"If you don't give what nobody in the world has to give - which is yourself - the world will not have it. In other words, if you don’t give, you rob the world of you."
How interesting. We all strive to be different and unique - whether we admit it or not- all the while overlooking the reality that we really are created as one of a kind. Yes, i'm special! [But then again, everyone else is special too. Does that cancel out the special-ness?]
Makes one think though... why didn't God create us all the same? Why give each one of us a unique perspective, a unique filter, a unique mind, to process external stimuli.
Imagine a world where everyone was the same. Who will we pick on then? [Do we pick on other souls because we're different, or is it because it is an inherent human trait?] We were sent to this world to work on ourselves, maybe if everyone was the same, we won’t have time to pick on other people, and instead we will devote our entire being to bettering our own sense of self. No?
Imagine a world without Ali (ra), Umar (ra), Uthman (ra), and Abu Bakr (ra). Imagine the world with only One Prophet, with only one school of thought, with only one perfect man, with only one pretty woman, with just one chance at life. Boring?
Unity doesn’t necessitate monotony. Then why do we insist upon amalgamating everyone into a glob of monolithic consistency? Worse, our criteria for this sameness is shallow and goes no farther than attire and group lingo.
Why can't I look to where My God, My Rabb, has placed me and take life from there. Yes, it would be dishonest of me to claim to understand the life, beliefs, and experience of everyone that I encounter, but I can use my personal experience and beliefs to affect another person, in a positive or negative manner.
I can just be me; I can’t be everyone else and me. God wants me to work on me, in a place where He’s placed me, and with factors He’s set up around me. mememe. sorry. i like saying me.
The way in which we behave shows us something of our own self. If I’m attracted to people who bash others, who believe their 'experience' and 'understanding' is somehow divine, and not because they’ve studied the shariah on a scholarly level but because they dress and speak and look a certain way or belong to a certain 'group,' then it shows me something of my own inclination and drive rather than their sheer ignorance.
it all comes back to me, doesnt it. and what i have to offer the world.
In any case,
Shaykh Hakim Murad beautifully expresses the need to re-establish our Reliance on Allah through the virtue of Ridaa here. He's so cool. awww. ok. serious mode.
Here are some blurbs:
***"[...]One thing most communities have in common now is that the people are in a state of agitation. One of the things that attracted me was the genuine sense of tranquility, calmness, and serenity in the masjids. People are starting to lose the virute of Ridaa – tranquil serene acceptance of Allahs will. It’s alarming that Muslims should feel so disturbed or agitated by today’s world.
We complain about negative stereotypes but that’s always been the attitude toward the believers by the non-comprehending world. True religion is about akhira, it’s about transcending the self; it’s not about gratifying or discovering the self. We should be proud the modern world doesn’t like us because it’s a sign of authenticity. Nonetheless, it’s also the case when Muslims when they view this hostility don’t find solace in the traditional virtue of Ridaa."
"[...] we find forms of agitation, we find insecurity and the necessary consequence of that -- which is that instead of being so relaxed and forgiving and inclusive and that we see the best in everybody, we increasingly judge because the slightest difference between ourselves and the doctrine or the practice of another Muslim somehow makes us feel even more insecure. We want the religion to be a monolithic consistency that gratifies our sense of insecurity."
"[...]One implication of this loss of ridaa is that we tend to judge others, perhaps we're not content with the way Allah is arranging history at this particular moment. We get jumpy and like to attack others and are extremely judgmental. And one of the greatest errors one can make in this time - according to the ulema- is the error of assuming this is the time for Perfection, for rigorism; that the harder the work becomes for the believers the more perfect we have to demand everybody is."
"[...]There is too much judgment of others but not enough judgment of ourselves. There is too much self-righteousness but not enough self knowledge."
Posted by Ayesha at 4/26/2006
Wealth has no permanence: it comes in the morning,
and at night it is scattered to the winds.
Physical beauty too has no importance,
for a rosy face is made pale by the scratch of a single thorn.
Noble birth also is of small account,
for many become fools of money and horses.
Many a nobleman's son has disgraced his father by his wicked deeds.
Don't court a person full of talent either,
even if he seems exquisite in that respect:
take warning from the example of Iblis.
Iblis had knowledge, but since his love was not pure,
he saw in Adam nothing but a figure of clay.
Mathnawi VI: 255-260
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
Posted by Ayesha at 4/25/2006
2:251 …and did not God Check one set of people by means of another, the earth would indeed be full of mischief: But God is full of bounty to all the worlds.
-Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The deen is easy. Anyone who makes the deen too hard on himself will find it becomes too much for him. So aim for what is right, follow a middle path, accept the good news of the reward for right action, and seek help [to reach your goal by being constant in worshipping] in the morning, evening and some of the night."[al-Bukhari]
-The system of checks and balances is an important part of the Constitution. With checks and balances, each of the three branches of government can limit the powers of the others. This way, no one branch becomes too powerful. Each branch “checks” the power of the other branches to make sure that the power is balanced between them.
-In ecology, the idea that there is an inherent equilibrium in most ecosystems, with plants and animals interacting so as to produce a stable, continuing system of life on Earth. The activities of human beings can, and frequently do, disrupt the balance of nature.
-In general, organisms in the ecosystem are adapted to each other – for example, waste products produced by one species are used by another, and resources used by some are replenished by others; the oxygen needed by animals is produced by plants while the waste product of animal respiration, carbon dioxide, is used by plants as a raw material in photosynthesis. The nitrogen cycle, the water cycle, and the control of animal populations by natural predators are other examples.
-e·qui·lib·ri·um A condition in which all acting influences are canceled by others, resulting in a stable, balanced, or unchanging system.
Posted by Ayesha at 4/24/2006
"An old Sufi tradition advises us to speak only after our words have managed to pass through four gates. At the first gate, we ask ourselves, "Are these words true?" If so, we let them pass on; if not, back they go. At the second gate we ask; "Are they necessary?" At the third gate we ask; "Are they beneficial?" and at the fourth gate, we ask, "Are they kind?" If the answer to any of these is no, then what you are about to say should be left unsaid."[Gulp!]
Posted by Ayesha at 4/21/2006
Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.
The first years of schooling are called the "grammar stage" — not because you spend four years doing English, but because these are the years in which the building blocks for all other learning are laid, just as grammar is the foundation for language. In the elementary school years — what we commonly think of as grades one through four — the mind is ready to absorb information. Children at this age actually find memorization fun. So during this period, education involves not self-expression and self-discovery, but rather the learning of facts. Rules of phonics and spelling, rules of grammar, poems, the vocabulary of foreign languages, the stories of history and literature, descriptions of plants and animals and the human body, the facts of mathematics — the list goes on. This information makes up the "grammar," or the basic building blocks, for the second stage of education.
By fifth grade, a child's mind begins to think more analytically. Middle-school students are less interested in finding out facts than in asking "Why?" The second phase of the classical education, the "Logic Stage," is a time when the child begins to pay attention to cause and effect, to the relationships between different fields of knowledge relate, to the way facts fit together into a logical framework.
A student is ready for the Logic Stage when the capacity for abstract thought begins to mature. During these years, the student begins algebra and the study of logic, and begins to apply logic to all academic subjects. The logic of writing, for example, includes paragraph construction and learning to support a thesis; the logic of reading involves the criticism and analysis of texts, not simple absorption of information; the logic of history demands that the student find out why the War of 1812 was fought, rather than simply reading its story; the logic of science requires that the child learn the scientific method.
The final phase of a classical education, the "Rhetoric Stage," builds on the first two. At this point, the high school student learns to write and speak with force and originality. The student of rhetoric applies the rules of logic learned in middle school to the foundational information learned in the early grades and expresses his conclusions in clear, forceful, elegant language. Students also begin to specialize in whatever branch of knowledge attracts them; these are the years for art camps, college courses, foreign travel, apprenticeships, and other forms of specialized training.
A classical education is more than simply a pattern of learning, though. Classical education is language-focused; learning is accomplished through words, written and spoken, rather than through images (pictures, videos, and television).
Why is this important? Language-learning and image-learning require very different habits of thought. Language requires the mind to work harder; in reading, the brain is forced to translate a symbol (words on the page) into a concept. Images, such as those on videos and television, allow the mind to be passive. In front of a video screen, the brain can "sit back" and relax; faced with the written page, the mind is required to roll its sleeves up and get back to work.
A classical education, then, has two important aspects. It is language-focused. And it follows a specific three-part pattern: the mind must be first supplied with facts and images, then given the logical tools for organization of facts, and finally equipped to express conclusions.
But that isn't all. To the classical mind, all knowledge is interrelated. Astronomy (for example) isn't studied in isolation; it's learned along with the history of scientific discovery, which leads into the church's relationship to science and from there to the intricacies of medieval church history. The reading of the Odyssey leads the student into the consideration of Greek history, the nature of heroism, the development of the epic, and man's understanding of the divine.
