The Humble I

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Contentment: The Soul’s Software & the Mark of True Tawhid

In a very short, yet highly instructive passage, the venerable Hanbali jurist and saintly scholar, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, said:

لَا بُدَّ لِكُلِّ مُؤْمِنٍ فِي سَائِرِ أَحْوَالِهِ مِنْ ثَلَاثَةِ أَشْيَاءَ : أَمْرٌ يَمْتَثِلُهُ، وَنَهْيٌ يَجْتَنِبُهُ، وَقَدْرٌ يَرْضَى بِهِ. فَأَقَلُّ حَالَةِ الْمُؤْمِنِ لَا يَخْلُو فِيهَا مِنْ أَحَدِ هَذِهِ الْأَشْيَاءِ الثَّلَاثَةِ، فَيَنْبَغِي لَهُ أَنْ يَلْزَمَ هَمَّهَا قَلْبُهُ، وَلِيُحَدِّثَ بِهَا نَفْسَهُ، وَيُؤَاخَذُ الْجَوَارِحُ بِهَا فِي سَائِرِ أَحْوَالِهِ.

‘Three things are required of every believer in all circumstances: A command to be obeyed, a prohibition to be avoided, and a divine decree to be accepted with good cheer. The least state of a believer is that he will not be free from [at least] one of these three things. Therefore the believer must, at all times, keep his heart focused upon them, talk to himself about them, and physically carry out what they demand of him.’1

A few reflections on the above passage:

1 – The above words make up the first (and also by far, the shortest) discourse in a slim anthology of seventy-eight celebrated spiritual discourses titled, Futuh al-Ghayb – ‘Openings of the Unseen.’ In his part commentary to some of these discourses, Ibn Taymiyyah stated about the above words: هَذَا كَلَامٌ شَرِيفٌ جَامِعٌ يَحْتَاجُ إلَيْهِ كُلُّ أَحَدٍ – ‘This statement is noble and comprehensive, which every person is in need of.’2 And while Ibn Taymiyyah only comments on four discourses, his explanation of them are fairly lengthy and, at places, quite intricate. They also demonstrate his reverence of al-Jilani, in terms of his spiritual realisations and scholarly pedigree.

2 – The discourse essentialises the true life of a Muslim who is actively seeking the divine presence: loving surrender to Allah through fulfilling the obligations (fara’id), shunning the forbidden (muharramat), and nurturing an inward state of rida bi’l-qada – ‘contentment with the divine decree’. The entire religious life revolves around these three pillars. Thus a seeker’s life is about how best to root such pillars in one’s life with an eye to actualising them inwardly, outwardly and in every circumstance.

3 – Fulfilling the obligations and shunning whatever is forbidden is the essence of taqwa – God-consciousness and godliness. In one hadith qudsi we learn that Allah said: ‘My servant does not draw closer to Me with anything more beloved to me than the obligations I have enjoined upon him.’3 Our outward state, then, must be one that is in conformity (muwafaqah) with what Allah commands or forbids, in respect to what we do with our eyes, ears, tongue, stomach, private parts, hands and feet. This requires knowing what is obligatory. Thus this basic level of knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim to learn and to know; no other learning ranks higher than it (except, of course, for learning basic tawhid and beliefs).

4. As for the inward virtue of contentment with Allah’s decree, rida bi’l-qada, it is really the key to living the religious life as Allah wants, and becoming people of inward and outward serenity and beauty. Rida is a consequence of tawhid. It is all about knowing, that despite the onset of calamities, tragedies or personal loss, all is still in Allah’s hand; under His able control; unfolding according to His wisdom. As such, in the depths of our very being, even if saddened by grief or loss, we are at peace with Allah and do not resent His decree, but continue to do what is required. So contentment is to be inwardly at peace with Allah’s acts, whilst outwardly obedient to Allah’s laws. Rida is the heart’s tranquility amidst tribulations. When a believer is blessed with inner contentment, life is soothed; anxieties are lifted; the heart is healed; and the soul is satisfied with what is and stops hankering after what isn’t.4 The Prophet ﷺ stated: ‘He has tasted the sweetness of faith who is content with Allah as Lord, Islam as religion and with Muhammad ﷺ as prophet.’5 Another hadith says: ‘Whoever says upon hearing the call to prayer, “I am content with Allah as Lord, with Islam as religion, and Muhammad as messenger,” his sin will be forgiven.’6

