The Humble "I"

Knowing, Doing, Becoming

Footprints on the Sands of Time 7

We moderns have been persuaded that we each have ‘a right to think for ourselves,’ and we imagine that we exercise such a right freely and autonomously. But we are unwilling to acknowledge, despite the plethora of evidences and examples around us, that our every thought is (and continues to be) shaped by cultural influences and media soundbites; and that our opinions are being made to fit into a limiting pattern of thinking which serves to perpetuate the continued and totalising dominance of the monoculture. These reflection (previous Footprints can be read here) form part of an on-going conversation about Islam and modern Muslimness, and the urgent need to be heretics to the monoculture; learning to critically think anew.

On the loss of all losses: It is better to lose some worldly thing for the sake of God than to lose God for the sake of some worldly thing.

Wisdom behind creation of evil: God does create things He dislikes or hates, but only for the sake of a wise purpose He loves and is pleased with.

Be moderate or to moderate; that’s the question: Political leaders seem to be tripping over themselves in their bid to be champions of ‘moderate’ Islam. But do they seek moderate Islam or to moderate Islam?

On women, mosques, and today’s all-male mosque committees: When seeking women’s rights that are related to the mosque, advice must be given to the committee in good faith. Rights should be sought with the desire to venerate Allah’s laws and uphold the ways of the Lord, in contrast to cherrypicking what religious obligation to accept and thereby play fast and loose with the shari‘ah. Of course, women being part of mosques committees (not for the sake of some quota, or to tick the gender equality boxes; but from a conviction that they will add value, piety and professionalism to the currently dull, dim and lowbrow all-male mosque committees that have for too long tribally ruled the roost) is to be welcomed and encouraged. Perhaps then we might even see more Islamically enlightened activities, or some fairness and inclusiveness from most of our local mosques. I suspect that most Muslims in 21st century Britain, especially those born and raised here, are not interested in mosques that offer some belongingness primarily on the basis of a pride of Panjabis, a brethren of Bengalis, or a gang of Gujratis.

On responding to the outrages of socio-political fortune: The believer is to withstand the injustices and political outrages of time, not with indifference or apathy, but with guarded perseverance, dignified response, and a sense of righteous anger that doesn’t burst at the seams or explode into uncontrolled rage.

It’s about God, all else is a footnote: Purification of the soul is unlikely to come as long as we are seeking it. It will come when we are seeking Him.

On love, through the Law: The shari’ah is there to instruct us which of our freely-chosen acts are pleasing to Allah and which displease Him; which win us His love and which His anger.

On the theology of divine love: If our theology doesn’t help stoke the fire of intimacy with God in our hearts, then we are likely going about religion in the wrong way.

On signs of real sincerity: True sincerity (ikhlas) isn’t just to single-out Allah for worship and to do things for His sake; it is to do so while not being moved by the sweetness of a compliment or the pain of criticism.

On manufacturing an Islam that is all things, to all people: The rightly acting ‘ulema have long been concerned about pseudo-scholars, charlatans or the weak-spirited not turning Islam into as many things as modernity wants Religion to be. In that the Islamic texts are twisted and tortured so as to make them compliant with whatever “ism” that happens to be modernity’s prevailing mood or zeitgeist: be it humanism, secularism, materialism, or nationalism; and more recently: liberalism, feminism, or transgenderism. Their concerns, as it turned out, were wholly justified!

Greater than unconditional love: Higher than giving our children our unconditional love which, of course, we must do, is to pray we can love them for God’s sake for the faith and the righteousness they hopefully live by.

On the place of the divine rigour and beauty: Whoever claims we can be beholden to the Divine Beauty, before being disciplined by the Divine Rigour, is an imposter – all except the majdhub!

On being true to the trust of teaching: Let the scholar or caller examine himself or herself on two accounts: [i] Am I fulfilling or betraying the trust of teaching; and [ii] Do I practice what I preach?

On living a contented life: In Islam, the good and happy life entails: being God-centred, not self-centred; quick in fulfilling the rights of others; prudent in speech; thankful for what one has, not greedy for what one does not; doing righteous works; and not being satiated in eating.

On timeless teachings and contemporary times: Being rooted in the old and deducing the new makes for a good scholar. 

