Friday, May 15, 2009

May Chivalry Endure

Following is paraphrased from "The Book of Character" by Helminski, the story itself is from Al-Sulami, The Way of Sufi Chivalry.

One day three young men entered the presence of Caliph Umar who was seated with the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Two of the young men had brought the murderer of their father for punishment. 

The accused said that he had arrived to Madinah to pay his respects to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and was resting at a spot while his horse started eating from the branch of a date tree hanging over a wall. As soon as he noticed this, the man pulled his horse away. However, an angry old man approached from the house and threw a stone at his horse, instantly killing it. The man due to love for his horse lost control and threw the stone back at the old man, which killed him instantly. 

The accused claimed that had he wished, he could have escaped since no one had witnessed this event. But he did not want to be punished in the hereafter and had thus stayed.

Caliph Umar ordered that according to law the youn man must be punished. Upon hearing this the young man kept his composure and calmly requested that he be allowed to visit his village so that he could entrust to someone an orphans fortune that he was charged with safeguarding. 

Caliph Umar replied, "Your request cannot be accorded unless somebody takes your place and vouches for your life."

The accused looked at the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and pointed at Abu Dharr Al Ghiffari as the man who would vouch for him. Without hesitation, Abu Dharr Al Ghiffari, agreed to replace the young man.

When three days passed and the accused had not returned, the two brothers went to Caliph Umar and demaned their right. The companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were gravely concerned for Abu Dharr Al Ghiffari. However, when the day was about to end, the young man appeared. He was tired, dusty, and hot. "I am sorry to have worried you." he said breathlessly and explained his reason for being late. 

Then the young man turned to the crowd and said, "The man of faith is loyal to his word. The one who fails to keep his word is a hypocrite. Who can escape death which comes sooner or later anyway? Did you think I was going to disappear and make people say, "The Muslims do not keep their word anymore?"

The crowd then turned to Abu Dharr Al Ghiffari and asked him if he had known the young man's character. He replied, "Not at all, but I did not feel I could refuse him when he singled me out, as it would not have been in keeping with the laws of generosity. Should I be the one to make people say that there is no more kindness left in Islam?"

The hearts of the accusers trembled and they dropped their claim for revenge, saying, "Should we be the ones to make people say that there is no more compassion left in Islam?"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

God has not forsaken you

"Thy Lord has neither forsaken thee nor hates thee."
Quran 93:3

"A certain man one night was crying 'Allah!' till his lips were becoming sweet with the mention of his name.

'Why now, chatterbox,' said the Devil, 'where is the answer "Here am I" to all this "Allah" of yours?  Not one answer is coming from the Throne: how long will your grimly go on crying "Allah"?'

The man became broken-hearted, and laid down his head to sleep. He saw in a dream mystic Khazir all in a green garden. 
'Look now,' Khazir called, 'why have you desisted from the mention of God? How is it you repent of having called upon Him?'
'No answering "Here am I" is coming to me,' the man replied, 'and I therefore fear that I may be refused from His door.'

Khazir answered, 'Your cry of "Allah" (God says) is itself My "Here am I"; your pleading and agony and fervour is My messenger. All your twistings and turnings to come to Me were My drawing you that set free your feet. Your fear and love are the lasso to catch My grace. Under each "Allah" of yours whispers many a "Here am I"."

Masnavi of Mawlana Rumi

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Daughter of Hatim Tai

He eneveloped Banu Tai in his holy mantle,
Brought them under Mercy's cover.

Worry not brothers and sisters,

His Ummatis deserve much more, much better.

On the day of resurrection, we all

Shall be covered in his holy mantle.


The Generous Messenger

"In the Muslims heart is the name of Muhammad,
All our glory is from the name of Muhammad, ...

The daughter of Tai was taken prisoner in battle,
And brought into the exalted presence;
Her feet in chains, her face unveiled,
And her neck bowed with shame.
When the Prophet saw that poor girl had no veil,
He covered her face with his own mantle.

He opened the gates of mercy to his enemies, 
He gave to Mecca the message, "There's no blame on you today" ... "

This has been extracted from a long poem that Allama Iqbal wrote in praise of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).  The event referenced in the poem regarding the daughter of Tai is an historical event that took place when the Muslim army faced Hatim Tai's son (and his tribe) in battle. 

Hatim Tai was a legendary figure in Arabia, who was known for his generosity, charity and selfless character. His son, Adi, was the head of the tribe during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him).  It is said that Adi escaped to Syria before the battle leaving his sister and tribe at the mercy of the Muslim army. When the prisoners of war were brought before the Prophet (peace be upon him), Adi's sister Sufana was among them. Seeing her condition the Prophet (peace be upon him) covered her with his own mantle and set her free due to her fathers great character. 

