Friday, November 30, 2012

Jumu'ah Khutbah of Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee

O you who believe! when the call is made for prayer on Friday (yawmi-l-jumu'a), then hasten to the remembrance of Allah and leave off trading; that is better for you, if you know.

And when the prayer has been concluded, disperse within the land and seek from the bounty of Allah , and remember Allah often that you may succeed.

    - The Qur'an 62:9,10

Friday in Arabic is called Yawmi-l jumu'ah, also meaning a day of congregation. It is considered to be the most blessed day in the week. The Messenger of God, Allah bless him and increase our proximity to him, said, "The best day the sun rises over is Friday; on it God created Adam. On it, he was made to enter paradise, on it he was expelled from it, and the Last Hour will take place on no other day than Friday," [1]

The Prophet, may Allah give him peace and increase our love for him, also said: "The most prominent of the days is the day of Jumu'ah (Friday) and the most honored in Allah's sight, and it is more honored in Allah's sight than the day of breaking the fast or the day of sacrifice. It has five significant merits: Allah created Adam on this day; on this day Allah sent Adam down to the earth; on this day, Allah caused Adam to die; on this day, there is a time during which if anyone asks anything of Allah it will be granted to him unless he asks for something which is forbidden; and on this day, the Hour will be established. [2]

In accordance to the commandment of the Qur'an, congregational prayer is offered at the mid-day of every Friday and this is a practice since the time of the Prophet who established it. Just as the Jews took Saturday as their Holy Day and Christians community Sunday, for Muslims Friday is established as the Holy Day.

Christ said, "The last shall be the first." Thus among the religious communities derived from Abraham, Jews, Christian and Muslims, the first day in a week is observed by the last community.

Muhammad Mustafa said, "We are the last [of the people to come] but the first on the Day of Resurrection. They received their books (Torah, Bible) before us and we got ours (Qur'an) after them. This day was obligatory upon them, but they differed concerning it, and Allah guided us. The people, therefore, follow us: the Jews tomorrow and the Christians the day after tomorrow."

It was a practice of the Prophet that he always made a sermon known as Khutbah on Friday before Jumuah prayer. This practice is still followed faithfully and from every mosque in the world during Fridays you may hear a sermon delivered, touching upon religious matters such as faith, duty, piety and related subjects of the world and hereafter.

Khutbah delivered by Islamic thinkers and scholars are asset to humanity for these khutbah or sermon carries essential wisdom, guidance, admonition, counseling and much needed solace for the heart and souls. Now a days, thanks to the internet, one can listen to the recorded (and in some cases live) khutbah of many scholars via the world wide web. This is a blessing in this troubled time when people have less and less time for what is real and valuable.

Shaykh Abdullah Nooruddeen Durkee, inheritor of Rasulullah (s), scholar, author, translator and the khalifah (successor) for North America of the Shadhdhuli School, as part of his sacred responsibility serves as a khateeb and an imam for various nearby Muslim communities on the Eastern coast of United States.

Currently he has his Zawiya (Sufi corner) at Islamic Study Center, Charlottesville, Virginia which is also the location of The Green Mountain School, the third school Shaykh Nooruddeen has founded. He lives in Green Mountain Farm outside of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee has been giving sermons / Friday Khutba regularly in the East Coast of United States for more than a decade. The uniqueness of his sermons are that they are delivered from a perspective which is very relevant to the current state of affairs, address the need of the time, with a balanced approach towards the Shariah as well as Haqiqah, both the outer and inner. A good number of his Khutbah are digitally recorded and made available to his site, Green Mountain School. You may browse, download and listen to the khutbah from here. May Allah grant blessings to his life and work, protect and preserve his health. Ameen.

Click on the image above to view, browse and download the Khutbah (sermons) by Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee

# References:
[1] Ahmad and At-Tirmithi
[2] Ahmad and Ibn Majah. Al-Iraqi says its chain is hasan.

# Further:
* Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 2: Salatul Jumu'ah (the Friday Prayer)
* The Secrets, Benefits and Virtues of Friday - (Jumm'ah)
* The virtues of Jumu’ah (Friday) prayer
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tumi je Amarey Chao | Tagore Song in English Translation

The following is a beautiful and popular song of the celebrated poet and mystic of Bengal Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). At times this happen that I share a song of foreign language usually that has spiritual meanings / energy, and since they come from such realized hearts, the poets, the lovers of God, the mystics who wrote these lyrics in inspired stages of their heart and mind, in states of intoxication in love of the Beloved, that these tunes and words start to make their ways inside the deepest chambers of our heart. When the visitors hear them, even if the language is unknown and even if the tunes are foreign, alchemy of heart beings to happen. The effect sometime is like hundreds roses blooming simultaneously within the garden of the Heart.

When I shared this song titled, "Tumi je Amarey Chao Ami Shey Jaani" (That You desire me, I know) I received queries from visitors about this song, as they were touched by the beauty of the song and it reached their heart. All credit and praise is His.

Following is an approximate translation of the song in English. The original lyrics in Bengali is italized, followed by their translation.

Tumi je amarey chao
- Ami shey jaani.

Keno je morey kadao,
- Ami shey jaani.

                                             The truth
                                             that You desire me,
                                             that You long for me
                                             in the heart of my heart
                                             - this intimate secret now I know.

                                             Why You make me cry,
                                             - this intimate secret now I know.

E alokey e adharey
Keno Tumi Aponarey
Chaya khani diye chao,
- ami shey jaani.

                                             In this act of light and shadow
                                             why You play hide and seek
                                             in the heart of my heart
                                             - this intimate secret now I know.

Shara din nana kajey
keno tumi nana shajey
Koto shurey daak dao
- ami shey jaani.

                                             All day amidst myriads actions,
                                             in infinite disguises
                                             You keep beckoning me
                                             why so - this intimate secret now I know.

Shara holey deya neya
Dinantero shesh kheya
Kon dik pane bao
- ami shey jaani.

                                             After all the transactions are finished,
                                             where You navigate this last boat away
                                             - this intimate secret now I know.

Tumi je amarey chao
- Ami shey jaani.

                                             The truth
                                             that You desire me,

                                             in the heart of my heart
                                             - this intimate secret now I know.

[+] You may download a copy of this song in mp3 from Facebook Page of Technology of the Heart (link expires after few days)

The Symbolism and Interpretation of the Song:

The subject matter of this song can be interpreted both as as a song offering for the earthly human lover as well as for God, the Ultimate Beloved. The second shade of interpretation is more appropriate in the song since the greater meanings attached to the words used point closer to the Divine reality than an earthly beloved.

The song is sung from the point of view of a seeker who has arrived at the summit of realization when the mysteries of God are being unveiled one after another and the seeker begin to see through every veil, every apparent paradox of reality.

The primary theme of the song is the realization that in the beginning of the path it appears that the seeker is seeking God, but when the seeker's realization mature, then he come to understand the deeper truth that from time immemorial, from pre-eternity, it is God who is desiring the seeker, the lover who loves God.

On the tongue of the blessed Messenger we are informed that God says, "I was a hidden Treasure and I longed to be known, hence I manifested the creation." This longing of God to be known, God's desire and will that He be known is the secret of creation.

After arriving at his higher station of realization, a Great Sufi Master Bayazid Bistami said,
At the beginning I was mistaken in four ways. I sought to remember God, to know Him, and to seek Him. When I had come to the end, I saw that He had remembered me before I remembered Him, that His knowledge of me had preceded my knowledge of Him, His love toward me had existed before my love to Him, and He had sought me before I sought Him.

Also Rumi tells us:

Not a single lover would seek union
if the Beloved Himself were not seeking it.

So this song as a offering to God attempts to convey similar truth. Primarily here the poet mentions that now the veils are lifted from his heart and he come to know that it is God who desires him. Progressively he also expresses that he also understood the secret of sorrow. It is through pain, through separation, through the breaking of heart that God draws a seeker to Him. The poet says that now this is also unveiled to his heart why God makes him lament for God, makes him cry out for God.

