Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Remember like the never ceasing music of the boundless ocean


let your time
pass idly.

Either keep a rosary with you and do japa, or if this does not suit you, at least go on repeating the Name of the Lord regularly and without interruption like the ticking of a clock. There are no rules or restrictions in this. Invoke Him by the Name that appeals to you most, for as much time as you can -  the longer the better. Even if you get tired or lose interest, administer the Name to yourself like a medicine that has to be taken.

In this way you will, at some auspicious moment, discover the rosary of the mind, and then you will continually hear within yourself the praises of the great Master, the Lord of Creation, like the never ceasing music of the boundless ocean. You will hear the land and the sea, the air and the heavens reverberate with the song of His glory. This is called the all-pervading Presence of His Name.
-  Sri Anandamayi Ma

We all came spinning
out of the great nothingness,
and the scattering of stars like dust.
We rarely hear the Inward Music,
yet we're all dancing to it nevertheless.
- Mevlana Rumi

When the Name becomes the sole mainstay and refuge of the aspirant who thirsts for the highest goal of life  -  God-realization -  he or she marches towards the ideal not only in rapid strides but also with a heart filled with courage and cheerfulness. Indeed, blessed is the soul who possesses an unflinching faith in the greatness of the Divine Name! -  Swami Ramdas, God Experience

And the men who remember much and the women who remember much, Allah has prepared forgiveness for them and an immense reward. - The Recital, Surah 33, verse 35

He who knows that he knows nothing
but the Name of God,
knows everything.
- Sri Brahma Chaitanya

And said the holy Messenger, "Shall I not inform you of the best of your works, the purest of them with your Lord, the loftiest of them in your stations, that which is better for you than spending gold and silver (in charity), and better for you than sacrificing your life at the battlefield for the sake of truth, freedom and justice and becoming martyr?" The companions said, "Of course!" He said, "Remembrance of Allah, the Most High." - Hadith from the collection of at-Tirmithi

 Let your tongue always be moist with the holy remembrance of Allah.
- Habib Allah

O pure devotee! Remember Allah with frequent remembrance!
- The Recital, Surah 33, verse 41

I will sing Thy Name, I will drink Thy Name,
and get all drunk, O with Thy Name!
- Paramahansa Yogananda, Cosmic Chants

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Alif Laam Meem | the Mystical Letters

We come into this world,
and we leave it. 
That much is certain. I think.

Its this road we traveling on
that we need to figure out.

But then knowledge is like the horizon,
it recedes as we approach it.

So there is always the need to know more.

- from movie the Alchemy of Happiness, on the life of celebrated Mystic Imam al-Ghazali

He who read a single Harf (Alphabet) from Allah’s Book, for him there is a Hasana (Beauty & Goodness), and even ten more Hasana like it...

And Allah did not send down a single verse except for ‘her’ there are Zāhir (Emergent Abstraction) and Bātin (Inmost Concealed Core).. And every Harf (Alphabet) has a Hadd (Horizon) and every horizon has a Matla’ (Place for sunrise).

- sang the ever-singing Nightingale, flying midst the rose-meadows of Divine Oneness, peace be upon him

In the first place an intention, a will surged in Divine. The object of this thought, this intention, and this will were the letters from which Divine Power made the principal of all things, the indices of everything perceptible, the criteria of everything difficult. It is from these letters that everything is known. - Imam Jafar as Sadiq, the great grandson of Muhammad, the Ambassador of God

... Finally there is the exegesis founded on the phonetic symbolism of the Qurʾān. According to this science each letter - i.e. each sound, since Arabic writing is phonetic - corresponds to a determination of primordial and undifferentiated sound, which is itself like the substance of the perpetual Divine enunciation. Modern Europeans have difficulty in conceiving that a sacred text, though clearly linked with certain historical contingencies, corresponds, even in the very form of its sounds, to realities of a supra-individual order. - from Titus Burckhardt, Sufi Interpretation of the Quran

On the Mystical Letters Alif, Laam, Meem


O my heart-throbbing love! Listen to this writer about the meaning of Alif which is one of the Mutashabihat (Ambiguities). Know that Alif is one of the Shat-h (Terse Laconic Spiritual Phrases), an Isharat (Vector) pointing at the establishment of the Qidam upon Qidam, within the Qidam and from the Qidam; the singling out of the Dhat (Divine Essence) for the Dhat (Divine Essence) and within the Dhat (Divine Essence); and the Tajalli (Lucent Manifestation) of the Absolute End upon Absolute End, the (Tajalli of) ‘Ain (Portal) for ‘Ain (Portal); and news from the ‘Ain-Jam’ (Evanescence of transience) and Jam’- al-Jam’ (Becoming/Being one with the universe) and the plunge of all sunken causalities.

Alif is the foundation/origin for all causalities, the emergence of reality without the designs of Rububiyat (Divinity presented for Servitude) plainly in view enrobed with the gown of indefiniteness; and Ma’rifa (Unlearnt Knowledge) within Ma’rifa (Unlearnt Knowledge) while maintaining the prerequisite of indefiniteness; for Irfan (Cognizance of Divine Entities) is an unknown within the indefiniteness since indefiniteness is in reality a cut-off Ma’rifa (Unlearnt Knowledge).

Alif is the foundation/origin of the Qidam.

Transience due to the characterization of the Fana (Evanescence) within the outer-limits of ‘Adam (Non-Being), has no perturbing effect upon the Qidam: Because in reality there is nothing but Qidam!

- from Sharh-e Shat-hiyat (Baqli), translated by Dara O Shayda

Alif is the primordially first Harf (Alphabetized Divine Word), for Alif does Isharat (Point) towards Allah that has caused all things to have the gravitation of ‘Alifa (Acquaintance, familiarity and intimacy) between themselves and yet Hu ITself is nonpareil nonesuch and free from any association and companionship. 
- al-Luma’ Fit-Tasawwuf (The Glimmer of Sufism), Abu Nasr Sarraj Tusi 

We confuse Alif  the sounds which come out of our mouths or with a small vertical line on the paper. Indeed Alif can be confused with such trifle trivialities, but Alif’s reality is far larger than this universe.

An Ishara (Vector) pointing at the establishment of the Qidam upon Qidam, within the Qidam and from the Qidam: No matter what entity we might think about, this entity should have a space to reside within as the mathematicians say, or needs to have a background field(s) or timespace to reside upon/within as the physicists say, or it needs to have an environment or habitat to reside within as the biologists say.  In general all entities need to reside upon a stratum. However Alif, like a vector, points at the Qidam residing upon nothing other than Qidam itself! Qidam needs no space or fields or environments or stratum to reside upon/within. Qidam therefore resides upon within and from Qidam! And Alif is that vector that points at this Self-Stratum of the Qidam.

And (Alif is the) singling out of the Dhat (Divine Essence) for the Dhat (Divine Essence) and within the Dhat (Divine Essence): In order for an object to be discerned, there is need for a background so that it can be contrasted against. When you try to take a picture, you focus the lens until an image is formed with maximum contrast with the background. Dhat (Divine Essence) has no background to be contrasted against in order to be discerned as a separate entity, except for Dhat/ except for itself! And the Alif, again as overflowed water from a damn, overflows into this universe, into our hearts and minds to help us understand how the Dhat (Divine Essence) contrasts against itself.

And (Alif is) the Tajalli (Lucent Manifestation) of the Absolute End upon Absolute End: Absolute End or the Farsi Kunh is a Sufi Farsi word for the absolute reality of the Dhat (Divine Essence) i.e. the realities beyond which there are no other realities. At that infinite depth of the sea of realities only a flash of light can help in order for anything to be seen! That flash of light in the dark hadal depth of  the sea of realities is called Tajalli (Lucent Manifestations). Therefore Alif is like a directional/vectorial flash of light in that infinite depth, letting the last of the realities be exposed to each other, and letting us see that depth from where we are in this universe.

And (Alif is the) emergence of reality without the visible-expressions of Rububiyat (Divinity presented for Servitude) plainly in view enrobed with the gown of indefiniteness: This whole sentence is the very definition of Ahad, the Divine Name as in ‘Say Hu (IT, HE) (is) Allah Ahad’ [112:1]. Indeed Alif is the first letter of the Ahad. Ahad normally means one, but it is not one as in numbers and counting, but it is one as in the meaning of the essence i.e. it describes a fantastic modality of the Divine Presence wherein there is nothing, no creature or knowledge, nothing save Allah. Therefore Alif is the appearance of the reality of Ahad, minus the worshipers in servitude, and this reality is enrobed as an indefinite entity i.e. the word Ahad is missing the definite article ‘Al’ as in Al-Rahman (The Beneficent) or Al-Rahim (The Merciful). This lack of article Al (The) is the core signature of the Divine Presence of Ahad as an indefinite Divine Entity. You can imagine this indefinite by pointing i.e. if something is definite then you can point to it somehow, but when it is indefinite you cannot point at it in any form or fashion. Therefore the Alif is the very emergence of appearance of this peculiar indefiniteness!

