Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Knowledge of self

Knowledge of self is the key to the knowledge of God, according to the saying: "He who knows himself knows God," and, as it is Written in the Koran,

"We will show them Our signs in the world and in themselves, that the truth may be manifest to them."

-Imam Ghazali (may Allah bless him)

"The first step to self-knowledge is to know that thou art composed of an outward shape, called the body, and an inward entity called the heart, or soul. By "heart" I do not mean the piece of flesh situated in the left of our bodies, but that which uses all the other faculties as its instruments and servants. In truth it does not belong to the visible world, but to the invisible, and has come into this world as a traveler visits a foreign country for the sake of merchandise, and will presently return to its native land. It is the knowledge of this entity and its attributes which is the key to the knowledge of God.

Some idea of the reality of the heart, or spirit, may be obtained by a man closing his eyes and forgetting everything around except his individuality. He will thus also obtain a glimpse of the unending nature of that individuality. "

-Imam Ghazali (may Allah bless him)

A soul which allows its lower faculties to dominate the higher is as one who should hand over an angel to the power of a dog or a Mussalman to the tyranny of an unbeliever.The cultivation of demonic, animal, or angelic qualities results in the production of corresponding characters, which in the Day of Judgment will be manifested in visible shapes, the sensual appearing as swine, the cruel as dogs and wolves, and the pure as angels. The aim of moral discipline is to purify the heart from the rust of passion and resentment , till, like a clear mirror, it reflects the light of God.

"The Alchemy Of Happiness" by Imam Ghazali R.A

Some one may object, "But if man has been created with animal and demonic qualities as well as angelic, how are we to know that the latter constitute his real essence, while the former are merely accidental and transitory?" To this I answer that the essence of each creature is to be sought in that which is highest in it and unique to it. Thus the horse and the ass are both burden-bearing animals, but the superiority of the horse to the ass consists in its being adapted for use in battle. If it fails in this, it becomes degraded to the rank of burden-bearing animals.

"The Alchemy Of Happiness" by Imam Ghazali R.A

We Are In His Hands In Anger And In Peace

Mathnawi I: 1510-1513

1510 If we come to (a state of) ignorance, that is His prison. And if
we come to (a state of) knowledge, that is His (lofty) balcony.

If we come to (a state of) sleep, we are His drowsy-drunken ones.
And if we come to (a state of) wakeful alertness, we are in His

If we come to (a state of) weeping, we are His cloud full of
glistening (raindrops).1 And if we come to (a state of) laughing,2
we are His lightning in that moment.

1513 If we come to (a state of) anger and battle, it is the reflection
of His Wrath.3 And if we come to (a state of) peace and pardon, it
is the reflection of His Love.4

--From "The Mathnawî-yé Ma`nawî" [Rhymed Couplets of Deep Spiritual Meaning] of Jalaluddin Rumi. Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard (with gratitude for R. A. Nicholson's 1926 British translation) © Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration) (4/27/02)

Notes on the text, with line number:

1(1512) we are His (raining) cloud full of glistening (raindrops): The rhyme ("zarq" with "barq") suggests the idiom "zarq-o barq," which means "gleaming and flashing," "dark-blue and glittering (with lightning)," as well as "magnificence and grandeur." Nicholson later changed his translation to, "we are His cloud shedding rain-drops abundantly" (from, "we are a cloud laden with the bounty dispensed by Him"). And he explained: "i.e. full of the rain of Divine Mercy. GH [= the two earliest manuscripts of the Mathnawi] read 'zarq,' 'brightness', 'splendour'. . . In that case there would be a comparison of glistening tears to rain-drops." (Commentary)

2(1512) laughing: refers to the flashing gleam of smiling or
laughing teeth, which is compared to the flashing quality of

3(1513) it is the reflection of His Wrath: "If we are full of anger and
are quarrelsome, that anger of ours is the reflection and the effect
of the Wrath of God [qahr-é khodâ]. In other words, the qualities
of anger and rage which manifest in us are the reflection and effect
of the qualities of Divine Punishment and Wrath which have
manifested in us. Because human existence is the mirror and place
of manifestation of the Divine Attributes." (Anqaravi, the 17th
century Turkish commentator, translated here into English from a
Persian translation)