For example in the language of mystics,

Pain and happiness have the same shape in this world:
You may call the rose an open heart, or a broken heart.
~ Dard

You have to keep breaking your heart
unitl it opens.
~ Rumi

For those who have faith in God and His Judgment, even sickness, troubles are hidden blessings. The Divine Informer informed us thus:

      When a faithful servant of Allah falls ill, his compensation is that his minor sins are obliterated just as leaves tall (in autumn).

      Fever was mentioned in the presence of Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) and when a man reviled it the Prophet said, "Do not revile it, for it removes sins as fire removes the dross of iron."

      "Whenever a Muslim is afflicted with a hardship, sickness, sadness, worry, harm, or depression --even a thorn's prick, Allah expiates his sins because of it."

      "Expect good, because Allah makes a believer's sickness an expiation (for his sins) and a period of repose.  As for a disbeliever falling sick, he is like a camel whose owner ties it and then lets it loose --it does not understand why it was tied, nor why it was freed."

Those who can see the all encompassing Merciful Face of God through the eyes of their Heart knows for sure that all apparent phenomena ultimately leads to God's Infinite Mercy and Tenderness. Even God's severity (Jalal) is only to draw the servant near. God's apparent separation or the veil of separation is only to increase the fire of longing. God's apparent cutting down of mercy only so that the devotee may turn to Him, may repent and ask for His mercy, which eventually to manifest His mercy, love and grace.

God does not charge a soul with more than it can bear.
~ Qur'an

I am with those whose hearts are broken for my sake.
~ Hadith Qudsi

Then in the song the poet also expresses that through every action, through every face how he can see the call of God.

This is precisely why in some of the most mystical verses of the Final Testament talks about seeking Wajh-Allah, the Face of Allah and whereosever one turns one sees the Face of God. This is the summit of realization when unveiling begin to happen, not intellectually, not with the mind, but with the Heart and with realization of the Great Presence.

Muhasibi said, to one whom God has placed in the rank of His lovers, He gives the vision of Himself, for He has sworn, saying, “By My Glory, I will show him My Face and I will heal his soul by the Vision of Myself.”

The song goes on to say, the entire creation is preconfigured for God's desiring us to desire Him. And in this matrix of creation, God veils Himself in the act of light and shadow playing hide and seek.Yet beyond His Veil, God is ever beckoning us to Him, through His endless Signs, His Names etched upon every creation, His remembrance stamped within every heart.

In memory of the Beloved we drank a wine that made
us drunk before the creation of the vine.
~ Ibnul Farid

The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you
Not knowing how blind I was.

Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.
~ Rumi

And finally the poet says that when this drama is over at the end of our time here on earth, when His giving and taking is over, God as it's sovereign captain will steer the last ship to an unknown destination. But this destination is now clear to the poet. That land of no land is nowhere but the Kingdom, to the Presence within the Greatest Presence.

Thy Kingdom Comes. To Him belongs everything between the Heaven and Earth and He is al-Warith, the Supreme Inheritor and we are His and to Him is the final return. It is because He desired us in the pre-eternity, He draws us back to His Presence in the post-eternity. Tumi je amarey chao - ami shey jaani.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Treat your body as if it were your soul and the soul as your body

Art work by Alex Grey
We have a body, the existence of which requires no proof, no special introductory class or book about its existence simply because everyone of us have it, we can see the body, we feel through it. And as humanity develops their knowledge in the field of medical science, we progressively learn more about our amazing body, how it functions etc. The way how this body comes into shape is one of the most extra-ordinary yet regularly reproduced miracle and sign of God.

God knows what every female carries and what the wombs lose [prematurely] or exceed. And everything with Him is by due measure. [He is] Knower of both the unseen and the seen, the Grand, the Exalted. - The Qur'an 13:8,9

No amount of medical science can take away the breathtaking awe of the body's formation within the womb and how every organ, their intricate functionalities, encoding and decoding of genetic information, cells and organs forming in exact precise sequence, their complex functions unveiled in the most pre-ordained fashion by the Best of Fashioner (Musawwir), the Creator and Sustainer Lord of the worlds. All Glory is His. Yet most of us in humanity are not interested to receive lessons and gnosis from the many open signs of God, as God declares through the revelation:

Most of mankind are heedless of Divine signs. - the Qur'an, Chapter of Jonah, verse 92

And then on the other hand we have the soul which gives life to the body. The soul being in the domain of unseen (ghayb) and unproven by the material science - remains in the subject matter of religion and spirituality. Soul can not be measured, and thus it remains outside the domain of scientific analysis and discussion. Soul remains shrouded in mystery since we human being have very little knowledge about its inner working. Soul is the inner essence, the divine spark from the Sole Divine that animates this body. When soul leaves, the body is nothing but a shell unable to function. Without the soul the matters of the body disintegrate really quickly. Every faith tradition has tried to convey the knowledge of the soul, its manifestation and its journey.

On the manifestation of soul, Hazrat Inayat Khan wrote:
When the soul comes into the physical world it receives an offering from the whole universe; and that offering is the body in which to function. It is not offered to the soul only by the parents, but by the ancestors, by the nation and race into which the soul is born, and by the whole human race.

The soul is direct from heaven; it functions in a body, and it is this body through which it experiences life on the earth more fully.

The sufis say, "Only that which cannot be lost in a shipwreck is yours." And it signifies that what we call ours, all the material possession and even this body is impermanent and not ours. Even after a shipwreck if there is anything that remains is our soul.

In this age of erosion of faith and piety, when God-aware ethics is an endangered substance, we find ourselves in an environment where soul is forgotten, suppressed, denied and body is all that is made the king, over sexualized, its image been distorted. It is an age when the temporal has become the highest priority while ignoring what is the locus of our being. What we have is a distortion of our reality field that involves our soul and body.

And they rejoice in the worldly life, while the worldly life is not, compared to the Hereafter, except [brief] enjoyment. - 13:26

And as an antidote to this pattern of our interaction and interface with reality here is a small spiritual practice. It is the spiritual practice of treating the body as your soul and your soul as your body, for a change. It is a reversal of the witnessing of reality so that we may reorient ourselves better to what should matter more and realize the symbols and signs better.

Treating the Body as Soul

Body is the sacred temple where the soul resides. The body is the the kingdom in which there is a palace for the King, and that palace is the Heart. The first level of our existence begins with the body, that is why its important to treat it with honor, with dignity that it deserves. For those who are inclined to spirituality, they often have the tendency to overlook the body and pay too much attention to the spirit and soul while thinking that spirituality must be all about spirit. Yes spirituality is about transcending all forms including body, but that does not mean ignoring the body. It means to give the body the honor, dignity and right it deserves and to use it as the springboard to further elevation.

The idea of treating the body as soul is first to give back the sanctity and honor that the body deserves. The practice of treating the body as soul means to provide the body the kind of loving attention that a spiritual person would invest to the needs of the soul.

Here are few points towards treating the body as soul:

1) Purification

Just like we intend to purify our soul, we aspire for a soul which is pure - the same thing must be brought to the body. Purifying the body is a very basic spiritual precept. To keep it in state of purification is a very useful spiritual practice.

In Islam, the purification of body is done through an ancient ritual which dates back to the practices of the Biblical Prophets, the Essene and far beyond in history. It employs the ritual purification with pure water and given a universal structure which in Islam is called Wudu or ablution. For those who wish to be in perpetual prayer, constant communion with the Divine, for them perpetual state of cleanliness / purified state is a requirement.

Here is the Quranic verses that specify the Divine instruction for bodily purification:

O ye who have faith! when you prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and your feet to the ankles. If you are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body. But if you are ill, or on a journey, or one of you comes from the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women, and you find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands, Allah does not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete his favour to you, that you may be grateful. -The Qur'an, Sura 5, Verse 6

So basically Wudu has the following essential steps:

Making intention
Washing the face once.
Washing both the arms including the elbows once.
Wiping one fourth of the head.
Washing or wiping both the feet once up to and including the ankles.

