Posted by: Dawud Israel | December 2, 2011

Commentary on AHM’s Contentions: Tributes to Islam

Bismillah, alhamdulillah, was-salat wa salam ala Rasulullah

This section will strengthen your understanding of the place of Islam in this world as well as honour and praise Islam and show you various ways to approach Allah’s Majesty and Beauty.

Islam

49. It was Orientalism that told us that Islam means ‘submission’. But Islam says that Islam means ‘letting go’.
-Orientalism was a 3rd person narrative of Islam but Islam tells in the 1st person that its about letting go, humility and detachment

4. All Islam offers is God.
-This religion is the ultimate monotheism

87. Islam is a hidden treasure longing to be known.
-Like a treasure one must journey to it and search it out

75. Islam is God’s effort to give us the easiest possible way of being traditional.
-’Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty’ (Qur’an, 2:185)

82. It is in its Ash‘arite occasionalism that Islam most radically sacralises the world.
-Each act of Islam is separate from the previous, each event has it’s own sanctity
-The world is not sacred as a whole but as infinitesimally small parts meaning it is being honoured every moment continually, not simply being honoured once

14. Only Islam is good enough for Sufism.
-Other religions try to approach Sufism but are partial at best and incomplete
-People from other religions do also experience ‘miracles’ but often they are inferior to that of the Muslims and Islam has produced more ‘saints’ than any other religion

83. Islam does not give you a full account of God, but it gives you the fullest account of God.
-The extent to which God can be known He is made known

66. Islam: the transformation of nature into culture.
-Many of the sensibilities our soul innately recognizes as good and beautiful, are made explicit, confirmed and sanctified by Islam

42. The beginning of Islam is wonder at the world; its end is to be the wonder of the world.
-Islam begins as marveling at the beauty and ayat in the world, ‘You have not created all this in vain’ (Qur’an)
-Islam becomes beautiful as an expression of our maximum potential of beauty and grandeur

18. The fact that we so regularly misunderstand each other is a proof of Islam’s universality.
-We misunderstand, but then we come to understand, which shows how vast Islam is
-People understand Islam differently which shows how broad the religion is

57. Religion, like a garden, is more resilient than a fortress.
-Religion is natural, not man-made
-Religion plants seeds and carries scents afar

21. If your Islam does not attract pure hearts, it is not Islam.
-If what we call Islam attract turbulent hearts then that is not the Islam the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) attracted humanity to

23. The Straight Path is the shortest distance between two points.
-Islam is about directing yourself to the direct path to God

33. Islam is the learning of mercy.
-Mercy in the broadest terms, of every aspect, in our thought, actions, feelings, prayers

6. What the heart needs is the periodicity of the crescent, not the uniqueness of the cross. (Chagall, White Crucifixion .)
-Periodicity refers to the reoccurence of, so Islam is reoccuring at intervals and is not simply over like the time of Christ is over with
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15. Islam is the Pentecost.
-The Pentecost is a celebration of the Law given to Moses and Resurrection of Christ in Christianity, so Islam is the celebration of those religions
-’I am the supplication of my father Ibrahim, the good news of Jesus, the son of Mary, and my mother saw a light that radiated from her which illuminated the castles of Ash-Sham (Syria).’ (Hadith)

63. Islam: inlet heaven.
-An inlet is a body of water hugged by land, as if welcoming people at sea
-Conversely you can see Islam as a starting point to jump out into the ocean of the spiritual world and if you are weak easily retreat back to the land of Islam and try again later

52. Islam is no meteorite fallen upon Earth; it is its invisible, unregarded core.
-Islam is not the Black Stone in Mecca, rather Islam is the centre of the Earth
-Islam is equated with the nourishing, hospitable broad nature of the Earth and yet like the Earth it is always underneath us thought we neglect its presence

84. He who knows himself, knows Islam.
-If I know myself, my weaknesses and needs then Islam will naturally appeals to me

88. Iman is derived from ‘Immanence’. The centre must be present in the periphery.
-There are no borders to the spiritual
-AHM defines Iman in one of his talks as ‘Growing and declining as an expression of the percentage of things and experiences we encounter that we relate to Allah’

