Doctor Nur

Doctor Nur

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mid-Sha'ban: Nifsu-sh-Sha'ban, The Fast of Sha'ban

Mid-Sha'ban:  Nifsu-sh-Sha'ban, The Fast of Sha'ban

Al-Hamdul-li’llah; Allaahumma sali ala sayyidina Muhammadan; Taqu’llah

“All praise be to Allah; O Allah send prayers upon our Master Muhammad; Obey Allah”

This phrase is the opening statement of every khutba/sermon every Friday in mosques all over the world for the last 1400 years.

Why? Why obey Allah? What are His orders? Do we know his orders? How are we going to obey them? It’s in the book, Qur’an. I say this for myself and for you dear brothers and sisters: I must ask myself:  Am I following Allah or my ego? Do I follow the orders of Allah or the Shaytan who is constantly whispering and hoping I will follow him instead of Allah? If I listen to my ego, how will I be able to listen to Allah and follow his orders and be on the straight path? I can’t. But what if I did? What can I do? Make tawba, ask Allah for forgiveness and try harder. I must try not to make this mistake or that mistake. The mistakes that everyone everywhere is making especially in this day and age. I must follow the road less traveled. The straight path the path that Allah swt has told us about in His Glorious Qur’an or else - what will be my ending? Not good! And the Shaytan strikes and another one bites the dust! No brothers and sisters it doesn’t have to go down that way. Allah has made it simple for us and He sent us the glorious Qur’an and a Prophet that was a living example of how to walk, how to talk and follow the straight path and we have a guide, our sufi master Sidi Muhammad al-Jamal who embellishes and clarifies the teachings of the Qur’an, which warns of the dangers in this world and of ourselves. He teaches us the orders of Allah so we know what to do and how to obey Allah. We are so blessed. How do we show our gratitude for these blessings? Do we follow the orders of Allah or do we follow our egos?

Remember the story of the Night Journey, when Jabril took out the Prophet’s (saws) heart washed it, purified it and put it back in, then he put him on baraq and took him to Jerusalem to lead all 124,000 prophets in Salat and then to the seven heavens and past the lote tree to the furthest boundary where even Jabril could not go; to see the beatific vision of Allah. Allah gave direct revelation to Muhammad of surah Fatiha, and how to perform salat. Directly, not through Jabril and told us to pray 5 times daily and that we would receive the blessings of 50 prayers. Does this not tell us something about the importance Allah swt places on the Salat?

inna anzalnahu fi lalatin mubarakatin inna kunna mundhirin
fiha yufraqu kullu amrin hakim
amran min indina inna kunna mursilin
rahmatan min rabbika innahu huwa al-sami ‘u al-alim

Lo! We revealed it on a blessed night – Lo! We are ever warning –
Whereupon every wise command is made clear
As a command from Our presence – Lo! We are ever sending—
A mercy from thy Lord. Lo! He is the Hearer, the Knower.

Most commentators consider the blessed night to refer to the Night of Decree (laylat al-qadr) in Ramadan. However, many commentators also say that this blessed night may be that of mid-Sha’ban (laylat al-bara’a)

In a sound hadith the Prophet (saws) said in a close translation, “Allah looks at His creation in the night of mid-Shaban and he forgives all His creation except for a muskrik (idolater) or a mushahin (one bent on hatred).

From A’isha: She said: The Prophet stood in prayer during part of the night and made his prostration so lengthy that I thought his soul had been taken back. When I saw this I got up and went to move his big toe, whereupon he moved, so I drew back. When he raised his head from prostration and finished praying, he said: “O ‘A’isha, O fair little one! Did you think that the Prophet had broken his agreement with you?” She replied: “No, by Allah, O Messenger of Allah, but I thought that your soul had been taken back because you stayed in prostration for so long.” He said: “Do you know what night this is?” She said: “Allah and His Prophet know best.” He said: “This is the night of mid-Shaban! Verily Allah the Glorious and Majestic looks at His servants on the night of mid-Sha’ban, and He forgives those who ask forgiveness, and He bestows mercy on those who ask mercy, and he gives delay to the people of envy and spite in their state.”

Earlier she heard him praying, and he said: “Prostatrated before You are my form and my sprit; my heart is in Your safekeeping. I acknowledge Your favors, and to You I confess my sin. I have wronged myself, so forgive me. Surely no one forgives sins but You. I seek refuge with Your pardon from Your punishment, with Your mercy from Your vengeance, with Your approval from Your displeasure. I seek refuge with You from You. I do not tell Your praises, for You are as You have extolled Yourself.”

From Ali ibn Abi Talib: the Prophet (saws) said: “The night of mid-Sha’ban let all of you spend in prayer (partly) and its day in fasting, for Allah descends to the nearest heaven during that night beginning with sunset and says: Is there no one asking forgiveness that I may forgive them? Is there no one asking for sustenance that I may grant them sustenance?  Is there no one under trial that I may relieve them? Is there not such-and-such, and so forth until dawn rises.

Muhammad Ibn Idris Al-Shafi’I said: “there are 5 nights when prayer is answered, one of them being the of the 15th of Sha’ban t

Naqshabundi Shaykh Nizim says, holding his hands out in supplication say “Bismilah ar-Rahma nar-Rahim” and each time wipe your hands upwards over your face and head putting on another veil of Mercy.

