Hall of FameHall of Fame  Active TopicsActive Topics  Display List of Forum MembersMemberlist  Search The ForumSearch  HelpHelp  chatChat
  RegisterRegister  LoginLogin
Learn about Islam
 Whyislam.org Forums : Learn About Islam : Learn about Islam
Message Icon Topic: Taqwa (God Consciousness) Post Reply Post New Topic
<< Prev Page  of 8 Next >>
Author Message
a well wisher  
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar
Religion: Islam(Muslim)
Posts: 8703
Forum Rating: 0
Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 16 July 2013 at 1:38pm
Seeing and Being Seen (2)


I talked last week about the Muslim’s conviction – based upon what the Quran teaches – that we are seen by God at every moment of our lives and that even our most secret thoughts are exposed to Him, which is one way of saying that we live constantly in the divine Presence. It could even be said that awareness of this Presence is at the very heart of the Islamic way of life. “When My servants question thee concerning Me”, says the Quran, which is – for us – the Word of God revealed through Muhammad, “then indeed I am close. I answer the prayer of the supplicant when he cries unto Me. So let them hear My call, and let them trust in Me”.

There are certain sayings of the Prophet, quite separate from the Quranic revelation, in which God spoke directly through his mouth. Let me quote to you one of the most important of these inspired sayings: “I am with (my servant) when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in company, I make mention of him in a better company than that; and if he draws near to Me a hand’s span, I draw near to him an arm’s length; and if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him speedily”.

A whole book could be written – in fact books have been written! – by way of commentary on that saying, but let us consider just one point. “I am with (my servant) when he makes mention of Me”. But isn’t He always with us? Yes, of course He is. But are we aware of the fact? Probably not, most of the time. That is why we behave the way we do. We are busy, everyday life occupies our attention to the exclusion of everything else. We forget; and the Quran refers again and again to man’s forgetfulness. But isn’t there something rather foolish and incompetent about people who keep forgetting where they are and in Whose Presence they stand, each day and every day? Well, perhaps if we acknowledge our own foolishness and incompetence, we may already have taken a step towards God. The next step is to do something about it, and that is to “mention” Him, whether “in ourselves” or “in company”.

That might not seem to amount to very much, but – in Islam – it is the key both to faith and to practice. The Arabic word dhikr has two meanings: “mention” and “remembrance”, and God tells us in the Quran: “Remember Me, and I will remember thee!”. What we are doing when we “mention” His Name is reminding ourselves of His Presence, waking up from the dream in which we live so much of the time and recollecting where we are. This, you see, is simply a matter of realism. If I am in London but, for some stupid reason, I think that I am in Paris, then I’m likely to get everything wrong and make a fool of myself. And if, as Islam teaches, everything that we do and everything that we think is seen and known by God, then to forget this is to forget where we are.

But this raises another point, with which I hope to deal in my next talk. If we don’t know where we are, then it’s very likely that we don’t know who we are. And what could be worse than that? There is a verse of the Quran which says: “They forget God, therefore He has caused them to forget themselves”. To understand ourselves means to know ourselves in relation to reality; it is to see ourselves as we are in the light of the truth. If we have forgotten what the truth is and if we therefore live in a fantasy world, we cannot even begin to know who we are. Self-knowledge depends upon knowledge of the Presence of God.
 
Gai Eaton(ra)
 
La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah
No Guest-Voting   IP IP Logged
a well wisher  
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar
Religion: Islam(Muslim)
Posts: 8703
Forum Rating: 0
Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 17 July 2013 at 7:55pm
Seeing and Being Seen (3)


Last week I quoted to you a verse from the Quran which tells us that, if we forget God, He makes us forget ourselves. Another way of putting this, also derived from the Quran, is to say that He leaves us to wander this world like blind men. The Book speaks of those who have “hearts wherewith they understand not, and eyes wherewith they see not, and ears wherewith they hear not”, and it compares such people to “cattle”.

But let us consider, for the moment, one particular kind of blindness: the inability to see or know or understand ourselves. There is a line from a poem by the Scots poet, Robbie Burns which has probably been quoted more often than any other line of poetry. I can’t do a Scots accent, but it goes like this: “Would the good Lord the giftie gie’ us to see ourselves as others see us”. Perhaps that should be taken with a grain of salt. If we could really see ourselves as others see us, we would be in the position of someone standing in front of a whole row of distorting mirrors, each showing a different image; we might become so confused that we would be paralysed. But supposing we change the poet’s words and say: “Would the good Lord the giftie gie’ us to see ourselves as He sees us”? That is quite a different matter.

