‘The foundations of the foundations of the cure’

Assalamu alaikum (peace be with you)

The title of this post is a quote from my teacher Ustad Yahya Rhodus, with whom I’m mashaAllah (by God’s grace) taking an online class. The class is run free at SeekersGuidance. I would invite you all to check out SeekersGuidance. It is a great initiative offering high calibre classical islamic scholarship completely free. The courses are short but do provide an enormous wealth of sound knowledge. Having a taste of it is a glimpse in to all the Islamic world must have been, when scholars were sound and sincere in their intention and the populace was educated and refined, able to hold their scholars to a high standard of integrity and rigour. Sadly these two are missing in the Muslim world now in my honest opinion. But throughout history as Karen Armstrong famously said, Muslims have always used times of trial and tribulation to renew themselves.

I would posit that if the above is true, it is only true because of what God does. Allah says in the Quran, in a very famous ayah (verse, the correct translation is ‘sign’, as all the verses in the Quran are considered ‘signs’ )

‘surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition’

This is from ayah 11 of surah (chapter) 13 called Ra’ad (Thunder)

Makes you think doesn’t it? Perhaps all that is going on in the Muslim world is a time for Muslims to wake-up and do some serious soul searching. I am not alone in this opinion I know. May God guide us all.

 

To get back though, we are studying part of a poem, the last section of a classical text called ‘The Helping Guide’ written by Imam Abdul Wahid Ibn Ashir (d1631), who lived in Fes in Morocco and was a great scholar. It is written in classical arabic poetic form and is a beautiful and deep treatise of guidance. May Alalh help me learn and practice. We were talking about the illnesses in the heart, in particular, ostentation (a particular disease the scholars and practitioners of a religion are prone to!), jealousy and vanity. The purpose of this post is not to go in to those but to share with you this statement from our teacher when explaining the line of the peom

‘…which has no cure but to be compelled to flee to Him’

Indeed all this that goes on in the world, all that goes on within us, all the trials and tribulations and tests we face, their sole purpose is to turn us back to our source. Only that, to remind us that God is one and go back to that one source. Go running back, go tripping and tumbling back to that one source of Love, Protection and Wisdom. Just to remind us where we came from and where we are going. For the one thing assured about any of our lives is that it will end. The one certain thing in life is death! So all this is a reminder. We have no power on our own, all of it is borrowed and channeled. This is the Muslim theology. There is only One. No duality anywhere, no good and bad, there is only absence of good. There is only One. Grasping this is understanding Islam. We Muslims often say ‘God only tests those He loves’, well the purpose of the test is to turn you back to that source of Love to say, ‘please God help me’. Indeed it is a cure that is a true cure, not a fleeting treatment of symptoms, but a lasting deep and complete cure.

 

There is no duality in the God-head, there is no other source, no other reality. Indeed grasping and understanding this and above all trusting and acting upon it, indeed it is the ‘the foundations of the foundations of the cure’

 

Wishing you peace, and keep me in your prayers. All good in me and all good is from God and God alone.

 

 

 

Reviving the Islamic Spirit …and the need for it

Alhamdulillah it is good to be back to writing again. Who ever thought my next post would be written laying on a bed in the same hotel I was staying at last year in Long Beach, California! More importantly, that I am back here to attend again the RIS conference. RIS for Reviving the Islamic Spirit, is a fantastic affair..why? Not simply due to the amazing line-up of speakers, the ability to deliver topical sessions year after year, the ever growing attendance and the palpable feeling of ‘barakah’ in the air… but also because this massive event was first envisioned and has been organized and put together every year by youth volunteers. Yep, young working Muslims in Toronto first started it and now after 9 years, they have branched off to a US version too. I am very happy with the latter as its cheaper for me to attend :), but the Toronto convention is about 3 times larger.

Indeed, initiatives like this are so essential. It is a time when events on the global stage are calling us everyday as Muslims, to rise up and let our voices be heard. It is time for us to define ourselves. And to do that, first we must learn Islam. Perhaps then appropriately, this year’s conference is titled ‘Removing the veil of Muslims from Islam’!

