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If there was one place I wish I could be right now, it would be Houston in Texas (USA), just so I could be part of a beloved friend, Rika Prodhan’s special day. But since I was not able to make it out there, the poem below (which is one of my favourite poems by Kahlil Gibran) is dedicated to Rika. I may not be present with you physically, but my heart and spirit is most definitely with you Rika! May Allah grant you a beautiful marriage based on companionship, love and understanding. Amin ya Rabb!
Then Almitra spoke again and said, “And what of Marriage, master?”
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
~ Kahlil Gibran
The video clip posted below is taken from one of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s lectures: “The Critical Importance of Al-Ghazali in Our Times”. Shaykh Hamza in this 2:25 min video clip touches upon what Imam al-Ghazali meant when he spoke about Trust in God and Tawhid. I would encourage you to listen to the clip (and the whole lecture if you can, but this clip in particular). For me, this clip pretty much sums everything up. I think once we get our heads around this thing Imam al-Ghazali wrote about and Shaykh Hamza narrates (which doesn’t happen overnight), we will be able to deal better with the situations and circumstances God places us in. It’s not an easy thing, but hey, who said this life was meant to be easy? But we strive, and strive, and persevere, and try to build our understanding which ultimately gives us the strength and spiritual energy we need to carry on in our journeys back to our Lord.
I have transcribed the video clip (well most of it!) which I have pasted below. Hope you find it beneficial.
“…Realising that, the destination that you’re on is the one to your own death. And he ends this, he has fear and hope and trust in God, and he puts Trust and Tawhid in the same chapter which is very interesting. Because to him, Tawhid is not a theoretical construct which it is to most Muslims, this idea that God is One. No, to him, God is doing everything at every instant. That is Tawhid. And Ghazali is arguing that if you really understand this, you will have utter trust in God. You will put all your trust in God because it’s all God. God is doing everything in every instant. And this is why if you’re not content with your circumstances, he argues you’re not content with God because it’s God that put you in those circumstances but what God is asking you to do is to respond to them appropriately. That’s the challenge. It’s not the circumstances. The challenge is the power that God has given you in your will, your irada, to actually take your circumstances and respond appropriately. And there are only four circumstances and four requisite responses. You’re in tribulation, and he says the response to that is patience. You’re in a situation of blessing and you have to respond to that with gratitude, and that will increase you. And if you don’t do those things, what he says is, if you are in a state of gratitude and you respond by heedlessness, the blessings will be taken away from you. Not as a punishment, but as a reminder to pull you back. One of the things he says is, there are only two types of people (from a hadith):
1. People in tribulation
2. People in good situations
He said, if you are in a good situation, God will send the people of tribulation to you. And if you reject them and close the door on them, He will make you the people of tribulation. He will take away your blessings because your blessings are to serve the people in tribulation. These are the awakenings that he is trying to instill and inculcate, and this is why as you read this book, a transformation should occur. If it doesn’t, you haven’t read the book.”
Contributions by: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Walead Mosaad, Imam Tahir Anwar, Ibrahim Long, Idris Kamal, Aftab. A. Malik, Aaron Sellars, Mona Haydar, Umm NoorBilal Petersen, Hosai Mojaddidi, Mas’ud Ahmed Khan, Mazen Atassi, Adil Hussain, Asma Gill, Naosheen Pervez, Zakia Khan, Ata’ul Khabir, Naadiyah Ali, Zahraa Kazee, Sarah Soliman, Yousaf Seyal, Zeshan Zafar, Farhat Khan, Jamilah Bashir, Mohammad Ghilan, Asme Fahmi, Tun Wildan, Taslim Rashid, Hatice Baltaci Colakoglu, Nayyar Ddin
May we all benefit from this special series, and may it be a source and means of increasing our understanding, love and connection to the beloved Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam.
A big thank you to all the contributors! May Allah the Most Generous reward you all in abundance. (Please keep all the contributors and their families in your blessed prayers.)
• When the souls of believers come together to a gathering like this (i.e Rihla), it is the feast of the spirits. Your spirit is fed, your spirit is nourished, just by being with everyone here. There is no smaller or greater; all believers are the same and all believer are saints, all believers are awliya, and all awliyas’ have degrees. One of the greatest things about being together is that you open yourself to that transformation, that is the reason why adab is so important.
