Al-Latif

030

Al- Latif is one of the ‘names’ of God that I most love. It is another word hard to translate into English. I have a very beautiful Arabic-English dictionary of the Holy Quran (linked for your reference) that is essential for any one from an English language background hoping to read and understand the original Arabic of the Quran. And indeed, we Muslims believe the Quran is the word of God. It has been preserved without a single change since its revelation to that most blessed of Messengers, Muhammed (peace be upon him). BTW on this I recently realized most people are not aware of how Muslims view prophets or messengers, peace be upon them all. Briefly we do not elevate them to divinity, believing they are human beings, but neither do we consider them ordinary people, rather we consider them the best of mankind, who were great lights upon the earth, who had the most beautiful comportment, manners and daily transactions – and this for all of them, without reservation or question, peace be upon them all. The Quran is very clear in this and addresses this special noble people in the most beautiful salutary terms. Surah (=chapter) 21 in the Quran, is called ‘The prophets’ and gives the stories of some of them. It is one among many other places in the Quran they are mentioned. I am going off on a tangent so I will stop, but inshAllah (God willing) I will post about this more later on. I actually had no idea people could think badly of any of them (peace be upon them all), i.e., that they would commit major sins such as tell lies etc. until recently and that was shocking to me.

To get back to my topic, so I opened the dictionary to look up the best way to translate this word for you, my dear readers, and found something very special that I will share further down. Especially my Muslim brothers and sisters who are reading this, I think if you did not know it, you will feel happy to know it. The word ‘latif’ comes from the root ‘latufa’ meaning to be delicate, graceful, elegant, gentle, kind, fine. ‘Lateef’ means to be Gracious, Kind, Gentle, Subtle, Sharp-sighted, Acute (the dictionary capitalized each word so I am doing the same, I think this is on the intensive form of the word so that is why). As the name of God, ‘Al-Latif’ = The ‘Latif’, it means roughly, ‘The All Subtle Being’, ‘Unfathomable’, ‘Incomprehensible’, ‘The Gentle’ and so on. We say the Arabic can never really be translated, only interpreted. Actually Muslims don’t consider the Quran in any other language other than the Arabic as the Quran. That is, while we are obligated to be in a state of purity, having taken wudu (see here for a description of this ritual washing) before touching the Arabic Quran, this rule does not apply to it in any other language. This is what I specially wanted to share about what I found in the dictionary;- The word that appears at the very middle of the Quran (and remember when I say Quran, I am talking about it in Arabic) is ‘Walyatalattaf’ (this is a complex form derived from ‘latif’, in arabic you can get a whole sentence just by using the rules of derivation upon a triliteral root word). It means ‘And let him be courteous, let him behave with great care, conduct himself with caution’. In Arabic, there are 8 letters to this word, exactly 4 belong to the first half and the rest to the second half! Isn’t that amazing! Subhahanallah (=exalted is God). It comes in ayat 19 of sura 18. As if a central admonition to us Muslims is to be gentle!

I just looked up Surah 18, it is actually Surah ‘Kahf’ (=the cave). And the passage is about the sleepers in the cave. I am not sure, but I think the Bible has this story as well? BTW I got to visit this cave which is in present day Amman, Jordan. InshAllah I will share more about that later on. Surah Kahf is a surah the prophet peace be upon him, used to recite every Friday and told us to recite every Friday too. My Muslim readers will know the specialness of this surah. It contains many stories, in addition to the ‘sleepers in the cave’ full of wise meanings and messages.

I wanted to write about this word, ‘latif’ as it denotes a trait I love. And Muhammed, peace be upon this most strong yet most gentle of human beings had many wise sayings about how to be gentle. I wanted to post because of these ahadith (saying, narration from the blessed prophet) that I love;-

He who is deprived of gentleness is deprived of good.

(Muslim)

Keep to gentleness and avoid harshness and coarseness. Gentleness is not found in anything without adorning it, and is not withdrawn from anything without shaming it.

