Azaan – calling to prayer

Assalamu alaikum warahmatullah,

The recent global events and events in my own life and in that of my circle of brothers and sisters, whether known ‘virtually’ or ‘in-person’ (Sendie, here’s a call out to you, I hope you’re fine) has made it a quiet time. A time of reflection and renewing, of one’s purpose and one’s plan to live and thrive in this world without becoming damaged or bitter. Truly, God does test those He loves and truly God does come to the aid of those He tests when they call out to Him, and Truly God does not place a burden on any soul greater than it can bear. References for these statements by Allah, the One and Only Creator below;

Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said,”When is the help of Allah ?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.
Quran (2:214)

And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.
Quran (2:186)

Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.”
Quran (2:286)

The last ayah (verse or better translated as ‘sign’, as each verse in the Quran is considered a ‘sign’ of the miracle of God), is the one which ends the longest chapter in the Quran (chapter 2), and indeed after the statement that God does not lay a burden on anyone greater than that soul can bear, God guides us to how to bear whatever we do have to bear – bear it by asking God to help you with it! For indeed Allah loves to hear the call of his creation and loves to answer that call.

This is a time when our patience is being tested in deep ways. We are bleeding at the disrespect they cause to our beloved prophet (peace be upon his gentle and exalted soul!) and saddened by their ignorance. May God guide us all to light!

Muhammed (peace be upon him) himself was taunted by much much much worse numerous times in his life. He never retaliated. One very telling short hadith gives us a glimpse of his attitude, at a time when they twisted his name to make fun of him, look at with what good character, light-heartedness and wisdom he replies;

Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 56, Number 733:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Apostle said, “Doesn’t it astonish you how Allah protects me from the Quraish’s abusing and cursing? They abuse Mudhammam and curse Mudhammam while I am Muhammad (and not Mudhammam)”

The Makkans made fun of the Prophet (PBUH) by twisting his name because of its meaning being “The one deserving of praise” , and calling him Mudhammam (belittled one).

I leave you with a beautiful clip from a recent CelebrateMercy event. I urge you all to check out the celebratemercy website if you have not already. It is dedicated to the prophet, the prophet who was sent for all mankind, not just for arabs, not just for the 7th century, but for all people and all time.

And I leave you with two beautiful azans, one from the grant mosque in Medina, the city of the prophet and the other from a young muazzin (one who calls the azan) in Los Angeles, presented at a beautiful interfaith event in a Church.

Peace to all, as Muhammed (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his family!!) taught us to say and live. Peace to all

Eid Mubarak! May the festival greeting of barakah (blessings) be true for you and me

Assalamu alaikum (Peace be with you)

My dear sisters and brothers in Islam and in humanity, I greet you and wish you much joy and peace on this most beautiful celebration of the festival of ‘fitr’, or of breaking the fast. It has been a month of illumination and bonding, patience and self-descipline, a much needed bootcamp of the soul, heart and importantly, stomach.

We Muslims unfortunately neglect the importance of the stomach and all that goes in to it. If you think about it, other than your lungs that take in air every few seconds (without stopping since you popped out of Mum’s uterus to till you die- isn’t that amazing? Subhahanallah!) the system that has most interaction with the outside world is your GI (gastro-intestinal) system. And the GI system has to contend with a lot more variety than your lungs do (at least as far as we know to-date). So be easy on this precious blessing that is the GI system on the day of Eid. Don’t make the month of training be of no or little consequence by gluttonous feasting. Remember, moderation in all things. In abstinence and in celebration. It is the way of our beloved teacher, the best example and beautiful guide, Muhammed (may Allah bless him and elevate him!). The middle way.

 

So this reminder is first to myself and then to you. The prophet (peace and blessings of God be on him) said on eating, the very famous and sound hadith (narration, or record of his words, ‘sound’ here means it has been rigourously authenticated as true, as there are many hadith and not all of them are authentic…not knowing which narrations are sound vs. which are not, has lead to much disarray among the Muslims, but I digress) below;

On the authority of Al-Miqdaam ibn Maadiy-Karib who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah saying: “No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.”

Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaa’I, Ibn Majah – Hadith sahih.

 

I found these useful comments by early physicians and scholars of the Muslim world on the hadith ;-

1. Ibn Masaweh, a Muslim doctor, said after reading this hadith: “If the people only used these words, they would avoid all diseases and maladies and the clinics and pharmacies would be idle.”

2. Another doctor, Al-Harith ibn Kalada said: That which has killed mankind is the introduction of food on top of food before it has been digested.