And (Alif is) Ma’rifa (Unlearnt Knowledge) within Ma’rifa (Unlearnt Knowledge) while maintaining the prerequisite of indefiniteness: Ma’rifa is knowledge about a specific entity, a knowledge that has no opposite i.e. ignorance; it is a knowledge that has no learning associated with it; it is a knowledge that is out of the passage of time i.e. whomever possesses it believes that he has had it forever and there was no time when he did not have this Ma’rifa. ‘While maintaining the prerequisite of indefiniteness’ can be best translated into the modern term of ‘abstraction’ i.e. different Ma’rifa appear within other Ma’rifa(s) as abstract forms, however in a most indefinite way and that indefinite abstraction’s origin is Alif. Example, when we say God, there is no place we can point to in order see God it is an indefinite abstract concept, however it is as real as the creator of the universe and its administrator! And again none of the words ‘creator’ or ‘administrator’ are definite! Alif allows us to understand the concepts of these indefinite abstractions.

For Irfan (Cognizance of Divine Entities) is an unknown within the indefiniteness: Irfan is full cognizance beyond doubt and free of incompleteness. Therefore Irfan cannot deal with the indefiniteness;  if it could then the indefinite would become a definite. Therefore so far as the indefinites are concerned, Irfan (Cognizance) is an unknown. In modern terms this form of Irfan (Cognizance) is incomplete i.e. it can only partially help the intellect to cognize a Divine Knowledge.

Since indefiniteness is in reality a cut-off Ma’rifa (Unlearnt Knowledge): Imagine that all Ma’rifa forms a unit. Now imagine that a piece of knowledge was cut out of the ensemble. This knowledge  can be best represented by something indefinite e.g. imagine that amongst all knowledge about fruits, knowledge about the apple was removed from all sources of knowledge. Then despite the fact that the apple continues to exist, no one can clearly see it for sure or know about it for sure; the most that can be said about the apple would be a few indefinite descriptions e.g. it is round with seeds at the core and so on. This indefiniteness is caused by the 'cutting off' of the apple Ma’rifa (Unlearnt Knowledge) from all sources of knowledge'. In sum, definite objects can participate in the causalities dealing with each other, but when an indefinite object needs to participate within the causality it is made into an abstraction of some kind and at that end: Alif is the source of all causalities and is again the source for the abstraction of all indefiniteness. Applied to the Divine Presence: Alif is the source of the causal universe and its facts of relatedness, yet the same Alif is also the source of the abstraction of Ahad (Divine Oneness without any other existence) an Indefinite mode of Divine Presence.


Prehension of Qidam 

Harf (Alphabetized Divine Word) Lam (The ‘L’ sound) is a prehension, where Wujud (Being) prehends the Qidam with incredibly rich and variant subjective-forms.

Note: Subjective-form roughly means the how-ness by which the Wujud (Being) feels or accomplishes the prehension of the Qidam. ‘Prehending Qidam’ means the Wujud's (Being’s) concrescence includes the Qidam (or members of Qidam) somehow and the term ‘somehow’ is the subjective-form. Without the participation of the Qidam or members of the Qidam there could never be any Wujud (Being). 

Subjective-Form: Feeling of the Past 

No matter who or what prehends the Qidam, and no matter how at that, there is always a feeling of past-tense to Qidam! Example, we see an apple on the table, the very act of seeing the image of the apple, and thinking about and remembering what apple is, are indeed processes operating upon an object that was objectified in the recent past.

If an object is objectified then its actualization is always in the past.

Note: That is why in the Arabic of the Qur’an events that will actualize for certain, even in the future, are indeed marked with the past tense as following:

16:1 Came the commandment of Allah: Setting the past tense for an event that will realize for certain in future; the commandment of Allah is the Day of Judgment and Majaz is applied to its verb ‘came’ by setting it to the past tense, to guide the mind of the listener to the inevitability in future.

36:51 And the trumpet was sounded: Again the time is set vis-a-vise the past tense of the verb ‘was sounded’ to indicate the imminent event; as sure as an event that happened in the past, thus using the certitude of the past events as the corridor to traverse to the certainty of the future event of the Day of Judgment and hence the Majaz.

5:116 And when Allah said to the Jesus the son of Mary “Did you tell the people to worship me and my mother”: Allah will ask for sure in future if Jesus did order people to worship him and his mother and again the past tense is a passageway for the mind of the listener to the actuality of the future event.

14:21 And they appeared before Allah collectively: The past tense of the verb appeared indication of the certainty of the event in the future, as the certainty of the past events are lodged within the human intellect.

7:48 And the companions on the heights called some men: ‘called’ the assured eventual happening of the ‘shall call’.

Therefore we realize that in general for Wujud (Begin) prehending the Qidam, the subjective-form is the feeling of the past.

Indeed this feeling of the past is often felt as an ‘age’ in both quantitative and qualitative sense. For the sake of consistency we call this feeling of ‘age’ as the ‘amplitude’. It then easily follows that Al-Qadim is prehended by the age or the amplitude of infinity! Or Al-Qadim the oldest the most ancient.

Given this amplitude of ‘age’ then the Wujud (Being) here in this transient nascent universe can ‘rank’ the members of Qidam it prehends i.e. precedence established as before and after in time.

Note: With the exception of the Al-Qadim the age precedence of all actualities within the Qidam can only be established via an external Wujud (Being) in this transient nascent realm. Therefore this world is a mirror off of which the Qidam sees its own order and precedence.

Definition: Primordia, in Qidam, is the primeval counterpart of an object of this world. . (Credit)


Mim is actually Adam and Muhammad, peace be upon both, and the Ya (y letter in Arabic, sounding as eee) between them is the cause for their mutual linkage, because of the placement of Harf (Divine Alphabet) Illat (Same as Madd prolonged letter usually eeee or oooo or aaaa sound). (Dara: M sound can be prolonged either through nasalization or addition of stretched eeee between the two ‘M’ sounds i.e. Meeee….eeeeM) This prolonged letter or phoneme allowed Muhammad to act upon Adam (from a distance in time and place and across universes, free of causality) a Spiritual Action, as said by the Prophet: I was a Nabi (Informer) while Adam was still between the water and mud. Conversely Adam acted upon Muhammad a corporeal action (causal action), again by mediation of the agency of Ya (y letter in Arabic, sounding as eee) (i.e. through the genomic and biological processes on this planet.)

- Ibn Arabi, Kitab al-Meem

The Prophet said: When Allah created Adam made him see the virtues of some of his off-springs (and while he was browsing) he saw a radiant light all the way from the back so he asked: O my Lord who is that? And Allah replied: That is your son Admad, he is the Al-Awwal (The first) and he is Al-Akhir (The Last)

Until less than 100 years ago we had no idea how human beings are linked to each other, now through the molecular science of Genome we all know and very well know how people are linked in past and in future. Mim is the prolonged phoneme/letter that links the first and the last Prophet, both spiritually and genomically, Muhammad was a Nabi (Informer) informing through the radiation of Nur-Muhammadi, a peculiar form of Nur (Divine Light), from extremely close sanctified nearness which in this Surah we hear as Sabbihi. In return Adam acts upon Muhammad in a molecular causal fashion i.e. via his genome and thus the two form a close loop or a circle.

- Commentary by Dara O Shayda

Hu it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical ... no one knows its hidden meanings except God. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge. They say: "We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord." And none will grasp the Message except people of understanding. (Surah 3:7)

Credit: Most of the text resources, translation of original works shared here, are from Dara O. Shayda's resource site: Untired with Loving

# Further:
. Sufi Quran Commentary
. Bulleh Shah's take on One Alif
. Re-hearing Quran in Open Translation: Ta’wil, Postmodern Inquiry and a Hermeneutics of Indeterminacy by Neil Douglas-Klotz
. Sufi Tafsir of Mystical Letters in the Quran by Alan Godlas
. Sufi Interpretation of the Quran by Titus Burckhardt

# Resources via Untired with Loving:
. Harf (Alphabets)
. Harf Lām (Alphabetized Divine Word ‘Lam’)

Image credit: (Imam Studio) (Wonil Lee) (Alif calligraphy) Pin It Now!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bowing in Humility | Reading from the Quran

In the Name of Allah,
the Universally Merciful,
the Singularly Compassionate

By the Mystical Letters, 'Alif Laam Miim

The Revelation of the Book, without any doubt in it, is from the Lord of the Manifestations. 

Or do they say, "Muhammad has invented it?" No way, but it is the Truth from your Lord, that you may warn a people to whom no warner has come before you, that perhaps they may be guided. 

It is Allah Who has created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six aeons and established Himself on the Seat of Absolute Authority. Other than Him you do not have any protector or intercessor. Will you not remember (the Truth)?

He arranges (all) the orders from the heavens to the earth, and in the end all shall ascend to Him on a Day the length of which will be (like) a thousand years of those you count. Such is the Knower of the Unseen and the Seen; the Mighty, the Singularly Merciful - Who made excellently all the things He created, and began the creation of humanity from minerals.

Then He made his begetting (to be) from an extraction of a humble liquid. Then He formed him and breathed into him from His Spirit; and made for you hearing and sight and hearts. Little are you thankful. 