5. Masters of spiritual wayfaring (suluk) tell us that rida is acquired in respect to its causes, but pure gift from Allah in terms of its essence and reality. Once a person uses the causes that bring about contentment with Allah, and plants the seeds, he can then reap its fruits. That is, once a person becomes firmly-rooted in trust and reliance on Allah (tawakkul), surrendering himself wholeheartedly to Him (taslim) and resigning his affairs to Him (tafwid), then contentment will surely come to him. ‘However, because of its tremendous rank and the inability of most souls to incline to it, and the difficulty of maintaining it, Allah – in His mercy and easing things – has not made it obligatory upon His creation. Rather He commended it to them and extolled its people, and told us that His reward is that He is pleased with them – which is far greater, more illustrious and much more considerable than the Gardens [of Paradise] and all that they contain.’7 In short, it is as sayyiduna ‘Umar said: ‘Indeed, all good is in contentment (rida). If you have the ability to be content, then do so; if not, then have patience (sabr).’8

6. Let me finish with what Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani had to say about being content with Allah, and not resenting Him or His judgements and decree. In the thirty-fourth discourse or majlis, he declared: ‘Have good adab. Take to silence, patience, contentment and compliance with your Lord; mighty and majestic is He. Repent from your resentment of Him as well as your suspicion concerning His actions … For He is Singular throughout eternity, existing before all things. Rather, He created them and created their benefits and harms. He knows their beginnings, their ends and their terminations. He, mighty and majestic is He, is wise in His acts and masterful in His craftsmanship; there is no contradiction in what He does. He doesn’t act uselessly, nor create in jest or futility. There can be no question of criticising Him or reproaching Him for His acts.’9

We ask Allah for firmness upon obedience
and contentment with His decree.

1. Futuh al-Ghayb (Cairo: Dar al-Maqtam, 2007), 19.

2. Majmu‘ Fatawa (Riyadh: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1991), 10:456.

3. Al-Bukhari, no.6502.

4. Cf. al-Qushayri, al-Risalah (Jeddah: Dar al-Minhaj, 2017), 457.

5. Muslim, no.34.

6. ibid., no.386.

7. Ibn al-Qayyim, Madarij al-Salikin (Makkah: Dar ‘Alam al-Fawa’id, 2019), 2:480.

8. Cited in al-Qushayri, al-Risalah, 458.

9. Futuh al-Ghayb, 78.

How Did We Get Here?

This Qur’an reflection tackles, in an uncomplicated way, life’s big question: how did everything come to be? When damaged hearts are invited to confront the question of why there is something rather than nothing; when they are urged to consider that the overwhelming impressions of design in us, around us, and also above us in the starry heavens is actually a pointer to an Ultimate, Eternal, Cosmic Designer; and when softened by the evidence of Muslim good manners, integrity and forgiveness, many antagonists of faith will heed the signs, make the right choices, and will restore the memory of God to their hearts.

Milk for Babes, Meat for Men: The Three Kinds of Tafsir

In Dan Brown’s novel, The Lost Symbol, the book’s central character, Professor Robert Langdon, is told that the Biblical ‘manna from heaven’ – the food God sent down to the Israelites during their long desert travels – is actually a code word for a profounder scientific truth understood only by those initiated. As part of his own initiation into the “Ancient Mysteries,” he is told: ‘When you see these code words in Scripture, pay attention. They are often markers for a more profound meaning concealed beneath the surface.’

We see the same idea of profound meanings concealed beneath the surface in the words of St. Paul too (although his is a reference to profounder spiritual, not scientific, truths). So in his letter to the Corinthian Church (Bible, I Corinthians), Paul says: ‘I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for till now you were not able to bear it; and even now you are not able.’ Being fed with milk refers to being instructed in the basic, elementary doctrines of Christianity, while meat denotes the more sublime and mysterious doctrines of the faith. He is telling them, in other words, that they weren’t as yet sufficiently schooled in Christian knowledge to grasp its higher mysteries.

When it comes to Islam, and in particular the Qur’an, there has long been a recognition by our ‘ulema that the Qur’an is a vast and deep ocean of meanings and wisdoms.

Over the course of time, three modes of tafsir (“interpretation,” “commentary,” “exegesis”) of the Qur’an have met with scholarly approval in order to help deep dive for these revelatory gems – although with varying degrees of authority and validity: [i] tafsir bi’l-ma’thur or “interpretation based upon textual reports;” [ii] tafsir bi’l-ra‘y, “interpretation rooted in [reasoned] opinion and; [iii] tafsir bi’l-isharah, “allegorical [spiritual] interpretation”.

