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Shaykh Aḥmad ibn ʿAjība

By Dawud Israel

Imām al-Junayd said that the stories of the righteous are the marshaled soldiers of God. I found the autobiography of the 18th century Moroccan Ṣūfī Shaykh Aḥmad ibn ʿAjība to be full of stories and lessons that motivate one to strive as if they were a soldier of God. Beyond usual hagiography, Shaykh Aḥmad ibn ʿAjība gives us an account of the details of his life, his upbringing, how he struggled, his spiritual development, and his miracles. I found many aspects of his life similar to those of the early Imāms of Islam – his learning, his imprisonment, his traveling, and his routines. He brings much of the early days of Islam back to life, when the himmah (exertion) for Islam was far greater. This is relevant to our time when due to the chasm of time it has become difficult to bring that level of zeal to our diīn.

His grandmother was a majdhuba and had numerous miracles attributed to her serving the people of Tetuan. When his mother was carrying him she often repeated: “Oh God grant me virtuous progeny!” and repeated this after each prescribed prayer and during the whole month of Ramadan. Her prayers were answered and from the time he started going to school he would go to the mosque in the middle of the night and remain there until dawn.

tumblr_lfgsjonHxT1qew2flo1_500His beginnings on the path

He had zeal for Islamic knowledge and received ījāza from his teachers to teach in various Zāwīyas. The Ḥikam of Ibn ‘Aṭā’illāh had piqued his desire for taṣawwuf early on and after spending many years as a student of Islamic learning (aalim), he desired to delve deeper into taṣawwuf.

In the mornings he would read ¼ of the Qurʾān in the day and ¼ of the Qurʾān at night in addition to making dhikr of God’s Name. Then he became connected to prayers of peace and blessings upon the Prophet (endless peace and blessings be upon him) until he could repeat the whole Dalā’il al-Khayrāt by heart. He desired to possess the Qurʾān, learned to read it in the 7 modes of recitation and would complete 14 khatms of the Qurʾān every month. This lasted for 3-4 years. Then he married and started teaching while continuing this routine for 15-16 years before meeting Shaykh al-Buzidi.

What we can take away from this is that many years may pass in a high level of ibādah until one’s soul becomes ready to undergo a greater transformation. From this we can see how much perseverance and exertion is required in coming near to God. Rather than relying on a murshid in the beginning, he sought God with whatever means God had given him, for God is enough for His servants. This can be seen as preparation for his spiritual opening later on at the hands of Shaykh al-Buzidi.

Around this time he saw Shaykh Abū’l Ḥasan as-Shadhili in a dream saying “Persevere! By God, there will be 44 learned men who will receive knowledge from you!” Many times we may feel escapist, as if its best if we just abandon the dunyā and simply worship God in khalwa. Aḥmad ibn ʿAjība felt this way too and even though he sought to abandon everything for spiritual pursuits, God intended for people to benefit from him. The lesson from this is that God may plan something different for us, for us to benefit people in a way perhaps no one else can benefit them. It may also suggest that guiding and teaching people the dīn is a crucial part of one’s spiritual development.

What his Shaykh said about him

Shaykh al-Buzidi said about him: “Sidi Aḥmad has the qualities of detachment, scrupulousness, trusting God, constancy, forbearance, contentment, serene submission, piety, compassion, generosity and magnanimity.”

To which Shaykh Aḥmad ibn ʿAjība replied: “Master you are already talking about Sufism!”

Shaykh al-Buzidi: “That is just exterior Ṣūfīsm, there is still interior Ṣūfīsm which you will know later God willing!”

Here the Shaykh is talking about a view of taṣawwuf and tazkīyya that is different from the usual Muslim discourse of the outer and inner, the Ẓāhir and the bāṭin. Here he is speaking of layers to spiritual purification beyond what is outer and inner, but what is even more inner and even deeper than what we understood the spiritual to be.