• Adab is not a formality. Be yourself. Be and say what you feel, but the secret of adab is that in your heart you have a high opinion of God, and a high opinion of your brothers and sisters- Husn ad-Dhann. Having a good opinion of God is the highest forms of worship. Having adab is very important; having a good opinion of everyone around you. By elevating the status in your eyes of everyone around you, only then you will feel benefit.
• We are in much more need of adab then knowledge.
• The Hikam is packed with knowledge and wisdom.
• Ibn Ata’Allah wrote the book as a guide to Seekers in the path.
• The ego is more powerful than 70 satans!
• Allah makes everything perfect, where it’s meant to be.
• The greatest sin is to get the knowledge and not have that take you to the garden (paradise)!
• The awliya live in the present moment.
• Get your beginning right; you cannot walk this path alone- you have to have friends and a guide.
• If you do not know who the people of good company are, you have not been paying attention! Allah placed them in your life- keep good companionship/friendship.
• Have a state that uplifts people.
• Your words reflect your spiritual state.
• Make people happy, elevate them.
• The person who knows God, God becomes their reality.
• When you sit to gain knowledge, you intend to teach knowledge to others; you will transmit what you learn- that should always be part of your intention when seeking knowledge.
• You see yourself as a servant and you serve your duties to Allah.
• Never forget your mistakes, because they keep you humble. Always remind yourself of them, but hide them away with diamonds.
• Our own nafs is constantly saying to us what Pharoah said: “I am your lord most high.” Don’t allow your nafs to be your lord!
• Witness your actions as a gift from Allah, and don’t attach yourself to them. We don’t acquire actions; Allah gives them to us.
• A tree is in perpetual sajda to Allah because of the network of it’s roots resembles a nervous system- a head which is in the ground. That is it’s sajda, and it never breaks; and if it breaks that sajdah it dies.
• In marriage you must look with eyes of mercy and integrity as all your spouse’s defects/weaknesses will be revealed to you.
• ‘God’ is one of the most beautiful words in the English language as it means “He who is called upon in prayer”.
• The disbeliever is bewildered by creation but the believer is bewildered by the Creator.
• Be full of hope and Rijah!
• When you are in a spiritual sate, you have lazaa- deliciousness!
• You must know Allah in all your states and conditions.
• Lack of adab may cause you to lose something.
• You need to be broken so you are not proud and not full of yourself.
• In the end you must praise him for the year of plenty and the year of little. He is Rabb! We praise Him with a praise that is worthy of His Majesty.
• When He takes away, He shows His Majesty!
• Disobedience that leaves with you obedience is better than the pride that leaves you with arrogance.
• Whenever you lose hope, it shows you are spiritually immature.
• Every child is a saint.
• The big gifts Allah gives you are when you are down, and you feel undeserving of it, but it makes you realise that its not from you, it’s from Allah.
• God will save you by His power; you put your trust in Him, not in your deeds!
• Don’t ever think little of yourself; your relationship with Allah is special. He created us perfect, and gave us special attributes.
• The hypocrite never speaks from the heart!
• Allah is the King; He rules all things. Everything is in His control. We are veiled from Him. Allah is not in space or time.
• A moment of thought is worth more than 70 years of worship.
• Watch what you listen to and watch what you see.
~ Dr Umar Abd-Allah, Rihla 2011- Hikam of Ibn Ata’Allah al-Iskandari class (Paraphrased). Photo courtesy: Ghalia Elsolh- please do not re-use without permission first.
I hope the Gems I have been sharing for the last few months, from the 2011 Rihla, were beneficial and you enjoyed reading them. All good things come to an end, alas. But at the same time, “Endings are also beginnings” (I read this in a book and think it’s true!). When one journey ends, another begins. Ultimately, we are all on a journey back to our Lord, and are using whatever means we can, and are provided with, to reach our final destination- which is Allah! Insha’Allah, may we all continue to be blessed to attend such programmes/events which aid us in our big journey back to our Lord. Please keep me in your lofty prayers.
Yours in faith,
Gems from Rihla 2011- Shaykh Hamza Yusuf (Part 2)
- Imam al-Ghazali is a giant; he is a mountain. And the more you learn about him, the bigger the mountain becomes.
- The Iyha was Imam al-Ghazali’s magnum opus. He wrote it with the intention of giving the Ummah the book that besides the Qur’an will be enough for the educated Muslims. Some argue that the Ihya is all you need as your guide back to Allah.
- The Ihya has immense impact. First thing tells us that the Ihya is in 4 parts. In each section/part Imam al-Ghazali put 10 books. There are 40 books in the Ihya. 40 is a special number.
