August 20, 2015
A friend shared the following parable with me the other day:
A lover knocked at the door of his beloved.“Who is it?” she replied.The lover replied, “It is I.”“Go away. This house will not hold you and I.”The rejected lover retreated into the wilderness. For a long time he prayed and meditated on the beloved’s words. Finally he returned and knocked at the door again.“Who is it?” she said again.The lover replied, “It is you.”Immediately, the door opened.
Strangely enough, after leaping from one mind ripple to another and yet another, my reflection upon this has brought me to rest upon the memory of something Shaykh Abdullah al Kadi told us as the 2011 Rihla in Bursa, Turkey slowly came to an end. Sitting in a corner of the room, I listened as Shaykh discussed the route that Rasoolallah SAW took upon his entry into Makkah, during his conquest of the same city that, 8 long years ago, had cast him out into exile and left him fleeing for his very life. That event, i.e. the conquest, is so astronomical, so much of a miracle (particularly given the bloodless nature of it!), that it immediately grabs the eye and holds our focus – so much so that, until the Shaykh spoke of it, I never once wondered whether the route that Rasoolallah SAW took into the city was, in any way, particularly remarkable. But what’s interesting about that route is that, when you pay attention to it, you realize that it was not the route that travelers from Madinah normally took to enter into the city, nor was it even the most efficient route to take. At first glance, you may be tempted to suppose that it was simply a matter of strategy – why let the enemy catch on to your plans, right? And perhaps this *was* a part of the story…but it was certainly not the all, and certainly not the most beautiful aspect. Because all the places that Rasoollallah SAW stopped at on his way into the city had something very important in common: every single one of them was connected, in some way or another, to Khadija (ra).
The place where their house had stood, the place where he buried her, the place where he used to meet her half way, between the mountain of hira and the city of Makkah, when she used to bring him supplies so that he could continue to meditate in a cave up in the mountain as was his practice to frequently do so…shaykh called this their “coffee place” 🙂 And the flag that he carried, when he finally conquered the city, was a flag made from the fabric of her clothes. All these years after her death, all these years after his prophethood began, still, the prophet took the time, *needed* to take the time, to honor the memory of the woman who had stood by him when nobody else in the world had believed. Who had comforted him, sustained him and supported him so that, after all these years, he *could* enter the city as its conqueror. Even after all these years, he carried her into the city with him…because even after all these years, he still carried her in his heart.
As tears had streamed down my face, I remember thinking, “Wow. That’s love” The room was filled with many of us softly crying, and even shaykh had had to pause to give himself a moment. At the time, I had felt so cheated and angry at the thought that so many of us are not given enough instruction in the sunnah of love, that, until now, I hadn’t even known about how beautifully, how sincerely, Rasoolallah SAW had loved – for if ever there were a most perfect beautiful lover, it was certainly Rasoolallah. If ever there were a beloved, it was Khadija (ra). If ever there was a beautiful love story, it was the story of their love. How truly, how deeply, did they love….and how truly, how deeply it must have hurt him to have *lost* his love. And yet, night after night, despite the pain or the longing, or the suffering, or the hardships, or the loneliness, or the sadness, never once did the Prophet (peace be upon him) turn to Allah SWT in despair and ask, “Why?” Despite the fact that, as a prophet, he could have asked Allah SWT for all manner of things, including the prolonging of Khadija’s life, still, he chose instead to submit. He chose the path of, not only patience, but also gratitude. Because there simply wasn’t any room for, “You and I” in his heart.
It comforts me to remember this now. It reminds me that if I want to reach Allah SWT, then I have to let go of depending on x,y,z outcomes. Work for them? Yes. Hope for them? Yes. But rely upon them, *depend* upon them as the only means of happiness and my continued well being? No. These things that we wish for, hope for, beg for, cry for, become the things that we love. And when we don’t get what we ask for, we’re lost and cast into this state of darkness..this sense of mourning for the thing(s) that we can’t or don’t have. How many of us embark upon the path of patience and gratitude instead? Spend those precious spiritual prime time hours of the early morning or the intimate late night crying out of thankfulness and longing for Him instead of longing for our lost “loves” ? This much I know to be true: Not I.