His miracles in his own words 

“I remember once when I was invoking God’s name in my house. The books were sitting on a shelf above me. Just then I saw a little bird up there, completely devoid of feathers as if it had just been born. He was moving his beak vigorously, opening it and then closing it over and over again, such that I realized that he was also invoking. I stood up and got closer to him, but he kept up with his invocation. When I tried to reach out to him, he withdrew and disappeared from my sight. I looked everywhere in the room, but the bird was not to be found. One of my disciples was there, sitting across the doorway. I asked him, but he assured me that he had seen nothing. That is when I realized that the bird was an angel.”

I had gone to pray in a room near the tomb of Sidī Abū ‘Abd Allāh al-Fahhar during Laylatul Qadr and found myself alone in the dark room, when I was suddenly surrounded by birds: there were in front of me and behind me, with others fluttering above my head. I paid no heed, but I knew that they were angels that had come to greet men during that night.

One day when I went to visit my mother’s people, in the mountains, noon came earlier than I expected, but I could not find any water. I thought to myself: “There are saints who have had miracles happen; for example, they have seen water flowing out of a wall. Oh God, provide us with water so that we might perform ablutions!” Just then, I heard the trickling of water above the road and went toward the spot: water was flowing down the mountain and I did my ablutions. When we reached the spot in question, I told my brother that I had found water there; but when we looked we could find nothing but dryness.

While I was exercising in the Casba mosque – I was still a bachelor at the time – it happened that I finished my teaching of a book. To celebrate the event, I gave the muezzin, Sidī Muḥammad al-Sagir, two or three small bushels of flour with which he prepared a meal. From sundown to the evening prayer, he did not stop serving guests: one group got up, and another replaced them. Mysteriously, enough food was left that the mu’addin took it home. His family and his neighbors ate it, after which he told me: “It was a true marvel! And to think that I was under the impression you were not giving me much flour at all!”

Another time when I had gone to the Qarawīīn Mosque in Fez during Laylatul Qadr, I remained to make invocation after the dawn prayer and suddenly saw a man walking between the columns saying “La ilaha illallah; the market is finished (insarafa l-suq)!” I retorted: “There is still the Living One, who does not die!” He then disappeared from my sight and replied: “What you say is true!” Then he added: “I composed a book in which I wrote, ‘so and so said,’  ‘so and so said’ and did I get results?” Then he continued: “If you want to write, let it come from you!” I understood that he was referring to a work that I was writing in which I was repeating lots of things the ancient authors had said; he was bringing my attention to the fact that I should use my own faculties of thought to take out what was inside me.”

Select advices from his letters

“Wandering is indispensable for the faqīr who is beginning the way. Travelling reveals faults and purifies souls and hearts; it expands one’s character and, thanks to it, knowledge of the King and Creator is broadened. In fact, the traveler contemplates a new ray of divine light every day, and encounters aspects that he did not know and that were unfamiliar to him. His knowledge and his intellectual horizon are stretched. They say that the faqir is like water: if he stays in the same place too long, he stagnates and putrefies.”

Every time you see someone indulging in one of these practices, using hashish or tobacco, for example, flee and say, “I take refuge from him in God!” The person is a demon among the human demons, sent by God to try the initiates, to see if they remain firm on the straight path or if they stray. Beware of following them, of allowing yourselves to be seduced by their words or of letting yourselves be trained by them toward easiness or toward arbitrary interpretations, for you would risk seeing your good actions invalidated and would be running toward your loss.

Know how to restrict your means of subsistence as much as you can, and be content with the subsistence that becomes your lot. Subsistence of the body is, as a matter of fact, guaranteed and, however paltry it might be, and it suffices. Do not be greedy except for subsistence of the spirit, which is the invocation of God, visiting Shaykhs and brethren, and the service one renders them: of this subsistence do not be satisfied with either less or more; any more than with meditation or contemplation, if you have an aptitude for it, because they are the means of acquiring the Great Richness, the Supreme Success which is obtained only by intense dedication of the heart and of the body. Peace!