Our Mother, Aisha said, “O Messenger of Allah, Will no one enter Paradise except by the mercy of Allah?” “No one will enter Paradise except by the mercy of Allah, said the Messenger. “Not even you? Asked Aisha, “Not even I”, said the Messenger, “unless Allah envelops me with His mercy.” Then he rubbed his hand over his face and head”.
The Prophet, saws, is saying, if you feel envious or spiteful that night, Allah, swt, will keep you in that state longer! So it would be good to prepare for it. “We ask Allah to keep us forever grateful and forgiving. Amin”

What are the benefits of the extra prayers, special nights, fasting or remembrance of Allah one might ask?

Fa-dkhuli fi ibadi; wa dkhuli jannati
Enter among My worshipers; Enter My Garden (al-Fajr 89:29-30)

One may assume Allah is talking about The Paradise, Jennah, that which only a martyr can enter now and the rest of us have a chance on judgment day. But note that this is a command in the present tense and implies that we can reach A Garden in this time, here and now. This of course is why we are here, why we are with a Sufi master guide and follow what our guide says to the best of our ability.

Fa-duriba baynahum bi-suril-lahu babum
Batinuhu fihi-r-rahmatu wa dhahiruhu min quibalihi-l-adhaba

And a wall shall be set up between them in which is a gate on the inside of it mercy – and on the outside of it – suffering. (Suratu-l-Hadid 57:13)

Is this not our situations every day?

On this night of mid-Shaban Allah, swt, writes the destinies of all people for the coming year by taking into account the deeds committed by them in the past;

In another hadith the Prophet, saws, says: “When the blessed month of Sha’ban reaches you, it cleanses your spirit to receive the blessed month of Ramadan. Purify your intentions, surely the greatness of Sha’ban is my month and anyone who keeps fast in it, my intercession will be obligatory for him.” One should fast on the 13th, 14th and 15th of Sha’ban; if not on all three, make at least one of them the 15th.

It is narrated by Shayhk Nooruddeen that it is recorded from the Friends of Allah (awliy-llah karam) that The Prayer of Nisfu-Sha’ban is to pray 6 cycles of ritual prayer after the Maghrib prayer. In the first two rak’ah, add to the intention that, with its blessing to extend your life with harmony. In the next two, for your protection from misfortunes and evil, and in the third, that Allah, swt, make you dependent on Him and no one else. After every two cycles recite Suratu-Iklas 21 times or Surah Ya Siin once. If possible read both for greater rewards. Afterwards recite the dua of Nisfu Sha’ban also known as shabay barat ki dua:

Oh Allah, Tireless Owner of Bounty. Oh Owner of Sublimity, Honor, Power, and blessings; And Neighbor of those who seek nearness, Guardian of the fearful. Oh Allah, if you have written in the Mother of the Book that I be abject, deprived, banished and tight fisted, then erase Oh Allah, through Your bounty, my misery, deprivation, banishment, and stinginess, and establish me with You as happy and provided with blessings, for surely You have said – and Your word is true – in Your revealed book on the tongue of your Messenger, “Allah effaces or establishes what He wills, and with Him is the Mother of Books” (13:9). Oh Allah, by the Great Manifestation of the Night of the middle of the Noble Month of Sha’ban “in which every affair of wisdom is make distinct” (44:4) remove from us calamities – those we know and those we do not know – and You know best – for surely You are the Most Mighty, the Most Generous. May Allah bless Muhammad and his Family and Companions. Amin

 The intentions for each of the 2 rakats followed by 21 of Iklas or Yasin or both are
  1.   The intention of long life in Islam and faith (iman)
  2.   The intention to ward off affliction from one’s self, family and the ummah.
  3.   The intention of receiving ones sustenance (rizaq) without reliance on people.

ma salaam,

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sufism and A Course in Miracles

Before I discovered Sufism, I studied a book by Helen Schuman titled A Course in Miracles. She said the material came to her through her mind from a voice she identified as Jesus.
Since discovering Sufism I have often noticed how it supports what I learned from studying A Course in Miracles (ACIM) and in many ways I think made Music of the Soul by Muhammad al-Jamal easier to understand when I first read it. The study of Sufism has answered many of the unanswered questions ACIM left me with and the practices of Sufism which my guide has given me have allowed me to deepen in the experiences of concepts ACIM introduced to me. For example:

 “I am not a body I am free I am still as God created me”

Okay, what am I then? What does it mean to be a human being? From the Qur’an and Hadith collections of the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and give him peace, we know the first human being was Adam, may peace and blessings be upon him, whom Allah created on his form and taught him the names. Since Allah has no “form”, we know by inference that this refers to the attributes of Allah. The same is true of the names, which can mean not only the “names” of Allah, referring to attributes but also knowledge of all things which even the angels did not have. Allah is the Knower (al-Alim), so what does it mean for a human being to have qualities and attributes like Allah? Similar does not mean the same, Allah is much more. However, knowledge of the portion of the names (attributes/qualities) which Allah has bestowed on the human being does give one intellectual insight into our original nature.

“I am not a body I am free I am still as God created me”

This can be interpreted as a spirit with the attributes of God. After Allah created the spirits He asked them, “Who is your Lord?” they answered, “You are.” Then Allah began to veil them with 70,000 veils of light and the spirits incarnated into physical forms over time as decreed by Allah. Even then, the lesson is true that “I am not a body I am free I am still as God created me” but it was more hidden and with our physical body we had not only 70,000 veils of light to penetrate to know our original state but 10,000 veils of darkness from the physical world and the substance of the clay from which we are composed.

ACIM: “Freedom must be impossible as long as you perceive a body as yourself.  The body is a limit.  Who would seek for freedom in a body looks for it where it cannot be found.  The mind can be made free when it no longer sees itself as in a body, firmly tied to it, and sheltered by its presence.  If this were the truth, the minds were vulnerable indeed!

