenment through their lives, which are as ordinary as ours? Their struggles, simply because they are on a larger scale are no more grander than ours. We have the same capacity, nothing differentiates them from us, can we not be the same? Achieve the same struggle and state of nothingness? So why are we so in awe of them? They are simply human men and women."

"Spiritual journey is suppose to be solely concerned with one's own spiritual enlightenment and search for truth and God. Do we really need a spiritual teacher, a guide?" - that pretty much summarizes one of the most frequently asked question by people who are interested in spirituality.

This poor heart decided to keep the answer simpler here. What's important is to contemplate on what is not spoken, through the hints of the brief words. Verily God is the Granter of deeper understanding and Helper to see things as they truly are.

Newton and the living Physics teacher

It is common sense that knowledge (in any discipline) is taken from one who has attained the knowledge, or at least have learned the fundamentals well. Instead of every one doing their own experiment to come up with the law of gravity, we send children to school, to a teacher who can help the child describe and explain the law of gravity.

We go to university to learn Physics from a living Professor of Physics; the learning transmit from a knowing mind to another mind. We dont just begin reading Physics lessons by grabbing the thickest book of Physics written by dead scientists without any living teacher, because that would be very inefficient, and reinventing the wheel again and again is not practical.

Similar in the Spiritual discipline (irrespective of any spiritual path) the learning is best transmitted by a teacher who already understand the fundamentals by his or her own journey (just as the Professor attained his own degree and approval from his own teacher who took his exam). The teacher in a science class transmit the knowledge from mind to mind. For a spiritual teacher this transmission happens from heart to heart. From time immemorial, every spiritual teacher did transmit from their heart to their disciples', companions heart. There are no exceptions.

It is very naive to think that spirituality can be learned through self-help book (which is arrogance in one hand and also a reflection of our selfish collective psyche in this age). If one to dive deep into any spiritual path, one come to know the alchemy of the self is not a subject that can be mastered through self-help book or by the parrot like memorization of holy books or book of religious rules. In a discipline like Physics one need to learn all the definitions of different terms, before one can solve a complex equation. How naive it is to think one can understand the meaning in its depth without even 'learning how to learn' . To give an example, to arrive at the meaning of the intricate many layered meanings of every single verse of the Quran, there are ways to learn 'how to read' even with the presence of the heart which the sufis call hudur al-qalb.

To journey in spiritual path one encounters terminologies such as qalb (inner heart), tawba (turning back to God), true piety (wara), tawakkul (trust in God), rida (contentment) to name just a few and each of them have many different levels. The knowledge of the soul (nafs) is a precondition to master the self. Arriving at real self-realization, not the kind which is sold as package in some yoga studio, is a matter of first discerning the delusions of the nafs which are many and unless the inner eye is open, everything seen is clouded by veil. And the knowledge of the soul (nafs), its characteristics and inclinations are many such as the subtleties of hypocrisy (riya), hidden lust (al-shahwat al-khafiyya), and hidden polytheism (al-shirk al-khafi) - which if one is not aware then one is susceptible to failure in entering into gnosis or in attaining the knowledge which is real. Without understanding the fundamental laws of physics a student is bound to fail in solving complex equations and practical problems. How unfortunate is the person who fail to attain at self-realization and fail this human birth filled with such exalted divine possibilities. Everything that is created, from this magnificent human body to the awesome cosmos is for an individual to reach that height and who is more unfortunate who doesn't look out for a master who can take him or her by the hand to the door of realization.

"It takes time to make a soul pregnant with God. But it can be done; IT WILL BE DONE...." - Bhai Sahib

"Is there somebody who can take me to the Lord?
I will go to him, touch his feet and kiss his hands,
And serve him faithfully, him,
who can take me to the Lord." - traditional Sikh prayer hymn

The sufis say that one who has traversed the seas of realities of certainty has seen the mirror of realization and is able to help others to attain the same. A true spiritual teacher does exactly such thing, or to be more correct, God provides guidance through such human beings who have traversed the seas of realities of certainty and have arrived at certainty.

"People think that a Sheikh should show miracles and manifest illumination. The requirement of a teacher, however, is only that he should possess all that the disciple needs." - Ibn Arabi

Some say, 'when we have book written by great masters, when we have scripture, then what is the need for a teacher? We can read Scripture, read about this Prophet, that Master. No need of a living master.'

The answer to this question is this, even though Newton might be much better scientist than the average Physics teacher at the science class of grade six, yet the living Physics teacher is more readily available to the student of that class, can offer instant answer derived from fundamentals of physics in response to their spontaneous question, can offer solutions to problems which may not readily available in dead Newton's written manuscript.

Others may say, 'why bother with so much complexity, learning this term, that term, these all sounds very confusing. I want simplicity.'

Thats exactly where the biggest role of a spiritual teacher comes into play because he by understanding the ability and unique capacity of individual disciple, gives slowly, gradually or make things simple or gives them certain practice needed for the progress of their soul based on their need and state. Thus often time the master may not give detail explanations of why this or that but may just ask the student to do certain thing or read and contemplate on certain passage for days or nights until his or her spiritual realization attain what is missing.

The parable of Physics teacher can continue and be shown in many ways to prove the point in plain logic that a guide is the most common sense approach to take in spiritual journey.

Sufi master Abû Sa‘îd was asked, “If someone wishes, is it possible to travel the mystic path without a teacher?” The Sheikh replied, “It is impossible because someone is required to guide him along the way, someone who has already reached the goal traveling that path, who will tell him what are faults and what are virtues on this path. At each stage he will say this is the such-and-such stage, here one must remain a little longer. And if there is a dangerous place somewhere, he will tell him to be on his guard, and will give him kindly encouragement, so that traveling that path with a strengthened heart, he may reach the goal. When he has reached the goal he will find peace.”

Consider this
Consider how wool is turned into an elegantly designed carpet by coming into contact with an intelligent person. See how dirt can be turned into a fine palace by coming into contact with an intelligent person.

If association with the intelligent has such an effect on inanimate objects, think what effect will be when one seeker of God associate with another!

- Rumi, from The Rumi Collection by Editor, Kabir Helminski

Does Islamic Spirituality validate living spiritual guide?

"Verily, those who give thee their allegiance, they give it but to God Himself, God's hand is upon their hands ..." - The Quran 48:10

First lets talk about the sufis who even in this age still maintain and guard the holy tradition of a living spiritual guide for every age. And the concept of Spiritual Master is inspired by no other than the prophetic model of that of Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace, the Seal of Prophet after whom there will be no Prophet until the end time where second coming of Christ happens. The basis of the duties that bind the master and disciple together are found not only in the Prophetic tradition (Sunnah) but in the very text of the Quran.

First of all if we turn to Quran, the opening chapter, Surah al Fatiha which is the synthesis of the Quran and all other revealed Divine Book, here we read as part, "O Lord Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) we ask for help. Show us the straight way, the way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace. Not the path of those whose (portion) is wrath, nor of those who go astray."

This portion of the Quran which is repeated by every Muslim in every prayer summarizes the way of the spiritual guidance and the guide.

It first affirms that we turn none other but to God, but the way to walk is exemplified by the way "of those on whom God has bestowed His Grace."

It is perfectly true that for the Sufis the focal point is exclusively God and guidance comes from God alone. But important question is to ask, what guidance comes "through"? What is the medium? The apple seed is through which the magnificent apple tree come through and hidden in that one seed many more apples yet. The seed is small but the secret inside is tremendous. So does God's grace manifest through vehicles and one of the magnificent vehicle of grace is a living spiritual master.

Another very important vehicle is the inner heart of the seeker, the faculty of real understanding, that's why a major practice in Islamic spirituality / Sufi path is to polish the heart, to purify the heart. Thus Sufism is also known as the Science of Purification of Heart. When the heart is pure it is ready to absorb and reflect the light of truth and where guidance descend from the Real Source.

"Show us the right path, the path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace. Not the path of those whose (portion) is wrath, nor of those who go astray."

This end portion of Surah Fatiha is the calibration scale against which a true spiritual guide can be measured. One is taught to pray to Lord to be shown and to have the vision of straight way (right path, the Tao) to self-realization and ultimately to God realization. Yet the path is defined as, "the way of those" who has the grace of God.

What about guides who spiritually abuse people? Who mislead or who only pretend to be a guide, who are wolves in sheep's skin? Yes thats why its part of the prayer also to teach humanity that it must not be "the path of those whose portion is God's wrath, nor of those who go astray".

Islam absolutely validate the tradition of transmission and receiving spiritual knowledge from heart to heart. This was the model of the Prophet who passed his knowledge, both zahir (inward) and batin (outward) to his close companions, who in turn passed it on to the next and through chain of successive spiritual guides this knowledge continue and guarded. Even during his own life time the Prophet used to send his selected companions to different places to teach the community and instructed them to live with them so that they can represent the Prophet in being and in teaching.

The Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace said: "The Children of Israel used to be guided by prophets. When a prophet passed away, another prophet succeeded him. But no prophet will come after me; The knowers are the inheritors of the prophets."

"In my community there will be my elect followers who will have status equal that of the Prophets from the Bani Israel (Children of Israel)."

The Concept of Spiritual Guide in Judeo-Christian Tradition

Some argue that with evolution of the history of christian church, the role of Renaissance and science, the western spirituality evolved to become more mind-oriented, where as eastern spirituality is more devotional or heart-oriented. For this reason its observed that often its very difficult for western mind or westerners particularly to grasp and accept the idea of devotion, deep love and respect to a particular teacher, a guide in spiritual path. Sometime with weird association this brings up immediately the idea of a cult to some. But a true spiritual teacher who is free from ego never asks for the spot light on himself, put always is humble, free from egoic self-projection and if one does like that - such people must be avoided, let alone be taken as a guide.

Interesting to note that at the heart of the true Judeo-Christian tradition the tremendous role of spiritual guide is gloriously present. Moses, holy benediction be upon him, was the spiritual guide for the children of Israel and while he went into his solitary retreat at Mount Sinai, he appointed his brother Aaron as the spiritual guide of the community in his absence. The tradition of spiritual guide continued with Hebrew sages who were considered specially inspired to give guidance to people. Their inspired writings are considered holy with high importance.

The role of Christ, upon him be peace, is even more striking as a Murshid or guide who beheld the special magnetism or charisma in this heart and transmitted this from his heart to the disciples.

In calling of his first disciples we read in Matthew Chapter 4, "As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him."

If one read this paragraph plainly one may not see the magic, but one who knows the tremendous magnetism that a true master of truth possess in his heart, one will recognize that in Christ. A true teacher's presence alone is works as a miracle like this. Who else can his simply call, "Come, follow me, I will make you fishers of men" and only to be followed by utter deovtion and self-sacrifice. There are no so called high spiritual discourse, no metaphysical promise of secret, but a simple call, 'Come, follow me!' When the disciples were ready, the Master appeared and by the permission of God, such a simple pronouncement is enough to seal a connection between the hearts.

It is the magnetism of a true Murshid that attract the disciple like how moth is attracted to flame. The presence of a master triggers the magic of heart to heart transmission.

And an indication that the transmission of guidance and call to truth continues, is proven by the saying of Christ before his leaving this world when he addressed his saddened companions, "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counselor to be with you.." (John 14:16). And such counselors of heart are still to be found amidst humanity, remaining always beholding the fragrance of God.

Without further elaboration it is needless to say that a true guide in spiritual journey is validated in every spiritual path, no matter what its name be or where it originated on earth.

The spiritual master is to his community, what the Prophet is to his nation. - Abu Said Ibn Abil Khayr

And God knows the Best, on Whom rests the First and the Last. He is the Perfect Knower.

Ya Hadi
Invoking The Sole Guide of Soul

Ya Rashid
Invoking The Appointer to the Right Path, The Director of the Heart and Affairs

# Related:
. Seeking the Complete Human
. SatGuru | Kamil Murshid
. We are a Door that's never Locked
. With Sufi Guide, Sidi Muhammad al Jamal
. On Traveling the Sufi Path | Interview with Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
. Spiritual Traveler: Finding a Teacher
. Jesus the Murshid
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

the holy shadow | a sufi story

The blind and the seeing are not alike; Nor is darkness and light; Nor the shade and the sun's heat. - The Quran, Chapter of the Angels, 35:19-21

Have you not turned your vision to your Lord? How He does prolong the shadow! And if He willed He could have made it still - then We have made the sun its pilot. Then We withdraw it unto Us, a gradual withdrawal. - The Quran, Chapter of Criterion, 25:46

There once lived a saint so good that the angels came from heaven to see how a man could be so godly (rabbani). This saint went about his daily life diffusing virtue as the stars diffuse light and the flowers scent, without being aware of it. His day could be summed up by two words -- he gave, he forgave -- yet these words never passed his lips. They were expressed in his ready smile, his kindness, forbearance, and charity.

The angels said to God, "Lord, grant him the gift of miracles (karamat)." God replied, "Ask what it is that he wishes."

They said to the saint, "Would you like the touch of your hands to heal the sick?"

"No," answered the saint. "I would rather God do that."

"Would you like to convert guilty souls and bring back wandering hearts to the right path?"

"No, that is the angels' mission. It is not for me to convert."

"Would you like to become a model of patience, attracting men by the luster of your virtues, and thus glorifying God?"

"No," replied the saint. "If men should be attracted to me, they would become estranged from God." "What is it that you desire, then?" asked the angels.

"What can I wish for?" asked the saint smiling. "That God gives me his grace; with that would I not have everything?"

The angels said, "You must ask for a miracle, or one will be forced upon you." "Very well," said the saint. "That I may do a great deal of good without ever knowing it."

The angels were perplexed. They took counsel and resolved upon the following plan: every time the saint's shadow fell behind him or to either side, so that he could not see it, it would have the power to cure disease, soothe pain, and comfort sorrow.

When the saint walked along, his shadow, thrown on the ground on either side or behind him, made arid paths green, caused withered plants to bloom, gave clear water to dried-up brooks, fresh color to pale children, and joy to unhappy men and women.

The saint simply went about his daily life diffusing virtue as the stars diffuse light and the flowers scent, without being aware of it. The people, respecting his humility, followed him silently, never speaking to him about his miracles. Soon they even forgot his name, and called him "the holy shadow."

This is the ultimate: one has to become the holy shadow, just a shadow of God. This is the greatest revolution that can happen to a human being: the transfer of the center. You are no longer your own center; God becomes your center. You live like his shadow. You are not powerful, because you don't have any center to be powerful.

You are not virtuous; you don't have any center to be virtuous. You are not even religious; you don't have any center to be religious. You are simply not, a tremendous emptiness, with no barriers and blocks, so the divine can flow through you unhindered, uninterpreted, untouched -- so the divine can flow through you as he is, not as you would like him to be. He does not pass through your center -- there is none. The center is lost.

Finally you have to sacrifice your center so you cannot think in terms of the ego again, you cannot utter "I," to annihilate yourself utterly (fana), to erase yourself utterly. Nothing belongs to you; on the contrary, you belong to God. You become a holy shadow.

- Commentary by Osho

To annihilate utterly in God or fana fi'Llah is not a metaphysical hypothesis to the elect devotees (mu'min) and or the sufis who have achieved certainty of reality (haqiqa), but it is achieved practically and gradually by following the instructions of God and not disobeying what is prohibited in the Quran and by the Messenger. By aligning one's will step by step with the Will of God, one achieve fana or annihilation in God's Will. And after this effacing of impulsive or craving self (ego) occur, then one truly belong to God because 'individuals will' is replaced positively by the Will of God. Then one become holy shadow, subsisting in God, baqa as sufis call it. The metaphor of shadow, the shadow which only exist because of the sun - applies to a true devotee (mu'min) who wills only by the Will of God, the Magnificent Sun, the Grand Center. The shadow only moves as the sun moves in the horizon. And they utter or do nothing but what God wills, Masha'Allah.

'This is the greatest revolution that can happen to a human being' - as rightly affirmed by Osho, the mad mystic.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Spiritual Energy Healing in the Sufi Way


God casts the Spirit of His Order on whomsoever He wills of His worshipers.
- The Quran 40:15

The elect divine messengers and prophets who were gifted with the precious gift of pure self-surrender to the Absolute, were also gifted with the healing energy which gushed forth from the energy of pure love and unconditional compassion, metta, being rahmatul lil alamin (mercy to all creation).

Ibrahim Jaffe, a contemporary energy healer in Sufi way and American representative of Shadhili sufi order once said: "To heal is to become one with Deep Love of God".

Healing is an innate ability within all human being as it is a Divine quality which human being share. But this ability just like any other ability among humans vary in degrees. Some are so gifted with healing ability that people recognize them as natural healer while others are given the ability of healing in transmission (as was the case of the disciples of Christ, certain disciples in sufi order) and others through their inner calling take upon this or perform healing out of compassion. Some healer don't even know their healing ability yet they help others to heal, thus they are saved from their ego-based claim since behind all healing is as-Shafi (the One Healer).

Every elect divine messenger is gifted with a special gift, but more or less all of them had the ability to heal. Christ is most known for his healing power whereas Prophet Muhammad, upon them both be peace, is also recorded to heal. Apart from special spiritual blessing, Prophet also encouraged to use medicine because medicine is also part of blessing of God through which healing happens.