Peace and blessings be upon Shaykh Aḥmad ibn ʿAjība!

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Source: The Autobiography of a Moroccan Soufi Ahmad IbnAjiba

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Sultan of the Path- Imām al-Junayd

By Mohamed Ghilan

When I received the invitation to write in the Luminaries Series, I was surprised that I thought of Imām al-Junayd first before someone like Imām al-Ghazālī. Imām al-Ghazālī is well known and widely quoted. His books serve as immense sources of wisdom and prescriptions for how one can purify their heart and elevate their station with their Lord. After the words of God and the words of the Beloved (endless peace and blessings be upon him), we often hear the words of Imām al-Ghazālī when it comes to setting on the path of purifying our hearts. But now as I think of it, in our times we desperately need to get to know Imām al-Junayd.

You know you are dealing with a special person when much of his personal biography is lost, and no major text of his was left behind, yet scholars from all streams within the Islamic Tradition quote his counsels throughout their various works. Across the intellectual divides within the Muslim Ummah, one can find the influence of Imām al-Junayd scattered throughout. In fact, for one to gather a collection of the counsels of Imām al-Junayd, they have to pick up the works of scholars like Imām al-Ghazālī, as well as the works of scholars like Imām Ibn Taymiyyah and step outside their familiar comfort zone of only reading for one type of scholar. It is a true testament to the sincerity of a scholar that more than a millennium after his passing, and no available books attributed to him; he still manages to bring divided Muslims together on a common ground.

Abū al-Qāsim al-Junayd ibn Muḥammad al-Zajjaj was born in 220 A.H./830 C.E. in Baghdad, Iraq and was raised there. His family was originally from Nahavand, the capital of Nahavand County in the Ḥamdān Province in Iran. His father used to sell glass bottles, which is where the family name “al-Zajjaj” comes from.

An incident at the age of seven marked the path Imām al-Junayd would eventually be named the “Sulṭān” of. As he was playing in the presence of a gathering of scholars, his maternal uncle, al-Sarī al-Saqaṭī, asked him, “Young man, what is thankfulness?” The young al-Junayd replied, “That you do not disobey God with His blessings.” al-Sarī remarked, “I fear that your only share from God would be your tongue.” The weight of this remark was so great that Imām al-Junayd said later in his life, “I have continued to cry over the remark that al-Sarī directed at me.”

As this story implies, Imām al-Junayd began his studies at a very young age. His intelligence and insight qualified him to achieve the status of muftī by the time he was merely 20 years old. One contemporary scholar said about Imām al-Junayd, “I saw a scholar among you in Baghdad called ‘al-Junayd’ who my eye has never seen anyone like him. The linguists would attend his gathering for his rhetoric, the philosophers for his precision, the poets for his eloquence, and the theologians for his meanings.” Another scholar remarked, “We did not see among our scholars one who combined between much knowledge and spiritual presence other than Abū al-Qāsim. Most of them have either a lot of knowledge but little spiritual presence, or some have much spiritual presence but very little knowledge. Al-Junayd had a dangerously immense spiritual presence and copious amounts of knowledge, such that if you experienced his spiritual presence you would assume it outweighed his knowledge, and if you saw his knowledge you would assume it outweighed his spirituality.”

Imām al-Junayd is unique in this way among the luminaries in his combination of knowledge and spirituality. If there is such a thing as “Sufi’izing Salafism and Salafizing Sufism,” it is embodied in the person of Imām al-Junayd. He was one to act upon authentic evidence from the Qurʾān and Ḥadīth, while at the same time preserve the spirit of the text in a way that many of us seek to accomplish today. One important counsel of Imām al-Junayd states, “Whoever does not memorize the Qurʾān, does not write the Ḥadīth, and does not gain an understanding of both is not to be followed, because our path is restricted by the Book and the Sunnah.” To fulfill this counsel the Imām offered another one to set the seeker on the right path, “The beginning of knowledge is from scholars, the middle of it is action, and the end of it is from the Exalted.”

