Saturday, October 29, 2005

On Arrogance and Humility Part 2

"To go to feasts without being invited is humiliating and a kind of begging.

Abdullah ibn Omar reports the Messenger of Allah (saws) as having said,

"If one does not accept an invitation he is revolting against Allah and His Prophet. If someone goes to a feast or a wedding without being invited, he has entered their house as a thief and left as a plunderer. . ."

To befriend, visit, and frequent dignitaries, people in power, high government officials, judges, generals or influential rich people, with the hope of obtaining benefit from these relationships, is forbidden humility according to our religion, unless these people possess the means of our receiving what is rightfully ours and we are in real need of it. And when we are in the company of these people, to stay standing, to bow, to show excessive respect in action and speech, is demeaning, and the wrong kind of humility.

To work hard, even far beneath our qualifications, to support our families, to help with the menial chores of our houses, shopping, cooking, cleaning, are commendable signs of true humility. To be ordinary in appearance, to wear inexpensive and worn clothes, to befriend the poor and disadvantaged, to eat simple food and not to throw away leftovers, to not seek reputation-building, self-glorifying jobs, not to consider it beneath you to be a shepherd, a gardener, a porter, carpenter or mason, these are true signs of humility. These kinds of manifestations of humility are worthy of great divine rewards, for they resemble the behavior of prophets and saints. But many people do not know it and think of a life like this as reprehensible. They are the arrogant ones who do not know themselves.

Arrogance becomes more dangerous when it is manifested and directed towards someone. Some are arrogant towards man. They are not any better that the accursed devil, who refused to obey Allah, when He asked all the angels to prostrate to Adam. The devil thought that he was created of fire, while Adam was created of earth, and that fire was superior to earth. He did not know himself and he did not know Adam. Therefore, he was punished and rejected from Allah's Mercy until the end of time.

Some are arrogant toward Allah, like the Pharaoh who said, "I am your exalted lord." Or like Nimrod, who said to the prophet Abraham (as), "Your Lord may be the God of Heavens. I am the lord of the world", and dared to challenge Allah to fight him. Allah drowned the Pharaoh and his armies while they were chasing the prophet Moses (as) and the children of Israel. Nimrod was killed by a mosquito which devoured his brain.

Some are arrogant towards the Prophet of Allah (saws), like Abu Jahl, who said, "Is this who God chose as His messenger? Couldn't He have revealed the Qur'an to a notorious man of Mecca or Medina?"

Ibn Mas'ud relates that the Prophet (saws) said, "Whoever has an atom of pride in his heart will not enter Paradise." Then one of his companions asked, "What do you say about someone who likes to dress in fine clothes?" and he answered, "Allah is beautiful and likes that which is beautiful. Arrogance is to deny reality and to consider others beneath oneself."

During his Khalifat, Omar ibn Khattab (ra) was marching upon Damascus with his army. Abu Ubayda ibn Jerrah was with him. They came upon a little lake. Hd. Omar (ra) descended from his camel, took off his shoes, tied them together, and hung them on his shoulder. He took the halter of his camel and together they entered the water. Seeing this in front of the army, Abu Abayda said, "Oh the Commander of the believers, how can you be so humble in front of all your men?" Hd. Omar answered, "Woe to you, Abu Ubayda! If only anyone else other than you thought this way! Thoughts like this will cause the downfall of the Muslims. Don't you see, we were indeed a very lowly people. Allah raised us to honor and greatness through Islam. If we forget who we are and wish other than Islam, which elevated us, the One who raised us, surely will debase us."

Muhammad ibn Zeyyad reports that when Abu Hurayra was appointed the governor of Medina, he used to walk into the marketplace with a load of wood on his back and shout, "Open the way, let the governor pass!" and others would cry "Open the way, let the people see their leader pass!"

Imam Tirimizi relates that he heard Jubayr complain that people thought he was proud. He said, "I ride a donkey, I wear coarse wool clothes of the poor, I milk my goats myself and I heard the Messenger of Allah (saws) say, 'Whoever does [those things] is not proud.'"