And they say, "When we are disintegrated to the earth (in death), will we really be created anew?" Nay, but they cover up (the Truth) of the meeting with their Lord.

Say, "The Angel of Death, who has been given charge over you, will gather you, and then you will be returned to your Lord." If you could only see when the evil-doers bow their heads before their Lord (and say), "Our Lord! (Now) we have seen and heard, so send us back (to our worldly life); we will do good deeds, for sure we are (now) certain (of the Truth)."

And if We had willed, We could have given every soul its guidance, but true is the Word from Me, 'Most certainly we shall fill Hell with human beings and other than human beings - together.'

So taste! Because you forgot the meeting of this, your Day, surely We have forgotten you. So taste the punishment of eternity because of what you used to. 

Only those (truly) believe in Our Signs who, when reminded of them, fall down bowing in humility and extol the Limitless Glory and Praise of their Lord, and they are not arrogant. * They whose side rise from their beds (in the deep of the night) to call out to their Lord in holy fear and divine hope, and they spend (on others) from the sustenance We gave them. 

No soul knows what is kept hidden for them by way of delights of the eyes, as a reward for what they did (in this world). Is someone who is a believer like the one who violates the limits (of the Law)? They are not equal.

But as for those who believe and do good deeds, for them there will be Gardens of Refuge, prepared because of what they used to do.

And as for corrupters, their place of rest is the Fire. Whenever they want to get out from it they will be put back into it. To them it is said, "Taste the punishment of the Fire which you used to deny."

And before the greater punishment, We shall make them taste the nearer sufferings (of this world), so that perhaps they may return (in repentance before it is too late).

And who oppress (himself / herself) more than the one who, when he is reminded of the Signs of his Lord, turns away from them? Surely We shall take retribution from the evil-doers.

And We surely gave Moses the Book, so have no doubt about the meeting: and We made it guidance from the Children of Israel. And when they were patient, and when they were certain of Our Signs, We appointed from among them leaders who guided by Our Command. Surely Your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Standing, concerning that about which they used to differ. Is it not guidance for them (to see) how many We destroyed of the generations before them in whose place they now walk? Surely in that are Signs. Will they not listen?

Have they not seen how We drive the water (in clouds) to the barren land and bring forth crops from which their livestock and they both eat? Don't they see?

And they say, "When will this (final) opening (of new reality) take place if you are telling the truth?"

Say, "On the Day of Unveiling (of new reality), the belief of those who covered up (the Truth) will not benefit them (in the least), and they will not be reprieved."

So turn way from them and wait (for the Truth to unfold), for surely they too are waiting.

- Translation from the 32nd Chapter of the Glorious Quran, Surat as-Sajdah | translation credit in most part from The Tajwidi Quran by A. Nooruddeen Durkee (2003).

* It is a recommended practice and instructed that upon the reciting the verse in this chapter, "Only those (truly) believe in Our Signs who, when reminder of them, fall down bowing in humility and extol the Limitless Glory and Praise of their Lord, and they are not arrogant." - to prostrate with forehead touching the ground in embodying humility, submission and glorification. In prostration one says, "All Glory is to the Most High". May Allah guide us and purify us from arrogance, denial and oppression of the true self.

+ Resources:
. Download Quran and Quranic resources in pdf
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gnosis of Divine Sufficiency (Tawakkul) and its Ways

God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice God's dropkick.

The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:

Hold us upside-down
And shake all the non-sense out.

- Hafiz

Allah says in the Eternal Qur’an (Q3:172-73): “and those who – when the people say to them, ‘the people have gathered together against you’ – only increase in iman (inner certitude / faith) and say, ‘Allah is sufficient for us, how excellent a Trustee (Wakil)!’ so they delve amidst the bounty of Allah and His blessing, no evil or harm touching them, and Allah is The Possessor of enormous blessing.”

Muhammad Mustafa, the beloved Transmitter of divine message, may Allah increase our love for him, said: “Were you to depend upon Allah as He should be relied upon, He would have sustained you with provision as He provides for the birds. They go out in the morning with empty stomachs and return with their bellies full.”

Shaykh Abu’l Hasan al-Shadhuli, Allah sanctify his station said, “That which most veils the people from Allah is two: anxiety over provision (hamm ar-rizq) and fear of the creatures (khawf al-khalq).” He also prayed: “O Allah! I ask from You sure faith in Your maintenance (of us), a faith which calms my heart from having fear of creatures and anxiety over provision, and draw near to me with a nearness which tears away the veils (of illusion) as You did with Ibrahim (asws) Your intimate friend, so that he had no need for Jibril (asws) or for plainly requesting intervention of divine unfolding..”

Most of the comments that follow come from the Ihya’ Ulum ad-Din of Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (may Allah be well-pleased with him):

Literal Meaning of Tawakkul: to commit your affairs to someone (a wakil) and depend upon him, with your heart at ease with him, trusting fully in him, not suspecting in him any deficiency, and not believing that he is incapable or limited in his abilities. So tawakkul is the heart’s full reliance upon someone totally. Of course people’s strength in tawakkul varies (the heart’s trusting in and being at serene ease with the Wakil) according to its conviction (I’tiqad) that this Wakil has the necessary qualities (such as power, wisdom, compassion..) in perfect degree, and if the person thinks in any way that this Wakil is deficient in them, even if in reality He isn’t, then this results in a deficiency in his tawakkul.. and when the conviction matches the reality (Allah’s perfection), this results in Yaqin (certitude, lit: “unshakeable stillness”).

So if – by way of kashf (gnostic intuition or vision) or firm conviction – it becomes established in yourself that there is no “doer” in existence except Allah, and you have conviction that He (Most High) has complete knowledge and power to take care of His servants, and then on top of that complete compassion and mercy and providential care for all His servants, and that there is no power beyond His limitless power (same with knowledge, compassion.. and every divine qualities), then your heart without doubt will automatically come to rely on Him alone, and will not turn to anything or anyone else in any way. Nor will it consider or perceive its own self (with its ability or power – hawl, quwwa), for in reality (which is clear to it now) there is no ability or power save in Allah.

And if you do not find this state in yourself, then it has two causes: Either the certitude (yaqin) is weak in one of these Divine Attributes (you basically don’t know Him as He should be known)..


The weakness of the heart and its sickness, because of its being overtaken by cowardliness, and its trepidation due to the illusions that dominate it. For the heart becomes trepid due to its following after and obeying its illusions – without that necessarily meaning a deficient weakness in Yaqin.

Tawakkul is not fully established until one has strength of heart and strength of yaqin, together, for by these two working together you achieve stillness of heart and its tranquility (tama’nina – “Indeed, it is in the dhikr of Allah that hearts find rest” Q13:28).

Q2:260, when Allah said to Sayyidina Ibrahim (asws): “do you not believe?” and he said, “yes of course, but I want my heart to be tranquil” in that yaqin of mine. He wanted to actually see the act of Allah reviving and gathering the dead with his own eyes, so that it could be established in his imaginative faculty – “khayal” (very important concept). For the nafs follows after the khayal, and becomes tranquil at whatever is with/in the khayal, and not with Yaqin in its beginning, until it reaches the stage known as “nafs mutma’inna”.

So the first degree of yaqin is this, that the person trusts in Allah just as he would trust in a (worldly) wakil, one who defends at the court of law.

The second stronger degree is that he trusts in Allah just as the infant is with his/her mother, for the infant knows no one else, and does not run to anyone else, and the first thing that comes out his mouth when he needs something, “MOMMY!” just as she is the first thing that occurs to his heart.

Now if you try to ask the infant to explain the nature of his tawakkul and elaborate on its fine points, it would not be able to do it. It has no perception of its own tawakkul or the intricacies of its reliance and trust.. all it knows is his mom.

Therefore, the difference between this second stronger stage of tawakkul in Allah and the first stage is that in this second stage – while being in the state of tawakkul – he is oblivious of his own tawakkul, and his heart is not directed to the tawakkul itself and its reality, but rather directed to Allah the Wakil Himself and there is no room in his heart for any thing else or any other consideration. This makes it natural and deep-rooted, in contrast to the first tawakkul, which is gained by takalluf (over-striving) and kasb (attainment thru secondary means). He is not oblivious (fani) of his tawakkul like the first one, because he has an awareness and perception which distracts him from having complete consideration of Allah, whom He depends upon, and is thus a cause for deficiency in his tawakkul, and may be a cause of pride in himself and being distracted with observing himself instead of Allah.

The third highest stage is that he be with Allah like the dead corpse in the hands of the washer, having absolutely no volition of its own, and being just a conduit for the irada (Will) and qudra (Power) of the “washer” (i.e., Allah the Powerful). And its difference with the second stage is that the child runs to his mother and cries for attention, and other things which show its own volition. Therefore, in this third stage, there might arise a state of not making du’a to Allah because one is already confident that Allah will take full care of him… (example of Sayyidina Ibrahim asws in the catapult with Jibril).