- The Qur’an is central to Imam al-Ghazali’s teaching.
- If God can make a house holy, you don’t think He can make a heart holy? If He can sanctify stones, He can sanctify a human heart.
- If you’re knocking at the door, the knocking is itself the opening of the door; if you are journeying, your start is your beginning, don’t worry if you don’t get there. Stop wasting time. Death is waiting for you. This was the key message of Imam al-Ghazali
- Only thing that reduces anxiety is by certainty (Yaqeen), and knowing that everything that happens is only because of Allah, and you’re in good hands.
- Wudu is ibadah. It’s independent worship. You can do wudu just as a form of worship. If you are not doing any practices to prepare for prayer, you will probably not feel anything in prayer. Sidi Ahmed Zarruq said “The degree of your presence in prayer is dependent on your wudu”
- Wudu comes from Wada’a which means to make bright. The wudu is how the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam recognises his Ummah on the day of judgement, i.e by the light of their limbs.
- Don’t let shaitaan take the light away from your prayer.
- You have to have time between you and your Lord.
- The greatness of the creation of the mosquito is no less than the greatness of the creation of the elephant. Everything that happens is a cause for marvel.
- The whole world is a metaphor; we are all travellers in this world.
- The world can reject you, but Allah will never reject us. His door is always open.
- Allah created a world of expansion and contraction. The heart contracts and expands. Natural state of human is that he is in-between contraction and expansion.
- Allah creates death and life to try us to see which of us is best in virtue and action.
- If you are in blessing, you have to be very grateful.
- The easiest thing in this world is not very beneficial. The hardest thing is very beneficial. The struggle is what makes us stronger and gets us closer to Allah.
- In the lifting up of our feet, even the act of walking is indicative of our fitra desire to yearn for a return to al-Jannah.
- The Van Allen belt is formed by Earth’s rotation and serves as a protection barrier from radiation. This is the secret behind the power and protection of making tawba and our turning to towards Allah.
- The recording Angel on the left doesn’t record our sins until the end of the day. So hasten to make tawba.
- Our aspirations should always be in the celestial. That’s why almost all of the early scholars of Islam were astronomers.
- Every civilization in power has been obsessed with astronomy and law. Astronomy equals law of the heavens; Law equals law of the land.
- If the stars ever go out in the night sky, how will men come to know God?
- Just as the sun rises bit by bit, it’s the sunnah of God for openings from Him to also come bit by bit. So, be patient
Allah created the stars:
1. As a way to ornament the sky with the lamps- stars so we would marvel at them.
2. To strike down the shaitan.
3. Signs that we are guided by.
4 Levels of patience:
1. Patience with ibada (worship).
2. Patience with avoiding sins.
3. Patience with tribulations and we show this by being content with the decree of Allah.
4. Patience with blessings, we show this by thanking Allah for all the blessings He has given us.
- When things get really bad, know that things will get better. The Sahaba (companions) of the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam used to say that when they were in trepidation, they knew bad/hard things will be coming their way, and when bad things happened, they knew that good things will be coming their way.
- If someone commits to the practice of surrendering and sabr (patience), over time the tribulations become easy and they no longer feel the tribulation. You are in paradise whilst in duniya then!
- ‘We will test you until we see who is patient’- to see what you are made out of. The struggle and patience go together. The best attitude to have is patience.
- Patience takes time and effort. Over time you can acquire this natural state.
Don’t attach to dunya because:
1. It’ not permanent
2. It is the tests you will go through due to it
- ‘With hardship comes ease’ The ease will overwhelm the hardship!
- In tribulations, things come slowly. The night is peeled away. Just as the night is peeled away slowly, tribulations move away slowly.
- The opening is there, but will only come when the time is right!
- The clouds of goodness contain rain; when the time comes, it will pour. Allah sends down rain to dead lands; He does it at the appropriate time. When the appropriate time for openings come, it will come. He does things in His time, not our time. This is part of being content with the Qadr and what happen has been apportioned for you.
- A person is not a Sufi until the angel does not record a sin for 20 years!!
- A person on a path will change 40 times in a day where as those who do not have a path stay in the same state for 40 years!
- Your spiritual life is not curvier linear; it should be constantly moving up!
- A life is made up of building blocks and how you move through the knowledge block.
- Every believer is a wali.
- Shariah = outward path to Allah, Tariqah= inward path to Allah and only joining the both together will give you Haqiqa- reality.
- Seeing the Creator in all of creation and seeing the Provider in all provision is Tawheed in a nutshell.