3. As for spiritual benefits: humbleness of heart, strength of understanding, lessening of lower desires, lessening of personal opinions and anger, while overeating induces the opposites of all of those. Al-Hassan Al-Basri said: “O, son of Adam, eat with one third of your stomach and drink with one third and leave one third of your stomach to breathe so that you may think.”

4. Ibn Umar: A man said to Ibn Umar: Shouldn’t I bring you some jawarish? Ibn Umar said: What is that? He said: Something which aids in digesting your food after you eat. Ibn Umar said: I have not eaten to being full for four months. That is not because I am not able to do so, but I was with a group of people who were hungry more than they were full.

5. Not reaching your goals: Muhammad ibn Wasi said: Whoever eats little will understand and make others understand and will be clear and humble. Overeating weighs a person down and keeps him from much of what he wants [to accomplish].”

6. Al-Hassan Al-Basri: The test of Adam, peace be upon him, was food and it is your test until Qiyama. And, it used to be said: Whoever takes control of his stomach gets control of all good deeds. And: Wisdom does not reside in a full stomach. One day, Al-Hassan offered some food to his companion who said: I have eaten until I am no longer able to eat. To which Al-Hassan said: Subhaana Allah! Does a Muslim eat until he is no longer able to eat?

[these notes are taken from a well known scholarly text by a great scholar, Imam Rajab al-Hanbali (d 1393). The book is called ‘Jami’al Uloom al’Hikam’, a commentary on the famous forty hadith by Imam Nawawi. Copied with thanks from Br. Saleem Morgan’s website]

And indeed, Imam Ghazali (one of the best known of the Muslim scholars and a great luminary who lived in Persia about 900 years ago) in a commentary of the Quran, famously said to paraphrase in my own words (and I intend no disrespect or frivoulty by this, only ease of making this post, please look this up for a more accurate rendering) that indeed one of the reasons mankind fell, was his excessive love of food! 🙂 Though I smile, I do take this seriously as a practitioner of prophetic medicine (the teeny bit I know) and a scientist, as well as a person trying to be a Muslim. Indeed we have moved so far from the mark of our early scholars that we laugh at serious matters. Allah protect me and us!

This reading of the story of Adam and Eve (may Allah bless them both) and their eating of the apple (this story is given in the Quran, but differs in detail quite a bit from the better known biblical version…however the eating of the apple remains, though the Quran calls both Adam and Eve tempted and not just the one, this story appears in several places in the Quran, the second chapter in particular has detail if you are interested in reading it) is quite profoud if you come to think of it.

We neglect the influence the GI tract has on us and shorten the long lives God would give us by our own folly. So celebrate in joyful light, eat moderately and be thankful for your tummy! Don’t over-stress it after treating it so well in the month of fasting.

We Muslims have lost a lot of the education, guidance, wisdom and character our predecessors had. No wonder the Muslim Nation suffers so. We have a long way to climb back up again. I would humbly submit that a first step is controlling the stomach. Verily, it will only help and not hinder, the controling of the heart. As the Quran says in the words of our father Abraham (God elevate and bless him) ‘And indeed the only ones saved that day are those who bring a sound heart ‘…

 

26:87
Sahih International

And do not disgrace me on the Day they are [all] resurrected –

26:88
Sahih International Interpretation

The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children

26:89
Sahih International Interpretation

But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.”

Quran (26: 87-89)
 
With that shared, I must take your leave. Indeed mashaallah (by God’s grace) writing it out here is like sharing something with a dear friend, it only cements the sentiment in one’s heart. Indeed this is my prayer.
 
One last thing, your true home is on that prayer mat alone in front of your Beloved, The Beloved. I am sure you felt this during the many hours of standing in prayer the nights of Ramadan, don’t let the deceiver make you forget. So increase the prayer these days after Ramadan and inshaAllah the feeling of loss at the passing of the month of mercy will not be so great.
 
Allah bless you all and guide and protect us and may we be aware of the Cherishing Nurturing Protection already around us… in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the birds and colours and fragrances and immense beauty around us. Truly our Lord is a Generous Lord.
 

Peace to all of you.

Recitation, a new poem

Assalamu alaikum, peace to all!