The question: Is there any remedy which helps in re-directing the heart away from leaning in dependence upon outward secondary causes and means, and having a good opinion in Allah in His facilitating the hidden means? I say: It is that you know and recognize that bad opinion is inspired from the shaytan, and that good opinion is inspired from Allah Most High, who said: “Shaytan promises you poverty and commands you to vileness” (surat Baqara). The human naturally is open to listening to the fearful thoughts from shaytan and is vulnerable before his whisperings. So if you add to this the cowardice, the weakness of the heart, the constant witnessing of those who rely fully upon outward causes, then bad opinion dominates and tawakkul is erased from his inward. While good opinion is increased when provision is facilitated thru hidden causes, by the grace of Allah.

But this is all due to their weak faith, their strong avarice, and their short endurance (sabr) under difficulties in this world for the sake of the Hereafter, and to the dominance of cowardice over their hearts thru having a bad opinion and vain long hopes.

You must develop contentment and satisfaction with the daily provision which comes to you, for it will come to you without doubt, even if you flee from it like you flee from death. And if you busy yourself with taqwa, you will see and experience for yourself the realization of His Words: “and whoever has taqwa of Allah, He will make for him a way out, and provide for him from means he could not imagine, and whoever depends upon Allah, He will be sufficient for him…” (Q65:2-3).

Ten Ways of Developing Tawakkul

These ten ways are mostly from Imam Ghazali, (with notes from Sidi Ibrahim al-Shaghouri):

1) In more than one place in the Qur’an, Allah asks us to “travel throughout the land, and see for yourself how.. ” He created this or that thing, or how He punished a certain group of people, etc. meaning, go out there and actively seek the truth, and see how Allah plans and executes His plans.

2) Imam Ghazali said one of the main problems was cowardice and unsettled sense of fear, and the opposite of that is tranquility and stillness and firmness, and these all are the promised and proven results of group dhikr. The Prophet (asws) said: “No group gathers together to make dhikr of Allah, except Allah covers them with mercy, engulfs them with tranquility (sakinah), surrounds them with angels reaching to the heavens, and boasts of them with those in His Presence.”

3) Any and every quality and branch of Iman was given in its fullness and entirety to the heart of Sayyid al-Wujud Muhammad (asws), and the closer someone is to him (asws), the greater share he obtains of the contents of his vast heart. The best means to obtain closeness to him is frequent and abundant salawat upon him (in sending benediction, prayer of blessing upon him, establishing spiritual nearness), which grows into a strong bond, and the tawakkul in his heart spills over into your heart. Also, most of the opposites of tawakkul arise from fear and cowardice, and these are only based on illusions and whisperings from shaytan. So to demolish those illusions, repeat frequently the adhkar of tahlil and la hawla..

4) Another easier way to absorb states of tawakkul from the Prophet (asws) is to sit and associate with his inheritors. After having taqwa, the next thing Allah commands us to do (Q9:118) is to “be with the truthful.” Then whatever qualities they have rubs off on you, and you get to see the world around you from their point of view and clear vision, instead of having your vision tainted and skewed by the misinformed world view of those who have no tawakkul and run after the dunya.

5) Know yourself – and you will know Allah. Enough said.

6) Simply ignore any whisperings of illusion which come from shaytan, such as that Allah has forgotten about you, etc. just don’t feed it with your attention, or else it will grow, but suffocate it by ignoring it.

7) Remember that Allah promised to give you what you need, not what you necessarily want. If you don’t get that roasted leg of lamb every day, that shouldn’t make you weak in your tawakkul. So also try to develop the other qualities of contentment, patient endurance, and stop being a wimp.

Related to the previous step, develop the quality of Zuhd, which means being inwardly detached from this world, and your life will be much easier. Why do you need that mansion and three cars? If you humiliate yourself by getting a loan for a million dollars to buy “what you need,” and then find you aren’t receiving from Allah enough money to pay back those loans, then you should only blame your stupidity and your nafs. Get your priorities in order, and you’ll be fine.

9) As Imam Ghazali said, busy yourself with acts of taqwa and fulfillment of Divine obligations, and take care of what is required of you, and He’ll take care of what He promised. “Perform the salaat and command your family to it, We do not expect provision from you, it is We who will provide for you, and the final outcome is for those who have taqwa” (Q20:132).

10) Finally, pay no attention to your tawakkul and focus on Allah al-Wakil, so you can rise to those higher stages that the ones brought near to Allah informed us about.

Shared from Yaqut al Arsh Blog of Sidi Hakim al-Shagouri, Allah bless and ease his travel
+ Part 1, Notes on Tawakkul from Imam Ghazali
+ Part 2, Notes on Tawakkul

# Related:
. Tawakkul | complete dependence & sacred trust in Allah
. Tawakkul - a personal sharing

Artwork / Photo credit: [ Imaginary Muslims ] Pin It Now!

Monday, September 20, 2010



Listen to your heart.
It knows all things,
because it came
from the Soul of the World,
and it will one day return there.  
- Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho is one of the most favorite author to many for many reasons. I fell in love instantly with The Alchemist, arguably his best and most inspirational novel. Brazilian author, magus and mystic, Paulo Coelho is one of the most widely read authors of contemporary time. Renowned for his novel, The Alchemist, he has sold more than 85 millions books worldwide and has been translated into 63 languages.

With over a million and a half copies sold around the world,  The Alchemist has already established itself as a modern classic, universally admired. Coelho is no stranger to Islam and Sufi Path. In an interview with Syrian Forward Magazine's issue of April 2009  he said: "Indeed, Sufism has inspired me a lot throughout my life and I refer to this tradition in some of my books such as The Alchemist and more recently The Zahir. Rumi is of course the first figure that springs to mind. His teachings and visions are incredibly subtle and clear."

The Alchemist for many good reasons will feel and read like a Sufi Fable where the main character is an young shepherd from Andalusian Spain who follow his heart and it's dreams as he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist. The book is full of metaphors, symbolic characters and wisdom of the Path. 

Here are some of the favorite quotes from The Alchemist:

Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure. You’ve got to find the treasure, so that everything you have learned along the way can make sense.

In his pursuit of the dream, he was being constantly subjected to tests of his persistence and courage. So he could not be hasty, nor impatient. If he pushed forward impulsively, he would fail to see the signs and omens left by God along his path.

This is what we call love. When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there's no need at all to understand what's happening, because everything happens within you.

When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.

We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.

Recently I am reading Confessions of a Pilgrim which is a book where Coelho is interviewed by award winning journalist and writer Juan Arias. In the book Coelho shares his inspiring life journey and first-hand accounts of many of his experiences including: being confined to a mental institution as a young man simply because he was an artist, his encounters with black magic and drugs, vision of his own death, the nature of writing and the spiritual quest. As I was reading the interview, there are many places which I found very profound and mind opening. He also speaks from a place of realization and from the heart of someone who is living the life as a passionate mystic. 

Born on the same day of the same month (24 August), only many years later of his literary idol, Jorge Louis Borges, Paulo Coelho  (born 1947) is passionate about writing. He was always a non-conformist, a seeker after the new leading him to try everything that appeared along the way. When, in the fever of '68, the guerrila and hippy movements took hold, the future writer fell in love with Marx, Engels and Che Guevara. He was involved in all progressive movements and was part of the the Peace and Love generation.

It was then that Coelho began to experience his crisis of faith and went off in search of new spiritual experiences, resorting to drugs, hallucinogens, sects and magic, traveling all over Latin America. In the book Confessions of a Pilgrim Coelho talks much of such experiences.

Omens are an alphabet you develp
to talk to the world's soul 

One of the secret of Paulo Coelho's writing is his personal faith in Symbol or Metaphors and Omens. He is personally very sensitive to Signs and respects Omens. When asked by the interviewer on What is an Omen, Coelho said:

Omens are a language, it's the alphabet we develop to speak to the world's soul, or the universe's or God's, whatever name you want to give it. Like any alphabet, it is individual, you only learn it by making mistakes, and that keeps you from globalizing the spiritual quest. .. You start in darkness, not knowing what you'll find, although wanting to find clues to meet up with yourself, with your destiny. And these clues come to us by way of richer alphabet, which allows us to intuit what we should or should not do. 

What happens is that at the beginning we hardly believe in anything, at a second stage we think we're mistaken, at the third, everything seems to be an omen, and then, only at the end, when an omen crosses our path over and over again without being sought out, you realize you're facing a language that goes beyond reality. 

After his extreme experiences with life followed by serious personal crisis with faith, at one point he gave up on religion and became an atheist. He was convinced that Catholicism was the worst thing in the world, just another sect. That's why he had to make such a long journey before coming back to it. Coleho returned back to his Catholicism and he confess that its not because Catholicism is better than other religions, but because it was in his cultural roots, in his blood. He says, he could have chosen Islam or Buddhism or nothing. He felt he needed something more than atheism in his life and he chose Catholicism as a way of communing with mystery. When asked about accepting Dogma in religion, I think he provide a brilliant answer which holds much food for thought:

A discussion of dogma could go on for a long while. You accept dogma because you want to accept it, not because it's imposed on you. When I was a boy I said, without an ounce of understanding, the same as everyone else: that Maria has conceived without sin etc. Later, I learned about right-wing theology, liberation theology, all of them. They are forms that change and evolve. But I'm fifty and the dogmas are centuries old. According to Jung, dogmas that are so absurd in appearance constitute the clearest, most magical and most inspired manifestation of human thinking, because they are beyond conscious thought.