Seven qualities are considered to be the cause of pride: education, knowledge, religious piety, fame and nobility of one's family and descendents, physical attractiveness, physical strength, wealth, achievement, and the number of ones admirers and followers. In reality, none of these qualities need to be the causes of arrogance. On the contrary, they are positive values which every person strives for. The real cause of arrogance is stupidity, and the inability to comprehend what is offered as knowledge. Yet there is no other medicine but knowledge to cure stupidity."

- adapted from "The Path of Muhammad (SAWS) - A Book on Islamic Morals and Ethics"

by Imam Birgivi: interpreted by Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti

Monday, October 24, 2005

On Arrogance and Humility Part 1

"Arrogance is a state in which we are convinced that we have the right to be above others. Justifiable self-regard, wihtout comparing ourselves to others and feeling superior, is not the same thing. That is, at worst, vanity. Arrogance is unlawful in Islam. It is considered to be a disgraceful state.

The opposite of arrogance is to look at ourselves with the intention of truly knowing ourselves. Self-examination is a virtue, and one that is expected of a Muslim. Whether our self-regard is justifiable or not, whether truly in our hearts we believe that we are superior to others or not, if our conceit is exteriorized, manifested, communicated to others by mind or deed, it is a sin. The worst version of this sin occurs when no justification exists for the feeling of superiority we cherish. Allah Most High, one of whose attributes is The Proud One, is the only one with the right to that name.

Modesty, to appear less than we are, is commendable. Yet, the exaggeration of humbleness to the extent of appearing abject is a sin.

Only knowledge is worth begging for, and worth humbling ourselves to receive."

- adapted from "The Path of Muhammad (SAWS) - A Book on Islamic Morals and Ethics"
by Imam Birgivi: interpreted by Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti

A Ripe Mind

"What my family traditions, my education and my social environment had offered me in the making of my mind, I was from the very beginning of my life, reluctant to rest content with. The bonds of inherited dependance on the past could not hold me under.

The zest of search for truth never forsook me. There is hardly a single conviction in me which has not had to bear the stings of doubt, or a single belief which has not faced the test of denial. I have gulped in poison mixed with every draught applied to my lips, and have also administered to myself Elixir coming forth from every quarter. Whenever I felt thirsty, my parched lips did not resemble the lips of others who were equally thirsty, and when I quenched my thirst, it was not from the same fountain as others did.

Whatever I could gather in this lengthy period of my life in my search of the Qur'anic truth, I have tried to understand to the best of my ability, and spread over the pages of this volume:"

"This is no new tale of fiction, but a confirmation of previous scriptures, and the explanation of all things, and a guidance and mercy to those who believe"

Surah 12(Yusuf) : Ayah 111
The Qur'an

-from the District Jail, Meerut (UP, India)
16th, November 1930
Preface to the 1st Edition,
"The Opening Chapter of the Qur'an"
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Poverty of Common Sense

As-Salaam Wa Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatahu,

When one begins to live in India, one becomes well acquainted and eventually come to terms with its local customs, practices, traditions, and even highly prevalent social and cultural

As history has shown, neither education, nor intelligence has ever been a panacea for Ignorance (capitalized here as it is the disease known as Ignorance). Whether it is a self-imbibed, or a force-fed generational tonic, prejudices of a social, religious, or racial nature are often bitter but accepted truths on a universal level. Yes, true for all. (If anyone believes it doesn't apply to him or her, unless you are Western European, your ancestors HAVE been colonized at one stage or another. )

The Caste system, as you may or may not know, in India, is either a birthright to rule, or a sentence to grovel, depending on which tier you figure into. Not only is it still very much alive, it is the rubric by which the majority of Indians live and function by, day to day. From marriage proposals to choosing the 'right' candidate for a job to admission seats in professional schools, it is an undeniable reality. It even manifests to the extent of radicalism, such as the violent rejection of low caste presence in a community as exemplified by the burning of Dalit homes in the Belkhed region, Akola less than a month back -("The Riots and Wrongs of Caste")