If you're non-Muslim, please ask a Muslim friend to teach you Wudu, for it has tremendous benefit both physically and spiritually. It soothes the nervous system, brings immediate tranquility and helps one to wash away distractions literally. This method of ablution was the common practice of Biblical Prophets before they prayed or communed with the Divine.

Other than wudu or ablution also take care of the oral hygiene for it is the gateway from where our speech comes out and also medical science tells us that the oral health has a relation with our heart. There are certain bad condition of heart which is developed due to lack of oral hygiene. As mouth is of paramount importance for it represents what comes out of you, and when you treat your body as your soul, you would love that what comes out from your soul is pure, undefiled and free of bad odour (understand the symbology here), then on a regular basis take care of the oral hygiene which is made extremely important in the way of the Messenger who used to brush his teeth every time before prayer and even in between prayer times. If we go deep within the symbologies of such act of keeping our states pure, we will probably understand that the in order to attain purification of the inner, it begins with the outer, with the most basic and on the grossest level. That perhaps may help us why the Prophet said, "Purification is half of the religion."

2) Surrender

O faithful ones! Be mindful of God with mindfulness due to Him, and die not until you've surrendered (to the Divine). -3:102

The elevated goal of the soul is to surrender - that is to surrender to the Divine, to God, Ishwar, Allah. To express that state with your body, prostrate on the ground, on carpet, on prayer mat or on a washed piece of clothe as long as its clean. Use your entire body to surrender to signify the surrender of your soul - because dont forget that in this practice you're treating the body as you soul.

So if you wish to surrender with your soul, take on the posture of surrender with your body, and that is the posture of prostration with your forehead on the ground, you surrender your pride, your ego, your intellect, your identity in the most humble manner. Know that in this bodily state of surrender, your heart is above your head. Please understand the symbols for they all are signs pointing to truths.

Do you not see that to Allah bow down everything in surrender whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth and the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the moving creatures and many of the humanity? - 22:18

3) Make it Perfumed

It is recorded in many spiritual account that the presence of the illuminated beings who have passed away from the threshold of this temporal world, their revisit will always be accompanied by beautiful fragrance. In some account, when a Spiritual Master revisits from the Unseen world, the place is filled with the fragrance of rose. There are other accounts that the resting places are filled with mysteriously sweet fragrance. These all indicates that the luminous souls has this quality of emanating beautiful fragrance, and why wouldn't they, for they are like precious flowers of God in His Kingdom.

Thus while treating your body as your soul, make sure that you apply beautiful fragrance to it. In Islamic tradition, it is said that Prophet Muhammad, the most praised one, loved fragrance and would recommend his companions to apply good fragrance, particularly before prayer. The scent that Muslims love to apply are called Attar which traditionally is made from extract of oils from flowers / plants and free from alcohols. One may find them near Mosques / at Muslim book stores.

4) Gaze at it

Just as soul longs to be acknowledged, when you treat your body as your soul, do acknowledge it also. Gaze into your eyes when you look at your face. Gaze deeply within the reflection of you own eyes, speak to it, expressing your gratitude to your body as well as the Creator. The Prophet used to give thanks to the Lord for his beautiful face and would pray that may God make his inner beautiful as He has made the face beautiful. His exact words when he used to gaze at his blessed face in the reflection, "Allahumma anta hasanta khalqi fahassin khuluqi", "O Allah, just as you have made my external features beautiful, make my character beautiful as well."

5) No violation of its sanctity

The body is the temple, a sacred trust bestowed upon us and we have to be accountable whether we've best used it with gratitude or we've abused and misused it. Thus in this practice of treating the body as soul we must give it the highest honor, not to violate its sanctity in abusing it, be it with drugs, intoxicants, harmful foods and drinks, extra marital relationship, violent use of body etc.

Treating the Soul as Body

Since we're quite fixed and engaged with our bodily needs, bodily desire and pay lot more attention to it, treating the soul as body would be an useful shift in our attitude towards our spirit, our soul because we have this frame of mind and social conditioning to ignore its need and proper care. The amount of care we apply to the body, in our time we hardly give any resources to the soul.

In order to figure out the steps in treating the soul like our body, first it would be useful for us to contemplate how we invest our attention and resources to our physical body and then trying to find its analogous action to have compassion for our soul.

For body these are some of the most basic care we apply
1. We brush our teeth. We bathe, we make sure that our body is clean.
2. We give our body food, feed it thrice, four or even five times a day (three main course and two light meals).
3. We try to keep it fit, in shape.
4. It grows naturally
5. We decorate with beautiful clothings
6. We perfume it with good soap, with good perfumes, etc.

Now lets ask ourselves what would we do if we considered our soul as our body? How would we ensure its becoming pure? What about feeding and nourishing our soul? What is food for the soul and how often should we feed it? How to keep the soul fit and help it grow naturally? How to decorate it and make it beautiful and pleasing to it's maker towards Whom it must return? How do we perfume our soul?

Before we talk about these practices, lets remind ourselves the Quranic supplication:

Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un
Surely we belong to God and to Him shall we return. - 2:156

This belongingness of what we call us, is our soul, our inner heart with which we shall return to the Soul. The body will be left behind, under the earth, rot and disintegrate until we are resurrected by the One Who created us in the first placed when we were nothing.

Wa-itha annufoosu zuwwijat
And when the souls shall be joined with their bodies. - The Qur'an 81, 7

Now lets turn to the practice of treating the soul as our body.

1) Nourishment of Soul

First comes the question of nourishment of the soul. What nourishes our soul? While we are so busy and preoccupied in finding food, feeding the body to keep it nourished, how much effort we must activate to nourish our soul? The lack of nourishment of the spirit, of the soul is the root cause of many diseases in our time, namely depression, constant fatigue, restlessness, lack of inner peace, suicidal tendency and so forth. In our time when we suppress and deny the nourishment of our spirit, we are facing these sickness of the spirit and soul in the highest proportion than anytime in human history. Modern medicine that treats the physical body can only suppress the problem, but can never bring wholesome cure. The cure lies in nourishing the spirit and soul.

The nourishment of the soul is turning to God, worship, meditation, contemplation of the Real, of the Highest, supplication, dua, conversation with the Source. As we are accustomed to feed our body few times a day, to keep our soul nourished, we must also turn to God few times a day, minimum three times, best is six times. That is precisely why five times prayer is prescribed in the Universal, Global and Final religion to mankind in final form of Islam. Those who can, should also pray in the watches of the night in addition to five times daily prayer. And those who are busy or are engaged in unavoidable circumstances, they are allowed to pray three times, joining noon (zuhr) and afternoon (asr) prayers and joining sunset (maghrib) and night (esha) prayer together.

Other than prayer and supplication, good music, poetry, good companionship are also nourishment for the soul. The Sufis also recommend at least once in a week joining in weekly Zikr gathering to super charge the soul. They are like feasting, giving good food to the soul which makes it happy. Zikr is the remembrance of God. This remembrance in a gathering is very powerful and has good effect on the spirit and soul.

2) Companionship with Kindred Spirit

The very word Kindred means having affinity, closeness. Kindred Spirit or Kindred Soul refers to those person with whom we feel mental, heartly, spiritual affinity or connection. When we are treating our soul as our body, just as we physically want to be close to loved ones, we exercise the giving and receiving of love physically, in physical space, so the soul requires to be in companionship with kindred souls.

In Sufism this is called Sohbet or companionship. This is from the exemplar companionship of the Master Muhammad that enabled his companions to attain exalted spiritual stations. Similarly for the soul's well-being it is recommended to enjoy companionship with like-minded, like-hearted, like-spirits. This likeness can be the likeness of their love, their interest etc., and the greatest of such common likeness can be the love of God. That is why when Sufis or mystics gather, an current of love flows between the hearts which gather.