What is it that makes us so unwilling to look at ourselves calmly and objectively? Fear, I suppose, and defensiveness. If we were to admit our weaknesses to ourselves we would – so we think – be weakened in the face of the world and less able to cope with the dangers and the problems that surround us; and, if we don’t build up our own “image”, no one else is going to do it for us. Of what use is a deflated balloon, even if there is a fierce-looking face painted on it? We must blow the balloon up and present that face to the world.

But there’s a problem here. The more we try to live a lie, the more vulnerable we become. We’re afraid of being caught out by other people; above all, we’re afraid of being caught out by ourselves. A lie always needs to be supported by further lies, and then by still more lies, until we find that we have constructed a house of cards that may be blown down at any moment. What happens then? A nervous breakdown, perhaps, or what the psychiatrists call an “identity crisis”. Self-deception has its dangers, to say the least.

But, to be able to do without self-deception, we have to feel secure, and, speaking as a Muslim, I believe, that this sense of security can come about in only one way. That is from the knowledge that, even here and now in this turbulent world, we are living in the presence of God, who see us objectively, and yet with mercy and loving-kindness. In that all-seeing Presence there is no longer any point in lying or in pretending to be other than we are. This, surely, is what we call “serenity”; to be oneself, to recognise oneself, in the calm certainty that He sees us as we are and accepts us as we are.

If we are aware of living in that Presence, then we are aware of living face-to-face with the truth: a bright, clear light that encompasses everything. In that light we are free, not only to see ourselves, without false pride or false guilt, but also to look around us, no longer hampered by tunnel-vision, and see things as they really are. And what they are, in the Presence of God, is something quite different to what they appear to be when we consider them only in terms of self-interest – in the way cattle see them. They have become symbols of what exists above and beyond them.
 
 
Gai Eaton(ra)


Edited by a well wisher - 17 July 2013 at 7:55pm
La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah
No Guest-Voting   IP IP Logged
a well wisher  
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar
Religion: Islam(Muslim)
Posts: 8703
Forum Rating: 0
Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 18 July 2013 at 5:06pm
Seeing and Being Seen (4)

“Seeing and being seen” was what I had thought of calling this series of “Reflections”. So far I’ve talked mainly about “being seen”, being aware that we live in the Presence of God. But in every aspect of religious life there’s a kind of reciprocity between God and man; there are two sides to every coin. There’s a connection between “seeing” and “being seen”, as is clearly suggested by this verse of the Quran: “We” – and this is God speaking through revelation – “We shall show them Our signs on the horizons and within themselves until it is evident to them that this is the truth. Are they not, then, satisfied with their Lord in that He is the Witness over all things?”

The fact that things point beyond themselves – but for which they would be dead ends – is a recurrent theme of the Quran. “Truly”, the Book tells us, “in the heavens and the earth are signs for those who believe; and in your own creation and in the animals He scatters in the earth, are signs for people whose faith is sure; and in the alternation of night and day and in the provision that God sends down from the heavens, quickening the earth after her death, and in the ordering of the winds, are signs for people of understanding”. Even the colours of this colourful world have something to tell us; they have, says the Quran, “a message for people who are aware”. And then again:- “God does not disdain to coin the similitude even of a gnat, or of something still smaller…..” Well, that is a fairly comprehensive list: the wind, the rain, the animals – even a gnat – the plants, light and darkness; you and me. In other words everything – every single thing, great or small – points towards its Creator and says to us: “Don’t look just at me, look at Him who made me!”

One of the greatest philosophers of Islam, al-Ghazali, said that everything we see here, and that includes ourselves, has two faces; a face of its own and a face of God – or we could say, a “sign” of God.

He adds that, so far as its own face is concerned, it is nothing; in relation to the “face of God” it is being – it’s real. Modern science can tell us a lot about the “nothingness” of things, but their meaning is beyond its range; and that is what really concerns us. But how do we discover meaning? First through Revelation; secondly through “seeing eyes”.
 
