Sunday, April 29, 2012

Reflection from Visiting the Holy Sancturies of Mecca and Medina

Reading Now

Published by Islamic Book Trust
At the moment I am reading this beautiful book titled, Dawn in Madinah: A pilgrim's passage, authored by Muzaffar Iqbal, may Allah bless him. Its one of the most delightful read for me in the span of last few months. Its a spiritual diary of a man who had the call to spend the entire month of Ramadan as a retreat in one of the most blessed sanctuary of Islam, Madinah, where the Prophet established his Community of Believers and finally breathed his last as well.

Muzaffar Iqbal returned to Pakistan in 1990 after a decade-long sojourn in the West and like many repatriates, had hopes of contributing to a process of positive change in his country, in the people he loved. He was part of OIC or Organization of Islamic Conference but very soon he found how the organization is setup to fail both inside and out, he saw the corruption on part of the leadership, corruption of heart and mind. Then when he found his ideals, hopes and principals are betrayed in every aspect, on the afternoon of August in 1996 he resigned from his job at OIC. Protesting at the immoral acts of his higher officials he couldn't accept any more and walked out. It was during those time, like many at certain turning point of life, he also felt the "Dark Night of the Soul," 'felt a deep hollowness - as if .. sinking into an endless void."

At a very low point in his life when everything seemed to close upon him,when such state lasted for weeks and months and as time passed, the author became his own prisoner of suffering. Then, one day, in the stillness of the empty house, a command-like volition appeared in his mind: "Go spend a month in the Prophet's mosque in Madinah." To him it appeared from nowhere and within minutes lodged itself in the inner recess of his being with such intensity that he could not think of anything else. This idea was like a luminous spot in the pitch-black darkness.

This is the background of the book and then the author followed his inner call and finally found himself at the doorstep of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina after his visit of Kaba in Mecca. He has a gift not only in writing, but also spiritually from where he absorbed the moments beautifully and transmitted them in the pages of this wonderful book. The book is set in very contemporary time and like an important diary written during the time 1997-1998. What is unique about his style is that it is written in a very personal fashion, yet the author has successfully incorporated historical event associated with the places where he was traveling, spent time in retreat and worship. The time of the Prophet becomes alive in his description. His detailed description of the various significant areas of the Mosque of Medina is also very illuminating. For those who have never been to the Prophet's Mosque this could be a beautiful introduction and those who have already been there, this can immensely enrich and refresh their memories. In fact the Book can rekindle the fire of love to be near the memories of the Prophet and to his resting place (hujra).

From the introduction of the Book I quote: "Dawn in Madinah: A Pilgrim's Passage is a vivid account of a month long retreat in the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah. The luminous details of this sojourn in Islam's second-most sacred mosque are superimposed upon the historical events that shaped the life of the early Muslim community during its formative period. Numerous episodes from the life of the Prophet form an ever-present backdrop to its narrative which moves across time to weave together the desires, hopes, fears, and spiritual struggles of so many pilgrims present during the month of Ramadan in the Mosque, fourteen hundred and eighteen years after it was built by Prophet Muhammad and his Companions soon after their arrival in Madinah. This juxtaposition of contemporary lives with those lived fourteen centuries ago creates a tapestry in which one can find common threads of a journey toward God.

What unites the various strands of the book is the trans-historical spiritual quest of countless individuals who populate this rich narrative.."

One of the reviewer at Amazon writes: "I ordered this book after I attended a public talk given by the author. At the presentation I was struck by the high level of intelligence of the speaker as well as his ability to convey his message to all members of the audience irrespective of their intellectual level.

While reading the book, I was taken mentally and spiritually to Medina. I could feel the atmosphere that the author experienced during his time there. It was very inspiring and definitely inspired me to want to make a similar journey myself in the near future."

This review captures what I am also feeling while reading the book. It amazingly takes one mentally and spiritually to Medina, the locus of Love for every Muslim. Perhaps more from this book / this author later, God Willing.

[+] You may read selections of this book via Google Book here.

I was inspired to pickup the book Dawn in Madinah particularly at the moment in time because recently I received a message from a friend and reader of Technology of the Heart who wrote while being in the Prophet's Mosque. It is an honor to be remembered in those Hearts in which remembrance of the Most High is happening, the Hearts which are loved by Allah. So the friend who was on a similar pilgrimage to the holy sanctuaries of Mecca and Medina was also inspired to share her reflection for the readers of Technology of the Heart. So I am sharing it below. May Allah bless our friend and may Allah accept her and her loved ones visit to the perfumed gardens.

 A Step into Jannah ...

When this insignificant speck was sent an unexpected invitation to the 'Land of Dreams' the reality of such an honor could not be acknowledged with reciprocity worthy of such lofty invitation. Until these two unworthy feet touched the blessed earth where the King of all Kings is Most Present, only then I would know that I had arrived.... until then, it was an invitation that I had no guts to accept.

It is evidently clear that daily life clouds my dead heart and rob it from its dues. I sincerely pray for Imaan, Deep Faith that does not wax and wane like the passing moon! However, visiting Makkah Shareef, the Holy Sanctuary of Mecca, is a constant reminder, that if your heart is dead, know that the One who can give life to the dead body, can give life to the dead heart...I remained hopeful.
With my weak imaan and impure heart, I can only wish to taste the sweetness of reciting His beautiful Labbaik! Fervently hoping that He may purify and make possible for this insignificant soul to partake, in even a mustard seeds worth of pleasure derived from worshiping Him! With my heart so heavy and feeling that everything I desire is so out of reach I proceeded to submit myself to His commands. Umrah (the lesser Pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Mecca) was like a beautiful dream....One that you never ever want to wake up from. The first glance of the Kaabah Shareef was just as heart-rending as the last... May He accept and invite over and over again! Aameen, By Allah so be it. 

The hustle and bustle of Makkah Shareef is now clouded even more by the sound of cranes and mountains crumbling down. The expansion the new haram is vast and extensive. The pro's and con's can be heavily weighed. The crowds are magnanimous. A thought I continuously expounded on was that Subhaan~Allah, Islam is definitely on the rise.

However, a wise woman once shared her thoughts with me regarding the numerous souls that are invited here. She said a common complaint was that you find a place to read salaah and sit there comfortably until the azaan is called out, waiting patiently to be in conversation with your Lord! However, as soon as you stand up to begin supplicating, worshipers began to fill up spaces from all around leaving you wondering how will you ever prostrate with ease. On one occasion when her anger got the better of her, she bellowed out in rage to the lady next to her that she has taken up all her space and how can she pray! The woman turned to her and smiled at her. And taught her a lesson for life. She said ' My dear sister, this is the House of Allah, I have been invited here just like how you have been invited here...When a child is conceived in the womb of a mother, who is it that expands the belly to make space for that growing child...Do not fear for lack of space for there is someone taking of it..." Subhaan~Allah!

As soon as Umrah was complete the heart automatically turns its attention to the yearning of sweet, serene, peaceful Medinah Shareef. I immediately started preparing a 'gift' for our Master Nabi Sallalaahu ~Alaihi~ Wasallam. The great gifts and prizes that Allah Subhanahu~ Wa~ Ta'ala has prepared for Nabi Sallalaahu ~Alaihi~ Wasallam have been mentioned in Surah Kauthar (108th chapter of the Quran which was a special gift to the Prophet confirming great reward from the Divine). Usually when we visit someone we take a gift and the best gift to bestow upon Nabi Sallalaahu ~Alaihi~ Wasallam is reciting Surah Kauthar, 1000 times and conferring the reward to our Master. Nabi Sallalaahu ~Alaihi~ Wasallam becomes extremely happy at this gesture of ours.

May Allah bless our Master Muhammad and send him peace and increase love for him in our hearts, connect us to his spiritual lineage and his haqaiq. By Allah, so be it. So be it. So be it. Ameen.