Muslim activism stuck in a spider’s web: Some ‘ulema were quick to realise that whatever political or religious spectrum Muslims advocate, most Muslim activism and movements that sought change, throughout the twentieth century till today, are locked in the logic of modernity, and only operate within its limiting, hegemonic parameters; its spider’s web. Islam, however, premised on the Adamic fitrah and the prophetic Sunnah, lies outside the monoculture’s plethora of philosophies, and so cannot be made subordinate to it. This is why Islam is, and continues to be, the great global dissent from the totalising ideology of liberal modernity.

Life is a thing, when you learn you grow: The narrow minded alway see certainties in fiqh issues. But the learned know that fiqh issues are never as ironclad as the narrow minded imagine.

On embracing the ways of wisdom: To know that one never gives walnuts to the toothless, or earrings to the earless, is part of true wisdom. 

Let pride be born of the Spirit, not of the ego: In principle, we are proud to be Muslims; pride born, not of the ego’s arrogance (kibr), rather of gratitude for God’s guidance: We would not have been guided had God not guided us. [Q.7:43] For we can rightfully be proud if it’s without the ego; if it is godly and not worldly. In practice, it is rare for such pride to be without ego – even when it relates to pride in Islam’s revealed truths. Al-Ghazali once said: ‘How much blood has been spilt to promote the causes of the masters of the law schools!’ So whilst truth and the details of ritual correctness are indeed important, it must not be driven by sectarian pride, nor come at the cost of one’s own salvation: ‘Whoever has an atom’s worth of pride in his heart will not enter Paradise’ [Muslim, no.147] Hence if you know someone has opposed the Book, Sunnah, or ijma‘, ensure your state is one of gratitude to Allah for your guidance. Or better still, let us pray as Imam Ahmad would pray: ‘O Allah, whosoever from this community is upon other than the truth, believing himself to be upon the truth, return him to the truth, that he may be from the People of the Truth.’

On doing things well and with excellence: The archer intends, not merely to hit the target, but rather to hit the actual bullseye. So in all things, let us heed the Prophet’s words ﷺ: saddidu wa qaribu – that is, ‘aim as well as you can;’ for once the arrow leaves the bow, the outcome is out of our hands. 

On the signs of real knowledge: Truly beneficial knowledge should nurture four traits in a person: piety (taqwa) towards God, humility (tawadu’) towards others, detachment (zuhd) from worldliness, and spiritual striving (mujahadah) against one’s ego.

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4 thoughts on “Footprints on the Sands of Time 7

  1. Maxima Robinson on said:

    Beautiful!
    Jazakallahu khayran

  2. Masoodul Hameed on said:

    You say:”It’s about God, all else is a footnote: Purification of the soul is unlikely to come as long as we are seeking it. It will come when we are seeking Him.”

    Indeed it is all about God! This the TRUTH!

    What is not the Truth is that unless the soul is purified of ARROGANCE, it will not SEEK God!

    What you are doing is putting the cart before the horse!

    The biggest hindrence in the “WAY OF GOD” is ARROGANCE!

    • Abu Aaliyah on said:

      Perhaps you’re being a tad hasty, br Masoodul-Hameed, and are possibly looking at things over literally?

      Of course, if the soul is polluted – especially with what our shaykhs consider to be the four main spiritual vices: ostentation (riya), arrogance (kibr), vanity (‘ujb) and jealousy (hasad) – then the corrupt soul is veiled from Allah. So one must purify it, in order to reach Him.

      If, however, Allah is not the goal, but instead purifying and disciplining the soul is, then this is not true spiritual wayfaring in the Islamic scheme of things. If the intention is just to purify the soul (like certain traditional Buddhist monks do, or like some Muslims who have a love for good character and inner virtue, but will neither pray, nor fast, etc.), and not to be in a state of ‘ubudiyyah or servitude to Allah, then the soul will not be purified with the lights of ihsan, or in a way that draws us closer to Allah. Thus, it must always be about seeking Him!

      That was my point: in the science of spiritual wayfaring or sufism, it’s about seeking Him. It’s about: التَّحَبُّبُ إلى الله بَما يَرْضَى – ‘Becoming beloved to Allah by doing what pleases Him.’

      Your brother, and at your service,
      Surkheel Abu Aaliyah

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