71. Islam is a frame. Iman is a claim. Ihsan is the Name.
-Islam isthe frame we operate in, Iman is something we claim or try to claim and internalize, and Ihsan is all about the Names of God and knowing Him

79. Sharia – to hammer in the tent-pegs. Tariqa – to pitch the tent. Haqiqa – to dwell in the tent as a Prophet in glory.
-Where do we hammer the tent-pegs? Where do we draw the boundaries? If its too large pitching the tent will cause it to tear. If its too loose, it will crowd us inside. Some tension is needed. And then to dwell in it is to be like the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) in Itikaaf with his Lord

Kufr/Shirk

53. The world without hell is the word.
-It is just talk and not serious

40. The kafir: the baby turtle that forgot the sea.
-Some animals have a memory of where they were born and journey back to it to give birth to their offspring, so this reference has to do

98. Kufr is the betrayal of love.
-Kufr is to deny the truth of Islam when it is shown to you clearly, but when Allah shows us the truth of Islam that is a manifestation of His love to us and our kufr is to betray that love

34. Kufr: impermanence is a problem. Iman: our anxiety about impermanence is a problem.
-The mushriks think a good or evil comes due to their actions and is a sign of divine favour while the believer knows it is merely a test to raise one high

51. Polytheism is faith in the alterities.
-Alterities is faith in what is other or secondary, and in the thought of Levinas has to do with an entity whose identity is established in contrast against
-Idols come after the belief in Tawhid, they are a pollution or decadence of the idea of God

76. Tawhid makes vanity impossible; shirk makes it indispensable.
-Shirk is to be vain and the worship of other than God, either in riya or worship of the self has everything to do with vanity and narcissism

27. No graven images – because to emulate God’s creation is blasphemously to underestimate His power.
-The images do not capture the totality of the creation but only capture a part of it. It misses out on the soul, heart, character, intellect, cells, etc all of which are also part of that creation

74. There is no Divine gift that is perfect in the absence of the fear of hell.
-Without the existence of Hell we would not value Paradise as much as we do

12. ‘Die Bösen haben keine Lieder.’
-the wicked have no songs
-What song is sang about Firawn? No one loves them.
-There is no rhythm or coherenece or beauty in their actions and life story

50. To believe that every virtue in a disbeliever is a manifestation of the Divine ruse is a manifestation of the Divine ruse.
-This one is difficult but I think it means, It is a test for you to think that the virtue you see in a disbeliever is a redeeming virtue
-It is a puzzle or a test to think there is a mystery behind the disbelievers haing virtue

60. Idolatry, at best, is the unbalanced fixation on an Attribute.
-Idols and pagan gods are limited to a jurisdiction, like being a destroyer god or the god of wisdom, which are

65. Only a hypocrite is proud that he despises himself as a hypocrite.
-Nifaq or hypocrisy is covert and one knows they are a hypocrite but takes pride in it by not changing it?

64. Mockery is for pouring upon kufr, not upon people.
-We hate the kufr and it is the only thing worth mocking, but that doesn’t mean we hate people

6. Kufr: to see the sun setting, and to do nothing about it.
-To know one’s mortality and imminence of death and to do nothing

37. Idolatry is worse than atheism.
-You only need convince an athiest of God and Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasalam), but you must pull a mushrik away from shirk and then make him/her believe, so its the difference than 1 or 2 steps
-Atheism is half the Shahada

18. Let us hope that their shout does not bring on the Shout.
-Let’s hope the shouts of misguidance does not bring on the the shout of Gabriel which destroyed some of the disbelieving nations mentioned in the Qur’an

Conversion/Reversion

32. After converting, treat yourself to your favourite meal.
-Make shukr, contemplate over it and prepare yourself for the trials that are to come

44. Joining religion is like unearthing your family tree.
-You meet people who are related to you in a very intimate way because we are all related to Islam
-Salman al-Farisi being once said something along the lines of ‘Islam is my family’

23. Converts: we must jump the gap without losing our clothes.
-The gap is of the life of the West and the East, and converts shouldn’t soak up or absorb everything of a Muslim culture
-Clothes are the closest form of art to the human body and saw much about oneself, but clothing itself is rarely ‘un-Islamic’ in nature

7. To give the newcomer the rukhas is fard. To give yourself the azima is Sunna.
-To make things easy for the convert is fard, and being strict with them is unjust. But being hard one yourself is the Prophetic way.