Revelation – and I’m thinking particularly of the Quran – reminds us of what we so easily forget. It says: “See! God is”; and then it explains all that follows from that overwhelming fact. But what about “seeing eyes”? You and I can’t tell ourselves: “At midday, on the dot, I’ll start to see the signs of God in everything around me”. That kind of vision is a gift, but we can at least do something to fit ourselves to receive this gift, which brings me back to what I said earlier about living in the divine Presence. It is actually in our power to remind ourselves again and again of this simple fact of life.

The Prophet was asked once what was the best cure for forgetfulness – or for what the Quran calls “rust on the heart” – and he said it was to think frequently of death and to remember God constantly. You see, if we forget how soon we shall have to die, and if we overlook the fact that everything around us is perishing before our eyes, then we’re living in a fantasy world. It is only when we wake up to the truth that the perishable, once it is recognised as such, points towards the Imperishable, and things lost in time point towards the Timeless, that our vision pierces through surface appearances. I spoke earlier of the “tunnel vision” of people who forget these truths. Our religion convinces us that there is light at the end of the tunnel; and that is all that really matters.
 
Gai Eaton(ra)
La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah
No Guest-Voting   IP IP Logged
a well wisher  
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar
Religion: Islam(Muslim)
Posts: 8703
Forum Rating: 0
Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 19 July 2013 at 5:55pm
Seeing and Being Seen (5)


I reminded you last week that everything around us is perishable, here one moment and gone the next, and that we ourselves are short-lived creatures. When the end comes, says the Quran, “you will think that you tarried for no more than an hour”. According to another verse, God will ask us: “How long did you live on earth, counting in years?”. We will answer, in confusion: “We lived for a day or a part thereof – ask those who can count!”, because we ourselves will have lost all sense of time. Then our Creator will ask: “Did you think that We created you for no purpose and that you would never come back to Us?”

That question seems to me to indicate a paradox. If we live for such a short time, then does anything matter? Do we matter? After all, the Quran tells us at one point that life is made up mainly of trivialities, and the Hereafter “is better and more lasting”.
 
Let us take a simple, everyday comparison. Suppose you find yourself spending a few days in a strange place: you could, of course, say, “I’m here such a short time, it doesn’t matter what happens”. But then again, you might say the opposite, you might say: “I’ll be gone so soon, every moment I spend here is precious”. And if you knew that the rest of your life depended on what you did in those few days, I think I can guess what you’d say. The Quran emphasises life’s brevity, but it speaks also of “a life long enough for those who are prepared to take thought to do so”; to take thought, to reflect, to see and to understand. That is the point. We are given the time we need.

For Muslims, the Quran is God’s final revelation, His last word. This is why it conveys such a sense of urgency. Don’t waste time – it seems to tell us – you have none to spare!
 
And a Muslim philosopher wrote: “Neither eat nor drink nor sleep without presence of heart and a seeing eye”. In other words, remember where you are and observe God’s “signs” scattered all around you. There are a thousand different ways in which this could be illustrated. I could take examples of heroism and self-sacrifice, or talk of saints whose utter devotion to God dazzles us. But sometimes it’s the small things that demonstrate most vividly what it means to be constantly aware. So let me take a very humble example of “presence of heart and a seeing eye”.

A few years ago travellers in North Africa often stopped to stare at rather a strange sight. They would see a man bend down, pick something up from the road, put it for a moment to his forehead and then place it safely on the nearest wall. What was it that this man treated with such respect? Usually a crust of bread, dropped by a passer-by; nothing more than that, but then our nourishment comes from God. Or it might have been a scrap of paper with writing on it, possibly the name of God. That too deserved better than to be trodden underfoot.

What a small gesture, and yet – what a momentous acknowledgement! An acknowledgement of the fact that the sacred surrounds us and that we can never be too busy to recognise it. And what is this recognition of the sacred if not a practical sign of awareness that we live, every moment, in the presence of God, amongst things which come from Him and belong to Him – though we are allowed to borrow them, - things which bear His signature upon them.

I mentioned earlier that, according to the Quran, “God disdains not to coin the similitude even of a gnat”; so why not a crust of bread, a scrap of paper? If He is indeed present with us, wherever we may be – and the Quran tells us that this is so – then everything is in his Presence. For those who have “hearts that understand and eyes that see”, things shine and glitter with a light that is not their own. It is said that the Prophet used to pray: “Lord, increase me in marvelling!”; and those who see do, indeed, marvel – and increase through out their lives in marvelling.
 