These days, no matter how absurd it may appear, I accept dogma freely into my heart. Not because it's imposed, not because I feel forced into it, as in the past, but because I try to be humble before mystery. Deep down, all religions have their dogmas, which are paradigms of the most profound, arcane mystery. To me that seems beautiful, because there's no reason that something I don't understand rationally should not be true. Mystery exists.

Coelho says, I believe men can be divided into those who look for spiritual peace and warrior of light, who as saint Paul said, love constant struggle without resting on their laurels. The warrior of light is like the bullfighter who can't imagine living life without being in he ring as much as possible. ... I think life ends the moment you stop struggling and say, 'I've arrived.' That would be something I neither love nor look for. I've felt that way two or three times in my life, that is happy, immobile, at the end of a road. But it didn't last long because the good Lord very soon gave me a kick and put me back in motion.

Coelho likes the parable of Pilgrim and Pilgrimage for seeker and life journey. When asked how does he describe himself, he said:

As a pilgrim who travels an endless path. Like the pilgrim who knows of the existence of a treasure, who sees that treasure guided by omens, like the shepherd in The Alchemist. For him, it  is important to arrive at the treasure, but when he gets there he sees he is no longer the same, he's changed, he's become someone else. It is the path and the search that forge and change you. I keep searching. 

Lovers can't sleep when they feel
the privacy of the Beloved all around them

Every mystic love deciphering the Signs in the Mysteries of the Unknown. They observe the universe full  of omens. For the Muslims, every word of the Quran is called Signs (Ayah) and the whole Universe is likened as a grand Quran, an Open Book which is again immersed with innumerable Signs. Reading each Ayah of the Quran has its own reward, so it is for the grand Quran, the Creation itself and able to read its Signs are rewarding. Reading of the Signs is a sacred connection to the Maker of the Signs. Work of a seeker is to polish the inner heart so that the real eyes within may open. And with the opening of the eye of certainty one may recognize the Signs.

Every sign in the world is metaphor for the Beloved.

Every thing on the universe is stamped with the Signature of the Grand Alchemist.

Shaykh Rumi said, "Lovers can't sleep when they feel the privacy of the Beloved all around them. Someone who's thirsty may sleep for a while, but he or she will have dream of water, a full jar beside a creek, or the spiritual water you get from another person. All night, listen to the Conversation."

As one travel the Path of Life with deep reverence for Signs and for the One Who Send the Signs along the Path, poetry of life starts to open itself. You read one line and your heart leaps because 'yes!' you now understand a little more and go further and again a little more understanding arrives of what the Grand Alchemist have written on the Emerald Tablet. Thus the Journey is guided. Ihdinaas sirat al mustaqeem, guide us on the straight path.

Ya Ayyuhal lazina Aamanu! 
La tuhillu sha'aairaLlah.

O you who securely believe!
Do not violate the symbols of Allah.
- Q 5:2

# Further:
. Inspiring Quotes from The Alchemist
. Manual of the Warrior of Light (pdf)
. Paulo Coelho speaks to Forward: What's it like to be the Alchemist?
. Sufi Wisdom via Paulo Coelho's Official Blog
. More Sufi Inspirations via Coelho's Blog Pin It Now!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wisdom of Mahabharata | In the heart of action, remain liberated


Mahabharata is one of the earliest and sophisticated repository of sacred knowledge of mankind. The long surviving text is a classic in Hindu tradition. In its famous part, there are a number of illuminating conversations that occurs between Krishna and Arjuna. From Sufi perspective these conversations are like Sohbet between spiritual master and disciple. 

Who really is Krishna - is enshroud in mystery. Placed in the context, Krishna is like the Divine Voice through whom God speaks. To appreciate Krishna's perspective, the sayings of Krishna could be compared to Hadith Qudsi (sacred transmission), which traditionally are God's words spoken through the Messenger. Similarly what Krishna speaks, speaks for God, as Divine Voice. This explanation is important to understand to avoid associationism (shirk). God alone is God. Arjuna is the disciple, taleb, recipient of sacred gnosis. Krishna is the giver of the sacred gnosis, like a guide of soul.  Krishna is almost like Khidr. Krishna teaches the lesson of dharma (the Path, the reality of things as it is).

In the final battle, Krishna teaches the warrior Arjuna that the ultimate conflict is not about land and riches and worldly power.  The ultimate battle, waged on cosmic ground, is about the human spirit.  In the Mahabharata, the Ultimate Weapon is summoned, a weapon that if used will destroy the world of both matter and spirit. Shrinking from one's moral duty, refusal to act even when it is most difficult to act, and egotistical attachment to one's actions - these human weaknesses pose the greatest dangers to survival of the individual and the species. The crucial struggle is the one between sacred law and selfish greed, detachment and egotism, action and illusion - and the ultimate conflict is the one between the human soul and worldly attachments.

The following conversation is about "action in liberation" as mentioned in Peter Brooks' Mahabharata film (with slight modification for clarity). To act, but not to be attached with the fruit of action is a central wisdom teaching of Gita (Song Celestial), part of the epic Mahabharata. 

In the heart of Action 
you must remain free 
from all attachments

The conversation unfolds against a dramatic backdrop of an imminent battle, in which, Arjuna refuses to take up weapon and fights against apparently his own people. 

Krishna: "What is this mad and shameful weakness? Stand up and fight!"

Arjuna: "I am in anguish. I can’t see where my duty lies. Teach me."

To this request Krishna speaks to Arjuna.

Krishna: "Victory and defeat are the same. To Act but not to reflect on the fruit of the Act. Seek Detachment. Fight without Desire."

Arjuna: "You say, forget desire, seek detachment!! Yet you urge me to battle to massacre! Your words are ambiguous, I am confused."

Krishna: "Don’t withdraw into solitude. Renunciation is not enough. You must Act. Yet Action must not dominate you. In the heart of Action you must remain free from all attachments."

Arjuna: "How can I put into practice what you are demanding of me? The mind is capricious, unstable; it’s evasive, feverish, turbulent, tenacious. It’s harder to subdue than taming the wind."

Krishna: "You must learn to see with the same eye, a mound of earth and a heap of gold, a cow, a sage, a dog and a man who eats the dog. There is another intelligence, beyond the mind."

Arjuna: "Passion drags us away. Darkness dulls our senses. How can I find this intelligence? With what will?"

To reply to this question, Krishna lead Arjuna through the tangled forest of illusion. He began to teach him the ancient yoga of wisdom and the mysterious path of action spoke for a long time, very long time..

Arjuna further asks: "All men are born in to illusion. How can one reach the truth if one is born in illusion?"

To answer this slowly Krishna lead Arjuna through all the fibers of Divine Spirit. He showed him the deepest movements of God Being and true battlefield where one need neither warriors nor arrows. Where each man must fight alone. It’s the most secret knowledge. He showed him the whole of Truth. He taught him how the created world unfolds.

Arjuna replies: "I feel my illusions vanish one by one. Now if I am capable of contemplating it, show me your true Being." (And Arjuna was shown that which he was shown, Fihi ma Fihi).

After being granted his wish Arjuna says: "I see you. In one point I see the entire World. ... I see Life and Death. I see silence. Tell me who you are? I am shaken to the core of my being. I am afraid."

To this Krishna points his index finger towards the sky and says:

"I am All that you think. All that you say. Everything hangs on Me, like pearls on a thread. I am the Earth’s scent and the Fire’s heat. I Am appearance and disappearance. I Am the tricks that hoax. I Am the radiance of All that shines. I am Time grown ancient. All beings fall in to the night and all beings are brought back to the day light. I have already defeated all these warriors. But he who thinks he can kill and he who thinks he can be killed are both mistaken. No weapon can pierce the life-breath that is pure consciousness. No Fire can burn it. No water can drench it. No Wind can make it dry.

Have no fear and rise up because I Love you.

Now you can dominate your mysterious and incomprehensible spirit. You can see its other side. Act as you must Act. I myself Am never without Action. Rise up."

Arjuna replies: "My illusion is dissolved. My errors destroyed. By your grace now I am firm. My doubts are dispersed. I will Act according to your word."

Who says words with my mouth?

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.

The Real Doer

The wisdom of action without attachment is a timeless wisdom, validated by every authentic spiritual path. Whether we turn to Buddhism, the practice of equanimity, the practice of doing without attaching to the fruit of action - its there. Even when we turn to the Last Testament, Quran and its deep teachings, we can not help but see the same universal truth spoken again and again.

To recognize the Real Doer in every action, in every situation is not an easy feat. Sometime due to our lack of wisdom, lack of faith, too much amnesia, too much forgetfulness (ghaflat) we forget that everything belongs to Him and nothing happens without Divine Decree. Our apparent will is only a sub-set of Divine Will. Thus the truth stands, "But you cannot will, unless Allah wills. Verily, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All Encompassing Wisdom." (Q 76:30)

A certain Sufi master used to teach his students saying, "stop seeing two, see only One, learn to see only God alone."