3) Purification of Spirit and Soul

Just as we care to purify our body, we bathe, we brush our teeth, we clean ourselves - similarly think of what do you do to purify you spirit and soul? We are often bombarded with negativity, we commit mistakes and burden ourselves with shame, guilt and not being able to forgive ourselves and others. For this the soul needs purification because it often falls from its state of purity. Originally the natural state of the soul is purity and bliss, peace and undisturbed happiness. But do we stay like that? No, we don't because of our own faults, our conditioning, our wrong decision and actions. Such negativity veils the soul from its original state of peace and with time it become more and more clouded and separated from the peace that comes from the divine spark of the soul within.

The very first ingredient of purification of soul is turning back to God. "Repent for the Kingdom of near", taught Christ. This repenting, being sorry for the mistakes, asking forgiveness to God, to the Highest is the first step towards washing the soul in invoking the rain of mercy and grace of God. There are formulas that Sufis repeat where they again and again ask forgiveness and turn themselves towards the Effulgent Face of God which is Every Forgiving, Ever Merciful and Who like a Divine Mother is Ever Loving to those who turn to Him constantly. One of such formula is "Astagh-fi-ru-llah" (I seek your Forgiveness O Allah) in short or "Astagh-fi-ru-llah al-Azim, wa tubu ilai" I seek your Forgiveness O the Most Magnificent, and I turn to You," in its longer version.

Purification also entails forgiving others, as beautifully taught by Isa Messiah in what is known as Lord's prayer, "Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us." We need to forgive the elements within us, the mistakes committed by us towards ourselves. We are often the biggest oppressor to our selves and need to acknowledge the damage we do to ourselves and ask forgiveness to the Sole Forgiver. This is the beginning of purification.

4) Keeping the Soul Fit

In this culture of commodifying everything, we are also conditioned to treat our body as commodity so that it becomes easy for the corporates to sell stuff to further commodify our needs. Thus we see gyms, commercials after commercials that sells healthy diet, medicine, instruments to keep us fit.

The moment we are in the zone of treating our soul as our body, if we turn our attention to the fitness of the soul, what comes to your mind? How do you ensure that your soul is not lethargic, get tired, feel fatigue and feel depressed - all of which can issue from the depth of our being, from our spirit. They are known as ruhani, or spiritual conditions of the inner heart or spirit, and thus requires spiritual medicine or spiritual exercise to keep it fit and not become prone to spiritual diseases.

One of the most effective medicine is the recitation of the Qur'an which not only keep the soul fit, but also a antibody for many other spiritual need of the soul. Those who are not Muslims, for them reading their own scripture with devotion can be its equivalent. And for a change also pick up the translation of the Qur'an and see if it can speak or sings to your soul?

The companionship of spiritually elevated persons, going to visit sacred places (pilgrimage) can also be very effective. Those person who reminds us of God are generally the person whose companionship is a good exercise to uplift the condition of the spirit. You dont have to talk, you can just sit in their presence and feel the difference.

For those who are physically separated, sometime even listening to their talks can be an alternative. Depending on the state of your spiritual evolution, you have to find the right spiritual master and read his or her book, better even to listen to their talk over internet if thats easier to access and best even to visit them and hear from them directly or receive from their energy field.

As you have a sound spirit and soul, with time you will have lesser and lesser diseases on physical body, by the blessings of God and His angels and less dependency on medicine or doctors for you shall be in the providential care of the Sole Nourisher and His Divine Agency. La haowla wa la quwwata illa bil'Llah.

5) Doing Charity with Limbs

While treating the soul as body, if it were body we are asked to perform good with its limbs. To give charity with our hands, to go to places which is good, to look at beautiful things, to hear exalted sounds and speech. Similarly for the soul being generous to others, helping one's fellow human beings, doing selfless acts are charity of the soul.

6) Growth of Spirit and Soul

The soul is the Divine Spark and the Divine Consciousness or God created the creation so that HE be known. As the body grows with time, from childhood to teen to adult and more mature stages of the body, similarly our soul must grow. The growth of the soul is its progress towards knowing God (ma'rifa, gnosis).

There are spiritual sciences that help the soul grow, in having matured spirit that not only experience life, but also have matured faculty of perception that start to recognize truth, distinguish real from illusions. The growth of soul is a process and in following an authentic Path, this growth is guided. Ihsan is the Path of Gnostic Knowledge of Mankind. It is preserved and guarded by the Sufi Mystics after the destruction of earlier Divinely revealed gnostic sciences.

For growth of the Soul one of the most practical thing that one can do is to choose a guide in the Path. This also requires some inner preparation so that one can recognize the right guide, else there is a danger of being attracted to the false ones, instead of the real ones. Be assured that in every age, those pure and real ones exists and chances are, they exists in your very town and city once you know you're ready to encounter him or her.

The Last Testament or the Qur'an and the guidance of the Prophet Muhammad is the bedrock for spirit and soul's growth. Once the purification process is on the way, one sits regularly in the companionship of those who love God, if one has the chance to hear from or sit at the presence of a Master, then the veils of gnosis start to unveil one after another. Then every recitation of verse, every ayah and Signs of the Qur'an or the signs on the horizon start to become visible and multitude of meanings burst forth. So stick with the Qur'an, read them regularly in its meanings and open yourself up for the Divine Sun to bestow the rays of wisdom which shall make the soul grow, help it journey to increasingly higher maqam or spiritual stations. Remembering the saying of the Prophet, paraphrased here, on the Day of Resurrection each person's station will be determined by the amount of Qur'an within them and they shall be called to read from their heart and to attain heavenly station accordingly. (understand its inner meanings with care).

And to finish with the golden words of a Sufi Master Bawa Muhaiyadeeen:
Since the soul will live eternally, you must strive to build a beautiful house for it, a house which is not subject to time or to external conditions. For this house, you are the engineer, you are the contractor, and you are the architect; you draw the plan and you set up the system. And when all the planning is completed, you are the one who must construct that house. You must build it alone; no one else can build it for you.

The materials you need for such a house are the qualities of God, the actions of God, the behavior of God, the duties of God, and the unselfishness with which God performs His duties. You must gather the three thousand beautiful and gracious qualities of God and build your house in the way that God performs His actions.

Say, Rabbi zidni ilma, Rabbi zidni hikmah, Rabbi zidni marefah.
O Lord, increase and equip me with pure knowledge, with wisdom and with gnosis.

May God give us wholesomeness of body, spirit and soul. May we honor the rights and dignity of the sacred trusts bestowed upon us by our Lord Creator, namely our body and our soul by the help of the Divine. May we spark with the Divine splendor which is our birthright. May God increase our capacity to know Him as He deserves to be known. Indeed all success comes from Allah.

- Sadiq M. Alam
Dhaka, Bangladesh
25 Nov 2012

# Further:
* The Soul, Whence and Whither? Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan
* Ihsan – the Gnostic Knowledge of Mankind
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

How does War look like?

There is truth or truths and there exists a dark tendency within human psyche to cover up that truth in many forms, through many strategies. Its not only a problem with dictators, corrupt politicians or other professionals but it start from each individual. As individual we cover up truths regarding our own selves, about our hatred, our deep conditioning, biases.

In our time the entity that on a regular and systemic way cover up truths is the media. It is because the media is built, operated and kept on going by the interest groups and manipulators who constantly bombard the mass with their own agenda.

Very recently we saw another nasty aggression by Israel on Palestinian people. There is ceasefire there at the moment but there is no cessation of oppression, discrimination and evil there. As you perhaps saw the news on traditional media, it is very likely that the news source from which you received those news were highly biased and highly manipulative. Now a days, almost all of the traditional media outlet will present the facts as they want and in the manner they want. During the entire conflict there were very few media which portrayed the loss of human lives or the ugly face of war where innocent children, women and elderly were slaughtered mercilessly by the most terrorizing country in the world.

Those who cover up the truth is known as kufr. And no matter who or in what context does it, they fall in the category of being a kafir. May God save us from such tendencies of covering truth, be it within ourselves or without, be it inside ourselves or outside in the world.

If you want to face the truth which we all must, head out to this site (link below) to have a peek at how war really look like without any sanitation of facts or filtering of corporate controlled media. In this century can we not expect better from humanity who claim to be so civilized, advanced, scientific, innovative and knowledge driven!?