Gai Eaton(ra)
La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah
No Guest-Voting   IP IP Logged
a well wisher  
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar
Religion: Islam(Muslim)
Posts: 8703
Forum Rating: 0
Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 20 July 2013 at 9:42pm

"Orientation" - Yahya Rhodus

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUXrr3oTHvE

(About 11 mins)

La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah
No Guest-Voting   IP IP Logged
a well wisher  
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar
Religion: Islam(Muslim)
Posts: 8703
Forum Rating: 0
Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 21 July 2013 at 5:21pm
Beauty (1)


I returned the other day from a holiday in France, staying for a while with friends in the South. They have bought an old farmhouse, right up in the mountains, and rebuilt it with space for a dozen or more people. Both husband and wife are trained psychologists, and they hold courses for townspeople who've lost all sense of purpose in their lives. They try to help people who are not exactly sick, but who are empty, and I'm sure they do help them. But I'm equally sure that the astonishing beauty of the landscape in which that farmhouse is set also contributes to the healing process, for healing is related to wholeness and, in such a place as that, you begin to feel "whole", at home in the world (because it's so beautiful) and at home in yourself.

Speaking as a Muslim, this is just what I would expect. The very word "Islam" comes from a word meaning "peace". The most basic principle of the religion is Unity:- first the unity of God, who is One without equal, without associate, then the unity of His creation in which every element, however tiny, has its place and its function, and finally the unity achieved in every man and woman once they know who they are and where they are going, at peace with their Lord, at peace in the world, at peace with themselves.

That peace is closely bound up with the awareness of beauty. In one of his most famous sayings, the Prophet Muhammad told his people: Allahu jamilun yuhibbu'l-jamal – "God is beautiful and He loves beauty!". Now that is not a statement about feelings or impressions. It is a statement about the nature of Reality. And that, in turn, suggests something very important. It suggests that ugliness – and, Yes!, there's plenty of that in the world in which we live – is not on an equal footing with beauty. It's not one of a pair, like hot and cold, black and white; it represents the spoiling of beauty, the unmaking of what had been well made, the denial of God or His seeming absence. You might compare it to a hole in the pattern, a stain on the fabric, and it belongs to that class of things which, so the Quran tells us, last for but a short time and are then wiped away, while beauty endures.
 
To know this is to possess a sense of the sacred and so to be aware of the radiance that illuminates unspoilt nature from within and which may be found also in the things we make, when these are well and lovingly made. The tragedy of modern man, in the midst of his riches and his technological achievements, is that he has lost this sense of the sacred and lives in a world drained of light.

No wonder the people who come to my friends' farmhouse need help. They live in cities from which beauty has been banished as an irrelevance, as though it were a luxury which we can do without, and this is an environment in which it is difficult to believe in God since it has been constructed in forgetfulness of Him; and – in Islam – to forget God is the greatest sin, or the root of all other sins. Those who have told us, over the past century, that "God is dead" should have had the honesty to complete the sentence:- "God is dead, therefore man is dead!" When nothing in our surroundings reminds us of Him, then He does – in a sense – die in our hearts, and all that makes life worth living dies with Him.

But those visitors to the farmhouse are fortunate. Not everyone has such opportunities, to say the least. Of what use is it to suggest to the majority of city dwellers that they should turn to the empty spaces of virgin nature, where the sacred is nakedly apparent and where souls are healed? Their lives are restricted to the narrow streets in which no one has the time to say "Good day!" and in which the roar of traffic drowns the human voice. Is there no escape for them, no possibility of healing? God willing, I hope to take up this point next week.
 
 
Gai Eaton (ra)
La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah
No Guest-Voting   IP IP Logged
a well wisher  
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar
Religion: Islam(Muslim)
Posts: 8703
Forum Rating: 0
Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 24 July 2013 at 10:42pm
Beauty (2)

Is anyone totally cut off from the good things that God has given us? Surely not! But, while those who are lucky enough to live in the midst of beauty need make no effort to enjoy what they have been given, the rest of us have to get down to work and teach ourselves to appreciate the gifts that come our way. No one need make an effort to see God's presence in mountains, rivers and forests, but to find joy in a single flower or to feel respect for a crust of bread is a different matter. It requires what is called – in Islam – the unceasing "remembrance of God", and it requires an understanding of the simple fact that everything created praises its Creator and reminds us of Him.

