Monday, November 22, 2010

Layla Majnun

“I pass by these walls, the walls of Layla
And I kiss this wall and that wall
It’s not Love of the houses that has taken my heart
But of the One who dwells in those houses”

attributed to Qays ibn al-Mulawwah ibn Muzahim (Majnun)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Contradictions and Love

From Charles Le Gai Eaton's interview:

Contradiction in human nature

"I remember a letter from a man who had read The Richest Vein and he wrote, “I’ve been trying to picture you, I think I can see you with flowing white hair and flowing white beard sitting on a mountain top in the Himalayas, meditating”! I was a very frivolous young man, as frivolous as can be. A Catholic priest came to Jamaica and on the plane had been reading The Richest Vein. He turned up at a party I was at. I was a little drunk, a girl sitting on my knee, and he stood there and looked down at me and said ‘you could not have written that book.’”
For Eaton, this was, “a very significant remark because I’ve never understood how the sort of person I was, could have written the sort of book I had written. But since then, this is a subject that has fascinated me all my life. This contradiction in human nature,” stresses Eaton, “is extraordinary, and almost inexplicable.”

All consuming Love

"Eaton reflects upon his all-consuming love for Flo. “People say one should remember God, always, but you think how can you, you’re busy doing this or that. But for ten months I woke up thinking of this girl, I thought of her right through the day, I went to sleep thinking of her, and if you can think of another person all the time, you can certainly think of God all the time and still get on with living a normal life.”

 He looks back on the years in Jamaica as “lost, wasted years. But on the other hand I am to some degree a fatalist and I feel I had to go through that.”

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Men who can see through walls

Titus Burckhardt writes that once in Morocco he bought Ibn Arabi's Futuhat Al Makkiyah and on his way back chanced to meet his friend Mohammed bin Makhluf, a dervish. He immediately guessed what Titus was carrying.

"What are you going to do with that?" he asked. "It is much too advanced for you. What you need is a primer (of the spiritual life)."
"In that case the book shall remain on my shelf until I am wise enough to study it" said Titus Burchkhardt. 
"When you are wise, you will no longer need the book." said the dervish. 
"Whom was it written for then?" asked Titus Burchkhardt.

The dervish replied the following:
"For men who can see through walls but do not do so, nor even wish to."

From the Preface of Bezels of Wisdom

Divine Flashes

Before this there was one heart
but a thousand thoughts
Now all is reduced to
"There is no love but Love"

-Fakhruddin Iraqi.

More on him later inshAllah.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Master's Heart

It is better to be in chains with friends
than to be in a garden with strangers.
-  Persian proverb, I remember reading it in Hafiz or Saadi's writings - not sure.

When all that is needed to reach God is basic instruction in religion and a Spiritual Guide as explained by Ibn Ajiba. Then why wander conference to conference deluding ourselves that we seek knowledge when in fact all we do is child's play? Become a true man and seek the Man of Truth, whose silent company is better than a thousand lectures, who seeks nothing in return.

Oh what would I pay to be in my Masters presence.
His glance upon my heart, mine upon his!
What business have I in a Mosque
when God Himself resides in my Master's heart?

- Khaadim

Ibn Ajiba on Spiritual Guides

A few years ago I had met a great scholar, a scholar of tasawuf and of the exterior sciences. What he said then regarding Spiritual Guides put me in a state of confusion, and which was cleared perhaps by faith alone. But that nagging never left me and I wanted an answer.

And as it has happened so many times before, my initial doubts, my questions regarding my own Master have all been cleared through many indirect means - Allahumdulliah. It is actually from the karamat of the awliya to teach without verbal communication, to impart good to the murids beyond space and time. It wasn't that I doubted my Spiritual Guide, but it was something I disagreed with at a very fundamental level.

The shaykh that I had met had claimed that one's Spiritual Guide must not only be a master of tasawwuf, but also knowledgeable in all sciences of Islam so as to be able to teach you without your having to seek another master. I could not bring myself to agree with his statement, but out of respect we discussed no more. Yet, immediately thereafter I thought of the greay awliya who were not students of Hadith etc but were nevertheless great masters of gnosis.

Just recently I came across this blog entry by Murid's log, where Ibn Ajiba explains what a Spiritual Guide is and isn't, and the knowledge they must be masters of. Also, he alludes to their method of teaching - a loving glance upon the student. The glance is in itself a topic discussed very well by Mystic Saint  (warning: music on page).

Following is Ibn Ajiba's view:

"What Sheikh Sharishi says about the necessity for spiritual guide (sheikh at-tarbiya) to be learned in both exoteric and esoteric sciences is correct. But as for the exoteric sciences, what is required is that he obtains the knowledge he requires for himself personally, and also that which his disciple will need as he travels the spiritual path – namely, the essential rulings concerning purification and prayer (at-tahara wa ‘s-salat), and the like; for many exoteric sciences have nothing to do with traversing the spiritual path to the King of Kings, such as the rulings of homicide cases, prescribed punishments, divorce, and manumission. Were things otherwise, many of the greatest and most renowned figures of the Way, paragons of virtue and true knowledge, would be thus demoted from their high ranks; for although many of them were well-versed in the Sacred Law, many others knew nothing of it save that which must necessarily be known by any Muslim. 

I say that if you recognise this, you will recognise the falseness of the claim some people make that the spiritual guide must be proficient in all the Islamic sciences, such that if all these sciences were to disappear he alone would be able to revive them. How could this be, when many of those who were undisputed spiritual guides were unschooled?