This is what War looks like.

click the above link to view war crimes in recently Israeli attack on Gaza. We all deserves to know truth as they are.

Click on the image above to see in large that | it also demonstrates the pattern of Israeli instigation and the connection to elections, shame how politicians are ready to bathe in blood of innocents to even win popularity in elections (credit)
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Eight Gates of Paradise | Sufic illumination and infographic

 ‘There are eight gates for Paradise..” said the most praised and exalted Prophet.

The sacred tradition of Islam transmits that there are eight gates of paradise or the walled garden of eden. In the classical tafsir of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi called, Tafsir al-Kabir (The Large Commentary, also known as Mafatih al-Ghayb, Keys to the Unknown) the eight gates of paradise is explained using the verses of the opening chapter, al-Fatiha.

"Al-Hamndu Lil-lahi" (All Perpetual Praise for Allah) has eight alphabets, the number of the gates of Paradise is also eight, therefore he who recites these eight alphabets out of purity of heart does deserve (the opening of) the eight gates of Paradise.

Regarding the eight gates the above Sufi Infographic enumerate their name and corresponding verses.

Gate 1: Gate of Criterion

Al-Razi says, "Know that indeed there are eight gates for Paradise, and in the rank (Maqam) that you reach after reciting: I take refuge in Allah from the Sahytan the outcast ('Auzu Billahi)... one gate of the eight gates of Paradise opens for you, that is the Gate of Ma’refa (Divine Gnosis)."

The statement in full is A'uzu billahi minash shaitanir rajim, is called Ta'awwudh, and it means: “I seek refuge in Allah from the rejected Satan,” or alternatively on the level of expansive and deeper meaning it means, "I seek refuge in Allah from the Archetype of all illusion, deception and negativity." This is the first gate because the journey of seeker begins by developing the distinction between the right and wrong, good and evil, light from darkness - for the two are not the same. This is the distinction between Allah and gharyrullah, Real and the unreal, Creator and the created.

Gate 2: Gate of Remembrance

Al-Razi says, "A second gate is that of al-Dhikr (Remembrance) as you are reciting ‘Bismil-lahir Rahmanir Rahim (In the Name of Allah, the Universally Merciful, the Singularly Compassionate)’.

Once the first gate of distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, real and unreal is crossed, one approach the threshold of remembering the Real. Thus the second gate is the Gate of Remembrance. When unreal is recognized from the real, it is only natural that one would like to be occupied with the Real and free himself, herself more and more from all that is unreal, ephemeral and temporal. For it is said, "the one who knows Allah, finds everything else trivial."

The symbol of uttering the formula, Bimillahir Rahmanir Rahim before every action is precisely an indicator that every action is sanctified by the invocation and remembrance of God.

Gate 3: Gate of Gratitude

The third Gate is that of Shukr (Gratitude) after reciting ‘Al-Hamdu Lil-Lahi Rabbil Alamin.’

This is a very important Gate, for from here onwards the journey of the preliminary seeker start to become more luminous. A person may pray many many times in his, her life uttering the formula, Al-Hamndu Lil-lahi Rabbil Aalamin, 'All Perpetual Praise is for Allah, Lord of the Worlds' - yet if he or she does not get what it means to be grateful, to be a person of Shukr, then he, she has failed to harvest the fruit of the sacred formula: Al-Hamdu Lil-Lahi Rabbil Alamin. It is also cure of many psycho-spiritual sickness.

Gate 4: Gate of Hope

The fourth gate is that of Hope when you recite ‘Ar-Rahmanir Rahim’.

It is called the Gate of Hope for it invokes the greatest hope there is, the infinite merciful quality of God. Allah reveals Himself as the servant holds Him in his, her heart.

Gate 5: Gate of Recognizing Divine Authority

The fifth Gate is that of Fear when you recite ‘Maliki Yaumid-Din’.

This is the Gate of Recognizing the Divine Authority as Sole Authority, as the Owner of the Day of Resurrection and Recompense. The Day of Judgment is when the Authority is entirely in God's hand, it is the total manifestation of the Kingdom and the owner of the Kingdom when the entire creation

Gate 6: Gate of Servitude

The sixth Gate is that of Purity born out of the Ma’refa (Divine Gnosis) of ‘Ubudiat (Servitude) and Rububiat (Divinity) in your reciting ‘Iyyaka Na’budu Wa Iyyaka Nasta’inu’.

I have renamed this gate as Gate of Servitude in short. The statement ‘Iyyaka Na’budu Wa Iyyaka Nasta’in’ means, "Only You (O God) do we worship and only You do we ask for help." This is the perpetual return to the recognition that only God is worthy of worship and God alone is worthy of helping the creation. This is the crux of religion for we as human being surrounded and distracted by millions of distraction and delusion often forget the Real and to Whom is due all submission, all servitude and all beseeching.

Those who recognize this, have already advanced much in their way towards Gnosis of Servitude and Divinity.

Gate 7: Gate of Intimacy

The seventh Gate is that of Du’a (Invocation) in your reciting ‘Ihdinas Siratal Mustaqim’ (Lead us on the Straight Path).

This Gate I have renamed as Gate of Intimacy because du'a is a function of the heart and it is the intimate conversation of the creation, of the friend, of the lover with the Creator Lord, with the Supreme Friend, with the Beloved. The request to the Supreme Lord to guide is also an indicator of trust for guidance.

The Prophet said (du'a) invocation is brain of worship. The fruit of worship is when the worshiper attains intimacy with the Invoked.

Gate 8: Gate of Following the friends of God

The eight gate is that of‘Iqtidā’ (Emulation or following the example) of the good and pure souls, and of seeking guidance through their nur (Divine Light) and that is in your reciting of ‘Siratal La-Dhina…’

The last verse of Fatiha reads as: "Sirata allazeena anAAamta AAalayhim, Ghayri almaghdoobi AAalayhim wala addalleen" which means 'The path of those on whom You have bestowed (Your) blessings, those who have not incurred (Your) displeasure, and those who have not gone astray.'

What Al-Razi calls as Gate of Emulating or Following the Example, is renamed on the above infographic as Gate of Following the friends of God. This is because those who are examples for guidance and worthy of following their footsteps are those luminous beings who are the Messengers, the Prophets, the Special Ones who all shared one common characteristics that is their intimacy and friendship with the Divine to the highest degree.

As the Chishti sufi saying goes, "A dervish is a friend of God and a friend of a friend is a friend. So why not be a friend of a dervish?"

The prerequisite of emulating someone is to love or lovingly accept that person and loving a person prerequisites that one has to know that person. So the flow diagram would be as follow:

So the last Gate of following the friends of God or the lovers of God can only be approached with sincerity if we:  A.) know them, and B.) love them - else its an empty word.

May God save us from such calamity of empty words devoid of their haqiqa and disconnected from the heart. As our exalted and most praised Master made supplication to His Lord, "O Allah, I seek your protection from useless knowledge, from a heart which is not disposed to acknowledge you, from insatiable desire, from a prayer which is not answered and I seek Your protection from all the four said evils." May God help us know the Gates of the Garden, and give us capacity to approach them and also open the Doors of the Gates of Paradise for us, both here and in the Kingdom to come.

These are some illumination on the Eight Gates of Paradise and what is referred to in Surat Sad (38) verse 50. Jannati AAadnin mufattahatan lahumu al-abwab - ‘The Gardens of Eden with opened gates for them’.  For the Gardens of Divine Gnosis have been opened by these spiritual keys, and this does Isharat (Point) to what happens during the Salat (Prayer) of Spiritual Mi’raj (Ascension- like that of the Prophet to the Heavens). And Allah knows the best.