The path of the Sufi is to return to the self that Allah originally created by returning to the Creator Himself ( hence the hadith, die before you die) and ultimately annihilating the self by becoming One with the Creator.  “When you know yourself, you know your Lord.”  Sidi Muhammad has blessed us with instructions on how to do this in his books, He Who Knows Himself Knows His LordMusic of the Soul and Path to Allah Most High and others.

“I am not a body.  I am free. For I am still as God created me.”

 I trust my brothers, who are one with me.”

No-one but is my brother.  I am blessed
with oneness with the universe and God,
my Father, One [one] Creator of the whole
that is my Self, forever One [one] with me.

“I am not a body.  I am free. For I am still as God created me.”

 “I will be still a moment and go home.”

Why would I choose to stay an instant more
where I do not belong, when God Himself
has given me His Voice to call me home?

Remembrance, dhikr means to remember Allah in our hearts, on our tongues, by ourselves or in a group. 

"Whoever comes to me walking, I go to him at speed." (Al Bukhari). "Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah are hearts are assured." (Qur’an, 13:28).

The practice of remembrance helps to pierce the veils that have covered our hearts and caused us to forget “I am as God Created me”.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, in a sacred hadith qudsi said, “I am to my servant as he expects of Me, I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him to Myself, and if he remembers Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly better than his. (Bukhari and Muslim).

 “I am not a body.  I am free.
For I am still as God created me.”

 “I call upon God’s Name and on my own.”

The Name of God is my deliverance
from every thought of evil and of sin,
because it is my own as well as His.

Allah gave the archetypal Human Being, Adam and the “sons of Adam” (all of humanity) all of the names. Our names are the same as Allah’s names. When we remember Allah, by repetition of the name, Allah or other sacred dhikr such as la illah ha illahla Allah, or the attributes (e.g. the 99 names), we are affirming what is true for us.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Course in Miracles Lessons 32-35

From A Course in Miracles (ACIM): "You are not the victim of the world you see because you invented it..." This subject has to do with our perceptions and the images we create in our minds. My Sufi guide, Sidi Muhammad al-Jamal says in his book, Music of the Soul, on page 199, “My love, everything from you is for you and vice-versa. Everything is an expression of your being in your existence in what you witness, especially the rank of your existence [emphasis mine]. You shall be that which you judge.”

I would like to share with you the following lessons from ACIM and see how they relate to the above teaching from Music of the Soul:

32.  “I have invented the world I see.”
Today we are continuing to develop the theme of cause and effect.  You are not the victim of the world you see because you invented it.  You can give it up as easily as you made it up.  You will see it or not see it, as you wish.  While you want it you will see it; when you no longer want it, it will not be there for you to see.

 The idea for today, like the preceding ones, applies to your inner and outer worlds, which are actually the same.  However, since you see them as different, the practice periods for today will again include two phases, one involving the world you see outside you, and the other the world you see in your mind.  In today’s exercises, try to introduce the thought that both are in your own imagination.

The idea for today should also be applied immediately to any situation which may distress you.  Apply the idea by telling yourself:

            “I have invented this situation as I see it.”

33.  “There is another way of looking at the world.”

Today’s idea is an attempt to recognize that you can shift your perception of the world in both its outer and inner aspects. 

34.  “I could see peace instead of this.”

 The idea for today begins to describe the conditions which prevail in the other way of seeing.  Peace of mind is clearly an internal matter.   It must begin with your own thoughts, and then extend outward.   It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises.

35.  “My mind is part of God’s.  I am very holy.”

 Today’s idea does not describe the way you see yourself now.  It does, however, describe what vision will show you.  It is difficult for anyone who thinks he is in this world to believe this of himself.  Yet the reason he thinks he is in this world is because he does not believe it.

You will believe that you are part of where you think you are.  That is because you surround yourself with the environment you want.  And you want it to protect the image of yourself which you have made.  The image is part of it [this environment].  What you see while you believe you are in it is seen through the eyes of the image.  It [This] is not vision.  Images cannot see.

The idea for today presents a very different view of yourself.  By establishing your Source it establishes your identity, and it describes you as you must really be in truth.  We will use a somewhat different kind of application for today’s idea, because the emphasis for today is on the perceiver, rather than on what he perceives.

 For each of the three five-minute practice periods today, begin by repeating today’s idea to yourself, and then close your eyes and search your mind for the various kinds of descriptive terms in which you see yourself.  Include all of the ego-based attributes which you ascribe to yourself, positive or negative, desirable or undesirable, grandiose or debased.  All of them are equally unreal because you do not look upon yourself through the eyes of holiness.

            In the earlier part of the mind searching period, you will probably emphasize what you consider to be the more negative aspects of your perception of yourself.  Toward the latter part of the exercise period, however, more self-inflating descriptive terms may well cross your mind.  Try to recognize that the direction of your fantasies about yourself does not matter.  Illusions have no direction in reality.  They are merely not true.

A suitable unselected list for applying the idea for today might be as follows:

            “I see myself as imposed on.”
“I see myself as depressed.”
            “I see myself as failing.”
            “I see myself as endangered.”
“I see myself as helpless.”
“I see myself as victorious.”
“I see myself as losing out.”
“I see myself as charitable.”
“I see myself as virtuous.”

            You should not think of these terms in an abstract way.  They will occur to you as various situations, personalities, and events in which you figure cross your mind.  Pick up any specific situation that occurs to you, identify the descriptive term or terms which you feel are applicable to your reactions to that situation, and use them in applying today’s idea.  After you have named each one, add:

            “But my mind is part of God’s.   I am very holy.”