In response Sufana showed her greatness of heart and informed the Prophet (peace be upon him) that being the daughter of Tai, a man who ransomed prisoners, fed the poor and helped those in distress, she could not accept her freedom unless her clansmen were also freed. 

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the generous and gentle Messenger of the Most Generous, showed his generosity be setting everyone free that day. News of this event led to the return of Adi (Sufana's brother) and eventually they and their tribe accepted Islam.

Quran on Human Interaction in times of Peace and War

Following is a collection of Quranic verses, originally collected by Kabir Helminski , pertaining to a set of rules/decorum/courtesy that must exist between individuals and societies in times of peace and war. I have used translations of the Quran from multiple sources. 

1. "Unto every one of you have We a different law and way of life. And if God had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: But He willed it otherwise in order to test you by means of what He vouschafed unto you. Vie, then, with one another in doing good works! Unto God you all must return; and then He will make you truly understand all."
Quran 5:48 

Muhammad Asad mentions in his english translation/commentary of this verse:
"Thus, the Quran impresses upon all who believe in God - Muslims and non-Muslims alike - that the differences in their religious practices should make them "vie with one another in doing good works" rather than lose themselves in mutual hositilty" ... 

2. "O you who have attained to faith, when you go forth [to war] in God's cause, use your dicenrment, and do not - out of a desire for the feelting gains of this worldy life - say unto anyone who offers you the greeting of peace, "Thou art not a believer": for with God there are gains abundant. You, too, were once in the same condition - but God has been gracious unto you. Use, therefore, your discenrment: verily, God is always aware of what you do."
Quran 4:94 Translated by Muhammad Asad

This verse discusses the rules of war and more. The Quran clearly commands Muslims from mistreating non-combatants as enemies and using their supposed unbelief/difference in religion as a pretext for plundering them. Thereafter, the Quran reminds Muslims that "You, too, were once in the same condition", which was a time whem Muslims were weak and numerically insignificant and thus at the mercy of enemies - thus Muslims should treat their opponents with the same consideration which they themselves once had hoped for. This is Muhammad Asad's understaning of the verse. 

Abdullah Yusuf Ali, another famous translator of the Quran, adds that this verse does NOT only refer to "war", but it applies to when a Muslim travels abroad for pure motives - such as "trading/business" or "jihad". He explains that the immediate occasion of this verse was in connection with Jihad, but the words are general and can be applied to similar circumstances. 

In the book Asbab Al Nuzul (Context and Occasions of the Revelation of the Quran) by Al Wahidi, it is mentioned that this verse was revelaed after a Muslim had killed an innocent non-Muslim who had offered peace and in one narration perhaps even converted to Islam. Yet, the Muslim killed him, "out of a desire for the feelting gains of this worldy life", (for the booty). 

In my opinion this verse is as relevant today as it was back then. Nations have long invaded, occupied, and murdered innocent civilians in order to attain "feelting gains of this worly life", and justified it by using "national security", and "moral superiorirty" in the case of Colonialism, as excuses for evil.

3. "Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clearly from error; whoever rejects evil and has faith in God has grasped the most trustworthy, unfailing handhold. And God hears and knows all things, God is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light"
Quran 2:256-257

It is mentioned in Asbab Al Nuzul by Al Wahidi, that this verse may have been revealed when Muslim women of Madinah tried to coerce their sons to convert to Islam. 

The documentation of the above event in history by Muslim historians and this verse of the Quran shows that Islamic history has been well preseverd and follows the injunctions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): "speak the truth even if it be against yourself".

Friday, May 8, 2009


One is great who faces fate
Before it's late,
Appreciate the destined state
No matter how much we debate
Oppose, engage, or calculate
Even try to accelarate 
Fate only moves at its own rate
Futile is worry, anger, and hate
Joy is the only worthy mate.

From the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Light of Hope

Keep hope alive; keep your heart burning Khaadim.
Till its last the candle gives light.

One day it will shine in your heart; you too
Shall reflect the beauty of Eternal Light.

He calls Himself the Merciful,
Then why doubt His Mercy?

- Khaadim

No such thing as “Holy War” in Islam

This blog post by TheHoopoe has benefited me, and I have decided that I should expand on it using traditional Islamic sources so as to learn more about these verses myself. In doing so I hope that it benefits others, especially Non-Muslims.