4(1513) it is the reflection of His Love: "And, likewise, if we are
inclined to peace and gentle kindness [SulH wa luTf], those are
also the effects of the Love and Gentle Kindness of God which
have appeared in us. In sum, whether (it is) anger or kindness, both
qualities (derive) from Divine Being, become overflowing in the
servant (of God) [= the human being] and mankind is never the
source of any attribute." (Anqaravi, Commentary)

1510 gar ba-jahl ây-êm, ân zendân-é ô-st
w-ar ba-`ilm ây-êm, ân aywân-é ô-st

wa-r be-g'riy-ém abr-é por-zarq-é way-êm
w-ar ba-khand-êm ân zamân barq-é way-êm

1513 w-ar ba-khashm-o jang `aks-é qahr-é ô-st
w-ar ba SulH-o `aZr `aks-é mehr-é ô-st

Allah (Exalted is He) says in a hadith qudsi

"Those who wish to draw near to Me can do so through nothing better than that which I have made obligatory upon them. A man will then continue to approach Me with supererogatory devotions until I love him. And when I love him, I become his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his foot on which he walks, and his hand with which he strikes. If he makes a request of Me I shall certainly grant it, and if he seeks My protection, I shall certainly protect him"


A believer is not he who maligns, curses, or is obscene or vulgar. [Tirmidhi]

Beware of being delighted with acts of worship, for they are a deadly poison. [Al Wasiti]

Suspicion is very wrong as a basis for action. Sufyan al Thawri says there are two kinds of suspicion. One is a sin: that is when you pass judgment against someone based upon your suspicion. The other is not a sin: that is when you suspect someone of having done something wrong, but refrain from judging or condemning him.

The opposite of suspicion is to think well of everybody. Even if there are signs to make you doubt the innocence of someone, it is still best to think of that person as innocent. To think badly and continue to be suspicious of someone who has been proven innocent is a sin. Thus it is best for you to have good will toward one and all. Above all, you should think well of your Lord. [The Path of Muhammad]

There comes a Sound,
from neither within nor without,
From neither right nor left,
from neither behind nor in front,
From neither below nor above,
from neither East nor West,
Nor is it of the element:
water, air, fire, earth, and the like;

From where then?

It is from that place thou art in search of:
Turn ye toward the place wherefrom the Lord makes His appearance.
From where a restless fish out of water gets water to live in,
From the place where the prophet Moses saw the divine Light,
From the place where the fruits get their ripening influence,
From the place where the stones get transmuted to gems,
From the place to which even in infidel turns in distress,
From the place to which all men turn when they find this world a vale of tears.
It is not given to us to describe such a blessed place:
It is a place where even the heretics would leave off their heresies.

-Hazrat Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi (r.a) (1207-1273 AD) Divan i Shamsi Tabriz

Humbleness -The Muslim Creed

The Muslim Creed

Humbleness is the opposite of arrogance, and is an attitude and behavior that Allah and His Messenger have commanded us to have. It is also a great tool used to spread Islam to others.

The best way to achieve humbleness in the heart is contained in the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah ,who prescribed many methods to teach his companions how to be humble. We ask Allah to help us all become humble and stay firm on that path. Following are some of the methods and ways of achieving humbleness:

1. Extending As-Salam (saying As-Salamu Alaykum, peace be unto you).
Abdullah ibn ‘Amer said that a man asked the Messenger of Allah “Which part of Islam is the best?” He said, “To feed the food (to the poor), and to extend As Salam to those whom you know and whom you do not know. ”
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

Therefore, extending As-Salam to the old, young, rich, poor, noble, common folk, stranger and relative, will open
one’s heart to achieve humbleness and will shut the door closed for arrogance and tyranny.

The excellence of the month of Ramadan

Allahomma salliala Muhammadin wa'ala li Muhammadin kamaa sallaita ala Ibrahima wa'ala li Ibrahima innaka hamidum majeed.
Allahomma barik ala Muhammadin wa'ala li Muhammadin kama barakta ala Ibrahima wa'ala li Ibrahima innaka hamidum majeed