Those who were conscious of their Lord (ittaqaw Rabbahum) will be led to Paradise in groups until, when they reach it while its gates have been opened and its keepers say, "Peace be upon you; you have become pure; so enter it to abide eternally therein".
- The Qur'an 39:73

This is a reminder. And indeed, for the righteous (muttaqin) is a good place of return.
Gardens of eternal abode, whose Gates will be opened to them. - The Qur'an 38:49-50

Those who fulfill the Covenant of Allah and break them. And those who unite that which Allah has ordered to be united (such as ties of relatives, relations of marriage) and fear their Lord and dread the evil of  their accounting. And those who are patient, seeking the countenance of their Lord, and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them secretly and publicly and prevent evil with good - theirs will be the sequel of the (heavenly) abode: Gardens of Eden; they will enter them with whoever were righteous among their fathers, their spouses and their descendants. And the angels will enter upon them from every Gate, (saying), "Peace be upon you for what you patiently endured. And excellent is the final Abode."
- The Qur'an 13:20-24

* The above post is inspired from Eight Gates - part of translation of al-Tafsir al- Kabir by Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, translated by Dara O. Shayda and Dr. Hind Rifai as shared on Untired with Loving.

Further Resources made available on Razi's Work via Untired with Loving

* Razi: Al-‘Isti’āzat (The Sanctuary)
* The Wonders of Qur'an by Fakhred-din Razi
* Things that Allah used as symbols for Tauhid (Divine Oneness) by Fakhred-din Rāzi
* Qaba Qausain (Measure of two arcs) by Razi
* Rāzi: The Keys for The Unseen
* Razi on Hamd / Praise

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

In God's Womb

"Earth Birth" by Deborah Milton

We are in God's womb.

As much a child in the womb of a mother is physically an extension of mother, a part of her whole being, when she is lightly or heavily pregnant - and the child's beingness is from the mother's being; like that our divinity is from the Sole Divine, so are we in the rahm (womb) of ar-Rahim, enveloped by Her  Protecting Grace.

Ya Rahman, Ya Rahim
O Universally Merciful, O Exclusive Lover

Ya Hafizu, Ya Hafiz 
Please protect us O the Supreme Protector

So are we in the rahm of ar-Rahim, swimming in ab-e-hayat, the water of life.

Ya Rabb, ya Hayy 
Please nourish us O Supreme Nourisher, O Ever Living

Like a child who must pass from the limited womb world to the larger world. From layer upon layer of the absence of light, zulumatun ba'duha fawqa ba'din (darkness upon darkness. 24:40) to the bright daylight of the sun, so shall we pass from this constricting and ephemeral world to the expansive garden of the eternal world.

Like a mother who delivers the child from one  stage to the next, from God's womb is our journey from this world to the next.

Allahu Waliyyu allazeena amanoo. Yukhriju-hum mina-z zhulumati ilaa-n noor (2:257)

Allah is the Protecting Guardian (Waliy) of those who have faith. He delivers them out of darkness into light. ~ The Qur'an 2:257

There are two twins in the womb of a mother in silent communication. The wise one says to the less wise one that he has gathered the knowledge of an yet unseen world which is a realm of light with infinite shades of colors and infinite range of finer sounds and which is so vast compared to their present womb-world that their yet to mature mind cannot have an adequate expression for its measure. In response the less wise one grow cynical and dismiss it being utterly impossible for all he has experienced is this cozy, fluidic, dark womb-world. How can there be anything which he never felt or bothers to even entertain its idea. This womb-world is everything, my beginning and also my end and I wish it can last forever, for I don't think there is anything else. The so called unseen world is foolish for it is against his already solidified world-view - it declares finally.

Like the less wise one, there are many who take this present world as everything and they shall be the biggest looser when the inevitable reality will be brought forth.

And they say, "When we are bones and crumbled particles, will we [truly] be resurrected as a new creation?"

Say, "Be you stones or iron. Or some created thing that is yet greater in your thoughts, (even then you shall be resurrected)!"

Then they will say: "Who shall bring us back (to life)?"

 Say: "He Who created you at the first."

Then will they shake their heads at thee, and say: When will it be?

Say: "It will perhaps be soon;"

On the day when He will call you forth, then shall you obey Him, giving Him praise, and you will think that you had not remained [in the world] except for a little.

- The Qur'an 17:49-52

And no sign comes to them from the signs of their Lord except that they are from it turning away. And they say, "When is this promise, if you should be truthful?"

They do not await except one blast which will seize them while they are disputing.And the trumpet shall be blown, when lo! from their graves they shall hasten on to their Lord

They will say, "O woe to us! Who has raised us up from our sleeping place?" [The reply will be], "This is what the Most Merciful had promised, and the messengers told the truth."

It will not be but one blast, and at once they are all brought present before Us.

So today no soul will be wronged at all, and you will not be recompensed except for what you used to do. Verily the Companions of the Garden shall that Day have joy in all that they do;

They and their spouses - in shade, reclining on adorned couches.

For them therein is fruit, and for them is whatever they request [or wish]

The word from a Merciful Lord (for them) is: Peace!

Does not man see that it is We Who created him from sperm? yet behold! he (stands forth) as an open adversary!

And he presents for Us an example and forgets his [own] creation. He says, "Who will give life to bones while they are disintegrated?"

Say: He will give life to them Who brought them into existence at first, and He is cognizant of all creation.

He Who has made for you the fire (to burn) from the green tree, so that with it you kindle (fire).

Is not He Who created the heavens and the earth able to create the like of them? Yea! and He is the Creator (of all), the Knower.

His command, when He intends anything, is only to say to it: Be, so it is.

Therefor Glory be to Him in Whose hand is the dominion over all things! Unto Him you will be brought back.

- The Qur'an 36

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Face that is both Personal and Impersonal

My Lord is such a wonderful Lord

That if you call Him, if you remember Him,

If you drown yourself in Him - with Him

Then a day will come,

Yes a momentous day shall dawn

When every where you go

Every place you sit,

Every person you meet

You shall remind them of the wonderful Lord

In you, by you, through you.

For the Face of the Impersonal Lord is closer to us than who we are

And the Face of the Personal Lord is never absent or far

from where or what our beautiful faces are.

~ Sadiq M. Alam

7th November, 2012 

A quick note on the Personal and Impersonal Aspect of the Divine

God, Ishwar, Allah, Brahma, Heavenly Father, Amitabha - no matter what name we call Him, the Divine - the Real - is beyond all names and forms remains "I Am Who I Am." While God is Transcendent beyond the idea of beyond - this transcendence of God is the Impersonal Face, the Creator Lord and the Destroyer Lord, the Giver of both Life and Death. This is the Impersonal Lord Whose Glory fills the Heaven and Earth to such extent that we weak human being with our weaker yet mind can never even grasp His Being. 

This Impersonal aspect of the Divine can be so overwhelming that illuminated beings like Gautama Buddha became silent when he was asked about God, for what words can really explain that Reality? My Buddhist friends still have not recovered from the shock and thus Buddhism very carefully avoid the subject all together because for them the personal aspect of God which other faith tradition holds very central, sounds alien and confusing.

On the other hand the Personal aspect of the Divine can be painfully beautiful, so beautiful that God become the Beloved, Mahbub - to such intense extent that the Sufis would chant, La Mahbuba illa Allah - there is no other beloved but Allah. This is most sublime aspect of the Personal Face of God. 

While Buddha's response in falling silence is the inevitable and highest possible expression for someone who realizes God's ultimate transcendence that no words can do justice to; Muhammad's ascension to the Divine Throne where the habib and the Mahbub create a complete circle, (at a distance of two bow lengths or nearer. the Qur'an 53:9), symbolizing the ultimate nearness.

The phrase Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim - can also be seen as carrying two Great Names and hence reality aspect namely, Rahman and Rahim. While Rahman is translated as Universally Merciful - which is the Impersonal aspect and Rahim is translated as Singularly Compassionate or Exclusively Merciful - which is the Personal aspect of the Divine. Towards the end of the poem shared above, God's intimate closeness to our being, God being the very fabric and the provider and sustainer is the Impersonal aspect because even though it is communicated, yet it is extremely subtle, al-Latif. The Impersonal aspect operates through His Command and His justice does not discriminate but like sun which shines on all, like physical laws that is true both in the farthest galaxy and here on earth and within each atom. On the other hand God's love, mercy and exclusive attention to each of us, where God is the Answerer to every petition (al-Mujib), God is the Sole Guide (al-Hadi)  is from the Personal Face of God.