"Do you not see", asks the Quran, "that everything in the heavens and all that is in the earth adores God, as do the sun and the moon and the stars, and the hills and the trees and the beasts, and many of mankind...?"

The tale is told of a Muslim Sufi Master who sent his youngest disciple to gather flowers for the house. The young man was gone a long time, and he finally returned with one miserable bloom in his hand. The Master raised an eyebrow – perhaps both eyebrows – and asked for an explanation. "When I went to pick the flowers", said the disciple, "I found them all singing the praises of their Lord and Creator, and I dared not interrupt them; but then I saw that one had finished her song. This is the one that I have brought you".

Until fairly recently, when the habits of modern life began to get a real grip on the area, travelers in North Africa used often to be struck by rather a puzzling sight. They would observe a man walking down the street – going about his business – stop suddenly, bend down, pick up a discarded crust of bread and, after touching it to his forehead, place it safely on the nearest wall.

What does that story tell us, and what is the significance of this act of respect and gratitude for the nourishment God gives us – even for a dry crust? Both the story and the action demonstrate, in the first place, a true sense of the sacred and an awareness that this sense of the sacred embraces all that God has made, all that He has given for our sustenance or for our delight. Everything we see when we open our eyes, everything we grasp when we hold out our hands comes from Him and – when rightly used – reminds us of Him. Muhammad used to pray: Oh my Lord, increase me in marveling!

But we also have to understand that everything in existence has certain rights, and our own rights do not extend to misusing these things, squandering them, exploiting them. I can imagine someone saying: "This is really too much! Women's rights, animal rights, even plant rights, and now you talk about the rights of sticks and stones! Where will it end?" It has no end – that's the only possible answer.
 
We didn't make the world. You cannot, the Quran tells us, even create a fly. And the Quran assures us also that the whole universe is like a vast picture-book filled with the "signs" of God, if only we have eyes to see and the sense to understand. In other words, nothing is merely what it seems. Appearances – as people so often tell us – are deceptive and, if we float only on the surface of the world around us, then we are indeed deceived. There is always more to it than that, and then more and more, until you have plumbed the depths and found – behind the seventy thousand veils of light and darkness, the face of God.
 
 
Gai Eaton (ra)
 
La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah
No Guest-Voting   IP IP Logged
a well wisher  
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar
Religion: Islam(Muslim)
Posts: 8703
Forum Rating: 0
Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 26 July 2013 at 4:28pm
Beauty (3)

I said last week that, from the Muslim point of view, even the little things which surround us or of which we make use in our daily lives can serve to remind us of God and therefore deserve to be treated with respect. These things form part of the material world, and how often have you been told – how often have I been told – that we are "too materialistic" in this modern age? If that means simply that we are too greedy for material possessions, then it's a fair criticism; but I'm going to suggest to you that – in one very important sense – we are not materialistic enough. You and I – unless we are either mystics or scientists – see the material world as a solid, inert lump. We seldom bother to look beneath the surface. For the Muslim mystic however it is a tapestry into which the "signs" of God are woven. But how does the contemporary physicist see it? He too is obliged to probe beneath the surface and, the deeper he penetrates, the greater the mystery which faces him. This solid table in front of me is, he says, a space in which minute quanta of energy move at incredible speeds: particles, he calls them but then he corrects himself and says that they are waves which sometimes behave like particles – or particles which sometimes behave like waves. It is all very confusing, and so it should be, for it reminds us that nothing is as it seems and that mystery surrounds our little enclosure of "common sense".

Is this unsettling? If it is, then I am sure we need to be "unsettled". Earlier in this series of "reflections" I spoke of those people who have lost all sense of purpose, who live in a grey, monotonous world and who need contact with the splendours of virgin nature if they are to be healed. But what we have to understand – and perhaps what they need to understand – is that their "grey" world is an illusion. The fault is not in their surroundings but in themselves. "It is not the eyes that grow blind," says the Quran in this context, "but the hearts within the breasts that grow blind".