5. British Islam: ‘We came as rebels, and found ourselves to be heirs.’ (Gershom Scholem)
-AHM is probably expressing his own situation, becoming a Muslim and suddenly being in a leadership position

29. Closet converts are the malamatiyya: they know, but are not known.
-People who hide their Islam blame themselves and feel inadequate for not showing it openly

Fitra
97. Islam liberates because it is rooted in our natures.
-In other words it is rooted in our disposition and manifests what is already there

40. Everyone is a cradle Muslim. The mysterium iniquitatis is a post-natal complication, not a genetic fault.
-The fitra is there in every newborn but blaming satan for misguidance is something that complicates thing
-Not being a genetic fault hints to the ‘touch of shaytan’ which every human has been marked with at birth except for a few (Jesus and Maryam)

98. No-one is uncircumcised, for the bezm-i alast was too joyful to be forgotten entirely.
-Day of birth carries with it an ontological joy that demands it be commemorated, the Day of ‘Alastu bir-rabbikum, Am I not your Lord’ and we responded ‘Yes to this we bear witness’ mentioned in the Qur’an is a momentous event that should be celebrated

24. Ma’ruf and munkar are defined by the fitra.
-Our conscience tells us of good and bad, it is in us, with beauty being with ma’ruf (good) and ugliness being with munkar (evil)

5 pillars

24. Only five pillars hold up the sky.
-The reference might be to the hadith that the heavens are creaking under the weight of the angels busy in worship of Allah, so we in following the 5 pillars of Islam are putting opposing pressure on the sky to keep it from tearing and collapsing on us

22. al- Hajju hujja .
-the Hajj is witness, meaning that on Qiyama various parts of the Earth will testify to our actions, so having places that are sanctified bear witness to our righteousness before Allah is a blessing

47. The dietary laws are an opportunity to fast.
-A ‘micro-fast’ in a sense

Salah

-“‘Verily the soul becomes accustomed to what you accustom it to.’ That is to say: what you at first burden the soul with becomes nature to it in the end.” Al-Ghazali

1. Adab is nothing but a preparation for prayer.
-We remember Allah in prayer to the extent we remember Him outside of prayer

45. Salat is the zakat of time.
-Prayer is tax on our life, as a shukr for the baraka put in our time

92. The Alone wishes to save us from loneliness. ‘Come to the prayer!’
-Had Allah not prescribed the prayer we would have found more distress and difficulty than we find in actually performing the prayer and it is in this sense a gift

46. In the measure that we accept the Prayer it is accepted by God.
-Do our souls take from the salah any good? If we don’t see any good in the prayer then why would Allah see any good in it and why would He accept what is not good enough for even us? Are we giving to Allah a prayer that is the equivalent of a worn out jacket or a sock with holes in it?

51. Prayer shows us what we truly desire.
-When we start to make dua we realize what we really wanted

69. If you do not sanctify the dawn, the day will not sanctify you.
-We feel special in our other prayers only if we prayed the Fajr

75. Miss Fajr will help you to feel tired all day.
-The early morning hours are full of baraka and a secret of the successful and the righteous

76. Those who sleep with Miss Fajr may catch a disease.
-A dis-ease that will make catching the other prayers difficult

27. A busy life makes the Prayer harder; but the Prayer makes a busy life easier.
-It is hard to focus on our salah when we are distracted by dunya, but we we do pray there is always some ease

18. The position of prayer in your list of priorities points to your state.
-What things are more important on our list? Laziness? Comfort?