Allahu al Wahid, wa al Ahad
God is the One, The Manifestation of Unity - The Only One 

This is the work of every sincere seeker. To understand, to realize, to start to see God behind every face, behind every doing, behind every phenomena. Not a leaf falls but with His knowledge. (Q 6:59) God is the Initiator (Muqaddam) and He is now as He was - Initiating every action, every movement and every stillness. God is the Real Sustainer and every moments the existence is from Him. God is the Creator (Khaliq) and every moment the creation comes into being. (For) each and every matter there is a Decree (from God). (Q 13:38)

"Wheresoever you turn, you see the Face of God" - is an exalted station only very rare and sincere lover can truly attain. Whether we poor servants, imperfect, insincere ones can ever reach that Door or not, the truth remains, wheresoever we turn, there is the Face of God.

According to Islamic teachings, every Action depends on the intention (niyah) and it is the intention for which an Action will be merited, not by its fruit, paradoxical as it might sound. To illustrate the point, thats why if a person have just intended to go to pilgrimage and even though he or she can't make it or dies on the way - for having the sincere intention alone - the person is rewarded. Intention is connected with consciousness, awareness, and heart's initiation aligned to the Action - which matters the most.

This universal Truth is also reflected in the words of Krishna where he says, "To Act but not to reflect on the fruit of the Act." This is because since the Real Doer is God Alone, and everything else are instruments of God, abd'Allah, servant of God - thus the fruit of Action belongs to God alone. This is one of the real reason why a true pious person can never rely on the amount of Act of devotion, prayer or pious act, since he or she never knows whether they are accepted or not by God. Thus a sincere devotee strive to purify his or her intention.When he prays, he tries to pray with the right intention to offer thanksgiving, to remember with a pure remembrance, to appreciate for all that is given. When he make pilgrimage, he tries to have the right intention - the rest is left to God.  God alone is the Judge and God sees our inner heart (its sincerity in intention), not the external appearances.

The implication of "To Act but not to reflect on the fruit of the Act" - is great because it enables what Sufis call Ihsan, it enables excellence. Because when we fast forward and become pre-occupied with fruit of Act, we lose our objective of the Act itself. Thus one can notice in life that when the best performers in athletics or any performance attains the most fantastic achievement, they will always tell that in that moment of doing or achieving the extra-ordinary, they forgot everything else, including the reward or fruit. A gold medal winner can never win gold medal in a 100 m race if he or she shift focus from Act to the fruit of the Act for a single moment. Its equally true in every aspect in life. Act we must, but the rest belongs to the Real Doer.

The great sufi poet Kabir sang:

Jo kachchu kiyaa woh Tum Kiyaa, main kachchu kiyaa naay,
Kahhon kahheen jo main kiya, Tum Hee They mujjh maai!

Whatever is done, done by You; I’ve done nothing.
If I say I did it, its only You Who is saying in me.

In Mahabharata Krishna instructed Arjuna about Action and not to claim the fruit of action, in a strikingly similar reference of battle, the Divine Voice speaks in the Quran: "You slew them not, but Allah slew them. And you threw not when you did throw but Allah threw, that He might test the believers by a fair trial from Him. Verily, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower." - The Quran 8:17

Entering the Gateless Gate

Transmitted by the Seal of Prophets, there is a sacred formula which is prized highly by the Sufi Mystics and others, which is known as Hawqala. This refers to a magnificent phrase lâ hawla wa lâ quwwata illâ bilLâh which also embodies the same truth conveyed in Krishna's teaching to Arjuna - the same universal truth realized and subsequently passed down to humanity by every enlightened figure - as in this case, was taught by the Mystic Master, Muhammad Mustafa, may peace and blessings of God be upon him. 

As Wahiduddin shares in his site an excellent brief about this phrase which contains much secret in it and has to do with the theme discussed before:

The Arabic root h-w-l depicts all manner of change and transformation.

The phrase may be translated word-by-word as:

    lâ = no, not, none, neither
    hawla = change, alteration, transformation, movement, motion
    wa = and
    lâ = no, not, none, neither
    quwwata = strength, power, potency, force, might, vigor
    illâ = but, except, if not
    bi = with, to, for, in, through, by means of
    Allâh = Arabic name for the Supreme Being

Progress is only achieved through change and transformation... and spiritual progress requires the highest degree of change and transformation. We may wish to change, but we alone do not have the power to make such changes. Such change and transformation can only occur through the tahwîl (transformation) of Allâh. That is to say, true change and transformation can arise only through the awesome and glorious powers of Allâh.

Here are some rendition of the phrase lâ hawla wa lâ quwwata illâ bilLâh that incorporate the idea of change and transformation:

    There is neither change nor power except by means of Allâh.
    There is no transformation or strength except through Allâh.
    There is neither progress nor might except through Allâh.

The magnificent phrase lâ hawla wa lâ quwwata illâ bi Allâh is mentioned numerous times in the hadith (sayings of Muhammad) as being highly regarded and highly recommended by the Prophet Muhammad.

Sa'ad narrated that Muhammad said, "Should I not lead you to a door from the doors of Paradise?" I said, "Do tell me, O' Messenger of Allah! He said, "La hawla wa la quwwata illa bilLah."

Abu Ayub al-Ansari narrates that on the night of Ascension, Muhammad passed by Mighty Messenger Abraham. Abraham asked, "O' Angel Gabriel, who is with you?" Gabriel said, "Muhammad." Abraham said to him, "Command your Ummah (community) to plant saplings of Paradise plentifully, as the soil of Paradise is fertile and it's plain is spacious." It was asked, "What are the saplings of Paradise?" He replied, "La hawla wa la quwwata illa bilLah." 

The magnificent phrase is often used as meditation seed and zikr. The reason for such great esteem is mentioned because it contains great gnosis and real nature of reality, and can help the consciousness of the beginner wayfarer to reach that of the elect gnostics, by Allah's grace and transformation.

Contemplate and meditate (tadabbur & tafakkur) upon this sacred formula:
La hawla wa la quwwata illa bilLah
There is neither transformation, nor power except by Allah.

It has remedy for every illusion of our existence. May we drink abundantly from its gnosis. By Allah, so be it!

Arabic Calligrahy of Hawqala
Just say Hu! 
the rest is merely simulation.

My note of appreciation to Aisha N. for sharing the original clip of Peter Brook's Mahabharata and generously transcribing the text. May Allah bless you.

# References:
. Video excerpt from Peter Brooks 1989 interpretation "Peter Brooks Mahabharata" via Youtube
. Wisdom of Gita : On work without attachment
. Gita Inspiration | faith and dedication to the Supreme Being
. Wisdom from Bhagavad Gita
. Wisdom of Flower
. Meditation on Bhagavad Gita | with Ram Das Pin It Now!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sufi Ghazal by Abida Parveen | mujhe bekhudi yeh tu ne

Mujhe bekhudi yeh tu ne, bhali chaashni chakhai
Kisi aarzo ki dil mein, nahi ab rahi smaai

O Surrender in Love!
You have given me such a taste that pales all worldliness.
In this heart filled with submission, no desire remains!

Na hazar hai nay khatar hai, na reja hai nay dua hai. 
Na khayal-e-bandagi hai, na tamanna-e-khudai

Neither distance nor fear... neither hope nor prayer,
neither thoughts of servitude, nor desire of godliness.

Na maqaam-e-guftugu hai, na mehal-e-justujuu hai,
Na wohan hawaas puhnchain, na khirad ko hai rasaai

No place for exchange of words... no occasion for further quest,
Where neither consciousness reaches, nor thoughts reach its realm.

Na makeen hai nay makaan hai, na zameen hai nay zabaan hai. 
Dil-e-benawa ne meray, wahan chhawni hai chhaii

Where no one resides.. neither habitation exist
This wandering heart has come to camp there.

Na visaal hai na hijraan, na suroor hai na gham hai. 
Jise kaheyye khwab-e-ghaflat, so woh neend mujh ko aayee.

Where there is neither union...nor separation
neither sorrow... nor joy
What is said becomes an endless oblivion,
I have entered in such holy suspension!

- Sufi Ghazal (couplet) | original lyrics by Hazrat Shah Niaz 

Queen of Sufi Music, Abida Parveen sings this ecstatic song in her album Raqs e Bismil | >> Click here to download the track Pin It Now!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

For Whom? | Jami

Tomorrow when the Beloved calls out to one whom He has slain,
that one will rise from the dust and once more sacrifice his soul.

In the midst, you are nothing; whatever is, is the Beloved.

He is the one asking, "Am I not your Lord-Sustainer?" *
and He is the one replying "Yes!"

Die, Jami, pining for the Beloved
for whom if you die a hundred thousand deaths,
He'll still ask:
      "For whom?"
              "For whom?"

- Jami, Divan-e Kamil-e Jami

* Alastu bi Rabbikum? 
                  - Bala Shahidna!

When thy Lord drew forth from the Children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves, (saying): "Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)?"
              They said: "Yea! We do testify!"

(This), lest ye should say on the Day of Reckoning: "Of this we were never aware."  - The Quran Pin It Now!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Azeemiyya Invocations

Bismillah wa Eid Mubarak

The Messenger is among you

Wai a'lamu anna fikum Rasulullah...
Fadlan mina Allahi wa ni'amatan..