Imām al-Junayd was highly concerned with translating knowledge into action. As he said in one of his counsels, “We did not take Sufism from hearsay. Rather, we took it from hunger, abandonment of dunya, and severing familiar luxuries. Because Ṣūfīsm is the purity of relationship with God.” This statement of Imām al-Junayd should not be confused with not enjoying the pleasures of life. It is known that he was a successful merchant in Baghdad and earned his own provisions. However, he did not allow the luxuries of this life to take over his heart, which he preserved for God in keeping with the statement in the Qurʾān, “The day on which neither wealth nor property will avail, except him who comes to God with a sound heart” [26:88-89].

One of the most important issues Imām al-Junayd dealt with were the rampant claims of love of and nearness to God that many were making during his time. To the Imām, claims negate sincerity and lead to arrogance. Moreover, claims of elevated stations and nearness to God are not permitted as the Qurʾān states that only “God knows who is purified” [53:32]. For these reasons we read another counsel of Imām al-Junayd reminding us that, “Whoever sticks to the path with sincerity, God will suffice them from making empty claims.”

The extent to which Imām al-Junayd went with regards to claims was to remind Muslims not to be overtaken by miraculous demonstrations known as karāmat. The true measure of anyone in Islam is not based in fantastic events that occur to them. Rather, we measure on the scale of righteousness, which is defined by how one upholds the injunctions and abstains from the limitations that God has set.

It is not that Imām al-Junayd rejected miracles of saints. He rejected having miracles as a measure of anything relevant to our estimation of whether someone is righteous or not. Here we realize the importance of having knowledge in Islam. Imām al-Junayd warned us in one of his most famous counsels, “If you see a man sitting cross-legged suspended in the air, do not follow him until you see his actions with regards to commands and prohibitions. If you see that he upholds all the commandments, and avoids all the prohibitions, then believe in him and follow him. But if you see him not upholding the commandments, and not avoiding the prohibitions, then avoid him.”

One can spend a great deal of time commenting on the scattered pearls of wisdom we have from Imām al-Junayd. But even he would not approve of us spending our time in this way. As one of his companions relates a dream he had of the Imām after he passed away in 297 A.H./ 910 C.E., in which he asked him, “What did God do with you?” The Imām replied, “Those indications have fallen, the counsels have become hidden, the knowledge has disappeared, the appearances have been withered, and nothing has benefitted us except for a few cycles of prayer we used to perform before the break of dawn.”

15-Episode series on some of the counsels of Imām al-Junayd by Mohamed Ghilan can be found here

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Healing Hearts presents in collaboration with other blogging friends, a 7 day series from Monday 10 March 2014. 

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Contributions by:

Mohamed Ghilan- Mohamed Ghilan

Kamran Haikal- Ahlul Bay

Sidra Mushtaq- Healing Hearts

Kamran Shaheen- The Conscious Muslim

Dawud Israel- Muslimology

Zara Nargis- Treasures for the Seeker

Tariq Yusufzai- Tariq the Pilgrim

May this special series be a source of inspiration, healing and learning. May we benefit from learning about some of the great luminaries that stepped on this earth. Amin!

Please keep the contributors and their loved ones in your excellent prayers!

kintsukuroimeme

I’m like one of those Japanese bowls
That were made long ago
I have some cracks in me
They have been filled with gold

That’s what they used back then
When they had a bowl to mend
It did not hide the cracks
It made them shine instead

So now every old scar shows
from every time I broke
And anyone’s eyes can see
I’m not what I used to be

But in a collector’s mind
All of these jagged lines
Make me more beautiful
And worth a higher price

I’m like one of those Japanese bowls
I was made long ago
I have some cracks you can see
See how they shine of gold.

