Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Today's Equivalent Act of Freeing Slaves

We need spiritual activism instead of political activism -
So that when you enter a room,
Light enters with you.

~ Shaykh al Yaqoubi

Around this time every year during Ramadan, for the last few years, thanks God for His generous servants and Allah is al-Karim, the Most Generous, we are fortunate enough to be able to feed a good number of homeless people. On behalf of all who contribute towards this cause May God accept this small effort out of His bounteous promise “Those who give to charity night and day, secretly and publicly, receive their recompense from their Lord; they will have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.” (The Final Testament, 2:274)

Last night, like past few nights, me and my wife went out at night to distribute food among such people near about where we live. We generally would buy packet food and take a ride and go about different pockets in the surrounding neighborhoods where such homeless people are found. Our goal is to find those who are not inclined to begging and particularly who live on the street and have small children with them. Some time we also come across mentally unstable people who can neither beg nor ask to people and at the same time end up in the street because of the lack of any support system for them (an unfortunate reality of third world countries with mismanaged resources).

In additional to feeding the homeless, this Ramadan and hopefully this will continue even after this month is over, our intention also is to identify individuals / family who are homeless and interview them to figure out what their aspirations and hopes are for and to give them interest free start-up capital so that they could invest in small scale business.

Last week we interviewed a lady Hunafa, whom we found to have started living in a park with four of her small children aged from 5 to 15. It was a heart breaking scene just to imagine let alone seeing them living without any proper shelter with all her children in the naked ground with almost no proper means. Her elderly mother was also with them. There was no drinking water near about, no sanitation, no proper shelter that could save them from heat, rain or dust. 

We asked her about her condition and how she became homeless with four children. She informed us that her husband left her sometime back and during the birth of her last child there were complications and the medical bill came out too high. As a result she couldn’t pay her rent for few months and was kicked out of her one room housing. Since then she is in the street and here at the part she and her elder children sell bottled water, flower to just to get by. Even that night when we were talking to her she couldn’t feed her children at night.

So we asked what she would do if she were given some start-up capital. Her eyes lit up at the news of it and she said she used to be a vegetable seller before and knows that trade. So we offered that we would provide her a small start-up capital of 8,000 taka (approximately US $105  / UK £65) on condition that she must rent a room first (typical basic rent could be 1500 taka / 20 USD) and move to it with her children. We had to give that instruction because often time such less fortunate people get used to their poverty and have very poor money / resource management skill and have a tendency to spend whatever cash they have in hand in no time. But we gave her that condition that in order to get the full money she must provide a safe shelter for her children with proper sanitation, safe drinking water first; which can come only after she rent a place of her own, instead of using up all the money while being on the street. That night money was given to buy food for the next few days and the following night she was handed over the first installment (50%) of the total to start-up.We are hoping and pray that this small help, this small kindness will save her and her four children and elderly mother from being on the street and live with a better humane condition.

We are in the process identifying more of such candidates and wit God's help to help them come out of their extreme poverty and hopeless perpetual cycle of miserable economic hardship by providing them enough start-up capital to invest in small scale business according to their own aspirations. Due to our budget limitation we are keeping the start-up capital amount the minimum to contribute to more beneficiaries.

In our time we feel that helping anyone out of extreme poverty is equivalent to freeing a slave in the past when organized slavery was a norm. As we know that freeing a slave was of great in those time and it remains the same even today, simply the mode of slavery has changed a little bit. It is now the extreme poverty which shackles people the most and utterly degrade basic human dignity as it did in the case of organized slavery in the past.

If you would like to contribute towards this cause, even if this means to free 10 or 20 family, comprising of 40 to 100 people; you could be sure of that through such contribution you’ve made a real and true difference in the lives of these people.

For donation you may use secure Paypal (accepts Credit / Debit Cards) or can send money via Western Union Money Transfer. For question, suggestion or need help with your donation, feel free to write to me: sadiq.alam@gmail.com or call me at my cell phone: +8801711056474

Even if your donation is of small amount it will carry a lot of baraka, lot of blessings and may mean a lot for these people. Your small amount could free people from their modern day slavery of extreme poverty.

Click here to Donate:

Once you click on the Donate button above, if you wish to donate thru your bank, on the following page: click on Continue as indicated in the following screenshot (green circle).

God willing, I will do my best to give you feedback on this venture and you shall know about the differences you’ve made for the people.

Peace and blessings be with you.
Sadiq M. Alam

By Street Artist Banksy: Do we need emergency treatment for that which defines our humanity: Peace and Love?

Do you know who really rejects the faith? That is the one who mistreats the orphans. And does not advocate the feeding of the poor. And woe to those who observe the prayers - who are totally heedless of their prayers. They only show off. And they forbid charity. - The Quran 107:1-7

You cannot attain righteousness until you give to charity from the possessions you love. Whatever you give to charity, GOD is fully aware thereof. - 3:92

We have blessed you with many a bounty. Therefore, you shall pray to your Lord, and give to charity. - 108:1-2

Any charity you give is for your own good. Any charity you give shall be for the sake of GOD. Any charity you give will be repaid to you, without the least injustice. - 2:272

 There’s an elephant in the room.
There’s a problem we never talk about.

The fact is that life isn’t getting any fairer.

- 1.7 Billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water.
- 20 Billion people live below the poverty line.
- Every day hundreds of people are made to feel physically sick by morons at art shows telling them how bad the world is but never actually doing something about it.

Anybody want a free glass of wine?

~ Credit: Banksy ~

+ Fu*k No Poverty: a tumblr blog worth checking
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

THE SECRET THAT IS LOVE: Sufi Teachings of Master Ahmet Kayhan

Ahmet Kayhan was known to his students as Dede or grandfather, for he was fond to be known by that affectionate title than anything else. The following teaching is taken from among the many sheets distributed by him, may his soul find eternal bliss. His written teachings comprise a special selection made by him which, in his view, provided the shortest of shortcuts to Sufism. Shaykh Ahmet Kayhan is one of the rare hidden teachers, a grand master of Sufism.


The secret of religion is love.

Religion is a divine law.

(Its noteworthy here to remember the blessed sayings of Christ: "I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God's law will disappear until its purpose is accomplished." / "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill." / "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.")

The secret of religion is Law (rights). The secret of Law is conscience. And the secret of conscience is love.

Religion comprises these three in the same way that a fruit is composed of rind, of a fleshy part and a core. Although the core is not apparent from the outside, it is the innermost, the active part. The heart of all religion is love. Love gives rise to conscience, to consideration, to compassion and to tolerance.

The Law is the external covering of all this. It prevents the flesh and the core from being spoiled and destroyed. Although it may not, at first glance, appear to have much in common with its contents, in reality it is directly based on them. Just as conscience arises from love, Law in turn arises from conscience. It is merely the codification of rights already granted implicitly at the level of conscience.

The Secret that is Law

Law is a delicate balance between rights and duties, between liberties and limitations. The duty of one person is nothing but the right of another, and the limitation of one is the freedom of another. Absolute freedom cannot exist, and if it could, then law, and hence justice, would not exist. It is as if freedom were in short supply and had to be apportioned equally. For the increase of one's freedom occurs only at the expense of another's, and if justice is not distributed equally, that is injustice. Hence we have equality before the law, and equality before man's law is based on equality before God's Law, since all men are equal before God.

Because Law is based on conscience and ultimately on love, what is lawful in Islam is that which is informed by love. To put this is a little differently, the only action which is free of blame is that which is based on love, and the Divine Law is a compendium of such action or non-action.

The all-important conclusion from this is that even if you do not feel love for a creature, you will have done it no wrong if you treat it according to the prescription of Divine Law. Thus Islam answers the critical question: "How should I behave toward beings?" in the following concise way: treat them as if you loved them, in the same way as you would act if you loved them. And for our convenience, Islam outlines in its prescriptions of Holy Law what such action is.

In religion, Law means righteousness above all else. For instance, a person must not touch or covet what does not belong to him. When we say law or rights, this doesn't mean only those rights pertaining to humanity. Law means to recognize the same right for all beings in the universe, whether animate or inanimate, from an atom to the sun. It is the requirement of being human and of being a Moslem to treat them in the same way. For all beings are the beings of God. If one claims to love God, one absolutely must love His beings as well. One who does not love existence cannot be said to love God. In view of this, our own personal choices of what is good and bad, beautiful and ugly, useful and harmful, attractive and repulsive, have no place in Law. If these become involved, they precipitate the wrath of God. Here, to like or dislike is one thing, and Law is another.

The inability of human beings to truly progress arises from their failure to understand this point. He who does not abide by the Law is the greatest of sinners and has no inkling of what it means to be human. About this there should be no doubt whatever.