If anything can be said about India and Indians, it is that they are not apologetic about it nor do they sweep it under the rug as a dirty little secret and pretend it doesn't exist. Things like that usually have a way of rearing their ugly head, or are coaxed out by uncontrolled phenomena, like,...oh I don't know, Hurricanes? The Tragedy Queen, Katrina-the single most economically devastating natural disaster in US history was also an eye opener and a 101 in how the US govt. conducts itself with the many racial and social sub-classes that thrive on its soil. Apparently, haste is waste when it comes to "pandering" to the American Untouchables(May God forgive Us). But I digress. Unfortunately, when social corruption is rampant and unabashed, cognizance of impending fascism becomes trickier, bigotry is peddled as patriotism, and human rights' violations can become national policy.

Recently I wrote a blog(Aftershocks) on my experience with a patient, a mother, who's inability to accept her baby's gender insulted my sense of decency as a human being and I was called out on being too harsh in my criticism, to the point of being an unsympathetic doctor. Maybe I neglected to mention it, but it was not simply intuition talking. The fact was, when asked, she did indeed vocalize her disappointment about it being a girl. Post partum or peri-natal depression, is a clinical depression, diagnosed as a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration persist during or within a year of the pregnancy. These symptoms peak between postpartum days 3 and 5, and typically resolve spontaneously within 24 to 72 hours. At the other end of the spectrum is the truly devastating puerperal psychosis. This particular disorder, although a legitimate syndrome, was a far cry from the incident I narrated. When working with psychiatric illnesses, the realm is intangible, and so nothing absolute can definitively be purported, but something tells me a direct statement from the mother precludes this discussion. At another similar situation, I overheard a mother lamenting the dark hue of her baby's skin.

"This can't be my baby! Yeh to bahut "kaala"hai!(He's too dark!) What am I to do?!"

Is this also post-partum depression? Or is it safe to say that this is an unjust and ludicrous reaction? Only in the west do we make apologies for and victimize blatant ignorance. We must recognize our role as human beings, and the rights others have on us as a result. What could I have done for the newborn of the female persuasion who was treated with such contempt? Corrupt law enforcement and the virtual non-entity of competent social organizations is not only discouraging, it is a cul-de-sac of despair that every Indian has accepted as a pervasive daily reality. What I did do is make earnest dua for her and Insh'allah it will be answered.

Extreme gender issues like female infanticide and foeticide are also a far cry from being forgotten brutalities. The uses of the Ultrasound in pregnancy can range from a crucial diagnostic tool or as a sniper in the application of sex-selective abortion.(Missing girls of Morena - Frontline, Oct.7, 2005) I am as unapologetic of my hatred of this as is India in its persevering silence in the face of such frank antipathy.

What is to be done? These issues need to be addressed coherently and passionately. But before this happens, keep in mind, Americans had their Revolutionary War in the late 18th century, and the Civil Rights movement snailed its way forward only in the 1960's. Today, India is still a nation whose socio-political spheres are in continuous upheaval, regardless of it's steady and rapidly growing economy. Considering as a nation, India kicked off the shackles of British Colonialism not 60 yrs ago and is still struggling to balance it's legs after a Polio-like paralysis for a 100 years, it will obviously take some time for socio-political reform. This is a lengthy discussion, and cannot be contained nor given its due credence in a paragraph or even 10. However, sufficed it to say, it will take nothing short of a unified effort of like-minded intellectuals and activists(or both if possible)* influencing the political strata, warping the polemic of centuries' old addiction to perverse tradition, and mass cooperation after consolidation of these 'self-evident truths' for these issues to be addressed productively. However, as any addict on the road to reform will tell you, the first step is to recognize you have a problem. In the time it takes for us to make that "Giant Leap for Mankind", I fear the suffering will shamefully continue.

