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Archive for the ‘Virtues of Being’ Category

An important aspect of tasawwuf (Islamic Spirituality/Sufism) is to cultivate those virtues and qualities of character that would encourage a sense of togetherness amongst people. In pursuit of this communal sense of elevated and loving togetherness, symbolised in the very word that defines the nature of the global Muslim community viz. ummah (a word with its etymological roots in the idea of the concept “mother”) one of the virtues Islam encourages to cultivate is that of forgiveness.

To pardon and forgive others for the wrongs done against one is one of the greatest acts of grace any human being is capable of. And why should it not be so? Forgiveness is something we constantly seek from Allah. But it certainly makes little sense if we seek that forgiveness while we, ourselves, refuse to be the well-springs of such forgiveness for our fellow human beings. As Muslims we are often aware and seemingly conscious of observing the laws of Islam. It behoves us equally, if indeed not more so, to embrace its spirit. Laws are there to regulate the affairs of society, not necessarily to create unity. Unity, or oneness of spirit, can only be realised within the spiritual and ethical framework of Islam. Not anywhere else. Those with bad manners – regardless of how erudite they might be or claim to be – are repulsive people. “Manners maketh the man” is a timeless truth.

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Oh Allah, of Grace I ask You its perfection;

and of protection its duration;

and of mercy its completion;

and of health its attainment.

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Allah says: “Say, He is Allah, the Unique (Ahad), the Absolute, the Sempiternal (Samad)…” (Qur’an, 112: 1-2).

Also: “That God does not change the condition of a people unless they effect the necessary change within themselves.” (Qur’an, 13: 11).

Within the framework of Ramadan and with a view to the Hajj I would like to examine two critical ideas that impact upon the making or unmaking of the ego (nafs – part of the anfus mentioned in the ayah) – the ideas of sincerity and change.

The Samadiyyah of Allah refers to two aspects:

1) His absolute independence from all things and,

2) The absolute dependence of all things on Him.

When we say

He (Huwa) is Allah, the Unique (Ahad), the Absolute, the Sempiternal (Samad)

the “Huwa” (He) here – while personalizing Allah in a sense so that we might relate and identify with His “Presence” – simultaneously references Allah in His absolute freedom from all need.

What is the relevance of this to the fast of Ramadan and Ikhlas (sincerity) – the name of the surah? In a very critical sense it has everything to do with Ramadan. “Ikhlas” has been variously defined as the Zahir (the outer) and the Batin (the inner) of a person mirroring each other, or as doing things exclusively for the sake of Allah alone (li wajhi Allah).

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JUST BEFORE dawn on Friday the 15th of Ramadan of this year the Muslim community lost one of its most eminent scholars and men of Allah. Sayyid Muhammad ‘Alawi alMaliki came from a long line of eminent scholars, Idrisi sharifs connected to the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, through Imam alHasan, may Allah be pleased with him. His ancestors came from Morocco many centuries ago and settled in Mecca. The custom in Mecca has always been to use the title Sayyid for the scholarly among the descendants of Imam Hasan and Imam Hussein, reserving the title of sharp “for the rulers of Mecca, until the modern day Saudi era, for the martial, warrior scion amongst the ahi al-bayt. Thus it was that the newcomers retained the surname of Maliki, that of their illustrious ancestor Muhammad al-Maliki, whose North African origin made him a follower of Imam Malik in matters of jurisprudence, and the title Sayyid for being scholars, not warriors.

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The Prophets of Allah did not leave behind wealth or possessions, but they left behind knowledge. Just like the person who dies leaves heirs, i.e. sons, daughters, wives, etc. As for the Prophets, their heirs are the Ahl al-`Ilm – the People of Knowledge. And their shares are in accordance with their following of the teachings of the Prophets. As is the case with the heirs of a deceased person – those who stand in closer relation to such person inherit a greater share.

Similar is the case with the `Ulama: those who follow more stringently and love the Prophet more dearly will earn a greater share of the inheritance. In other hadiths it is clarified that this inheritance does not refer to possessions but rather to knowledge – the Quran, the Sunnah and akhlaq (nobility of character). It includes everything that is part of the Shariah.

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), known as the “hafidh of the Sahabah” (the one – amongst all the Companions – who memorized the most hadiths), narrated that he once visited the market-place where he found people engaged in the usual trading. He then told them, “You are here trading while people are distributing the inheritance of the Prophet (peace be upon him ).

“Where is this happening,” they asked excitedly as they were eager to acquire a relic of the Prophet (peace be upon him) for themselves. “In the masjid,” Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) replied. So all of them rushed to the masjid but found none of the Prophet’s (s) possessions there. They asked him, “Why do you say the inheritance is being distributed when none is to be found ?”

“What did you find there?” Abu Hurayrah (r) asked.” We found people in circles studying the Quran and Hadith.” “That is the inheritance,” he replied.

Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki
Radio Interview, South Africa

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The title of the blog, “In the Shadow of Pure Light” reflects the position of the human being – as Being perpetually in the shade of God, a shade that can be both cool and protecting; or dark and isolating – depending on the state of ones soul.

Pure Light is a reference to God, whom the believer is constantly in search of – and who can only be perceived by the realization that being in God’s shade also means becoming the Divine Shadow; and that the human is intrinsically linked to Allah – his/her entire Being is dependent on as-Samad (the independent one), just as a shadow can never be severed from the object of its projection and has no will of its own, but to follow its Reality. It can also metaphorically be seen as a representation of God’s presence around an object, as well speaking to the transient nature of the world – reflecting the waning of Time, as Shadows do.

The themes of Light and Purity also celebrate a state of spiritual felicity, a state where the soul has perceived the brilliance and untaintedness of Divine Love, basking forever after in the sheltering and sweet Shadows of its Shade.

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