-Peter Mayer

 

 

“….It’s because we are reminded that our hearts have this temporal yearning which is not to last forever, but only for this life. And through this yearning He is truly found.

He puts destiny in our way whilst we are in pursuit of happiness. What joy would happiness be without our hearts being challenged, moved and even broken if every pursuit, be it trivial or life threatening was quickly achieved?

God willing, hearts move on, new journeys are begun and current episodes become part of ones life encounters where lessons and reflections are gained. Live on and know your destiny awaits you, no one can take it from you because He has already ordained it for you. Don’t blame yourself for any of this, it was never in your control because destiny has its own way…..”  

 (Reflections by a dear friend, mentor and teacher)

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The Bosphorus, Istanbul at sunset (Dec 2009)

 

 

Thought for Thursday- 11/10/12

“Allah is with those who are patient. If we had nothing to be patient about, how could we have that special company? Being patient means looking at Allah and allowing Him to do what He will do without your resorting to other than Him, including your own self”

~ Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif

 

Healing Hearts is honoured to introduce you to one of our beloved teachers Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif, who very kindly accepted a request to contribute to this blog. Imam Abdul Latif will be contributing to the “Thought for Thursday”  inshaAllah. May we all find comfort, succour, benefit and healing from his words and reflections. Please keep Imam Abdul Latif, his family, teachers and us all in your prayers.

———————–

Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch is the imam at the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland , California , and a teacher and program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation. He also works with SeekersGuidance and assists Zaytuna College ‘s annual Summer Arabic Intensive program in Berkeley , California . He is one of five students who comprised the first graduating class of the Zaytuna seminary program. Born in El Paso , Texas , and raised in the south, Abdul Latif embraced Islam in 1995 in Atlanta , Georgia , when he was 20 years old. He subsequently traveled throughout the Muslim world and, in 2002, relocated with his family to the San Francisco Bay Area to take advantage of the resources of knowledge and the community that had formed around Zaytuna Institute. There, he spent his initial year of studies under the tutelage of  Shaykh Salik bin Siddina. In 2004, he was accepted as the first of three initial students into Zaytuna’s pilot seminary program. He studied at Zaytuna with several teachers, including Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, until he graduated in 2008 with an ijazah in the basic sciences of Islam. Since graduation, he has had the honor of tutelage under Dr. Umar Farooq Abdullah, Shaikh Mahi Cisse and Shaikh Abdulllah Ibrahim Niasse.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif website
Imam Abdul Latif Facebook Page

Thought for Thursday- 13/09/12

“Sometimes your heart is just broken down into dust. At times, though, it’s only dust that will put out certain fires.”

~ Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif

 

Healing Hearts is honoured to introduce you to one of our beloved teachers Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif, who very kindly accepted a request to contribute to this blog. Imam Abdul Latif will be contributing to the “Thought for Thursday” every Thursday inshaAllah. May we all find comfort, succour, benefit and healing from his words and reflections. Please keep Imam Abdul Latif, his family, teachers and us all in your prayers.

———————–

Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch is the imam at the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland , California , and a teacher and program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation. He also works with SeekersGuidance and assists Zaytuna College ‘s annual Summer Arabic Intensive program in Berkeley , California . He is one of five students who comprised the first graduating class of the Zaytuna seminary program. Born in El Paso , Texas , and raised in the south, Abdul Latif embraced Islam in 1995 in Atlanta , Georgia , when he was 20 years old. He subsequently traveled throughout the Muslim world and, in 2002, relocated with his family to the San Francisco Bay Area to take advantage of the resources of knowledge and the community that had formed around Zaytuna Institute. There, he spent his initial year of studies under the tutelage of  Shaykh Salik bin Siddina. In 2004, he was accepted as the first of three initial students into Zaytuna’s pilot seminary program. He studied at Zaytuna with several teachers, including Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, until he graduated in 2008 with an ijazah in the basic sciences of Islam. Since graduation, he has had the honor of tutelage under Dr. Umar Farooq Abdullah, Shaikh Mahi Cisse and Shaikh Abdulllah Ibrahim Niasse.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif website
Imam Abdul Latif Facebook Page

Thought for Thursday- 06/09/12

“Its not appropriate for God to adjust to us but for us to adjust to Him..”

~ Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif

 

Healing Hearts is honoured to introduce you to one of our beloved teachers Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif, who very kindly accepted a request to contribute to this blog. Imam Abdul Latif will be contributing to the “Thought for Thursday” every Thursday inshaAllah. May we all find comfort, succour, benefit and healing from his words and reflections. Please keep Imam Abdul Latif, his family, teachers and us all in your prayers.

———————–

Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch is the imam at the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland , California , and a teacher and program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation. He also works with SeekersGuidance and assists Zaytuna College ‘s annual Summer Arabic Intensive program in Berkeley , California . He is one of five students who comprised the first graduating class of the Zaytuna seminary program. Born in El Paso , Texas , and raised in the south, Abdul Latif embraced Islam in 1995 in Atlanta , Georgia , when he was 20 years old. He subsequently traveled throughout the Muslim world and, in 2002, relocated with his family to the San Francisco Bay Area to take advantage of the resources of knowledge and the community that had formed around Zaytuna Institute. There, he spent his initial year of studies under the tutelage of  Shaykh Salik bin Siddina. In 2004, he was accepted as the first of three initial students into Zaytuna’s pilot seminary program. He studied at Zaytuna with several teachers, including Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, until he graduated in 2008 with an ijazah in the basic sciences of Islam. Since graduation, he has had the honor of tutelage under Dr. Umar Farooq Abdullah, Shaikh Mahi Cisse and Shaikh Abdulllah Ibrahim Niasse.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif website
Imam Abdul Latif Facebook Page

The Festivities of Light

By Zeshan Zafar

 

As we arrive at the end of Rabi al-Awwal, a month where Muslims come together to celebrate the Milad, or the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), we feel refreshed by the gatherings we have attended in honour and veneration of the Messenger of Allah. Many express this love through a variety of ways; through the recitation of the Holy Book, The Quran al-Kareem, listening to sermons wherein his life is recounted, almsgiving to the poor or by reciting poetry in praise of him.

Such gatherings are occasions that encourage us to engage in the divine practice of sending blessings and peace on the Prophet: ‘Indeed Allah and His angels shower blessings upon the Prophet, O you who truly believe, ask blessings upon him and greet him with greetings’ (Q33:56). It is the  Qur’anic imperative  and through traditions of the Prophet  that we find words of remembrance that motivate many of us looking to fill that spiritual vacuum that may exist in our lives. When looking for that divine compass, Muslims during this month take advantage from being spiritually recharged and whose celestial impact lasts longer than the results obtained from many bestselling self-help guides that sit on bookshop shelves. The month of the Mawlid is often seen as a time when families, friends and even strangers gather to remember the Prophet in praising him through various means of remembrance. We know that Allah has named his Messenger “The praiseworthy”, and thus it can only be incumbent upon us to follow such a call.

Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent as a mercy to mankind, and it is in this mercy we recognise the importance of his perfection. Historically, even going back to the Fatamid era, gatherings such as the Mawlid have been a vital source and opportunity for individuals to learn more about the salient features of the Prophet’s life, his character, his kindness to those who are needy and  those disadvantaged, his  actions that helped guide individuals with their daily affairs, his ethics and values exemplified in his interaction with various religions and cultures, his honesty in keeping to his word through treaties and promises, his humour to alleviate distress and  his mercy to those that had wronged him, a standard for all of us to aspire to.