The Quran is a phenomenal book. It has about 50 titles, most of which I don’t know. One, the better known is ‘Furqan’, meaning roughly, ‘criterion’, i.e., a way to distinguish between right and wrong. The most commonly used word, ‘Quran’ comes from the root word ‘qara’a’. The arabic root word system is amazing. Root words are usually derived of three letters (in arabic there are no vowels and consonants, it is a phonetic language with diacritical marks denoting vowel sounds), in this case; q-r-a’, which can then be formed in many versions to mean many things that are derived from that root word. ‘qara’a’ means to read a written thing, recite with or without a script, proclaim, convey, call, rehearse, transmit, deliver. In fact the first revealed word, which is found in the Quran as the first verse of chapter (or sura) 96, is ‘iqra’. It was the first revealed word to Muhammed, the final messenger, upon whom God shower peace and blessing, and indeed a fitting opening for what was to follow and the mission he recieved with that word.
One of the Quran’s titles is shifa, meaning a ‘healing’. The recitation of the Quran carries immense healing and calming. Which is why often Muslims, even those who don’t understand arabic (the majority) will know how to recite the Quran. And this recitation has certain rules and methods. The best reciters or ‘qaari’s’ (you can see how the root word system is working!) often lead the prayers in Mosques, as during the prayer, verses of the Quran are recited. These recitations are beautiful and many around the world listen to recordings of them. And such is the healing power of the Quran, that the recording of it’s recitation is often used (i.e., by playing it over radio, internet, tapes etc) to cure people or comfort those who are dying. For myself, the Quran healed a broken heart and also soothed a mind when it was wandering ( I carry schizophrenia susceptibility genes and for a time was almost delusional due to some bad life incidents). Mashaallah (=by God’s grace), the Quran healed me. The words of my Lord are a soothing balm and comforter.
That was a long prelude! But it was organic so I hope you will indulge me and I wanted to explain the context of what reciting means to a Muslim. This is a poem written a few days ago ater a peaceful pre-dawn time of reciting, sitting on a prayer mat that was made of my grandmother’s soft old white sari, folded many times and wearing the white prayer dress of embroidered (white on white) skirt and loose head covering. I hope you will like it and I wish for you many such moments of utter peace and comfort, of such closeness with the divine. Praise and Glory be to Him. To end I want to say, ss Muslims believe, any good in me is from God and God alone.

Recitation

Teaching, guiding, soothing
Each morning before the sun rises
with the birds who wake before dawn
learning their song. I recite
the revealed words of the Creator
As the earth stirs to life
So does my heart.
As the cool gentle breeze of truth
hums within my heartstrings
As the perspicious light of guidance
dissipates the doubt in my brain
As the wise and the true
embellishes itself in my heart
I am but a grateful slave
of the One. One beyond time and place
One closer to me than my conscience
One knowning me better than I do myself
So then peace. In the safest hands
I am gently lead. To a better way to live.

Each morning as I recite
The words of my Lord. The birds sing
And soon it will be dawn.

***
Copyright Joymanifest Blog (C) 2012.

‘What a Nourisher’ from Rumi’s Mathnawi

Peace be with you all,

It is a beautiful morning here in Vancouver. MashaAllah it snowed last night (we have had hardly any snow this winter) and the earth covered in its white mantle suddenly seems a different place. How amazing it is that something so simple as crystallized water on the ground can completely change one’s perspective. But nay, I am wrong to say ‘ice on the ground’ is simple. Indeed water is one of the most amazing creations there is. From a scientific point of view it’s shear brilliance is astounding. It is the perfect substance and the perfect matter to bear creation. Indeed, in the Quran, Allah says He created every living thing from water;

أَوَلَمْ يَرَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ كَانَتَا رَتْقًا فَفَتَقْنَاهُمَا ۖ وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ حَيٍّ ۖ أَفَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ

Quran (21:30)
Transliteration
Awa lam yara allatheenakafaroo anna assamawati wal-ardakanata ratqan fafataqnahuma wajaAAalnamina alma-i kulla shay-in hayyin afalayu/minoo
Yusuf Ali Translation
Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?

The above verse is precisely what science understands of the process of creation. Isn’t it amazing to have the Big Bang Theory and even the evolutionary origin of life theory in one simple sentence! As a scientist, this excites me to the heavens and humbles me to the dust! Subhahana wa bihamdihi (Glorios is He and all praise and thanks is his). I could go on and on about water, but I really began this post to copy Rumi’s poem. So here is a link to a post on the mention of the water cycle in the Quran. And here are excellent articles about why water is so miraculous-
The source of the water miracle: hydrogen bonds
The design in water
By the way, to my non-Muslim readers, water is one of the most often used words in the Quran and discussed in a very many varied contexts and instances.