Sufi masters from ancient time to until present time have have always been blessed with the key to energy healing. One of the related sufi term is known as 'tawajjuh", meaning and implying - to face with intent or intention, to pay attention to or send energy (or love) towards. It is noted in many treatises that this power was bestowed upon sufi masters and their empowered representatives and there was no mystery that it was a dispensation from the Divine; like what was given to beloved Jesus, upon him peace. The dynamics of this marvelous phenomenon are still very much alive in many sufi orders.

A Remarkable Case of Rapid Wound Healing of the Sufis studied in Scientists Lab

Few months back I came across this journal paper by two prominent researcher in the medical field, Howard Hall, PhD, PsyD (Case Medical School, Cleveland, OH) and Gary E. Schwartz, PhD (Univ of Arizona, Tuscon, AZ). The paper is titled, "Rapid Wound Healing: A Sufi Perspective", published in the 'Seminars of Integrative Medicine', where they featured an ancient sufi mystical school of Baghdad which still in modern days guard a remarkable ability to heal.

I quote from the paper below:

Outside of the United States, examples of extraordinary instantaneous wound healing from “deliberately caused bodily damage (DCBD) phenomena” have been reported by one of the largest Sufi (Islamic mysticism) schools in the Middle East, the Tariqa, Casnazaniyyah School of Sufism in Baghdad. Followers (dervishes) of this Sufi school have been observed to demonstrate instantaneous healing of wounds. For example, dervishes have inserted a variety of sharp instruments such as spikes and skewers into their body, hammered daggers into the skull bone and clavicle, and chewed and swallowed glass and sharp razor blades without harm to the body and with complete control over pain, bleeding, infection, as well as rapid wound healing within 4-10 seconds. The name of this Sufi school is Tariqa Casnazaniyyah, an Arabic-Kurdish word meaning “The Way of the Secret that is known to no one.

Researchers report that such extraordinary abilities are accessible to anyone and not restricted to only a few talented individuals who have spent years in special training. These unusual healing phenomena have also been reproduced under controlled laboratory conditions and are in no way similar to hypnosis.

In 1998, the first author of the paper traveled to Baghdad with an invitation from the contemporary Shaikh, Muhammad al-Casnazani of the Tariqa Casnazaniyyah School of Sufism. He then directly witnessed a group demonstration of this rapid wound healing ability there. The process was videotaped professionally and the scientist mentions, "what he witnessed and recorded was consistent with the extraordinary claims made by this group of rapid wound healing and no apparent pain".

Photo: Shaikh Muhammad al-Casnazani al-Husseini, Master of Tariqa
’Aliyyah Qadiriyyah Casnazaniyyah (left), and Howard R. Hall, Ph.D.,
Psy.D., affiliated with the Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital,
also in Cleveland (right).

What is even more remarkable is that the author, Howard Hall PhD, obtained permission from the Shaikh to go through the process himself, voluntarily piercing his body and applying rapid wound healing with complete success and amazement. After this in 1999 a Sufi practitioner was invited from the Middle East, to a local radiology facility in Cleveland, Ohio with permission from the Shaikh of the Casnazaniyyah Sufi school to perform a demonstration of rapid wound healing following the insertion of an unsterilized metal skewer, 0.38 cm thick and approximately 13 cm long, while being videotaped by a film crew, in the presence of a number of scientists and healthcare professionals. This was apparently the first demonstration from this Sufi school in the United States. The physicians and scientists present documented that the wound healed rapidly within a few moments. The practitioner also reported that there was no pain associated with the
insertion or removal of the metal object.

The scientist and author of this paper was so impressed by the ability to heal, he himself took initiation in the tariqa (sufi path) by taking hand with the teacher in the sufi tradition later in mid 2000 and was given a permission (ijaza) to perform the healing as well. After this he himself demonstrated the healing in a number of meeting of scientist including 2001 World Congress on Complementary Therapies in Medicine in Washington, DC., Fifth World Congress on Qigong in 2002.

One of the remarkable feature of sufi healing is the transmission of energy from a qualified guide in the path himself is connected through chain of transmission and baraka to his earlier masters, all the way to the Prophet and eventually to God. The sufi healer never claim egoistic claim of himself or herself being the healer, but only become a medium / instrument of God Who is the Sole Healer.

In the rapid wound healing, before the healing is performed, the healer is instructed to focus on connecting with the Shaikh, asking mentally for spiritual energy. The phenomena of this energy transmissoin was evaluated in the paper mentioned by Dr. Konstantin Korotkov, professor of physics at St. Petersburg State Technical University in Russia, on his Gas Discharge Visualization technique (GDV) which measures human energy fields like the earlier Kirlian photography. Dr. Korotkov first took a baseline measure of author’s energy field from his fingers and displayed the results on a screen for the audience. He then asked to invoke the Sufi energy. The healer again took about a minute and requested energy from the Shaikh for this demonstration. It should be noted that this energy reading was not planned by the healer nor had he obtained prior permission from the Shaikh for this energy. After about one minute the healer said he was ready for the second (after-energy) measure. Dr. Korotkov outwardly expressed surprise at how quickly the author had invoked energy. This time when he took the energy reading from his hand the computer malfunctioned and another one had to be brought in. After the new computer was in place, the GDV revealed a major increase in HH’s energy field after the quick one minute energy invocation.

In the very paper, the concluding remarks are worth mentioning. sub-titled as, "Possible Sufism and Western Explanations of deliberately caused bodily damage (DCBD) and rapid wound healing"

How does Sufism explain how this can occur? Sufism can form a unified theory for mechanistic, mind/body, and spiritual healing. Traditional Islamic theology recognizes that Allah (God) created a world that can apparently operate under mechanistic/Newtonian principles. As noted in the Holy Qur’an (Surah 6:95-99), it states that “Allah (God) created order in this world causing seed to sprout, the rising and setting of the sun, rain to fall, etc. Such is the judgment and ordering of (Him) the exalted in Power, the Omniscient.” (6:96).

This is consistent with the mechanistic Newtonian view of the world and humans. Thus, there is no rejection of mechanistic views from traditional Islamic philosophy. Sufi philosophy goes further, noting that mechanistic views can also be explained within a vitalistic perspective. From this point of view, Sufism can predict both mechanistic and energy based DCBD healing phenomena in ways that Newtonian models cannot explain.

As explained by Sufi Shaikh Gaylani: “The belief of the followers of the Book and the Sunna of the Messenger of Allah (Salla Allah ta’ala ’alayhi wa sallam) is that the sword does not cut because of its nature, but it is rather Allah (’Azza wa Jall) who cuts with it, that the fire does not burn because of its nature, but it is rather Allah (’Azza wa Jall) who burns with it, that food does not satisfy hunger because of its nature, but it is rather Allah (’Azza wa Jall) who satisfies hunger with it and that water does not quench thirst because of its nature, but it is rather Allah (’Azza wa Jall) who quenches thirst with it. The same applies to things of all kinds; it is Allah (’Azza wa Jall) who uses them to produce their effects and they are only instruments in His hand with which He does whatever He wills.”

Thus, most of the time the world operates by mechanical laws allowed by Allah, but mediation by a Sufi Shaikh based upon the Shaikh’s nearness to Allah and through Allah would allow for fire not to burn, or a knife not to cut, etc, thus suspending mechanistic laws. The Quran is quite clear in several verses that so-called natural laws can be suspended by Allah. For example in Surah 2:117: “when He (Allah) decreeth a matter, he saith to it: ‘Be,’ and it is.”

The goal of the Sufi and all spiritual paths is nearness to God. In Sufism this is done via following the Sufi path and practices and Jihad or struggling against the lower self or nafs. It is the lower self that keeps humans distant from God. Islam and Sufism is about surrendering to the will of God through following this path. Once near God, alterations of mechanistic laws may occur. This nearness to Allah is the explanation of so-called miracles performed within religious contexts of ancient times and today.

Rapid wound healing is a very impressive phenomenon to observe and experience, but Islam and Sufism teach that one’s heart is the center of one’s being that becomes diseased (Surah: 5:52) and hardened (6:43) from wrong acts (sins). Sufism, however, offers healing for the heart as noted in the Quran: 10:57. “O mankind! There hath come to you a direction from your Lord and a healing for the (diseases) in your hearts - and for those who believe a guidance and a Mercy.” Thus, when the heart has been purified through jihad (striving and struggle to conscious awareness of God and His nearness), the nearness and true healing will occur.

To follow up this remarkable study, read further
[.] Bringing Sufi Rapid Healing Methods into the Laboratory
An Interview with Howard R. Hall, Ph.D., Psy.D.