One of the great lessons we learn about the character of the Prophet is through listening or reading about his blessed life. Through prophetic traditions, we learn how the Prophet implored us never to judge individuals or form an unfair judgment but to keep a good opinion of others regardless of what we may witness of them. One of these great stories is the story of Julaybib, a companion of the Prophet who was referred to as being ‘damim’ ugly or deformed. Many people shunned him to the point when people learnt he was approaching their homes they would avoid him and close their doors or mock him from afar.

Julaybib was consciously aware of what people thought about him, however once the Messenger of Allah arrived in Madinah,  Julaybib was assiduous in learning from the Messenger of Allah and would sit with humility and in a shy manner at all times in the presence of the Prophet. When the Prophet once asked him about marriage, he assumed he was being teased as this was something he never dreamt was possible because of his physical appearance. However the Prophet did not see it this way and valued him as a person by taking the initiative in asking for the hand of an Ansar girl who was known for her beauty. The girl’s parents initially were ecstatic thinking that the Messenger of Allah himself had come for her hand in marriage. When they heard that Julaybib was in fact the prospective husband they declined the proposal. Upon hearing the proposal from the Messenger of Allah, the daughter was overcome by the verses of the Quran that states the importance of a matter once Allah and His Messenger have decided on it. She had understood this visit to mean much more than what many individuals would go through when getting married and that was the importance of understanding that the man being proposed to her was someone whom the Messenger loved. Henceforth whatever he loved she loved, and in turn the beauty of Julaybib had manifested itself to her in ways that many could not see. After much protestation she was eventually betrothed to Julaybib. They were blessed with the prayers of the Prophet and lived in happiness until the death of Julaybib, which is a fascinating story in itself.

Some important lessons that can be learnt from this is the approach the Prophet had in recognising the worth of every soul on this earth, but also the love that individuals had for the Prophet that they oversaw the blemishes that we all may have physically or internally within our character.

This simple example should encourage us all to reflect on our own deficiencies yet motivate us with aspirations of what we hope to attain from this world, which is being able to praise our Maker through loving the Prophet and what he loved.

We are reminded of the importance of this love through the hadith of the Prophet which states, ‘Teach your children three things: Love of the Prophet, love of his family and companions and love for the Quran’.

Many scholars highlight that celebrating the birth of the Messenger of Allah is an occasion that should be observed throughout the year. With the increasing amount of Mosques in the West many individuals now have the chance to celebrate these gatherings close to their homes. Even if this does not take place where you reside, we all as individuals have a beautiful chance to begin such a celebration in our homes. At a recent Mawlid organised by family members, we had the honour of having a guest who left a deep and lasting impression on the audience through his state and presence. Family members asked me about this and I repeated what I had learnt from this man’s son; that he has been dedicated in celebrating the Mawlid in his home for the past thirty years, once a month. Not only this, but he also operated an open door policy for any individual to attend, and these were the Mawlids that I was aware of.

Reading and listening about how Mawlids are celebrated, we soon learn the richness of such gatherings. Annemarie Schimmel in her book ‘And Muhammad is His Messenger’ has some beautiful descriptions of how this month is celebrated, from the country that they are celebrated in; the decorations that individuals place in their homes, to the food and sweets that are served to guests and children, the poetry and songs that they often recited and how the local culture impacts they way they celebrate the Mawlid.

We are fortunate, of late, in the West to read exceptionally translated texts into the English language that aid us in such veneration. Such translations include the Qasidah al-Burda  of Imam al-Busiri by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad which offer many individuals the chance to read the beauty of poetry composed in praise of the Prophet. Other works such as the Dala’il al-Khayrat, the Barzanji Mawlid and ash-Shama’il al-Muhammadiyah by Imam Tirmidhi are a few of the many that can also be read at such gatherings.

