Forgiveness

July 20, 2006

Verily, Satan has said, ‘By Your Honor and Grandeur, O Allah, my temptations will not depart from your servants as long as their souls are in their bodies.’

And the Lord said, ‘By My Honor and My Grandeur, never will I cease forgiving those who ask My forgiveness.’

– A hadith of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh)


Fifteen Whispered Prayers

July 18, 2006

Salaam And Greetings of Peace:

Below is a list of the Fifteen Whispered Prayers, taken from the Al-Sahifat al-Sajjadiyya, purportedly the oldest Islamic prayer manual and one of the most seminal works in Islamic Spirituality. It was composed by the Prophet’s great grandson, Imam Ali ibn al-Husayn, peace be unto him, who was also known as Zayn al-‘Abidin (the ornament of the worshippers). Shi’ite tradition considers the Sahifa a book worthy of the utmost veneration, ranking it behind only the Qur’an and Ali’s Nahj al-balagha.

Alhamdulillah! It is a blessing unrivaled in its sincerity, adoration and love, and well worth your time.

The Fifteen Whispered Prayers:

The Whispered Prayer of the Repenters
The Whispered Prayer of the Complainers
The Whispered Prayer of the Fearful
The Whispered Prayer of the Hopeful
The Whispered Prayer of the Beseechers
The Whispered Prayer of the Thankful
The Whispered Prayer of the Obedient toward God
The Whispered Prayer of the Devotees
The Whispered Prayer of the Lovers
The Whispered Prayer of those Asking for Mediation
The Whispered Prayer of the Utterly Poor
The Whispered Prayer of the Knowers
The Whispered Prayer of the Rememberers
The Whispered Prayer of Those who Hold Fast
The Whispered Prayer of the Abstainers

Read them on the al-Islam website by clicking


Women of Pakistan & The Lost Caravan

July 17, 2006

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Our sister Rabia lives in the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan, and needs our help with the new Roshni Women’s Centre. Below is the letter she sent. You can help if you will, by making a small donation or looking at the website of The Lost Caravan (at the bottom of the post) and perhaps purchasing one of the lovely scarves. Laury, who blogs on ProgressiveIslam.org, said this about them:

Salaams Everyone,
I bought some of those scarves from Pakistan that Rabia/Barbara is selling that benefits a women’s group in Pakistan. I looked at the website. Everything looked pretty. I picked out some figuring I would give some to friends. You know that kind of easy sadaqa shopping… “Oh its pretty and it helps the women, they’ll make nice presents.”

But then I received the scarves this morning.

They are so beautiful, so perfectly exquisite in quality, so lovely, so…..janna in scarves.

Some I bought are oblong and delicate with nearly see-through sections of jewel toned colors surrounded by a curving stream of paisley border, all beaded to the point of turning me into a woman I’ve never been, delicate, extraordinary, beautiful, feminine. I would wear hijab if all my hijabs looked like this. This is, though, that kind of hijab that doesn’t work because it makes you feel so beautiful that it is no hijab at all…..you simply shine in it and men fall at your feet.

Others are generously sized shawls of rich colors and patterns, beaded as well. My favorite is the celadon one with a deep paisley border with garnet colored and opalescent beads. I thought that one of these would be beautiful as a wall hanging or over the back of my favorite leather chair. Instead I have the celadon one draped over me in such a way that it is clear that I am so beautiful it is quite normal to have such things draped over me while I lounge in bed with tea and write e-mails.

Still others are plain shawls with no beading, one in a very light wool and then other darker and a little thicker. The borders are basic, simply done, woven into the cloth, these shawls are those beautiful simple things women wear in the winter that makes you wish it were cold out so you could wrap yourself in it, curl up on the couch with a cup of tea, and read a book, all by yourself, your treat to you.

How am I supposed to give any of these away to friends?

Sadaqa for the women there? No, this is sadaqa to me. May God enrich those women and reward them one thousand times over in this world and the next for how beautiful they are making me feel. May God help Barbara in her new non-profit helping these women in Pakistan that also helps us. God give her success and ease! Allah, Allah. This is one of those things in this world in which you can find nothing wrong with it, nothing at all. Just God’s Beauty.

Allah! Allah! Allah!

Laury

Rabia’s Letter:
The women in Pakistan are struggling to provide a fulfilling life for themselves and their families. Poverty is very extreme. In spite of this the Pakistani people are very generous and hospitable towards strangers. In today’s world it is important to build bridges between different nationalities, as we work towards peace.