8. The alternative to pride is prayer.
-Sometimes our prayer is self-exaltation so we are either praying to God or embellishing our pride

74. Without the Prayer, each of us is a hole in creation.
-Perhaps a play on words, that with the prayer each of us is ‘whole’ in creation

97. Let the next hours be an apology for the sunna prayer. Let the sunna prayer be an
apology for the fard. Let the fard be an apology for separation.
-Allah compensates the paucity of our prayers with the other prayers
-AHM is saying let us remind ourselves of God so that we think of Him in the sunna prayers, which will help us with our fard prayers and the fqrd prayers compensate for our forgetting of Him

1. The saint is he whose presence makes you love the Prayer.
-The Awliya make prayer beloved because we see what prayer can do to someone and what its value really is

90. The Prayer is rus in urbe.
-Rus in urbe is a garden or countryside atmosphere within the city, so this means the prayer is like a stroll in a garden amongst the tumult of the city or in the fashion sense a reference to the dress one wears or the sight of the prayer may remind one of Paradise or longing of the Muslim world and specifically the Holy Cities

41. Without the rusum you haven’t got a prayer.
-You need rituals for the prayer to take effect because we don’t know which movements be beloved to God

God exaltation

81. The slightest reduction of God makes Him vanish.
-Vanish in the spiritual sense of our consciousness of Him
-‘I am in the opinion of My servant’ (Hadith Qudsi)

39. Does the infinity of God leave space for anything else?
-Can the ego rightly claim a place or can anything compare to His Transcendence? In our actions do
-God is beyond time and space and so there is no space…

75. God’s only sameness is in His signs.
-His Attributes vary but all His signs carry the same grandeur and beauty

18. God was the beginning, and He still is.
-He is also the Last and He still is

43. Belief in God begins when we cease to believe in ourselves.
-In another Contention, AHM says, ‘Islam means ‘letting-go’ (i.e. not submission)

54. We can know nothing other than the Unknowable.
-Abu Bakr said, ‘ al-`ajzu `an dark il-idraki idrak’ Our incomprehension of God is our comprehension of Him
-Everything points to Allah though we are impotent in knowing Him by ourselves

56. All that we have, we must offer to God. All that we keep back will burn.
-Related Contentions to this mention how our money is only truly ours when it is in sadaqa and when we spend it for Allah

3. Oneness cannot be exaggerated.
-The tranquility and honesty of tawhid
-AHM says in one of his talks, ‘You can never have too much fear of God’

25. Only God is both inescapable and indispensable.
-’Umar said, ‘We are fleeing from God to God.’

20. Disregard my sins as you hear this prayer. And make this prayer that you disregard my sins.
-Our prayers are from Him so we ask Him for the duas to ask for our forgiveness, that is if AHM is referring to God
-If he is referrring to a fellow man, it is thay we think well of those who pray and sometimes we pray so that people see us trying and because of that forgive us for our mistakes

93. Ibada: remember God to re-member yourself.
-In our decadent society sometimes we sit for long hours and don’t use our limbs as much as we should, so by worshipping Allah grants us a connection to both spirit and body

5. The Buraq exists to indicate the nature of the asbab. Nothing is more indicative of God than His conventions.
-Contemplate the convention of the Buraq and what sort of means it is in the journey to God
-The Buraq journeyed to God with great speed, it was shy and difficult at first before the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) which hints to suluk being difficult at first but then swift which hints to nature of the inner
-The Buraq travels swiftly to as far as it could see so this may allude to the fact God can make us journey to Him with a mere glance

59. Do not think that anything has any purpose other than to point to God.
-Everything is an ayat (sign) and reminder of Allah

88. A tasbih deals with tashbih. But for tanzih, there is nothing at all.
-We say subhanallah due to the ayat and similitudes that He coins but we struggle to express His Transcendence
-If we fill our whole life with lofty attributes and deeds then that is how we dedicate it to understanding His Transcendence

14. God’s glory was, and there was nothing else. His glory is now as it was.
-Had He not made us He still would be glorious and majestic and He is not increased or decreased by us

61. You do not rise to Him. He does not descend to you. Rather, what you see, He may unveil as His alone.
-‘Direction’ is subservient to Him and whatever we understand of that is in His knowledge

62. Your reach towards Him is tiny. His reach towards you has no limit.
-The journey to Allah never ends

68. Our finitude is our distance from Him. His infinitude is His closeness to us.
-We are limited in how close we are to Him, but its not about us, its about His reach to us.