There is a story which crops up in several different traditions; I first came across it in Hinduism, but then I discovered it again in a Muslim book. It goes like this:- A man living at a certain address in Baghdad (let's say "Baghdad" for convenience, but it could be any city) has a vivid dream in which he learns that a vast treasure is hidden under the floor of a certain house in Cairo. He sets out to seek this treasure, and it's a hard journey; he gets mugged on the way, he nearly drowns and he comes close to starvation, but in the end he arrives at the address in Cairo. The owner of the house says: "You've just caught me – I was about to set out for Baghdad, for I dreamed the other night that a great treasure was hidden under the floor of a certain house there". I think you can guess whose house that is! The traveler returns home – no doubt getting mugged again on the way – and, sure enough, the treasure is under his own living-room. Did he make a wasted journey? The moral of the story is that we sometimes have to venture out and travel far in order to find the treasure which was always ours.

We have all that we need – you and I and anyone else you care to name. That's one of the basic principles of the spiritual life. But we need help, a great deal of help, to discover what we already possess. That help comes, obviously, from God provided we ask for it eagerly and in all sincerity. But, as Muslim, Jew and Christian will agree, He uses many instruments, and in fact – in His hands – anyone or anything can become an instrument of guidance: men and women, the beauties of nature, true works of art, the little things we handle each day – even sticks and stones.
 
But we have to do our part. We have to ask!
 
Gai Eaton (ra)
 
La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah
No Guest-Voting   IP IP Logged
a well wisher  
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar
Religion: Islam(Muslim)
Posts: 8703
Forum Rating: 0
Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 28 July 2013 at 5:22pm
Beauty (4)

In this series of short reflections I’ve been talking about beauty – its healing properties – and about the praise which rises from every created thing towards its Creator. "Have you not seen", asks the Quran, "that God is He whom all in the heavens and the earth praise, and the birds in their flight? He indeed knows the worship and the praise of each, and God is aware of all that they do". And the pious Muslim, when things go badly for him, says: "al-hamdu lillahi 'ala kulli hal"; "Praise be to God under all circumstances"; not just on the bright day, but on the dark one too.

But what is really meant by this much abused word, "praise"? It may have different meanings for different people, but – for the Muslim, anyway – it suggests that what is given by God is transmuted on earth into praise of the Giver, just as the falling rain is transmuted into a vapour which returns to the clouds. Men and women praise consciously when they are aware of the source of their existence; sticks and stones praise by their very existence, for existence is itself a miracle. According to the Quran, God "says unto a thing 'Be!', and it is"; and however humble its situation here, among the people of the earth or among the stones of the earth, it is the direct product of God's command and therefore participates, in some way, in the mystery of His being. This – precisely – is why it can serve as a "reminder", inviting us to focus our attention, not upon what has been made, but upon its Maker. "He scatters His mercy", says the Quran, just as the rain is scattered over the dry land, and we – you and I – take and use as much of this as we may be capable of absorbing. Listen to the Quran once again: "God sends down rain from the sky so that the valleys flow according to their measure, and the flood bears away swelling foam ... thus does God indicate the true and the false. As for the foam, it passes away as scum upon the banks, while – as for that which is of use to mankind – it remains in the earth".

But, in talking of beauty and praise, the healing powers of nature and the meaning hidden in sticks and stones, have I left out something important? What about the "do's" and "Don'ts" of religion? They have, ultimately, one purpose, and that is to establish harmony, balance, order within the individual personality as also in society; the same harmony, balance and order visible in creation as a whole, maintaining the birds in their flight, turning the growing plant towards the life-giving sun, and bringing the fruit to ripeness on the tree. In the disordered personality and in the disordered society, the "Do's" and "Don'ts" may have to be imposed, but those are conditions under which the equilibrium inherent in creation has already been disturbed as happens when people forget who they are and where they are going.

There is another word for equilibrium in the human domain, and that is "sanity", bearing in mind its derivation from the Latin sanus, which means neither more nor less than "healthy". Health is what those unhappy townspeople (whom I mentioned in the first talk of this series) are seeking when they take refuge with my friends in the French mountains. Perhaps that is what we all seek, at the level of the spirit as also at the bodily level? And "health", understood in its deepest sense, relates to the most fundamental principle of the religion of Islam. This is Tawhid: unity, unification, wholeness, the inter-connectedness of every single thing from the highest to the lowest; the Oneness of God reflected in the oneness of being.

When we are aware of this unity, then we are at home wherever we may find ourselves; when we forget it, we are isolated even in the warmest embrace. It is then that we need help, and help in offered through the thousand-and-one things we see and touch. But we have to reach out, we have to ask. The answer comes with the asking.
 
