Sunday, April 26, 2009

A cry of longing ...

"O Muhammed!
How can we find you here among the ruins?
How can we see you?"

Daniel Moore 

Prayer of the Messenger (Peace be upon him)

Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him): “O Allah you are most Forgiving One, you love to forgive, so forgive me.  

Think well of your Lord

Abu Hurayrah r.a. reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said that God says: I am as My servant thinks of Me. If he thinks well of Me, I am good to him. If he thinks ill of Me, I am bad to him. (Bukhari)

According to Ibn Masud r.a., the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: I swear upon the one and only God who created all and everything that He only offers you what you hope for from Him. All good is in His power. (Tabarani)

And Abu Hurayrah r.a. reported the hadith: To think well of God is one of the best forms of worship. (Abu Dawud)

Jabir ibn Abdullah r.a. said, “When your life in this world ends, hope for God’s mercy at your last breath.”

Abu Hurayrah reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:On the day of judgement, God will condemn a sinner to Hellfire. When he is brought to the edge of the fire, he will look back and say, “O my Lord, I always thought well of You!” Then God will pull him back from the fire and say, ‘I am as My creature thinks of Me.” (Bayhaqi)

Taken from Imam Birgivi’s book “The Path of Muhammed”, peace and blessings be upon him.

Fear and Hope

Imam Birgivi mentions in his book, “The Path of Muhammed”, that majority of the legalists say that fear should supersede hope and mentions Rabi’ah Al-Adawiyyah’s story:

“Someone asked Saint Rabi’ah al-Adawiyyah,”What do you count on in your hope to receive Allah’s favors?” She answered,”On my doubt of the value of any of my actions undertaken for His sake.”

Imam Birgivi believes that fear or hope of His Compassion depends on the individual’s circumstances. For beginningers fear is better, since they might have traces of egotism, pride, and self-satisfaction in themselves. “For the faitful who have studied and know right from wrong, and who are sincere in their attempts to do right, fear and hope of Allah are best”

His Mercy overcomes His Wrath (Ahmed Sam'ani Part 5)

O My servants who have been immoderate against yourselves, do not despair of God’s mercy – surely God will forgive all sins. 39:53

Ahmad Sam’ani’s commentary follows:
“It has been reported that someone recited this verse before the Messenger of God (peace and blessing be upon him and his noble family). When the reciter reached the words, surely God will forgive all sins, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,”Indeed He will, and He does not care.” Then he said three times, “God curse the alienators,” that is, those who make people despair of God’s mercy.”
Further Ahmad Sam’ani states that God has said I “will forgive all sins” and not I “have forgiven all sins” - lest the servant hold back from beseeching, weeping, fear, and hope.”The servant must stay between hope and fear”.

Then Ahmad Sam'ani further delves into God's forgiveness by elaborating the use of "O My Servants" in the above ayah of the Quran.

“O my servants! Which servants? Not “those who have obeyed”, not “those who have responded”, not “those who have performed the prayer”, not “those who have performed the hajj”, not “those who struggle”, not “those who give alms”. Then which ones? Those who have been immoderate, those who have passed beyond the limits!" ...  
"Those that have been immoderate. He did not tear the curtain. He did not say, "They commited adultery, they murdered." He mentioned the short of it - Those who have been immoderate. They were immoderate. Since He wants to, He forgives. He does not tear the curtain."
"He did not say to the Throne, "O My Throne.", Nor to the Pen, "O My Pen," nor to the Tablet, "O My Tablet", nor to the Garden, "O My Garden", nor to the Fire, "O My Fire." He said to the disobedient, "O My Servants," That is enough pride for you - O My Servants!"

I have continued to quote Ahmad Sam'ani's explanation of this verse in this post

The Creator and His sinners (Ahmed Sama'ni Part 4)

William Chittick claims that Allah desires to make human beings aware of their nothingness so that they will put aside their pride and open up to Allah’s gentleness, love, and forgiveness.
And Master Ahmad Sam’ani writes so beautifully this story of sin and forgiveness that it should give us sinners some hope.