This is easier said than done. The world is full of knowledge, and finding the links between fields of study can be a mind-twisting task. A classical education meets this challenge by taking history as its organizing outline — beginning with the ancients and progressing forward to the moderns in history, science, literature, art and music.
We suggest that the twelve years of education consist of three repetitions of the same four-year pattern: Ancients, Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, and Modern Times. The child studies these four time periods at varying levels — simple for grades 1-4, more difficult in grades 5-8 (when the student begins to read original sources), and taking an even more complex approach in grades 9-12, when the student works through these time periods using original sources (from Homer to Hitler) and also has the opportunity to pursue a particular interest (music, dance, technology, medicine, biology, creative writing) in depth.
The other subject areas of the curriculum are linked to history studies. The student who is working on ancient history will read Greek and Roman mythology, the tales of the Iliad and Odyssey, early medievial writings, Chinese and Japanese fairy tales, and (for the older student) the classical texts of Plato, Herodutus, Virgil, Aristotle. She'll read Beowulf, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare the following year, when she's studying medieval and early Renaissance history. When the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are studied, she starts with Swift (Gulliver's Travels) and ends with Dickens; finally, she reads modern literature as she is studying modern history.
The sciences are studied in a four-year pattern that roughly corresponds to the periods of scientific discovery: biology, classification and the human body (subjects known to the ancients); earth science and basic astronomy (which flowered during the early Renaissance); chemistry (which came into its own during the early modern period); and then basic physics and computer science (very modern subjects).
This pattern lends coherence to the study of history, science, and literature — subjects that are too often fragmented and confusing. The pattern widens and deepens as the student progresses in maturity and learning. For example, a first grader listens to you read the story of the Iliad from one of the picture book versions available at any public library. Four years later, the fifth grader reads one of the popular middle-grade adaptations — Olivia Coolidge's The Trojan War, or Roger Lancelyn Greene's Tales of Troy. Four more years go by, and the ninth grader — faced with the Iliad itself — plunges right in, undaunted.
The classical education is, above all, systematic — in direct contrast to the scattered, unorganized nature of so much secondary education. This systematic, rigorous study has two purposes.
Rigorous study develops virtue in the student. Aristotle defined virtue as the ability to act in accordance to what one knows to be right. The virtuous man (or woman) can force himself to do what he knows to be right, even when it runs against his inclinations. The classical education continually asks a student to work against his baser inclinations (laziness, or the desire to watch another half hour of TV) in order to reach a goal — mastery of a subject.
Systematic study also allows the student to join what Mortimer Adler calls the "Great Conversation" — the ongoing conversation of great minds down through the ages. Much modern education is so eclectic that the student has little opportunity to make connections between past events and the flood of current information. "The beauty of the classical curriculum," writes classical schoolmaster David Hicks, "is that it dwells on one problem, one author, or one epoch long enough to allow even the youngest student a chance to exercise his mind in a scholarly way: to make connections and to trace developments, lines of reasoning, patterns of action, recurring symbolisms, plots, and motifs."
Susan Wise Bauer
Posted by Ayesha at 4/20/2006
Ibn 'Abbas said, "One day I was behind the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and he said, 'Boy, I will teach you some words:
Be careful regarding Allah and He will take care of you. Be careful regarding Allah and you will find Him in front of you. When you ask, ask Allah and when you seek help, seek help from Allah. Know that if the whole community were to gather together to help you with something, they would not be able to help you in any way unless Allah had written that for you. And if they were to gather together to harm you in some way, they would not be able to harm you except with something which Allah had written for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages are dry."
Posted by Ayesha at 4/19/2006
The way in which we react to 'others' shows something of our own inner state. Like it is stated, when a thief 'sees' a saint, all that he sees are his pockets.
How many pearly white teeth do you see each day?
Hazret Isa, may peace be upon him, was walking with his disciples when they came upon a decaying dead dog. The disciples frowned and covered their mouths and noses to avoid the horrible stench. One disciple commented on the maggots, another mourned his lost appetite, while a third gaped at the dogs exposed ribs. Isa (as)paused then inquired: "Did you see that dog's lovely pearly white teeth?"