The virtue of fasting

Abu Hurairah(RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah(SAWS) said: "Allah the Exalted and Glorious said: 'All acts of worship a man does, belong to him, except fasting which is for Me, and I will reward for it.' Fasting is a shield. When anyone of you is fasting, he should not engage in sexual activities not raise the voice; or if anyone reviles him or quarrels with him, he should say: 'I am fasting.' By Him, in Whose Hand is the life of Muhammad; the breath of a fasting person is sweeter to Allah on the Day of Resurrection than the fragrance of musk. The one who fasts has two occassions of joy, one when he breaks the fast, he is glad with breaking of fast, and one when he meets his Rubb, he is glad with his fast."
(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)

The excellence of the month of Ramadan

Abu Hurairah(RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah(SAWS) said: "When the month of Ramadan comes, the gates of Jannah are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the satans are chained."
(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)

One should not fast a day or two days ahead of Ramadan

Abu Hurairah(RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah(SAWS) said: "Do not fast a day or two days ahead of Ramadan except for a person who is in the habit of observing a particular day's fast , he may fast."
(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)

Fasting upon sighting the new moon

Abu Hurairah(RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah(SAWS) made a mention of the new moon and said: "Observe fast when you see it, and break fast when you see it (moon of Shawwal), but when it is obscured from you, then complete it as thirty days."
(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)

The month consists of twenty-nine days

Ibn Umar(RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah(SAWS) said: "We are unlettered people who can neither write nor count. The month is thus and thus and thus(folding his thumb at the third time) (meaning twenty-nine days). And the month is thus and thus and thus." It means that the month consists of thirty days.
(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)

Allah makes it clear to be seen

Abul-Bakhtari (RA) reported: We went out to perform 'Umrah and when we encamped in the
valley of Nakhlah, we tried to see the new moon. Some said that it was three nights old, and others said it was two nights old. We then met Ibn Abbas and told him that we had seen the new moon, but some of the people said that it was three nights old and others said that it was two nights old. He asked on which night we had seen it, and when we told him that we had seen it on such and such night, he said that the Prophet of Allah(SAWS) said: "Verily, Allah makes it clear at the time it is seen, so it is to be reckoned from the night you saw it."
(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)

Moon sighting for every area

Kuraib said: Umm Fadl bint Al-Harith sent him (Fadl, i.e., her son) to Mu'awiyah(RA) in
Syria. He arrived in Syria, and fulfilled her need. While I was there, the month of Ramadan commenced. He said: "I saw the new moon of Ramadan on Friday." I then came back to Al-Madinah at the end of the month. 'Abdullah bin Abbas asked me about the new moon of Ramadan: "When did you see it?" I said: "We saw it on Friday night." He said: "Did you see it yourself?" I said: "Yes, and the people also saw it so they observed fast and Mu'awiyah also observed fast." Thereupon he said: "But we saw it on Saturday night. So we shall continue to observe the fast until we complete thirty days fasts or we see the new moon of Shawwal." I said: "Is the sighting of the moon by Mu'awiyah not valid for you?" He said:"No; this is how Messenger of Allah(SAWS) commanded us."
(Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)

A piece of Jannah is up for sale...................

A piece of Jannah is up for sale! Are there any buyers??

By Asma bint Shameem

Subhaan Allaah! The beautiful month of Ramadaan is flying by! Its blessed days and fragrant nights are soon about to leave. And it breaks our hearts to let it go.

Yet, O Muslim, Rejoice! For there is good news for you!

A great opportunity is about to dawn upon you......A once-in -a -lifetime chance!
It's an offer that you cannot pass by!

Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta'ala, in his Infinite Mercy, has bestowed upon you a Great and Noble night.....

Its the Night of Power…. the Night of Divine Decree.

A Night in which angels descend and send salutations to the believers…

A Night of innumerable blessings…..full of PEACE and tranquility….

A Night…… in which, Ibadah is better than a thousand months.

"The Night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months." (Surah al-Qadr:3)

A thousand months! Subhaan Allaah!

That is equal to 30,000 nights or 83 years and 4 months!

Could there be a better chance for you than this??!!

Could there be a more Merciful Lord than this??!!

Subhaan Allaah wal Hamdulillaah!

Here is your chance to repent….to come back to the Most Merciful….to change your life for the better.

This is your chance to have ALL your previous sins forgiven!

"Whoever established prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven" (Bukhaari)

This is a perfect opportunity to earn Allaah's pleasure…..being saved from Hellfire and entering Jannah. A time when your dua will surely be accepted.

What to do on Laylatul Qadr?