And know that the Messenger of Allah is among you...
a Grace and Favour from Allah..
- Q 49:7-8

And unite him (the Beloved Messenger) with me, just as You joined the soul with the nafs, outwardly and inwardly, in wakefulness and in sleep, And make him, O Lord, a soul for my body in every respect, in the here and now, before the next world to come, O the Magnificent One.

- Invocation of the enigmatic saint and mystic Ahmad Ibn Idris, Allah be pleased with him

The Doorkeepers of Love

A seeker went to ask a sage for guidance on the Sufi way. The sage counseled, "if you have never trodden the path of love, go away and fall in love; then come back and see us."

- Jami

The Sufis are called the Doorkeepers of Love. Secret of the Sufi Path is concealed within Love (not love as the world commonly understand it, but an exalted Elixir of Love bestowed only through Grace) and particularly for the Sufis, its overflowing (fayd) manifestation is through the love for the Habib Allah (Beloved of Allah), the Seal of Prophets and God's Messenger, Muhammad, may God perfect our love for him. Its an open secret that the greatest of the great Sufi Masters, the Spiritual Pole of their time always had one thing common without exception, and that was their immense love ('ishq) for Prophet Muhammad.

From the blessed life-time of Prophet Muhammad, the love that was given in the heart of his companions for him, is totally unheard of, never found in history both before and after, and in some cases were neo-platonic love (famous among them is the case of Uwais Qarni who lived in the time of the Prophet, but never physically met him, yet his love for the Messenger surpassed many of his most intimate companions, thus Uwais became known as Ashiq e Rasul, Lover of the Messenger and was instructed by the Messenger to be given his garment after his passing, a sign of Sufic transmission of baraka). There is no doubt among historians as well that no other human being in human history commanded more faithful and uncompromising love during his own life time than Prophet Muhammad.

Any authentic spiritual tradition always emphasis on love; and definitely the love for its spiritual Master and heirs (true followers) of the Master. The alchemy of the heart which happens by love and through love alone - is something which is impossible to produce by any other means. Those who know and realize this wisdom are indeed very fortunate.

Through love for the Teacher, Guide, Murshid, Master - Love is unveiled to the heart (made known) and experienced by the soul. So is the reality of Love for the Sufis, for whom, love for the Messenger of God is an indispensable alchemy. The sincerity, love, devotion, fellowship towards the Messenger thus constitute part of one seamless reality for the Sufis - of the sincerity, love, devotion and fellowship towards God. One of the goal of Sufi training is to develop mystical awareness through meditation and praises of the Prophetic Light  (Nuri Muhammad) that is contained in every heart of heart and to manifest perpetual presence in the reality of the Mentor. As the Divine voice instructs, "If you love God, follow the Messenger and God will love you."  First is love for God ascending, witness, realized and actualized by following the Messenger, and then the blessed and precious descent of God's love envelop. Its important to note that the sacred formula: la ilaha illallah Muhammad Rasulullah is without an 'wa' or 'and' in between "la ilaha illallah" part and "Muhammad Rasulullah" part. There is no separation between the reality of God and His Messenger, love for God and love for Rasul.

Oh Allah, I ask You to grant me the love of You
and the love of those whom You love,
and grant me, Oh my Lord, the love of those actions
which lead me to the love of You.
- Prayer of Prophet Muhammad

Taken in the Arena of Love

The greatest Sufi Masters who each were spiritual power house of their time, who were guide of not just few souls but thousands upon thousands, spanning across many generations, such powerful teachers of sacred knowledge and guide they were - in their individual journey in the path of Perfection - all of them strove to perfect their love for the Messenger, the Archetypal Master for the sufi mystics to whom goes back the original connection in every mystical path (tariqa). All the great Sufi masters were Asheq-e-Rasulullah, lover of God's Messenger.

Ahmad ibn Idris al-Fasi (1760-1837, Morocco) was one such great lover of Rasul, a Qutb of his time, an enigmatic saint and a lighthouse of Islam. May Allah bless him and sanctify his station. He is described as one of the major inspirer of the spread of Islamic brotherhoods in Africa. He received transmission from Shadhiliya Sufi lineage and established in the tree, his own branch, Idrisiyya (Mohammediya Shadhiliya) Tariqa. As  a prominent teacher of sacred knowledge in Mecca early in the nineteenth century, he is credited with inspiring a number of great disciples who subsequently established orders of importance to the modern history of African Islam. Many scholars now call the group of orders resulting from Ahmad Ibn Idris' teachings the most powerful school of modern Islam. Through his tireless inspired transmission, teachings, his prayers and litanies, his students and their students, he has exercised an enduring influence that stretches from North African east to Malaysia and Indonesia, north to southern Yugoslavia and Istanbul and south along the East African coast. In northeast Africa, his influence was especially profound through such students as Muhammad b. Ali al-Sanusi, Muhammad Uthman al-Mirghani and Ibrahim al-Rashid. 

As it happens to the greatly refined souls, the testimony of Love for the Messenger is rewarded by a true, awakened vision of the Prophet in which the Messenger appear, in some cases, converse and bestows special blessing to his asheq (lover). For those who are brought near (Muqarrabun), this vision is reported to happen in waking state, not in sleep. This constitute part of what Sufi Masters call, Fath al-Kabir, or Grand illumination / enlightenment or Great Opening. 

In the devotional landscape of the Sufis, the Prophet is alive. The Bhakti or Pure Love and Devotion of the Prophet is a sacred mystery for the Sufis and through that love the one who is loved makes his epiphany or appearances. How does this mystical process happen, to portray that in accurate words is beyond our capacity. But Al-Sanusi, Ibn Idris's Principal student provide us some clue:
"This ... is founded on an inner submergence accompanied by a visible manifestation when you see the Prophet himself, may God bless and grant him peace. This is the outcome when you try to follow him in your words and deeds, when you busy your tongue with saying the tasliya (benediction upon the Prophet) and repeating it at every moment in public and in private until the glorification of the Prophet, namely tasliya, overwhelms your heart and permeats your deepest self, so that you quiver when you hear him mentioned, and the vision of him takes hold of your heart and you see his form before your inner eye. Then God will bestow upon you His clemency, outwardly and inwardly. Thereafter, you will see a Vision of the Prophet in many of your dreams while asleep as a first step; secondly you will see him unexpectedly while between awake and sleeping state. Finally you will see him awake."

Ahmad Ibn Idris was graced by not only one but a number of such awakened vision and he was transmitted special litanies and prayer by the Prophet himself. In one such blessed visitation of Prophet Muhammad and Khidr (the immortal guide of soul), Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Idris was gifted with a special prayer which is prized by the Sufis in great value and considered extraordinary in merit for those who recite and "work" with it.

The Awakened Vision and its Transmission

In his blessed dream, Shaykh Ahmad ibn Idris, may Allah be pleased with him, had a meeting in the waking state, with the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa Alihi wa sallam, and al-Khidir, alayhi assalam. The Prophet said to al-Khidir: “Ya Khidir: teach him that which joins together all of the dhikrs, salawat, and prayers for forgiveness of sins, and is superior in reward, larger in number, more exalted in worth, and greater in obtaining assistance.” 

Al-Khidir, alayhi assalam, said: “What is that, oh Prophet of Allah?” And so the Prophet, alayhi assalatu wassalam, taught him the Idrisi Tahlil, the Salaat Azeemiyya, and the Istighfar al-Kabir. Shaykh Ahmad ibn Idris says: “And so I repeated these after them both and I was clothed in Muhammadan lights and power and was nourished with the divine springs. Then the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said to me: ‘Oh Ahmad, you have been given the Keys to the heavens and the earth, which are the dhikr, the salaat, and the istighfar. If you say them once, they are equal to the entire universe and what is in it many times over.”

The Idris Tahlil: The Remembrance Formula

Lā ilāha illallāh Muhammadun rasūlullāh, 
fī kulli lamhatin wa-nafasin, ‛adada mā wasi‛ahū ‛ilmullāh.

"God alone is the Divine Reality of Which Muhammad is the Messenger" in every glance and every breath, as numerous as all that is contained within the Divine knowledge.

(Lā ilāha illallāh Muhammadun rasūlullāh, fī kulli lamhatin wa-nafasin, ‛adada mā wasi‛ahū ‛ilmullāh) ("God alone is the Divine Reality of Which Muhammad is the Messenger" in every glance and every breath, as numerous as all that is contained within the Divine knowledge.)