Posted by Ayesha at 4/18/2006
First there’s the mark, then the marker, the
scratch then the scratcher, the
wound then the wounder, decreed before
the creation of the world. The murder takes place
long before the murderer moseys along to
commit it, in an
out-of-the-way cinema, behind a
curtain we’ll never penetrate. All
action has taken place, all damsels
kidnapped and rescued, Titanics
sunk and rediscovered, all children
waving plump arms and legs
then conceived, all shadows
walking along ahead of their casters (but
not too far), all deaths
unpostponed and already come to pass before we
arrive at the appointment with our
best or worst faces forward, our
best or worst suits with roses pinned in their
lapels and last words on our lips that will
blaze down through the ages for their
succinct wisdom or else non sequitur numbness,
a summing up that includes the
eagle diving off its summit, or an offhand remark
suddenly having to suffice. Something about
turning on the night light. Something about
tucking in the covers, or closing the
glove compartment tighter, suddenly
made into our last words because there will
be no others. These too
decreed. And the light
coming up on the wall. The rainbow
rising and arcing across, band by
band of excruciatingly
beautiful colors the dead no longer see
and the living just barely appreciate.
(from I Imagine a Lion)
DANIEL ABDAL-HAYY MOORE
"For me the province of poetry is a private ecstasy made public, and the social role of the poet is to display moments of shared universal epiphanies capable of healing our sense of mortal estrangement—from ourselves, from each other, from our source, from our destiny, from The Divine."
Posted by Ayesha at 4/11/2006
Long before writing was invented, human beings read thier world. They interpreted their dreams and the flights of birds. They read the intestines of sacrificial animals and the memories of their ancestors. They read the things that surprised them, or the things that reminded them of something else. Most of all, they read in the places where there were holes -- spaces -- gaps. They filled up the blanks of the universe, as though they were pages, with writing. Leonardo advised aspiring artists to "discove" the pictures to be found in the cracks in walls; Chinese sages were conceived as their mothers stepped into the footprints of unicorns; all of us make up our lives out of the cracks in the walls of our past memories and the unicorn footprints of our future. The making of a life is similar to the making of a text. We live by reading our own stories[...].
Posted by Ayesha at 4/11/2006
Having spent the first nine years of my life in Pakistan, a predominantly Muslim country, I’ve never felt completely American, yet I can’t claim to feel any particular allegiance for Pakistan either. To make matters worse, I’ve now migrated to CANADA (no offense, Canadians!).
I’ve always felt like an outsider and while in Junior High I did my best to fit in, but then there came a time in my life when I said ENOUGH! And this is when I finally began to really appreciate my roots, my upbringing, and in essence, my self.
(Anytime I’ve felt a pinch of Nationalism/Tribalism in my heart, Gods uprooted me and plopped me in another spot; perhaps gently reminding me to know my limits. Well, I say Thank You GOD, I love you too!)
Back to my alien status! At every step in my life, I’ve found agents in my life that have tired to convince me that I don't belong. That depite of me, I’m not really an American, or on the flip side that I’m too Westernized to fit the role of your average Pakistani. For some reason, I’m always too liberal for the conservatives and too conservative for the liberals. Go figure.
I’ll admit sometimes I do feel like im not authentic enough -- with most things in my life actually. But for some odd reason I’ve never been intimidated when questioned about the status of my Muslim-ness.
Now, imagine my surprise, when I first entered an official gathering of a very artificial imitation of what a Muslim gathering would be like in a place we shall call the MSA. Now sometimes this can be a place where suddenly (quicker than a blink of an eye) people you don’t really know will come up to you and tell you how wrong you are in the way you pray, sit, stand, sleep, speak, and blink. I’m sorry; Mother, is that you?
Here we go an outsider again. :dramatic sigh: I have a lot of favorite bloopers so ill just mention one of my favorites: A senior, very Muslim, lady suddenly went into a seizure and started screaming at a very young Msa freshman for picking up two dates, instead of three. She went on for a good five minutes until the poor girl was in tears. (Yes, this is when Salafism was all the rage) (and no I dont take any part in promoting or bashing the Salafi group) (and yes the Sunni groups are just as guilty of this ‘me vs. you’ mentality.)
Now this is what gets me, no one, not a single person stood up for this innocent Girl. Except Moi! :cough: So I very gently (perhaps a bit sarcastically) asked Ms.Hulk to be more gentle when imparting instantaneous fatwas. She came back with, “ But aren’t you taking a Bible class?” (Implying I wasn’t Muslim enough to open my trap.)(and yes i was, teehee).