Dr. Hall holds a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Princeton University and a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University. He has conducted research and taught courses in clinical and multicultural psychology as well as workshops on hypnosis, and he maintains a clinical practice utilizing hypnosis and mind-body/holistic approaches to healing at CWRU. Dr. Hall has also conducted pioneering work regarding the mind-body connection including the effects of hypnosis on immune responses, and is recognized as a leader in the field of Clinical Psychoneuroimmunology.

[.] Also a PowerPoint Presentation Sufi Spiritual/Energy Wound Healing: The New Paradigm by Dr Hall

^ About Tariqa Casnazaniyyah

And He shows you His Signs;
and which of the Signs of God will you deny?
- The Quran 40:81

Healing Invocation of the Sufis

Ya Shafi - Ya Kafi - Ya Mafi,
Ya Shafi - Ya Kafi - Ya Mafi,
Ya Shafi - Ya Kafi - Ya Mafi;

O Thou Who art the Healer of our bodies, hearts and souls,
by Thy mercy,
may she / he / they be healed
by Thy all-sufficient Power of Healing.

Ya Shafi - Ya Kafi - Ya Mafi,
Ya Shafi - Ya Kafi - Ya Mafi,
Ya Shafi - Ya Kafi - Ya Mafi.

(O the Sole Healer - O the Sole Sufficiency - O the Sole Forgiver).

# Further Resources:
. Spiritual Healing in the Sufi Tradition
. Healing in Islamic Sufi Way
. Sufi Healing | Power of The Hands
. Secrets of Ablution/Wudu and Power in the Hands
. Sufi Method of Healing Numbers
(based on the numerical values of Divine Names)
. Interview on The Healing Power of Sufi Meditation via Google Video
. Elements of Sufi Healing | Healing the Heart and Soul
. Building Your Energy via Google Video
. Secrets of TAHA and Healing via Google Video
. Energy Work for Spiritual Growth via
. Tawajjuh: Energy Healing in the Sufi Way
. The Subtle Mercy, Spiritual Healing
. Sufi Spiritual Treatment via Sufi Healing Center
. Sufi Dam Healing
. Sufi Healing Order | on Facebook
. Alternative Healing: The Sufi Way
. Sufi Healing via Barzakh Foundation, Indonesia
. Energy Healing Information portal
. Learning to use Energy
. Spiritual Checkup
. University of Spiritual Healing & Sufism Pin It Now!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ephphatha | Healing of Christ and Sufi Invocation

Christ as Healer1.
Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man.

After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spit and touched the man's tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said: "Ephphatha!". At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. "He has done everything well," they said. "He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

- Gospel of Mark, 7

One of the episode of Christ's life is preserved in the New Testament where he heals a deaf and almost mute person. The invocation that Christ invokes, interestingly is preserved in ancient Aramaic language even though the New Testament was written in Greek.

What Christ invoked in Aramaic is still invoked by the Sufis, specially Sufi Healers who heals in the footsteps of the message bearers of God. Ephphatha (ef'-a-tha, ef-a'-tha) is equivalent in arabic as Ya Fattah which essentially is an invocation of God by one of God's attribute, El-Fattah, the Opener. Fattah is pronounced with soft t). The interpreter of the bible generally translate it as "Be opened" (by the help of Heavenly Father).

Among the revealed Beautiful Names of God, Al-Fattah is one of them. It points to the Divine identity of The One Who opens what is closed. The One Who opens the door to success. The One by Whose guidance that which was closed is opened and the unclear is made clear. The One Who lifts veils and Who opens the heart. The One Who holds the keys to victory and success. The One Who reveals the solution to all problems.

Both Aramic and Arabic has the same Semitic root, thus the similar words share the same source. The word Fatah (written Phatha in New Testament) comes from the three word root f-t-h which has the following classical Arabic connotations:
. to open, unlock, unfold
. to reveal, inform, explain, make clear
. to grant, permit
. to make victorious
. to judge, decide

The Arabic word miftah, translated as key, meaning that which opens or unlocks, is also based on this same root.

While living in Los Angeles, I was blessed to be in the company of a saintly sufi, may God bless her, from the lineage of Hazrat Inayat Khan. I will never forget her gift of two Blessed Name of God which she recommend to me (which she also received from her own teacher in the path) to invoke in the face of difficulty which were al-Fattah and al-Jami. The Opener and the Gatherer.

Not many days apart from when she advised me to recite these two names, I was confronting a situation where these two Names of God were invoked earnestly, Ya Fattha, Ya Jami (O the Opener, O the Gatherer) only to witness to my surprise how an apparently impossible passage was made open with ease. Since then I have used al-Fattah and al-Jami as two talismanic Name. All praise is due to Allah for all His generous gifts.

Just like Christ, particularly that of sufi healers, al-Fattah, holds great mystery through which Invisible Doors are Opened, Doors of cure are unlocked for difficulties and for physical diseases alike. The spirit of the word Fatah is embedded in the Name of the Opening chapter of the Quran, thus Sufis often time begin or end their supplication by the call, "Al-Fatiha!" to be followed by the recitation of the opening chapter of the Quran. The chapter according to Islamic tradition is also called ash-Shifaa or the Cure. This chapter by the name al-Fatiha is so powerful and filled with baraka that the Prophet said, "Whoever does not recite Fatiha in his prayer, that prayer is incomplete."

Nasrum mina Llahi,
wa Fathun Qarib.

Help is from God,
and Opening (is always) Near.
- The Quran 61:13

Inna Fatahna laka Fathan Mubina.

Truly We have opened out to you a manifest opening.
- The Quran 48:1

In speaking about the Invocation or Commemoration of the Name of God, in the book Irfan (gnosis) Faqir Nur Muhammad writes with example from the healing of Christ:

God the Most High shines towards a slave with the same name with which the slave remembers Him. The symptom of it is that the very name of God the Most High gets impressed with bright letters of nature inside the commemorator and at the time of absorption that commemorator sees it shining on the invisible sky like a brilliant star.

Esoterically the lights of the Names appear in the form of stars, that of the attributes like the full moon and that of the Essence appears in the form of the sun. So that when any name of God the Most High gets written in brilliant words inside the commemorator, the commemorator gets filled up with the light and electric power of that name and exercises his influence, in both the worlds through the light and power of that name.

It can then be said that so and so is the operator of such and such a name or prayer. For example, when his holiness Jesus, salutations be on him, wanted to cure some leper or lunatic possessed by an evil spirit, he used to commemorate in his heart or concentrate on God the Most High's name Quddus (Holy) and he supplicated and attended God the Most High's attribute of Pure Holiness. At that moment, in accordance with the promise, "Remember Me and I'll Remember thee" God the Most High cast the light of His name holy and the light of attribute of holy on Jesus .. At moments he used to be filled up with the light of the name Holy, i.e. the holy ghost.

Since an evil spirit enters the leper and lunatic which distorts their exoteric and esoteric nature, the name Quddus (Perfectly Holy) is the opposite of all esoteric and exoteric evil - as the one is light and the other is darkness and the one is truth, the other is false. Therefore when full of the light of the holy ghost his holiness Jesus touched a leper or lunatic, the evil spirit used to fly from the leper and lunatic due to his power of the light of holiness. The darkness always flies from the light of truth, Says Allah: "The truth has come and the falsehood has vanished, verily falsehood is vanishable."

Captivates my soul and my heart
The beauty of the Name of God
Quenches my spiritual thirst
The Majesty of the Name of God.

If you seek intimacy (wisal) with the Real,
Be one of them who sit together in His Name
Look! Intimacy with God is
In the intimacy with the Name of God.

Between the Name and the Named
When there is no difference (farq nist)
Look you! Only in the self disclosure (tajalli) of the Names lies
The perfection (kamal) of the Name of God.

- From the Ghazals of Hazrat Muinuddin,
translated by Irshad Alam

# Related

. Spiritual Healing in Islamic Tradition
. Rumi and Spiritual Healing
. Fatiha | Opening
. Aramaic of Jesus
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Journey Leading to the Unveiling of Divine Realities | From Spiritual Experience of Shaykh Ahmad Faruqi as-Sirhindi

Ahmad-i-Faruqi Sirhindi (1564–1624) 'quddisa sirruh', an acme for gnostics (arifs), a guide for owners of haqiqat, a paragon for the Awliya-i-kiram, a beloved of Allahu ta'ala, the revitaliser and illuminator of the second Islamic millennium, a qibla for the hearts of those who advance in the way leading towards Allahu ta'ala is one of the greatest Awliya Allah, Friend of God.