It is hard to include Rumi or anyone else’s work in the same post that includes the words of our magnificent Maker. However, I am guilty of the same, mixing my words up with the Quran as I write this blog. So may there be some good in these poor words from a very faulty specimen of Allah’s creation and may my Lord be pleased with the effort. We Muslims say that ‘All good is from Allah’. For among his attributes is ‘The Good’… whatever is good in this too is from Allah and may our beautiful Creator make us more receptive to Divine grace. Rumi himself was an inspired person after all, and indeed it is amazing for I was only going to copy the poem when I began with the comment on the snow, and then that lead to thinking of water and this leads to thinking of how water is the source and nourishment of us all which perfectly ties in with the message of this peom, which is that if you have God as your source and well-spring, you have nothing to fear or grieve! Alhamdulillah! even my brain is wired and works as God desires! 🙂 yay 🙂

What a Nourisher

The sensible man doesn’t pay attention
to what increases and decreses,
since both pass like a quickly moving stream.
Whether the water of life runs clear
or is tumultuous as a flood,
don’t bother speaking of it-
it doesn’t endure more than a moment.

In this world thousands of animals live happily,
without throes of anxiety.
The dove on the tree coos gratefulness,
even though her food for the night has not yet arrived.

The nightingale’s glorification is this:
“I depend for my daily bread,
on You who love to respond.”
The falcon delights in the King’s hand,
and no longer looks at carrion.

Look at every animal from the gnat to the elephant:
they all are God’s family
and dependent on Him for their food.
What a nourisher is God!
All these griefs within our hearts
arise from the smoke and dust
of our existence and vain desires.

MashaAllah, on that note to end with one of my most favourite ayah from the Quran (ayah meaning ‘sentence’ but the root word means ‘sign’ or symbol or proof..a word rather deeper than sentece and used in many ways. Actually one of my close friends named her daughter ‘ayah’, I think that illustrates what I mean). It is the last ayah of a very beautiful short lyrical surah (chapter) called ‘Mulk’ (The Dominion)

قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَصْبَحَ مَاؤُكُمْ غَوْرًا فَمَن يَأْتِيكُم بِمَاءٍ مَّعِينٍ
Transliteration
Qul araaytum in asbaha maokumghawran faman ya/teekum bima-in maAAeen
Sahih International Translation
Say, “Have you considered: if your water was to become sunken [into the earth], then who could bring you flowing water?”
Yusuf Ali Translation
Say: “See ye?- If your stream be some morning lost (in the underground earth), who then can supply you with clear-flowing water?”
Quran (67:30)

Seagulls play with the ferry

image

Assalamu alaikum, peace be with you all,

By God’s grace I am returning from a magical journey, a retreat you could say, to Vancouver Island. Being a girl who grew up on an island myself (even if it was half a world away!), there is always a special indescribable feeling I experience when I visit the island.
The journey has been magical for many reasons. InshaAllah I will share more of why soon. But since this is the first time I am blogging from my phone and more to the point since the ferry I am presently on is about ti dock(!), I will leave you with this picture taken of seagulls as they played catch with the ferry and danced with the wind. Brave and joyful souls! Birds remind me of the ayat in surah mulk

أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا إِلَى الطَّيْرِ فَوْقَهُمْ صَافَّاتٍ وَيَقْبِضْنَ ۚ مَا يُمْسِكُهُنَّ إِلَّا الرَّحْمَٰنُ ۚ إِنَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ بَصِيرٌ
Transliteration
Awa lam yaraw ila attayrifawqahum saffatin wayaqbidna mayumsikuhunna illa arrahmanu innahubikulli shay-in baseer
Sahih International Translation
Do they not see the birds above them with wings outspread and [sometimes] folded in? None holds them [aloft] except the Most Merciful. Indeed He is, of all things, Seeing.
Quran (67:19)

‘sabran jameelan’

It has been too long since I last wrote. I have been traveling, resting, absorbing, healing, wondering….Alhamdulillah! Being quiet as I try to come to grasp with life’s changes. Allah knows best and in this I have peace, and again, this too by the grace of the Almighty. Here is a poem written some time ago that a beautiful encounter with a kindred spirit this evening has prompted me to find and now to post. May you enjoy it! Love and peace to all.