If I truly want Allah, then I have to submit to His will instead of constantly trying to enforce mine. I have to cast out the “I” until there isn’t any room for “You and I” in my heart. And I am comforted by the thought that, although the path is hard, I am not alone in trying to walk it – for verily, I was sent the example and the memory of the messenger who traveled ahead to show me, to show *us*, that it IS possible to walk.
Verily, Allah is enough for us..and He is the best of Guardians.
~ by the beautiful, Feiza Naqvi.
August 20, 2015
My goal for you is for you to forget all goals
As long as you persist on the path of guidance,
For you to leave aside existence and not long for it
And grasp hold only of the cord of firm reliance.
How long will you neglect me while I always
Watch over you with love and diligence?
How long will you gaze upon what I’ve created
Wandering enraptured, entranced with each glance?
And never turn your attention toward my presence?
You’ll pass your life far from the mark in deviance!
My love is timeless- remember “Am I not your Lord”
On that day my uniqueness held you in a trance.
Do you have other than me another sustaining Lord
Who may save you from future disturbance?
You call upon others, the needy to the needy
For the entire cosmos is incapacity and impermanence.
Everything manifest by my will manifests
Through me alone existing thing have existence.
In this world that I create, command and possess
Is there anyone to face who claims self-persistence?
Look around with the open eyes of faith and you’ll see
Every being’s effectiveness depends upon my dominance.
On a journey from nothingness to nothingness
You’re headed for obliteration with no hope for permanence.
This is my gift decreed for you- don’t reject it,
So from others keep aloof your hope’s countenance!
All your plans are suspended at my doorway
So before my presence leave your baggage at a distance.
Accept your inherent quality of lowly humility
See my generosity match your willing compliance.
Be a servant to me, like a real servant, content
Accepting all the master’s demands with obedience.
Why hide your lowly qualities with qualities that are mine
And replace your ignorance with open defiance?
Will you make yourself my partner in ownership
And compete with me against wisdom’s radiance?
If you aim to reach my intimate presence, then beware!
Your self is raving, so oppose it with stridence.
Plunge into the ocean of obliteration- you might see me,
Prepare to meet me in the end with confidence.
Continually invoke me for blessings that you encounter
Apt actions of the master who gives without hindrance,
And spend not a day led by others in dalliance
For there is nobody else to turn to today for guidance.
~Ibn Ata’Alla as Sikandari (rahimullah).
February 24, 2015
A year of heartache past, brings about a New Year striking the wells of Hope once again.
A time of continuous loss can bring about only a time of rejuvenation, taking for the giving, and revived hearts.
“What is being familiar with love other than being separated from the heart’s desire?”
We are in eternal poverty before our Lord, most High,
and can only seek His shores through the fragility of our Quluub.
What better way to keep seeing His face in front of ours,
then to keep our hearts broken and our bodies pure.
Tears in our eyes, blood flowing from our hearts, our bodies shaking with need,
we approach your Doors, oh Beloved of beloveds.
We seek You, and nothing and noone but You.
We ask You, and noone but You.
We only hope with every ounce of our souls to live and die forYou.
We come to your doors, knocking, begging, seeking with urgency of cries..
Please take us in, ya Rabb. Please take us. Please take us.
We are unworthy of your forgiveness, of your Beneficence..
Our only hope lies within your Mercy, the highest and greatest ofMercies.
Our need is constant, it is bold, it is in the primal and most complex functions of our humanity.
How can we deny the Light trying to grab at our shadows, the Light that is ever trying to shine through…
How can it shine through us if there are no cracks to let it? We must break ourselves, and be broken,
If we ever desire to be taken in, given air, given breath, given life, given water and Light.
Even if you do not desire to feel, to hope, to be truly and deeply happy,
At least be an open receptacle to whatever maybe thrown down onto your Earth from the Heavens.
The rain is a mercy, never forget this.
That water from the skies can never be brought down at any other time, than the exact moment it was predestined to be. Yes, predestined.
If nothing else, then just open your heart and let Him do what He will with it.
Do not close that receptacle. You simply cannot..