 
Gai Eaton (ra)
La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah
No Guest-Voting   IP IP Logged
a well wisher  
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar
Religion: Islam(Muslim)
Posts: 8703
Forum Rating: 0
Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 14 September 2013 at 4:19pm
At the end of the day all we have is God. If we can recognize that fact then we will realize that if we have God, we have everything; and if we do not have God, we have nothing. The Prophet, peace upon him, reminds us,“If you place your trust in anyone, place it in God. And if you ask for anything, ask it of God.”
 
 
We claim that we seek God’s help every time we recite the Fatiha, "You alone do we worship, and from you alone do we seek assistance." (1:5) However, we have to work to translate that claim into reality.

One who is conscious of God realizes that at the end of the day no one can help or assist him save God. If God determines that someone will be a means to bring you some help that God has ordained for you, then that help ultimately has come from God. This is true in all of our affairs. If you believe that anyone or anything in God’s creation can ultimately help you, independent of God, then you will be placed in the care of that person or thing. Hasan al-Basri wrote the following words to ‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, “Do not seek the help of anyone other than God, for if you do, God will leave you in the care of that other.”
 
Everything ultimately comes from God. God is most quick to help us. Sometimes He withholds from us what we ask of Him and that is the best help we could receive. However, oftentimes we fail to realize this. Reliance on God is one of the greatest practical expressions of real belief, for its essence lies in being surer of the bounty and grace possessed by God than we are in our own personal resources. For the believer, reliance on God is sufficient. God says in the Qur’an, "Whoever places his reliance on God, He will suffice him." (65:3)

Imam Ahmad said that the happiest of his days was when he woke up and found nothing in his cabinets. That was a day he had to rely totally upon God.
 
 
~Imam Zaid Shakir~
La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah
No Guest-Voting   IP IP Logged
CINDY  
Senior Member
Senior Member
Avatar
Religion: Other(Other)
Posts: 753
Forum Rating: 0
Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote CINDY Replybullet Posted: 27 November 2013 at 1:39pm
Originally posted by a well wisher

At the end of the day all we have is God. If we can recognize that fact then we will realize that if we have God, we have everything; and if we do not have God, we have nothing. The Prophet, peace upon him, reminds us,“If you place your trust in anyone, place it in God. And if you ask for anything, ask it of God.”
 
 
We claim that we seek God’s help every time we recite the Fatiha, "You alone do we worship, and from you alone do we seek assistance." (1:5) However, we have to work to translate that claim into reality.

One who is conscious of God realizes that at the end of the day no one can help or assist him save God. If God determines that someone will be a means to bring you some help that God has ordained for you, then that help ultimately has come from God. This is true in all of our affairs. If you believe that anyone or anything in God’s creation can ultimately help you, independent of God, then you will be placed in the care of that person or thing. Hasan al-Basri wrote the following words to ‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, “Do not seek the help of anyone other than God, for if you do, God will leave you in the care of that other.”
 
Everything ultimately comes from God. God is most quick to help us. Sometimes He withholds from us what we ask of Him and that is the best help we could receive. However, oftentimes we fail to realize this. Reliance on God is one of the greatest practical expressions of real belief, for its essence lies in being surer of the bounty and grace possessed by God than we are in our own personal resources. For the believer, reliance on God is sufficient. God says in the Qur’an, "Whoever places his reliance on God, He will suffice him." (65:3)

Imam Ahmad said that the happiest of his days was when he woke up and found nothing in his cabinets. That was a day he had to rely totally upon God.
 
 
~Imam Zaid Shakir~
ameen
I AM PRAYING
No Guest-Voting   IP IP Logged
a well wisher  
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar
Religion: Islam(Muslim)
Posts: 8703
Forum Rating: 0
Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 14 March 2014 at 4:06pm

God, says the Qur'an, is "the Best of Providers". The only one, in the long run. Whether we are aware of it or not, we live and die in the palm of His hand, and our poor efforts to cope with our problems on our own would be hilariously funny if they were not - only too often - so sad.

But to know this, not just in theory but in our flesh and our bones, we do have to lift our heads now and then, forget ourselves and our absurd anxieties, and trust in what we cannot see but know is there, everywhere present, always and forever.
 