“O tree, put up your head next to Adam’s throne!
O appetite for fruit, enter into Adam’s heart!
O accursed one, let loose the reins of your whispering!
O Eve, you show the way!
O Adam, don’t eat the fruit, have self restraint!
O Self-restraint, don’t come near Adam!”

O God, God, what is all this?
“We want to bring Adam down from the throne of indifference to the earth of need.
We want to make evident the secret of love.”

“O servant, avoid disobedience and stay away from caprice!
O caprice, you take his reins!
O world, you display yourself to him!
O servant, you show self restraint!
O self-restraint, don’t come near him!”

O God, God, what is all this?
“We want to make the servant plead with Us?
We want to make apparent Our attribute of forgiveness”

I cannot type Ahmad Sam’ani’s words here for they are very lengthy. But, here are selections from long paragraphs that encourage us sinners and hopeless dejected beings to not lose hope …

“No sin is as great as the first one … this is especially true when the person was nourished on beneficence and nurtured through blessings … Since he pardoned the first slip, this is proof that He will pardon all sins … After all we have a thousand times more excuses than Adam had. If the darkness of clay is necessary, we have it. If the times should have become dark with injustice and corruption, we have that … At the first slip Adam was excused without any of these meanings. Since we have all these opacities, why should He not forgive us? In truth he will forgive us.”

Forgive us Our Lord for the sake of your Beloved

Our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him and his family forever and ever) has spoken:

“If you did not sin, God would bring a people who would sin, so that He could forgive them. Surely, there is no sin too great for God to forgive.”

“Who am I with God when I sin
that He would not forgive me?
I hope for pardon from Adam’s children -
how should I not hope for it from my Lord?”

- Ahmad Sam’wani

Spiritual Poverty - A fire in the heart, a pain in the breast, and dust on the face (Ahmed Sam'ani Part 3)

I would recommend everyone to read this beautiful post by nuruddinzangi on voluntary poverty.
Ahmad Sam’ani discusses spiritual poverty/need (niyaz in persian). He calls it 
“a fire in the heart, a pain in the breast, and dust on the face.”
This verse is worth memorizing and repeating. It is visual – it reminds one of majnun the faqir! Completely lost and utterly devastated in Layla’s love and in need of her.

This poverty is mentioned in the Quran: “O people, you are the poor toward God; and God – He is the Wealthy and Praiseworthy” 35:15
Furthermore, the lesson that Ahmad Sam’ani and William Chittick convey to us is that Spiritual Poverty is based on humility. Using Adam’s peace be upon him story Ahmad Sam’ani mentions that Adam’s mistake/sin taught him humility. Adam realized he was indigent (indigence: poverty in which real hardship and deprivation are suffered. From Whereas the angels were proud of their worship and past deeds:
"They said “We call you Holy”. Adam said “Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves”
Ahmad Sam’awi, in my opinion has beautifully summed up hope and fear in this story: 
“No obedient person should be self satisfied, and no disobedient should lose hope.”

He Loved them and they love Him

“O Ridhwan, paradise belongs to you!
O Malik, hell belongs to you!
O cherubim, the Throne belongs to you!
O you with the burnt heart, you who carry the seal of My Love!
You Belong to Me, and I belong to You”

- Ahmad Sam’ani

The Body Melting, Heart Burning Verse of Love (Ahmed Sam'ani Part 2)

Chittick quotes Sam’ani: “Quran has set up opposites between the Creator and creature in many ways, constantly asserting divine greatness and human insignificance. Only in talk of love does the Quran speak of mutuality.”
Ahmad Sam’ani illustrates the above point in the following manner:

God gave news of the attribute of His Knowledge –Surely God knows everything 29:62.
He also gave news of the attribute of our ignorance –Surely he is very ignorant, a great wrongdoer 33:72
He gave news of the attribute of His power –Surely God is powerful over everything 2:109.
He also gave news of the attribute of our incapacity –God strikes a likeness: a servant possessed by his master, having no power over anything 16:75.
He gave news of the attribute of His exaltation –Surely the exaltation, all of it, belongs to God 4:139.
He also gave news of our abasement –And faces are humbled to the Living, the Self subsistent. 20:111”