Man is free to act according to his disposition. He may not take an interest in any being he dislikes, which he finds bad, harmful or repulsive. But if for any reason an interest or relationship is established, he must recognise their rights. This is because man is responsible for rights, and for rights alone.

Whether one is a Moslem or a Christian is immaterial at this point. For this is where the door of happiness opens. All beings are the forms, the manifestations, of God's names. Therefore, the holy books declare God's order unanimously: "You are to think of the other as you think of yourself." For all beings, whether animate or inanimate, contain His spirit.

It is due to this fact that where Law is concerned, no one can act according to his whim. God has forbidden this. For His command is not whim, but the very yardstick by which all things are to be measured. The human heart is His holy dwelling-place which He has reserved for Himself. He who breaks a heart will suffer, even if the poor fellow doesn't understand why.

In reality, man is the representative of God and His viceregent over creation. As such, he is burdened with the utmost legal responsibility and obligation. He is responsible for all things living and nonliving, from the stone he steps on to the bird in the sky. This is why the People of God say: "The requirement of honesty is to consider one another," and they do not show negligence in serving this rule.

God has graced man above all beings and placed them under man's care. If a mishap occurs, however, this is due to us. If man becomes corrupt, everything becomes corrupt. If man is polluted, all nature is polluted. Hence the present state of nature can stand as a mirror to our internal state. We should know that this is so and touch everything with "In the name of God" on our lips, replacing it with these same words. We should never forget whilst using something that it possesses spirit. We should treat it in the same way as we treat and care for a part of our own body. Then the Koranic statement: "You are pleased with God and He is pleased with you" (89:28) becomes reality-that is, you will be pleased with Him and He will be pleased with you. This is the answer that heals (makes whole).

The Secret that is Conscience

Law is derived from conscience. Without conscience, there would be no consideration of others and no respect for their rights. In fact, not even the existence of such rights would be recognized. Conscience requires the implicit presupposition that "the other" is, at some basic level, the same as or at least not different from the self. This leads to an unexpected conclusion, that the so-called "positive sciences" are, in fact, covertly normative. Behaviorist psychology, for example, by taking the other and his inner world as an unknown, by treating the other as a "black box" that can be judged only on the basis of exhibited behavior, reduces people to the status of automatons, quietly revoking their claim to rights. This, in turn, is nothing but lawlessness where the "other" is concerned. All rights then belong to the self, and to the other?-None. This is nothing but injustice.

This also indicates the need to be very careful with our sciences and philosophies. It is never very obvious what metaphysics lurk behind our "objective" hypotheses or conclusions-nor where they may lead. If metaphysics is an ineradicable residue underlying all science and philosophy, then it is much better that this be of a life-enhancing, rather than life-denying, nature.

Conscience is the prime mover of Law-it creates and resonates in the heart and mobilizes man. If a person does everything lawfully, in the way prescribed by Law, believing in its utter rightness and content in his heart about its truth-this, then, is conscience. This is the foundation of Law; another name for it is "faith." It is the "still, small voice" that comes from the depths of one's heart. It is the product of an indubitable, pure and undefiled feeling. May God grant us all that state, which comes to us on a tide of the ocean of compassion (Amen).

If man has no faith, neither does he possess conscience. Lacking conscience, he also lacks humanity. Blessed are those who recognise Law and have a clear conscience, for God is with them.

The Secret That Is Love

Love is the real source of man's feelings of compassion and kindness, the sublime synthesis of his finest and most delicate feelings of conscience. Since the sway of conscience has purified the heart, purging it of all things, good and bad alike, God installs His throne of manifestation in that heart. Thus love of God engulfs one's being, and that person becomes pure love. Then everything loves him and he loves everything.

And so, that person becomes invested with God's attributes and friendship, harmony and welfare, and joins His Chosen People. Henceforth, his place in both worlds is Paradise and his station, comfort and friendship.

This is a three-stage process: (1) Righteousness, diligent observation of the Law enabling (2) the conscience to flower-and the full maturity of conscience is (3) love.

But what happens once one becomes, as it were, an incarnation of love? Does one shed the Law and conscience as if they were autumn leaves?

On the contrary, the Law and conscience find their fullest, most mature, manifestation in a person who has become pure love. Rote Imitation becomes Realization. He or she no longer acts out of blind obedience to the letter of the Law, but in full knowledge and consciousness of why the Law prescribes or prohibits a certain thing. The clumsy, mechanical, sometimes jarring and disturbing implementation of the Divine Law gives way to a smooth, harmonious flow-the grace of love. Such people are a guiding light to all beings lucky enough to come within their sphere.

Such a person is called a saint, or a "friend of God", and has become identified with pure love. The motto of the friend of God is "I, if I be lifted up, will lift up all mankind with me." The saints are the channels or vehicles by which God's love, compassion and mercy reach the world. Indeed in ages when there are many saints of high realisation, there are fewer wars, plagues and calamities-the world is a "closer" place to Paradise. In ages when they are few and far between, these channels of access to grace are "clogged," as it were, and the situation is reversed. Look around you and, with this measure in hand, you will be able to judge what kind of times we live in.

Eight Heavens, Seven Hells

Islam is based on eight principles. These are referred to as the eight gates of Heaven:

1. Compassion, kindness and affection.

2. Righteousness.

3. Loyalty.

4. Generosity.

5. Patience.

6. Discretion.

7. Knowing one's poverty and weakness.

8. Giving thanks to God

Without these, there is no peace, happiness or Paradise in either world.

Anyone who is clothed in these praiseworthy traits and has made them part of his constitution is a proper Moslem and worthy of the Noble Messenger of God, Mohammed. For these praiseworthy manners and characteristics are the beautiful traits and attributes of our Prophet. They have radiated from him to his family, children and Companions, thence becoming the fundamental constituents of Islam. So testifies the Koran.

And this is why Islam is not simply the recitation of the Word of Witnessing or the search for Heaven in a mosque. The firmness of God's revelatory secrets depends on these qualities; hence, so do the continuance of life, its peace and happiness. Throughout one's life one must always be based in the good, the true and the beautiful. Only with these verities are immortality and eternity feasible.

It is for this reason that the above principles have always been a guiding light and torch in the hands of mankind and the travelers to Truth. Just as one cannot see in the dark or find one's way, neither can he reach his Lord. God says: "Be light, come to Me, attain My mystery," and desires us. Our great Prophet exemplified the meaning of this declaration in his Ascension (the Miraj). Without these lights of truth, in the darkness of our ignorance, how could we find the way to our Lord and be worthy of His Pleasure?

Therefore, these agreeable traits and characteristics are what is valuable, whether at the stage of general Law, or of mystical schools (conscience), or of attaining Reality (love).

Without them, a person cannot be worthy of his Lord, no matter whether he is a prophet or a madman. This is the secret of the Four Books and the Hundred Pages revealed to the various Prophets. These eight principles are the sources of life for humanity and human conscience that bestow happiness, peace and joy.

All the virtues and merits in the world are encompassed by these traits. This is why they have been called the eight gates of Heaven. Those who possess them live in Paradise even while in this world.

As for the seven circles of Hell, the following are the traits that open their gates:

1. Pride.

2. Covetousness.

3. Envy.

4. Discord.

5. Backbiting.

6. Lust.

7. Anger.

All the evil traits and manners in the world are, in turn, contained in these. No matter what or who he is or how true he may appear to be, these are the characteristics that lie close to a person's heart if he does not acknowledge goodness, beauty and truth. It makes no difference if he never raises his head from prostration. Being human and being a Moslem are both possible only by relying on Truth. Islam cannot be attained by following the lead of one's caprice, by being carried away by one's ego, by exhibitionism or by fishing for other people's praise. One will then have opened the gates of the seven Hells, pride, rebellion and downfall.

Note, however, that there are eight Heavens as opposed to only seven Hells. This is because God Almighty has said: "My Mercy encompasses (is greater than) My Wrath." Indeed in Islam, "In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful" precedes everything. No matter how great one's sins, they are swept away in a torrent of Divine Compassion and Mercy, provided one resolves to rectify one's ways in accordance with the Law. The opportunity for absolution is always there, and never far away.

For the secret of religion is love.

>> Excerpt shared here. For more teachings, visit The Royal Road: Three Teachings from the Master

+ (download): Meaning of the Four Books: An anthology and a window onto the teachings of Master Ahmet Kayhan

Haji Ahmet Kayhan: Grand Master of Sufism
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ramadan Fundraising: Invitation to Sacred Activism

Reading and talking about Oneness of God is one thing,
But to enliven it is another matter all together.

There are many for whom Oneness is just a spiritual theorization,
For the friends it is Seeing the Friend's Face in every direction.

O Beloved One, help us walk in your friends' footsteps,
For towards them flow Your tender love, mercy and grace.

~ A Dervish Prayer

If you’re listening, if you’re awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; it’s purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever more wonders.