40. Only God can save us from thinking that we are gods.
-Were it not for His revelation we would be like Firawn
-Guidance (hidaya) is from Allah alone

78. God is only absent from creation when we are too.
-When we lose sight of the blessings around us then We lose consciousness of God

29. Total transcendence is immanence.
-If He is not Great then We would not value His omnipresence

54. There is no conception of God, for conceptions will pass away.
-‘Everything will be destroyed,’ including ideas and thoughts ‘and all that will remain is the Face of thy Lord abiding’

41. The purpose of holiness is the sanctification of God’s name.
-Sh. Nuh Ha Mim Keller upon being asked if there was a commentary on the 99 Names paused then replied, ‘You are the commentary’

Beauty
Beauty always promises, but never gives anything. ~Simone Weil

78. Beauty is the most literal of metaphors.
-Husn is a metaphor for good
-Ihsan is as William Chittick translates it and as AHM affirms, ‘doing the beautiful’

73. There is no gratitude without a sense of beauty, and no humility without a sense of gratitude.
-Beauty leads to gratitude which then leads to humility
-We make shukr when we see God’s goodness to us which we find beautiful and there is no humility implicit that gratitude

85. Religion is the recognition of beauty.
-In finding a beauty of Islam, a person would give shahada; had they found it ugly would they commit to Islam?
-‘The perception of beauty is a moral test.’ (Thoreau)

68. The only principles in this world which are impressive are Paradisal: the beauty of nature, of women, perfume, friendship, the sound of God’s word.
-AHM once quoted Ibn Abbas said ‘There is nothing in the next world of this world except their names.’

43. There is no knowledge of Him without love of beauty. We have been created to love beauty.
-the Quran, Seerah, the Prophets, hadith and righteous are beautiful and actions are beautiful
-Idols generally are ugly creations and come across as a type of decadence and pollution because idolatry saturates the consciousness with the world

94. Nobility is the aptitude for seeing beauty.
-Discretion, honour and futuwwa come in deference to beauty
-Beauty is simply reality seen with the eyes of love”
-In projection and perceiving – is 99.9% attitude. ~Grey Livingston

47. What is forbidden, is forbidden only because of its banality. ‘God is Beautiful, and He loves beauty.’
-The connection between the cosmetic and Cosmic

69. To claim that beauty is decadence is decadence.
-If one has grown weary and cold-hearted to beauty then they see beauty as a lowly thing to take for granted

4. Al-Jamil means ‘He That Reminds’.
-Beauty is a reminder, and that is what the Ayat are but a reminder

45. The judge of the art competition seeks only beauty in our portfolios.
-Allah wants to see good actions in our book of deeds and if there is something especially beautiful then He is pleased with us
-Allah doesn’t seek more actions, but more beautiful actions

The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa alihi wasalam)
-AHM comments on ‘the limitlessness of his parish’ (salallahu alayhi wasalam)
-AHM mentions that the Seerah and Qur’an are intertextual

13. The ultimate was not he that endured his own suffering; it was he that endured the death of his family. (‘I am with the broken-hearted’.)
-Khadija, Abu Talib and the Prophet’s 7 daughters and sons, except for Fatima all died before him and he had to deal with that loss. In his last day’s the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) would visit Umm Ayman who was the hand-maiden servant of his mother Amina and say, ‘You are the last remnant of my house’

46. Mecca: he will come.
Jerusalem: he was here.
Medina: he is here.
-Graffiti you would see in these Holy Cities

87. Each perception of beauty is a prayer upon the Prophet.
-The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) is the most beautiful of mankind and Allah created the world from his nur (salallahu alayhi wasalam) so all beauty has a portion of the Prophetic beauty
-We make prayers upon the Prophet in a variety of formats, and AHM is introducing the idea of making salawat an-nabi
-‘More flowers I noted, yet I none could see but sweet or color it had stol’n from thee.’ (Shakespeare)

74. The durud is all our theology, and all our spirituality.
-The salawat an-nabi is an application of La illaha ilallah Muhammadar-Rasulullah and it is a dua given to us from Allah
-If we cling to it, it has the shahada implicit in it and it is the summary of the Qur’an and Sunna and increases us in closeness to Allah and His Rasul (salallahu alayhi wsasalam)

56. If he is both familiar and unfamiliar, he is a Messenger of God.
-We knew him before his Prophethood and yet we don’t really know him or understand the nature of the spiritual transformation in his Prophethood
-He is both of the world and of the other world

94. Rumi is among the dala’il al-nubuwwa.
-Rumi’s popularity and universality are indications of how the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) is a universal Prophet sent to all mankind
-Rumi