As one enters the city of Medina Shareef, a feeling of tranquility descends on ones soul, body and mind. It is definitely the city of peace and barakah. There is barakah everywhere and in everything. Time, food, money, sleep and the list is endless. Its a dream world where life is just perfect! When you are in Medinah Shareef and immersed in sea of people, you truly realise your insignificance. You don't even have the understanding of the value of a single durood (salutation and benediction to the Prophet) at that moment. You feel unworthy of standing anywhere and reciting durood and salaam, leave alone in front of the blessed Raudah Mubaruk of Nabi Sallalaahu ~Alaihi~ Wasallam. One pious person said : 'Take the darkness of your sins to the perfect guide'.... Sallalaahu ~Alaihi~ Wasallam.. Solace!

Its always easy presenting the good and very difficult presenting the bad. Inshaa~Allah , May Allah Subhanahu ~Wa~ Ta'ala present us our book of deeds in our right hands on that Day and may we enter Jannah with a Peaceful and beautiful Salaaam! Aameen, By Allah, so be it. This sinful soul had the opportunity of stepping into Jannah, into Paradise daily with ease and comfort and although once again the crowds are immense...I was taken from the entrance of the Masjid into Riyaadul Jannah like a wave exiting an ocean. Ya Allah! The feeling of being chosen to be on that 'spot of earth' amongst a handful of people on the entire surface of the earth is irreplaceable! You wish you could sit there forever and die there as well!

An interesting analogy that I pondered over in Madinah Shareef was that of Qiyamah, the Awesome Day of Resurrection. Everyone for themselves and each one fighting for a taste of Jannah, Paradise. A young mother hurriedly walking past towards Riyaadul Jannah literally drops her sleeping child beside me and runs off. The stark reality of that 'day', now imprinted in my mind has deposited an meager lump of imaan in this weak heart. We all desire to come back stronger than before. The intention you go with is the cornerstone of what you will come back with.

Mount Uhud, view from Jabal al-Rahmat via Flickr

Standing near Mount Uhud and enveloped in the beauty of the mountain, I placed myself on the sandy ground. I lifted a lump of sand to my mouth. I pray to my Allah..."Oh Allah! The mubaruk sands of Medinah have touched the outer part of my body"... I eat the sand and continue.... "Now that it has also touched the inner part of my body, keep me amongst those that have been safeguarded from all harm and bless me with a place in Jannah" Aameen! "Oh Allah! These very same impure eyes that are looking the moon above from the ground beneath...give them an opportunity to view this very same moon from this very same spot again" Fee-amaanillah!

Qur'aan is truth. Sunnah is truth. Hadith is truth. There is truth everywhere. If only our hearts were not blind and would allow our eyes to see.

~ Reflection by Farishta, may Allah bless you and include you among His purified and accepted ones ~

# Further:
* Secrets of the Prophetic Chamber
* Masjid Al-Nabawi
* Ziaraat of Masjid Nabwi
* Inside Prophet's Tomb Chamber
* Haramain Gallery
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali | Enlightened Aphorisms

Tree of Life, Ron Barnett
Ancient religious / spiritual traditions, each of them are Technologies of the Heart, and for the Heart: the quintessential faculty of what makes human, human. In an age of sharing, we no longer can afford the luxury to  look at any religious / spiritual tradition as an isolated block, instead we must cherish and share them as common wisdom heritage of humanity, as many branches of a common tree. Standing at the cross-current of great transition of our time if we still behave with outdated mode of division and sectarianism, that can only produce more suffering for the collective humanity and hinder our progress and wholesome happiness.

The tendency to create division against unity is an age old disease of humanity, a disease borne out of ignorance. This tendency is pointed out in the Scripture, again a scripture which must not be looked as belonging to this group or that, but as common wisdom manual of humanity where it is revealed:

And verily this Brotherhood of yours is a single Brotherhood, and I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore be aware of Me. But people have cut off their affair (of unity), between them, into various sects: each party rejoices in that which is with itself. - Al-Quran: The Final Testament, chapter of the believers, 23:52-53

The message calls to recognize the unity of humanity and the Oneness of the Creator Who is the common Lord of entire creation and It's Sustainer and Provider, awareness of Whom is the Highest goal. The message also warn against the tendency of dividing truth and rejoicing in fragments, and thus creating sectarianism. This is the summed-up story of how blind religious zeal and divisionism have produced hatred in one nation for other in ages in the past and present, "each group / party / nation rejoicing in what which is with itself," forgetting that they are organically part of the same stream of revelation, light and wisdom.

Wa-inna hazihi ummatukum ummatan wahida ... Indeed the brotherhood of humanity is a single brotherhood. Thus no matter what fraction of truth we find in each group of humanity over age, no matter what part of truth is found in any religion / spiritual path, they all constitute part of the large fabric of reality. Every single religious / spiritual path contribute to the collective human journey towards its destined evolution, the great evolution which progress towards recognition and recollection of the Divine, the ultimate secret of Man.

A contemporary Sufi Master, Shaykh Ebrahim Schuitema from Cape Town, South Africa importantly have made this statement:

"Binocular vision enables depth perception. Get yourself reasonably acquainted with at least one other inner tradition."

This is a very significant message for any seeker of Truth, regardless of the tradition or orientation. To my personal understanding, since people of any land or time, adopt religion of another age or land,, and because of gap in language (terminology, symbols) and culture, such adoption can have certain resistance in penetrating the core teaching and harvest it's fruits. But if people simultaneously learn and explore about his/ her own ancient spiritual / religious tradition of the land (prevailing religious / spiritual path before a new religion arrived there), he or she may find the message of prevailing ancient path as something very organically penetrating within the Heart, enabling realization at a much accelerated pace if unity is sought among messages. This happens because of binocular vision effect as mentioned by Shaykh Ebrahim. This enables depth perception through the acquiring of another inner tradition, specially that of one's own land which has a much attuned vibration and rhythm. Or in the case of a land's ancient wisdom tradition is destroyed or inaccessible, it is the esoteric dimension of the faith which can function as complementary part of the binocular vision.

Patanjali: Father of Yoga
When it comes to an inner tradition of very ancient and rich origin which has survived after thousands of years, preserved with its original text: Indian ancient wisdom perhaps will score the best. One of such surviving ancient tradition, which is a gift to entire humanity is the Knowledge and Wisdom of Yoga. The best part of it is that the storehouse of Yoga has not only survived as knowledge on scrolls and pages but also as a living tradition where the knowledge is lived as wisdom.

The timeline of Yoga goes back as much as 3rd Millennium BC as far as recording system is concerned, but obviously there are real possibilities that this wisdom was revealed to humankind even before that, prior to time where recorded methods even invented. Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on the Hindu concept of divinity or Brahman.

The Sanskrit word yoga has the literal meaning of "yoke", from a root yuj meaning to join, to unite, or to attach. As a term for a system of abstract meditation or mental abstraction it was introduced by Patañjali in the 2nd century BC. Patanjali’s date is unknown, though many scholars assign him to the second century B.C.

His renowned Yoga Sutras presents, in a series of brief aphorisms, the condensed essence of the exceedingly vast and intricate science of God-union - setting forth the method of uniting the soul with the undifferentiated Spirit in such a beautiful, clear, and concise way that generations of scholars have acknowledged the Yoga Sutras as the foremost ancient work on yoga.

Patañjali is the compiler of the Yoga Sutras or Aphorisms of the Ancient Science of Union from India, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice. Although the Yoga Sutras have become the most important text of Yoga, the opinion of most scholars is that Patañjali was not the creator of Yoga, which existed well before him, but merely a great expounder.