As his own spiritual guide, Khwaja Baki-billah 'quddisa sirruh' described him, "Ahmad is a sun outshining thousands of stars like us. There have been only one or two like him in this community. And today there is next to no one like him under the celestial dome. I look on myself as one of his satellites [pupils]. All his marifats are correct and approved by Prophets 'alaihimus-salam'." In fact, his master as well as his disciples would attend his sohbat in order to receive fayd and nur from him. His lights of Wilayat, his barakats of karamat are too occult to express in words or writing.

"Let it be known to you that the Heavenly Guardians attracted me because They wanted me to be attracted, and They facilitated for me the passage through time and space (at-tayy) in the different states of the seeker. I found that God is the Essence of all matter, as it had been said by the People of Sufism. Then I found God in all matter without incarnation (hulul). Then I found God together with all matter. Then I saw Him ahead of everything and then I saw Him following everything. Finally I reached a state where I saw Him and I saw nothing else. This is what is meant by the term, Witnessing the Oneness, which is also the state of Annihilation (fana'). That is the first step in Sainthood, and the highest state in the Beginning of the Way. This vision appears first on the horizons, then secondly in the Self. Then I have been lifted to the station of Subsistence (baqa') which is the second step in Sainthood.

"This is a station which many saints did not speak about because they did not reach it. All of them speak about the station of Annihilation, but following that state is Subsistence. In that state I found all creation another time, but I found that the essence of all these creations is Allah, and Allah's Essence is the Essence of Myself. Then I found Allah in everything, but in reality in myself. I was raised to a higher state, to find Allah with everything, but in reality He was with myself. Then I was lifted to see Him preceding everything, but in reality He was preceding myself. Then I was lifted to a state where He was following everything, but in reality He was following myself. Then I saw Him in everything, but in reality He was in myself. Then I saw everything and I didn't see God. And this is the end of the Stations by which They had brought me back to the beginning. In sum, they lifted me to the Station of Annihilation, then to the station of Existence, then they brought me back to be with people, in the Station of the common people. This is the highest state in guiding people to the Presence of God. It is the perfect state of guidance, because it matches the understanding of human beings."

He said, "I accompanied today one who has reached the End of Ends, the Qutub of all Creatures, the Perfect Man, Shaikh Muhammad al-Baqi. Through him I received incredible blessings, and by his blessing I was granted a power of attraction that allowed me to reach every human being that Allah had created. I was honored to attain a station that combines the state of the Ending with the state of the Beginning. I achieved all the states of Seeking and I reached the Ending, which is the meaning of 'Reaching the name of ar-Rabb' (the Sustainer), by the support of the Lion of God, Asadullah, Ali ibin Abi Talib, May God ennoble his face. I was raised up to the state of the Throne, which is the Reality of the Truth of Muhammad , by the support (madad) of Shaikh Shah Baha'uddin Naqshband. Then I was lifted even higher, to the state of Beauty, which is the state of the Truth of the Muhammadan Qutbs, by the support of the Prophetic Holy Spirit."

In the journey leading to the unveiling of the Divine Realities, the seeker moves through various stages of knowledge of and proximity to His Lord:

- "Moving to Allah is a vertical movement from the lower stations to the higher stations; until the movement surpasses time and space and all the states dissolve into what is called the Necessary Knowledge ('ilm ul-wajib) of Allah. This is also called Annihilation (fana').

- "Moving in Allah is the stage in which the seeker moves from the station of Names and Attributes to a state which neither word nor sign can describe. This is the State of Existence in Allah called Baqa.

- "Moving from Allah is the stage in which the seeker returns from the heavenly world to the world of cause and effect, descending from the highest station of knowledge to the lowest. Here he forgets Allah by Allah, and he knows Allah with Allah, and he returns from Allah to Allah. This is called the State of the Farthest and the Nearest.

- "Moving in things is a movement within creation. This involves knowing intimately all elements and states in this world after having vanished in Annihilation. Here the seeker can achieve the State of Guidance, which is the state of the prophets and the people following the footsteps of the Prophet . It brings the Divine Knowledge into the world of creation in order to establish Guidance.

"The entire process is like threading a needle. The thread seeks the eye of the needle, passes through and then proceeds down to where it began. There the two ends meet, form a knot and secure the entire thread. They form a whole, thread, eye and needle, and any material they catch is sewn into the fabric of the unity."

During his very early days of spiritual training under the guidance of famous spiritual Pole of his time, Khwaja Baki Billah, may God guard his soul, Shaykh Ahmad Faruqi received Naqshbandi training. He was given the remembrance of the heart (Zikr e Qalb) and while he was training for it, his inner heart was soon filled with Naqshbandi illumination. Because of his already attained high spiritual station through the training he received in other sufi tariqa's through previous spiritual guide of high stature, including that of his own father, Shaykh Faruqi's progress on the path was very rapid. Everyday he was ascending to a new station.

During this time, while in a state of fana (annihilation / absorbed inwardly in God) he had a vision of a great ocean. In its shadow was revealed the pictures of everything in the cosmos. Gradually this state of vision was increasing. From some part of the night to the whole night he was in this state.

When he described his state to his spiritual guide, Khwaja Baki Billah he said, "you have attained a special fana." After this he forbade him to continue any zikr. After that Shaykh Ahmed received Fana e Mostaleh (fana of convention). While describing its hal (state) his guide asked, "Is the whole universe appearing to you as one and undivided?"

Shaykh Ahmed replied, "I am seeing it as one."

Khwaja replied, "This is called fana fil fana, because while still in the body this fana is attained."

All night Shaykh Ahmed remained in this state and next morning he expressed to his guide, "I am feeling the Presence of Haqq Subhanahu Tala (Absolute Truth, Glory be to It).

After this a Noor (Light) of Pure Darkness manifested. This was encompassing the whole universe. When describing this state to Khwaja he said, "This Dark Noor's widening is gnosis of God (ilm e Ilahi). That is the vast expansion through the Essence of the Most Holy to everything in the created world. One has to make nafi of this expansion"

Then this Noor started to contract until it became a point.

Hazrat Khwaja said, "Even you have surpass this point and have to come to 'state of affliction'."

Shaykh Ahmed did the same. The point vanished, a state of affliction manifested. At this point, Tawhidi Shuhudi is attained, the Unity of Witnessing. At this station, God Himself sees (witness) Himself.

When Shaykh Ahmed conveyed about this state to his Murshid, Khawaja said, "This is Naqshbandi Hudhuri (Presence). Naqshbandis call this Hudhur e Agahee or Hudhur e Beghaibat. This is the station of "Omega in Alpha (What is at End, delivered in the Beginning). This is attained in this tariqa upon entering. But in other tariqa one has to toil and strive very hard for it. Shaykh Ahmed attained this only in two months and few days.

After this fana began again. This is real fana. At this stage the qalb (inner heart) expands so much that everything between the Prayer carpet (Farsh) to Foundation (Arsh), all appeared as a mustard seed. He saw himself and every object in the universe as 'Haqq' (Absolute Truth). After this, inside every atom and molecule he saw his reflection and himself appeared as the reflection of all of it. Then each atom and molecule expanded so much that inside each many universe can be placed. He saw himself and every atom and molecules in such an expanding light which entered into atom and molecules and every form and image of the cosmos became lost in this light. After this the self and the atom and molecules felt like the source of universe's energy.

Hazrat Khwaja when described this state said that this is Tawhid e Haqqul Yaqin, The Unity of Certainty of Truth. This is Jamul Jam'a. After this the form and shapes of the cosmos which appeared as Haqq (Absolute Truth) appeared as mere illusions. At this his affliction increased many folds. He remembered a manuscript, "Nususul Hakam" where his saintly father spoke of and told him, "if you wish, you can say, 'Alam Haqq' (the universe is Truth), or "It is creation." From one perspective its Haqq and from another perspective it is created. And you may distinguish them. It is better in honor."

He described his state Hazrat Khawaja, hearing which he said, "You state has not come to clarity yet. Unless you obtain the power to distinguish between what is real and unreal, keep busy with your work." Shaykh Ahmed mentioned about 'Nususul Hakam' and Khwaja replied, "The writer of this manuscript Ibn Arabi wrote about the earlier stage, not that of perfection."

Shaykh Ahmed engaged in his inner work again. Through the grace of Khwaja Allah the Most Merciful showed him the difference between what is real and unreal. He separated Mawjud e Haqiqi from illusions and what rose from mind of sifat (qualities), action - he obtained from the Lord. Afterward all these sifat and actions started to fade until remained only One Being of Holiness (Ek Zat Pak).

According to Khwaja this is the state of "Farak badal Jam'a", separation after gathering. Here is the end, here is the stage of completion.

- Translated from the book Nur e Sirhind by Muhammad Mamunur Rashid

May the blessings of al-Fatiha be upon all the True Friends of God, thousand salutations to Khwaja Baki Billah and Shaykh Ahmad Faruqi as-Sirhindi. As-salamu aalikum wa rahmatullah wa barakat ya Awliya Allah. May You help us receive baraka from their faces that annihilated in You and subsisted in You alone O Lord. al-Fatiha!