35. It is normal that not everyone deserves the mawlid.
-Most Muslims have inner feelings of love to the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) longing to get out but most people don’t realize the mawlid is a place for that
-The blessing of the mawlid is like the Sahabas recalling hadith of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) often involving nasheeds, qasidas, and discussions of ‘ilm

20. If worship is the purpose of creation, then the Founder is the purpose of creation.
-He salallahu alayhi wasalam is sabab al-wujud, the reason for existence
-Qadi Iyad speaks in his Shifa about how were it not for Nabi Muhammad salallahu alayhi wasalam, Allah would not have created the world, because he is the beloved of God. The Sahaba asked the Prophet Muhammad salallahu alayhi wasalam what was the first thing to be created, to which the response was “Nur Nabiyika- the Light of your Prophet” (salallahu alayhi wasalam).

24. Only by love is the Prophet seen.
-The mushrikun saw him (salallahu alayhi wasalam) but only saw their nephew while the believers saw someone they loved

3. God gave us the Prophet because He loved what we might become.
-He gave us a pattern to follow for becoming beloved to Him

37. ‘Like us in all respects, except for sin.’ To know one’s sinlessness: is this not to be unlike us in all respects?
-People discuss the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) as a Muslim like us, but we are saturated with sins and to be free of sins like him (salallahu alayhi wasalam) is to be completely different from us
-We are humanized by sins to repent but the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) was free of sins and yet still would ask God for forgiveness and there is a vast difference between the two

31. ‘What I stand for is what I stand on’ (Wendell Berry). ‘No prophet was not a herder of sheep.’
-He (salallahu alayhi wasalam) is the best servant of all the servants of God, he was the best of mankind, guided humanity, is honoured by humanity

42. The Prophet carries all of great Islam.
-Every great moment in Islamic history is a nostalgia for the Prophetic era
-AHM comments in one of his books on the hadith, ‘Ana Ahmad bila mim – I am Ahmad (a name of the Prophet) without the “m”‘: for when one removes this letter, only Ahad, the One remains.'”

12. He was exemplary for all four castes.
-The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) is exemplary to all 4 castes in the Indian caste system: the priests, warriors/kings, business-men, and the downtrodden and neglected. This shows his universality to the diversity of human experience and how he best manifested the virtues of these castes.
-This may also refer to the 4 madhabs

58. ‘All true Reformers are by the nature of them Priests, and strive for a Theocracy.’ (Carlyle, on Knox)
-The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) achieved the fullest aspect of reforming society, that is, by establishing a state
-As one of the bedouin Sahaba said about the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) ‘There is nothing in his religion that leaves me wanting change’ which is relevant because it satisfied every aspiration

Nature

10. The lubb: humanity without nature is like nature without daylight.
-Nature nourishes our spirit, amazement and sense of growth in the way sunlight nourishes nature
-‘Know that when one of Allah’s servants sins against Him, He deals with him leniently. Should he sin again, He conceals this for him. But should he don its garments, then Allah conceives against him such wrath as the very heavens and the earth could not compass, neither the mountains, the trees, nor the animals; what man could then withstand such wrath?’

44. To know the saint is to know the age.
-AHM says in one of his papers, ‘The saint, who is God’s vicegerent (khalifa) on the earth, is precisely the one who realizes the teleology of the body-subject by using the plentitude of “body and spirit” in harmonious conformity to God’s commands; and in consequence, a sign of his/her sanctity is that like the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) he/she is a refuge for the animal kingdom.’

6 If you would know God’s view of the age, see how the blessing of nature has been received.
-AHM says in one of his papers, ‘The current crisis in the world’s environment is, of course, only to be understood religiously. Global warming, depletion of the rainforests, the failure of the monsoon, hormone pollution, male sterility, acid rain, BSE, desertification, and a myriad of other planet-threatening calamities can be easily explained, from our perspective as Muslims, as the consequences of not paying the rent. We are taking more from the world than ever before, greedily digging up its most inaccessible resources, sucking up oil from under the North Sea and the Alaskan tundra, mining uranium from deserts in Namibia, squeezing iron ore from inaccessible corners of Mauretania: the sheer quantity of Allah’s bounty should astonish us. And yet the more we gobble it up, the less we thank the source of these resources. When an oil well is finally depleted, humanity does not burp, and say, ‘Al-hamdu li’llah.’ We are not paying the rent, and so the Landlord, subhanahu wa-ta‘ala, sees no reason to maintain the property. Why should He? Out of His astonishing mercy, he keeps oxygen in the air, and fresh water in the rivers, so that the earth supports six billion people, and comparatively few starve. But as we guzzle more, and reflect less, this generosity cannot go on forever.