The yoga system of Patanjali is known as the Eightfold Path (Ashtanga Yoga), which leads to the final goal of God-realization. This eight-fold concept derived from the 29th Sutra of the 2nd book, and is a core characteristic of practically every Raja yoga variation taught today. These Eight folds are such that if one carefully study them, one will understand that such characteristics and teachings exists in other religion / spiritual path as well, perhaps some in more openly, some in disguise, some within subtle teachings:

The Eightfold Path of Patanjali can be summarily categorized as:

(1.) Yama (The five "abstentions / purification"): Yama deals with self constraints, self-mastery. It has the following five sub-components:
* Ahimsa (non-violence),
* Satya (Truth, non-lying),
* Asteya (non-covetousness, craving, over-desire),
* Brahmacharya (non-sensuality, non-lust, preserving sexual energy), and
* Aparigraha (non-possessiveness, not hoarding).

(2.) Niyama (The five "observances"):  Niyama deals with self discipline. Niyama has the following elements within it:
* Shaucha (purity),
* Santosha (contentment),
* Tapas (austerity),
* Svadhyaya (study of Scriptures to know about God and the soul), and
* Ishvara-Pranidhana (surrender to God).

(3.) Asana: Literally means "seat", and in Patanjali's Sutras refers to the seated position used for meditation. Asana deals with physical practice, rituals.

(4.) Pranayama ( "Breath"): Prāna, breath, "āyāma", to restrain, control. Also interpreted as control of the life force. Pranayama deals with breathing sequence, mindfulness through breathing and right way of breathing as well.

(5.) Pratyahara ("Abstraction"): Withdrawal of the sense organs from external objects. Prathyahara deals with sense withdrawl, transcending sense world.

(6.) Dharana ("Concentration"): Fixing the attention on a single object. Dharana deals with concentration, higher level of awareness.

(7.) Dhyana ("Meditation"): Intense contemplation of the nature of the object of meditation. Dyhana deals with meditation.

(8.) Samadhi ("Liberation"): merging consciousness with the object of meditation. Samadahi deals with Illumination.

Known at the eightfold path it comprises self constraints, self observances, physical practices, breathing sequences, sense withdrawal, concentration, meditation-and illumination!

The Eightfold path is arranged in a hierarchy. The follower of Yoga Path aim so move from the base of the triangle to the apex - SAMADHI - or illumination.

If we use the Sufic mind to observe and analysis the Eightfold Path of Patanjali we can see clearly that everything found in Yoga, from principal and essence point of view, are found in Islam as well and by extension, must also be found in every balanced Spiritual Way. As one can observe that the eightfold path beings with purification. In Sufi terminology this is Tazkiyatan Nafs (purification of the self, alchemy of lower-self). This is what every Teacher start with when they work with his followers. For example we read in the Final Scripture where the role of a Master Apostle is described we find purification as one of the major task:

Kama arsalna feekum rasoolan minkum yatloo 'alaykum ayatina wa yuzakkeekum ... We have sent among you an Apostle from among yourselves, who recites to you Our communications and purifies you... - 2:151

After purification or Yama, comes Niyama or practices, self-discipline, daily observances which are essential to maintain purity and increase awareness of the Divine (taqwa). Those who claim that spirituality means there need not any rituals, no physical practices, rituals, they only delude themselves because human beings by nature need structure and it is the Niyama or practices which provide that valuable structure or foundation. The last element of Niyama is Ishvara-Pranidhana or surrender to God, which according to Islam is to be found at the core of every true Path, every true Religion and Yoga is no exception. The secret of spiritual happiness is here, in surrender to God.

After Niyama or Observances come Asana, which are unique to Yoga. In this aspect of Yoga is the most popular for common people, even though Asana or postures are just one aspect of Yoga. To transmit Yoga only through Asana is like teachings rituals of Catholic Mass without introducing who is Jesus or his teachings. When authentic Yoga masters teach about Asanas or Postures, they will point out that it is very important to practice the Asanas on exactly the same time to harvest the best benefit. Asanas help flow the spirit's energy by clearing obstructions, by moving those parts of the body and activating energy body and organs (chakras, subtle body) which are less used. From Sufic perspective this also provide hint for the benefit of regular prayer at appointed time as is done in Islam with very specific body postures. In fact for this reason Islamic Prayer or Salaat is called Yoga of Islam and from the standing, bowing and prostrating to the very action of rubbing the hands on face after supplication, are all found in Yogic practices as well which only confirms the fact that such practices have inherent benefit for humanity whether they are preserved in one Path or another.

Pranayama (mindful breathing), Pratyahar (withdrawal from sensory feedback) are also specialized Yogic practice and discipline which is to be learned from a Yoga master. From Sufic perspective there are certain Tariqa specific practices of Dhikr / Zikr or Recollection of the Divine which utilize deep breathing, in that very framework on loses one's self and thereby it is also another method of withdrawing from sensory feedback. The Turning of the Mevlevi is one example of Pratyahar as found in Sufic practice. Deep loud and collective Dhikr also can bring the same effect where one loses one's self.

Dharana and Dhyana are concentration and meditation, which are also necessary component of inner practice of any Spiritual Path.

Finally Samadhi is the fruit of all foregoing steps. In Hindu terminology it is called Moksha or Liberation (from bonding) and in Buddhist term this is Nirvana. In Sufic terminology this is Fana and Baqa, Annihilation or Lost in Allah, Dying in Allah to Subsist or Abide in Allah.

The aphorisms of Patanjali, also known as Yoga Sutras in which the above teachings are transmitted are excellent source of inspiration and timeless wisdom.

You may read the full text here of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, translation by BonGiovanni via Sacred-Text website by following this link: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Here are some highlight of Patanjali Aphorisms:

"On attaining the purity of the ultra-meditative state there is the pure flow of spiritual consciousness. Therein is the faculty of supreme wisdom. The wisdom obtained in the higher states of consciousness is different from that obtained by inference and testimony as it refers to particulars.

...there is no cure for the misery of longing, but to fix the heart upon the eternal.

The mastery of one in Union extends from the finest atomic particle to the greatest infinity.

Not being conditioned by time, God is the teacher of even the ancients.

Practice is the effort to secure steadiness.

Disease, inertia, doubt, lack of enthusiasm, laziness, sensuality, mind-wandering, missing the point, instability- these distractions of the mind are the obstacles. Pain, despair, nervousness, and disordered inspiration and expiration are co-existent with these obstacles. For the prevention of the obstacles, one truth should be practiced constantly. 

Austerity, the study of sacred texts, and the dedication of action to God constitute the discipline of Mystic Union. This discipline is practised for the purpose of acquiring fixity of mind on the Lord, free from all impurities and agitations, or on One's Own Reality, and for attenuating the afflictions. The five afflictions are ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion, and the desire to cling to life. Ignorance is the breeding place for all the others whether they are dormant or attenuated, partially overcome or fully operative.

Ignorance is taking the non-eternal for the eternal, the impure for the pure, evil for good and non-self as self. Egoism is the identification of the power that knows with the instruments of knowing. Attachment is that magnetic pattern which clusters in pleasure and pulls one towards such experience. Aversion is the magnetic pattern which clusters in misery and pushes one from such experience.

When invited by invisible beings one should be neither flattered nor satisfied, for there is yet a possibility of ignorance rising up. By self-control over single moments and their succession there is wisdom born of discrimination. From that there is recognition of two similars when that difference cannot be distinguished by class, characteristic or position. Intuition, which is the entire discriminative knowledge, relates to all objects at all times, and is without succession. Liberation is attained when there is equal purity between vitality and the indweller. "

You may read brief explanation as well as all the Sutras in another translation done by Charles Johnston via Sacred Text website as well: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, by Charles Johnston, [1912].

[+]  Download the Patanjali Yoga Sutras (English Translated, PDF)
[+] Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Raja Yoga - Ashtanga Yoga via Swami J
[+] Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Interpretive Translation by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati (PDF)
[+] Raja Yoga by Swami Vivekananda (PDF)

[+] Yoga in the writing of Hazrat Inayat Khan
[+] The Four Paths which lead to the Goal
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

SUFFICIENCY: an English Qasida by Shaykh Muhammad Harun Riedinger

Digital Calligraphy inspired and adopted from Muqtar Ahmed's via Flickr

In the darkness of my night,
Your'e the one and only Light.
In the doldrums of my day,
Your Light always leads the way.