1) Search for this night in the LAST TEN nights of Ramadaan (not just the 27th)
Don't just single out one night for Ibadaat. Make sure to do it ALL TEN NIGHTS, because the EXACT date for Lailatul Qadr is hidden from us.

What if Lailatul Qadr is some other night and not on the 27th?? Have you ever thought about that? Then you would have no one to blame but yourself if you miss this great Night….this perfect opportunity of goodness and blessings.

"Seek Laylat al-Qadr among the odd numbered nights of the last ten nights of Ramadaan." (Bukhaari, Muslim)

2) Strive HARD in your search, worshiping Allaah sincerely and diligently
This your chance to earn Jannah. So give it ALL you got…. everything you have.

"The Prophet (pbuh)used to used to strive hard in worship during the last ten days of Ramadaan as he never did at any other time." (Muslim, Ahmad)

3) Prepare for it mentally and physically

Take off work, if you can and go for Umrah or make I'tikaaf in the Masjid.
Don't overtire yourself during the day, such that you don't have any energy left to worship the Almighty.

Plan out your worship schedule for the night,

Take a nap during the day, if possible and remember…do not overeat!

4) Shun worldly pleasures

Don't waste A SINGLE MOMENT of your time, such as spending this precious time in the mall, shopping for Eid or in extravagant 'Iftaar-cum-fashion show' parties.
Stay away from anything and everything that might distract you from remembering Allaah (TV, movies, music, unnecessary phone calls, gossip, etc.)

"When the last ten days of Ramadaan began, the Prophet (pbuh) would tighten his waist-wrapper (meaning he would stay away from marital relations), spend his nights in prayer, and wake his family." (Muslim)

5) Spend these nights in prayer, reciting Qur'aan, making dua, doing istighfaar.

Stand LONG in Qiyaam….hands folded obediently…your head low, in shame…humbly
Eyes downcast….hearts trembling…tears rolling…..

Tears of regret and sorrow…..tears of repentance and shame,

Spread out your hands….like a beggar, begging for his life….

Ask Allaah to forgive you and He will forgive you.

Beg for his Mercy and He will give it to you.

Beseech Him to guide you and save you from the torments of Hell.

Be determined that you will rectify your mistakes and improve your shortcomings,

Resolve to be steadfast in your Commitment and be firm in your Deen.

Read Quraan, do much Tasbeeh, glorify Allaah, praise Him and thank Him.

Make lots of dua for yourself, your family, your friends and the Muslim Ummah.

6) DON'T BE THE ONE WHO SLEEPS and misses out on immeasurable goodness
One who misses this blessed night has indeed missed much goodness, for no one misses it except for the one from whom it is withheld.

" In it (i e. Ramadaan) is a night better than a thousand months, whoever loses the benefit of it has lost something irreplaceable." (Ahmad, an-Nasaa'i)

There are many chances to sleep, but a chance like this is rare to come by ….only once a year. And that also if you are lucky to be alive next year.

Are you going to miss a golden chance like this one…..sleeping??

Or are you going to be like the one who maybe just prays a few rakaat and thinks he's done enough and is eager to go back to sleep??

Think about it......Isn't there plenty of time to sleep??

Haven't we been sleeping all this while, anyway?? Haven't we "SLEPT" enough, O Muslim??!!


Life is about opportunities. They say the wise man is the one who makes the most of his opportunities. Here is an opportunity to buy a piece of Jannah.

A piece of Jannah is up for sale! Are there any buyers??

The dua to make on Lailatul Qadr

Note: There is nothing that is narrated in the Quraan or Sunnah regarding Ibaadat such as prayer , duas, etc. that is to be specifically read on Lailatul Qadr EXCEPT just one hadeeth from Aisha (RA) when she asked the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam):

"I said, 'O Messenger of Allaah, if I know which night is Laylat al-Qadr, what should I say on that night?' He said, 'Say:

Allaahumma innaka 'afuwwun tuhibb al-'afwa fa'affu 'anni (O Allaah, You are forgiving and You love forgiveness, so forgive me)." (Tirmidhi)

All the other duas and formulas for prayers that you see in some books and papers that are to be read a certain number of times or to be read in a specific order, or to be read in Salaah in a specific way, are ALL bidah. There is NO PROOF in the Qur'aan or Sunnah for their validity. Stay away from that.