However when he gave news of Love, just as He affirmed love for Himself, so also He affirmed love for us –He loves them, and they love Him 5:54

“Here there must be a secret that will increase the refreshment of the lovers’ spirits: Knowledge, power, life, holiness, subsistence, and unity are the attribute of His Essence, and His Essence is holy and incomparable.”
William Chittick further elaborates this point: “Angels are cut from love because they cannot taste wrath, severity, and distance, and the beasts are far from love because they cannot experience beauty, gentleness, and nearness. Human beings are woven from both nearness and distance, both gentleness and severity. All the contradictory divine attributes are brought together in him.”

And then so beautifully and and ecstatically Ahmad Sam’ani writes:

“From the Throne down to the earth, no love whatsoever is sold except in the house of human grief and joy. Many sinless and pure angels were in the Court, but only this handful of dust was able to carry the burden of this body-melting, heart-burning verse: He loves them, and they love Him

That Lord who was able to protect Joseph from committing an ugly act could have prevented Adam from tasting of the tree. But since the world has to be full of tumult and affliction, what could be done?
Adam was brought into paradise, made to slip, then brought out. “Adam, this is not a business that you could have handled yourself. On the day that the angels prostrated themselves, you were not alone. On the day of the binding of the Covenant, you were not alone. There was no stipulation that you should be alone in paradise. “The most evil of men is he who eats alone.”It is not the work of a noble youth to eat all alone. Come into this world, which is the workshop of seeking. The teacher, who is poverty, will write out for you the alphabet of love.”

The last paragraph is enlightening. All of humanity took upon itself the Covenant with Allah swt, then why should it not also enjoy nearness in paradise? Why should only Adam be in paradise? Thus, Shaykh Ahmad Sam’ani says “It is not the work of the noble youth to eat all alone …” Adam was “punished”, so that all of humanity could enjoy nearness.

The Secret Behind the Fall of Adam (Ahmed Sam'ani Part 1)

I intend to write about, mostly copy, from the book Sufism by William Chittick some very powerful lessons in a few installments. The intention is that perhaps someone will benefit from reading this material and make a small prayer for me.

William Chittick has introduced Ahmad Sam’ani, a Shafi scholar from Merv who was born in 1140. His works were first published in 1989. Unfortunately, there are many outstanding works of scholarship out there that have been neglected. William Chittick uses Sam’ani’s work “The Refreshment of the Spirits: Explaining the Names of the All-Opening King” to discuss core beliefs of the Muslim faith in his book: Sufism.
Chittick discusses the fall of Adam:

“When Adam was in paradise, he had not fully realized the meaning of all the names that God had taught him. He knew the names of beauty and mercy, but not the names of majesty and wrath. The fact that God is both, All Merciful and Wrathful demands that both paradise and hell exist.”
He then quotes Ahmad Sam’ani:
“If We were to let you stay in the Garden, Our attribute of Severity would not be satisfied. So, leave this place and go down to the furnace of affliction and the crucible of distance" 
“O Adam, come out of paradise and go into this world. Lose your crown, belt, and cap in the way of love! Put up with pain and affliction. Then tomorrow, We will bring you back to this precious homeland and this domicile of subsistence, with a hundred thousand robes of gentleness and every sort of honor, as the leader of the witnesses and in the presence of the one hundred and twenty and some thousand prophets, the possessors of purity and the sources of chosenness. Then the creatures will come to know that just as We can bring Adam’s form out of paradise through the attribute of severity, so also We can bring him back through the attribute of gentleness.” 
“Tomorrow, Adam will go into paradise with his children. A cry will rise up from all the particles of paradise because of the crowding. The angels of the World of Sovereignty will look with wonder and say, “Is this that same man who moved out of paradise a few days ago in poverty and indigence?”
“ …Suffer a bit of trouble, then in a few days, take the treasure!”