You support me, You suffice
None but You is in my Life
Anta ‘awni, anta hasbi,
Laysa li siwak

My deluge You are to me.
My refuge You are to me.
For You are my remedy,
to my every malady.

You support me, You suffice
None but You is in my Life
Anta ‘awni, anta hasbi,
Laysa li siwak

You are - the Cause of my pain,
cause my loss to be my gain.
You are Nearer yet to me,
than myself could ever be.

You support me, You suffice
None but You is in my Life
Anta ‘awni, anta hasbi,
Laysa li siwak

Your Love - is that which makes me be,
Your Light - is that which makes me see,
Your Calling - that which makes me hear,
You are - my now, You are my here.

You support me, You suffice
None but You is in my Life
Anta ‘awni, anta hasbi,
Laysa li siwak

~ Muhammad Harun Riedinger (Abu Faydan Faridi) ~

Qasida are sung in Sufi gathering and in chorus, but can also be read personally. If read collectively here is the instruction to follow: all the verses start on the down beat, the start of the beat, or the '1' of 1,2,3,4. The last verse, however, you have to start on the upbeat, or the 4.5 of the last bar and double up the rhythm of the delivery of the words, but with a little practice it will fit nicely. I think this is befitting as it brings the song to a crescendo rhythmically and it meaning.

Sung to the tune of the famous Qasida of Abu Madyan 'The Adab of the Tariqa': Contributed by Saleem Andrew McGroarty. First published and circulated at Zawiya Ebrahim Facebook Page on April 16, 2012.

Hasbun Allah wa Ni'mal Wakil: The Divine is the Sole Sufficiency and the Best Guardian

What is Qasida?

The Qasida is a form of laudatory lyric poetry that originated in Arabia. Qasida means "intention" and the genre found use as a petition to a patron. A qasida has a single presiding subject, logically developed and concluded.

The classic form of qasida maintains a single elaborate metre throughout the poem, and every line rhymes. It typically runs more than fifty lines, and some times more than a hundred. The first appearance of the qasida is contributed to the poet Imru’ al-Qays (died c. 500), as well as the general template and standards of what comprises a qasida to this day. One of the most well known qasida include the Qasida Burda ("Poem of the Mantle") by Imam al-Busiri and Ibn Arabi's classic collection "The Interpreter of Desires". The qasida migrated to the Persian culture in the 10th century, where the rhyme scheme all but disappeared and the length of the poem multiplied exponentially.

Read more on Qasida via Wikipedia.

+ Qasidah al-Burdah (Poem of the Mantle) - the most-recited and celebrated single poem in human history

(+) Zawia Ebrahim Media can be accessed here.
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Notes and Introduction of Tajwidi Qur'an by Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee

And with the truth We have sent the Qur'an down, and with the truth it has descended.
- the Qur'an 17:105

Truly in that there is a reminder for one who has a heart, or he who listens attentively and is a witness (of Truth).
- the Qur'an 50:37

This is the Luminous Revelation in which there is no doubt, guidance for those who consciously guard themselves for (the sake of) Allah, those who have faith in the Knowledge of Unseen, and establish the ritual prayer (salah) and spend (on others) from what We have provided for them, and those who have faith in what has been revealed to you (Revelation of the Qur'an) and what has been revealed before you (Gospel, Torah and previous Revelation). And they have certainty in the Final World. (It is) they who have Guidance from their Lord, and ( (in reality it is) they who are successful. -The Qur'an 2:1-5

The Tajwidi Qur'an by Shaykh A. Nooruddeen Durkee is a Guide for non-Arabic readers to the Pronunciation of the Original text and to Understanding some of the Meanings revealed in The Glorious Qur'an. The presentation of the Arabic text along with it's corresponding line by line translation in English is one of the best available among all the available Quranic translations today. Also for correct pronunciation of elegant Arabic language, the method used here is excellent. The structure of the translations are such that being fully faithful to correct English structure, it is rendered in such a way that helps relate with the original Arabic much closely, which in turn helps a reader over time, to grasp individual meaning of the language up to individual words. Thus Tajwidi Qur'an is not only a guide for correct pronunciation and translation, but also to learn Arabic vocabulary. The presented of the edition is in two facing page, Arabic on right, English Transliteration and Translation on left - corresponding verse by verse. The Tajwidi Qur'an is available to order or to send as gift to anyone in the world. Please follow the link at the end of this post to know where and how.

I am sharing some highlights here from the notes and introduction of Shaykh A. Nooruddeen Durkee, may Allah bless him and grant him goodness, on the Tajwidi Qur'an which, I hope will shed light on the inspiration and aspiration behind this transliteration and translation of the Qur'an.

In the Name of Allah, The Mercy Full, Bestower of Mercy. Thanks be to Allah and Peace and Blessings be upon our liege-lord Muhammad, the Unlettered Messenger and Seal of the Prophets

By Way of Personal Note to the Original Edition of the Seventh House

I am writing this in Alexandria, Egypt, some eighteen years after disembarking in the Red Sea port of Jeddah off a long haul freight out of Detroit in the Hijri Year 1396. I had then two abiding intentions. My first intention (niyah) was, ‘inshallah, to fulfill, along with my wife, the Visit (‘umrah) to the Ancient House, and if possible to stay and perform the Pilgrimage (hajj), a month or so later.

My second intention was, by permission of Allah, to learn to recite the Qur’an.

The original command sent by Allah to His Messenger, Muhammad, blessings of Allah and peace be upon him, via the Angel Jibril, peace be upon him, was ‘Iqra, meaning Read! or Recite! The import of this was not lost on me for, after three years as a ‘new’ Muslim, it was clear to me that unless I could learn to ‘read’ I would be forever dependent on secondary sources and translations for my knowledge and understanding of ‘Islam.

Allah granted us the blessings of both the ‘umrah and the hajj and added to those blessings the use of a house in Makkah just up the hill from the Ancient House and an opportunity to study at the recently founded Arabic Language Centre in the Makkan College of Religious Law (kulliatu-sh-shariah).

Alhamdulillah. I learned the rudiments of Arabic but although I studied at the centre for three years, I was still unable to recite the Qur’an as I so deeply desired. It was not that there was a lack of teachers at the Centre but the environment was just not conducive and the teachers in the Masjid al-Haram sadly had no experience in teachings an English speaking Muslim, though there were special classes for those with mother tongues such as Bahasa, Urdu, Turkic, Malay, Farsi – the other major Islamic languages.

I was greatly aided at this time by finding a book in English by Prof. S. Muhammad Tufayl or Woking, England,which set out in an understandable manner, the exact rules for the recital (tajwid) of Qur’an. I was also blessed to find in the Indo-Pakistani book suq of Makkah, a copy of the Holy Qur’an transliterated into Roman characters by M. Abdul-Halim Eliasi or Hyderabad. It was also in Makkah that I was given a copy of Tajwidi Qur’an published in 1391 Hijri by Mawlana Dhafar ‘Iqbal of Lahore. Over the years this has proved to be a great blessing especially when used in conjunction with Dr. Muqri Husayni’s work, Sahl Tajwid (Easy Tajwid).

With these books in hand and by listening carefully to the very best readers (qari’un) on tape and radio I began slowly to teach myself step by step to recite the Qur’an in accord with the canons of tajwid.

Years passed in this way with my leaning a little here and little there but in truth I never really learned to recite correctly. I, however, persisted as I knew, on so many levels, that tajwid was vital key to true understanding. In the winter of 1410, I found myself living in the old city of Alexandria where I was working on the translation of some Shadhdhuli texts. One day I asked a friend if he knew anyone in the city who might teach us tajwid.