Remember, Allaah will accept your Ibaadah only and only if it is:

a) done sincerely for Him alone

b) if it is done according to what the Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa sallam) himself did or said or approved of.

Otherwise it will be thrown back on the person who did it, without being accepted, no matter what it is.

He (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa sallam) said: "Every action that is not in accordance with this matter of ours [i.e. Islam] will be rejected." (Muslim)

May Allaah save us from that. Ameen.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Islam encourages its believers to trust each other and to assume that the intentions of others are good. It is important to think positively about others unless proven otherwise because such feelings of certitude give individuals inner peace. On the other hand, harboring pessimism tend to breed contempt in society. Imam Ali, the successor after the Prophet, instructed, ''Expect good from your brothers, unless something happens that makes you rule otherwise; and do not assume a word of his is evil when there is still the possibility of it being good.''

Consequently, how we view others often reflects upon our own thoughts and feelings. A case in point can be narrated from the life of the Prophet.

When the Holy Prophet entered Medina for the first time after migrating from Mecca a man came to him and said, ''O' Messenger of God, the people of this town are men of goodness, they are kind; you have done the right thing in coming here. The Prophet told the man, ''You speak the truth.'' Another man them came to the Prophet and said, Prophet of God, the people of this town are evil it would have been better if you did not migrate here. Prophet Muhammad said, ''You speak the truth.'' When the people heard both of the replies to both of the men, they questioned the Prophet. The Holy Messenger answered, ''Each of them spoke what was in his mind; therefore, both of them spoke the truth.''

It can be surmised that thoughts evoke either positive or negative reactions. False accusations or verbal hearsay is not adequate enough to break loyalty or trust in any relationship. These are lessons taught by the divine leaders of Islam. A man asked Imam Hasan, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad and the second successor after him, ''What is the distance between truth and falsehood?'' Imam Hasan answered, ''The distance between truth and falsehood is four fingers (diagonally measured from an eye to an ear). That is to say, that which is seen by the eyes is truth, that which is heard by the ears is often falsehood.''

Helen Keller had said, ''Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.''

A positive outlook and confidence in ourselves and others are the ingredients toward success and happiness. Truly having an optimistic view of others can bring about a prosperous society. The preaching of hate and fear will in turn create disunity and malice.

The Spiritual Way to Perfection



Man has innate inclination to know where he comes from, what his end will be, and what is his purpose in life

Man has innate inclination to know where he comes from, what his end will be, and what is his purpose in life. While traditional man had no difficulty in answering these questions and knew with certainty where he came from, why he was living and where he was going, modern man, under the heavy burden of modern life and the influence of modern conceptions, knows almost nothing of these essential problems arising from his very nature. This ignorance does not, however, change his situation: he, like the traditional man, is born and dies, and this fact has never changed nor will it do so, in spite of the ‘gigantic’ advancements in science and technology. The only difference is that what was once certainty has been replaced by doubt and fear.

He is a finite being contained by an infinitude

Man’s situation between these two fixed points, that is, birth and death, has not changed at all. He is still a finite being contained by an infinitude, who cannot escape being stirred by his very nature to an understanding of the Infinite and the Absolute. With regard to the Absolute and all the states of being which comprise the universe, man is what he has always been and always will be, one of the fairest creatures with the highest point of creation, yet with the potentiality to fall down to ‘the lowest of the low’.

According to the Qur’an, the process of creation is circular (As He brought you forth in the beginning so unto Him shall you also return. 7:29) in the sense that it ends at the point from where it started. The atheist is also of the same view, but he conceives matter, space and time or something presentable in terms of four dimensions as the point wherefrom the process starts and at which it also ends. Although matter is furthest from the state of perfection, he holds it, in its most chaotic condition, as the beginning and the end of the creation, which he deems as accidental and purposeless. Whereas according to the Qur’an, the existence starts with the highest state of perfection, and then proceeds down to matter, which has the least degree of perfection, and then again it turns back upward to the point from where it started.