The very first verse to be revealed in connection to “war” was revealed some time after the Muslims migrated with the Prophet (peace be upon him) to Madinah due to religious persecution in Makkah

To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged;- and verily, God is most powerful for their aid;-”
Quran 22:39

Asbab Al Nuzul” (Contexts and occasions of the Revelation of the Quran) by Al-Wahidi is a famous traditional Islamic book, and it mentions the following as the occasion for this revelation:

The commentators of the Qur’an said: “The idolaters from among the people of Mecca were in the habit of harming the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. These Companions used to come always either beaten or with their skulls bashed in. They complained to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, about this situation and he persistently told them: ‘Be steadfast, for I have not been commanded to fight’. This continued until the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, migrated, upon which Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”

The next verse in Quran (22:40) declares the following:

(They are) the ones who were expelled from their homes without any just reason, except that they say “Our Lord is Allah.” 
Had Allah not been repelling some people by means of some others, the monasteries, the churches, the synagogues and the mosques where Allah’s name is abundantly recited would have been demolished. Allah will definitely help those who help Him (by defending the religion prescribed by Him.) Surely Allah is Powerful, Mighty.

Quran (22:40)

Here the Quran stresses the following:

  1. Reiterates the earlier verse, stressing that Muslims are to fight back when they are persecuted for practicing their religion freely.

  2. If God did not help those who stood up to oppressors then monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques where God is praised – would have been destroyed by the oppressors.

  3. Muslims must respect and protect holy places belonging to people of other faiths (especially the People of the Book, Jews and Chrisitans).

Truly, what the Quran speaks of is nothing like that which the people of hate speak of, for the Quran is a mirror unto them and in it they see only the darkness of their hearts.  May Allah make us among the people of Love who are guided to Allah, by Allah. Amen.

- Allah Knows Best

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Path

Wasted Days 

O well for him who lives at ease 
 With garnered gold in wide domain, 
 Nor heeds the splashing of the rain, 
The crashing down of forest trees. 

O well for him who ne’er hath known 
 The travail of the hungry years, 
 A father grey with grief and tears, 
A mother weeping all alone. 

But well for him whose feet hath trod 
 The weary road of toil and strife, 
 Yet from the sorrows of his life 
Builds ladders to be nearer God. 

- Oscar Wilde

Qualities of a Friend of God

Even after 
all these years, 
the Sun never says 
to the earth 
"You owe me." 
Look what happens -
with a love like that, 
it lights the whole sky. 

- Hafiz 

A friend of God must have affection like the sun. When the sun rises, it is beneficial to all. All persons derive heat and light from it irrespective of whether they are Muslim, Christian etc

- Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisti

Another attempt by me

Yesterday my life was like winter. Cold had hardened my heart and frozen all emotions. The Sun had stopped smiling at me. The flowers were upset and in protest shed their leaves. All color had left as if it never existed. The singing birds had migrated to far off places. The music of life had stopped; silence prevailed.

Then came the spring of my life. With its warmth it brought light. The flowers once again blossomed; the rose spread its fragrance far and wide. The Sun gently smiled at me and sent its warm rays as a token of appreciation, touching my skin tenderly. The birds flocked back singing praises of his Blessing. Once again the orchestra of life played its ecstatic music.

I asked the singing birds, the smiling Sun, the gentle breeze, and the blooming flowers, the cause of their rejoicing. They exclaimed in unity, Behold Khaadim thy beloved has arrived!
- Khaadim

God's Forgiveness (Ahmed Samani Part 6)

Another Ahmad Sam'ani post. This is basically a follow-up of a previous post.

Ahmad Sam'ani is basically continuing with his explanation of the the Quranic verse mentioned in the previous post.
"On the Day of Resurrection, you will say, "My body, my body!" Muhammed will say, "My community, my community!" Paradise will say, "My share, my share!" Hell will say, "My portion, my portion!" 
The Lord of Exaltation will say, "My servant, my servant!" ..." 
Ahmad Sam'ani then moves further on, stressing that God's Forgiveness and Mercy knows no bounds and is unlimited:
"O angels, you have obedience! O messengers, you have messenger-hood! O pious ascetics, you have asceticsm! O worshippers, you have worship! O disobedient servants, you have the Lord! Surely you know that the Prophet has said, 'Whoevers does ugly deeds or wrongs himself and then asks for forgiveness from God will find God. Whoever finds God and sees his own share with Him will not wish for other than God ... 
At the beginning of the verse, He says, O My servants! At the end of the verse, He says, Turn unto your Lord 39:54. O you to whom I belong, and O you who belong to Me! Do not despair! Do not lose hope in My mercy, for the servant is not without sins, and the Lord is not without mercy"
This post concludes my posts on Ahmad Sam'ani's discussion of God's Forgiveness. I strongly recommend the book "Sufism: A Beginners Guide" by William Chittick from which this information was retrieved.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gai Eaton

"A man might spend a life reading spiritual books and studying the writings of the great mystics. He might feel that he had penetrated the secrets of the heavens and the earth, but unless this knowledge was incorporated into his very nature and transformed him, it was sterile. I began to suspect that a simple man of faith, praying to God with little understanding but with a full heart, might be worth more than the most learned student of the spiritual sciences."