Note: ‘sabran jameelan’ is an arabic phrase appearing in the Quran many times. ‘sabr’ means patience and ‘jameel’ is beautiful. As with many arabic words, the meaning is deeper than this especially when put together in the form of ‘sabran jameelan’. Though meaning a beautiful peace it is in an action form, meaning it is not a passive thing to achieve this or have this beautiful peace, but rather an active state requiring toil but completely at peace in beauty and a quiet state. It was the reply of the prophet Jacob when he was told by his other sons that they had lost his beloved son Joseph while out playing. The prophet Jacob knew the brothers were not telling the truth about the wolf having devoured Joseph story but did not say that. This story given in the 12th chapter of the Quran (chapter called ‘yusuf’, the arabic of ‘joseph’) is detailed, beautiful, profoud and the narrative differs in many ways so that Quranic form of it is unique. Anyways that long note was not meant to be so long, but I hope it helped. The phrase is found in other places in the Quran as well.

Sabran Jameelan

I find it hard to write in the old way, holding my pen
Dripped ink staining my cuticles
Pausing to think and write again and write again and think
While dipping my tip in to the ink pot to rejuvenate it.
It dried up while I was thinking.

But oh I need to, need to connect.
Can I in this modernity find the me that was
In my past, a simpler world, a truer me
Is that me yet.

Now music must play so I can hear myself think
And the soft patter of keys pressed is oddly comforting
The world is hard. Sabran jameelan. Sabran jameelan
In my old pen, I would write it in Arabic
And the formation of the curves of that majestic script soothing
Bringing closer the immensity
Of sabran jameelan.

Write in your soul, write everyday and no matter
What medium.
No matter what medium.

Sabran jameelan. It will end soon.

Our only true enemy… ‘The whisperer’

MashaAllahu ta’ala the past few weeks have brought fresh illumination as in our study circle we’ve been learning about the real enemy. The one and only enemy. As told by God to us in His book, we have only one enemy very clearly;

O you who believe! enter into submission one and all and do not follow the footsteps of Shaitan; surely he is your open enemy.
Quran 2:208

While I don’t want to paraphrase all I’ve been learning about the shayateen (devils) in the past weeks in to a few words on one post, I think there certainly is a simple take-home message. That really there is evil, but that evil is only the devil and all he can do is whisper. He tempts, deceives, confuses and moves man to great sin thereby. But in the end, he is not to be feared but only treated with contempt. And our Lord we seek refuge in from his devious whispers. But more importantly that all this cause of hatred/anger/jealousy really is not people but the one real enemy. How many wars are being fought, where brother kills brother, each pandering some truth as a truth above another’s truth. The US Army over the VietCon (Vietnam war), Iraq over Iran (Iran-Iraq conflict), the Gulf war…the list is endless… and now the situation in Libya. Fast deteriorating in to an all out civil war, one wonders what happened to the truth in this conflict.

As someone so wisely said (I forget who, was it Bernard Shaw?) ‘truth is the first casualty in war’.

So hate the sin, but not the sinner. If we hate the oppression wrought by an oppressor, we do not hate the oppressor himself, but only wish for him the same salvation we yearn for ourselves. The vital hadith again;

‘None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself’
– look at how strong this hadith is, recorded by al-Bukhari (13), Muslim (45), Ahmad (3/176), at-Tirmidhi (5215), Ibn Majah (66), an-Nasa’i (8/115), and Ibn Hibban (234)

Wanting that same salvation, that same peace for everyone is essential to training our hearts to that state of purity demanded by the fact that only those with a sound/serene/peaceful heart will be saved on that day

وَلَا تُخْزِنِي يَوْمَ يُبْعَثُونَ
يَوْمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ
إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّـهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ

And do not disgrace me on the Day they are [all] resurrected
The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children
But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.”

Quran (26:87-89)

So hate the sin but not the sinner. This was beautifully expanded on by Sh. Hamza in his article expounding on Divine Love as understood by the Muslim tradition. An article very much worth reading and passed on. It can be found here

Without going on too much about it, here is in verse form some of that which mashaAllah I’ve learned about all this. I hope it is of benefit inshaAllah. Called ‘the whisperer’

The whisperer

Whispers have brought down empires
From Shakespearan tragedies to real life
Desdemona and Othello to
every day in some every day home
some husband walks out on his wife

A neighbour has whispered
On the streets a rumour spread
Brothers do not speak with brothers
for years. Nor their sisters
fathers, mothers
They are afraid to allow
the possibility that the human errs
Afraid to forgive lest it reduce ‘honour’
or display weakness?

