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Posts Tagged ‘Islam’

The defining statement of Islam “La illaha ill Allah” (there is no deity worthy of worship but Allah),captures the inherent civilization of oneness and unicity upon which Islam is built. This unicity is accompanied with a sense of the sacred ontology of spirituality; that is, the very nature of our reality and our being – when viewed through the lens of tawhid – is that our essence is sacred. It mirrors tawhid. One of our shortcomings is that we have externalized spirituality and abandoned its internalization. There is therefore a dire need to re-inject Islam with this awareness of inner spirituality – a need that demands the re-exploration of the very notion of tawhid.

 

Allah says:

 

The one who has indeed succeeded is the one who purifies himself, remembers his Lord and prays.

But you prefer the worldly life,

While the Hereafter is better and more enduring.

Indeed, this is in the former scriptures,

The scriptures of Abraham and Moses. (A’la, 87:14-19).

 

 The Qur’an promotes purification and tazkiya (cleansing) of the self through dhikr (spiritual remembrance) and du’a (invocation), and states categorically that the Akhira (the afterlife) is better for us than the Dunya (material existence). Yet we as human beings have come to prefer and prioritize the Dunya – some to the point of abandoning the Akhira altogether. The Qur’an then reinforces the universality of this message by stating that it is one that has been confirmed in the earlier scriptures.

 

However, the “self-image” of the Qur’an is highly pragmatic in that it deals with realities, emotions, people and communities. It recognizes the palpable context of the Dunya – whilst the message is clear that the Akhira is better, it does not condemn the Dunya. On the contrary, it views our earthly existence as a “Dar al-Balah” – as an abode of trials in which we will be tested.

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Celebrating in the Shadows of World Politics

The Vatican said the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, a man who sowed division and hatred and who caused “innumerable” deaths, should prompt serious reflection about one’s responsibility before God, not rejoicing.

‘Osama bin Laden, as we all know, bore the most serious responsibility for spreading divisions and hatred among populations, causing the deaths of innumerable people, and manipulating religions to this end” Father Lombardi said. “In the face of a man’s death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred.’ (Catholic News Service)

The Vatican is holding firmly on to its commitment to realizing the ideals of common respect and tolerance between Islam and the Church as articulated in the historic document “A Common Word Between You and Us.”

From our side, let us remind ourselves as Muslims that our celebrations, festivities and commemorations need to be configured within the orbit of Islamic Spirituality. This was the want of some of our greatest leaders in the past such as Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin d. 1193), Omar Mukhtar of Libya (d. 1931) and al-Amir al-Shaykh Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri (d. 1883). The latter is known to have freed his French prisoners purely on the grounds that he did not have enough food for them to eat! In July of 1860 – whilst in exile in Syria – he saved thousands of Christians from slaughter by the Druze. For this the French honoured him with special favours. Moreover, acts of humanitarianism during times of war by the former two are far too many to be mentioned in a short piece of this nature. Suffice it to say that they all gained the greatest respect both within the Muslim World and beyond. While some of them lost the battle and others won gloriously, the modus vivendi of all these great saints and warriors stand us both proud and as vitalizing nodes of inspiration for whoever wishes to fight and struggle in the name of Islam.

There is a well-known saying amongst Muslims that declares: ’ala al–mar’i an yasa’ wa laysa ‘alayhi idrak al-najah (It is compulsory for one to try one’s best; but it is not compulsory to succeed).

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Around the distant edges of my dim awareness

I feel the incessant tug and tear

Of shadows dark and stark,

Menacing the light of nightfall,

Tormenting the dawn of a warm becoming;

Misanthropic cravings we dare to call Religion

We dare to call Belief

We dare to spew on a path of Light.

There is a silent cacophony that endures,

That endures to prolong this nightmare.

Who were those who burnt our women?

Who were those who called them witches?

Who were those in the unblessed hallows

Of their mis-becoming who burnt the books of Ghazali?

Do we sight the moon, or do we slight it?

Do we take refuge in the comfort of its shadow?

Or do we strike a path of light from the sun’s reflection?

Such infancy!

Such frenetic lunacy!

Do we laugh and scorn to death such pious pretensions?

Do we become one with this cycle of death?

Or do we fight for life, and light, and a new becoming?

It is the rage of pious pomposity that seeks to burn the Light;

Those who seek to erect themselves upon pyres of flaming ferocity…

Seething, skeletal columns scattered upon plains of desolate waste

From which to shout and rave and give voice to the dead-spawn of their god-selves.

Dense with hate; dense with revenge; dense with the demands of spiritual dementia.

Is it Heinrich Kramer’s Luciferian release we seek?

Is it Joseph Sprenger’s collaboration we crave?

Is it the Malleus Maleficarum in which we wish to soak

And stain our souls?

To be one with a sequence of history inscribed

In misogyny, murder and madness?

That Hexenhammer, that Hammer of Witches,

That Heaven’s outrage alone could quell?

Or do we care to yearn for the Morning Star of Rumi’s Mathnawi?

Do we dare? Do we dare to tread that path of love and lived felicity?

But God is Great we say; God is Great we claim;

God is all Merciful; God is all Compassionate;

God is Forgiving; God is Love.

Faceless and forsaken

We beggar ourselves in the name of His Face.

“Set a beggar on horseback” proclaims the proverb,

“and he’ll ride straight to the devil.”

But I cannot speak for another; I cannot speak for the other;

Indeed I cannot speak for myself.

I speak only for a dream – a disembodied image

That tears and tugs at the distant edges

Of my dim awareness.

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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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