For I shall tell you, even if it takes drop by drop, one by one,day after day,
That water will flood you once again,
And you will be happy, once again.
Let me tell you, it is the most exhilarating sensation, to be able to feel, yet once again.
March 9, 2014
How crucial every moment & experience can be for the human heart. The spiritual heart is so powerful yet so vulnerable. Its amazing. And if the body and mind aren’t working towards the heart, then all they’re doing is ripping it apart. The only way to work on the self is by focusing on solely the self, and leaving those who aren’t conducive.
How much work I have yet do on myself. Losing focus isn’t an option. Sometimes I think I can naturally learn through gaining experience and growing older. But its much more than that. Its an active pursuit of perfection I feel like.
These moments when I have these thoughts are both merciful yet so overwhelming, because all I can think is, what else have I been blind to all this time.. what else am I sleeping to.
Al Malik. The King, the Sovereign. The one who owns everything, everything belongs to Him. In His essence and attributes, is not in need of any existing thing. To own something is to do whatever you want to do with it. In and of Himself, he has no need. He’s absolutely independent, everything is in need of Him.
Each human being has subjects and soldiers. The only kingdom you can control is that of your heart. If you can control yourself, there is no one on the face of the Earth that can control you, in any direction. With the blessing of self-control, having the various faculties under the supervision of the intellect, then you can truly become a king. Your soldiers are your appetites, anger and affections. While his subjects are his tongue, eye and hands. If he rules them and they don’t rule him, he will attain the level of a king in this world. SubhanAllah. The intellect is the supervision, the army of the angels and the army of the shay tan. The nafs is the spy within the kingdom that informs shay tan of what the weaknesses and open gates to the kingdom are. The heart has a number of entry points, and you watch over those gates, you will always have control over yourself. Learning the entry points of the enemy, and your weak points, and knowing how to watch over and close them, then you will be successful. This is the Quranic perspective, this is the principle that should be written in gold. Allah azawajaal will not subjugate anyone to anyone except to the degree in which you let others from your own soul. You will never be subjugated to an external enemy. Hence why Muslims have no one left to blame except themselves, because we are in self-critical, introspective people who need to correct ourselves consistently, by nature. We’re taught to be that way from the essence of the teachings of our deen. Everyone experiences things outwardly, but it takes inward and outward work in balance in order to achieve the epitome of what we need to be.
July 3, 2013
When your heart breaks, it’s a good thing –
the breaking of the heart is what opens it up to the light of Allah.
The dunya is designed to break your heart, to crush it.”
Whatever you lost through the stroke of destiny,
know it was to save you from adversity.
One small affliction keeps off greater afflictions;
one small loss prevents greater losses. ~Rumi
July 3, 2013
July 3, 2013
July 3, 2013
I dream of you sometimes
Yearning for your image to exist outside my mind
Hoping that it will only be a matter of time
Before we meet and allow our eyes to speak
Knowing more then what our eyes can see
Patiently waiting to begin our destiny
This is where my soul will lead
Letting go of the thoughts of your physique
So that I can see through
Wanting to explore
Deep into the truth
Knowing that you are because He already knew
That I was the rib to fit inside of you
No other will ever do
See we never had to choose
He never asked us to
He just wanted us to trust and believe
That I’m for you and you’re for me
I’m just waiting for this to be
A sudden sigh
As I drift off to sleep
Dwelling in my unconscious mind
I dream of you sometimes…
June 30, 2013
Imam Khalil Abdur-Rashid’s words on the passing of a great Saint of our century, his teacher, Sh Muhammad Emin Er.
Shaykh Muhammad Emin Er – The Last Ottoman Scholar by Imam Khalil Abdur Rashid
It is with deep humility and honor that I sit to transmit a snapshot of the
life of my teacher whom I spent 8 years of my life studying under; who
would refine me, educate me, advise me, and transmit ijaaza to me thus
becoming the father of my spiritual life, Shaykh Muhammad Emin Er.