# Reference
. Shaykh Ahmad al-Faruqi as-Sirhindi
. Ahmed Sirhindi
. Mystic and theologian Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindī
. Ya Nabi Forum, Link1, Link2
. Fana and Baqa
. Sufi tale on What is Fana, What is Baqa Pin It Now!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

forgetting one's true self | meditative quranic verses

Yaa-ayyuhal-lazina 'amanut-taquLlaha wal-tanzur nafsum-ma qaddmat li ghadi wat-taquLlah; innaLlaha Khabirum bima ta'malun.

Wa la takunu kal-lazina nasu-Llaha fa 'ansahum 'anfusahum; 'ulaaika humul fasiqun

O believers, guard yourselves for God and look to what your selves send before you for tomorrow. And return to conscious awareness of God. Truly God is aware of what you do.

Be not of those who forgot God, so He made them forget who they truly are. Those - they are the transgressors.

- The Final Testament, The Chapter of Exile, 59:18-19

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Zakat | Almsgiving | A Sacred Practice of Purification

In the Name of the Most Magnanimous One, the Generous Giver

There are people in the world so hungry,
that God can not appear to them except in the form of bread.
- Indira Gandhi

God will charge on the Day of Judgment,
"I was hungry and you didn't feed Me."
- Abrahamic Sacred tradition

The world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it.
- Helen Keller

When one knows Thee, then alien there is none, then no door is shut.
Oh, grant me my prayer that I may never lose the touch of the One in the play of many. - Rabindranath Tagore

Zakat | Meanings and Philosophy

Zakat or Almsgiving is one of the fundamental pillar of the Universal Path and made natural (incumbent) to anyone who claims to have self-surrendered to God and claims to love His creation as a Sign of the love to the Creator. Zakat is more than free will charity, but is a right of the needy from the excess wealth of the rich, so that there remains no starvation and poverty and thus degradation of human dignity.

The word "Zakat" has two meanings. One of its meanings is "clean, pure." Or to be clean or to purify. The other meaning is to grow, expand and multiply. Because payment of Zakat results in increased wealth, the wealth given in the path of God the Most High is called Zakat.

The zahir or outward meaning of the word Zakat is 'cleansing' or 'purifying' or 'helping to thrive'. The meaning according to Shar (religious law) is 'an obligation that proceeds from a person's wealth and possessions.' The batin or hidden meaning is 'purifying the heart of thoughts other than Allah (since Zakat is a step of letting go of the excessive attachment to material wealth, for the sake of God).'

In the Universal Path, it is obligatory for those of pure conscience to help those in need from one's excess. Thus giving the poor due is made mandatory. The God conscious are those who spend in our path, out of Our provided subsistence" (The Quran 2:3) One of the philosophy of Zakat is that the destitute disturbed in mind on account of hardship of livelihood and excessive worry for day to day living can not commemorate God and devoid of peace. So to help the needy is to enable them to commemorate God with a contended mind. Another philosophy of Zakat is that excess and shortage of everything is bad and moderation in everything is commendable. The excess of worldly riches is also injurious to spiritual state.

Shaykh Sadi writes, "If there is no wealth in our hand we are distressed. If we have it we are fettered to its love. There isn't a more tumultuous calamity than wealth, whose presence and absence both are painful."

Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq, may God be pleased with him, who is also a noble exemplifier of generous heart once said, "I will not say that there is any different between Prayer and Zakat." Zakat has been paired with such a high sense of righteousness that it is placed on the same level of importance as offering Salat or heart prayer. In the sacred tradition it is also mentioned that the prayers of those who do not pay zakat will not be accepted. Those who are not generous to others, God doesn't open the gate of His divine generosity towards them.

Zakat is a way of purifying from attachment to wealth and possessions, letting go of greed and selfishness. In addition, Zakat also purifies the person who receives it because it saves the beneficiary from the humiliation of begging and saves from degraded dignity.

The Goal is Purification

The path of purification implies that the human heart be purified from that which is blameworthy and one such blameworthy characteristic is extra attachment to wealth and hoarding up material wealth to the extent that it makes one blind to the poor and needy around one. Such condition is sure contrary to loving one's neighbor, since true loving means to help the other in their dire needs. To constantly have love for the poor is a quality of the Prophets who were seen mostly among the poors, giving up so much so frequently that they themselves lived like poor.

When the mirror of the heart is thoroughly cleansed of the rust of human nature and its selfish characteristics, it becomes capable of reflecting lights from the extrasensory world. And this require not just lip service and high talks about loving God, but real action towards God's creation.

How is a man's worth measured? It is measured by his purity. The foundation of peace rests on purity and God does not countenance any corruption, nor does He displays His beauty to anyone who is spiritually unclean. God loves the pure of heart (Q 2:222). Zakat or giving alms to poor from one's excess wealth is a purification of attachment to wealth and possessions.

In the letter on Almsgiving, Shaykh Sharafuddin Maneri wrote to one of his disciple, "there is a worship connected to one's body and another pertaining to one's property. The latter is more efficacious than the former, for its advantage accrues to another as well. Sufis simply pay no attention to all to property and have no dealings with anyone except God." Thus just as worship purifies, so does Zakat or almsgiving with pure intention for pleasing Almighty God alone.

The Disease of Attachment and its Cure

There are visible diseases of the body which has its cures, and there are invisible diseases of the heart with cures as well. The cure of attachment to wealth, property, possessions and material hoarding is the distribution them among the needy, to give alms and to engage in charity without asking for return. Every struggle inside human soul is placed for the self's trial and means of its purification. Thus the attachment and the condition of craving for material wealth and to have more and more - is placed inside the heart of the children of Adam. The Quran says, this condition is a distraction until the death, "The rivalry for hoarding (material stuff) distracts you, until you reach your graves" (102, 1-2). And this condition of attachment is placed as a contrast against which the ascension of human being can happen from selfishness to selflessness.

Verily We have created man into toil and struggle. Does he think that no one has power over him? He may say (boastfully): wealth have I squandered in abundance! Does he think that no one sees him?
Have We not shown him the two highways?
But he has not attempted the Ascent - Ah, what will convey unto you what the Ascent is!
(It is) the setting free of a slave, and to feed in a day of hunger to an orphan or to a poor man lying in the dust (homeless, destitute).

- The Quran, Chapter of The City

Thus the spiritual practice of giving in charity, alms giving is a pathway of the spiritual ascent because it frees the self from the bondage of material attachment and excessive non-letting-go tendency. It is one of the most practical medicine against stinginess which is the opposite of generosity and generosity is a divine quality. Those who refuse to pay zakat or refuse to participate in almsgiving, there are no baraka (blessings) upon their wealth and income, and such wealth which denies the right of the poor are eventually taken away from them from other doors of need imposed upon them from the Unseen.

"Do not withhold your money, (for if you did so) Allah would withhold His blessings from you." - The Prophet (in Bukhari)

Zakat | Token of Thanksgiving and Genuineness of Claim for Love

Everything that is in the heavens and earth is God's.
- The Quran

Only that which cannot be lost in a shipwreck is yours.
-Al Ghazzali

The one who understand the reality, understands well that nothing in this world truly belongs to us. We come into this world naked, empty handed, so shall we leave this world naked and empty handed. No matter how much bank balance or property or wealth one amasses, goes with. Everything that is given to us is given as a safe keeping for a very limited period of time. All things belong to God, and wealth is therefore held by human beings as a sacred trust.

The almsgiving is a higher form of token of thanksgiving for the grace that is given to you as a free gift. We may delude ourself of earning that wealth, but is the many conditions given to us that help us obtain those wealth, from an able parent to able family which enable us to get education and sound mind etc. all are not chosen by us, but given. It is a means by which we are tried whether we are magnanimous to other, whether we are generous to other or whether we turn a blind eye to those in need.

wa la tansawl fadla baynakum
And do not forget to be magnanimous to one another
- The Quran 2:237

Since Zakat is a token of thanksgiving and a loving appreciation to God's grace, God promises to reward those who give Zakat. It is narrated in Islamic Sacred Tradition that "Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the Day when there will be no shade except His. Among these seven group of people shall be the one who practices charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity). Indeed Allahu Ash-Shakur, God Is the Most Appreciative, Rewarder of Good.

When a person enters into the sanctuary of faith, he makes a present of his heart and spirit; when he prays, he offers his body and time; when he gives alms, he bestows his goods. Now, all these three qualities are those of lovers and show the genuineness of their claim to love. The Zakat is a proof of our genuineness of love of the Beloved's creation for the sake of the Beloved alone. May God purify our intention.