I love India. The nobility of our people, the allure of our cuisine, the richness of our cultural heritage, (almost) all of it. The degenerate practices and downright wickedness being carried out by those claiming to be true citizens of this beautiful nation is dragging this country into a reproachable state, and humiliating even the most enthusiastic of its patriots. It must be condemned. ). That being said, it is very easy for Non-Indians or even Indians who haven't had any practical exposure to their country, to sit on high and point their oblivious fingers at the woes of a 'third-world democracy' and talk about how de-evolved they all are. I'd rather these individuals learn the ground-level situation firsthand and then base a just critique on the matter. This is what is known as an informed opinion. Anything else just translates into fickle foolishness, guilty of the same ignorance that spawned all these despicable customs in the first place.#

#- Please feel free to draw parallels.

Insh'allah, I pray that those without knowledge of all the facts will not rush to judge before passing the blame of judgement on to others. Dialogue with the intention of harnessing relevant and purposeful knowledge (minus the purpose of debasing peers and contemporaries) is always encouraged and is a much a healthier alternative to derisive debates. Insh'allah may Allah give us the capacity and the strength to right wrongs wherever we see them and if we are unable to right them, help us to make the intention in our hearts. Ya Allah, we pray that you help us to always side with the oppressed against the oppressor. Ameen. There is no Might or Power except in Allah.

As-Salaam Wa Alaykum Wa Rahamtullahi Wa Barakatahu
May Peace and Blessing and the Mercy of Allah be upon You

*"An intellectual who is not an activist is a waste of space."

-Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Science Sits Up

Scientists: Natural Disasters Becoming More Common

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Leave for Labor

As of tonight, 8 p.m., I join the Labour Ward, or LT as they call it here in India (LT, like the OT, is a "Theatre". It's the British standard term for a room. Why not just call it a room? I don't know. Influences of Shakespeare? 'All the world's a stage. We're only actors?' Anyway...). So, will be on blog hiatus for the next two consecutive weeks. Please make dua for me insh'allah as I learn to effectively deliver babies by the dozens and all such great stuff. Till then, Fee Amaan'allah(May God be with you)!

In the world, but not of it?

An interview conducted with a Shaykh I admire, love, respect, read and who's student I one day hope of having the honor to become. A few months back, I had the privelege to not only meet him but attend his Friday Khutbah(sermon) for 4 straight Fridays. I miss his countenance greatly and realize what a gift it was to simply be in his presence.

The World is Beautiful
An interview with Sheikh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi
by Carter Phipps


Wrote this in response on the blogsite, Idle and Craft and decided to share it here as well, in which the blogger wrote of how common it is to blindly give the priority of attention to undeserving and fear-mongering hypotheticals. Her thoughts are absolutely on the mark.
Much of it has to do with the resident Chicken Littles(Media, Polititians, etc.). More of it should be in response to incidents which truly warrant our sympathy, such as the recent Earthquake in Pakistan/India. Sympathy is tricky these days, however, when a close one dies, we are reminded of our own mortality. When entire cities crumble, we are reminded that our fate, as a species, is not in our hands. When this occurs, the walls around our hearts begin to crumble along with those citites. Suddenly, there are much more important things. What we fail to realize is that they've always been important. We were just too swept away with our own lives that we neglected to notice.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, we are scarcely moved to tears unless tragedy is magnified to epic proportions. I blame self-conditioning.

In our rush to fortify our exteriors to endure rejection, embarassment, and the daily wear and tear of our relationships, we find when people most need our compassion, to our dismay, it's been locked away, denied access to us and others, in a frozen heart we ourselves took pains to refrigerate. We feel, and then we un-feel.

What we don't realize is that to choose apathy, is to relenquish our identity, and to deny our own humanity.

In order to sympathize, we must first learn to empathize, and to never UN-learn it again.


A fox who lived in the deep forest of long ago had lost its front legs. No one knew how: perhaps escaping from a trap. A man who lived on the edge of the forest , seeing the fox from time to time, wondered how in the world it managed to get its food. One day when the fox was not far from him he had to hide himself quickly because a tiger was approaching. The tiger had fresh game in its claws. Lying down on the ground, it ate its fill, leaving the rest for the fox.

Again the next day the great Provider of this world sent provisions to the fox by this same tiger. The man began to think: "If this fox is taken care of in this mysterious way, its food sent by some unseen Higher Power, why don't I just rest in a corner and have my daily meal provided for me?"