In ‘Awarif al-Ma‘arif Suhrawardi quotes Bayazid al-Bistami as saying: ‘I kept the company of Abu Ali al-Masnadi, and I would teach him what he needed to fulfil his religious obligations, whilst he taught me pure tawhid and metaphysics.’

And it is well-known that Sheikh Ibn ‘Abbad (ar-Rundi) received his spiritual awakening at the hands of an unschooled man, as did Ghazzali. It is also known that Ghazwani was not well-versed in the exoteric sciences, and if anyone asked him a question concerning them, he would sent the questioner to his disciple al-Hibti.

Likewise, the guide of our guides, our master Abd ar-Rahman Majdhub, did not have knowledge of the exoteric sciences; and many of the greatest saints were unschooled – yet they were deeply steeped in the secrets of sainthood.

As for esoteric knowledge, the spiritual guide must be completely immersed in them, since the whole purpose of the spiritual guide (the ‘sheikh’ as the Folk call him) is to impart this knowledge, and the disciple only seeks the guide so that he might lead him along the spiritual path and teach him knowledge of the Way (tariqa) and the Supreme Truth (haqiqa). Therefore he must have perfect knowledge of God, His Attributes and Names and how they are manifested, and their meanings and details, and their benefits, wisdoms and secrets; and he must have perfect knowledge of the obstacles which lie on the spiritual path, and the ruses which the soul and Satan employ, and the different forms which spiritual experiences take, and the way in which spiritual stations are truly ascertained. And he must know all of this by direct taste and experience, so that if he is asked about the obstacles on the path and the way to avoid them, he is able to answer properly. And in addition to this, he must have the power and resolve to overcome all obstacles and go beyond all ties, both open and secret; and he must have a piercing insight by which he can ascertain the suitability and readiness of those who seek his guidance, so that he may deal with each one according to his particular status, and guide him to the shortest path to reach his Lord. This was said by al-Fassi.

As-Sahili said: ‘One of the necessary conditions of the spiritual guide is that he have enough knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah to fulfil his obligations as prescribed by the Sacred Law, and to guide him in his everyday affairs; and if this is complemented by the esoteric wisdom which God has bestowed upon him, he will thereby possess a light which will guide him amongst men, and lead him to a deep understanding of what the Quran and Sunnah say.’

And Abu ‘l-Hasan ash-Shadhili said: ‘Every spiritual guide from whom you do not receive graces from behind the veil, is not a true guide.’ Perhaps he means that the true spiritual guide gives aid to his disciple even when he is physically far from him. He also said: ‘By God, I can bring a man to God in a single breath.’ And Sheikh Abu Abbas (al-Mursi) said: ‘By God, nothing may occur between me and a man save that I look upon him, and thereby give him all the benefit he needs.’
And I say that we have personally met – praise be to God! – even in our time, men who give abundant benefit with a single glance; and we have kept their company and recognised that they are truly inheritors of Shadhili and Mursi – God be pleased with them all, and grant us to follow in their footsteps – Amen!
From al-Futuhat al-Ilahiyya fi sharh al-Mabahith al-Asliyya.

Translator’s addendum

Mere days he needs, not years and years
To keep our company;
And if he gains the goal he seeks,
God’s servant shall he be!
-Sheikh Ahmad al-Alawi."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Doctors and Engineer's Islam

While perusing the Traditional Studies forum - a perennial philosophy forum, a philosophy I do not adhere to, but find some good in, I came across William Chittick's interview. He says discussing immigrants to the west:

"Very few immigrants come with the combination of traditional and modern education that is needed to speak intelligently in the West about religion generally and Islam specifically. They may be good doctors or engineers, but they do not know “religion” in the full sense of islam, iman, and ihsan. And if they do know it, they do not speak the same language as the doctors and the engineers. It is significant here that politicized Islam—so-called “fundamentalism”—is largely led by doctors and engineers, who are ignorant of anything but a smattering of Islam’s first dimension (law, practice), and who see religion as something like a grid that can be imposed on society, an engineering problem to be solved."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Musings on birth and religion

Hindu belief of reincarnation presumes that individuals are born Hindu if in their previous lives they were morally upright.
One cannot convert to Hinduism and be a Hindu - you may chose to follow the Hindu religion, which is separate from being born into it.

Similarly, in the Judaic conception of the world, you are either born/chosen or not chosen to be a Jew. Similar to Hinduism - one cannot become a Jew unless one is born a Jew.

Contrary to the aforementioned, Christianity does not suppose any  by birth. Rather, it considers all of humanity to be sinful due to no fault of the individual.

Islamic belief is a bit similar to Judaic and Hindu belief; however, Islam applies greatness and nobility to all of humanity - all our born pure and free of guilt - humanity is chosen over all creation to be the vicegerent of God. Islamic teaching is that man's primordial nature is that of a perfect vicegerent of God, and it is only the individuals upbringing, surrounding, etc that leads him/her to follow a particular religion.

Why sell yourself at a low price
Being  so precious in God's eyes?

paraphrased from memory Rumi's words.

- Khaadim

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I am a victim of God

I am
a victim of God.
Set in motion
in His pendulum of
hope and fear.

I am
a chick aspiring to fly,
with more falls than flights.
A weakling that exists by
my Creator's will,
Yet blamed for my feeble wings.

I am 
a victim of God.
Set in motion 
in His pendulum of
hope and fear. 

- Khaadim