The Son of Umar r.a.

He was a descendant of Umar r.a. 

Poem on Ibrahim Bin Adham r.a. by Leigh Hunt

"Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An Angel writing in a book of gold:

Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?" The Vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."

"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the Angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one who loves his fellow men."

The Angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And, lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest!"

The Pledge

"When half a thousand years or more 
Had passed, and men allegiance swore
To the Arab Prophet, beneath the tree,
My willing hand was still not free
From bonds of time and space to be
Between his hands in fealty.

Such blessings missed, time was when I 
Within myself would wonder why,
Half quarelling with the book of fate
For having writ me down so late.
But now I no longer my lot
Can question, and of what was not.
No more I say: Would it had been!
For I have seen what I have seen,
And I have heard what I have heard.
So if to tears ye see me stirred,
Presume not that they spring from woe:
In thankful wonderment they flow.
Praise be to Him, the Lord, the King,
Who gives beyond all reckoning."

-Martin Lings 

I don't re-call how and when exactly I learned about him, but there was never a time when I thought negative of him. 

Some people have attempted to dismiss his importance and knowledge by claiming that he is a Perennialist, which is actually true. Yet, I ignored those comments believing the man to be sincere, which is funny because I never met him nor heard him speak and also because I didn't really understand the Perennial philosophy. Also, all Perennialist philosophers, well at least the most famous ones, were or are Muslims such as Seyyed Hosein Nasr, Frithjof Schuon (Martin Ling's spiritual guide), and Rene Guenon. So I thought to myself, how bad could this philosophy be? Especially when it was the partly the reason why Frithjof Schuon, Rene Guenon, and Martin Lings were introduced to Islam.

Then I came across this article written by Hamza Yusuf, a well respected Islamic scholar in the West, where he praised Martin Lings and without any hesitation considered Martin Lings a wali-ullah. And to top it all Hamza Yusuf mentioned visiting Martin Lings with Habib Ali Jifri, and he too concluded this man to be a wali-ullah (Friend of God). 

Now anyone who has heard Habib Ali Jifri speak (he speaks in Arabic) can attest to the fact that this man is special - and the best part about listening to him is that you don't need to know Arabic. He communicates with love and his face exudes love. 

So when I read the following by Martin Lings:
"For I have seen what I have seen, And I have heard what I have heard."
I knew without any doubt that this was not poetic license. This was the reality. He had been blessed "beyond all reckoning".

I believe Martin Lings was perhaps the only man in this day and age who could produce Sufi literary masterpieces in the English language, like Jami, Rumi, Hafiz and many others did in Farsi. I intend to read his other poetic works if I get a chance. 

Hamza Yusuf's article at Q-News, A spritual giant in an age of dwarfed terrestial aspirations, can be found here:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A humble token ...

Truly you are of a magnificent character.
Your family, a blessing upon the nation.
Your love, remedy like none other;
Your wont, modest and elegant.

Your un-ceasing prayer: my nation! my nation!
Is Khaadim's only hope of salvation.

- Khaadim

For the Master of the youth of paradise

What is raining? Blood
Who? The eyes
How? Day and Night
Why? From grief
Grief for whom?
Grief for the King of Karbala

By Qaani - some poet in the 1800 perhaps. Found it here:
A shia website, but this article is by Annemarie Schimmel - a famous and respected scholar of Sufism.

Another beautiful translation by Annemarie Schimmel of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai (famous Sufi of Sindh, Pakistan):
The hardship of Martyrdom, listen, is the day of joy.
Yazid has not got an atom of this love.
Death is the rain for the children of Ali
The hardship of martyrdom is all coquetry (naz)
The intoxicated understand the secret case of Karbala

And the most moving of all verses she translated:

The earth trembles, shakes; the skies are in uproar;
This is not war, this is the manifestation of Love

The dearly loved one ...

A fair skinned one by whose face rainclouds are sought,
A caretaker of the orphans and protector for the widows

With him the clan of Hashim seek refuge from calamities,
For they possess in him immense favor and grace 

- Abu Talib 

O pillar of those who rely on upon you,
O immunity of those who seek refuge in you,
And resort of those who seek herbiage and rain,
and neighbouring protector of those in need of shelter!
O you whom God has chosen for His creatures 
by planting in him perfection and purity of charater

- Hassan ibn Thabit

The Perfect Human

My dusty body is heaven's light;
Angels are jealous to watch my flight

Cherubim envy my purity;
Before my valour all demons flee

- by Our Master Rumi