Of the three kinds, only tafsir bi’l-ma’thur has unconditional approval in the scholarly or exegetical community. This mode of tafsir consists of interpreting the Qur’an by [other parts of] the Qur’an, by the words and deeds of the Prophet ﷺ, and the interpretations of the earliest Muslim authorities (salaf). The basic assumption here is that those closest in time to the prophetic age (and thus to the revelation itself) can best explain and contextualise the text authoritatively. Later generation of Muslims, it is believed, ought to accept this and ensure that their Quranic interpretation is guided and molded by those left by the salaf. The tafsirs of al-Tabari, al-Baghawi, Ibn al-Jawzi, Ibn Kathir and al-Suyuti are pretty much typical of tafsir bi’l-ma‘thur.

Tafsir bi’l-ra‘y has occupied more of an uncomfortable place in the discipline of tafsir. One hadith emphatically states: ‘He who interprets the Qur’an based on his own opinion (ra‘y), then let him take his place in the Hellfire.’1 The scholars concur that interpretations of the Qur’an that violate the agreed upon premises or conclusions of tafsir bi’l-ma’thur, or that are based on personal opinions not rooted in the attendant sciences related to Quranic exegesis, are unacceptable. On the other hand, ra‘y which is led by linguistic, legal, theological, contextual and historical considerations, not contradicting anything catagorical (qat‘i) or for which there is scholarly consensus (ijma‘), has met with approval by most Muslim scholars. This genre of tafsir includes that of Ibn Juzayy, al-Qurtubi, al-Razi, al-Baydawi, al-Alusi and Ibn Ashur; among others. Not that such works are void of any tafsir bi’l-ma’thur, it’s just that their main aim is interpretation via scholarly reasoning or ijtihad.

Even more precarious than the above is tafsir bi’l-isharah. This genre of tafsir devotes itself mainly to allegorical, figurative and symbolic interpretations of the Qur’an: to profound meanings concealed beneath the surface. The nature of tafsir by way of isharah (lit. “sign”, “allusion”) is that it is very conjectural and speculative, void of a clear exegetical methodology. So to many of the ‘ulema, it is nothing more than fanciful ra‘y. Nonetheless, most leading imams do accept this mode of exegesis, provided certain conditions are met: (i) That no legal or theological position be derived by it. (ii) It must not contradict the zahir (“clear,” “apparent,” “obvious”) meaning of the verse. (iii) It not contradict other Qur’an or Hadith texts, nor an ijma‘. (iv) It should not claim to be the main or primary interpretation, let alone demand belief in it.

Examples in this category wherein its authors have attempted this esoteric and sublimely meditative interpolations are: the tafsirs of al-Tustari, al-Qushayri, al-Sulami, Ibn ‘Ajibah and al-Alusi’s Ruh al-Ma‘ani (a work that contours tafsir bi’l-ma’thur; indulges in the scholarly tafsir bi’l-ra‘y; and generally concludes with an ishari interpretation – making it one of the most comprehensive and satisfying of all tafsir works).

As an example of tafsir bi’l-isharah, consider the Quranic verse: And when Saul marched out with his army, he said: ‘God will put you to test by means of a river: whoever drinks therefrom shall not be of me, but whoever does not drink shall be of me, save he who takes a sip out of the hollow of his hand.’ But they all drank from it, except for a few. [Q.2:249] While affirming the apparent meaning and historical event, the following is the ishari meaning some have been inspired to give it: The river symbolises the world with which God tests His servants. Those who remain detached and don’t drink, only seeking God’s face, are the elect. As for those who take from it only as much as is needed, they are successful. But those who drink to their fill will be in loss.

Al-Qurtubi, having cited this ishari interpretation, said: ‘This would be excellent were it not for the fact that it involves distorted interpretation and a departure from the apparent sense. Its meaning, nonetheless, is sound from other than this [interpretation].’2 Which is to say, since it opposes the obvious meaning of the verse, it is unacceptable. If, though, the apparent meaning is affirmed, and the isharah is offered as a spiritual insight which attempts to uncover profound meanings concealed beneath the surface, then this would be valid.