Because he had a lot of faith, he let the days pass, waiting for food. Nothing happened. He just went on losing weight and strength until he was nearly a skeleton. Close to losing consciousness, he heard a Voice which said: "O you, who have mistaken the way, see now the Truth! You should have followed the example of that tiger instead of imitating the disabled fox."

- Shaykh Sa'adi of Shiraz

Operation Eden

Some of the most vividly evocative and haunting pictures I've ever seen. The qualit of photography is especially admirable. The photo journalist Clayton James Cubitt expressing his love for his New Orleans heritage post-Katrina is a harrowing homage to the lives of its citizens devastated by a form of tragedy which is all too familiar in these times.


An Atheist's way of saying God, but without purpose. However, once the impact is felt, it's undeniably real and worthy of humility, respect, and submission. Ultimately, it begs a series of reflective questions which will, insh'allah, lead those who doubt to eventually seek to clear those doubts. The answers are everywhere. You need only seek.

Operation Eden

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Merit of Stories

An integral part of Sufi teaching is in the mold of teaching through example. Usually, these examples are experienced directly, in the form of a learned person ie: the Shaykh, which the student or dervish spends most of his waking hours with. The dervish learns how to behave morally and strengthen his character from(at first) emulating, then eventually experiencing and implementing the values on which the Shaykh's conduct is based.

Many times these examples are given thrugh the form of a story. Ageless wisdom is thus woven into the rich tapestry of tales and tradition, creating an empathy in the listener for the protagonists in the stories, the lack of which often creates a gap of comprehension between the speaker and the audience when done in a "strictly-the-facts" type of fashion. In essence, this type of teaching is not only much more powerful in impact, but has an enduring and lasting appeal on the listener, one which he can identify with on a much more personal level.

Here. Let me show you.

The Banquet

A poor man dressed in rags came to the palace to attend the banquet. Out of courtesy he was admitted but, because of his tattered clothing, he was seated at the very end of the banquet table. By the time the platters arrived at his seat, there was no food left on them.

So he left the banquet, returning several hours later dressed in robes and jewels he had borrowed from a wealthy friend. This time he was brought immediately to the head of the table and, with great ceremony, food was brought to his seat first.

"Oh, what delicious food I see being served upon my plate." He rubbed one spoonful into his clothes for every one he ate.

A nobleman beside him, grimacing at the mess, inquired, "Sir, why are you rubbing food into your fine clothes?"

"Oh," he replied with a chuckle, "Pardon me if my robes now look the worst. But it was these clothes that brought me all this food. It's only fair that they be fed first!"

The Fellowship

All who obey Allah and the Messenger are in the company of those on whom is the grace of Allah - of the prophets (who teach), the sincere (lovers of Truth), the witnesses (who testify), and the righteous (who do good): ah, what a beautiful fellowship!
(Nisa', 69)

Truly a Blessed Union awaits those who believe and act on their belief. Ya Allah, help us to scrape ourselves away from the world long enough to see your Mercies, and let this awaken our hearts to bear witness in the awe of your Beneficence, and glorify you with the sincerity, and righteousness for which we had been intended, but now have lost through our own foolish transgressions!

Ya Allah, if poverty is best for us in this life, then let us embrace this poverty with profound gratitude, for better to be a beggar in the world, then in the hereafter.

Ya Allah, guide us to true Guidance, and help us to find the salve to heal the infection within our hearts so we can someday be worthy to stand in the magnificent company of those who tuly Love you. Help us to plant the seed of love for you in the bed of our hearts with the sunnah of your Rahmatul-lil-Alameen (Mercy for all Creation), and let the light of this love permeate our souls to the extent that each and every cell, each and every fibre of our existence, is united with your dhikr, La Ilaha Illalla(There is no God but Allah), and Muhammad-dur-Rasullallah{and Muhammad(Peace and blessings be upon him) is his messenger}! Ameen.
Peace and blessings upon our Nabi, SAWS.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Dose of Reality

"Many people practice virtues or associate with wise and great people, believing that this is the pursuit of self-improvement. They are deluded. In the name of religion, some of the worst barbarities have been committed. Trying to do good, man has done some of his worst actions.
The flaw comes from the absurd assumption that mere connection with something of value will convey a corresponding advantage to an unaltered individual.