            During the longer exercise periods, there will probably be intervals in which nothing specific occurs to you.  Do not strain to think up specific things to fill the interval, but merely relax and repeat today’s idea slowly until something occurs to you.  Although nothing that does occur should be omitted from the exercises, nothing should be “dug out” with effort.  Neither force nor discrimination should be used.

            As often as possible during the day, pick up a specific attribute or attributes which you are ascribing to yourself at the time, and apply the idea for today to them, adding the idea to each of them in the form stated above.  If nothing particular occurs to you, merely repeat the idea to yourself, with closed eyes.

Comments: What seems so plain to me as I work with these exercises is that at any given moment during the day, images dominate me to the point that I am no longer aware that "My mind is part of God’s. I am very holy." So, as Sidi says the rank of my existence is highly variable, or  I’m a work in progress. I find this exercise to be useful and I intend to work with it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him

Recently I received an email from a beloved new on the path who does not yet know the Prophet Muhammad nor Islam except from the tainted pictures most of us had if we grew up in the west in a different tradition. Someone shared this with me and now I am sharing it with you.

The Prophet (Salla Allahu alaihi wasallam) said:

"None of you becomes a believer until I'm dearer to him than his children, his parents and all mankind"

[Bukhari and Muslim]


How can one make the Prophet (Salla Allahu alaihi wasallam) dearer than his own children if he does not know the Prophet, how he behaved and interacted with his family, friends, and adversaries?

To love the Prophet (Salla Allahu alaihi wasallam) is to also love his noble character, way of living, and to love that which he loved.

Not only a Prophet and Messenger, he (salla Allahu alayhi wassalam) was also
a caring husband,
a loving father,
a loyal friend,
a charismatic leader,
a wise general,
a patient teacher,
and above all, a mercy to mankind.

Recommended reading: Ocean of Mercy, Sidi Muhammad al- Jamal ; Muhammad Life Based Earliest Sources, Martin Lings

Starting January 3, 2012 is an online course I just finished a few months back from Qibla formerly know as Sunnipath on the Life of the Prophet during the Mecca period and highly recommend it. The Dawn of Prophethood

Peace and Blessings,

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fasting in Ramadan

"O, you who securely believe fasting is prescribed to you, just as it was prescribed for those who came before you in order that you might guard yourselves [for Allah] (Quran Al-Baqarah 2:183).
This surah begins by telling us the fast is medicine, it is prescribed for you and that there are others, in different places, different times, different religions that fasted before. This gives hope to a people whom have never heard of this spiritual practice that it’s possible.
Fasting builds taqwa, or God consciousness, guarding yourselves [for Allah], obedience, thankfulness and what the soul yearns for.
2:184 [by fasting] for the numbered days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] - then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able - an expiation [as a substitute] of feeding a poor person [for each day you missed]. Yet whoever voluntarily does good, it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.
The instructions are easy. These instructions were to a culture that did not practice fasting. The concept was foreign in their pagan traditions. So it was made easy.
Fasting teaches many things and has tremendous benefits. Some of these are how it helps control the ego, it helps develop self control, to appreciate ones food and to empathize with those without any food due to their life circumstances.
2:185 The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion [between good and evil]. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey - then [fast] an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.
In this month the revelation of the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him from Allah through the direct transmission from the angel Gabriel (Jabril) to the Prophets ear and directly into his heart.  It is guidance for all of humanity and a tremendous mercy. The greatest thing that ever happened for humanity was that the Quran was revealed and its first verse was revealed in this  month. One of the reasons we fast is to commemorate this.
Hadith Qudsi: Every act of worship of the sons of Adam are for himself except for fasting that is Mine.
Fasting is an act of self denial for the sake of God. Be grateful for guidance and be grateful for Islam. You will not be asked about what you cannot do. Allah wants ease for you so He can empty you into paradise. He is taxing you now because he wants to honor you. It’s a prescribed medicine. He is not going to ask you to fast if you are sick or menstruating or traveling. There is no one on the face of this earth more blessed than the believer. This is a month to realize this blessing. We have the greatest thing a person can imagine. We would be lost in purposelessness, misguidance, bitterness, depression and darkness without this Quran and this religion.
Fasting has a special multiplication with Allah. Fasting is filled with the purest expression of the virtue of sabur, which Allah (swt) praises. The usual translation of sabur is patience, but it’s more than that. It’s like swallowing something bitter but not showing it on your face. One’s purpose is greater than ones' fear so one goes on.
Addictions to something unlawful are addressed through sabur. How can a person break out of this without the virtue of sabur? He fights everything to uphold that value. It’s through sabur that we get up in the morning to eat something before we begin our fast.
We have an amazing opportunity, fasting in the summer months. Allah loves Sabur and these are the people who are not bothered by the difficulties on the way. It’s the key to taqwa, your intention is to fast this long hot day for Allah’s sake.
Hadith: “Satan runs in the circulatory system of the son of Adam in the same way blood circulates in our system; so tighten his passages with hunger.” (Bukhari/Muslim)
We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Fasting is non-action and it allows putting more emphasis on our soul and Allah.  Energy diminishes, cravings diminish and sins are lessened because there is no energy to fuel them, praise God. It helps us experience and understand sincere love of Allah, because it is for His sake that we fast.
Ibn Arabi said:
“The fast belongs to Allah, so do not be ignorant. You are merely the place of its manifestation.”
Hadith: "All services of the son of Adam are for him except fasting. It is for Me, and I will reward him for it."
People can take good deeds on judgment day if you owe them in return for your harm or insults. What is not rectified in this life gets rectified on judgment day. That is justice. Fasting is Allah’s so he won’t take this good deed of fasting away from you.
2:187 …has been made permissible for you the night preceding fasting to go to your wives [for sexual relations]. They are adornment for you and you are adornment for them. Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves about this, so he turned to you and forgave you. So now, have relations with them and seek that which Allah has decreed for you. And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread [of night]. Then complete the fast until the sunset. And do not have relations with them as long as you are staying for worship in the mosques. [the last ten days] These are the limits [set by] Allah, so do not approach them. Thus does Allah make clear His signs to the people that they may guard themselves for Him.
Hadith: “A grateful eater is on the same level as a grateful faster.”
Worship is continuous -gratitude to patience, nighttime then daytime.
 The Quran has every kind of instruction to motivate one to taqwa - God consciousness. Allah, (swt), speaks to one's soul, the desire to be purified, the desire for taqwa, the desire to compete, the language of shame - answer the call, the language of fear - these are the limits.
 2:188 And do not consume one another's wealth unjustly or send it [in bribery] to the rulers in order that [they might aid] you [to] consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know [it is unlawful].
 This ayat seems not to be about Ramadan, but it is here as a reminder. The basics of good conduct during Ramadan are, as always, required and here it serves as a reminder. Why are you going to avoid things that are normally lawful for you and engage in things that are unlawful? We don’t want to gossip and backbite like we did before Ramadan, we don’t want to insult people. How is the medicine - the light of fasting going to come into our heart?
 Hadith: Whoever did not leave false talk and practicing it there is no need for him to leave his food and drink.
When you fast let your tongue fast from lying, backbiting, fighting and your ears fast from listening to gossip and let nobility cover you.
Speaking ill of others breaks the fast. Respect the rights and honor other people.
Sidi Muhammad al-Jamal teaching in Santa Barbara, CA 2009 : Fasting
Oh My worshipper, be to Me as I want you to be and I will be to you as you want Me to be.
It does not befit God (subhanahu wa to ala) to postpone blessings and rewards for good deeds. He will bless you right away, immediately. Allah (subhanahu wa to ala ) is the Most Generous. He created you without taking anything from you. He gave you life; He gave you everything. Did He give you a child, your son or daughter, and say, “Pay Me back?” He does not ask this of you. Can you claim that you did this with your own power? Not really. If He takes that power from you, you will be unable to do anything. Everything comes from Him. That is why He says in the Qur’an: To Allah belongs everything in the heavens and the earth and in between. (24:64)
During Ramadan¸ take the opportunity to purify yourself through giving charity, because giving charity purifies you. In the Quran Allah says:
And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah, announce to them a painful torment. (9:34)
Hadith: Have mercy upon those on earth so that He who is in heaven will bestow mercy upon you.
The one who does to have mercy for people will not be granted mercy and will not know how to receive mercy.
We glorify Allah on Eid when we break our fast for this wonderful month. It’s a month to be extremely generous and full of charity
 Ibn Arabi:
“Fasting in reality is non-action, not action”
In reality, fasting is non-action, not action. The negation of likeness is a negative attribute. Therefore the relationship between it and Allah is strengthened. Allah Almighty says about Himself, “There is nothing like Him” (42:11) he denied that there is anything like Him. An-Nasa’I  related that Abu Uama said, I came to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, “Give me something that I can take from you.” He said, “You must fast. There is nothing like it.”