Let’s look at one more example: Therefore, be patient with what they say. Praise your Lord’s glory before sunrise and before sunset, and glorify Him some hours of the night and the two ends of the day, that you may be content. [Q.20:130] The apparent meaning is in context of Allah consoling His Prophet ﷺ, telling him not to be grieved or distresses at what the unbelievers utter by way of taunts, ridicule or rejection. Instead, he in instructed to bear their scorn with patience, and to glorify his Lord throughout the day. Only when one’s heart is immersed in its Lord’s glory, the Prophet ﷺ is being told, and less concerned about what others say, will the heart be reassured of sacred truths and be made content. Most exegists also see in this ayah a reference to the five daily prayers: Praise your Lord’s glory before sunrise and before sunset is a pointer to the fajr and ‘asr prayer; some hours of the night, to the ‘isha prayer; and the two ends of the day, the zuhr and maghrib prayers.

As for the isharah; the spiritual allusion, Ibn ‘Ajibah had this to say: ‘Be patient, O you who are totally devoted to Allah and singularly obedient to their Master, with what others say in terms of what disturbs the heart. Instead, be engrossed with your Lord’s remembrance (dhikr) and [extolling] His transcendence at the rising and the setting of the sun and at the two ends of the day, until you lose yourself in the presence of the Knower of the Unseen. Perhaps then you will be given to spiritually witness the Beloved.’3

Of course, such ishari interpretations will not be to everybody’s taste, since not every person has a taste!

Wa bi’Llahi al-tawfiq.

1. Al-Tirmidhi, no.2950, saying: ‘This hadith is hasan sahih.’

2. Al-Jami’ li Ahkam al-Qur’an (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1996), 3:164.

3. Al-Bahr al-Madid (Cairo: Dar al-Tawfiqiyyah, n.d.), 4:327.

Are We Forgetting Allah Amidst All the Noise, Gossip & Chatter?

‘ABD ALLAH B. ‘AWN (d.151H), one of Islam’s early pietists, said: « ذِكْرُ النَّاسِ دَاءٌ، وَذِكْرُ اللهِ دَوَاءٌ » – ‘Remembrance of people is a malady, while the remembrance of God is a remedy.’

After citing these words, Imam al-Dhahabi proclaimed with jubilant caution:

إِي وَاللهِ، فَالعَجَبَ مِنَّا وَمِنْ جَهْلِنَا كَيْفَ نَدَعُ الدَّوَاءَ وَنَقْتَحِمُ الدَّاءَ؟ قَالَ اللهُ تعالى: ﴿فَاذْكُرُونِي أَذْكُرْكُمْ﴾ ، ﴿وَلَذِكْرُ اللهِ أَكْبَرُ﴾ ، ﴿الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللهِ أَلاَ بِذِكْرِ اللهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ ﴾. وَلَكِنْ لاَ يَتَهَيَّأُ ذَلِكَ إِلاَّ بِتَوْفِيقِ اللهِ، وَمَنْ أدْمَنَ الدُّعَاءَ وَلاَزَمَ قَرْعَ البَابِ فُتِحَ لَهُ

‘Yes, by God! Yet it is odd how, in our ignorance, we ignore the cure and race to the disease. For God, exalted is He, says: Remember Me and I will remember you. [Q.2:152] And also: But the remembrance of God is greater. [Q.29:45] And: Those who have faith and whose hearts find tranquility in the remembrance of God. For in the remembrance of God do hearts find tranquility. [Q.13:28] But this will not be attainable, except with God’s enabling grace (tawfiq). So whoever persists in supplication and on knocking at the door, it shall be opened for him.’1

Most of what people say today can probably be put into the malady category, as opposed to the remedy one. So much of what passes as conversation nowadays is either words of dislike, spite or contempt of others, in the form of backbiting, slander or tale-carrying; or it is expressions of greed, vice, self-infatuation and self-love; or words that are pointless or meaningless, which are said simply for the sake of saying something.

