Tag Archives: mysticism

SELFISH LOVE

Shaykh Wacom 2Selfish Love
Selfish love is not love,
For love abhors anything other than love.
………..

This is the beginning, the journey and the end. This is where we leave our selfishness behind. A selfishness often disguised as ‘love’. This is where we embark on the ship of love, to cross the sea of love to our homecoming at the harbour of selfless love.

Pray for me, sunshine. Lend a hand to this weary traveller and perhaps we can keep company together. For what better way is there to walk to love than with love as my companion?

P.S. Shaykh Adnan Kabbani is a Lebanese shaykh much admired and loved. It appears that he is unwell. Please keep him in your prayers and your heart. dark-room-light-through-window-hunched-man1

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

BE SILENT, BE NOTHING … listen and obey

IMG_20160829_125219_resizedBe Silent
A mureed (disciple) approached his Shaykh (master) with a problem, ”O’ Shaykh! I have difficulty being humble. Can you help me?
The Shaykh said, “Yes. Remain silent.”
Okay.” Answered the mureed. After a few awkward moments he then said, “And…?

And what?” The Shaykh was surprised, seeing the mureed was still looking at him attentively.

I am still waiting for your advice, o’ Shaykh!

The Shaykh clarified, “That IS my advice. Remain silent. Easiest thing to do.
…………

Silence. The Shaykh may have been a little disingenuous. More often than not keeping quiet is not the easiest thing to do. Not when our ego is baying to bark, to cajole, to argue, to whine, to gossip, to generally stake our presence in the stage of egos that is this world. Our ego demands for us to be heard and recognised. But the spiritual path in almost all religion is to stay silent, to listen and to obey. In other words, to be nothing.

Be Nothing
Be silent, listen and obey
And be akin to nothing
In this crowded world
Where every human ego
Is crying for attention!

Be silent, listen and obey
And see how the Lord of Everything
Attends to the one
Seeking to be
Nothing.
…………

This was the silent prayers of Mary, the Mother of Jesus (a.s.) and that of Sayyidina Abu Bakar as-Siddiq (r.a.), the devoted companion of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.). It must mean something then, desiring to be nothing.

The Golden Silence Sometimes though remaining silent does not mean our ego is not expressing itself, because the human ego can also work in the opposite way – for instance, when we refuse to greet someone whom we dislike. In that way, breaking the silence with a kindly greeting of salam (peace) IS the way to overcome our ego. Renewing friendship and bonds of kinship… all these are wonderful exercises in overcoming our ego!

81915029_5fbaab5a64So you see, the Shaykh is not simply advising us to be mute and silent like the grave. It is rather to permit our ego no means to express itself, either by our words and action, or through our silence and inaction. This is the golden silence which we may find through listening and obeying God, His Messenger (s.a.w.s.) and those that has been charged with authority over us.

Think about it, sunshine. Let this dwell in the savanna of your consciousness and we will see what sort of Moon now rises over the horizon of your secret contemplation.

wa min Allah at taufiq

hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

MANKIND THE NUANCED, THE HIDDEN … a reminder

Slide3Misunderstandings
How will you understand my words
When my silence is incomprehensible to you?
How will you navigate my infinite oceans
When my sea is only a rumour to you?
………….

Unity of Man. If you look at the petty arguments on Facebook, you will find that when you dig a little deeper into the debate, you will find that the two adversaries are not opposites in fitrah (essence). After all, we are made of the same elements, red blood courses through our veins, whatever our skin tone or religion.

befriend yourself 2Contextual. The argument normally arises, because although we may be talking about the same thing, you may have a different audience in mind, while I have my own. Also, you are brought up in different climes compared to my cultural and social norms. Add to that the prejudices and biases we pick up along our way from purity of childhood to the cynical hardness of adulthood and I think you will see where and why we end up  arguing and spitting vitriol at each other, to the aghast of the Angels that observe us (from afar).

Nothing is Random. You are such a complex entity, my love. Perhaps you may not think so, yourself, being the humble man / woman that I know you are. But each of your action or omission, every word, gesture or thought does not occur at random. Indeed, in the spiritual world, randomness does not exist because nothing happens in a vacuum. Every breath you take, every step of an ant, every splitting of a single-cell organism, every supernova of a dying star somewhere in the night sky occurs within the completeness of Allah Almighty’s plan. It is random to us simply because of our very finite level of knowledge.