The both aspect of the Divine, both Impersonal and Personal become beautifully sketched in one of the passage of Bhagavat Gita which I quote here partially:

Those who realize true wisdom rapt within this clear awareness see Me as the universe's origin Imperishable. All their words and all their actions issue from the depths of worship, held in my embrace they know Me as a woman knows her lover.

Creatures rise and creatures vanish;  I alone Am Real, Arjuna, looking out, amused, from deep within the eyes of every creature. I Am the object of all knowledge, Father of the world, its Mother, Source of all things, of impure and pure, of holiness and horror.

I am the goal, the root, the witness, home and refuge, dearest friend, creation and annihilation, everlasting seed and treasure.

I am the radiance of the sun, I open or withhold the rainclouds, I am immortality and death, am being and non-being.

I am the Self, Arjuna, seated in the heart of every creature. I am the origin, the middle,  and the end that all must come to.  I am justice: clear, impartial, favoring no one, hating no one, but in those who have cured themselves of selfishness, I shine with brilliance.

Even murderers and rapists, tyrants, the most cruel fanatics, ultimately know redemption through My love, if they surrender to My harsh but healing graces. Passing through excruciating transformations, they find freedom and their hearts find peace within them.

I am always with all beings; I abandon no one. And however great your inner darkness, you are never separate from Me.

Let your thoughts flow past you, calmly; keep Me near, at every moment; trust Me with your life, because I Am you, more than you yourself are.”

We pray that Allah opens our heart and increase our capacity to know Him as He deserves to be know. Rabbi zidni ilman - O Lord, please increase our knowledge
Rabbi zidni hikmah - O Lord, please increase our wisdom
Rabbi zidni marifah - O Lord, please increase our gnosis.


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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Tale of An Extra Ordinary Book: Origins of the School of the Shadhdhuliyya

Ever wondered how, as we know from the history of humanity while learning about illuminated human beings, the special categories of saints, lovers, mystics and friends of God who were utterly hidden, who spent most of their time in seclusion and away from people, never talked about themselves- and yet somehow more people know about them than those who were full of themselves, spent their entire life among people and even published their own biographies?!

It is those illuminated people and their memories which are stamped across many hearts, across many ages who, paradoxically enough spent the least amount of time in the busy world and with the people of the world and who had the least interest in themselves, who killed themselves by themselves - yet their names and works continue to live across space and time. Don't you wonder how this strange thing happen? You may find that answer in an extra ordinary book recently published in revised edition called The School of the Shadhdhuliyya ORIGINS.

In the history of human kind, there exists a rare kind of books which are not written by the authors like how commonly books are written; rather the authors are compelled where an author only participate just as a pen participate in the hand of a writer. These special books are authored by the Highest Hand. In such cases, the author have no choice and they could either be arrested to write it, or forced to write it or dropped in a situation where he, she has no other choice or the thought of writing will never leave their heart until they take up pen and stop at its finish. ORIGINS is one such book.

Both the author and translator of this book went through similar experiences of being led and guided while arrested to the process of making the book a reality. Before I share that experience from the book itself, let me offer a passage from the book itself.

Shaykh Abul-Abbas al-Mursi described, "I was with Shaykh Abul-Hasan in al-Qayrwan. It was the twenty-seventh night of Ramadan. It was a night of Friday and possibly a Night of Destiny. The Shaykh entered a mosque so that he might pray in congregration and I accompanied him.

When we entered I saw the 'awliya (friends) gather around him as the bees gather around sugar. When we had completed the prayers and left the mosque the Shaykh said to me, 'This was a great evening. It was surely the Night of Destiny, for I heard the Prophet, blessings of Allah and peace be upon him, say, 'Oh 'Ali, purify your garments.'

I replied to him, 'Ya Rasul Allah! What is my garment?'

He said, 'Know that Allah has bestowed upon you five robes of honour; the garment of love (al-mahabbah), the garment of knowledge (al-ma'arifah), the garment of oneness (at-tawhid), the garment of faith (al-iman) and the garment of surrender (al-islam).'

The one who loves Allah, years for nothing else.
The one who knows Allah, finds everything else trivial.
The one who perceives the oneness of Allah, will never join anything to Him.
The one who has faith in Allah, is sheltered from all harm.
The one who surrenders to Allah, will seldom rebel;
and if he rebels he is excused - indeed he is excused even before he seeks pardon.

"At that very moment I understood with a new depth the meaning of Allah saying in Qur'an, 'Purify your garment.' (74:4)"    

~ from the life of Shaykh Abul Hasan, adopted from recently published book, ORIGINS: Volume Two of the School of the Shadhdhuliyya

The above short section is from the opening passages of ORIGINS, giving us a tiny glimpse of what treasures this book contain in the way of deeper understanding of not only scriptural text but also elevated ranks of individuals who illuminated the Path.

It is said that wheresoever the friends of God are remembered or mentioned, the grace of God is showered in that place or upon that person. This book contains the life sketch and litanies from some of the most remarkable and advanced saints in the Sufi Path and God willing, reading it is expected to have visitation from God's grace since every page of it is remembrance of God and His friends.

Returning back to subject that certain rare kind of books are not written merely on the will of it's author but by the Will of the Greatest Authority, I quote partially from the INTRODUCTION of the Book One, where Dr. Abdul Halim Mahmud speaks how he was literally arrested by the Divine Authority to write this book.

This book! I was forced to write this book and compelled  to compose it. I had no free choice to determine the timing of its writing nor could I choose to delay its composition. I shall relate, 'Insha'llah, the story of its composition no matter what people will say..

More than fifteen years ago I was visiting a friend. We talked about many subjects and finally our conversation reached the subject of Shaykh Ali Abul Hasan ash-Shadhdhuli. At that time I knew very little about that great Qutb. Truly I had heard his name everywhere but circumstances did not help me to get in touch with him. I asked my friend if he had any references that could give me a concise and accurate picture of the Shaykh in order to dispel my ignorance. He gave me a book by Professor as-Sandubi about 'Abul Abbas al-Mursi, which included some pages about Ali Abul Hasan ash-Shadhili. My friend had no other references.

As I went on reading what as-Sandubi had written, I found myself with a very strong urge to know more about Shaykh Ali Abul Hasan ash-Shadhdhuli and I felt the urge to write about him if Allah would allow. I continued searching for references here and there.. (then the author goes on to give some detail references of few titles and how they all came to his hand)

.. I continued reading and studying about Shaykh Abul Hasan .. But then I once again became busy with other things. I closed the pages of Shaykh Abul-Hasan. Days and years passed and pages of Abul Hasan remained closed.

In 1962 I was invited for one month to Zaytunah University in Tunis as a lecturing professor. There my memories of Abul Hasan were revived. I tasted his fragrance in that place. I ascended the mountain where he used to worship and also entered the cave in which he used to seclude himself for prayers and contemplation...I went to this part of the cave, as Abul-Hasan was used to, and sat worshiping humbly as he did. It was in this cave that he spent many long hours both by day and by night, by himself, invoking Allah in a seclusion filled with deep spiritual longing (shawq), love (mahabbah) and a heart of certainty (qalb al-yaqin).

In the cave I found myself enclosed with tranquility of self, serenity and clarity of thought in a rare and wonderful manner.

I went several times to the cave on the top of the mountain and at each visit the desire to write a book about Abul Hasan crossed my mind but still the pages remained closed. My references, however, increased.

.. Then a number of concrete occurrences and varying circumstances caused me to take the Shadhdhuli Way and to mingle in the atmosphere of the muridun. I continued to recite the awrad and the adhkar of the Shadhdhuli. Things continued on in this way until March of the year 1964.