He regulates the affair from the heaven to the earth, then shall it go up to Him in one day the measure of which is thousand years of what you reckon. (32:5)

Creation in the “Breath” of the Compassionate

This process is designed and administered by the Creative Will, and the Divine Grace and Compassion (rahma) is an a Priori factor in the manifestation of this Will. Therefore Compassion is the principle of the manifestation of the Infinite, so that the universe is called by the Muslim sufis ‘the Breath of the Compassionate’. Each particle of existence is immersed in this Breath, which endows it with a ‘sympathy’, with an ‘attraction’ to other beings, and above all with the source of the Breath, the Divine Compassion. That is why each atom of the universe is regarded as the theophany of the Divine Names and Attributes. Mahmud Shabstari, in his Gulshan-i Raz (The Mystic Rose Garden), expresses the Divine Being as manifested in everything, whether big or small:

Know the world is a mirror from head to foot,
In every atom a hundred blazing suns.
If you cleave the heart of one drop of water,
A hundred pure oceans emerge from it.
If you examine closely each grain of sand,
A thousand
Adams may be seen in it.
In its members a gnat is like an elephant;
In its qualities a drop of rain is like the
The heart of a barley-corn equals a hundred harvests,
A world dwells in the heart of a millet seed.
In the wing of a gnat is the ocean of the life,
In the pupil of the eye a heaven;
What though the grain of the heart be small,
It is a station for the Lord of both worlds to dwell therein.
(Translated by E. H. Whinfield)

The Light of Muhammad is actually the theatre of the theophany of all the Divine Names and Attributes
Because existence is the manifestation of God’s grace or compassion, the order and hierarchy of creation begins with the highest and most comprehensive created entity, who is the compassion unto all worlds or beings, and the foremost in having within the fold of his existence all the excellences which are to be revealed in the chain of beings next to him in grade and elevation. This entity, being the most comprehensive in perfection and the embodiment of God’s Compassion, is presented in various terms but the most appropriate one is ‘the Light of Muhammad’ or ‘Reality of Muhammad’. Like sunshine radiating through everything from a molecule of water to the whole surface of the sea, and to the heavenly bodies, so the Light of Muhammad is actually the theatre of the theophany of all the Divine Names and Attributes, and the archetype of the cosmos.

The hierarchy of creation

The hierarchy of creation then unfolds itself in innumerable spheres of intellectual and angelical beings. In the Qur’an, they are termed ‘the Malakut’ or realms of unseen active spiritual and psychic entities. Each sphere is held by the one above it and this holds the sphere below it, ending in the four dimensional sphere known as material being. This is the lowest sphere which is held but has no holding faculty of its own at all, so it is termed in the Qur’an ‘Alam-i Mulk’ or ‘Alam-i Shadat’, the held-world or seen-world. This world forms the base of the hierarchy, the summit of which is the first and the most perfect and comprehensive entity. This base has nothing of the actual or the creative in it, but it is endowed with unlimited potentiality and recipience which forms the background of its upward and spiritually evolutionary movement.

Thus matter in its upward course begins with the simplest form of particles of atom and then proceeds towards the formation of atoms into nebulae and solar system, populated with inanimate and animate things, of plants, animals, man and other conscious and intellectual beings of various species, the nature and number of whom the Creator alone knows. So far as the earth is concerned, inanimate elements are employed by the Creator to develop into plants, thus being elevated to the simplest degree of life. Life evolves through plants and animals until it reaches perfection with man, who is the most complicated and the highest intellectual entity, into which matter has developed, and with which the hierarchy of creation returns to the point from where it started.

Man is endowed with the power of discovery and invention, and has been taught ‘the names’, which are the keys to the knowledge of all things

Man is endowed with the power of discovery and invention, and has been taught ‘the names’, which are the keys to the knowledge of all things. He is also gifted with the power to receive through his external and internal senses all that is manifested by God’s Will in the various spheres -terrestrial, celestial and supercelestial, and to reflect and reproduce all that he has received. Although man is at the summit of the hierarchy of creation on account of his celestial origin, he has to live upon the earth because of the vegetable and animal aspects of his existence. It is precisely because of these contradictory features of his being, the angelic nature and the terrestrial crust hiding the spiritual core, that man lives in this world and yet is bound by his own nature to transcend it.