Fools proclaimed in self righteous glory
Sit on your high seat till you taste that same sloth
of the sinner when sin you commit unknowingly
or in a moment of weakness, that you do not forgive in another

The devils can only whisper
And we have no other enemy
No other. Remember Abu Sufyan? Not an enemy but in the end
the Muslim brother. And that great sword of the deen
Khaled, once the attempted excutioner of the prophet

A mercy to the worlds

O Patient man. Teach us your patience
Your people are in disarray
They kill each other inventing enemies
Spurring on deeds of fresh bloodshed
While screaming ‘Allahu akber’

Only a heart serene will be saved on that day
Didn’t you read your book? Held aloft while you screech.
Ah, what are you screeching for?

Perhaps a little silence will lift that veil of ignorance
The constant cacophony of mad passion
Drowned out the whisperer so close to your ear
who has never ceased whispering…
stop the gun so you can hear

A vile enemy that is whispering
Just a whisperer. Just a doomed whisperer

Then love your brother
Your messenger honour. Worry eradicate
All the burdens of the earth fall away from heavy shoulders
You can now fight, knowing what you are fighting for
Just one enemy. Remember.

O my Lord, I seek refuge in Thee
And Thou art sufficient for me.

Copyright – Joymanifest’s blog. 2011

***

Another must share article, MashaAllah so true! called ‘why do people have to leave each other’

I read this on Imam Webb’s Virtual Mosque here and had to share it. MashaAllah so very well written and speaking of eternal and essential truths. Do please circulate this widely…perhaps there is someone who needs it as much as I.

Why do people have to leave each other?
Yasmin Mogahed | March 29, 2011 5:00 am

When I was 17 years old, I had a dream. I dreamt that I was sitting inside a masjid and a little girl walked up to ask me a question. She asked me: “Why do people have to leave each other?” The question was a personal one, but it seemed clear to me why the question was chosen for me.

I was one to get attached.

Ever since I was a child, this temperament was clear. While other children in preschool could easily recover once their parents left, I could not. My tears, once set in motion, did not stop easily. As I grew up, I learned to become attached to everything around me. From the time I was in first grade, I needed a best friend. As I got older, any fall-out with a friend shattered me. I couldn’t let go of anything. People, places, events, photographs, moments—even outcomes became objects of strong attachment. If things didn’t work out the way I wanted or imagined they should, I was devastated. And disappointment for me wasn’t an ordinary emotion. It was catastrophic. Once let down, I never fully recovered. I could never forget, and the break never mended. Like a glass vase that you place on the edge of a table, once broken, the pieces never quite fit again.

But the problem wasn’t with the vase. Or even that the vases kept breaking. The problem was that I kept putting them on the edge of tables. Through my attachments, I was dependent on my relationships to fulfill my needs. I allowed those relationships to define my happiness or my sadness, my fulfillment or my emptiness, my security, and even my self-worth. And so, like the vase placed where it will inevitably fall, through those dependencies I set myself up for disappointment. I set myself up to be broken. And that’s exactly what I found: one disappointment, one break after another.

But the people who broke me were not to blame any more than gravity can be blamed for breaking the vase. We can’t blame the laws of physics when a twig snaps because we leaned on it for support. The twig was never created to carry us.

Our weight was only meant to be carried by God. We are told in the Quran: “…whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things.” (Qur’an 2: 256)

There is a crucial lesson in this verse: that there is only one handhold that never breaks. There is only one place where we can lay our dependencies. There is only one relationship that should define our self-worth and only one source from which to seek our ultimate happiness, fulfillment, and security. That place is God.

But this world is all about seeking those things everywhere else. Some of us seek it in our careers, some seek it in wealth, some in status. Some, like me, seek it in our relationships. In her book, Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert describes her own quest for happiness. She describes moving in and out of relationships, and even traveling the globe in search of this fulfillment. She seeks that fulfillment—unsuccessfully—in her relationships, in meditation, even in food.

And that’s exactly where I spent much of my own life: seeking a way to fill my inner void. So it was no wonder that the little girl in my dream asked me this question. It was a question about loss, about disappointment. It was a question about being let down. A question about seeking something and coming back empty handed. It was about what happens when you try to dig in concrete with your bare hands: not only do you come back with nothing—you break your fingers in the process. And I learned this not by reading it, not by hearing it from a wise sage. I learned it by trying it again, and again, and again.

And so, the little girl’s question was essentially my own question…being asked to myself.