The Salaat Azeemiyya: The Prayer of Immensity


Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
Allāhumma innī as’aluka bi-nūri wajhillāhil ‛aẓīm,
alladhī mala’a arkāni ‛arshillāhil ‛aẓīm,
wa qāmat bihī ‛awālimullāhil ‛aẓīm,
an tuṣallī ‛alā mawlānā Muḥammadin dhil-qadril ‛aẓīm,
wa ‛alā āli nabiyyillāhil ‛aẓīm,
bi-qadri ‛aẓamati dhātillāhil ‛aẓīm,
fī kulli lamḥatin wa nafasin ‛adada mā fī ‛ilmillāhil ‛aẓīm,
ṣalātan dā’imatan bi-dawāmillāhil ‛aẓīm,
ta‛ẓīman li-ḥaqqika yā mawlānā yā Muḥammad yā dhal-khuluqil ‛aẓīm,
wa sallim ‛alayhi wa ‛alā ālihī mithla dhālik,
wajma‛ baynī wa-baynahū kamā jama‛ta baynarrūḥi wannafsi,
ẓāhiran wa bāṭinan, yaqdhatan wa manāman,
waj‛alhu yā Rabbi rūḥan li-dhātī min jamī‛il wujūhi,
fiddunyā qablal ākhirati, yā ‛aẓīm

Approximate Translation:

O Allah, I ask by the Magnificent Light of Your Face,
Which filled pillars of the Majestic Divine Throne,
and by it are upheld the worlds of Allah, the Immense,
To send blessings upon our Master Muhammad of magnificent worth,
and upon the family of the Prophet of Allah, the exalted,
as much as the greatness of the Essence of Allah, the Great
In every glance and in every breath, as numerous as that is contained within the Knowledge of Allah, the Great.
A prayer that is perpetual in the perpetuity of Allah, al Azim
In glorification of your worth, O our Master Muhammad, O you of the most noble nature,
and send peace upon him and his family just as much,
and join him with me, just as You joined the soul with the nafs,
outwardly and inwardly, in wakefulness and in sleep.
And make him, O Lord, a soul for my body in every aspect,
In the here and now, before the next world to come, O the Magnificent One.

The Istighfar Kabir: The Magnificent Forgiveness


I seek the forgiveness of Allah the Great, there is no divine reality but He, the Ever Living, Sustainer of Life, the Forgiver of our mistakes, the Majestic and Generous. And I turn to Him in repentance from all acts of disobedience, and all short comings and offenses. From every error that I have committed intentionally and unintentionally, openly and in secret, in word and deed.

In my every action and my every stillness, my every thought and my every breath, always and forever and eternally. From the error committed that I am aware of and the error committed that I am unaware of. To the number of all things contained in His knowledge, registered in the Book of Life, written down by the Divine Pen, and to the number of all that His omnipotence has created, and His will chosen, and as much as the mystical ink of Allah’s words. As it befits the Majesty of the Face of Allah, and His Beauty and Perfection, and as our Lord wishes and as He pleases.

Understanding its deeper meanings

While bestowing the 3 gifts: namely the dhikr, the salaat, and the istighfar the Messenger of God calls them, "the keys to the heavens and the earth" which means the entire panaromic manifestation of all that is, the entire treasure of the kingdom of God so to speak. The dhikr, salaat and istighfar are 3 essential provisions that a seeker must keep and with which he or she travels. The dhikr or remembrance is the first provision, one use it to awake from the slumber of forgetfulness. The salaat or prayer or invocation is connection, sacred conversation of the heart of the seeker to the Soul of the Universe. The istighfar or asking forgiveness is the robe of humility which only the truly gnostics understand the value of it in totality because with every advancement of the seeker, one more and more become bewildered and in awe of the Immensity of the Divine (Azeemiyya), and hence at that part of the journey the seeker realize that every praise falls short, every embodiment is less than perfect which is worthy as a gift to the Beloved. Hence the lover blush and ask forgiveness - which is the istighfar.

The commentary of the blessed words in the Salaat, specially that of "joining with the Rasul and him becoming the soul"  is explained by the disciples of Shaykh Ahmad ibn Idris. This is graciously shared in the Riyadat an-Nafs blog. >> Click here to download and read the PDF


"Oh Ahmad, you have been given the Keys to the heavens and the earth, which are the dhikr, the salaat, and the istighfar. If you say them once, they are equal to the entire universe and what is in it many times over." - Prophet in the veridical dream to Ahmad ibn Idris

Shaykh Ibrahim ar-Rashid, one of the main students and successors of Sayyidi Ahmad ibn Idris wrote in a letter: "As for the Azeemiyya, the Messenger of Allah salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam was asked about its virtues. He said: ‘It outweighs Dalai’l al-Khayrat by a thousand thousand thousand thousand thousand times.’ He said “a thousand” twenty times. And it is greater and more than that, but this is to make it easier for us to understand. Understand the secret of his saying: “in every glance and every breath, as many times as all the things contained within the Knowledge of Allah, the Great.”

And shaykh Ahmad ibn Idris wrote in a letter to shaykh Muhammad al-Majdhub: “We mentioned to you that you should send into the khalwa (special retreat of the Sufis under the instruction and guidance of a Teacher) those in whom you see zeal and determination. For the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has urged us to send some of the brothers to the khalwa, and that they enter it reciting the Salaat Azeemiyya. And so they entered it and the gate opened between them and between Allah and His Messenger.”

Professor Mark Sedgwick wrote in Saints & Sons: “Ibn Idris’ prayers are generally regarded by Sufis today as extraordinary, especially the central prayer, the Azimiyya...The Azimiyya has become popular far outside the orders deriving from Ibn Idris. It is used, for example, by Shadhilis in Tunis and by [Ba] Alawis (an ancient order of Hadramawti origin) in Singapore, and perhaps elsewhere (notably Indonesia and Malaysia). 

Ijaza: Permission of Transmission

Sayyidi Shaykh Saleh al-Ja’fari wrote: I saw the Messenger of Allah salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam in the sleep, in his noble Rawda, so I greeted him and recited the Salaat Azeemiyya of the great scholar and muhaddith, the shaykh and sayyid Ahmad ibn Idris, may Allah be pleased with him. So I said to him: Oh Messenger of Allah, shall I recite salaat on you with this formula? So he said, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam: “With it and with others.” 

So I considered this an ijaza for me from him, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam. I give ijaza in it to everyone who sees it among the believers, as I was given it by the Messenger of Allah, salla Allhu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, and I consider it to be one of the greatest of ijazas. And I was also given ijaza in it in the waking by my shaykh the knower of Allah, the sayyid Muhammad, from his father the sayyid Abd al-Aali, from his father the sayyid Ahmad ibn Idris, may Allah be pleased with them all. And it is known as Seeghat al-Futuh (The Formula for Openings) among the masters of the Mirghaniyya, Sanusiyya, and Rashidiyya tariqas. And sayyidi Muhammad Uthman al-Mirghani, may Allah be pleased with him, began his book of salawat with it, and urged people to read it. And it is said that its recitation causes one to hold firmly to the Prophetic Sunna and to become near to the Messenger, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam. (credit)

and Allah knows the best, He is the best of Giver, when He gives, there is none who can withheld, and when He withheld, there is none who can give.


Deem not the summons of the Messenger among yourselves
like the summons of one of you to another.
- Q 24: 63

An advice from Shaykh Saleh al-Ja’fari, may Allah be pleased with him: “You must act upon this advice which is more precious than gold and silver, and will make you race ahead of the horse riders in the race track, and that will, by the permission of Allah Most High, take you to what you desire, to what no eye has seen nor ear heard, nor has occurred to the heart of man. 

It is: If you wanted to read the Azeemiyya or any of the other Ahmadiyya salawaat, you must have wudu (Islamic way of Ablution, purification with water) and sit facing the Qibla, sitting on your knees, looking down, directing your heart and soul to the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, imagining his Muhammadan image / light in your heart, looking at him with the looking of real witnessing. And by that the veils between you and the one being witnessed, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, will be removed, and he will look at you as you look at him, and love you as you love him, and he will give you from his sublime glances and his luminous soul, and so your soul will shake like the green twig shakes when it is given water. 

This is especially if it is in an empty place after the Fajr salaat (prayer before sunrise) or in the depth of the night. So if anything appears to you, do not tell anyone of it except your Shaykh, the one from whom you took the path, and if you do not see anything then be patient until you become fully consummate and you deserve it. God the Most High said: “And when he reached full maturity and became consummate in form, We gave him wisdom and knowledge.” (Q 28:14)

So hold on to this unique and powerful point of advice, especially if you are in al-Madina al-Munawwara in his masjid, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, for that will be better and faster and nearer to what you desire.

Laqad jaakum Rasoolun min anfusikum
Aazeezun AAalayhi ma AAanittum
hareesun AAalaykum
bi al mu'mineena raoofun raheem.
Now has come unto you a Messenger from amongst your selves.
It grieves him that you should perish;
ardently anxious is he over you.
To the believers he is most tender and merciful.
- Q 9:128

Wai a'lamu anna fikum Rasulullah...
And know that the Messenger of Allah is among you...
- Q 49:7

# Resources and References:
. Commetary on the Azeemiyya
. Enigmatic saint: Ahmad ibn Idris and the Idrisi tradition
. Sidi Ahmad ibn Idris Biographies
. Sidi Ahmad-ibn-Idris Biography
. Ahmadi Idrisiah
. The Ahmadiyya Muhammadiyya Tariqa and Shadhiliyya
. The Paradoxical Nature of the Relationship with the Teacher
. Dreaming Prophet Muhammad
. The Vision of the Prophet in the Islamic Tradition
. Qasidah al-Burdah | Poem of the Mantle Pin It Now!