Man is the bearer of the Supreme Divine Trust

The Qur’anic verse “Surely We created man of the fairest creature; then We reduced him to the lowest of the low” (95:4-5) defines the situation of man in this world in a manner that is at once perennial and universal. Man was created in the fairest stature, then he fell into the condition of separation and withdrawal from his celestial prototype, to a condition which the Qur’an calls the lowest of the low. Upon this point, a Muslim Sufi commentator writes that God created man as the most complete and perfect theophany, the most universal and all-embracing theatre of Divine Names and Attributes, so that he might become the bearer of the Divine Trust (amana) and the source of an unlimited effusion of light. He identifies ‘the lowest of the low’ with the world of natural passions and heedlessness. The grandeur of the human state, its great possibilities and perils, and the permanent nature of man’s quest after the Divine thus lie at the very root of human existence. Avicenna, a famous Muslim philosopher of the eleventh century, expresses in the following poem this idea that the human soul feels constrained to leave this world and to return to the angelic world from where it came:

Now why from its perch on high was it cast like this
To the lowest Nadir’s gloomy and dear abyss?
Was it God who cast it forth for some purpose wise,
Concealed from the keenest seeker’s inquiring eyes?
Then is its descent a discipline wise but stern,
That the things that it has not heard it thus may learn.
So ‘tis she whom Fate does plunder, while the star
Sets at length in a place from its rising far,
Like a gleam of lightning which over the meadows shone,
And, as though it never had been, in a moment is gone.
(E.G. Brown’s translation)

Finite forms in the cosmos reveal the traces of the Infinite

The cosmos continually reveals to man the eternal message of the Truth. Its finite forms reveal the traces of the Infinite. As Ali ibn Ali Talib said, “I wonder at the man who observes the universe created by God and doubts His existence.” The Qur’an says concerning this point:

To God belongs the Kingdom of the heavens and of the earth; and God is powerful over everything. Surely in the creation of the heavens and earth and in the alternation of night and day there are signs for men possessed of minds, who remember God, standing and sitting and lying on their sides, and reflect upon the creation of the heavens and the earth:

“Our Lord, You have not created this for vanity. Glory be to You! Guard us against the chastisement of the Fire. Our Lord, whomsoever You admit into the Fire, You will have abased; and the evildoers shall have no helpers. Our Lord, we have heard a caller calling us to belief, saying, “Believe you in your Lord!” And so we believe. Our Lord, forgive You us our sins and acquit us for our evil deeds, and take us to You with the pious. Our Lord, give us what You have promised us through Your Messengers, and abase us not on the Day of Resurrection; You will not fail the tryst.” And their Lord answers them: “I waste not the labor of any that labors among you, be you male or female -the one of you is as the other.” (3:189-195)

Man has need of revelation, which like the cosmos itself comes from the Infinite and the Absolute, and hence serves as the key for the unfolding of the mysteries of man’s own being as well as those of the universe. Revelation is in itself a gift that has descended from the Divine mercy to enable man to pass beyond the finite to the Infinite.

Revelation enables the human soul to make a journey from the outward to the inward, from the periphery to the center, from form to meaning, the journey which is none other than the mystical quest itself

Revelation enables the human soul to make a journey from the outward to the inward, from the periphery to the center, from form to meaning, the journey which is none other than the mystical quest itself. Because of the intimate relation the soul has with the cosmos, this journey is at once a penetration to the center of the soul and a migration to the abode beyond the cosmos. In both places the Divine Presence resides. Man, by following the ‘outer’ form of Islam, migrates into the inner and by the grace of God transcends the finite world to regain his primordial angelic state, and thus to complete the circle of creation. The spiritual path, as it exists in Islam, is one in which man dies to his carnal soul in order to be reborn in his angelic self.

Those who have found the Truth have found Him in their souls;
Those who have been detained half-way have been hindered by conjectures.
Who truly seeks will truly find Him, while the indolent can do neither;
For His slaves on their spiritual journey, He is the final destination.
The souls who do not recognize Him as friend, who do not die to themselves to be raised again in him,
The souls who do not die for His sake are utterly bereft and destitute.
Come, friends, let’s set out to reach the realm of the Beloved;
And let us see the rose of His beauty for a moment in light.
The world is pitiless and cruel, all around in fog and cloud;
It is but a loss and waste of time to stay here even for a short while.
We are travelers, and our home-coming is with Him alone; what an honor then to reach him; and
Faith is the only means of attaining this aim by His leave and grace.

As frequently pointed out in this book, Islam is the religion of unity and all the aspects of the Islamic doctrine and practice reflect this central and cardinal principle. The Shari‘a itself is a vast network of injunctions and regulations which relate the world of multiplicity inwardly to a single center, and which conversely is reflected in the multiplicity of the circumference. In the same way Islamic art always seeks to relate the multiplicity of forms, shapes and color to the One, to the center and Origin, thereby reflecting Tawhid in its own way in the world of forms with which it is concerned.