Ultimately, the question was about the nature of the dunya as a place of fleeting moments and temporary attachments. As a place where people are with you today, and leave or die tomorrow. But this reality hurts our very being because it goes against our nature. We, as humans, are made to seek, love, and strive for what is perfect and what is permanent. We are made to seek what’s eternal. We seek this because we were not made for this life. Our first and true home was Paradise: a land that is both perfect and eternal. So the yearning for that type of life is a part of our being. The problem is that we try to find that here. And so we create ageless creams and cosmetic surgery in a desperate attempt to hold on—in an attempt to mold this world into what it is not, and will never be.

And that’s why if we live in dunya with our hearts, it breaks us. That’s why this dunya hurts. It is because the definition of dunya, as something temporary and imperfect, goes against everything we are made to yearn for. Allah put a yearning in us that can only be fulfilled by what is eternal and perfect. By trying to find fulfillment in what is fleeting, we are running after a hologram…a mirage. We are digging into concrete with our bare hands. Seeking to turn what is by its very nature temporary into something eternal is like trying to extract from fire, water. You just get burned. Only when we stop putting our hopes in dunya, only when we stop trying to make the dunya into what it is not—and was never meant to be (jannah)—will this life finally stop breaking our hearts.

We must also realize that nothing happens without a purpose. Nothing. Not even broken hearts. Not even pain. That broken heart and that pain are lessons and signs for us. They are warnings that something is wrong. They are warnings that we need to make a change. Just like the pain of being burned is what warns us to remove our hand from the fire, emotional pain warns us that we need to make an internal change. That we need to detach. Pain is a form of forced detachment. Like the loved one who hurts you again and again and again, the more dunya hurts us, the more we inevitably detach from it. The more we inevitably stop loving it.

And pain is a pointer to our attachments. That which makes us cry, that which causes us most pain is where our false attachments lie. And it is those things which we are attached to as we should only be attached to Allah which become barriers on our path to God. But the pain itself is what makes the false attachment evident. The pain creates a condition in our life that we seek to change, and if there is anything about our condition that we don’t like, there is a divine formula to change it. God says: “Verily never will God change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves.” (Qur’an, 13:11)

After years of falling into the same pattern of disappointments and heartbreak, I finally began to realize something profound. I had always thought that love of dunya meant being attached to material things. And I was not attached to material things. I was attached to people. I was attached to moments. I was attached to emotions. So I thought that the love of dunya just did not apply to me. What I didn’t realize was that people, moments, emotions are all a part of dunya. What I didn’t realize is that all the pain I had experienced in life was due to one thing, and one thing only: love of dunya.

As soon as I began to have that realization, a veil was lifted from my eyes. I started to see what my problem was. I was expecting this life to be what it is not, and was never meant to be: perfect. And being the idealist that I am, I was struggling with every cell in my body to make it so. It had to be perfect. And I would not stop until it was. I gave my blood, sweat, and tears to this endeavor: making the dunya into jannah. This meant expecting people around me to be perfect. Expecting my relationships to be perfect. Expecting so much from those around me and from this life. Expectations. Expectations. Expectations. And if there is one recipe for unhappiness it is that: expectations. But herein lay my fatal mistake. My mistake was not in having expectations; as humans, we should never lose hope. The problem was in *where* I was placing those expectation and that hope. At the end of the day, my hope and expectations were not being placed in God. My hope and expectations were in people, relationships, means. Ultimately, my hope was in this dunya rather than Allah.

And so I came to realize a very deep Truth. An ayah began to cross my mind. It was an ayah I had heard before, but for the first time I realized that it was actually describing me: “Those who rest not their hope on their meeting with Us, but are pleased and satisfied with the life of the present, and those who heed not Our Signs.” (Qur’an, 10:7)

By thinking that I can have everything here, my hope was not in my meeting with God. My hope was in dunya. But what does it mean to place your hope in dunya? How can this be avoided? It means when you have friends, don’t expect your friends to fill your emptiness. When you get married, don’t expect your spouse to fulfill your every need. When you’re an activist, don’t put your hope in the results. When you’re in trouble don’t depend on yourself. Don’t depend on people. Depend on God.

Seek the help of people—but realize that it is not the people (or even your own self) that can save you. Only Allah can do these things. The people are only tools, a means used by God. But they are not the source of help, aid, or salvation of any kind. Only God is. The people cannot even create the wing of a fly (22:73). And so, even while you interact with people externally, turn your heart towards God. Face Him alone, as Prophet Ibrahim (as) said so beautifully: “For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah.” (Qur’an, 6:79)

But how did Prophet Ibrahim (as) come to that point? He came to it after being let down by other than Allah: the stars, the moon, and the sun. They were not perfect. They set.