A spirituality that is only private and self-absorbed, one devoid of an authentic political and social consciousness, does little to halt the suicidal juggernaut of history. On the other hand, an activism that is not purified by profound spiritual and psychological self-awareness and rooted in divine truth, wisdom, and compassion will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions. When, however, the deepest and most grounded spiritual vision is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing political, economic and social institutions, a holy force - the power of wisdom and love in action - is born. This force I define as Sacred Activism.

~ Andrew Harvey (The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism)

Every year in Ramadan, which is the month of special blessing, mercy, inspiration and purification, I try to plan, revive and expand the Sacred Activism works. Towards this goal I set out to raise funds to fascilitate some of these work which includes helping the poorest of the poor, homeless, street children, orphans and the needy. 

When his companions asked Prophet Muhammad: O Messenger O Allah, what are the most excellent of actions?

The beloved of Allah replied:
To gladden the heart of human beings,
To feed the hungry,
To help the afflicted,
To lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and
To remove the sufferings of the injured.
- Sacred Tradition of Islam, Bukhari

This has been the inspiration and scope of work of Gladdening the Sacred Hearts Project for which we raised about few thousand dollars last years to help education of poor children and school that support them, to distribute winter clothing and helping the needy. While raising the fund for the Phase II of Gladdening the Sacred Hearts (GSH) Project last April 2010, I was inspired to work towards a Foundation, so that the activities could be done in a more wholesome way, spreading the benefit even further.

Thanks to your prayers and blessings, the GSH Project has taken off last year. Thanks to some of the generous readers of this site, the fund we received has been utilize towards a host of activities. In order to better manage, we are in process of a creating a Foundation called "Porshee Foundation." Porshee (pronounced as \Pour-She\ is a Bangla word for Neighbor.

Visionaries of humanity have always emphasized on the very basic idea of caring for our neighbors. For a harmonious, organically connected and healthy society it is absolutely necessary that people who live in proximity care for each other and extend each others hand in need. Regardless of where people live in the world, if people care for those in the neighbors, in their immediate vicinity - the scale of human suffering could be reduced dramatically.

Caring for and reaching out to the neighbor, which is a simple idea, carry universal value and yet have great implication towards transforming communities in a positive way by removing the suffering and preserving human dignity. The Vision of Porshee Foundation is : Communities and Societies where every able neighbor cares for those in need in the surroundings - acting locally, empowered globally based on the universal value of ‘small kindness’ and ‘loving for others what one love for one’s self.’

For a better world, "small kindness" and "loving for others what one love for one's self" / "loving thy neighbors" - are the very universal values the world need to return to and are sufficient to give back the dignity to those who are robbed of their human dignity as well as to ourselves as one human family.

For those who truly love God and His ways,
all the people of the world are brothers.
The man who doesn't see the nations of the world as one,
is one gone astray even if the pious claim he's holy.
We regard no one's religion as contrary to ours,
true love is born when all faiths are united as a whole.
- Yunus Emre

Ramadan is the month of supra-abundance blessings and Divine generosity. So we are adviced by the elders of the Path to be extra-generous in this month so that we may better hope to receive Divine Generosity from the One Who is Infinitely Generous. We are adviced to be extra compassionate to the creation, which is the family of God, so that we may hope to receive Divine Compassion from the One Who is Infinitely Compassionate.

For this reason in the Sacred Tradition of Islam, along with fasting, giving of  special charity (poor-due) is also prescribed. Fasting is the purification on the level of body, heart and spirit. In its first level, fasting is fasting from food, sexual gratification; on the next level fasting is fasting from unholy acts and thoughts and to be engaged in wholesome action for God's sake (fi sabilillah). Just as fasting is the purification of the body, heart and spirit; in Islamic tradition, there are prescribed act of charity that purifies our wealth, our provision, our income, savings - that which is given to us in abundance. As other faith tradition such as Catholic Faith also teaches that fasting and charity must go together, similarly in Islamic faith tradition, it is customary to give away at least 2.5% of one's excess wealth, money which is accumulated in the last one year (that which is excess of necessity) to the poor, orphans and needy. This is called Zakat in Islam which is the establishment of the awareness to care and love for those who are in need among us, and also Zakat is a mean to practically express our gratitude for the provision gifted to us by our Provider Lord.

I would request you to help the needy in your community first, if there are people who live in extreme poverty, so much so that it compromise their humann dignity. It is our duty as a community to care for those who need help in the area of proximity and help with our excess wealth as well.

Through Porshee Foundation we are also taking similar activities by identifying needy, homeless and orphans and to provide for them. We are not simply doing charity, but we are providing them to become small scale entrepreneurs. In a third world country like Bangladesh, often a very small amount of money can uplift someone who has absolutely nothing to lift themselves up and engage in meaninful income. Our experience says that an amount as small as USD 70 can be sufficient to start a small independent business like selling vegetables, buying a sewing machine and start generate income from it. For a homeless person to get rent a room and move from street to proper housing and sanitation require about USD 133 with which he or she can also start earning by doing something in small scale.

Towards these goals Porshee is collecting donation this month. Please be generous with your donation. You may also contribute your Zakat and request your friends as well. There are two method of Donating: via Secured Paypal (using Credit / Debit card) and / or via Western Union Money Transfer.

Click here to Donate:


Send to : Sadiq M. Alam
City: Dhaka, Country: Bangladesh
(After you send, please let me know via email the Money Transfer Reference Number, the Amount sent and converted amount in my currency).

If you'd like to make a Bank Transfer please write to me so that I can provide you the account details.

The believer's (only) shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity.
- The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him

There are some servants of God on the Earth who struggle to fulfill the needs of other people. They will be saved on the Resurrection Day.
- Imam Jafar as Sadiq

The application of justice and charity is sign of the continuance of graces.
- Imam ar-Rida

Do not feel ashamed if the amount of charity is small because to refuse the needy is an act of greater shame.

Charity and alms are the best remedy for ailments and calamities; one has to account in the next world for the deeds that he has done in this world.

What is Generosity? To give away (in charity) before requested.
- Imam Ali

And spend [in the way of Allah ] from what We have provided you before death approaches one of you and he says, "My Lord, if only You would delay me for a brief term so I would give charity and be among the righteous." - The Quran, 63:10

They ask you what they should spend in charity. Inform them: 'Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travellers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.' - The Quran, 2:215

# Reference:
* Every age has a dominant vice and its counter-balancing virtue
* Sacred Activism: Our Path to Wholeness
* When the real heart breaks open | “How can one serve the One?”
* The Etiquette of Giving | Quranic Wisdom
* A Manual of Hadith: Charity and Zakat
* The Book of Zakat (Bukhari)
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Sunday, August 21, 2011

From Gnosis to Ethics: Henry Bayman

To me Henry Bayman is one of the most important contemporary writer of Sufi Science. This modern transmitter of the Path is an American Engineer and an independent scholar who lived in Turkey for more than twenty five years and is a direct student of grand father of Sufism, Ahmet Kayhan, may Allah be pleased with him. Henry Bayman's book, Station of No Station: Open Secrets of the Sufis is a serious and important book on Sufism.

As its reviewers mention, "As excellent as this book is, it is not an Introduction to Sufism. The reader must decide: Is it my heart I want touched, or my head?.. if heart, then this is a book to pick.

Moreover, Bayman's Sufism is firmly rooted in Islam; his Sufism is serious stuff, not the deracinated Universal Religion of New Agers.

The Station of No Station, in essence speaks from the very heart of Islam... The Pure Islam, which was practiced by the Prophet Muhammad himself. Henry Bayman, who has a profound understanding of Islamic Sufism, spent most of the last quarter of the twentieth century with the great grandfather of Islamic Sufism "Ahmet Kayhan". In this contemporary book of authentic wisdom, Mr. Bayman has in a sincere, direct and clear manner colourfully explained and presented those very Pure Teachings of Islamic Sufism. This book is without any doubt essential for anyone interested in spirituality, religion, mysticism and love..."

The section shared here is important and carries some essential fundamental of spirituality. Increasingly  this theme is missed in the contemporary, new age flavored spirituality. But ignoring this particular dimension is suicidal for spiritual progress. May this sharing be useful to us all.

From Gnosis to Ethics

Gnosis is the true purpose of man and of existence... 

For centuries, theologians and philosophers have been debating the existence of God. They have tried to approach the subject by way of rationality. Finally, they have realized that the existence or nonexistence of God is not open to logical proof.

This has led, in our age, to a widespread agnosticism among those who are informed about such debates. Agnosticism holds that is it not possible to know whether God exists, let along anything else about Him.