I should’ve been offended but heres the thing, I grew up in Muslim family, in a Muslim community, in a Muslim country, for the first nine years of my life. Perhaps being guilty of being backward in Westernization, still American Muslims can not compete with any given Muslim Country (or China) when it comes to Islamic Culture (Albeit, of many different fruity flavors, one sees a common trend of cooperation and unity across the line) .Yes, governments are corrupt but the family structure is very strong and very Muslim, and has hundreds of years of history.
Allow me to illustrate with this example: In the year 1999, I visited my relatives in Pakistan. Since I was a guest (a freshman so to speak) people ignored a lot of my 'bad manners,' and instead of slapping me repeatedly, chose to bite their lips, and welcomed me into their homes. I remember being in the house of a very cranky grandma type who wanted me to bring a pitcher of cool water from the kitchen, but luck was not my friend that day, and I slipped breaking a very ancient and pricy pitcher. I could just see her knocking me to the ground but instead she managed a weird frown that was her rendition of a smile. While the housekeeper cleaned my mess, I was asked to help myself to the delicious food. I reached for the spoon with my left hand but at the last moment switched to my right hand. That was it. Suddenly, everyone just went crazy, each singing their own songs, in my honor. I felt redeemed. And taller!
Notice how I didn’t have to use words. I didn’t have to say, I FOLLOW THE SUNNAH. “Lookatme, I know what tasuwwuf is!” Weee. People could read me; they knew I was nervous and they wanted to honor me.(Their slaps of gentleness were quite sweet.)
Sadly, this very simple exercise in observation is missing in our current discourse on Islam in America. We use words, a lot of them, yet we can’t read each other. We follow trends and labels- Salafi today, Sufi tomorrow- yet don’t focus on the most important task in our lives, self – transformation. People spend all their energies on attacking and defending views that should really be discussed by a very few and perhaps less retarded people, namely the Scholars. There were hundreds of sects in the past yet people treated each other with respect because they were part of a culture that encouraged unity not alienation.
And because of understanding Islam through a culture of cooperation, gentleness, and dignity, I find myself recognizing God in every Noble thing. I use quotes from every source possible because I’m the filter (and this filter is very much Muslim) and this filter is not insecure in the least. (Well, im not secure either but that’s a different discussion)
I’m not about to convert to – insert your favorite ‘--- ism’ here – just because I liked the quote or showed respect to another sect/religion/person/utterance. I’m a Sunni and a Hanafi not because I’ve studied these disciplines on a scholarly level, but because this is how I was raised and im comfortable with it. The ideals I hold in my heart are compatible with the interpretation of Sunni Islam. and yes, I like people who make my heart melt, even if they call themselves Sufi or Hindu.
Yes, labels again, see I can easily drop the accepted lingo of say a particular traditional group, but I choose otherwise, because I’m not in Junior High anymore. And I like being me.
Posted by Ayesha at 4/10/2006
Goldi - While thinking about your question, I got side tracked with shopping ( I bought 145 books for 45 dollars!) (Go library sales!) and by a question from another person (who chooses to remain anonymous). Basically, he/she wanted to know what kind of a Muslim I was. and after writing the a long email, which i'm turning into a post, I feel like I sort of answered your question as well. Perhaps, not really. But in short, I agree with you. God's Mercy extends to all things and while we know what 'attributes,' not, 'labels' are worthy of God's Mercy (as explained in the Quran and interpreted by Sunni Scholars), we can't place judgment on any human being, because:
a) its not our place (I'm no scholar)
b)who knows what state a person is when they die. (I'm no angel of death)
Our God is not a Tribal God. While He selects Whom He Loves, His Mercy extends to All. and yes, I will not answer your question directly. and I don't define myself as a Perennialists, but I do appreciate the wisdom of the two people,(mentioned earlier), who fall under that category.
Posted by Ayesha at 4/10/2006
Martin Lings: Video Clips on his Early Spiritual Influences
The late Martin Lings (1909-2005), renowned author on Islam, Sufism, Shakespeare, and the arts and thought of traditional civilizations, gave an interview in late 1993 in which he spoke about his spiritual influences. He discussed his early spiritual search, his readings of René Guénon and Frithjof Schuon, and how he came to be associated with these two great Perennialist figures. These seven video clips are excerpts from that conversation that deal with his own spiritual development.
William C. Chittick explores "The Sufi Doctrine of Rumi"
In The Sufi Doctrine of Rumi: Illustrated Edition, William C. Chittick offers essential points of reference that serve as an accurate guidebook through the magical landscape of one of the greatest spiritual figures in the history of the world, Rumi.
Posted by Ayesha at 4/04/2006