Camera 360Nuanced Beings. Err… I appear to have been distracted. Ahem. Now where was I? Oh yes, this is a reminder to myself – To not be so quick to judge and anger. To be much more tolerant and mild to the subtle nuances of my fellow human beings. For we are undoubtedly highly nuanced creatures. Allah (swt) made us so, and created us thus so well that even His Angels grew concerned that they asked their Lord why He created such ill-tempered beings who will spread corruption and destruction on earth. We know Allah Almighty’s answer… He replied to His celestial hosts, “I know what ye know not.” (Al-Quran 2:30)

So who are we to say with certainty what we know? When even the Arch angels themselves could not decipher the great riddle that is Allah’s creation known as Man. The answer to His puzzle, as always, is with the Maker of the Puzzle, a.k.a our Creator, Allah (swt). And the best one to guide us to Allah (swt) and His answer is none other than our beloved Arch Intercessor Sayyidina Muhammad (saws). He he he. Don’t you agree, sunshine?

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

WHAT NOW? …ASKED GOD

ocean heart 2All I Want Is You

Health and wealth,
Spiritual station,
And good education,

Such needs make me turn to You,
Yet I am ashamed to ask such things,
When what I should desire
Should be plain to any fool,
And that is You…
You and no
Other.
……….

mikapapa 2 2“What Now?!” Your father might ask, in consequence of the millionth time you approach him for money / the car keys / a lift / a guitar. Then like a bolt out of the blue you unexpectedly say, “No, Papa. I don’t want anything. I just want to sit with you. Is that okay?” How pleased your father would be, as I would be if ever such a scenario played with my own son, Mikhail.

In my highly entertaining interludes with God that people normally call ‘praying’ I have thought of such a notion – Yes, indeed, my God, I do need a bit of money to fix my car. Yes, of course, I would really like to get well soon. And yes, I wouldn’t say no to a helpful intervention in my examination / election / court case. Take your pick for whatever you think you need.

So it is a revelation when we realise that while specific prayers are good (and necessary I guess), what we truly should desire, what we ought to most persistently pray for is actually for God Himself. And not to accept any substitute, nor artificial agent or instrument. To ask for the Divine – His presence, His company, His love and the Constancy of His Compassion.

And as Allah (swt) is the Source of all virtue, strength, beauty, forbearance, empathy, compassion, kindness in the infinite and incomparable shades of His Goodness, how would Allah’s answer be to us, if He replies in the affirmative?

For that, I direct you to our Beloved Nabi Muhammad (saws) in the apex of the Isra’ and mi’raj (the Prophet’s Night Journey), when he left the company of the Archangel Gabriel and passed through the final veil and into the presence of Allah Almighty.

With that last direction, I must bid you farewell, sunshine, and may God be with you always. NASA-SpiralGalaxyM101-20140505

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

LOVE IS LOVE – connecting to Allah through the crucible of human frailty

22 ogos 11 (2)Action & Intention
Actions are the broad sweep across history,
Intention is the ghostly mist,
The intangible wisp behind
The pen and the sword,
Between what is done for your own vanity
And what is done for your God.
………….

OLDER. As I get older, boy, do I get more circumspect. Or perhaps more introspect, peeling through the layers of my intentions. Because the truth is that it is very rare that I, your friendly neighbourhood sinner, is motivated by just one solitary reason.

26062011446 2CHAOS. Often I (and perhaps most of humanity) am in fact propelled by multiple motivations. For example, waking up this morning… why did I ever decide to wake up? Well, I simply HAD to wake up because I needed to go to the washroom. But I also felt a little hungry and was already planning my breakfast menu on the way to the washroom. By the time I have finished showering, I have planned my day up to noon time, when I may be on-call for a client. In the mix is thrown my chore to pick up Mikhail, my son, from school. A task I anticipate with visceral happiness.

GOD? So where is my intention for God? Where is the supposed oracle and prism of divine desire, through which I ought to live my days? I am sure (I hope), it is there somewhere, in the confusing jumble of my thoughts, my plans, my prejudices and my psychedelic murmurings.

RUMI. So you see, sunshine, this is me. A veritable chaos of intentions. Anyways, I actually have a point to make today in my normal ambling way. And this is it – Someone shared a posting on Facebook yesterday which said that, “Dear Sisters, when Rumi writes about ‘love’, he’s writing about God. Not about what you feel for the guy who won’t text you back.

NOTRUMI. Well, I am not Rumi (obviously). Perhaps the anonymous commentator here is correct, and that Rumi is indeed talking about Divine Love in all those prose, and not chronicling some immature puppy love for eternity. But I do not think this labeling is necessarily useful. Because like all journeys, mustn’t we start somewhere on the Path of Love? Whether it is a love for an object, like a teddy bear or a book, to the romantic love for a man or a woman. Thus for me, the pitiable teenager’s yearning of a loved one, somehow refusing or unable to return a text message? That in itself is a circumstance pregnant with the analogy of true love and mortal failings. …Love is love surely, and indeed what distinguishes mortal love with Love of the Divine must be a question of degree and not the genus.