- When doors of guidance open for you, hasten up. Don’t try to get to the end before the beginning.
- ‘Practice makes perfect…’ no it doesn’t, it makes permanent. If you practice wrong, it doesn’t make perfect. You need a Teacher.
- Don’t follow books; follow the people who know the books.
- Often times people are deficient in one area, but are made up for it in another area. Historically, Muslims recognised this.
- One of the great mysteries of the Qur’an is that no matter how often you read it, you always find something new in it.
- So many verses in the Qur’an relate to being patient. Being patient with people in Iman/faith. Some are naturally born more tolerant, but you can change that.
- Patience is a sign of sincerity and its from Taqwa you show patience.
- Even the Prophet sallaAllahu alayhi wasalm was commanded to be patient!
- Allah loves the patient; part of the reason the tribulation comes is to draw the quality of patience out of them- He loves this quality. Allah is with the patient one.
- When tribulations hit you, patience (sabr) is actually when you are accepting something. This also relates to having a good opinion of Allah. When you have a good opinion of Allah, the tribulation you know happen for a reason, although it might not seem so at the time.
- The one who submits their entire being. This means that the future is not a concern for them, and the past is not a worry for them. They are living in the present. There are people of good and those who do good; they are not in fear and nor do they grieve.
- Children are very much in the moment, they do not worry or care about their past or future. The Arifs’ (Gnostic) heart is like the child. Childrens hearts are in submission. They are in Tawhid.
- Trusting the past is over, and doing Tawba that its over. If you truly made tawba, you don’t remember your sin as it obliterates the past. Tawba is like editing a video. You go and edit the parts of the video you do not like so on the day of Judgement, you can see the film without any blunders. Just say Astagfirullah, the angels will cut the bad thing!
- Hold onto Allah! He is your Lord, He is the One who takes care of your affairs.
- Some people focus on reliance on Allah, others only focus on means; but a balance of both is all that will save the ship of humanity.
- If you make all of your concerns of the akhira (afterlife), Allah will take care of everything for you.
- The benefits of your Lord are many; all the benefits of your Lord are for your nourishment. It has a beautiful fragrance- seek it out.
- The blessings of Allah are countless.
- Sometimes there is a fail that comes that brings you to life; there are great waves/ocean that come to you. Creation is all in the hands of Allah; some are being elevated, some being debased; some are being difficult or tested in blessing.
- Media is one of the tribulations of our life, they make things worse!
- Single most difficult limb is the tongue. Its one of the great wonders of Allah. You have to discipline the tongue. The tongue is a great tribulation.
- The world is not cursed. The world is also the cosmos. When we talk about the blameworthy aspects, we mean the duniya. This mountain (Uludag) is not cursed, it’s an incredible testimony of Allah.
- You should worship Allah because He is worthy of worship!
- Allah is Wahid- al-Qahr. Everything in the heaven and earth are acknowledging this at some level. He is calling us to reflect on this. The events that happen in our lives are purposeful; there is always a reason behind it.
- The best sleep is immediately after Isha and the Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam said not to engage in too much entertainment at night.
- Nawafil night prayers protect the body from diseases and wrong actions. But you won’t be able to get up if you sin a lot.
- Contentment with the decree of Allah is appropriate- this should be your reliance. The Contentment with Allah’s decree is a very high Maqam. Rabia al-Adawiya was asked how do you know if someone is content with Allah’s decree. She replied by saying ‘ When you feel the same joy in periods of tribulation as you do during periods of blessing’
~ Shaykh Hamza Yusuf – Jewels and Pearls of the Qur’an lesson, Rihla 2011, Bursa, Turkey (Paraphrased)
More gems to follow inshaAllah ta’Ala……
(Photos courtesy- Rihla Student Please keep them in your prayers. Please do not re-use or save the photo without permission. )
* Allah gives to whom He pleases, and constricts whom He pleases. He is aware of His servants and knows them well. Allah blesses them with constriction even though its hard, people of Allah will see the constriction as a blessing. There are people that can do without, and people that can’t do without. Allah knows exactly what to give you to help you return to Him. The events in your life are purposeful, appropriate & non random.
* The world is a thing by which you know your Lord. The entire cosmos is designed for life in the universe.
* Good and evil are both in the providential nature of Allah and in His will. The evil is disliked; don’t judge a thing because you are judging based on your own judgement. If you do Istikhara, whatever happens is good for you. Even if the marriage didn’t work out, the experience was good for you. There is always good in His trials/tribulations.
