Here is a talk well worth listening to. It is by Sr. Yasmin Mogahed, a noted scolar and speaker with a deep insight and wisdom. It was given at the Being ME conference in Malaysia I believe. the ‘ME’ standing for ‘Muslimah empowered’. Muslimah is the feminine form of Muslim. This conference is about us Muslim women further developing as the type of women the prophet (peace be upon him) developed. Strong, equal, beautiful and with strengths unique to being female. The conference is coming to Vancouver and I am so looking forward to going inshaAllah (God willing). Ustadha Yasmin (ustadha being a title of respect, meaning female teacher basically) explains stories of the prophets (peace be upon them all) in the Quran in profound ways. I hope you get to listen. And if you are in Vancouver, I hope you get to attend and I meet you there! Here is a link to the event.
Many a thing; whether short and pithy, long and elaborate, deeply philosophical or traipsingly lighthearted, poem or prose, fiction or real, has been written on love. Far be it from the ability of this novice to attempt to say anything profound on the subject. But I did want to share a few impressions and experiences as a Muslimah and our community’s dealing with the concept of love. These are basically, as my blog was set up to do, musings aloud 🙂
Why is it, that it seems, we Muslims, as a Nation, are almost afraid to use the word ‘love’. Is it because of it’s much over-use and abuse by many peoples and nations before and in our time or are we just afraid to talk about something we do not really understand? Certainly the ‘mystical Muslims’ (for lack of a better term), or those in touch with the inner spiritual Islam, have no aversion to using this word. But the vast sunni Muslim community (or at least, the community I’ve interacted with, which is primarily the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent, my own Island home and this multi-ethnic multi-national community of Muslims in Canada and the USA) seems to shy away from using this word. While I find it common in the language of leaders in other faith groups and even community groups, it is rare to hear it among our Imams and leaders. Nay, it almost seems as if talking of love is considered a weakness by the Ummah (an arabic work meaning ‘nation’ and used to denote the Muslim peoples generally) so our Imams shy away from it. At least this is my impression and I hope I am wrong!
Allah is such a beautiful soft name. Meaning ‘Al-ilah’ or ‘The God’, with no plural form and no masculine or feminine form, it is a word beyond gender. Easily lilting on the tongue, easily breathed with the breath, easily sung in lullabies…’la ilaha illallaah’, that beautiful phrase that affirms a person is a Muslim, translated simply to ‘no God but Allah’ is such a soft and gentle thing. When we talk of Allah, we also use the word Rabb often. ‘Rabb’ is hard to translate, it has the meanings of one who nurtures, nourishes, sustains, guides, looks-after and yes, loves! It can be poorly translated as ‘Lord’ and implies one’s Master and complete source of all things. However, Master is a poor word as it has in it an inherent notion of gender, which in the Muslim theology, God is beyond. But my point was that we use the word ‘Rabb’ often and that word is full of the meaning of love. As a dear sister and mashaallah (by God’s grace) emerging voice in our community Sr. Yasmin Mogahed said, Allah loves you more than your Mother. Indeed Allah created mothers, and instilled in them this divine quality of love (it goes without saying this applies to Fathers just as much). We say, that all our good qualities are only small instances of the much greater divine.
I have been thinking recently on this idea of attachment. That by attaching oneself to objects and things and even people, we feel emptiness inside when they are removed from us. Sr. Yasmin speaks of this a great deal. Love is indeed linked to this idea of attachment. And so it is possible to feel deep loss, hurt, pain when one does not feel a reciprocation of the love one gives out, be it to a lover, a relative, a friend. One solution to this, is to detach oneself. But I would disagree with this and say, yes do attach, do feel that deep love and show that. But don’t have expectations from those you give to. Keep your expectations only with Allah. Allah is the sole provider, nourisher, sustainer. Indeed Allah is ‘Al-Wadud’, ‘The Love’. Meaning God alone is the source of all love. So knowing this, when we are only channelled to recieve His devine mercy (Muslims often use the word mercy as a translation of ‘rahma‘, a core attribute of Allah, and one that also has the idea of love in it) and then transmit it, we don’t really expect a reciprocation from the entity we give it to. If at all we recieve something back we realize that person is only also chanelling to us a love from the same source! So we love our Lord more and in His name love those around us. But we do love, and love deeply. And we cry when we miss our loved ones. Even our prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be with him) himself teared when he would remember his first wife after her death. But we are not the slaves of those we love, but only the slave of ‘The Love’, so we know our source never dries up and therefore we are never alone and never need feel that level of heartache that is despair. Which is probably why our beloved prophet marvelled at the condition of a believer and said, “Wondrous are the believer’s affairs. For him there is good in all his affairs, and this is so only for the believer. When something pleasing happens to him, he is grateful, and that is good for him; and when something displeasing happens to him, he is patient, and that is good for him.” (Reported in the hadith collection of Muslim)
These are a few thoughts I wanted to share on the subject. And attached is an image of a painting completed with Allah’s majestic ‘name’ of ‘Al Wadud’, ‘The Love’. It was inspired at a time when I was the recipient of love mashaallah and was deeply in that emotion. So I am grateful for that inspiration and grateful for what I recieved. That too from my beloved glorious Lord!!! So celebrating Allah’s name, and sharing that, is attaching this image.
All good and all benefit is from Allah and Allah alone. So if any of you found anything good in this, that is by God’s grace and I am very humbled to be able to write and I do hope you find this beneficial for you.
May God’s light and peace be with you all