Hadith transmitted by Muslim: Every action of the son of Adam belongs to him except the fast. It is Mine, and I repay him for it. Fasting is a protection. When one of you has a day of fasting, he should speak neither obscenely nor too loudly; and if someone seeks to curse him or fight with him, let him say, “I am fasting.”  By Him in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, the smell of the mouth of the one who fasts is more delectable to Allah than the scent of musk. The one who fasts has two joys in which to delight: when he breaks his fast, he rejoices; and when he meets his Lord, he rejoices in his fast (Muslim: 13:163)
 Know that since the Prophet denied that there is anything like the fast, as is established in the hadith of an-Nasa’i and Allah has nothing like Him, the faster meets his Lord described as having nothing like him. He sees Him by it, and He is the Seer-Seen. This is why the Prophet said, he rejoices in his fast and not He rejoices in meeting his Lord. Joy does not rejoice in itself; he is made to rejoice by it. Whoever has Allah as his sight when he sees and contemplates Him, only sees himself by seeing Him.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Purification of the Heart

I would like to expound on a few principles I have gleamed from reading Hamz Yusef's book Purification of the Heart. Hamza Yusef is one of the top Islamic Scholars in the United States. He grew up and resides in the bay area east of San Francisco, California.

The book is based on a poem and treatise on how to transform the heart by Shaykh Muhammad Mawlud. He begins his introduction with a hadith ""Actions are based on intentions". All deeds are thus valued according to the intentions behind them, and intentions emanate from the heart.  Every action a person intends or performs is rooted in the heart. His poem is based on previous works especially Imam al-Ghazali's The Revivification of the  Sciences of the Religion, which is all about rectifying the human heart." 

Verse 2, ""Have courtesy with God, the High and the Majestic, by practicing modesty and humility--" 
...courtesy is the portal to the purification of the heart. One must have courtesy with regard to God - behave properly with respect to His presence - if he or she wishes to purify the heart.""  In hadith, the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, states, "Every religion has a quality that is characteristic of that religion. And the characteristic of my religion is haya, an internal sense of shame, which includes bashfulness and modesty."...It is associated with the knowledge and active awareness that God is the all-seeing of what one does - a reality that is permanent. The nurturing of the realization deters one from engaging in acts that are displeasing and vulgar. This is the essence of the noble prophetic teachings.""