Shaykh Muhammad Emin Er was born in 1909 in the village of Kuluyan
(recently renamed Kalash) in the province of Diyarbakir, in the southeast
of what is now Turkey but was at that time the Ottoman Empire. Shaykh
Emin’s family belonged to a Kurdish tribe called Miran. His father, Haji
Zulfikar, was a wealthy farmer who took a great interest in science and
education, and happened to be a person of some wealth. There being no
school in the village of Kuluyan, Haji Zulfikar employed a private tutor to
educate his two young sons, Muhammad and his elder brother Ali. Then just
as his sons were learning to read and write in the Arabic script (at the
time still the official script of the Ottoman language and state), Haji
Zulfikar passed away. The future Shaykh had already lost his mother Hawa
while he was still a young child of the age of three or four and thus (like
the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace) he was left
an orphan. To this day, Shaykh Emin travels to the graves of his mother and
father in the village of Kuluyan at least once per year. **
At this time, Muhammad Emin was 10 years old, and the Ottoman state still
stood as one of the largest in the world extending from North Africa to
Yemen, and from the Balkans to the frontiers of Persia. It faced
coordinated attacks on many fronts, east and west. Because of the war, the
economic situation became ruinous, as the Ottoman state was increasingly
forced to deplete its already overextended financial resources in the
defense of its territorial integrity. The resulting economic hardship was
severe throughout the country and the young Muhammad Emin passed through
the remainder of his early life in much straightened circumstances, first
under the care of his stepmother and later under the care of his elder
brother. He contributed to the support of his family by shepherding goats
in the high mountains surrounding the village. All the while, his desire to
learn to read and write, ignited both by his late father and his former
tutor, persisted and grew. Having neither paper nor pen, he used stones to
scratch words and sentences on flat rocks, while tending his goats on the
mountainsides. This striving to improve his reading and writing skills
despite great deprivation gave rise to the legend in his village that
Khidr, the companion of Moses and saintly figure who comes to the aid of
the destitute, provided the young Muhammad Emin lessons in his sleep. **
So great was his passion for knowledge that he would cry bitter tears wile
imploring Allah to help him learn to read the Quran. He missed no
opportunity to seek out people whom he thought might help him. He would
journey on foot for several days at a time simply to visit knowledgeable
people in the vicinity of his village. He would eventually learn how to
write letters and read books in the Ottoman script. As for the Arabic
language and knowledge of the traditional Islamic disciplines, there was at
the time no one in the region able to introduce him to this type of
scholarship. Thus he sought what he could from books. However, as the new
Turkish Republic was established, the traditional Ottoman script was
abolished and its use outlawed altogether with all Quranic and Islamic
education. Families began to fear the consequences of teaching the Quran to
their children even in the privacy of their own homes. As Shaykh Emin
recalls: “…at that time, everything was forbidden in Turkey. Even to read
and to learn the Quran was forbidden in those days. It was not easy, like
it is today. We had very hard times, so I resolved at my first opportunity
to seek religious learning in Syria.” This was not to be. Reaching the
border city of Gaziantep, Muhammad Emin was not permitted to cross into
Syria. He resolved instead to travel first to Adana, and soon thereafter to
Istanbul. Knowing no one in Istanbul, he soon ran out of money, and thus
went on foot to Bursa where he worked as a servant for a wealthy family in
order to make a living.
At the age of 25, Muhammad Emin made his first of many trips of pilgrimage
(hajj) to the Sacred House, in Mecca. Upon his return, his desire to seek
scared knowledge undiminished, he undertook extensive travels in eastern
Anatolia to seek out scholars and ask them to teach him. He later resolved
once again to cross into Syria in search of scholars who could instruct
him. By now, World War II had begun, and although he succeeded in crossing
the border, he was detained by security forces who suspected him of being a
spy. He spent some time in prison in Syria before being cleared. Set free
by authorities, he returned to Turkey, particularly to Diyarbakir. There he
was able to study the remaining subjects in the foundational curriculum of
the traditional Islamic sciences, many of them concerned with Arabic
linguistics. These included propositional logic (mantiq), historical
semantics (ilm al-wada’), figurative usage (isti’ara), etiquette of debate
and argumentation (munazara), literary meaning (ma’ani), rhetoric (bayan),
refined usage (badi), fundamentals of Islamic creed (usul al-din),
methodology of Islamic jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh), Islamic jurisprudence
of both the Hanafi and Shafi Legal Schools (fiqh), and Islamic spiritual
psychology (tasawwuf). The teacher with whom he spent the greatest part of
this time was Molla Rasul, a classmate of the famous Bediuzzaman Said
Nursi. Shaykh Emin would later meet Said Nursi and study briefly with him
In 1951, Shaykh Emin completed the last of his studies, completing the
study of discursive theology (kalam) and received his full license (ijaaza)
in all of the rational and traditional Islamic disciplines which have
constituted the curriculum of the greatest of scholars of the Islamic
tradition since the time of Imam Ghazali in the 11th and 12th centuries. In
addition, Shaykh Emin mastered and received ijaaza in the sciences of
exegesis of Quran (tafsir), religious laws of inheritance (fara’id) and the
sciences of the prophetic traditions (usul al-hadith).