Principle of Zakat

The principle of Zakat or Poor Due is very simple. It is to be given freely from what one has as excess. In Islamic tradition to make the practice of almsgiving wholesome and uniform for all, it is made obligatory to pay Zakat equal to 2.5% of the excess wealth. If every single able human being could participate in Zakat and help poor from 2.5% of their excess wealth, it would be sufficient to erradicate poverty from the face of earth by making every poor self-sufficient to earn and run their small business.

Leaving aside complex rules and theories that often confuse people, this is how you may calculate your Zakat due. Whatever wealth you have (in terms of money in the bank, savings, extra possessions that you don't use but have as an luxury such as a second car, second home, gold, precious stones and even agriculture product that have value) you calculate the value of all of them (in terms of their money value) and deduct from that any debt or obligation you may have (credit card balance, loans that you need to pay back) and thus find a total. Now from this total calculate 2.5%. This is the amount that is the poor due or Zakat on you. Its worth noting that when a person obtains goods or possessions, Zakat is not due on that until a full year passes.

Next question is who should get this Zakat or Poor Due?

The poor, destitute, the needy, those who are in debt and do not have means to pay. You may give this to your needy relatives as well. The poor orphans also hold a greater right to receive this Zakat.

Zakat is NOT for religious people who already have wealth or means to support themselves or should NOT be given to build mega mosques (like mega-churches) or luxurious religious establishment. It is only FOR the poor and needy.

Giving to Orphans and Needy Students towards their Sustenance and Education

I have been personally in touch with a Non-Profit organization here in Bangladesh by the name Utsho-Bangladesh where I volunteer. If you are interested to contribute, you may send your Zakat money (partially or fully) to Utsho-Bangladesh which provide residence, shelter to needy, poor and orphan children who have next to nothing. Many of them are even rescued from streets. To learn detail about Utsho Bangladesh click here and also here is another local newspaper report on Utsho's activity.

You may click on the Paypal button below to contribute which shall be conveyed by Utsho-Bangladesh Zakat Fund to help orphans and poor kids as well as to Sacred Heart School in Kolkata to support children of financial hardship as well.

Alternatively for Bank Transfer, please write to us for Bank Account details of both USA and UK.

May God accept your Zakat and purify your heart and soul. May your generosity be rewarded with a divine generosity worthy that of the Most Generous, the Most Bountiful Lord. Amen.

Ya Karim!

Madad Ya Zul Jalali wal Ikram
Help O Lord of Majesty and Generosity!

His riches shall not save him when he perishes

As for the one who gives and guard oneself and confirms ultimate goodness, so We shall ease him to the ease.

But as for one who is miserly and claim to be self-sufficient and denies ultimate goodness, so We shall ease him to hardship. His riches shall not save him when he perishes.

Truly upon Us rests the guidance and truly to Us belong the alpha and the omega.

- The Quran 92:5-13

Is there any reward for goodness - other than goodness?
- Quran 55:60

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Monday, September 14, 2009

you will be more radiant than the sun

Sadiq Salim Collage

Let go of
the copper
of your being
like the true wayfarers!

Find the alchemy
of love and become
shimmering gold.

When the light of divine love
permeates your heart and soul,
I swear, you will be more
radiant than the sun.

Drown in the sea of God
for a moment, and see
how the waters of the seven seas
will not harm you.

From head to toe,
you will become the light of God,
when you surrender your self
to divine glory.

When divine grace
becomes the focus of your gaze,
you will be exalted
by the inner light of your vision.

- Hafiz
Translation by Rassouli, Creative Rendering by Naomi

Jesus said, "If they say to you, 'Where have you come from?' say to them, 'We have come from the Light, from the place where the Light came into being by Itself, established [Itself], and appeared in their image.' - Gospel of Thomas

The light resides in the sun and shines on all .. is My Light. Entering the earth with My energy, I support all beings .. - The Bagavad Gita

Allahu Nooru as-Samawati wa al-Ard
God is Light of the Heavens and the Earth.
- The Quran, 24:35

Rabbana Atmimlana Nurana, waghfirlana.
Innaka ala kulli shayin Qadir.
Our Lord, Perfect our Light for us and cover us (with your Light).
Truly You have power over all.
- The Quran 66:8

Graphics Collage: Sadiq Salim
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Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Sufi Master's Advice on Fasting

Stretch out
your hand towards
the favor We enjoyed
from eternity
and towards the bliss
We knew before
the time
of dust and clay.

Masters of Truth and Sincerity have said, "Bodily strength depends on food and drink, whereas spiritual strength depends on going hungry and thirsty. In God's domain, hunger is a divine food."

It has been related that one of the qualities of the Almighty is this, 'wa Huwa yutAAimu wa la yutAAamu', "He feed others but is not Himself fed." (Quran 6:14) If a servant becomes distinguished in this practice, then according to the consensus of the wise, he progresses on the carpet of proximity to God. He becomes far removed from the human conditioning. When somebody fasts in accordance with the order, "Make your actions like those of God," then he too, is able to feed others. In this manner, he will approximate the qualities of the Beloved. He will dissociate himself from human qualities and become honored and greatly enriched in Him, just as the Lord of the world has said, "The man who fasts experience a two fold joy: the breaking of the fast and seeing God."

It has been written in Kashf ul-Mahjub that hunger afflicts the body, purifies the heart, inflames the soul with love, and leads the mind to meet God. The Prophet also hints at this when he says, "Every work of man will receive a reward that gradually increases, till it is seventyfold. But a fast that is undertaken for the sake of God will be rewarded by Him." The one who fasts is promised, "You are Mine!" and "I am your reward!" And again, "Your reward is to see My face!" Those slain by love are promised: "Whoever My love kills is ransomed by a vision of Me!"

We raise up in degree whomsoever We Will.
- The Quran 6:83

The practice of fasting is highly esteemed by the Sufis. Whenever they wish to hear the word of God in their hearts, they go hungry for forty days. Assuredly, the Lord will speak to them in their hearts, because whatever may be revealed openly to the Prophets can only be hinted at secretly to the saints. A Sheikh has said, "A disciple needs three qualities: Unless he is overcome by drowsiness, he should not sleep; unless urged by necessity, he should refrain from speaking; unless he is starving, he should not eat." For some, two days and nights are enough; for still others, a week; and some may need a full forty days.

The cycle of eating requires preoccupations with the self, and anyone who is preoccupied with himself becomes hidden from the Beloved. Refraining from eating while sitting on the carpet of the Lord is better than eating in a palace with Him absent or hidden. Someone else has said, "Make a fast from this world, and break it with death!"

.. some there are to whom God spoke, and some He raised in rank.
- The Quran, 2:253

In the story of Moses we read about forty days having been set aside in order to cut oneself off more effectively from the world and all its concerns. The command runs like this, "We commanded Moses to set aside thirty days and nights; then We added another ten days, so that the appointed time of His Lord was a full forty nights." (Quran 7:142). It should be realized that the fast of Moses did not mean simply that he refrained from eating during the day, but also did not eat during the night. No, he passed forty whole days and nights without eating anything at all.

According to this example, keeping one's stomach empty of food is an extremely important element of the retreat. Moses attributed his talking to God Almighty to the fact that he had devoted forty days, in all sincerity, to Him, and had cut off from his worldy affairs, thus enabling him to take care of his soul, while his stomach remained light. God, the Exalted and Praised, showers much heavenly illumination upon such a person!

- from The Hundred Letters
by Makhdum al-Mulk Shaykh Sharafuddin Maneri

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Last Ten Nights of Ramadan | The Nights of Exalted Possibility of Transformation

Ramadan Photo, Woman reciting Quran at a mosqueInvoking by the One of unfathomable grace, the One of incomparable love

Last Ten Nights

The blessed month of Ramadan is entering its last and intensified final ten days and nights. The special month of Ramadan is offered as a gift to humanity for spiritual perfection and to enter into the exalted possibility of beautiful transformation. In the month of Ramadan, the first ten days are of mercy from the Source of Boundless Mercy, second ten days are of forgiveness from the One Who Loves to Forgive and the One Alone Who holds authority to Forgive and the last ten days are of freedom from the Awesome Might of God that burns away everything that is displeasing to Him.

During these last days of Ramadan, the Beloved Master Prophet Muhammad used to strive hard in his offering of his heart. Its narrated that Allah's Messenger used to exert himself in devotion during the last ten nights to a greater extent than at any other time. His wife Aisha reported, with the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to pray night long. Among the things he did were secluding himself in I’tikaaf (special seclusion in a place only devoted to divine remembrance) and seeking Laylat al-Qadr (the night of power) during this time.