He did – and one soft rainy afternoon an ‘Azhari shaykh of tajwid, ‘Ustadh Mahmud M. al-‘Azazi came to our house. When he was settled with some tea he asked me to read for him and I had recited about half of Surah Ya Siiin before he stopped me.

“We must,” he said, “begin from the beginning.”

When I asked him where that was, he replied.

“The Angel Jibril, peace be upon him, taught the Prophet, blessings of Allah and peace be upon him, to read directly from his mouth to his ear; from his heart to his heart. This is the only way to learn. I read, you listen. You read, I listen and correct. You read again and again I correct until all is correct.”

I have now spent four years with the Shaykh and I have no doubt he is right.

At the same time however I often received messages and letters from friends in the West asking me for advice. They lamented that they are unable to ‘read’ and unable to find anyone to teach them.

From my own stays in the West I know that there are very few qualified teachers to be found. Although Shaykh Mahmud is without any doubt correct in saying that the teaching and learning of Qur’an is an oral transmission both at heart and in essence, nevertheless there is a need for learning aids.

One day on the train to Cairo I was inspired to begin work on producing a book for those seeking to learn tajwid, ‘Inshallah through a combination of exacting transliteration, the special calligraphy of Mawlana Dhafar ‘Iqbal’s edition of the mushaf and easily available audio tapes of the qari’un, it might be possible to at least get the basics right.

… The work of Mawlana Dhafar ‘Iqbal is of inestimable value to the non-Arabic reader seeking to learn tajwid. His graphic synthesis is a major clarification for the learner even if the calligraphy is not as elegantly proportioned as that of the Azhar edition prepared under the patronage of King Fu’ad.

I am forever grateful to Shaykh ‘Ibrahim Battawi of al-Azhar, my teacher in shari’ah, tariqah and haqiqah; a patient and consistent Guide on the Way. I also thank Ahmad al-Husayn, Muhammad Munir, Ahmad Salah of Alexandria and Seyyed Nidhamu-Din Ahmad of Lucknow for their help in corrections. Lastly I must thank my wife, Hajjah Noura, and my family, who are, after Allah, my greatest support.

~ From one who is poor before his Lord,
And constantly enriched by His Blessings:
‘Abdullah Nooruddeen Durkee ~
14 April 1994 – Alexandria – 03 Dhu-l-Hijj 1414

Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee, may Allah bless him and grant him hayat at-tayyiba

Some Note for the First Edition of The Tajwidi Qur’an

All praise be to Allah Who Created us and revealed the Holy Qur’an, which is a source of advice, balm, light, guidance and mercy for those who have faith. Peace and blessings be upon the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad, the best of creation, the illuminator of hearts and the mercy to all the worlds. Peace be upon the pure people of his house, his loyal companions, his sincere followers, and their followers and upon us.

The Prophet said, “The best among you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.” (Shahih Bukhari 6:21:545)

This first edition of the entire text of the Tajwidi Qur'an is the completion of our ongoing work of the transliteration into Latin characters and the transfer into an approximate meaning in American English of the Words of Allah contained in the Qur'an.

.. This work is not sponsored or paid for by any government or anonymous charitable society; rather it is sponsored by individuals and local Islamic groups who are interested in directly and personally aiding in this process of transliteration and explanation of the Most Generous Qur'an by their own efforts or through their own halal wealth.

If you want to help put copies of this and other editions into the hands of Muslims whose mother tongue is English, or who were educated by means of the English language and have thus lost their ability to decipher Arabic through another language (e.g. Urdu, Farsi or Othmani), or if you are interested in joining in sadaqah jariyah and assuring your self of a trust that will survive your death, then we invite you to help sponsor this process of propagating the Qur'an.

In this context please note our address at the bottom if you would like further information.

.. We have rationalized some of our methods of transliteration so that the reader will, Inshallah, find a greater over-all consistency throughout the text as well as a greater ease in reading... to convey the subtle nuances of Qur’anic orthography, and it is our hope, bi'iznillah (by permission of Allah), that we have arrived at a more faithful rendering into Latin characters of the original hand-written Arabic text.

As we mentioned in our original notes, what we are aiming for is, at best, an approximation of the meaning and sound in Arabic. Having said this, we should also immediately say that this is, of course, an utter impossibility as the only real possibility for the serious student and lover of Qur'an is to learn Arabic, and specifically with the rules of tajwid from a fully qualified teacher.

However, from the response we have gotten since we produced the first edition of the Seventh House, we know that, alhamdulillah, many people have found the work helpful in their attempts to read the Qur'an. We also know that it has proven useful in a variety of circumstances, including weekend schools, prisons, Qur'an circles (halaqat) with a mixed company of Arabic and non-Arabic readers, and by individual students.

With all of this, in heart and mind we hope that you, the reader, will find some benefit in this and we ask that, 'inshallah, you will remember us in your prayers.

Sincere thanks to all the faithful servants and lovers of the Qur'an for their active and generous help in this work.

To contact us, please write: an-Noor Educational Foundation, 536 Pantops Center No. 129, Virginia 229111, or email:

Why another Translation and what is its Basis?

A question has been raised by the community as to why we need yet another translation of al-Qur'an.

My own understanding is that al-Quranul Karim revealed by Allah in the pure Arabic tongue (lisanul arabiyyun) to His Messenger, the Seal of the Prophets, Sayyidina Muhammad ibn 'Abdullah (s) cannot be adequately and truly translated into any other tongue or language.

For this reason I do not claim to have translated al-Quran. Rather, it is, as I clearly note in both Arabic and English, "A Guide to... Understanding some of the Meanings contained in the original Arabic text as set in early 21st Century American English."

Thus I am only presenting the reader with a guide to some - not all - of the many meanings contained in the original text. My claim is modest and I openly and gratefully acknowledge the help of my predecessors. As such this translation is close to being a compendium of shared understanding than a translation of an individual.

For the benefit of the reader I provide a list of translations I most frequently consulted. As I proceeded with my efforts I had open on my desk the following earlier attempts to convey the meaning of what Allah says in al-Quranul-Furqan.

1) Abdullah Yusuf Ali in the Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Edition, Lahore
2) Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall in the Hyderabad Edition, Deccan, Hyderabad
3) Muhammad Asad in the Dar al-Andalus Edition, Jebel Tariq - Gibraleter
4) Abu'l Qassim Publishing House in the Shaheeh International Edition, Jeddah
5) Abdalhaqq and Aisha Bewley in the Bookwork Edition, Norwich, UK

The following were not always open but I consulted them on many occasions:
6) Ahmed Ali, first edition, Princeton, USA
7) Mir Ahmad 'Ali, second edition, T.T.Q. Elmhust, USA
8) Ozek, Uzonglu, Topuzoglu and Maksutoglu, first edition, Istanbul, Turkey

[ One modern translation noticeably absent from this list is the Interpretation of the Meanings of the Noble Qur'an: An Abridged Version of at-Tabari, al-Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir with comments from Shahih al-Bukhari, summarized in One Volume by M. Hilali & M. Khan, published in K.S.A

I find it necessary to caution the reader about this translation. The brackets inserted in the text contain, not bridges to make the Arabic text clear, but heavily edited and selectively abridged commentary and tafsir. Additionally traditional sources are sometimes misquoted and contextually misrepresented; in fact it is very difficult for an unsuspecting student to read this 'interpretation' without winding up thoroughly confused as to what of this 'interpretation' is actually the Qur'an, what is ahadith, what is tafsir. This translation should be read critically and preferably, at the same time as several other translations for the sake of comparison.]

As a rule I always looked for the simplest possible word that is widely accepted in everyday usage. At all times I sought the generally agreed upon meaning of a word or term with the exception of a few words which I felt it is necessary to add to a list of untranslatable terms like Allah, as-salah, al-qur'an, az-zakat, as-sadaqah and others.

For some words I have give alternative translations such as "cover up [the Truth]" for kafara instead of more widely used "disbelieve", and in some cases I have given more than one translation in different places as in the case of dhulm, which has different meanings depending on the context in which Allah uses the word.