Shaykh Emin has devoted his entire life to emulating the example of his
teachers and teaching the inner and outer discipline to student, issuing
ijaaza to those who successfully complete their study under him – efforts
he continues to this day. Central to this is his position within a chain
(isnad) that is within an unbroken lineage of transmission of knowledge
extending back to Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him
peace. And, according to the custom of Muslim scholars of this mold, he in
turn passes on the knowledge transmitted to him by his mentors, bequeathing
a place in this unbroken chain to students in the 21st century. Even if
seldom encountered, it is nevertheless true that such an isnad persists to
the present day. Shaykh Emin has six children and 40 grandchildren. A
seventh child of his passed away as a toddler. Having retired from many
years of service as imam in several cities, he continues to live a life of
rigorous worship. He has little free time, but uses it when it comes to
read and contemplate the Quran and consult the commentaries of the great
scholars on questions that occur to him in his reading. Shaykh Ein sleeps
very little –by his own estimate, perhaps three hours during the night, and
an hour or two before noon if possible. He always sleeps in a state of
ablution, in emulation of the sunna of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and
grant him peace, and mindful that, should he die in his sleep, he would
want to face his Lord in a state of purity. He rises every day at around
3a.m. for the night prayer called tahajjud, remaining awake in a state of
contemplation until the time of the prescribed dawn prayer (fajr). He then
remains in the place of prayer and reads Quran until the sun has risen, and
then remains for a bit longer, finally offering a voluntary cycle of prayer.
He passes the rest of the morning in scholarly writing, sometimes receiving
visitors. Shaykh Emin writes only in Arabic, always facing the direction of
prayer (qibla) in a state of ritual purity (wudu). When his work is
interrupted for some reason, he performs ablution and two cycles of prayer
before resuming his writing, a demonstration of profound reverence, typical
of the foremost representatives of the Islamic scholarly tradition but
seldom encountered in the present day, before the grave responsibility of
transmitting knowledge.* *
His modest home in Ankara, Turkey witnesses a steady stream of guests, and
he never refuses any request of learning, regardless of the level of the
student. Shaykh Emin and his guests sit on carpeted floor of a room lined
with shelves of books from floor to ceiling. The students and visitors are
always served tea and sweets, and even a complete meal at the appropriate
times. He teaches his students on an individual basis, through the pace and
method of instruction best suited to each person’s aptitudes and
constraints. Although it is his habit to fast whenever possible, he goes
out of his way to accommodate those guests who are not fasting in order to
set them more fully at ease in his company. This observance, far from being
merely the exemplary of the manners of his generation, is the living sunna
of all the Prophets. The importance of this for people in his company is
tremendous, and not to be overlooked. It is possible to learn a great deal
about exemplary conduct from books, and even to some extent to imitate what
one reads. But not everything we need to know on this matter is written,
nor could it be. It is by keeping the company of those who know it that we
acquire the essentials of exemplary conduct in both its written and
unwritten aspects. Shaykh Emin’s conduct exemplifies what was transmitted
to him from his teachers, and they from theirs, and so forth along lineages
extending to the teaching and example of Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless
him and grant him peace. All of this gives us a greater sense of what could
be lost to us forever if the last chains of transmission of this tradition
were ever to be broken.