Both the Qur’an and the Sunnah teach us to be economical with our tongue and to think twice before we utter anything. Among the many verses which urge us with respect to hifz al-lisan, or ‘guarding the tongue’, are the following: And the Book [of deeds] will be placed and you shall see the sinners fearful of that which is [inscribed] in it. They shall say: ‘Woe to us! What kind of book is this that omits nothing small or great, but all is noted down?’ They will find all that they did put before them, and your Lord wrongs no one. [Q.18:49] And more specifically: Not a word does he utter except it is noted down by a vigilant scribe. [Q.50:18] And while estimates vary a lot, there are credible claims to suggest we utter 7,000 words a day! That’s a lot of words, bearing in mind: Two scribes, sitting on his right and his left, are recording [everything]. [Q.50:17]

One hadith informs: ‘Let he who believes in Allah and the Last Day either speak good or keep silent.’2 Another cautions: ‘Is there anything that topples people on their faces (or their noses) into Hell, other than the harvests of their tongues?’3 Given such a dire upshot, it won’t come as a surprise, then, that the Prophet ﷺ also instructed: ‘Speak good and be enriched, or else refrain from speaking evil, and be safe.’4

We live in a noisy, chatty, cacophonic world, made even chattier by the arrival of the Internet and of mobile phones. We need to cultivate a degree of discipline so as to resist the urge to join in any and every chat. Islam wants us to cultivate a habit of retreating from conversations that are pointless, untruthful, ungodly and not beneficial. It teaches us to be, for the most part, silent and not to speak except when there is a benefit in doing so. And whilst we might be excused for some light chat or a little idle chatter, gossiping about people is usually wholly unbecoming of a believer; and doing so by way of bad mouthing others, or out of a devilish desire to cause schisms or tension between people, is ugly, ungodly and outright sinful.

However we retreat from too much talking, especially negative or meaningless remembrance of others (celebrities, work colleagues, family, neighbours, etc.), and however we begin to turn the volume down around us as well as in us, we can start to heal and become whole. The Prophet ﷺ once said: ‘The loners have taken the lead.’ On being asked who these loners (mufarridun) were, he replied: ‘Those men and women who remember God abundantly.’5 He ﷺ also said: ‘Let not your tongue cease to be moist with the remembrance of God.’6 Thus as ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Awn stated, as we wrestle ourselves away from the grip of gossip, idle chatter, and sinful speech; as we retreat from the malady, we are able to make space in our souls for God’s remembrance and thus be bathed in tranquility and the beautiful remedy.

Wa’Llahu wali al-tawfiq.

1. Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risalah, 1998), 6:369.

2. Al-Bukhari, no.6475; Muslim, no.47.

3. Al-Tirmidhi, no.2616, saying: ‘This hadith is hasan sahih.’

4. Al-Quda‘i, Musnad, no.666; al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, no.7774. It was graded sahih in al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 1995), no.412.

5. Muslim, no.2676.

6. Ahmad, no.17227; al-Tirmidhi, no.3372, who said that the hadith is hasan.

Footprints on the Sands of Time 8

These reflections are offered as part of a continued conversation about how we as Muslims can best retain meaning in modernity, and nurture an Islam that is true to its time-honoured tradition; relevant to our current context; and of benefit to man’s deepest needs. Previous ‘Footprints’ can be read here:

Footprints 1 | Footprints 2Footprints 3Footprints 4Footprints 5 | Footprints 6 | Footprints 7

On the boundaries of Islamic inculturation: In order to offer us some principled accommodation with the global, liberal reality, we Muslims may lick the lolly, but we must never bite the stick.

On the marks of our self-obsessive, online age: Social media is the opium of the narcissists.

Keep the end in mind: Shaykhs of spiritual wayfaring (suluk) tell us to engage in spiritual striving (mujahadah) right up till our death. After that, they say, it is spiritual witnessing (mushahadah) all the way: O Allah, grant me the delight of gazing at Your face and the yearning to meet You.’ – Prophetic du‘a.

Being more critical: We Muslims stand in dire need of subjecting the conceptual paradigms and vocabulary of the social sciences to a critical Islamic theological scrutiny before affirming or denying their claims, or co-opting them into our own Islamic vocabulary. Without this critical evaluation, feminist and gender theories, for instance, or critical race theory, are in danger of leaving the soul in critical condition, requiring critical care.

On rewriting the past to reinvent the present: ‘The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth.’ – Orwell, 1984.

On intelligent husbands: An intelligent husband never withholds one person’s right at the expense of another. This is especially the case vis-a-via his wife and his mother: O people! Give just measure and weight, nor diminish anything that is due to people. [Q.11:85]

On truth-seeking and comfort zones: In calling our post-monotheistic milieu to Islam, we must first help people reawaken their fitrah, so that they may leave their comfort zones, question the assumptions of their age, and be authentic Truth-seekers.