I have also retained the names of all the Prophets (peace be upon them all) in their original Arabic form and removed all ye's, thee's, thy's and other archaic English forms... we tried to bring the translation closer to the language of today than the more dated Pickthall text ... and whilst it is not aggressively modern ... it does reflect contemporary speech patterns.. We have tried to make the Tajwidi Qur'an more genuinely useful to the reader than the Eliasi version (of transliteration) and we of course hope that the reader agrees and benefits from our efforts.

Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee teaching in conversation with children, via Flickr

+ > To learn more about the Tajwidi Qur'an visit this page.

+ > To learn about an appeal to contribute towards printing Tajwidi Qur'an please read this appeal here.

+ Official Website of Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee

Afala yatadabbarunal Qur’an?
Do they not then understand the Quran?
- 4:82

Alif Laam Ra. This is a Book whose Signs are perfected and then presented in harmonious clarity, from the One Who is Perfectly Wise and All-Aware.
- 11:01

Read the Qur’an, for verily it will come on the Day of Standing as an intercessor for its companions.
- Saying of the Messenger (s)
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Monday, April 09, 2012

Whosoever trade with Us, becomes a profiteer

Rabee Ibn Soleman, a pure hearted Muslim described the following true account from his life:

I was traveling for Hajj. With me there was a band of travelers who were going for the Hajj or the Holy Pilgrimage to Mecca. When we reached the town of Kufa I went to the local bazaar to buy some essential goods. On the way at a deserted place I saw carcass of a donkey and a woman with torn clothes was cutting flesh from it and putting into a bag.

I thought to myself: I must follow her to check whether this woman was a meat seller and whether she is taking this meat to sell at a shop in the marketplace. Then very carefully and quietly I started following her. I found that the woman entered into a house, which seemed to be her residence. She had four daughters there. All of them had sign of extreme poverty and suffering. I saw the condition of their home to be very poor, there was hardly any furniture. As I was waiting just outside, I heard the woman in a teary voice speaking to her daughters: “Take and eat this meat and express gratitude to Allah.”

The girls started cooking the meat and in seeing this my heart was filled with grief.

Then I called out, “O servants of Allah, for the sake of Allah do not eat this meat.” (In Islam meat of dead animal is not halal, not permitted / non-kosher).

Then they asked me, “Who are you?”

I replied, “I am a wayfarer.” Then the woman asked me, “Why have you come to us? We are prisoner of our fate. For the last three years we have no one to help us. The father of these girl was a very good person. He wanted to marry these daughters to good family, but death did not give him the opportunity. He has returned to his Lord. Whatever wealth he left are finished. We know that it is not permissible to eat meat of dead animal. But we are starving for four days. That is why it has become permissible for us.”

Rabee Ibn Soleman then described, hearing their tale I started to cry and returned to my lodge to bring the Ihram (piece of clothe reserved for the holy Pilgrimage), all the goods that I had, and six hundred dirham (currency of that time). On my way I bought flour with hundred dirham, clothes with another hundred dirham and placed the remaining dirham in the flour sac.

Upon reaching their house, the woman then expressed her gratitude to me and prayed saying thus, “O Ibn Soleman, May Allah forgive all your past sins and all the sins in the future and may Allah give you place in the Paradise. And May Allah reward you with such a reward which soon to manifest before you.”

Her elder daughter prayerfully said, “May Allah give you double reward and may Allah forgive all your wrong doings.”

The second daughter said, “Whatever you have donated, may Allah give you much more than this.”

The third daughter said, “May Allah grant you that you unite with our grand father Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam on the Day of Judgment.”

And the youngest one supplicated, “O Allah! He who has been so kind to us, please speedily grant him good returning reward.”

Soleman continues, “By then the band of the Pilgrims have left for Mecca and I stayed back in Kufa, for I had no provision left for the long journey to Mecca. Then they returned after the completion of Hajj. I wanted to congratulate them and ask them for blessing. When I met the first band of Pilgrims I congratulated them and said, “May Allah accept you Hajj.” Then one of them said in wonder (for they saw him participating at the Hajj), “Were you not with us? Didn’t you yourself performed the Hajj with us? Were you not in the plain of Arafat? Did you not circumbulate with us?”

I said to myself, “This is nothing but gift from Allah!” By that time the band of pilgrims of my home town reached and I went to tell them, “May Allah accept your holy pilgrimage.” They also exclaimed in the same manner as the others, and one of them even said, “Why are you denying? Were you not with us in the Holy City of Mecca and Medina. After paying visit to the Prophet’s Tomb, while coming out of Bab e Jibriel, didn't you have this bag deposited with us because of heavy crowd, which has inscribed on it:

man amana rabah

Whosoever trade with Us, becomes a profiteer.

This is yours, please accept what belongs to you.”

Rabee Ibn Soleman later described, “I've never seen this bag before. Nevertheless because of their persistence I brought it with me at home and after the night prayer I recited my prescribed litanies. Then I contemplated on what happened!

Meanwhile I fell asleep and in my vision I was granted the good fortune to meet the Holy Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. I greeted him with greeting of peace and kissed his holy hand. He replied with a smile and said, “Ya Rabee! How many witness do I have to present to you before you will accept it's validity?

Listen! This is what happened: When you donated everything that you had to that lady who is from my blood and in doing so you postponed your desire to go to Hajj, then I made supplication for you at the Court of Allah so that you be awarded with even better gifts. Then Allah sent an angel in your exact shape and form and commanded that he perform pilgrimage every year on your behalf, until the Day of Judgment. And Allah also returned your six hundred dirham in the world with six hundred gold coins, so that you may find peace and satisfaction.”

After this the Holy Prophet pronounced this sentence, "Whosoever trade with Us, become a profiteer."

When I awoke from my dream and sleep, I found the bag is with me and there were six hundred gold coins inside it. All praise, glory, beauty, love and grace belongs to Allah.

- Translated from Shapna Jagate Priyo Nabi (s), (Beloved Prophet in the realm of Dream) by Maulana Mohammad Aminul Islam. The incident is recorded in the title, Siratunnabi ba'd aj Vesalunnabi.

People whom neither commerce nor worldly transactions can divert from the Remembrance of Allah, nor from regular Prayer, nor from the practice of regular Charity: Their (only) awareness and concern is for the Awesome Day when hearts and eyes will be transformed (in a world wholly new).

That Allah may reward them according to the best of their deeds, and add even more for them out of His Grace: for Allah provides for those whom He will, without measure.

But the Unbelievers,- their deeds are like a mirage in sandy deserts, which the man parched with thirst mistakes for water; until when he comes up to it, he finds it to be nothing: But he finds Allah (ever) with him, and Allah will pay him his account: and Allah is swift in taking account.

- The Quran, Chapter of Light, verses 37-39

A real believer who believes in the true reality of the hereafter will always think of those transactions, the ever lasting profit of which is gained in the eternal life, in the Kingdom of God. Alas! If we were those who have certainty in the rewards of the Hereafter, we would have become people racing to do good in this world to ripe its reward in the Kingdom. This life is the harvesting ground of the Hereafter. Faith is actualized through action. It is through engagement with sacred actions that we not only testify for our faith but also strengthen it, increase our capacity of the heart to contain greater certainty of True Reality.

Fortunately we do have plenty of opportunities to engage in such sacred actions for which perpetual blessings can be gained. One such opportunity is to support the reprinting of the Tajwidi Qur'an, one of the best contemporary translation of the Words of God made available to us and many in present time, specially for Westerners. Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee’s transliteration/translation of the Tajwidi Qur’an has been a blessing for us all. This is a very valuable guide for non-Arabic readers to the pronunciation of the original text and to understanding some of the meanings revealed in the glorious Quran.

Tajwidi Qur'an is translated and transliterated into English from Arabic. The transliteration (based on Mesa and Hart's rules) is clear and accurate, and is found directly opposite its Arabic counterpart. The language is respectful yet contemporary and very understandable. Additions to or ‘bridges’ in the text, necessary for the sake of English reading, are clearly distinguished by brackets and contain no editorial comment.