Much more is necessary.

Man must not only be in contact with good; he must be in contact with a form of it which is capable of transforming his function and making him good. A donkey stabled in a library does not become literate.

This argument is one of the differences between Sufi teaching and the attempted practice of ethic and self improvement in other endeavours.

The point is generally neglected by the reader or student. Talib Kamal said: "The thread does not become enobled because it goes through the jewels." And: "My virtues have not improved me, any more than a desolate place is made fertile by the presence of a treasure."

A treasure is a treasure. But if it is to be put to work to [rebuild] a ruin, the treasure must be used in a certain way.

Moralizing may be a part of the process. The means of transforming the man is still needed. It is this means which is the Sufi secret. Other schools, very often, are not at the point where they can see beyond the first stage; they are intoxicated with the discovery of ethic and virtue, which they therefore conclude constitutes a panacea."

- Shaykh Abdal Ali Haidar

Thursday, October 13, 2005

"I dabble a little..."

A few pics I took with a digital cam(though I prefer SLR) in coastal karnataka.

The Ocean - Calm and Fury personified

Abu Turab?

My baby. She's so cute, she has to be on here twice. Mash'allah.


MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan - As rescue efforts gave way to aid relief, a strong aftershock shook Pakistan early Thursday morning, five days after an earthquake killed tens of thousands and left millions homeless. Still, miracles emerged amid the misery: A Russian team rescued a 5-year-old girl trapped for nearly 100 hours under the rubble of her family home...

This morning, I was called to the O.T.(O.R. in Ameri-speak) to assist a Lower Segment Caesarian Section (w/Post-Partum Sterilization). Since they already had an intern to do the suction and retract the incision, I was delegated to monitor vitals with the resident anesthesiologist.

After the delivery, the baby, a healthy girl(Alhamdulillah), was brought to the conscious mother as the attending obstetrician closed up. I was anxious to see the look on the expectant mother's face, and when I did, I registered something in her eyes which I never thought I'd see.

Disdain. Disappointment. Disgust.

The new mother turned her head and wept silently to herself. Immediately I felt rage swell inside me. My fellow Pediatric Intern brought the baby around after the necessary OP suction, so I could get a look.

"It's a Girl. Isn't she cute?", she said.

"Yes", I replied, and swallowed down red, hot anger. There she was. The unwanted princess. Crinkly, soft, pink, and lovely, with eyes and fists shut as tight as the blanket she was wrapped with. Here, she was an intruder. An uninvited guest.

"She's a Cutie Pie", I said.

As a new father (My daughter's only 6 months old), to understate, I was disturbed. Alhamdulillah, my fast reminded me to control myself, and I did. The lady is a patient of mine and I'll have to write her orders tomorrow. Professionalism at all times, you know. But I couldn't help but reflect on that new soul, brought into this world, blameless and beautiful and how I wouldn't wish the reception she recieved on my worst enemies. And I couldn't help but be reminded of all those childless parents who would give their right arm for an opportunity to hold and call a baby their own.

Then I read the news story from above. And the Miracle of Life was re-echoed into the chambers of my heart much as it was when I had my daughter, and, for my part, as it was when I heard the first cry from the baby this morning. Alhamdulillah.

There's a lot I don't know. Maybe it's her husband who wanted the boy, and will now make their home atmosphere a living hell for this woman because she "failed to deliver". But as shown in Muzaffarabad, sometimes it takes merely the prospect of loss to reaffirm the value of life. Why it must come to that is beyond me. All I know is, I hope that neither the mother nor the father ever has to learn this the hard way. But then again, maybe they need to. Then maybe they'll never again take Allah's mercies for granted.

"Then which of the Favors of your Lord will you deny? "

(Surah Rahman)

P.S. - I must thank Umm Zaid, and others for adding me as a link. Jazak'Allah khair.