25 July, 2011 2HUMAN LIMITATIONS. So it is well and fine that you may say Rumi is talking about Divine Love, but Rumi is also a human being. Thus, however we look at it, love, or Divine Love if you wish to call it, is ringed by our very human inadequacies, constrained as we are with our needs such as food, air, water, companionship and also our unfortunate forgetfulness.

And I do not think this mortal ‘limitation’ makes our protestations and claims of love for Allah Almighty any less meaningful. Indeed, I think Allah Most Beautiful created and planned it thus. A love full of romance and drama, yearning and petty human foibles, admirable moments of lucidity, forgivable moments of forgetfulness and distraction. This is my understanding of love in Rumi’s life. After all, did the great shaykh himself not say…

“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times… Come, yet again, come, come.”

So be not ashamed of your love, sunshine, however inconsequential, however timidly grasped. Had God wanted it any other way, the path would have been different for you and I.

ffsfswa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

THE FIFTEEEN LETTERS of Shaykh Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani

IMG_20150827_122517_resized_1A couple of months back, I found this little book at a bookshop. I must admit that this little gem was unfamiliar to me. As the title succinctly says, this book contains a collection of fifteen letters written by the great shaykh to…, you know I am not sure to who originally! But as this story winds to an end, we may find a surprising answer.

It appears the letters were originally written in Persian by the great shaykh. Thus far, four manuscripts have been found, one in Berlin, another in King Saud University, the third in Oxford University and the fourth in Michigan University. The translator and commentator of the book is Louay Fatoohi, who gained access to 3 of the manuscripts, save for the Berlin copy. May Allah (swt) be pleased with his efforts.

I don’t know about you guys, but I have a history with the great shaykh’s books, a part of which I have shared in a 2011 article entitled The Servant & the Master in my earlier blog, the Sinners’ Almanac, which you can jump to by clicking here.

The letters are written in a unique way, mixing short sentences of the great shaykh with Quranic scripture. The words of the great shaykh himself are cast in mystical language. There is really no other way for me to describe to you, so perhaps an extract from the Third Letter (of which I am fond of) will educate us a little. The words in italics are the Quranic verses: -

At times you will be drowned in the seas of independence of:

Allah is rich enough to be independent of all creatures, (29:6)

-at other times you will be bewildered in the entanglements of sandstorms of the majesty of:

Do they feel secure from Allah’s devising? (7:99)

-and at other times, influenced by longing, you will chant like a nightingale in the orchard when the breeze of gentleness of:

And do not despair of Allah’s mercy (12:87)

-blows

………………………………………………………..

Slide1Perhaps you may gain a little from this. Certainly, it makes you question your own contemplation. The juxtaposition of the words of the great shaykh with the Holy Quran leaves me breathless at times, wondering just where he is leading me.

Well, today, on this holy day of Friday, I am pleased that it has led me here at least. To share this oh-so brief snippet of the Fifteen Letters with you – with the sincere hope that a copy of the book may find its way into your hands, and into your heart.

For I, I am not worthy, and I understand that this book is meant for more discerning hearts. Perhaps like the one beating in yours?

Of course, I am right, sunshine. Ask for the book. Godwilling, you will receive it. For I really do believe now that the Fifteen Letters are meant for you, though written many centuries before your birth. And I am actually not much surprised. For this is how Love plans His way. Subtly and over eons.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Brave Enough to Surrender

Be Brave and Surrender
If you want servanthood, master yourself,
If you want knowledge, admit your ignorance,
If you want to be good, know that you are often wrong,
If you want something, anything, everything, seek nothing,
If you want a Homecoming, be a traveler,

If you want True Love, promise your heart to no other,

And if you want to win…?

Be brave, my soul, and surrender.
………….

Meaning. Everything is known by its opposites, as the wise-cracking mystics often say. And indeed, the nobility of man, bravery in the face of danger, patience in the storm of troubles, compassion despite provocations, wit in the most trying of occasions… to gain all this and more, we are told to surrender. To submit… which is of course, the lasting meaning of Islam. And to what end? For our own happiness, surely and certainly.

Divine Presence. God would not have planned it any other way, I reckon. Loving you, loving us as He does… beyond our wildest, maddest hopes and dreams of His Love. For He desires our company. Us negligible shaft of a soul. How crazy are we to prefer any other engagement? Not knowing… not imagining the divine pleasure of the Lord’s companionship. It is for such weighty affairs do the mystics ceaselessly polish their soul and purify their manners – devotion and remembrance in worshipful intimacy. Through all the contradictions and contrarian nature that often animate our human experience… through the sweet and sour, the days and nights, the rights and wrongs, through all our hopes and fears. Each visceral moment, inexplicably resonating with the message – Remember Me, Remember Me, Remember Me…Camera 360

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way