But philosophy is not the place where matters about God can be decided. Nor, in reality, is theology, which may be regarded as a branch of philosophy. When you want to decide about the existence of a chair, you do not set about proving it logically. Any prophet, saint, or mystic will tell you that the existence of God is an empirical matter, not a logical one. The difference from a chair is that while the existence of a chair is easily determined, God, who is the best-hidden secret of the universe, can be known only by the utmost sustained effort, and then only by a very few. Nevertheless, it is possible. To paraphrase Meister Eckhart, "man’s predicament is that he wishes to perceive God in the same way he perceives a cow."

The universe is a vast game of hide-and-seek, a cosmic treasure hunt, where the hidden treasure is God. If this is true, we may identify the procedures and practices of Sufism as a map that guides us to the treasure. “Take five steps northward from the gnarled old tree, then turn left and advance ten paces…” One wrong move, and there is scarcely a change the treasure will be found.

Deep within, human beings have undeveloped organs of perception that can, if cultivated, lead to incrementally increasing knowledge of God. In Sufism, this is known as Gnosis, or “God-knowledge” (marifat-Allah).

In contrast to agnosticism, Sufic Gnosis teaches that God can known. This occurs in three stages. The first stage is theoretical knowledge of God (ilm al-yaqin, “the knowledge of certainty,” “knowledge without doubt”). This has been compared to the knowledge of fire that a person who has never seen fire possesses.

The second stage takes us a step further (ayn al-yaqin, “the eye of certainty”). As one learns God-science and carries out certain practices, one begins to perceive, if not God Himself, incontrovertible signs of His existence. This has been compared to catching sight of fire from afar.

The third stage is a manifestation that leads to no doubt whatever about God’s existence in the mind of the person who has the experience (haqq al-yaqin, “the truth of certainty”). At this stage, all doubts are swept away. This has been compared to being burnt and consumed in the fire.

Culmination of Gnosis (marifah) is Truth or Reality (haqiqah) – in other words, the direct perception of Ultimate Reality, the Ground of all Being.

The most important things about Ultimate Reality is that He is nondual, i.e. One. Whereas all the realities we know are based on multiplicity, the direct perception of Unity (al-Ahad) allows us to conclude that the multiplicity is an epiphenomenona and nonessential, if not outright illusory. This process of slowly rising towards the Truth (al-Haqq) is also called Unification (tawhid).

We should be careful to note that One we are speaking of here is not a number like any other in the infinite arithmetic sequence: 1, 2, 3… Rather, He is the “One without a second,” a Unity so all-encompassing that anything beyond it cannot even be imagined. This may all sound highly abstract and abstruse, but it is a direct and immediate perception in mystical states of consciousness.

In the nondual states of perception, when the Unity of Absolute Reality (God) is perceived, it becomes clear that there is no subject acting on an unconnected, independent object. For the duality between subject and object is transcended. There is no subject or object (Unity: Ahadiya). Or, descending one stage lower (Union: Wahidiya), to the extent that one can talk about subject or object, the object is the subject and vice versa. Nor can one talk about a multiplicity of subjects or objects from the stand point of Absolute Unity.

And Absolute, unconditional, or non delimited reality is the Ultimate Ground of all Being from which all relative, conditioned or delimited realities – “worlds” – emerge. So even though we live in a world of multiplicity, the truth of that world is actually Unity, although we would be hard pout to recognize it as such.

Note that we carefully refrain from equating God with the universe. The universe is of God, from God, created by God (and actively sustained by Him continually). But the universe is not God, because God is beyond all worlds and beyond the universe – even though He is also within even the tiniest particle (“the Beyond Within”). To exist in the human condition is our common lot, and from the man’s-eye point of view we are not permitted to phrase this in any other way.

If we fail to acknowledge this, we run the risk of collapsing God onto the universe – of saying that the collectivity of all things is God, which is pantheism.

The great Sufi sage, Ibn Arabi claimed that the Whole of Being is One. For this reason, he has often been accused of pantheism, even though his doctrine of the “unity of existence,” of things, of objects (wahdat al-wujud), is not intended in that sense (Ibn Arabi himself never used that term).

Several centuries after Ibn Arabi, in order to counter this tendency, another great Sufi sage, Ahmed Sirhindi, the Renovator of the Second Millennium anno hegira, suggested it would be better to speak of a “unity of observers” (wahdat al-shuhud), or souls or subjects.

Both were right. The who are two sides of the same coin. Of course, in Ultimate Unity, the object/subject distinction disappear altogether, but until that point is reached, Sirhindi’s approach is the more useful and less dangerous one, which also finds support in the sacred verse already mentioned: “We created you (mankind) of a single self.” But Ibn Arabi himself never intended pantheism.

Therefore, although we encounter multiplicity in the universe, this multiplicity is nonessential. In actual fact, it is Unity that holds. And for this reason, any action we predicate on isolation, independence, or distinction is falsely conceived. To paraphrase mystical poet Francis Thompson:

All things, by immortal power,
Near and far,
To each other linked are,
That you cannot stir a flower
Without troubling a star.

This poetic vision has been known to be scientifically true ever since Barry Commoner formulated the first law of ecology: “Everything is related to everything else.” Moreover, the concept is receiving physical confirmation as quantum entanglement begins to imply that we live in an infinitely multiply-interconnected universe. (Gravity already weaves together all regions of the cosmos).

It is possible, then, to go from Gnosis to ethics. We said above that there is no other, for we are all parts of a single whole, Totality. Any action originating from any part reverberates throughout the entire structure, expanding outwards like ripples in a pond, is reflected at the nether regions, and converges back on its point of origin. Newton’s Third Law, “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” is actually a principle of mysticism. And this is the reason why we must “do as we would be done by.”

Yet at the same time, there are distinctions to be observed in accommodating that apparent multiplicity. So how do we proceed, how do we tune our actions? According to the Divine Law outlined by Ultimate Reality.

Of course, the Law has diverse ramifications. But here we are interested not in the details, but in the root of the matter. When we view the Law in this way, we see that it is concerned with the rights of all creatures. Even the tiniest ant has its rights when we interact with it, and – this bears emphasis – man is responsible for rights, and for rights alone. But what faculty in us recognizes these rights and strongly opposes their violation? Is it called conscience.

But conscience itself springs from another faculty, and that is love. I hesitate to call love a feeling, an emotion, because it is more than that – much more. Love is the fabric out of which the entire universe is woven. To quote Idries Shah: “Love exists in different concentrations: or, at least, the feeling of it does. Love, devotion, worship of God, all these are of such sanctity and importance that the Sufis do not use them lightly … What other people fondly imagine as true love has been debased into a mere emotion.” And if the Divine Law is based, via conscience, on love, this means that its rules call us to act as if we loved the object of our action. For only when we love and respect something can we treat it right; only then can we accord it the same rights we assume for ourselves; only then can we “love our neighbor as ourselves.” Even if we do not feel that love, we are protected from Wrong Action by the Divine Law, which prescribes the right behavior – or at least the right attitude – suitable for every relevant occasion.

It is thus that we arrive at ethics.

Sufi Ethics: No Spirituality Without Morality

Sufi ethics can be summed up in four words: no morality, no spirituality. At least, this was how it was exemplified by the Master, and he himself told me that what set him apart from other masters and gurus was his painstaking, or to my mind, exquisite – attention to morality.

Sufism takes Islamic ethics and practice as its infrastructure to an extent that those versions of it which do not would have to called pseudo-Sufism. Probably the first principle of Sufi ethics is the words of the Prophet: “You cannot enter Paradise until you have faith, and you cannot (be said to) have faith until you love one another.” The implication is clear: Those who do not love one another cannot enter Heaven. Many stories relate acts of loving kindness and compassion as examples to be emulated. One story that apparently goes back to the Prophet relates how a prostitute was forgiven her sins because she used her shoe to draw water out of a well for a thirsty dog. The Master used to tell us: “If you see a fly in water, save it.” Even though the fly is a pest and you may want to swat it when it bothers you, the Right Action when it is in distress is to save it. He also said that even a potentially harmful animal, such as a scorpion, should not be killed unless it is actually harming us.

We cannot know the inner state or station of a God-realized human being. Like everyone else, his inner experience is hidden from our eyes. But we can deduce his quality by his behavior, his ethics, which provide a sure-fire indication. The Godly person is always full of love and compassion towards other beings and acts accordingly, because God’s light and compassion flow out of such a person and into the world.

The famous Persian Sufi, Bayazid of Bistam, saw in a moment of Unveiling, that the Pole (Spiritual King) of the age was none other than the town’s humble ironsmith.

Bayazid was amazed, for the iron-smith happened to be a man with few distinctive qualities. Finally, unable to suppress his curiosity any longer, he went over to the smith’s shop in order to take a closer look.

When he arrived, the smith was nonplussed, threw away his hammer, and tried to kiss hand as a gesture of respect – for Bayazid was a great renown – and asked for his prayers.