In 1994, Shaykh Abdullah Noorudeen Durkee, may Allah bless him and grant him good health, began this work while living in Alexandria, Egypt, as an aid to non-Arabic readers of the Qur'an. After it was completed in 2000, he sent it to a select group of Arabic scholars, speakers and readers as well as to a representative cross-section of Muslim readers for further review and correction. This latter stage, coupled with careful revisions of form, layout and design, took 3 more years. It was printed and bound during Ramadan 1424-2003.

At the moment there is an appeal posted at Green Mountain School to help reprint another five thousand copies of Tajwidi Qur'an. There are some suggested ways in which anyone can contribute in this project. Click on the banner image below to learn more about how you may engage. May Allah increase our capacity to do what is good, beautiful and pleasing to Him. May each of our noble intention and action be accepted and rewarded by the Most Generous One.

Click here to learn about an opportunity to engage to contribute to printing and spreading the Quran
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Sunday, April 08, 2012

At times, this is how Allah set us free

Man praying in Desert
Allah give us gifts. But then we often become dependent on those gifts, instead of Him. When He gives us money, we depend on the money - not Him. When He gives us people, we depend on people - not Him.

When He gives us status or power, we depend on, and become distracted by these things. When Allah gives us health, we become deceived. We think we will never die.

Allah gives us gifts, but then we come to love them as we should only love Him. We take those gifts and inject them into our hearts, until they take over. Soon we cannot live without them.

Every waking moment is spent in contemplation of them, in submission and worship to them. The mind and the heart that was created by Allah, for Allah, becomes the property of someone or something else. And then the fear comes. The fear of loss begins to cripple us. The gift - that should have remained in our hands - takes over our heart, so the fear of losing it consumes us. Soon, what was once a gift becomes a weapon of torture and a prison of our own making.

How can we be freed of this?

At times, in His infinite mercy, Allah free us… by taking it away.

-  Yasmin Mogahed | Official site of Yasmin Mogahed

fa iza faraghta fanswab,
wa ilaa Rabbaka farghab.

So when you are freed - ascend,
And make the Lord your exclusive object.
- The Quran, chapter 94, last two verses

Human beings appraise not the Divine with true appraisal.
and again, 
They have not estimated Allah with His rightful estimate.
Indeed, Allah has Supreme Power, Exalted in Might.
- Message of the Quran (22:74)

Sufic Wisdom
Sufic Wisdom via Green Mountain School
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Thursday, April 05, 2012

it is not enough not to be judgmental

Thou and only Thou Art the Real Authority of the Momentous Day of Judgment. Thou Art the Just, the Judge. - Message of the Quran

The Kingdom on that momentous Day shall be Allah's; He will judge between them; so those who believe and do good will be admitted into the Gardens of bliss. - 22:56

God does not inflict an atom's weight of injustice. On the contrary, He multiplies the reward manifold for the righteous work, and grants from Him a great recompense. - 4:40

Even though the true authority of Judgment belongs to God, we human beings are prone to judging others. We are socially so conditioned to judge others (by appearance mostly) that habitually this becomes our second nature. Also perhaps because of how our physical body is. Take our eyes for example, which are designed to look outward, can see others, but can not see ourselves directly; and how our mind is, always comparing this with that. May be for this reason it is an easier tendency for us to "look at the speck that is in our brother's eye, but not to notice the log that is in our own eye?" as rightly pointed out by a World Teacher about two millennium ago. One of the great spiritual commandment is, "Do not judge so that you shall not be judged."

In his sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ, may we be advanced towards his perfected saintly station with God, actually had lot more to say about judging others than just one sentence.
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:1-5) (credit)

When people are religious or spiritual, even then the habit of judging others do not go away, but can even intensify if this layer of awareness is not awakened within. When it comes to religious people, in our time, we often may find them even more judgmental than average people. This is a sure sign of being far off from arriving at enlightenment and because the blameworthy trait of pride is not purified from our beings.

In the context of religious differences, question of theology which can be very serious for people who take their religions more seriously than anything else, even for them the Scripture advices to leave the differences to God to judge on the Day of Judgment and to focus on unity and harmony, rather than disunity and differences in this world. For example in a number of occasion while mentioning that people of disunity when they raises question of differences in theological understanding, the Quran again and again advices to not to get entangled in such discussion rather it reminds that "... Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that over which they used to differ." (2:113) In another chapter we read, "... then finally to Me, O humanity, all shall return, and I will judge all your differences." (3:55)

"And if there should be a group among you who has believed in that with which I have been sent and a group that has not believed, then be patient until Allah judges between us. And He is the Best of judges." (7:87)

"And We did certainly give the Children of Israel the Scripture and judgement and prophethood, and We provided them with good things and preferred them over the worlds. And We gave them clear signs regarding this affair (of the Advent of the Final Prophet). And they did not differ except after true knowledge had come to them - out of jealous animosity between themselves. Indeed, your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning all their differences." (45:16-17)

These and other verses of the scripture illuminate for us how important it is not to be judgmental of others, even when it comes to matter of religion and spirituality. By extension this applies to other facets of life, but alas how often people fall into the trap of judging others.

Judging others, or to take on the role of judging righteousness of people is dangerous and a mark of religious pride. In the sacred tradition of Islam this is warned against.

A man said: I swear by Allah, Allah will not forgive so-and-so. At this Allah the Almighty said: Who is he who swears by Me that I will not forgive so-and-so? Verily I have forgiven So-and-so and have nullified your own good deeds. - Hadith Qudsi, on the authority of Jundub

A similar Hadith, narrated by Abu Dawud indicates that the person referred to was a man whose previous good deeds were brought to naught after presuming to declare that Allah would not forgive someone's bad deeds. 

Judgment removes one from realizing oneness. Once we realize the necessity of not being judgmental and the underlying truth that judging other veils our heart from seeing the goodness of others, and hence goodness in us as well - we strive not to be judgmental. This is an inner struggle which requires vigilance over our heart and mind. And this can pose challenge to our mind since we are fighting a deep rooted habit.

Towards the ability of being non-judgmental of others, it is not enough to simply to tell ourselves 'not to be judgmental.'

Just in nature no place is allowed to be a complete vacuum, similarly our habit of the mind can not be turned off simply by negating something alone, unless something complementary and positive is supplied. This is why it is not enough not to be judgmental but to go further, which is to think of the good of others.

To think good of others is not easy, specially when we find ourselves already in the midst of judging other, or tendency of judgment within us is already in play. It is worth acknowledging the steep path of arriving at non-judgment state of mind. This is a quality of the saints.

For us, the ordinary sinners and mortals to attain that goal is quite a challenge. Our spiritual elders have always advised us to think good of others, to preserve loving-kindness towards others. This is important because we often judge silently and our mind convince us that the world is unaware of this. But as God knows our innermost of thoughts, similarly the environment in which we live-in (including people around) also perceives this on the level of subtle awareness. This is why those who judge others (even silently), others will also judge them. It happens naturally out of the law of reciprocity. This world is a world of mirror. Others will be towards us as we are towards others.

To practice good thoughts, forgiving thoughts when we see something displeasing to us, to think of the good in someone immediately after we notice something not so good is necessary to overcome judgment. Thus rather than trying to stop our judgment and force our mind for it, it is also important to replace judgment with good thoughts / good qualities of the person. Mind is of such nature that if we force something on it, the very act of forcing something will cause it to hold on it even more.

One way to best transform our habit of judgment is to immediately turn the judgment towards ourselves. Psycho-spiritually speaking, generally we notice bad things (or any quality in that matter) in other only because we have traces of that within us (there is exception to this rule as well when compassion is brought into the equation). A person will feel irritated with another person only because it triggers the very same tendency which is simply reflected in the other. One very effective way to transform judgment is this: whenever any such tendency arise within us towards someone else, we turn that judgment towards our very self. This a lovely practice of self vigilance, taking account of the self (mohaseban nafs).