Now that I mentioned it, I wonder about that ‘palpable feeling of barakah’ present… is it because of this beautiful truth, where the prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who said, in a hadith Qudsi… Allah Kareem! And Allah knows best

On the authority of Abu Hurairah (radiAllaahu anhu) that the Prophet (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said :
Whoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, ALLAH will remove from him one of the griefs of the Day of Resurrection. And whoever alleviates the need of a needy person, ALLAH will alleviate his needs in this world and the Hereafter. Whoever shields [or hides the misdeeds of] a Muslim, ALLAH will shield him in this world and the Hereafter. And ALLAH will aid His Slave so long as he aids his brother. And whoever follows a path to seek knowledge therein, ALLAH will make easy for him a path to paradise. no people gather together in one of the houses of ALLAH, reciting the Book of ALLAH and studying it among themselves, except that Sakeenah (Tranquility) descends upon them, and Mercy envelops them, and the angels surround them, and ALLAH mentions them amongst those who are with Him. And whoever is slowed down by his actions, will not be hastened forward by his lineage.
It was related by Muslim in these words.

On that note, the exciting news is that RIS has launched a website, allowing live streams of the talks as well as access to previous talks. It is not free however, I think that is necessary to fund the project. I heard RIS Toronto has been running in the green, but RIS USA has been in the red unfortunately. They only began last year so inshaAllah it will soon catch up. Here is the website. http://www.revivingtheislamicspirit.com/streaming/
Check it out..it has some nice features.

I also remembered I had ‘reported’ a previous RIS I attended… here are the links if in case it is useful… rather disjointed, but will hopefully give you an idea for the feel of this event; part 1 and part 2.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a sweet song by Maher Zain, performed last year at RIS much to everyone’s joy. This version is from Toronto though

Tawakkul… trusting in Allah

Alhamdulillah I came across this excellent article and wanted to share it. It talks about reliance upon Allah. I especially loved this quote.

Ibn Ata’illah stated:

“Relieve yourself of worry after you have planned, do not concern yourself with what Allah has undertaken on your behalf”.

Indeed this is not easy to attain to. But the one with real faith knows its a cinch!

وَنُيَسِّرُكَ لِلْيُسْرَىٰ
And We will make it easy for thee (to follow) the simple (Path). (Quran 87:8)

What makes it hard I think is not knowing Allah well enough to trust Him completely. And that is easily fixed by spending more time with Him, i.e., with taqwa (God consciousness) and then Allah grows nearer and nearer. We are truly blessed to have in our tradition, the certainty from God that ‘He loves to be asked’ and ‘loves to be called upon’. Subhahanallah! Key word – LOVES to be asked. Allah subhahana wa’ta’ala what a great source of help just waiting to be asked.

I must go now, the article is here. Well worth the read mashaAllah. Taken from Imam Suhaib Webb’s site http://www.suhaibwebb.com/personaldvlpt/worship/dua/tawakkul-trust-in-allah/

I’ll add a favourite song along these lines. Powerful lyrics – ‘I only ask of God’

Assaalamu alaikum warahamtullah, I pray you are all well and safe, and Allah have mercy upon us all and help us all help each other in these testing times.

Signing on to uphold the Freedom of Speech

Thanks to Hesham Hassaballah of God, Faith and a Pen, I heard of this statement initiated by Sheila Musaji and Shahad Amanullah condeming violence against those who express their right to freedom of speech. I am very proud of this endeavour and honored to add my signature to it.

In the time of the prophet (may the peace of Allah be upon him), many were the people who mocked, insulted, taunted him. All he replied was to say ‘listen to these words’ and convey the message that had been given him, i.e., the Quran. He never got angry, cursed in response, or was even impatient. Remember the well known story of the man who urinated in the mosque.. how others got angry, but the prophet said, ‘let him finish and we will wash it later’. He also said he likely does not know what he is doing…and treated him with honor and spoke to him about it after wards, such that the man learned his error. There is a parody here with what is going on today. Most people who want to carry out acts that desecrate the Quran, insult the prophet etc are doing this out of ignorance. It is our imperative, we who have the Quran to guide us, to educate them. And let us do it in a way that treats the other with honor and respect.

The Quran clearly states ‘repel evil with good (41:34)’. Also we know that ‘none of you truly believes until he loves for others what he loves for himself’ (Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him). As we love to be treated with dignity and respect, as we love to be honorable upright people, let us also treat others with dignity and respect, and work toward helping those who engage in acts that denigrate faith understand that doing so only robs them of their own honor and dignity.