Bayazid was surprised. He said, “It is I who should be kissing your hand and asking for your prayer. Please, pray for me.”

“Sure I will,” said the Smith, “But I wish for your prayers in a matter that has been disturbing me for a long time. My own prayers won’t work.”

“What‘s your problem?” Asked Bayazid.

“I am worried about the state of the people,” said the Smith. “Every time my hammer descends on the anvil and the sparks fly, I wonder how these human beings are going to withstand the Fire, and try to find a way to improve their condition.”

Bayazid thought to himself, “So this person is not of those who say, ‘My self, my self.’ Rather, he says, ‘My people, my community’ (just as the Prophet did). How it’s clear why the station of polehood was given to him, for he deserves it.

“Moreover, the Pole of the Age is so unaware of his station that he kisses my hand and asked for my prayers. So he hasn’t received unveiling yet, and doesn’t know where he is – thus doubling his sincerity.”

To be concerned with the troubles of others, to try to ease their pain and heal their wounds, is an act of love and compassion. It is only those who have this in abundance who can rise to the higher stages of Sufi sainthood.

The following Sufic statement, ascribed to Loqman, neatly summarizes Sufi ethics:

In loving kindness, be like the sun;
In generosity, be like water;
In humility, be like the earth;
In hiding the faults of others, be like the night.

To elaborate, the sun rises and sheds its light on all things, without making any distinction between good and bad, worthy or unworthy, etc. Water gives life to both the rose and thistle without favoritism. The earth continues to lend its bounties to all, taking no heed of who steps on its face. And the night draws a veil of darkness over even the greatest iniquity. The Master used to say that each of these represented a pole, and anyone who was able to emulate even one of them would achieve salvation.

Ethics and Spiritual Transformation

Some of us in the New Age have conceived of inner transformation as an almost mechanical process of energy conversation – as the transformation of one kind of energy into another, or as the subtlization of a coarse form of spiritual energy into a purer or subtler form. Consequently, some people think spiritual transmutation can be realized in a void of morality, without any reference to ethics at all. We cannot conceive that ethical behavior has anything to do with inner metamorphosis. In our technological age, it is perhaps only normal for people to talk about “spiritual technologies.”

Now the sublimation of denser energy into finer states does indeed occur. But this cannot be brought about solely by psychic techniques or psychophysical exercises, in a manner analogous to the conversation of electricity into light or heat into mechanical energy. Before such methods can work, one must first put one’s accounts with the universe in order, one must settle one’s accounts with the cosmos and God. The go-head or the signal for “all systems go” must come from every corner, from every one of our interactions with the cosmos and its Creator.

Yunus Emre say: “Because of the Creator, be tolerant to His creatures.” And: “If you have once broken a Heart, the Prayer you perform is void.”

The Heart is the throne of God, God looks at the Heart
Whoever breaks a Heart is ruined in both worlds.

What you think of yourself, think also for others
Here, if anywhere, is the meaning of our four books.

This is the foundation, the cornerstone. Look at it this way: your learn the three R’s (reading, writing and ‘rithmetic) in elementary school. But you are never done with them. All through the rest of your education, you’re constantly relying on them at every step, because they’re the basis upon which everything else rests.

The fruit is never a ready-made result waiting for us at the end of the road. It ripens and is infused by our actions, by each and every one of them. Our deeds determine whether the fruit we taste at the end will be full of nectar or poison. This is why ethics provides the infrastructure, and inner transformation is the superstructure built on that.

According to Ibn Arabi, the after-death state, whatever else it might be, is the embodiment of accumulated works and thoughts. Commenting on his philosophy, William Chittick writes, “Not only people construct their own paradises, they also construct their own hells.” As Arabi himself notes: “The chastisement is identical with the actualization of the thought.”

There is a delightful Sufi story that graphically brings this alive.

One day, Yunus was allowed to visit Hell in the Imaginal World. He found himself in a vast expanse, a veritable desert. Because he was accustomed to hearing about hell as a fire and furnace, Yunus was perplexed. How could this place be hell?

A short while later, a man came by with a great load of wood on his back. He set his load down, arranged it in a pile, set it afire – and stepped into its center.

“What are you doing?” asked Yunus.

“These are my deeds I brought over from the world,” the man replied. “Now I must suffer from them.”

“But I thought hell was a huge blazing fire, all ready to consume its inmates.”

“No,” said the man. “It is only what we bring over, or send over beforehand, that determines what this place shall be for us.”

And the same goes for Heaven. Now, to achieve enlightenment means to reach God. In order to reach God, you have to climb higher than Heaven. How are you going to reach higher than Heaven, when your actions destine you for Hell?

Let me illustrate with a story. I haven’t heard it from anyone, but it is nevertheless a story in the Sufic vein.

The Cane and the Skyscraper

There was a rich mogul who decided to perpetuate his name in stone by building a skyscraper. He gave the job to a construction company, showed them the area where they would build it, and busied himself with his own affairs. After a suitable period, he went to visit the construction site, expecting to find the sky-scraper at least halfway done. He was flabbergasted when he saw a gaping hold in place of a tall building. He bellowed so loudly at the construction team at the bottom of the pit that the foreman and the construction engineering came up to investigate.

"What seems to be the problem, sir?" asked the engineer.
"You're going in the wrong direction is what the problem is!"
exclaimed the mogul in exasperation. "I'm paying you to build upwards, and here you've gong and dug me a hole instead!" "Nice cane you've got there, sir," mused the engineer, looking at the cane which the mogul had been waving like a sword.

"Have you ever tried to stand it on its tip?"
The mogul stopped. "What's that go to do with it?" he asked suspiciously. "You know that can't be done. I've tried it many times myself," he added. "Here, try it, go on." He passed the cane to the foreman, who took turns with several curious workers in trying to balance it, but to no avail. "With you permission, sir, may I take a look at it?" said the engineer. He took the mogul's cane and forcefully thrust its tip into the soft soil like a skewer.

The cane stood upright.

"You see," said the engineer, "you can't balance the cane unless a part of it is securely under the ground. And it's the same with a skyscraper. If you want your skyscraper to stand up, you have to make sure part of it is buried. That's what we call the foundation. If you want to raise a hundred-story building, you've to make sure that the foundation goes down at least seven or eight floors, depending on the texture and stability of the bedrock. That's the reason we're digging this gigantic hole.

Before you lay the first stone, you've got to excavate."

The mogul was thus appeased and went off a happier man.

Now just as every building has to have a foundation, so must the Great Work. Liberation or enlightenment is impossible without one. And the foundation for the task of sainthood is - wonderful ethics.

It is this which will prevent the sage's skyscraper from toppling at the first wind that comes along. It does not matter how high the mystic's attainment is, because if it falls down it will be of no avail. But if it can remain standing even after a storm, then it is truly unshakable and established permanently.

The Ethics of God

The purpose of creation is man's attainment of God. God created the universe and lowered man into it. In order that man may take the return trip and be raised back up to God. So the more we strive to approach God, the more we are fulfilling our reason for being, not to mention the raison d'etre of the universe.

But how do we approach God? A saying of the Prophet goes: "Adorn yourselves with the ethics (or: character traits) of God."

According to Sufism, God possess many Names and Attributes. Some of these are essential, some are existential or ontological, and some are... ethical. In contemplative Islam, seven attributes have traditionally been counted as the basic attributes of God:

1. Life: God is the Ever Living
2. Knowledge / Science: God is the Omniscient, the All-knowing.
3. Power: God is the Almighty, the All-powerful.
4. Will: God wills anything He desires into (or out of) existence.
5. Speech: God addresses human beings via the signs. He has manifested in the universe and communicates with humanity through
prophets chosen as recipients of Revelation.
6. Hearing: God is All-hearing.
7. Sight: God is All-seeing.

Now, to "adorn ourselves with the ethics of God" means to shed our animal attributes and clothe ourselves with God's morality, to become qualified by having His ethical attributes. And the more we succeed in doing so, the more closely will we have approached Him. Here are some of the ethical attributes of the Divine that we should invest ourselves with:

1. The more loving we are, the more we approach God as Loving kindness (al-Wadud). God's creation of the universe was an act of selfless love, a love so infinite that there is no room in creation for both good and bad (God Himself is beyond both). A variant translation of the "hidden treasure" Holy Tradition is: "I was a hidden treasure, and desired to be know. Hence, I created the universe through love." God literally loved the universe into existence and sustains it through His love even at this very moment. Otherwise, the universe would have no choice but to subside at once into nonexistence.
2. The more honest and truthful we are, the closer shall we approach God the Truth.
3. The more compassionate we are towards our fellow human beings and God's creation, the closer shall we approach God the Compassionate.
4. The more merciful and forgiving we are, the closer shall we come to God the Merciful.
5. Justice is one of the most important attribute of God. The more just we are, the closer we approach God the Just.
6. The more patient and forbearing we are, the closer we get to God the patient.