As we move on in preparation for our ultimate journey of felicity, I pray that we are able to carry the festivities of light in holding Mawlids all year around, inviting friends and family, establishing a positive environment for children to experience loving the Prophet, his family and the Qur’an al-Kareem, and most importantly, being able to carry this torch of light to next year in greater preparation than the year that has passed. After all, emulating the Prophet in his character is something that we all yearn to increase, and the Mawlid is one avenue that aids us in our expression of loving the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

© Zeshan Zafar, Rabi’ al-Awwal 1433/February 2012

This concludes the Light Reflections series on Healing Hearts. Hope you have enjoyed reading all the daily posts. Please recite a special prayer for all the contributors, their families and teachers.


The Beloved

By Taslim Rashid

This work shows how when one begins to deepen their spirituality they are made aware of the great character and status of the Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him. Hence an individual begins to work towards an understanding and appreciation of this great man that once walked this earth. Contained within the work are some symbolic references to this high esteem that he is held in:

 The piece presents itself as a ‘cloud’ almost. This is a reference to how the clouds shaded the Prophet Alaisalam.

The centre name ‘Muhammad’ is covered in mesh known to artists as ‘angel hair’. Here, one of the references is to the fact that the name of the Prophet is written on the eyes of angels.

The name of the piece itself ‘The Beloved’ is a reference to how there were titles associated with the Messengers of God; for instance Prophet Ibrahim Alaisalam is known as ‘The Friend of God’. This title shows the unique status of the final Messenger as the Beloved of God Himself.

In line with most Tranquilart work, the theme of change is reflected in the piece through colour. The shades of light and dark paint depict our spiritual transcendances in this world. The darker shades represent the chaotic life of a spirit in search for peace, meaning and depth. The lighter shades represent the goals acheived once the being sets out looking for change. I have always affirmed that Tranquilart is about change. Here, the name of the Prophet indicates that he is the light guiding the spirit towards the harmony it desires.

An Urdu poem surrounds the piece. This poem is about the Prophet of Islam. A translation is given here:

Tere Hoteh By Dr Tahir-al Qadri

Tere hoteh janam liyaa hota

Phir kabi toh tujhe milah hota

Kaash mein sung -e dar tera hota

Tere kadmon ko chuma hota

Lartah pir tah tere adhuon se

Tere hatir mein marr gaya hota

Tu chala karta mere palkhon par

Kaash mein tera rasta hota

Tu kabhi toh mujeh bhi tak leta

Tere takne pe biq gaya hota

Katra hota mein tere aasoon ka

Ghameh-ummat mein behh gaya hota

Tu joh aata mere janazeh par

Tere hoteh mein marr gaya hota

Hota Tahir tere fakiron mein

Tere dehleez par kara hota.

Being born in your presence

Would that, I have ever met you

 Had been the floor of your house

Would that, I had been kissed by your feet

I would have fought any one of your enemies

For your sake, I would have died

You would have walked on my brow

Had I been your path

Would, that sometimes you’d laid an eye on me

Upon your gaze, I would have been sold

A drop of your tear if were I

Would have flown in the nations’ sorrow

Had you come to my funeral

In your presence would I have died

If were Tahir from your sages

On your doorstep, would he have stood .

The reason for using an Urdu poem is reflective of Identity as a Muslim woman born and living in England. Neither myself, nor most of my siblings learnt to read or write Urdu as a child. I never really thought I would need it. As an adult I learnt to speak Urdu in the various environs I found myself in. My use of the Urdu poem in the piece reflects my own search for identity; my mother-tongue is a dialect of Punjabi and thus not a ‘recorded’ language – this makes Urdu the closest written language to my roots.

Fusing the Arabic, English and Pakistani allowed me to demonstrate that the Message of the Prophet was not limited to one nation or time.

Finally, the piece was one of the first pieces which I did mostly without the aid of a paintbrush. The main process has been painting with my fingers directly and this was then aided with the beadwork. Each bead has been taken individually by my fingers and stitched into the canvas. The entire process was extremely peaceful and encouraged me to ponder deeply into the title: The Beloved.

© Taslim Rashid has contributed this beautiful article to the Light Reflections series on Healing Hearts. The article was originally published on her awesome blog  back in 2004.

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