For example, if I come across John and I feel irritated that he speaks too much, in that very moment when my mind whispers within that "this John is such a talker," at the very moment we look towards ourselves and using our higher consciousness that seats above the whispering mind and say to the self "I am also a big talker, I also have this habit time to time and its time to be mindful of it." If some judgment arise on someone else thinking that "he is wrong, this particular act of his is so bad," we must ask forgiveness to God for our own wrong doings, countless mistakes (as well as for him, which is even better). This is why Jesus Christ placed a lot of emphasis in his many discourses to forgive our so called "enemy" (enemy only because the mind consider them to be) because this in the long run also cleans our mind from judgment in the first place.

Even though its an art of taming the mind, re-polishing it and transforming our habit - this requires compassion for the self and must be done with care. Then slowly, God willing, we may change our habit of being judgmental to non-judgmental to others, aware of our own vices and most importantly to purify ourselves of such vices, by God's help.

Judgmental quality when directed towards other is a vice, but when we use this as a tool to create further awareness of our own faults and to put conscious effort to purify ourselves, that becomes a virtue. Every time if judgment comes and every time if we take it as an opportunity to ask forgiveness for ourselves and others, it can become very beneficial. Judgment of other divides and separates us from other, but turning the judgment to look at our own imperfection unites us with the rest in humility and help us progress in spiritual evolution.

"Whoever knows himself well, would keep himself busy reforming himself instead of talking about the faults of others...Whoever knows his Lord, would keep himself busy trying to please Him, instead of trying to please himself." - Ibn Al-Qayyim

Paintings by Khalil Gibran
Leo Babauta suggest a simple method in his site, Zen Habits on how to avoid being judgmental. He calls this DUAL method for this involves 4 layer of awareness: Don't passing judgment, Understanding, Accepting, Loving. This is what he suggested:

Here’s the DUAL method:

Don’t pass judgment. If you find yourself being judgmental, stop yourself. This takes a greater awareness than we usually have, so the first step (and an important one) is to observe your thoughts for a few days, trying to notice when you’re being judgmental. This can be a difficult step. Remind yourself to observe.

Once you’re more aware, you can then stop yourself when you feel yourself being judgmental. Then move to the next step.

Understand. Instead of judging someone for what he’s done or how he looks, try instead to understand the person. Put yourself in their shoes. Try to imagine their background. If possible, talk to them. Find out their backstory. Everyone has one. If not, try to imagine the circumstances that might have led to the person acting or looking like they do.

Accept. Once you begin to understand, or at least think you kind of understand, try to accept. Accept that person for who he is, without trying to change him. Accept that he will act the way he does, without wanting him to change. The world is what it is, and as much as you try, you can only change a little bit of it. It will continue to be as it is long after you’re gone. Accept that, because otherwise, you’re in for a world of frustration.

Love. Once you’ve accepted someone for who he is, try to love him. Even if you don’t know him. Even if you’ve hated him in the past. Love him as a brother, or love her as a sister, no matter who they are, old or young, light skinned or dark, male or female, rich or poor.

What good will loving someone do? Your love will likely only be limited. But it could have an affect on two people: yourself, and possibly on the person you’ve found love for. Loving others will serve to make yourself happier. Trust me on this one. And loving others can change the lives of others, if you choose to express that love and take action on it. I can’t guarantee what will happen, but it can be life-changing. - says Zen Habit.

In the site Guru's Feet, the author brings out a very important point about Judgment.

"Not being judgmental does not mean to be opinion-less, spineless, non-skeptical, not being exquisite, being indifferent to whatever. If this was the case then no discussion or analysis of reality would be able.

For example, it is not judgmental to say that "this man who committed a crime did a bad thing", it is an opinion (which can be accepted or not). However, it is judgmental to say that "this man who committed a crime is a bad man.

Judgmental is something else. Judgmental is not stating an opinion or even labeling something as "good" or "bad". It is when based on one quality of someone or something you conclude about his whole nature, about all his other qualities. You judge his wholeness based on one aspect."

Taking this point further, it can offer us even a higher level of awareness towards understanding another important spiritual message of not fragmenting the Ideal of God into many gods. From the perspective that judgement is mostly concluding about the whole nature of another being, strangely enough we human being also project judgment to God and fragment Him or Her. In spiritual evolution, it always encouraged not to limit our understanding of the Infinite Nature of the Divine through limited picture of our mind such as crude forms of idols, icons. Because in doing so we do great injustice to the Truth that Divine is Unlimited. It is like when a person may be a father to his son, a husband to his wife, a teacher in his profession, a friend to his friends, yet we only want to know that person by only one label and then limit him only to that. Even when human beings are of such nature, think how God is. It is also for this same reason, associating any partner to the Divine is a same kind of spiritual blunder. This is injustice to the Truth and judging God's qualities from our limited mind. From spiritual vantage point, for this reason polytheism is shun for this fragments God and veil our heart from realizing the Wholeness of God. A sure sign of spiritual evolution is not to see many, not to see even two, but to see only One.

Do not associate [anything] with God . Indeed, association [with the Divine] is great injustice (to Truth). - Advice of Luqman the sage, as mentioned in the Quran

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Photos of Sufi Shrines: Postcards from India

Being drunk with divine mysteries:
In Allah's garden you gather roses.

Hazrat Mehboob-e-Elahi -- O beloved one of Allah,
How I long for the perfume
of our togetherness!

~ a poem by Hazrat Nizamuddin dedicated to Habib Allah ~
English version by Rahat Hasan with slight modification

Here rests Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia, affectionately known as Mehboob-i Elahi or "Beloved of God"

A woman praying facing the Hazrat Nizamuddin's resting place at Nizamuddin Dargah, Delhi

A Dervish fanning at the Mehfil of Sema (assembly of Sufi music), Dargah Nizamuddin, Delhi

Resting place of Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (ra) in Mehrauli, Delhi

Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki was the first spiritual successor of Great Sufi Saint Khwaja Mu'inuddin Chishti. Bakhtiyar Kaki was born in 1173 C.E. in a town called Aush or Awash in Mawar-un-Nahar (Transoxania). He belonged to the direct lineage of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s).

Sheikh Nur Bux has written in his book entitled"Silsila tuz'zah": "Bakhtiyar Aushi was a great devotee, mystic and friend of Allah. In private and public he was indulged in the remembrance of Allah. He was habituated to eat little, sleep little and speak little. He was a towering personality in the world of mysticism."

He had no parallel in abandoning the world and suffering poverty and hunger. Whenever someone came to him he would come back to his senses after a while and was then able to talk with him. After a very brief exchange he would show his inability to continue any longer and slipped into the same state of absorption once again.

It is stated that once in an assembly of Sama he happened to hear a verse of Hazrat Ahmad Jam with the meaning: "Those who are killed with the dagger of surrender, get a new life from the Unseen."

Hazrat Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki r.a. was so much absorbed in and inspired with this verse that from that day on he kept on reciting it in a state of unconsciousness and gave his life in the same state. He remained in this state of Wajd (samadhi) for 3 consecutive days and expired on the 4th day. He passed away on the 14th of Rabi-ul-Awwal of Islamic year 633 A.H. On account of his extraordinary death, Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki is known as "Shahid-e-Mohabbat" or Martyr of Allah's Love.

The Mazaar Sharif [noble tomb] of Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhityar Kaki r.a. lies near Qutb Minar at old Delhi, India.

an Imam leading prayer and blessings to the saint Bakhtiar Kaki (ra)

Dargah of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Delhi

Inside one of the most serene sufi shrine

Symbol of Inayati-Chishti Sufi order, 'The winged heart' on the outside wall of Inayat Khan's tomb, Delhi

Photos by Sadiq Alam | Taken March, 2012
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