In the beginning of this Month the Prophet reminded, "Ramadan is the month which invites you to be the guests of Allah and invites you to be one of those near to Him. Each breath you take glorifies Him; your sleep is worship, your deeds are accepted and your supplications are answered.

So, ask Allah, your Lord; to give you a sound body and an enlightened heart so you may be able to fast and recite His Scripture, for only he is unfortunate who is devoid of Allah’s forgiveness during this great month."

The Days of Exalted Possibility of Transformation

Every single day of Ramadan is blessed. By the saying of the Prophet: "A month which with Allah is the best of months. Its days, the best of days, its nights, the best of nights, and its hours, the best of hours... A person gets the same reward by reciting in this month, one verse of the Holy Quran, as others do by reciting the whole of the Quran in other months." Imam Ali said: "The sleep of a fasting person is worship, his silence is glorification, his prayers are answered and his actions are multiplied."

Again in the saying of Allah's Messenger: "Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the voluntary good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (this month) shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time. It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Heaven. It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer's sustenance is increased."

No other month in Islamic cycle of time offers more blessing to seek nearness and transformation than the month of Ramadan. It is the month where voluntary or superogatory works are encouraged and rewarded abundantly. On reaching proximity of human soul to Divine Presence through voluntary action, its noteworthy of a well-known extra-Quranic statement, the so called hadith-an-nawafil, in which Lord says, "My servant does not cease to come closer to Me by means of superogatory works, and when he approaches Me a span, I approach him a cubit, and if he comes walking I come running, and then I love him until I become his eyes by which he sees, his ear by which he hears and his hand by which he grasps."

This hadith qudsi, a much loved and celebrated one among mystics points to a transformation of man, who by constant service reaches divine proximity and is consumed by God. This transformation to the extent of replacing human qualities with qualities of God is what kabbalists call "to become (like) God." This is at the same time the final point on the way of intoxication for those who are so completely carried away that they lose themselves in God.

Seclusion | I'itikaf

During the last ten days of Ramadan, one of the noble practice of the Prophet was to enter into the santuary (mosque) for prayer, devotion and meditation purpose only. Every outward action done by a Messenger is for the teaching and benefit of the community and to extension to the humanity. I'itikaf or the sacred practice of seclusion in the mosque, performed by the Prophet was his continuation of his earlier practice of retiring in the cave (Jabal an-Noor) before the revelation of Quran began. But once he was bestowed the responsibility of a Message deliverer, guiding his community, maintaining his extended family and the affair of the whole nation, he could no longer retire like before.

Thus by the very action of I'itikaf he taught a beautiful practice for the modern man also. We can not adopt the ways of the spiritual beings of ancient past who used to retire in ancient caves or jungles by outwardly renouncing the family, society or the world. But at the same time the ten thousand distractions of the material world causes the heart to die of the spiritual world. For a modern man living in this age, the pre-occupations and diversions with material need and engagement are so great that if there are no inward turning, man never recoveres from his perpetual loss of not seeking nearness to his Divine Source.

Thus the practice of I'itifak, the practice of abandoning the need of the external world as much as possible is the guarding of the principle of I'itikaf. It is the turning away from the world outwardly for the sake of turning in inwardly to God Alone. For those who can commit themselves in a mosque for the last ten days are lucky, but many living in the west or in the modern world having jobs and duties will not be able to do so. For them the guarding of the principles of I'itikaf in their whole of being is the best practice to adopt.

Guarding the Principle of I'itikaf

God has not made two hearts within (one) body.
- The Quran 33:4

Shamsuddeen Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah says, "Since the hearts' rectitude and firmness upon the path towards Allah the Most High, rests upon directing it solely upon Allah and causing it to turn and give all its attention to Allah the Most High. Since the disorder of the heart cannot be rectified except by turning to Allah the Most High, and its disorder will be increased by eating and drinking too much, mixing with the people excessively, speaking profusely and sleeping too much. These will cause it to wander into every valley, and cut it off from its path to Allah, weaken it, divert it or put a halt to it."

The practice of I'itikaf or seclusion during the last ten days has the principle to devote oneself singularly to the Singular One Alone. It is principle of spiritual perfection to make the heart devoid of everything other than God, not to leave any room for any worldly attachment or worries or concern. This is also a method to attain what Christ, upon him be peace, taught when he said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind."

The sufis maintain that the heart is the Throne of the Beloved, and nothing else is worthy of this place but He. In entering into I'itikaf one approach that principle of giving the Heart to One Alone. As God says in the Quran, there is only one heart inside the breast of man, so should there be only One residing in it. To be in a place of no distraction helps one to give all his mind to divine devotion, as mind and its singular concentration is essential for attaining That which be attained.

Spiritual perfection is awakening to the ultimate nearness between human soul and Divine Reality. In Ii'tikaf one strive for that nearness in the heart by leaving every other ephemeral concerns.

If one is unable to stay in the Mosque, or an exclusive place of sacredness during this time (which is the case of many) then wherever one may be, one should keep the remembrance of God as much as possible by sacrificing other worldly concerns as much as possible. The Prophet himself didn't like any hardship in any practice, or that which is unnatural to attain and he certainly didn't like any fuss regarding the practice of spirituality. During the last ten days of I'itikaf there is a noteworthy incident that points to that.

Recorded in the Bukhari collection of Prophetic tradition its related, "One time Allah's Messenger wanted to make i'tikaf during the last ten nights of Ramadan, and he ordered his tent to be set up (to separate himself). Aishah reported: "When I saw that, I ordered my tent to be set up, and some of the Prophet's wives followed suit. When he [the Prophet] prayed the morning prayer, he saw all of the tents, and said: "What is this?" They said: "We are seeking obedience [to Allah and His Messenger]." Then he ordered his tent and those of his wives to be taken down, and he delayed his i'tikaf to the first ten days [of Shawwal]." This very hadith teaches that the Prophet didn't like unnecessary ceremony / outer forms when it hinders the inner principles.

Thus due to modern life style, when seclusion in a mosque or other place is not possible, may it be done wherever we may be. We may find solace in the Prophet's saying when he says, "This earth has been made for me a place for praying and a substance to perform the purification of tayammum." The principle of I'itikaf is none other than to turn and devote oneself singularly to the Divine without any distraction. May such extra-ordinary awareness be practiced even amidst our ordinary living.

A sufi master said, "separate from yourself that which separates you from God". May in these last ten days of Ramadan, our retreat whether its inner sanctity be maintained with outer observation or not, may during this time we contemplate upon our shortcoming and our straying from the awareness of Beloved and strive to seek nearness to the One Who is Nearmost.

The Prophet taught the following prayer for this blessed time,

"Allahumma innaka 'afuwwun, tuhibbul 'afwa, fa 'fu 'annee"

O Allah! You are forgiving, and you love forgiveness. So forgive me.

May we find time during these blessed days and specially its night to enter into our prayer-niche, our inner sanctuary just as Mother Mary , upon her noble soul be grace, did her i'itikaf, her sacred seclusion which was followed by her receiving of the Holy Spirit and Divine inspirations.

And mention of Mary in the Scripture, when she withdrew from her people to a place in the east, and she placed a curtain (to screen herself) from them, then We sent to her Our Holy Spirit ... - The Quran, Chapter of Mary

Like the archetypal narrative of Mary, every soul with its feminine quality, may become recipient of sweet fragrance of loving surrender and stay near to that Fragrance.

Ya Kareeb (O NearOne)!

Ya Mawjood (O Ever Present One)!

Hints for Practice at Holy Nights
or to Turn any Night Holy

Stand by night except a little, Half of it, or lessen a little from it, or add to it and read the Quran as a carefully slow distinct chanting .. Verily the rising by night is most potent for preparing the Way (to Allah), and most effective for the (receiving of) Word. Verily during the day, there is for you long work for your living.

But remember the name of your Lord, and devote yourself to Him with complete devotion. Lord of the East and the West, there is no god but He, so take Him as Protector. And bear patiently what they say, and forsake them with an excellent forsaking. - The Quran 73:2-10

Fa-iza faraghta fainsab,
Wa-ila Rabbika fairghab.

So when you are free, strive,
and make your Lord your exclusive goal
- The Quran 94:7-8

Men who neither trafficking nor merchandise divert from the Divine remembrance

They worship in houses which Allah has bidden to be exalted and His Name remembered there in the mornings and the evenings ... Men who neither trafficking nor merchandise divert from the remembrance of Allah .. That Allah may give them the best reward of what they have done, and give them more out of His grace; and Allah gives sustenance to whom He pleases without measure. - The Quran, Chapter of Light

quli Allahu thumma tharhum fee khawdihim yalAAaboona

Say: Allah! and leave them to plunge in vain discourse and trifling.

- The Quran 6:91

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