(Muslim)

And on this note, here is a story from the traditions of the prophet peace be upon him, that I do love. It shows the gentleness of his approach toward teaching people religion. As you may know, during the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast. It is not just an external fasting (abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations) from dawn till dusk, it is also an internal one (abstaining from telling lies, gossip, backbiting, slander, being careful to not look at unlawful images etc). How much we are able to adhere to this is another story. But indeed the month is meant to train us and to help us regulate ourselves. It is like an annual cleanse you could say. A most special time (it’s only 4 months away! so excited looking forward to it. May Allah grant I have the felicity to meet another Ramadan!). I took this story from an article in the Baltimore Examiner, referenced here. However the story itself is well known and found in a many places, it is considered a very ‘authentic’ narration. The way ahadith (plural of hadith) are graded is a science itself, and there are Muslim scholars who specialize in this. Unfortunately these days due to the dearth of sound Muslim scholars, there are many deviant or fallacious ahadith floating around and many Muslims who don’t know a sound narration from a bad one, who would end up following the falsified ones. Before I go off on another tangent, albeit it is an important topic, here is the story. It is about this man who couldn’t keep his fast and came and confessed to the prophet (peace be upon him) and wanted to know what he could do to compensate –

“A man came to Allah’s Apostle and said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! I am ruined!’

The Prophet said, ‘Waihaka (May Allah be merciful to you)!’

The man said, ‘I have done sexual intercourse with my wife while fasting in Ramadan.’

The Prophet said, ‘Manumit a slave.’

The man said, ‘I cannot afford that.’

The Prophet said; ‘Then fast for two successive months.’

The man said, ‘I have no power to do so.’

The Prophet said, ‘Then feed sixty poor persons.’

The man said, ‘I have nothing (to feed sixty persons).’

Later a basket full of dates were brought to the Prophet and he said (to the man), ‘Take it and give it in charity.’

The man said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Shall I give it to people other than my family? By Him in Whose Hand my life is, there is nobody poorer than me in the whole city of Medina.’

The Prophet smiled till his premolar teeth became visible, and said, ‘Take it.’”

(Bukhari, Vol. 8, Bk. 73, No. 185)

Peace be upon you all my dear readers. Al-Latif be with you!

Hundred-word Eulogy

Assalamu alaikum ( peace be with you) dear readers, inshaAllah (God willing) I will follow with a post from another segment from my recent ‘rihla’ journey to Turkey. For now, this blog post I wanted to share. I didn’t know of the ‘hundred word eulogy’ and learning of it was expansive, for it highlights the depth of tolerance, respect, and appreciation present in the old world between traditions.

Towards Enlightment

4548

In the 1300s, the Chinese Hongwu Emperor wrote the “Hundred-word Eulogy“, which praised the characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad (salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Copies of it (like this one) were distributed to mosques throughout China.

Translation:
Since the creation of the universe
God had already appointed his great faith-preaching man,
From the West he was born,
And received the holy scripture
And book made of 30 parts (Juz)
To guide all creations,
Master of all rulers,
Leader of the holy ones,
With support from the Heavens,
To protect his nation,
With five daily prayers,
Silently hoping for peace,
His heart directed towards Allah,
Giving power to the poor,
Saving them from calamity,
Seeing through the Unseen,
Pulling the souls and the spirits away from all wrongdoings,
Mercy to the world,
Transversing to the ancient,
Majestic path vanquished away all evil,
His religion Pure and True,
Muhammad,
The…

View original post 3 more words

The heart

Thank you Allah for this greatest gift you have given me. The human heart is limitless in its capacity…it is in heartache that we most acutely catch a glimpse of its depth…but realize that in joy it is as boundless.

Then how beautiful the one who knows the heart

“Whether you hide your word or publish it. He certainly has full knowledge of the secrets of all hearts. He is the One that understands the finest mysteries and is well-acquainted with them.” (Surat al-Mulk, 67:13-14)

Al-Kareem – The Most Generous

Assalamu alaikum (peace be with you)

Here’s sharing a painting just finished by God’s grace. Inspired of course by the glorious fall colours. I wanted to put on it ‘Al Kareem’, but I am not sure if it should be on the canvas itself…still contemplating, any thoughts dear readers? 🙂

Al Kareem is one of the ‘names’ of God. It is the superlative form of the word ‘generous’. Meaning the one titled like this ‘The Generous’, is the MOST generous, and there is none as generous as He. Muslims will often say the phrase ‘Allah Kareem’ meaning ‘Allah is the most generous’ out of remembrance of Him, out of wonder, out of praise, out of thanks and simply to express joy.