And so on. Let me conclude by saying, in short, that God outlined His requests of human beings in His Book and the Prophet's sayings, and does not incur God's pleasure by violating them. Obeying those requests allows us to come to closer to God by earning His pleasure, and to become more enlightened by God, Who is Light (an-Nur, 24:35). When this process reaches its climax, that is called Enlightenment, or Realization.

Hence, ethics and inner transformation are directly connected. The latter does not - indeed, cannot - occur without the former since we cannot become Godly or God-realized without fulfilling the labors He has set for us or without partaking His attributes.
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

What Inspires You the Most? Poll @ Technology of the Heart

Dear Readers, Visitors and Well Wishers of Technology of the Heart,

Greetings of Peace!

Thank you for your companionship and inspirations over the months and years in this humble journey at this site.

I am collecting some data on your preference and what kind of articles / posts you like the best and you believe is beneficial to you. Please help me through your participation to better Technology of the Heart. The poll is anonymous and you can choose multiple entries if you feel they are relevant for you.

Thank you in advance for your participation and may choicest of blessing be with you.

- Sadiq

What kind of entry / article you love most / inspires you the best?
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
 Traditional Islam
 Sufism / Tasawwuf / Islamic Spirituality
 Christian Spirituality
 Eastern Religion (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism)
 Western Religion (Judaism, Christianity, Islam)
 Personal Sharing / Interviews
 Contemporary Issues
 Anything Spiritual
 Mysticism of All Faith
 Comparative Religion
 Sacred Activism
 Non-Religious but Inspirational / Motivational


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a prayer from ramadan night vigils

Astaghfirullah! Astaghfirullah! Astaghfirullah!
I seek forgiveness of Allah! I seek forgiveness of Allah! I seek forgiveness of Allah!

Ya Allah! Ya Zul Jalali wal Ikram
O Allah! O Sublime, the Most Generous Lord!

Ya Muqallibal Qulub
O The Transformer of Hearts -
Please remove pride from my heart and replace with humility instead.

O You Who call us to colour ourselves with Your Colour, Sibghata Allahi, 
O You Who command us to receive Your Divine character traits, Takhalluq bi akhlaq Allah -
Please remove arrogance from my character and replace with politeness instead.

Indeed You love not those who are arrogant and only the deeply polite ones are admitted at Your Presence,
in the Divine Court of Your Kingdom.

O You Who is the Most Beautiful beyond every imperfect imagination -
Please remove harshness from my tongue and replace with sweetness instead.

Indeed You love all that is beautiful. InnAllaha Jameel wa yuhibbul jamaal.

Madad Ya Ghafurur Rahim. 
Please assist me O the Most Forgiving, Most Tenderly Compassionate.

Ameen, Ya Malikal Qulub, Ya Rabbal Arshil Azeem, Ya Rabbal Alameen.
So be it, O Master of Hearts, O Lord of Mystic Throne, O Lord of the Multiverse.

~ 17th Ramadan, 1432 Hijri ~
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sufi Meditation of Repentance, Love, Holy Names and Annihilation

Muraqaba literally means "waiting". Waiting for Divine illumination, waiting for revelation, waiting for Divine Voice to speak within the heart of heart. Muraqaba is Sufi way of meditation. According to the walkers of the Path, Muraqaba can be of various kind, but they have a generality which in the beginning is to focus on a Divine Word (Its worth remembering that the Bible begins with the verse, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was Divine." John 1:1) either by pronouncing it or by paying attention in the heart. The goal is to penetrate the truth / reality of that Divine Word through Muraqaba. Below are some of the different Muraqaba shared by various Sufi masters:

Muraqaba of Repentance (Tawbah)

YOUR BEING on the lookout
for the vices hidden within you
is better than your being on the lookout
for the invisible realities veiled from you.

- Hikam of Ibn Ataillah

Tawbah or turning to God or penance / repentance is one of the foremost action and pre-requisite for purification. For the ordinary people repentance means to leave unjust and ungodly acts and for those who are near to God, repentance means not to waste breaths void of Divine Remembrance.

The significance of Tawbah or repentance is so important that the mission of Christ, peace be upon him, of calling people to God began by the teaching, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

The Arabic word for repentance is Tawbah, and from various translation of Greek Bible (Repent, do penance, let your hearts be turned from sin, Turn to God), it is clear that Christ was using the same term.

Within human being are installed elements which has the tendency to pull him downwards, they are anger, lust, vain pride or boasting, lying, fornication, gluttony, over indulgence, greed, envy etc. As long as the traces of such weakness remains within human being, one remains in the first level of necessity for repentance to purify one's self. Hazrat Yakub Badarpuri has said, "If you want to polish your heart clean as a mirror then drive away ten things out of it. There are: lust, greed, miserliness, forbidden things, speaking ill of others, to lie, envy, vain pride, jealousy, showiness in worship and piety."

Now be rid
Of every vestige
Of your pride:
Find the humble
Nothing, inside,
Empty that vessel
Deep and wide.
Then hear the echo
When God calls,
Your fate is in
Its intervals.

- Hikam of Ibn Ataillah, translation by Jabeez L. Van Cleef

The true repentance is such that human being sincerely wishes to turn away from past wrong doings and mistakes and the best of repentance according to the People of the Path that which is accompanied with tears.

The Divine Messenger has informed glad tidings for those who shed tears in repentance saying that it helps the person to be far away from hell fire.

Just like it was the first message that Christ, the Messenger of God was transmitting, so it is one of the central commandment of the Quran.

" ... and turn you all together in repentance to Allah O believers, that you may be successful" - The Quran, 24:31

"Surely Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves." - The Quran, 2:222

The intention of Muraqaba of Tawbah / Repentance: "O Allah! I pay sincere attention to my inner heart, by the mediation of Prophet Muhammad's sacred heart, my heart pays sincere attention to the Majestic Throne of Allah. May the Fayez of Tawbah arrive upon my heart. Ameen,"

After this the meditator will contemplate silently: I must not be hopeless from the Rahmah (grace, exclusive love) of Allah. Indeed Allah forgives all. One must pay attention to this because only the wretched and miserable ones become hopeless of the boundless mercy of Allah.

"And who despairs of the mercy of his Lord except for those astray?" - The Quran 15:56

So it is impolite to the Lord of Mercy to become destitute of hope for God's forgiveness. In the life, both for favorable and unfavorable conditions one has to remain firm on the hope of God's mercy and blessing. And lest there be any shift from this, help must be sought from God.

"Say: O my slaves who have transgressed against themselves! Despair not for the mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins. truly He is Oft forgiving, Most Merciful." - The Quran 39:53

The Divine Voice speaks "O son (and daughter) of Adam, so long as you call upon Me, and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth, and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it."

A heart prayer as taught by his holiness, Prophet Muhammad, upon him be blessings and peace:
O Lord! Truly Thou art the Praised and the Noble. O Allah! Forgive the sins I have committed in the past, and my sins in the present, committed secretly and openly, and whatever wrong I have brought upon myself, and whatever wrong Thou knowest I have done. Truly Thou art the Beginning and Thou art the End. There is no god except Thee, Glorious art Thou, and I am truly a sinner, O Allah! I truly seek refuge in Thee from the punishment of the grave, from the punishment of Hell, and from the temptations of life and death, and from the Anti-Christ. O Allah! I have done much wrong to myself, and greatest wrong. There is none other but Thou to forgive me, therefore forgive Thou my sins. It is Thine to forgive, Truly Thou art most Forgiving, most Merciful. O Transformer of hearts! Make my heart firm in devotion to Thee and in obedience to Thee and in faith in Thee, O Allah!

Muraqaba for Companionship of Love (Ma'yiat e Hubb)

Intention: "I am paying sincere attention to my inner heart, by the mediation of the sacred heart of his holiness Muhammad, my heart is paying sincere attention to the Throne of God, the Most High. May the blessing of Ma'yiat e Hubb descend to my inner heart."

During this muraqaba or meditation, one has to recite the following verses with understanding of meaning and sincerity:

Wa Huwa ma'akum aynama kuntum

And He is with you wheresoever you are.

Muraqaba of the reflection of Holy Names and Attributes (Asma wa Sifat Jilal)

Intention: "I am paying sincere attention to my inner heart, by the mediation of the sacred heart of his holiness Muhammad, my heart is paying sincere attention to the Incomparable Being of Allah where is found all the Holy Names and Attributes. May the blessing of the reflection of Holy Names and Attributes descend to my inner heart."