Verse 3 - "dejected of of shame and humility humbles in awe, imploring Him..
Iman Mawlud mentions that one should also have dhul which literally refers to being lowly, abject, or humble. The Quran mentions that people who incur the anger of God have this state of humiliation thrust upon them. But what is meant here is something different; it is humility or humbleness voluntarily assumed before God, which is required for courtesy."

Verse 4  "by giving up your designs for His, emptied of covetousness for what His servants have"
When one reflects on God's perfect watch over His creation feelings of shame and humility arise. One prays to have God change them to giving up their plans for God's plan. The Prophet (PBUH) said, "None of you fully believes until his desires are in accordance with what I have brought"

Verse 5: "by hastening to fulfill His commands, and by being wary of the subtle encroachment of bad manners."
A hadith states "One of you will say a word and give it no consideration, though it will drag the person [who uttered it] through Hellfire for 70 years."

Verses 6-8 "If you - the spiritual aspirant- realize your attributes of servitude, you will then be assisted with something of the attributes of the Eternally Besought. Realize your abject character and impoverishment, and you will gain dignity and wealth from the All-Powerful. There is no salvation like the heart's salvation, given that all the limbs respond to its desires.

Blameworthy Modesty:
Verse 67-68: "As for blameworthy modesty, it is that which prevents one from denouncing the condemnable or from asking a question concerning a matter relating to religion and the like. For this reason, it is consider a harmful quality.
In general, modesty is something praised in Islam and is considered virtuous. What is blameworthy is modesty that prevents one from denouncing what clearly should be denounced, such as tyranny or corruption. This form of modesty results in meekness at a time when one needs to be forthright and courageous. Something condemnable is condemnable regardless of the status of the person who is engaged in it --whether he or she is a close relative or a person of status, wealth, or authority. There must be agreement, however, among scholars on what is condemnable. One cannot, for example, declare decisively that something is considered condemnable if there is a difference of opinion about it among the scholars. Scholars knowledgeable of juristic difference rarely condemn others. They refrain from such condemnation not because of modesty, but because of the extensive knowledge and scholarship. Unfortunately, too many people today are swift to condemn, which creates another disease -- self-righteousness. At issue here is blameworthy modesty that results in timid failure to denounce what unequivocally deserves denouncement and to ask about important matters from those who know."

Verses 73-74: "The heart's engagement in matters that do not concern it is only forbidden when it pertains to the prohibited, such as fantasizing about the beautiful qualities of a woman or dwelling on the fault of Muslims, even in their absence."
The Prophet said, "There is a tree in Paradise reserved for one whose own faults preoccupied him from considering the faults of others."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jesus Prophet of Islam

I apologize for this post being so long. My intent is to interest you in a book I recently read and to give you enough information to sink your teeth into so as to whet your appetite.
I recently picked up a copy of Jesus, Prophet of Islam at the Mother Center Bookstore, (  In the preface to this revised edition, author Ahmad Thomson states, “It should perhaps be emphasized that the title of this book is not intended to be provocative. It has always been understood by the Muslims at least, that the way of life which was embodied by all of the Prophets, may the blessings and peace of God be on them and to their families and companions and true followers, was essentially one and the same life-transaction, grounded in the worship of the One Creator of the heavens and the earth and all that exists, both in the Seen and in the Unseen worlds – the way of Islam. Like all the Prophets before him, Jesus, peace be on him, confirmed the Prophets who had come before him – especially Moses, peace be on him – and foretold the coming of the Prophet who would come after him – Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace – and as with all of the Prophets, the simple way of life that Jesus followed was the way of total submission to his Lord, the way of Islam. When the way of Islam is viewed from this perspective, then it is clear that not only Jesus, but indeed all the Prophets – and especially Muhammad – were Prophets of Islam. It is, when understood in this sense, impossible to make any distinction between them.”
I found the book very good reading, and could hardly put it down once I started it. It explained how the myths of the trinity, the supposed crucifixion of Jesus, original sin, and salvation through Jesus supposed dying on the cross began. It also introduced me to the Gospel of Barnabus which describes the ascension of Jesus to the third heaven, and the crucifixion of JudasJesus, Prophet of Islam explained fully the Council of Nicea in 325 AD and how for hundreds of years before and after there was a bloody conflict between the Pauline Roman Trinitarians and the Unitarians who believed in the tawhid.
I recently used this book for reference material at two successive Friday Khutbas at the Mother Center. Below are some excerpts from my notes which you may find useful:
Surah 5:46 (in part) ..We gave him [Jesus] the Ingil [Gospel] – in which there was guidance and light – confirming what was revealed before in the Torah and a guidance and a warning for those who fear God.
Jesus, peace be upon him was sent by Allah specifically to the Tribe of Israel – that is, to the twelve tribes of the Tribe of Israel who were the descendants of the twelve sons of Jacob, who was also known as Israel. The teachings of Jesus were intended for those who claimed to be following Moses, but no longer had access to his original teachings. Thus Jesus was given the knowledge of the original Torah which had been revealed to Moses, and he always emphasized that he had come to uphold the law of Moses and not change it.
The climate that Jesus was born into was a Roman occupied territory that consisted of different groups of Jews. One group made the best of things by acquiring wealth and position, both temporal and religious. The majority group lived in expectation of a new Prophet, the Messiah, the Anointed One, whose coming was described in the Torah and who they hoped would succeed in driving out the Roman invaders. This rumor circulating among the Jews, led to Herod’s decision to kill all the babies born in Bethlehem where, according to tradition, the Messiah was to appear. What was Mary doing with a baby who spoke from the cradle with authority and was visited by Sheppard’s and Magi? Mary escaped the Romans by going to Egypt where the Essens, a third group of Jews, had another colony.
The Essens were a secret society of Israelite men that lived in caves in the mountains of Jordan near the Dead Sea. They concentrated on living a life of purity following the teachings of the Old Testament apart from the influence of invading nations and rulers. Some of their teachings were recovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls. They had religious school and families would send their sons to them to be educated. Yahya, John the Baptist, was sent there by his parents Elizabeth and Zachariah to be schooled. Mary escaped the Romans with Jesus peace and blessings upon them, by going to Egypt where the Essens had another colony.
Sidi writes in the Stories of the Prophets, page 305, “Today the Essene books are the closest to the true account of the life of Jesus. The bible had been changed by the Romans, and by those in power, before the discovery of the Essene Books.”
Christians can be divided in two groups: Unitarians and Trinitarians.
The Jews that accepted Isa (s.a.w.) as a prophet and the messiah were ‘Unitarians’ affirming the belief in one God. Churches that evolved and adopted these beliefs could be found primarily in North Africa and Asia.
JPOI, PG 56: In the years that followed Isa’s Ascension to Allah, the gulf between the Jews that rejected Isa (s.a.w.) and the Jews that followed him began to widen. It was into this circle of sincere followers that Paul of Tarsus walked. He had never met Jesus, he had a reputation of being one of the greatest enemies of Jesus. He was on his way to Damascus with letters from the temple high priest to capture and bring to Jerusalem the followers of Jesus. It was on this Journey to Damascus that Paul is said to have met Jesus in a vision and become one of his followers as a result. Not long before this took place it is recorded that Paul had desired to marry a woman called Popea who was the attractive but ambitious daughter of the high priest. She liked Paul but rejected his offers of marriage and went to Rome as an actress. Ultimately she married Nero and became the Empress of the Roman Empire. Paul therefore had good reason to resent both the Jews and the Roman Empire. He must have been under considerable emotional and mental strain at the time. It is possible that this crisis in his life had some bearing on this sudden change from his being one of the greatest supporters of the Jewish Law to one of its greatest enemies. According to Acts 9:20 Paul stayed with the followers of Jesus who were in Damascus and He preached Christ in the synagogues that he is the ‘son of God’. He then left Damascus and went into the desert for three years. Here he may have begun to formulate his own version of what Jesus taught. This involved a rejection of the Law of Moses, which in turn meant his turning away from the message of Jesus. Paul then comes to the apostles in Jerusalem and claimed to have access to the revelation of Jesus Christ. They were skeptical as what he was telling them did not tally with what they heard from the lips of Jesus. Barnabas who, according to tradition had been Paul’s classmate under Gamaliel intervened and spoke in favor of Paul. What followed was an invite to Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) by followers of Jesus that had fled there for Barnabus to come and teach. Barnabus later invited Paul to join him. Because of Paul’s continued deviation from the teachings of Jesus, Barnabus parted from Paul.