On the deeper wisdom behind following the divine commands: Masters of the heart tell us that the secret behind ittiba‘ or ‘following [the revealed teachings]’ is: yakhruj al-insan min muradi nafsihi ila muradi rabbihi – ‘A person leaving his own wants and loves for what his Lord wants and loves.’

On understanding our times and our people: The post-religious person is beset by existential angst, despair and loneliness born from wrongly believing that life is bereft of meaning; we are all here by a series of huge cosmic flukes; and that despite our freedom to choose, death is our ultimate end, therefore life is pointless. Knowing the psychology and philosophies that have created such a profane age, and have so damaged the human perception, is of paramount importance. Abdal Hakim Murad noted: ‘The greatness of a prophet, as opposed to a mere logician, is that he understands the inner life of his adversaries, and constructs arguments that help them to recognise the nature of their own subjectivity.’

On the devil’s goto weapon of choice: The first ruse of shaytan is to distract and divert a person away from their work of worship and obedience to God.

On breathing in spiritual pollution: Rida ‘an al-nafs, to be ‘self-satisfied’ – i.e. to feel smug about oneself, about one’s knowledge, or one’s accomplishments – is the spiritual poison many of us seem content to inhale, despite it choking to death our spiritual life.

Making beginnings good, so endings will be good: When one resolves to make Allah their aim and ambition, or when one wishes to turn away from a former life of heedlessness or dereliction of duty, then one begins with sincere tawbah, repentance: Truly Allah loves those that turn to Him in repentance, and strive to cleanse themselves. [Q.2:222]

On divine calling and destiny: Islam, more than ever before, seems to be called upon to be the West’s intellectual and spiritual deliverance. But its message of hope and healing will only illuminate these bewildering times if its theological concerns are firmly-grounded, yet are in tune with the needs of the time; if it can offer a worldview that helps make sense of these soul-numbing times; and if it can deliver practical, liveable guidance to navigate the stormy seas of these times. This all needs cool heads and macro thinking. Macro thinking, in turn, requires that we not get caught up in the moment, but rather take a step back to get a clearer view of the trends and trajectories that are unfolding.

On not living excessively: Partake of the earth’s fruits for our needs we must; partake of them for our wants we may; but to partake of them excessively and irresponsibly we may not: Eat and drink, but not excessively. For Allah loves not the excessive. [Q.7:31]

On marital bliss: The entire issue of marriage in Islam revolves around mutual love, kindness, compromise and companionship. Whenever spouses enter the marital home, let them each hang their egos up on the coat peg. For marital becomes martial when the “i” is pushed foreword!

On prophetic uprisings, not leftist revolutions: The Muslim scholarly tradition is built on conserving whatever is best in any given political system, collective or society; and advocates addressing and rectifying imbalances and injustices, rather than toppling or tearing down the whole structure in the forlorn hope that something better will arise out of the ashes. And Muslim activism – be it here as minorities in the West, or in Muslim majority lands – would do well to reflect this.

On the centre-piece of a godly life: At the heart of such a life must be a desire to deepen our connection to God, and heighten our gratitude and loving obedience to Him.

Revealed truths and being unpopular: ‘It really is the responsibility of religious communities to risk unpopularity, and to speak prophetically and clearly what they take to be truth. Being apologetic or too strategic is not really the prophetic way. One has to risk unpopularity … This has to be done with considerable wisdom and discretion.’ – Abdal Hakim Murad

On the Adamic Man: it is not against Islam to believe that Adam, peace be upon him, was created over a period of time, in contrast to instantaneously; nor even that other human-like bipeds walked the earth before him. But this must never lead us to think that Adam had biological parents; that he was the child of two proto-human bipeds of the homo genus.

On clinging to muraqabah and mindfulness: Shaykh Jaleel Ahmad Akhoon once said the following about spiritual excellence, or ihsan, that it is when: ‘a person brings to mind at every moment that Allah is watching me. Whoever actualises such a state will not commit a sin. This is why our grand shaykh, the venerable ‘arif, Mawlana Shah ‘Abd al-Ghani Puhlpuri, rahmatullah ‘alayhi, would teach this muraqabah practice that for five minutes each day meditate over the verse: أَلَمْ يَعْلَمْ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ يَرَى – Is he not aware that Allah sees? [Q.96:14] This is every Muslim’s belief. We all believe that Allah, exalted is He, sees us. But as a person steadily contemplates over the fact that my Lord sees me, then love of Allah grows and it becomes harder to commit sins.’

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