69 One is to rejoice at non-membership of the culture that is Earth’s enemy.
-Here is why we should side with Islamic cultures rather than Western culture and its decadence, because it is out of touch with the Earth
-A good example of this is in one of AHM’s essays: ‘Those who have visited Sarajevo, or Mostar, or the other cities of Bosnia tortured by months of bombardment, may have noticed a remarkable thing. Modern buildings made of prestressed concrete need only a tap with a mortar shell to bring them down like a pack of cards. But the Ottoman buildings are astoundingly resilient. A large-calibre artillery shell can go through a dome, or clean through one of those pencil-thin minarets, and the structure remains absolutely sound. So the Serbs poured more than 150,000 shells on Sarajevo, and almost all of the mosques of the old city are still serviceable. But walk out of the old town and into the modern quarter, and there is absolute devastation, stretching like a concrete sea in all directions. No-one lives there now, except the rats.
The Turks knew how to build: for a reason. They came from a country prone to earthquakes. Their buildings are incredibly strong. During the 1961 earthquake which flattened the Macedonian capital of Skopje, killing 20,000 people, observers watched with astonishment as the minarets, seemingly the flimsiest buildings in the world, danced and undulated like snakes, and then settled down again, pointing to the heavens, while the rest of the city, built under Tito, collapsed with a roar.
In 1878, when the Russian army occupied the cities of Bulgaria, they experienced enormous difficulties in demolishing the mosques. In Sofia, the capital, they had to wait until there was a midnight thunderstorm, and then they detonated giant charges of dynamite in the mosques to bring them down. The local people mistook the sound for thunder, and did not come out to defend their mosques until, for the first time in five centuries, they failed to hear the adhan for fajr.
In Turkey itself, today, the newest structures have proved the most flimsy. The ancient buildings are generally safe and sound. The Orhan Ghazi mosque in Izmid, dating from the early fourteenth century, is apparently largely unscathed. The traditional wooden houses are virtually all safe, and those who lived in them are still alive. I was once myself in an earthquake in Turkey, just thirty miles from Izmit. But I was in an old Ottoman house: the house groaned and squeaked for a minute, but it was quite unharmed.
There is, then, a secular culprit. Or rather, a class of them. They are those Turkish city planners who, following the destruction of the Ottoman caliphate, insisted on changing the face of Turkey. Just as it was a criminal offence in Ataturk’s Turkey to wear a turban, so also the state insisted on the abandonment of traditional Turkish building methods. They had to be replaced by European, specifically German norms. Hence those rows of dismal, grey buildings in modern Turkish cities which have nothing to do with Turkey. Their spiritual and engineering roots are in Germany: and Germany is not in an earthquake zone.

85. We see the world, and think it to be still. But it is coming down fast, all the time, from Heaven. (‘You see the mountains, and think them to be still.’)
-A reference to Asharite Occasionalism and the creation/re-creation of the universe at every moment

63. The dove and the spider: nature only spares those who spare it.
-The dove and the spider stood outside the cave while the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) and Abu Bakr hide inside it, ‘Innallah ma’ana – Do not fear, Allah is with us’
-The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) was merciful to nature, he would show mercy to nature and the lesson is that nature may reciprocate kindness show towards it
-Similarly nature may reciprocate harm done to it as is the case with global warming

God’s Mercy
As the Qur’an says, kataba ala nafsihi ’r-Rahma: He has prescribed rahma upon Himself.