Branching Out?

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a close brother about the content of my last post. He replied that it was a good start, but also that we are not simply spiritual animals(bit of an oxymoron actually), and the blog must reflect the times as well. Ergo, I must dip into the secular as well, and branch out to keep a balance. At the time, I agreed whole-heartedly, and to be honest it was my original plan (I only have a total of two posts so far). Practical enough, no?

The same night, I went home for Iftar, following which I listened to a lecture given by Shaykh Mohammed Abu Shusha at Zaytuna( in Arabic, translated by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf), a Palestinian Shaykh, a Qari, who had been Grand Muezzin of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jeruselam in the 50's and is now a Judge in many Quranic Hifz and Tajweed competitions in the area since then.

The areas the lecture delved into included how Shaykh Abu Shusha had seen Shaykh Hamza on a Ramadan program on television in the middle east and made dua to Allah(SWT) to allow him to meet this man before he parted the duniya(Mash'allah!) as well as advice on giving charity and visiting the sick.

One particular point the Shaykh made, which really hit home, dealt with how the Shaykh worries for his children. He is an aged man, and though he sees that his son is 35, knows the Quran, and is a man of good character, he still worries.


Simply for the Sheer Magnitude (Capitals!) of Fitan in this day and age that continuously bombard our senses from all* directions.

* (Point to be made here: Shaytan promised Allah he would tempt and deceive Bani Adam from all directions, except from above and below. These Allah did not allow to Shaytan, as these are the directions in which Salah and Dua are taken and Sajdah is made, respectively. - from the collection of Shaykh Muzaffer's talks in America, "Love is the Wine")

So it is not adequate that we must seek knowledge and BE knowledgeable. It is not enough that once a week we attend Jummah khutbahs and expect it to reinvigorate our iman for the coming week. Ideally we should strive to listen to wisdom imparted to us by the Shaykhs, advice to mold our lives to be in tune with the sirr EVERY day. What? Every day? Yes, and even that is only an open door situated in the right direction (that direction is AWAY). But again we have to walk through it. And walking aint enough when it's a virtual landslide of degenerate and immoral persuasions that flood our lives day in day out. You have to run. Get in a helicopter and GO, more practically.

Even the most learned of scientists, the Nobel Prize winners if you will, would not neglect to don a protective suit or covering , before venturing out into irradiated lands, despite the extent of their expertise. Why? Because they Appreciate the Danger.

In essence, I acknowledge that from time to time I must dabble a little, be prolific and explore other interests here on this page. But I've made the intention that the mainstay of my blog, the focus, will be on the spiritual. The Nafs. The Self. The Soul. True, we are not spiritual animals. Honestly, I don't think there is such a thing. But we do have the capacity to be spiritual as well as the potential to be animals. I choose the former, and not to illustrate wit, but as an actual conscious choice. I pray that Allah allows me to remain faithful to this intention, this choice, and to help us as an Ummah to prepare our homes and our hearts for the hurricane, and then read The Economist.

Because this IS the priority. If I had a color-coded alert system to assess the threat of fitan like the Dept. of Homeland Security, we'd be flashing Red perpetually, and I'm sure at least Shaykh Abu Shusha would agree with me. I admire those who can consistently maintain a balance in practice throughout their lives. I call such individuals enlightened and respect them, and am in awe of them. The number I've personally met who can do this, I can count on one hand.

Balance means to reach a state of equilibrium. If I write two posts on Spirituality, am I threatening to go out of bounds? Have I become a spiritual animal? I doubt I can ever balance the worldly, materialistic madness that has been my life, if I write on spirituality everyday non-stop till I'm 65.

I won't apologize for my passion because I must use it while I still have it, lest it be fleeting. So here it is: Let's not search for excuses to endeavor for the world. This is the world we're talking about people. You don't go to it. It comes to you. It's everywhere! You couldn't miss it if you tried. What we do need to endeavor for is our souls.

