Posts Tagged ‘Shaykh Seraj Hendricks’

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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She comes first

She comes second

She comes third,

Said the Prophet – upon whom be Peace.

“Father, you are fourth.”


Revere the wombs that sheltered you.

Revere the station of Paradise

That lies beneath the feet of the Mother…

Beneath her feet, she is your Eden.


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One of the endearing motifs of higher spiritual consciousness in Islam is al-Sidrat al-Muntaha, the Lote Tree of the Furthest Boundary – which represents both the peak and the limitations of human intellect, the point where mind must surrender to heart and soul, in submission to the Unseen.


The Lote Tree with its extensive shade, its delicious fruit and exquisite fragrance, traditionally symbolizes Iman (secure faith). The shade of “action” represents rahmah (mercy); the fruit represents “intentions” and any  productive consequence that may result from that intention; while the “fragrance” of the tree  represents speech and communication infused with wisdom and knowledge – a wisdom and a  knowledge that refuse to engage other than the very best and most endearing ways and means of debate and argumentation.


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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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When we look at the surface of the current state of the ummah then we see a landscape foreboding and dense with shadows. These are not the happiest and most celebratory of moments in our history.

But should we despair? Should we turn our backs on the state of Muslims and Islam?

I have a distaste for pessimism. And so I find myself instinctively opposed to these attitudes. But my distaste is not my own. It has been cultivated by my readings of the Quran, the Ahadith (sayings) of the Prophet (saw) and by that radiant trajectory of wisdom that stretches and arcs across a millennium of Muslim civilisation – the wisdom of our saints and sages.

So when we look at the current landscape, what do we do? We could turn to the cliché of the bottle and the water. Is it half empty or half full? To the pessimist the answer is obvious. There is only one answer. To the optimist the question only starts at its being half full. Many other possibilities present themselves and spring to life. They may be the acknowledgment of the miracle of water itself. There may be the marvel of human invention in the design of the bottle. Apart from the act of drinking, there are the numerous possibilities to which the water may be put to use in unique and creative ways.

In this regard I am reminded of a most inspiring quote by Marcel Proust: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” It is not what we look at, but how and why we look at things that are the more important. We cannot always dismiss the “what”, but we ignore the “how” and “why” at our peril.

Today there are many Hujjaj (pilgrims) and potential Hujjaj who are seeking restitution, and, like all people subjected to exploitation, humiliation and degradation, restitution they must receive. But beyond the walls of restitution and requital there is yet a universe of beauty and liberating spirituality. All we need do as Muslims is never to allow ourselves to fall into that state of forgetfulness where we fail to renew and refresh our vision of things. The Quran promises us that “We shall reveal to you our signs on the horizons and within yourselves until it becomes manifest to you that He is the Truth.” And the Truth has declared itself as that which is Beautiful and that which loves beauty. “Hatta yatabayyan” (until it becomes manifest) is an emphatic imploration that we need to strive towards a continued renewal of envisioning and re-envisioning. In other words, to relentlessly strive towards seeing with “new eyes”.  The multiplicity of signs that infuse the “horizons” remains the same; likewise the innate goodness (or Fitrah) that resides in every human being as the makhluq (unique creation) of Allah (swt), and which bestows upon him or her, his or her dignity and honour, remains the same. “Kullu mawludin yawlad ‘ala l-fitrah… (Every human being is born in a natural state of goodness…).

When we turn and look at the Hajj we observe five features that enable us to re-open our eyes and to reawaken our hearts to the wonders of this event.

These are the ideas of Tadhiya or Udhiya (sacrifice) – upon which the ‘Ayd al-Adha (The Feast of Immolation) is premised – Maghfirah (forgiveness), Tawbah (repentance), Rahmah (mercy) and Ma’rifah (knowledge of the Divine). These may be conceived as five constellations in the universe of Islamic Spirituality or Tasawwuf – which constitutes the essence, not only of Islam, but of every authentically revealed religion across the ages.

In the majestic spiritual and spiritualised event of the Hajj, in all the grandeur of its dignified humility, all five of these aspects emerge in one of the most fascinating interplay of juxtaposed alterities and opposites. We shall look at these sequentially.


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O Allah, I ask You to place Light in our minds and in our thinking;

To place Light upon our tongues and in our speaking;

To place Light in our hearts and in our understanding;

And to guide us with the Light of wisdom to our final parting.

May all of us embrace, and be embraced, by the Light.

Allahu Nur as-Samawat wa l-‘Ard…

Nur ‘ala Nur yahdi Allahu li nurihi man yasha’

“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth…

Light upon Light, Allah guides to His Light whomsoever He wills.” (24:35)




Eid Mubarak to everyone.


Sh Seraj Hendricks

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Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyyah al-Ansari

All praise belongs to Allah Who has declared the month of Ramadan the lord of all months and Who has perfected its glory in so far as He has placed it as a well-spring of blessings and grace. In it He has revealed the Quran as a warning, as a healing and as a guidance to all that resides within (our) breasts.

I praise Him, the Glorious, the Sublime; and I turn to Him in repentance with complete trust and with complete dependence. And I bear witness that there is no deity other than Allah, the Unique, the One without peer – Majestic and Exalted. The One Who stands in no need of companion or offspring.

I bear witness that our master and our Prophet Muhammad is His servant and His messenger – a Prophet who has come to us with clear proofs and as a Guide.

May the blessings of Allah be upon him, his family and his companions – blessings and peace that are perennial and constant, endless and eternal – and may he be granted the greatest salvation.

Bondsmen of Allah, the one who exerts his soul with obedience to Allah has indeed regaled it. And the one who has disciplined it through performance of the Divine commands and avoidance of the prohibitions has indeed set it free. And the one who wishes to enter the Garden, let him repent, for repentance during this month is the key to the Garden. So be conscious of Allah, O bondsmen of Allah, and turn in repentance to Him; for Allah, the Exalted, has full knowledge of all that you are.

This is the month of fasting, this is the month of vigilance in prayer, this is the month of the Sovereign perfected in knowledge. This is the month of giving and cementing the ties of kinship. This is the month of support and care for th0se who are poor and those who are orphans. This is the month of feeding and the spreading of peace. This is the month in which the Quran is constantly recited. This is the month during which the doors of the Garden are opened and the doors of Perdition are closed. This is the month in which Allah purifies the corporeal human condition, illuminates the created order and bestows upon all things the blessings of His beneficence.

O you (unbeknownst): how is it possible for one to fast while he devours the flesh of his fellowmen through backsliding and slander? Or how is it possible for one to pray while his heart is in one place and his body in another? Or how is it possible for one to give in charity from that which has been procured unlawfully? In this case his likeness is that of one who clothes another while he himself remains naked.

The truth I speak; and the truth –  for all – is bitter and difficult to bear. Each one of us is alike in this – the speaker and those who listen. In this our misfortune is one! For indeed “from Allah we come, and to Him we will return.”

Said the Prophet (pbuh): “The sleep of one who fasts is a form of worship; one’s silence is a glorification of Allah; the reward of one’s deeds are multiplied manifold; one’s prayers are answered; and one’s sins are forgiven.”

Translated by: Sh Seraj Hendricks

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