Another point, the prophet only asked of Quraish the freedom to speak with people. He asked for nothing else. He did not ask that Quraish remove their harsh boycott, that they stop the torture and persecution of Muslims. Perhaps he knew this was an inevitable reaction on the part of Quraish to his teaching. Whenever he could, he helped in action the early Muslims who were suffering, and indeed he also suffered with them. But his one continuous request of Quraish was to be allowed to speak freely. If we ponder on this, we understand the great importance of free speech and we realize that we must work to protect it.

Here is the statement below. I encourage you all to sign on to it and publish it widely.

Jazakum Allah Khairan.

A DEFENSE OF FREE SPEECH BY AMERICAN AND CANADIAN MUSLIMS

We, the undersigned, unconditionally condemn any intimidation or threats of violence directed against any individual or group exercising the rights of freedom of religion and speech; even when that speech may be perceived as hurtful or reprehensible.

We are concerned and saddened by the recent wave of vitriolic anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment that is being expressed across our nation.

We are even more concerned and saddened by threats that have been made against individual writers, cartoonists, and others by a minority of Muslims. We see these as a greater offense against Islam than any cartoon, Qur’an burning, or other speech could ever be deemed.

We affirm the right of free speech for Molly Norris, Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and all others including ourselves.

As Muslims, we must set an example of justice, patience, tolerance, respect, and forgiveness.

The Qur’an enjoins Muslims to:
* bear witness to Islam through our good example (2:143);
* restrain anger and pardon people (3:133-134 and 24:22);
* remain patient in adversity (3186);
* stand firmly for justice (4:135);
* not let the hatred of others swerve us from justice (5:8);
* respect the sanctity of life (5:32);
* turn away from those who mock Islam (6:68 and 28:55);
* hold to forgiveness, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant (7:199);
* restrain ourselves from rash responses (16:125-128);
* pass by worthless talk with dignity (25:72); and
* repel evil with what is better (41:34).

Islam calls for vigorous condemnation of both hateful speech and hateful acts, but always within the boundaries of the law. It is of the utmost importance that we react, not out of reflexive emotion, but with dignity and intelligence, in accordance with both our religious precepts and the laws of our country.

We uphold the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Both protect freedom of religion and speech, because both protections are fundamental to defending minorities from the whims of the majority.

We therefore call on all Muslims in the United States, Canada and abroad to refrain from violence. We should see the challenges we face today as an opportunity to sideline the voices of hate—not reward them with further attention—by engaging our communities in constructive dialogue about the true principles of Islam, and the true principles of democracy, both of which stress the importance of freedom of religion and tolerance.

SIGNATORIES:

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, PhD, Director, Minaret of Freedom Foundation
Prof. Akbar S. Ahmed, PhD, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University
Prof. Parvez Ahmed, PhD, Fulbright Scholar & Assoc. Prof. University of North Florida
Wajahat Ali, playwright, journalist, and producer of “Domestic Crusaders”
Sumbul Ali-Karamali, JD, LLM (Islamic Law), author of “The Muslim Next Door”
Salam al-Marayati, Pres., Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
Shahed Amanullah, Editor-in-Chief, Altmuslim
Hazami Barmada, Pres, American Muslim Interactive Network (AMIN)
M. Ali Chaudry, PhD, President, Center for Understanding Islam (CUII)
Robert D. Crane, JD
Mona Eltahawy, journalist
Prof. Mohammad Fadel, PhD
Farah Brelvi, Board of Directors, ACLU-NC
Hesham Hassaballa, M.D., author, journalist, blogger – “God, faith, and a pen”
Arsalan Iftikhar, author, human rights lawyer, blogger – “The Muslim Guy”
Jeffrey Imm, Director, Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.)
Prof. Muqtedar Khan, PhD, author of several books, Blogger – “Globalog”
M. Junaid Levesque-Alam, writer, blogger – “Crossing the Crescent”
David Liepert, M.D., blogger and author of blogger and author of “Muslim, Christian AND Jew”
Radwan A. Masmoudi, PhD, President, Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID)
Melody Moezzi, JD, MPH, writer and attorney
Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, author of many books of poetry
Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim (TAM)
Aziz H. Poonawalla, PhD, scientist and blogger – “City of Brass” on Beliefnet.com
Hasan Zillur Rahim, PhD, journalist
Prof. Hussein Rashid, PhD, blogger – “Religion Dispatches”
Robert Salaam, blogger – “The American Muslim”
F R Zahir, blogger – “JoyManifest”
Tayyibah Taylor, Editor, Azizah Magazine
G. Willow Wilson, author of “Butterfly Mosque” and “Air” graphic novel series