Let's not succumb to the preventable diseases of the heart. Let's vaccinate ourselves with Dhikr. Insulate our hearts with the *exo-suits of Salah and Fasting(*My brain is colored with memories of Metroid<--see, everywhere!). Reboot the system so the OS it runs on is a composite of Divine Wisdom and the teachings of Our Nabi : humility, charity, brotherhood, love, patience, taqwa, generosity, sincerity and servitude, instead of ,...well, instead of Microsoft Windows ;) . It doesn't mean to go and live on a mountain, literally. But to let your amaal become the mountain to create that distance from the fitan.

I don't need to search my mind for quotes from movies or the names of characters from the latest sitcom. They're right there on the surface. I can't say the same for relevant Quranic verses and Ahadith. Obviously, there is a major imbalance here. But if we have the intention we can BUILD ourselves up to function at a level previously thought to be lofty & esoteric, but in actuality is not only attainable, but is the practical ideal we must all work for.

Maybe relevant but obscure movie quotes will do the trick.

" ...You are executing his SOUL!!... And there is no cure,..there is no prosthetic for that. "

- Al Pacino's Colonel Slade in the film, "Scent of a Woman".


Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Tyranny of The Nafs

Ramadan Mubarak to all. The most Blessed of all Months has begun. What we intend to do with it now that it has, is entirely upto us. Or is it upto our Nafs'?

The demanding persona of our Nafs, that which Western Psychology refers to as our Ego, can be likened to that of a Tyrant. Because ultimately, the Tyrant wants it all for himself. We live to serve him. If by our misfortune we find ourselves under his leadership, our every freedom becomes a non-entity. Shaykh Ragip Frager, the West Coast representative of the Jerrahi-Halveti Order, likens this Tyrant to the Pharaoh, as well as the potential of our Nafs to become as Prophet Moses (AS). What does he mean? Well, just that our Nafs can either become a power hungry, megalomaniac like the Pharoah, wanting nothing more than to bask in perpetual adulation and worship of the world(This is the natural state we find the nafs in, willed by the myopic love for the material baubles surrounding it and us).


the capacity to be transformed to detach from the world and to love Allah, and to desire love from Allah. This potential can then be translated into the dignified, understated strength and taqwa personified by Kalim'Allah, Prophet Moses (AS). If and when this occurs, the practice of Remembrance (Dhikr) rather than self-praise is given creedence by this motley sentience which resides in all of us.

It is the only thing constant with the Nafs. Change. It may degenerate beyond Pharoah-like qualities into a wild, animalistic mentality if we indulge it enough. Because there are no limits for the Nafs. It ALWAYS wants more. More Praise, More Lust, More Wealth and More Gratification. However, we can mold our Nafs with Remembrance, Prayer, and Love for Allah rather than the rotting transigience of this world. Remember: That's with true Repentance and true Remembrance.

Shaykh Frager describes that True Repentance will not only expiate sins(Insh'Allah) but transfom the Nafs to become regretful and with time, inspired.

Repentance is only True, when we make no justifications for our past sins, we ask humble forgiveness for our present sins and status after our own aknowledgement of the fact, and finally we sincerely intend NOT to repeat them in the future.

How do we know if our Repentance is indeed True and has been accepted by Allah? Shaykh Frager goes on to say that when it is, those things hated by Allah which we were so attracted to and driven to committing, now are hated by us. We feel a disdain for those things deep within our hearts. This, dear brothers and sisters, is true Progress. Insh'allah may Allah give us Tawfiq this blessed Ramadan to become productive in the way of the Light. Ameen.

For further reference, I request all to try and pickup Shaykh Frager's "Heart, Self, and Soul". Oh, and also to read it sincerely. It is a Rare Gem in any time, or place, and I recommend it to all those who claim to possess a brain.

Additionally, as my work occupies most of my time, and the time that is left over I must devote to my family, I regret I may not have any to give this blog(Plus, rural India has a way of throwing wrenches in the gears of technology) Please excuse this, as I hope to contribute much more in the future.

To conclude, here is a thousand + words on who I am.
Again, may Allah bless all our homes with peace and barakah this Ramadan, in the months to come, and in this life and the hereafter.

Unaysah with her Father.

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