The Roshni Centre for Women is very new. We opened our doors on May 10th, 2006 because of the dream of one woman: Nadia. During an interview for an article about “Women in Pakistan” (The Arcata Eye, January 17, 2006, page 9, “Pakistan Unveiled”) she was asked what she would like to change about her rural Pakistani village. She told us that most of the women living in her village spend their days at home. Few are employed, and because of some of the restrictions of the society in general and the poverty in particular, even if they wanted to go out, there were so few options of where they could go. Nadia spoke to other women and to me, Rabia (as I am known in Pakistan) and said that it was her dream to have a Women’s Centre in the village. With the financial help of 2 friends stateside we were able to open the doors of the Centre, yet we need more help to keep the Centre open and growing and to meet its daily needs.

The purpose of The Roshni Center for Women is to offer some hope to the women living here in rural Pakistan. We want it to be both educational in that women have a possibility for self-improvement, for example through learning a skill such as sewing their own clothing, an exercise class, some basic computer skills, discussing health issues, and learning about how they can use their skills as a source of income. A possibility of the Centre becoming self-sufficient in the future is that the women can sell their handmade items to an export company, which in turn would sell the items outside of Pakistan. We want the village to have a place where women can come and share both problems and ideas; we want a place where they can be supportive of each other. We hope in the future to become a micro lending corporation as well so that we have the possibility of helping the women who attend. We will put aside a small percent of every donation we receive in order to help the women in emergencies and in setting up businesses of their own. They in turn will invest in The Roshni Centre in order to help other women.

Roughly 25 women and teenage girls make use of the Centre at this point in time. We have 8 sewing machines, so that the girls must do a lot of doubling up. They are often sad at not having enough sewing machines to go around. There is also a strong interest in learning how to use an embroidery machine, as embroidered cotton is quite expensive and yet very much sought after.

Nadia is the Director of the Centre and the liaison between the women and the Board of Directors. She is well known in the village and respected among the women. Her family is very supportive of what she is trying to do in her village.

We are in the beginning stages of making The Roshni Centre for Women an official non-profit corporation in California. We have a board of directors, 3 of whom live in California, the other 2 in Pakistan. Should you feel in your heart that you can help us in any way small or large you can make donations to “The Roshni Centre for Women”. In Pakistan a little goes a long way. If you would like updates on our work, please send us your email address as well. Shukria, shukran and thank you very much.

Contact us:
Barbara Keshan Rousta (Rabia)
P.O. Box 95
Samoa, Ca. 95564
or at thelostcaravan@yahoo.com

Peace be with us all!
Rabia


Islamic Principles of Peace

July 15, 2006

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Below are statements of the Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) from the Hadiths, the traditions or sayings, regarding the Islamic Principles of Peace.

The messenger of God said to me (Anas), ‘Son, if you
are able, keep your heart from morning till night and
from night till morning free from malice towards
anyone.’

The best of God’s servants are those who, when seen,
remind one of God; and the worst of God’s servants are
those who carry tales about to do mischief and
separate friends, and seek for the defects of the
good.

It is unworthy of a believer to injure people’s
reputations; and it is unworthy to curse anyone; and
it is unworthy to abuse anyone; and it is unworthy of
a believer to talk arrogantly.

Assist your brother Muslim, whether he be an oppressor
or an oppressed. ‘But how shall we do it when he is an
oppressor?’ Muhammad said, ‘Assisting an oppressor is
by forbidding and withholding him from oppression.

God is gentle and loves gentleness.

Faith is a restraint against all violence, let no
believer commit violence

What actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart
of a human being, to feed the hungry, to help the
afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and
to remove the wrongs of the injured.

The best of people is one from whom good accrues to
humanity.

Someone said to the Prophet, ‘Pray to God against the
idolaters and curse them.’ The Prophet replied, ‘I
have been sent to show mercy and have not been sent to
curse.

Anyone who kills a sparrow for nothing, it will cry
aloud to God on the day of resurrection, saying, ‘O My
Lord! such and such a man killed me for nothing, he
never killed me for any good.’

We were on a journey with the Prophet when we saw a
finch with two young ones. We took away the two young
ones and the mother bird fluttered around. Then the
Prophet came and said, ‘Who has distressed her by
taking away her young ones? Return her young ones to
her.’ The Prophet also saw the abode of ants which we
had burnt, and said, ‘Who has burnt this?’ We said,
‘We (have done this).’ The Prophet said, ‘It is not
proper that any one should punish another by fire
unless it be the Lord of fire.’

Deal gently with the people, and be not harsh; cheer
them and condemn them not.

The warrior is one who battles with his own ego
(nafs) on the path of God.

After a major battle, defending the small community of
Islam against powerful enemies who sought to destroy
it, the Prophet said: “We have returned from the
lesser holy war (jihad) to the greater holy war.” When
asked what he meant by the greater war, the Prophet
replied, “Struggle against the ego (nafs).”