(Gai Eaton (ra) - REFLECTIONS)
La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah
No Guest-Voting   IP IP Logged
a well wisher  
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar
Religion: Islam(Muslim)
Posts: 8703
Forum Rating: 0
Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 25 March 2014 at 4:01pm

The follower of Islam is called a Muslim (‘one who submits’), not a Mumin (‘one who believes’), and with good reason, ‘The Arabs say: We believe! Say rather: We have submitted! For the faith hath not yet entered your hearts’ (Q.49.14).

The first of Muhammad’s titles — his ‘titles of Glory’ – is not ‘Messenger’ or ‘Prophet’ but ‘slave’ (abd) for man must be a slave to the truth before he can be its messenger, and the slave is, by definition, one who submits body and soul to his master, claiming no rights, asking no questions and owning nothing that he can call his own. It is for the master, if he will, to raise him to a higher status.

A great deal of misunderstanding has surrounded these images of submission. Partly from prejudice, but partly also from the genuine difficulty that one culture has in grasping the deepest motivations of another, the West has often pictured the Muslim as cringing before a tyrant Lord and submitting as a beast submits to its incomprehensible fate. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Muslim fears God because he is a realist; he knows that there are things to be feared and that all things — the bitter as well as the sweet — have but one Creator. He submits because he believes that there exists a divine pattern or scheme of things which is both intelligent and beautiful, and he wishes to find his place in this pattern and conform to it; he knows that he cannot do so without instructions — which must be followed meticulously in view of their sacred origin. He does not simply resign himself to the divine Will; he seeks it eagerly and, when he finds it, delights in it.

Muhammad is ‘abdu llah’ the ‘slave of God’. Modern translators usually prefer the word ‘servant’ because of the ugly and even sinister connotations which the word ‘slave’ has in the West, due on the one hand to the racialism which was the basis of slavery in the Americas, and on the other to the cruelty and exploitation associated with it. Slavery in the simple society of ancient Arabia had none of these features and was not therefore a term of dishonor. Although the word ‘servant’ has obvious advantages in this context, it weakens and even falsifies the meaning of the Arabic term ‘abd’, A servant works for his wages, he may depart if the conditions of his service do not please him, and he may, if he chooses, set his will against that of his employer. But God is not an employer, nor are His messengers employees. The ‘slave of God’ surrenders his will to that of his Master, exemplifying the quality of spiritual poverty (fiqr) which lies at the very root of Islam.

This quality of ‘slavehood’ —of obedient passivity —is a pre-condition of the messenger’s activity in the world. The truth of the message itself would be brought into doubt if there were the slightest suspicion that a human will had intervened in the process of revelation. In his recorded sayings Muhammad spoke as the man he was and, except when he was directly inspired, acknowledged his own fallibility, but as the instrument by which the Quran was conveyed from heaven to earth his aim was to be an attentive and accurate ‘scribe’. He said: ‘A simple verse of the Book of Allah is worth more than Muhammad and all his family,’ and because his conduct in every aspect of daily life exemplified these qualities of receptivity and attentiveness, he was himself an aspect of this message from God to man. Seen from an unprejudiced Christian point of view, ‘in its finest form, as exemplified by the Prophet himself, this relation of the ‘abd’ to his Lord means a constant quality of consciousness and will unique to Islam’ ; and in his translation of the Quran, Muhammad Asad renders the key word taqwah usually translated as ‘fear of God’ as ‘God-consciousness’, thereby emphasizing the qualities of constant awareness, recollectedness and readiness which characterize the Muslim who is true to his faith.

 

Gai Eaton (ra)----Islam and destiny of man

La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah
No Guest-Voting   IP IP Logged
a well wisher  
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar
Religion: Islam(Muslim)
Posts: 8703
Forum Rating: 0
Rating: 0 of 0 votes Quote a well wisher Replybullet Posted: 27 March 2014 at 6:20pm

The Spirit of Islam - Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKefp_jhN5g

(35 mins)

La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammadur Rasulullah
No Guest-Voting   IP IP Logged
<< Prev Page  of 8 Next >>
Post Reply Post New Topic
Printable version Printable version

Forum Jump
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot create polls in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Bulletin Board Software by Web Wiz Forums version 8.03
Copyright ©2001-2006 Web Wiz Guide
Disclaimer
The opinions expressed by members of the Whyislam Forum do not necessarily reflect the beliefs of the Whyislam Team, or any of its subsidiaries, or parent organizations.