Paul’s teaching apparently followed a line of reasoning that Jesus was dead and so Christ is free from Jewish law, and that it was necessary to follow Christ’s teachings and not Jesus’  teachings. Paul assembled his doctrine of original sin, redemption and atonement on the crucifixion and resurrection which never happened. It was a great success since it preached a man could do what he wanted and not face the consequences provided at the end of the day, he said: “I believe in Christ”. 

Another issue was trying to teach to pagans. There was disagreement among the disciples on this issue as they felt Jesus was sent to re-establish the Torah and his teachings were for Jews. However, Paul disagreed and later Peter agreed with him. With the shift of emphasis from Jesus as a man to the new image of Christ, who was divine, the pagan societies of Greece and Rome began to assimilate into their own philosophy what Paul and those who followed him were preaching. Their view of existence was a tripartite one (Quronos, Kronus, Zeus) and, with the Pauline Church’s talk of God the Father and Son of God it only needed the inclusion of the holy ghost to have a trinity which matched theirs. With the passage of time these two pictures merged into one, and the doctrine of Trinity was born. There were also problems with translations and limitations of language. When the Hebrew Gospels had been translated into Greek these translational errors became permanent when nearly all the Gospels in Hebrew were destroyed.

While Paul’s version of Christianity spread northwards up through Greece and Italy and then Europe, the true followers of Jesus, the real Christians with the message of tawhid, spread with their knowledge throughout the holy land and to the east and to the south and across north Africa. Those who embodied Jesus’ teaching transmitted much of their knowledge directly from person to person, behavior was imitated and the doctrine of Jesus passed on orally, supplemented with various teachings that had been written down. There was no formal collection of teachings. They continued to affirm the Divine Unity. The Pauline Roman church did not approve of the teachings of the Unitarians and despite torture, assassinations and imprisonments’ of Unitarians they held to their just belief in the Unity. Some of the traditions and sayings were kept by descendants and when they became Muslim these found their way into Islamic literature.

Ka’b al-Akbar said, “Jesus, son of Mary, was a ruddy man, inclined to white; he did not have long hair, and he never anointed his head. Jesus used to walk barefoot, and he took no house, or adornment, or goods, or clothes, or provision, except his day’s food. Wherever the sun set, he arranged his feet in prayer till the morning came. He was curing the blind from birth, and the leper, and raising the dead by God’s permission, and was telling his people what they were eating in their houses and what they were storing up for the morrow, and he was walking on the surface of the water in the sea. His head was disheveled and his face was small; he was an ascetic in the world, longing for the next world and eager for the worship of God. He was a pilgrim in the earth till the Jews sought him and desired to kill him. Then God raised him up to heaven; and God knows best.”