~ Shaykh Hamza Yusuf – Jewels and Pearls of the Qur’an lesson, Rihla 2011, Bursa, Turkey (Paraphrased)
More gems to follow inshaAllah ta’Ala……
(Photos courtesy- Ibrahim Varachia. Please keep him in your prayers. Please do not re-use or save the photo without permission. )
2 of my favourite quotes from ‘The Forty Rules of the Religion of Love – Shams of Tabriz’, taken from the “The Forty Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak:
“Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighbourhood of despair. Even when all doors remained closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful! It is easy to be thankful when all is well. A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given but also for all that he has been denied. “
A young man was getting ready to graduate college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.
As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box. Curious, but somewhat disappointed the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible. Angrily, he raised his voice at his father and said, “With all your money you give me a Bible?” and stormed out of the house, leaving the holy
Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things. When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart.
He began to search his father’s important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. As he read those words, a car key dropped from an envelope taped behind the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words…PAID IN FULL.
How many times do we miss God’s blessings because they are not packaged as we expected?
Divine narrative: (hadith qudsi)
“I am with those whose hearts are broken for My sake.” (At haf 6/290)
The heart of a man receives shocks in many ways, e.g. anxieties, troubles, accidents, casualties, thus the heart is broken, but why? Just to make it a target for Allah’s mercy and bounty.
Dr Iqbal’s Poem:
The heart is like a mirror. Do not prevent it from being broken. It’s breakage is more dearer in the sight of its maker (i.e Allah), than its safety. Almighty Allah being indeed the Maker.
Dr Abdul Hayi Sahab used to say, when Allah breaks the heart of any of His servants, He desires to lift them to greater heights. These shocks, anxieties and sorrows which come to men are forced exertions in deen (faith) by which the servants progress in leaps and bounds to higher degrees and this is not possible in normal circumstances. He used to recite a couplet:
“The potter threw down the pot to break it, saying that after breaking it, he would reshape it (in a better form).”
“The moon like beloved ones take up their residence in deserted houses. They reside in the hearts of those who they ruin.”
The divine light penetrates into the broken hearts, so do not be afraid of occasions of sorrow and shocks. If you truly and firmly believe in Allah, then this broken heart, these rising sighs and these tears will take you to greater heights of spiritual achievement.
“The Valley of love is too far off, but some time a hundred years long journey is covered with one sigh, in the twinkling of an eye. Man should not therefore, get dejected and disappointed with these shocks and anxieties.”
Spiritual discourse By Mufti Taqi Uthmani
(Taken from Salams blog, with permission from the blogger to share it here. )
Friends are a tremendous blessing from Allah subhanahu wa’tala…..
……We may not always appreciate those people who Allah brings into our lives as friends/companions, and vice versa, they may not always appreciate us either….
…..But we must learn that each individual has their unique way of expressing themselves and how much they value us as individuals and the overall friendship…….. Allah subhanahu wa’tala has created everyone differently……
…..Regardless of who we currently have in our lives, who we lost, or who will come back into our lives tomorrow, we know that Allah is the most Generous, and has blessed this world with so many different, unique and beautiful people to help us through this world…….They might not necessary be like us, but will be brought to us in order to complement our characters and personalities….. Maybe to help us through a particular stage in our lives…. Or perhaps to stay with us throughout this life and the next….. We just don’t know…But it’s all part of His subhanahu wa’tala’s plan for us…..
A few of my favourite quotes:
“The likeness of a righteous friend and an evil friend, is the likeness of a (musk) perfume seller and a blacksmith. As for the perfume seller, he may either bestow something on you, or you may purchase something from him, or you may benefit from his sweet smell. And as for the blacksmith, he may either burn your clothes, or you may be exposed to his awful smell.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
“A friend cannot be considered a friend until he is tested in three occasions: in time of need, behind your back, and after your death.”[Ali ibn Abi Talib]
“No one is a friend of yours except the one who, while knowing your defects, is your companion.”
“We have to understand how to be friends. We wish to know Allah, but we don’t know ourselves. We must begin to see in a way that we can learn about ourselves. Learn about this blessing that Allah has given us. Because we are, each of us, a blessing. Allah has placed a part of His beauty in each of us. And what He has not given to one He’s given to another.” [Mevlana Rumi]
Hold a true friend with both your hands. ~ Nigerian Proverb
“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.” ~ Unknown
Who seeks a faultless friend remains friendless. ~ Turkish Proverb