At that time I was visiting professor at the Islamic University in Tarablus (Tripoli) and, having completed my lectures was preparing to travel for the purpose of making Hajj to the sacred precincts of the Ancient House of Allah in Mecca the blessed. I was in Tarablus awaiting the time of my sailing to the Holy Lands when I had a ru'ya (veridical dream) in which I saw a man that I knew by the name of Tawfiq (success or good fortune). In the ru'ya he was dressed not in his usual attire but as a policeman holding handcuffs. He said to me in the form of an order, "Write about Shaykh 'Abul Hasan ash-Shadhdhuli!!!"

I did not reply and wanted to ignore the subject and talk about something else. At that point he grabbed my hands and threatened to put me in handcuffs. I said to him, "Does this mean I should leave off from work I am doing and write about Shaykh Abul Hasan ash-Shadhdhuli?" He said, "Yes. Leave off from what is in your hands and write about ash-Shadhdhuli!!!" Having delivered this message he seemed contented and I immediately awoke.

Allah facilitated the Hajj for me, praise be to HIm. Upon my return to al-Qahirah (Cairo) I attempted, in spite of the vividness of the ru'ya, to postpone writing about Shaykh Abul Hasan. Why this was I didn't know and still don't know.

Instead I went on studying Shaykh Sahl at-Tustari, as I was determined to lecture the students at the College on Sufic Tafsir and I intended choosing examples from at-Tustari. Just as I was beginning of my study and writing for that book one of those storms which confront humanity from time to time alienated me from at-Tustari and from the subject of Sufic Tafsir. Indeed it alienated me, in place and in time, from the spiritual atmosphere altogether. This pages of at-Tustari were closed and the urge to write about him was erased from my soul.

At that time I remembered the ru'ya and remembered 'Tawfiq' ordering me, "Leave off from what is in your hand and writing about ash-Shadhdhuli!!!' But once again weeks passed in which I engaged myself only in casual reading. During these week the impressions I had about the ru'ya faded almost completely until tey became marginal in my memory.

Something else came to mind. I found that in the past I had written on the subject of al-Iman (certified belief or secure faith) and had additionally spoken on that subject on both radio and television. It seemed it would be simple for me to hand that subject, for all I would have to do would be to go back to my previous writings and re-shape here and there and finally publish a study on the subject which would be useful for Egypt in that particular period.

One day I took all my references and went on a visit to the countryside hoping that I would find there an atmosphere conductive to concentration and clarity. I traveled with some friends by taxi and upon our arrival the taxi in turn departed - along with all my references; a fact I only realized when the taxi was out of sight and reach. I had not even taken its number.

When the taxi was out of sight the ru'ya came to mind once again as it had during "the storm of at-Tustari". Once again I heard the words of 'Tawfiq' ordering me "Leave off from what is in your hands and write about ash-Shadhdhuli!!!"

I said to myself, "The lesson is complete. I must with the help and support of Allah, write about 'Abul Hasan ash-Shadhdhuli. Other writings can come late as Allah wishes."

I returned back to my old references on ash-Shadhduli and found them to be complete; main references, secondary references, lives of the Sufis, references both old and new. In short everything I needed to write about ash-Shadhdhuli was at hand. The task loomed pleasant and easy and inwardly I found myself keen and ready to write and to Allah is the praise.

I pray that this book will be as useful to other as Shaykh Abul Hasan ash-Shadhdhuli is to me, may Allah be content with him and sanctify his soul of soul. And Allah is the best to respond.

Wama arsalnaka illa rahmatan lilAAalameena
~ Surah Al-Anbiya

'We sent thee not, but as an Universal Mercy for all creation.'
- The Quran, 21:107

The Seal of the Prophets was an universal Messenger, may Allah bless his noble soul and grant him pure peace, and thus those who walk in the footstep of the Universal Messenger, also takes up works in the rank of universality where the division between East and West merges by the Light which belongs neither of the East nor West, but purely Universal, all-Encompassing.

Contemporary Shadhuli Master Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee's contribution in bringing out both the volume of the School of the Shadhdhuliyya, first the ORISONS and secondly the ORIGINS reflect a testimony and hallmark of the work being continued by those chosen by the One Authority to carry on the transmission to the global West in this important time. May Allah accept this work from him and bless him abundantly.

Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee's translation of this valuable text for English speaking readers about the origins of the Shadhuli Sufi order touches upon the life of it's earlier masters and saints. Particularly it details the life and teaching of the first four masters of the Shadhdhuli School (tariqah): Abu-l-Hasan ash-Shadhdhuli, Abu-l-Abbas al Mursi, Yakut al Arsh, and Ibn ‘Ata’Illah as-Sakandari, may Allah bless them abundantly and sanctify their soul of soul.

The book incorporates translations of two works by the late Shaykh of Azhar, Dr. ‘Abdu-l-Halim Mahmud (ra), on Sidi Abu-l- Hasan and Sidi Abu-l-Abbas; a compilation of articles on Sidi Yakut, by Dr Ibrahim Hakim; and the doctoral thesis on Ibn ‘Ata’Illah by the late Shayku-l-Mashaqykh of the Sufi Turuq in Egypt, Dr. Abu-l-Wafa Taftazani (ra). Also included are The Ship of Safety, by Shaykh Ahmad Zurruq, and the beautiful Remembrances and Supplications of Shaykh Abu-l-Hasan. 

This book contains many precious treasures, among them extensive proofs and explanations of the meanings of Tasawwuf or Sufism, and a convincing argument comparing the Sufic approach to reality to the rationalistic approach of many Western scholars. Thus this second volume of the School of the Shadhdhuliyyiah will turn out, God willing, an essential book for all lovers and students of Tasawwuf (Sufism).

The Book is available to order via Green Mountain Site and you may read more about it by visiting here.

For the readers the Table of Content of ORIGINS is shared here:

Table of Content

Book One
  • Introduction
  • The Life of the Knower by Allah, Shaykh Ali Abu-l-Hasan ash-Shadhdhuli
  • His Personality
  • Abu-l-Hasan in the Battle of Mansurah
  • The Practice of Kitab and Sunnah
  • Proofs o the Existence of Allah
  • Spheres in the Noble Qur'an
  • The Sufi Way
  • Ascensions and Visions
  • Remembrance (dhikr)
  • Some Remembrances and Supplications (Adhkar wa 'Ad'yah) of Shaykh Abu-l-Hasan
  • Advice of Shaykh Abu-l-Hasan
  • In Conslusion and an Admission

Book Two
  • An End and a Beginning
  • Islam and Sufism
  • The Life of the Knower by Allah, Shaykh Abul-Abbas Ahmad al-Mursi
  • Some of His Wonders
  • The Trainer of Souls
  • The Scholar
  • The Worker
  • The Sufi
  • The Interpreter

Book Three
  • Shaykh Yakut al Arshi
  • Sidi Shihab ad-Din Ahmad ibn al-Maylaq
  • Sidi Nasir ad-Din ibn al-Maylaq

Book Four

Division one: Biography of the Shaykh
  • Ch 1. The Shaykh and his times
  • Ch 2. His Sufi life
  • Ch 3. His books and other works
Division two: His Doctrine
  • Ch 1. The Dropping of Self-Direction
  • Ch 2. The Self (Nafs)
  • Ch 3. Struggle (Jihad) against the Soul-Self (Nafs)
  • Ch 4. The Soul and Ethics of Behavior
  • Ch 5. The Nafs between Stations & States
  • Ch 6. Gnosis
  • Ch 7. Discovering the Oneness of Existence

Arabic Texts (from the Arabic end of the volume)

  • Adhkar wa 'Ad'yah 
  • as-Safinatu-n-Najah (The Ship of Safety) by Shaykh Ahmad az-Zarruq

Click on the image above to read and view about Order information

# References:
Green Mountain School
Shadhili Teachings by Sheikh Nuh Keller
The Shadhili Tariqa
Tomb of Abul Hasan ash Shadhili
* Sufi Wiki on Abul Hasan ash-Shadhili
* Sufi Master on Shaykh ash-Shadhili
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