“Jesus, the Messiah, peace be upon him, used to take nothing with him but a comb and a jug. Then he saw a man combing his beard with his fingers, so he threw away the comb; and he saw another drinking from a river with the palms of his hands, so he threw away the jug.”

The disciples said to Jesus, peace be upon him, “How is it that you can walk on water and we cannot?” Then he said to them, “What do you think of the dinar and dirham (pieces of money)?”  They replied, “they are good. “ Jesus said, “But they [water and money] are alike to me.”

A shift in the struggle between the Pauline Christians in Rome and the Unitarians happened when the Roman Emperor Constantine discovered Christianity. He was jealous of his oldest son and heir Crispus and to secure his own position Constantine had him murdered. It was known that the step mother of Crispus had wanted her own son to succeed Constantine and accordingly he put the blame for his crime on her and killed her. The supporters of the prince and Queen turned against him and the priests of the Roman temple of Jupiter told him there was no sacrifice or prayer which could absolve him from the two murders. It was an uncomfortable time for him in Rome so Constantine decided to go to Byzantium and on his arrival modestly re-named the city Constantinople. Here he met with unexpected salvation from the Pauline Church whose leaders said that if he did penance in their Church his sins would be forgiven.

Constantine recognized the possibilities of using the Christian Church to his own ends provided he win its loyalty so he gave the church his support. However being a pagan he did not understand the significance of the disagreements between the Trinitarians and the Unitarians. With the support of the Roman Empire the Pauline Church continued in the killing the Unitarian Christians who disagreed with them. The popular Unitarian church under Donatus of Cathridge became the church of the martyrs. Arius of Alexander wrote “We are persecuted because we say that Jesus had a beginning while God had no beginning.” Constantine wanted peace between them and convened a meeting of Christian bishops to settle the matter in what is known today as the Council of Nicea 325 AD. Invited were various bishops but neither Donatus nor Arius the strongest Unitarian bishops of the time were invited. Other sincere pious Unitarian bishops were invited but they were out of their depth in this conference with leading Pauline Roman Bishops. Present on the conference table were the known Christian gospel writings of the time. The estimate was between 300 -4000 books. Since a consensus could not be reached as to which books were to be put in the bible, Constantine suggested that the books be place under the table and the bishops all go back to their rooms and pray that God move the books that should be selected on top of the table. In the morning the four gospels [Mathew, Mark, Luke and John] which are in the bible were on top in a neat stack. The Unity Bishops hoped that by agreeing to this they could go home and be left alone. It was also “agreed” that Jesus was the son of God and Divine. Constantine held another conference in 381 that placed the Holy Ghost in with God and Jesus, so now there was a Trinity.

However, now that the Roman Church had the support of Constantine the Unitarians were all but wiped out. It was a capital offense to be caught with any of the books but the four approved gospels. Not only did the books get burned but the possessors as well.

 Q4:159 “And there is not one of the People of the Book but will certainly believe in him before his death (Isa) – and on the Day of Standing he will be a witness against them”

Muhammad (s.a.w.) said,: ‘If anyone believes in Jesus son of Mary and then believes in me, then he will have a double reward’ – Bukhari

Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever bears witness that there is no god except God, alone without any partner; and the Muhammad is His slave and His Messenger; and that Jesus is the slave of God and His Messenger; and His Word which he bestowed on Mary and a Spirit from Him; and that the Garden is true and the Fire is true, then God will make him enter the Garden, however few his good actions may have been” – Bukhari

Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, “On the night of the Isra, I met my father Ibrahim, Musa, and Isa and they discussed the Hour. The matter was referred first to Ibrahim, then to Musa and both said “I have no knowledge of it.”  Then it was referred to Isa, who said, “No one knows about its timing except Allah; What my Lord told me was the Dajjal will appear, and when he sees me he will begin to melt like lead. Allah will destroy him when he sees me. The Muslims will fight against the disbelievers, and even the trees and rocks will say, ‘Oh Muslim there is a disbeliever hiding behind me – come and kill him.’ God will destroy the disbelievers, and the people will return to their own lands. Then God and Magog will appear from all directions, eating and drinking everything they find. The people will complain to me, so I will pray to God and He will destroy them, so that the earth will be filled with their stench. God will send rain which will wash their bodies into the sea. My Lord has told me that when that happens, the Hour will be very close, like a pregnant woman whose tie is due but her family does not know exactly when she will deliver” (Musnad 1.375)

Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, “By the One in Whose hand my soul is, the son of Mary will soon descend among you as a just judge, and he will break the crosses, and kill pigs, and abolish the jizya and wealth will pour forth to such an extent that no one will accept it, and one prostration in prayer will be better than the world and what it contains.” Bukhari

Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, “I am the nearest of kin to Jesus, son of Mary, in this world and in the next. The prophets are brothers, sons of one father by co-wives. Their mothers are different but their way of life is one. There has been no prophet between us.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

JPOI p278 Commentary on the above hadith: The prophets are brothers- they are all the same; there is no distinction between them

Sons of one father: they all declare on doctrine – la ilaha il’Allah. There is no god but Allah. Nothing can be associated with Him in His Divinity.

Their mothers are different: each Prophet has been sent to a particular people at a particular time. The Prophet of the time has had revealed to him a Sunnah, or life form, a practice, a social pattern by which his community should live. Whenever a new Prophet came to a people, he brought a new form of the Sunnah to accord with the new age. This is the Shari’ah or Road of the Prophets. Thus, with coming of our master Muhammad, (s.a.w.)  the Divine Transaction is complete. Messengership is sealed in the last revealed Book, The Glorious Qur’an.

Q 5:3 This day I have perfected your way of life for you, and I have completed My blessing upon you, and I have chosen Al-Islam for you as your way of life.