During this muraqaba, all the Holy Names of Allah with the correct understanding of their meanings are to be recited within the heart. The success of this Muraqaba will open the secret encapsulated of the eight prime Divine Attributes which are:

1. Hayy (Ever Living)
2. Ilm (Ever Knowing)
3. Kudrat (All Powerful)
4. Irada (Divine Will)
5. Sama (All Hearing)
6. Basir (All Seeing)
7. Kalam (Divine Speech)
8. Taqbeen (Source of Creativity).

Muraqaba of Annihilation (Fana)

This Muraqaba or Sufi Meditation has the goal of severing the link with many and to help dissolve and unite with the One, the Singular Who has no partner. In this muraqaba the following verse of the Quran is recited: 

Kullu man AAalayha fan
Wayabqa Wajhu Rabbika Zul Jalali wal-Ikram

All that exists on it (manifestation) will perish,
and the Face of your Lord full of Majesty and Munificence will abide forever. - The Quran 55:26-27

According to Allama Fultoli Saheb Qibla the method of Muraqaba for this is the following: One imagines that one is no more, the temporal body has expired and the body has turned into ashes and they are flying scattered in the wind. Everything else has also perished and have become non-existence. The heart has to sit with this mithal / picture for long. This muraqaba is beneficial to attain Fana or dissolving into God / annihilation in God.. 


Do not abandon the invocation because you do not feel the Presence of God therein.
For your forgetfulness of the invocation of Him
is worse than your forgetfulness in the invocation of Him.

Perhaps He will take you from an invocation with forgetfulness
to one with vigilance,
and from one with vigilance to one with the Presence of God,
and from one with the Presence of God
to one wherein everything but the Invoked is absent.
“And that is not difficult for God.”

- Hikam of Ibn Ataillah -

And all success comes from Allah. 

Inna Fatahna laka fathan Mubeena . Indeed the clear opening, success and victory is bestowed! That Allah may forgive for you what preceded of your sin and what will follow and complete His favor upon you and guide you to a straight path. (48:1-2)

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sufi Parable of Honey Bee

Sufi Master Sidi Muhammad Jamal, may Allah bless him, in his teaching gives the following parable:
(Look at the bee) when she flies, and she goes to the garden full of different flowers, different fragrances, and different tastes. And she takes everything from every flower that meets her, because Allah guides her to take the love, with the complete freedom, in the gentle way.

After that she makes the honey, not for herself, but for another, who searches about this honey, to feed himself from the honey that she makes. She does not worry when she visits any flower, and she takes what she needs, because God guides her in His perfect Way.

Exactly this is a part of the ocean of the love which God gives for all who want to know and to take.

~ Music of the Soul: Sufi Teachings, 2nd Edition, 1997

Credit: OGU via GfxArtist

The parable is an allusion of the Divine Arrangement in manifesting Divine Action while every other created creatures carry them out in appearance but ultimately it is done under the inspiration of the Divine. This parable also demonstrate how free-will of creature does not contradict the Divinely inspired actions.

And your Lord inspired the bee: "build homes in mountains and trees", and in (the hives) they build for you. "Then eat of all the fruits and walk in the ways of your Lord submissively." There comes forth from within it a beverage of many colours, in which there is healing for mankind; most surely there is a sign in this for a people who reflect. - The Quran, chapter of the Bee, verse 68

The action of the bee is inspired within its being, from its birth it knows it's course of action and it seeks out nectar from flower. After that she makes the honey, no, said more truthfully and closer to the reality that she is given a system by which honey is made. And who gave her that way, that system? It is the Mysterious Maker of all things. Allahu al- Badi': The Wonderful Originator; Allahu al-Bâri': The Maker from Nothing and the Evolver. Allahu al-Barr: The Gracious Benefactor, the Source of Goodness, Allahu al-Khâliq: The Creator, the Planner. Allahu al-Wahhâb: The Bestower, the Giver of Gifts.

"A bee makes honey, not for herself, but for another." 

At-Tahiy-yatu lil-lahi was-salawatu wat-tay yibatu
Every adoration, every prayer and devotion are for the Divine.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un
Surely we are for Allah and to Him shall we return.

This is a great secret. All creatures, all creation are manifested for Allah. Thus all action through the creature are also actions of Allah. But human being is special for the fact that he or she is bestowed with free-will. But this free-will also has its limitations. The greatly illuminated beings understand the secret and they ascend to the station of surrender (taslim) and freely give away their free-will out of their loving surrender in that very free-will so that they may rise as the true image of God, true khalifa of Allah.

Just as in the parable, the bee is inspired by Allah for its truest purpose of life, and yet to carry out that purpose, it is also bestowed free will in its going out into the garden, to take freely from any kind of flower of its choosing. "Allah guides her to take the love, with the complete freedom, in the gentle way." Nevertheless the product that comes out of their action, that is honey, is pre-destined by the Divine. That is the Qadr of Allah.

Wali'Llahi ma fee assamawati wa ma fee al-ardi 
wa-ila Allahi turjaAAu al-omoor.

And to Allah (belongs) whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth;
and to Allah all Commands are returned.
- The Quran, Family of Amran,109

And upon Allah is the direction of the [right] way, and among the various paths are those deviating. And if He willed, He could have guided you all (but you're being tested on receptivity of divine guidance). - 16:9

"She does not worry when she visits any flower, and she takes what she needs, because God guides her in His perfect Way."

That is the secret of attaining tranquility of being who rest in God's assurance of providing their rizq, sustenance, as opposed to those who run after the worldly-life (dunya) like mad, who doubt the Lord of Sustenance. The wise ones only takes what they need and leave, or give away what is excess, as opposed to the people afflicted by the disease of excess wanting but fail to be satisfied and their disease only goes on increasing. Those who attain faith, are not affect by worries and anxieties, like the bee who freely visit and takes what is provided. And Allah is ar-Rashid, the Guide of Siraatim-Mustaqim, the Perfect Way.

And whoever places his trust in Allah, Sufficient is He for him, for Allah will surely accomplish His Purpose: For verily, Allah has appointed for all things a due proportion. - The Qur’an 65:3

The bee produces the honey, not for herself, but for another, who searches about this honey, to feed himself from the honey that she makes.

Thus creation is made inter-dependent and inter-woven in their dependence. God is independent of the worlds and His richness diminishes not by an atom even if He were to fulfill the demand of every supplicant, yet He wills that human beings be assisted by other human beings. Those who lack wisdom and do not see the Divine Wisdom in this fall into clear error in denial of generosity of giving for others.

And when it is said to them, "Spend from that which Allah has provided for you," those who disbelieve say to those who believe, "Should we feed one whom, if Allah had willed, He would have fed?" You are not but in clear error. - 36:47

Thus it is made an obligatory act upon human being who are endowed with free will to help others who have less, who lack something which one may have in plenty. You are given the rizq, the provisions and everything that you are given, not for yourself to consume alone, but to give generously like that bee to others who are made needy. It is Allah who gives one wealth and gave excess of what one really need and He also created deficit in others, so that He may try whether one who has be grateful and generous or be a denier and stingy.

It is Allah who gives (you) want or plenty. And to him you shall return. - The Quran 2:245

And Allah has made some of you excel others in the means of subsistence, so those who are made to excel do not give away their sustenance to those whom their right hands possess so that they should be equal therein; is it then the favor of Allah which they deny? - The Quran 16:71

Just as the honey maker bee collect flower nectar and turn into honey and preserve them carefully under the inspiration of God so are the human beings whose wholesome actions are like honey which He is to find with God transformed as rewards, gifts in the reality of post-resurrection awakening.

And it will be said to those who are conscious of the Divine, "What is it that your Lord has revealed?" They will say, "[That which is] beautiful." For those who do good in this world is good; and the home of the Hereafter is better. And how excellent is the home of the righteous, Gardens of perpetual residence, which they will enter, beneath which rivers flow. They will have therein whatever they wish. Thus does Allah reward the righteous - The Quran, 16:30, 31

May Allah guide our hearts to the Divine Path. Allahu al-Wârith: God is the Inheritor of All, the Supreme Heir.

~ Sadiq Salim
10th Ramadan, 1432 Hijri
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Your soul has become an invisible bee.
We don't see it working,
but there's the full honeycomb.

Your body's height, six feet or so,
but your soul rises through seven levels of heavens.

~ An Invisible Bee by Rumi

# Parable Commentaries:

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Sufi Meditation: Muraqaba, the What and the How

When the lips are closed, then the heart begins to speak;
when the heart is silent, then the soul blazes up, bursting into flame,
and this illuminates the whole of life.
- Traditional

Sidi M. al-Jamal (ra) in contemplation
The (inner) meaning of Muraqaba - is to preserve the heart from everything other than Allah. The word Muraqaba comes from Raqibun, which in Arabic means the Watchful, Careful Observer, Vigilant, Wakeful. Ar-Raqib is one of the Beautiful Names of Allah, which means the One Who is Ever Watchful.