They let him down.

So he was thereby led to face Allah alone. Like prophet Ibrahim (as), we need to put our full hope, trust, and dependency on God. And God alone. And if we do that, we will learn what it means to finally find peace and stability of heart. Only then will the roller coaster that once defined our lives finally come to an end. That is because if our inner state is dependent on something that is by definition inconstant, that inner state will also be inconstant. If our inner state is dependent on something changing and temporary, that inner state will be in a constant state of instability, agitation, and unrest. This means that one moment we’re happy, but as soon as that which our happiness depended upon changes, our happiness also changes. And we become sad. We remain always swinging from one extreme to another and not realizing why.

We experience this emotional roller coaster because we can never find stability and lasting peace until our attachment and dependency is on what is stable and lasting. How can we hope to find constancy if what we hold on to is inconstant and perishing? In the statement of Abu Bakr is a deep illustration of this truth. After the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ died, the people went into shock and could not handle the news. But although no one loved the Prophet ﷺ like Abu Bakr, Abu Bakr understood well the only place where one’s dependency should lie. He said: “If you worshipped Muhammad, know that Muhammad is dead. But if you worshipped Allah, know that Allah never dies.”

To attain that state, don’t let your source of fulfillment be anything other than your relationship with God. Don’t let your definition of success, failure, or self-worth be anything other than your position with Him (Qur’an, 49:13). And if you do this, you become unbreakable, because your handhold is unbreakable. You become unconquerable, because your supporter can never be conquered. And you will never become empty, because your source of fulfillment is unending and never diminishes.

Looking back at the dream I had when I was 17, I wonder if that little girl was me. I wonder this because the answer I gave her was a lesson I would need to spend the next painful years of my life learning. My answer to her question of why people have to leave each other was: “because this life isn’t perfect; for if it was, what would the next be called?”

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.

Here is a gentle story on the life of this world

Assalamu alaikum, peace and the blessing of God upon all!

It is hard to stop thinking of Japan. My thoughts and prayers for all the beautiful brave kind people there. May Allah make it easy for them. Knowing that prayer is the greatest help one can give helps a lot, for otherwise how helpless we would be to help. These are the times I wish I had gone in to Med school after all. But wait, no, help is in holding the hand of the cashier stunned at the fallen goods and broken bottles when the ground stopped shaking. Help is smiling at one’s spouse when the anxiety of not knowing how we will get to where we must go makes one only want to snap. Help is in steadfastness and patience. Help is a cheery countenance and cracking a joke, giving a hug and gentleness in one’s touch. Help I hope, even if a little, is in me not wasting the precious time I have here to try and be a nicer person. More reliable, more trustworthy, more truthful and more cheerful. Indeed help comes from heaven simply at the moment somewhere in your heart you say ‘yes I’m going to help’ and that is all there is. And then somewhere, somehow joy explodes inside. Allah Kareem! 🙂

God is the protector of those who have faith. From the depths of darkness He will lead them forth in to light
(Quran 2:257)

Here is a favourite little hymn/song on those lines…easy to put in to a gentle tune, it always brings peace to my heart and reminds me of the rahma of Allah, and the rahma of our prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) how patient and gentle he was through numerous hardship

‘ I live for those who love me
for those who know me true
for heaven that watches above me
and calls my spirit too
For the cause that needs assistance
for the wrong that needs resistance
for the future in the distance
and the good that I can do’

MashaAllah I was sent this link today. It is a beautiful short video on one of the stories from the life of Isa (peace be upon him). A very telling tale… that reminds one of what is important in life. Great natural events such as what we have witnessed now, do that also. Back home in Sri Lanka seeing all it did and knowing how long it took to rebuild… Subhahanallah! A life lesson on what is important. Yet, how easy it is to forget. God protect us all.

‘O my Lord, do not leave me alone with myself even for an instant’

So then this temporary life, full of lesson in every second, in every heartbeat something to know and marvel at. As my dear sister, who is in Japan and shared these beautiful words just before the earthquake indeed, imaan is something that grows inside, flourishing it dispels all doubt and despair in its wake. Allah Kareem, may the growth of imaan be the only tsunami we ever face! And we trust in Allah’s infinite justice for those in hardship.

فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا ﴿٥﴾ إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا
For indeed with hardship will be ease. Indeed with hardship will be ease (Quran 94:5-6)