Sufism, being the inner dimension of the Islamic revelation, is the means par excellence whereby Tawhid is achieved

Sufism, being the inner dimension of the Islamic revelation, is the means par excellence whereby Tawhid is achieved. All Muslims believe in unity as expressed in the most universal sense possible by the Shadah, La ilahe ill’Allah, that is, there is not deity but God.

The whole program of Sufism, of the Islamic spiritual way, is to free man from the prison of multiplicity, and to purify him of any mental process or physical action which diverts his ego-center towards temporal and sensual desires. It is to cure him of hypocrisy and to make him whole, for it is only in being whole that man can become holy. Men confess the one God but actually live and act as if there were many gods. Thus they suffer from the cardinal sin of ‘polytheism’ or shirk, and from a hypocrisy whereby they profess one thing but act according to something different. Sufism seeks to bring shirk into the open, and thereby to cure the soul of this deadly malady. The aim and goal of Sufism is to integrate man at every level of his existence.

Such an integration is brought about by the harmonization of all the faculties, the body, the mind, and the spirit, and not through the negation of the intelligence which so often occurs with modern religious movements. The methods of Sufism base themselves upon the practices of the Shari‘a, and in particular, the daily prayers, which are a most powerful means of integrating man’s psychic faculties and harmonizing them with his corporeal being.

The main method of Sufism, in fact, is to extend the prayers so that they become continuous. This extension is not only quantitative, but also qualitative, that is, Sufism uses this quintessential form of prayer, the dhikr or invocation, in which all otherness and separation from the Divine is removed and man achieves Tawhid. With the help of dhikr, combined with appropriate forms of meditation or fikr, man first gains an integrated soul, pure and whole like gold, and then by means of dhikr, he offers his soul to God so as to return to him in ecstasy.

The man who has achieved this integration possesses certain characteristics discernible to everyone; it leaves its imprint even upon his outward appearance, which of necessity reflects his inner state. Such a person is first of all cured of all the maladies of the soul, not by having all tensions and complexes removed in the manner of modern psycho-analysis, but by having those tensions which arise from man’s urge and need for the transcendent realized and fulfilled. Moreover, such a man does not live a compartmentalized existence, his thoughts and actions all issue from a single center and are based on a series of immutable principles. In him, the Islamic ideal of unifying contemplation with the practical is realized. He does not act or think in the normal manner, rather his contemplation and meditation are combined in the purest and most intense activity. By virtue of his becoming integrated, he reflects the Divine Unity and becomes the total theophany of the Divine Names and Qualities. He acts and lives in such a manner that there is a spiritual fragrance and beauty about all he does and says. Somehow he is in touch with that baraka or Divine grace which runs through the arteries of the universe.

The man who has achieved integration has reached the goal of his life, and is cured forever of the fear of death, which is so destructive to modern man. He perceives that death is not total annihilation but merely a shifting from a state of lesser sensitivity to a higher one. Man belongs to God, and as stated in the Qur’an, the movement of every individual, as well as the societies of beings a whole, is toward God. Death is, therefore, nothing but a shift and change from one stage of existence to a higher one which ultimately terminates with God. Of man’s sensory faculties, whether external or internal, none is destroyed by death, on the contrary, all these become refined and sharpened. The only relationship which is severed by death is the direct relationship of the conscious ego with the outer material world, with which it is connected through external senses. The material life is a veil to human senses and consciousness; on the removal of this veil by death all the faculties are sharpened. This is confirmed by a tradition of the Holy Prophet, who said, “Men are at present in a state of sleep; they will awake when they die.” So death is actually an ascension, and therefore not something to be feared by the sincere Muslim but is a gate opening towards the higher realities and pleasures of existence. It is a transference from the dungeons of worldly life to the gardens of Paradise, and from the world of labor and troubles to the abode of rewards.

In a Prophetic tradition in which God speaks God says:

My servant draws near unto me by works of supererogation, so that I love him; and when I love him, I am his ear with which he hears through Me, and his eye with which he sees through Me, and his tongue with which he speaks through Me, and his hand with which he takes through Me.