66. The illusion of causality is a divine mercy, which veils rigour, which in turn veils Mercy.
-We see cause and effect and make sense of it that way which is a mercy, though that is not the case since Allah is the Cause, and continually is showing us mercy in allowing us to perform good deeds

47. Marvel at mercy only when it comes from those to whom no mercy has been shown.
-’Those who do not show mercy will not be shown mercy’ (Hadith)
-Mercy from those who have been oppressed is a miracle

78. Mercy has the last Word.
-the Risala of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) came last and was ‘Rahmatil lil Alameen Mercy to the worlds’

8. He created Hell only that He might be called ‘Merciful’.
-He is the Most Merciful precisely because He created Hell, because sometimes punishment is a mercy.

7. Shari‘a is a side of God’s mercy. Tariqa is a sign of God’s mercy. Haqiqa is a sigh of God’s mercy.
-The closer we get to Him the more of His mercy we encounter

16. Transcendence is merciful insofar as it is preparatory.
-For us to exalt God as being greater than what people ascribe to Him is preparatory of our meeting with Him and this is merciful since it is a Divine disclosure that humbles us which assists us in our tarbiya

97. In the rain of God’s mercy, the believer is a duck, the infidel a cat.
-The believer recognizes God’s mercy and is not afraid of it, regardless of its form because of its Origin, and the disbeliever is afraid of it

24 ‘One who has mercy on the cruel will in the end be cruel to the merciful’. (Koheleth Rabbah 7)
-If we are merciful to oppressors often that mercy will hurt the oppressed and assist the oppressor in his evil

66. God’s mercy is not limited; but He is not limited by His mercy.
-He is not tied down or bound by His mercy
-Ibn Munkadir, tabi’i, said, ‘I am shy before God to say that His mercy will fail anyone among the disobedient, and had it not been for the clear revelation concerning the polytheists, I would not have removed them from inclusion in the verse, “My mercy encompasses all things.”’

66. You have underestimated His rahma.
-Just like the line in the Burdah, “Praise him (Muhammad) as much as you can, and you will never do him justice,” so is God’s Mercy and Muhammad is God’s Mercy (salallahu alayhi wasalam)

75. Wrath is finite; mercy knows no end.
-’My mercy overcomes my Wrath’ (Hadith Qudsi)

67. Only a few can see that God’s rigour is compassion.
-Think of sour medicine, or think of cauterization, or amputation of diseased limb; they hurt but are needed at times

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.


Responses

  1. A passage in Milosz’s L’amoureuse initiation (p. 64) will serve as a center where we can sense the concordance of world immensity with intimate depth of being.
    “As I stood in contemplation of the garden of the wonders of space,” Milosz writes, “I had the feeling that I was looking into the ultimate depths, the most secret regions of my own being; and I smiled, because it had never occurred to me that I could be so pure, so great, so fair! My heart burst into singing with the song of grace of the universe. All these constellations are yours, they exist in you; outside your love they have no reality! How terrible the world seems to those who do not know themselves! When you felt so alone and abandoned in the presence of the sea, imagine what solitude the waters must have felt in the night, or the night’s own solitude in a universe without end!”

    ###
    A contemporary poet uses more restraint, but he says quite as much as in this line by Jean Lescure:
    ‘J’habite la tranquillité des feuilles, l’été grandit’
    Tranquil foliage that really is lived in, a tranquil gaze discovered in the humblest of eyes, are the artisans of immensity. These images make the world grow, and the summer too. At certain hours poetry gives out waves of calm. From being imagined, calm becomes an emergence of being. It is like a value that dominates, in spite of minor states of being, in spite of a disturbed world. Immensity has been magnified through contemplation. And the contemplative attitude is such a great human value that it confers immensity upon an impression that a psychologist would have every reason to declare ephemeral and special.
    But poems are human realities; it is not enough to resort to “impressions” in order to explain them. They must be lived in their poetic immensity.

    (G. Bachelard, La Poétique de l’espace/The Poetics of Space)

    • Thanks for the comment. That applies nicely to the “90. The Prayer is rus in urbe.” and also to the Beauty section. :)

  2. The Messager of Allah a.s. said:
    -One hour’s meditation on the work of the Creator is better than seventy years of prayer.
    -God hath treasuries beneath the Throne, the keys whereof are the tongues of poets.
    -Learn to know thyself.

  3. * sorry i mean Messenger of Allah (PBUH). :)

    By the way i can mention another hadith, i love:

    The whole earth has been made a mosque and pure for me.


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