Looking on and walking in wonder through a forest path in the fall, I cannot but exclaim ‘Allah Kareem’! It strikes me that even in death the Creator is the most generous. Leaves are dying and they could just have rotted and fallen, but look, look what the Creator does. Simply to feast our eyes there is a riot of colour. Truly, God is the most generous and glory be to Him, Subhahnallah!

Image

– Alhamdulillah, completed work

Image

– the arabic reads ‘Al Kareem’

Image

Painting and name hung on the wall.

And whatever good and beautiful in me is from Allah and Allah alone, and whatever in me that is of wrong and ugly is from my own self.

***

Joymanifest

Of Mu’aadh ibn Jabal and Knowledge

YasSarNalQuR'aN

I love this great companion of the glorious Messenger, Prophet Muhammad sal-lal-laahu-alaihi-wa-sallam. His life and teachings, dedication and contribution has been tremendously marvellous. He is truly an inspiration for all times to come.

Prophet Muhammad sal-lal-laahu-alaih-wa-sallam said about Mu`aadh ibn Jabal:

“Verily, when the people of knowledge will be present before their Lord, the Mighty and Sublime, Mu`aadh will be one step ahead of them.”

View original post 399 more words

Al-Tariq – the night visitor

Assalamu alaikum, peace be with you!

This was written a few days ago and I think inspired by the wonder that is looking at the stars. It is always beguiling to me, amazing, stupendous, incredible…that the light that touches my retina from each star left that star millions of light years ago. I often wonder how those self same stars I am casting my sight upon are at the moment I am looking at them. One chapter or sura of the Quran is called al-Taariq’. ‘taariq’ is translated as ‘the night visitor’. There are various interpretations on what that really means, but one I really love is that it is the light from the stars. More commonly it is considered to mean ‘the evening star’ or ‘venus’. However, it is a beautiful word (a popular name for Boys too in the Muslim world) and has several layers of meaning. What is it about the light of stars that draws us closer to home? Coming from the extraterrestrial, it seems to pierce through our bodies and journey deep to where our soul lies inside, to remind us…perhaps of where we are heading to…

 

Al- Tariq

 

My home calls me
In whispered breath that escapes
When a blade of grass is bent
By some unknowing child’s caressing hand
Eager to pick a dandelion flower
And blow those petals away
On the arms of a waiting wind

My home calls me
In tears that lace my lower eyelid
Not strong enough to flow and wet
A cheek bathed in soft moonlight
As I stare at distant planets
Visible as drops of piercing light
Retina welcomes this transcendent visitor

My home calls me
In that knowing gleam in the eye
Of the lone stork that came to sit
On the very tip of the weeping willow
By the shores of a small hidden pond
In a park by the ocean where
I went to walk to soothe my aching heart

My home calls me
And O my Lord, you are my only witness
How gloriously rich to have
My home’s master
be my constant Guide and closest Confidant
It eases this parting and I am joyful
Knowing I would not be here except You willed it so

Ah, but my home calls me
And its call cannot be drowned out but
By the mirthful chatter of tedious yet necessary
fleeting pleasure. So happy then are days
Balanced between summer joys and winter suns
Happy to live and living not forget
That happier home to which I am every day
Drawing closer.

 

***

Copyright Joymanifest 2013

 

Love in Islam

For all those who think or say that there is no understanding of love in Islam’s concept of the Godhead, please do listen to this. It is only 15 mins and is excerpted from one of our foremost scholars today. We have a deep deep and wide understanding of love in our tradition. Unfortunately many of us, even among the Muslims, are divorced from this reality in the modern world. One of the greatest tragedies to befall the Muslim nation is our loss of our knowledge sources which happened to a large extent during the colonial period. So the past 200 years or so has seen the Muslim nation loose much of its base. I think it is almost akin to the other great tragedy that befell the Muslim nation which is when the Mongol hoards sacked Baghdad (Genghis Khan’s grandson lead that campaign). Thankfully knowledge is coming back into Muslims from what has been preserved now, as it did in our history some decades after the sacking of Baghdad. Ironically the descendants of the invaders themselves became Muslim and contributed much to the Muslim world. But let me not go off on a tangent. For now, by God’s grace, nNew scholars are emerging, teaching and spreading knowledge and books are being unearthed and translated. God will preserve His teaching. And this is true for all true traditions that lead to the worship of the Source. May we all be reunited with the One we love. And God’s peace and blessings be upon His messenger Muhammed

Peace be with you all, Assalamu alaikum