Now, verily, it is We who have created man,
and We know what his innermost self whispers within him:
for We are closer to him than his jugular-vein.
And so, whenever the two demands of his nature come face to face,
contending from the right and from the left,
not even a word can he utter but there is a watcher with him, ever present.
- The Quran 50:16-18

Since to Watch with Vigilance is a Divine Quality, the act of watching is a divine action. To watch is also an act of guarding the heart and mind; and therefore is the basis of meditation.

"Watch out therefore..."
- Jesus parable of ten virgins

Muraqaba is the Sufi word for meditation. Literally it means "to watch over", "to take care of", or "to keep an eye". Metaphorically, it implies that with meditation, a person watches over or takes care of his spiritual heart (or soul), and acquires knowledge about it, its surroundings, and its Creator.

Sometime Muraqaba begins with a seed of the verse of the Qur'an, which is the Divine Voice speaking to the heart of man. According to certain Sufi School to begin Muraqaba or meditation one has to pronounce vocally the Kalam (the holy words) upon which meditation is to be done. By humbling one's self, one sits down by facing the Qibla, the direction of Holy Mecca and sits in the posture of salaat (with two knees together). At this point, by clearing the inner heart from the worldly thoughts, one concentrate on the reality of meditation (haqiqat e muraqaba) which is as if one is seeing / watching God and if that is not the level of the seeker, then as if, the seeker is being watched by God.

This is the station of excellence (Ihsan) as defined by the Divine Informer, the Seal of Prophets in one of his famous tradition (known as Hadith of Jibreel) in which he transmitted that Ihsan is "that you worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you don't see Him then truly He sees you."

When seeker receive training on muraqaba from a spiritual guide, with sincerity and practice various condition (hal) and  light rays (anwar) are manifested in the inner heart. At that point the seeker is given further teachings and initiation into higher level of Muraqaba e Tawhid (Meditation of deep Oneness). This muraqaba can be of various kind:

Muraqaba e Tawhid e Afwali: This is the meditation of the Oneness of Divine Action, the Singularity of Divine Acting. The method of this is that the seeker establish himself or herself on the truth that Allah is the only Real Doer of all the actions of the entire universe. Whatever and whomsoever seems visible in engaged with action in the world of appearances are to be taken simply as the medium of the Real Agent, Who is God, Who has no partner in His Sovereignty. In every action, every movement both visible and invisible it is Allah Who is to be taken as the Real Doer and the Owner of all Actions. If one meditate on this Tawhid e Afwali, the Oneness of Divine Action - the masters of the path have confirmed that wondrous result will manifest to the meditator's in life.

Lost in Contemplation: A rare photograph of Pir O Murshid Hazrat Barkat Ali (ra)

True knowledge of God is gained when
the lover comes in contact with the Beloved
through secret communion with Him.
- Traditional Sufi Saying

Muraqaba e Tawhid e Sifaati: This is the meditation of the Oneness of Divine Attributes. In this the seeker establish himself or herself on the truth that the entire manifested world, including his or her very self as reflection of Divine Attributes (sifaat) and to immerse into that contemplation. According to the elders of the Path, the benefit of this muraqaba are so much that they can not be enumerated in writing.

The meditator in this will gradually start to feel one's own presence in the entire world. He will observe himself as expansive and very vast (wasi). From the earth to the heavens, in everything he will start to feel to be encompassed by his "I am"-ness. He discovers the existence of the entire cosmos within himself. The real significance of every single thing is presented in front of him. And he does not make mistake in this unveiling (kashf) but rather they start to appear to be practical and true.

But here the journey of the seeker must not end, rather he should continue to journey to the Being Who is Boundless and Who veils Himself beyond seventy thousand veils of light. At some point the meditator will envision various kind of light, color and effulgence. It will appear to be the divine veils of light. Only through utter humility at the door of the Divine Majesty can one ask permission to journey ahead. Beyond these veils are another kind of subtle (latific) and majestic (jamalic) veils. Reaching beyond which, in sufi terminology is called Sayrfillah (Swimming in the Boundless Being of Allah). There is no end and no boundary at this stage and this is considered as the last frontier of ma'rifa (ultimate Divine gnosis).

Muraqaba of Tajalliye Afyal: Tajalli means effulgence, light and Afyal means Action of Allah. In totality the meaning is to meditate upon the effulgence of Allah's Actions.

Following are its method to do muraqaba:

At the beginning of this meditation one reads:
- Astagh-firu-llah (meaning, "I seek forgiveness of Allah") five times, followed by
- Durood or Benediction on Prophet Muhammad (such as "O Allah, send your peace and choicest blessings upon our Spiritual Master Muhammad") five times.

Then the intention is said: "I am giving tawajjuh (focus) on my Qalb (inner heart) and by the mediation of his holiness Prophet Muhammad's blessed Heart, my Qalb is giving tawajjuh towards the 'Arsh (Mystical Divine Throne, the Absolute Divine Presence) of the Lord of the Worlds; and from the 'Arsh of Allah, energy of Tajalliye Afyal may arrive to my Qalb."

Or, to state simply: "I am focusing on my Inner heart, and my heart, through the honor of  his holiness Muhammad's Heart, is focusing towards the Majestic Throne of God. May the energy of the effulgence of the reality of Divine Action may arrive from the Throne to my Heart."

During the Muraqaba, the seeker shall recite with perfect attention and awareness the following statement of truth:

La fa'yila illa-Allah

There is no doer but Allah.

During this Muraqaba / meditation sincere intention has to be present on part of the meditator that his existence is nothing, his actions are nothing and he is willing to annihilate his finite illusory self into the Infinite and Real. Along with this, the truth upon which one to establish one's self is that the apparent actions issuing from formed and shaped creatures are in reality belongs to Allah and all attributes of the manifest world are borrowed from Divine Attributes. In this the being receive great tranquility of being and the Divine mysteries start to unveil by the permission of Allah, according to the degree of the soul's striving.

Environment of Muraqaba:

Different saints and friends of Allah have meditated differently. Some meditate with open gaze towards the open sky without blinking and in that Anwar-e-Ilahi or Light Divine manifests in their vision. In an instant the flame of deep love of the Divine encompass their entire being and in that the permanent love for Allah is stamped upon their heart. This stage is often known as Muraqab-e-Haowa or Sky Meditation. Many Sufis have lost themselves in bewilderment in this meditation and wandered in the place of placeless.

Another method of Muraqaba is to sit in a half-darkened or almost darkened small chamber or room and to keenly observe a single ray of light coming from outside or a slice of visible light. In this they start to see the Light Divine (Anwar e Ilahi) and journey for union with the Infinite is accelerated. But this description is inadequate and does not encompass all the preparation of purification of the self (tazkiyatun-nafsx) that one undertakes under the guidance of a spiritual master before one is granted these visions in meditation.

In certain method, Sufi sit in complete silence and contemplate upon this truth that "I have no (separate) existence, and in Truth, the only existence is that of Allah". If someone can meditate upon this with  total sincerity and concentration, then according to the following Quranic Sign, the God seeking heart of the seeker will be freed from illusion of the (separate) self-hood:

Waqul jaa alhaqqu wazahaqa albatilu 
inna albatila kana zahooqan

And say: "Truth has (now) arrived, and illusion perished:
Indeed illusion is (by its nature) bound to perish."

According to the elders of the Path, this method is very close to reaching one to one's spiritual destination (manzil). 

Muraqaba of Ma'yiat: Meditation on the Divine Accompaniment

The intention for this muraqaba: "I am giving tawajjuh (focused attention) to my heart and by the wasila (mediation) of the pure heart of venerable Muhammad, my heart is paying tawajjuh to the Holiest of Holy in Whom gathers all Divine Names and Attributes. May the energy of Ma'yiat (Divine Accompaniment) arrive from Allah, the Most High. Amen."

During this muraqaba, at interval, the following verse (from the Qur'an) be recited with pure sincerity and absorption in its meaning:

Wa Huwa Ma'akum aynama kuntum.

And the Divine Being is with you, wheresoever you are.

- Rewritten, translated and compiled from the writings of Muhammad Khalilur Rahman Sarkar

In the upcoming posts few other method of muraqaba and their associated kalam (sacred invocation) will be shared, Inshallah. May your Ramadan be a generous one, Ramadan Kareem.

# Further:
* Muraqaba: World of Tasawwuf
* Muraqaba via Wikipedia
* Sufi Meditation: Muraqaba
* On Muraqaba by Mufti Moulana Ahsan Ahmed, Khanaqah Furfura Sharif (London)
* I AMness | Integral vision of Ken Wilber and Sufism 
* The Sufi Meditation of the Heart: Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
* Muraqaba | sufi meditation beyond time and space
* Meditation is ...
* Wisdom from Dalai Lama on Meditation
* Reversing Space | a sufi meditation exercise
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