God has mercy upon those who are merciful to others.

Would you have me tell you about actions that are
better than fasting, prayer, and charity? Bring
goodness and high principles between people.

The strongest among you is the one who controls his
or her anger.

Oh God, bring peacefulness among us, bring unity into
our hearts; guide us to equilibrium, take us from
darkness to light.

Among the servants of Allah, those who are more
useful to the people are also those more loved by the
Divine.

Being an honorable Muslim means that people are safe
from your actions and words.

Read the Koran if it keeps you from doing ill, and if
you recite the Koran and are not prevented from
wrongdoing, then you are not truthful in reading the
Koran.

Be kind to people whether they deserve your kindness
or not. If your kindness reaches the deserving, good
for you; if your kindness reaches the undeserving,
take joy in your compassion.

Taken from Halaveti Website.


You are the Pain and You are the Cure

July 15, 2006

O Beloved, Your arrows sting the heart
Unmercifully. Yet I shall ever be
A relentless target
To the golden bow and endless quiver.

Allah! Allah! Allah!

No sorrow has Haadi but You,
No hope but You, no joy but You,
You are the pain, and You are the cure.

Allah! Allah! Allah!

You are the pain, and You are the cure.

- Irving Karchmar, © 1992  (a ghazal from Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel)


Rumi on Love

July 14, 2006

When I am in love, I am ashamed of all
I have ever said about love.
Although a commentary in words makes things clear,
wordless love in yet clearer and more illuminating…
Like the pen that was busily writing
until it came to love, and then split apart.

– Rumi


King Solomon and the Jinn

July 13, 2006

And now listen, those that have ears, to a tale of Solomon the King. Yes, Solomon, the mightiest and wisest ruler of the earth that ever was or shall be. Wealthy beyond measure was Solomon, and with such wisdom as only Allah may bestow. And lo, he commanded the wind, and both men and Jinn, birds and animals. All were servants unto him. Yet he lost favor in the sight of God, for neither wealth nor power nor wisdom brought him enlightenment.

His true name was Jedidiah, the ‘friend of God’ but was
later made Shelomo, Solomon, the ‘King of Peace,’ because of the peace that prevailed during the greater part of his reign. And other names he had also: Ben, because he was the builder of the Temple; Jekeh because he was the ruler of the known world; and Ithiel, because God was with him.

It is written that at the time Solomon began the building of the Temple, Assaf, the Vizir of Solomon, complained that someone was stealing precious jewels from his rooms, and from other courtiers as well. Even the royal treasury was not immune. Now Assaf was also renowned for his wisdom and knew that no ordinary thief could have done these deeds. ‘Some evil spirit causes this mischief,’ he counseled the King.

Solomon then prayed fervently to God to deliver the wicked spirit into his hands for punishment. At once his prayer was answered. The archangel Michael appeared before the
King, and put into his hand the mightiest power that ever was or shall be in this world…a small, golden ring, inset with a seal of engraved stone.

And Michael said: ‘ Take this ring, O Solomon King, son of
David, the gift which the Lord God hath sent unto thee. Wear this ring, and all the demons of the earth, both male and female, thou wilt command.’

Now, many medieval sources claim that the pentalpha, or
pentacle, the ancient sign of sorcery, was engraved on the ring, because Solomon was said to have been a master of the magic arts. But the pentacle is older than Solomon,
first seen on pottery from Ur of the Chaldees, in ancient Babylon.

Other sources describe the ring as made of pure gold, set
with a single shamir stone; a diamond perhaps, or the same heavenly green shamir stone said to have been part of the Temple. The stone was cut and set in the form of an eight-rayed star. On it was engraved the hexagon seal, and within that the four letters of the ineffable name of God.

No stone was ever so renowned as the stone in the ring of Solomon. For with it the whole earth came under his sway. Only death was beyond his power to control. Yes, death is beyond all power, save the One. There is no remedy for death other than to look it constantly in the face. We who are born will die; we must submit. Even he who held the world under the seal of his ring is now only a mineral in the earth.

Armed with the ring, Solomon commanded the guilty spirit
to appear. He wore the ring on the mid-finger of the right hand, and pointed it at the foot of his high throne,
saying, ‘By the power of the seal of the one God, I command thee, troublesome spirit, to come forth.’

A roaring column of flame instantly appeared, reaching
nearly to the high ceiling of the throne room many cubits above, and just as quickly was gone. Whether the flame itself took shape, or merely preceded him, could not be seen, but where the flame had been, the demon stood, caught in his mischief; for he still clutched in his hands a great many jewels just stolen from the royal vaults.

So great was his surprise that he dropped the gems, which scattered like pebbles on the marble floor, and his red eyes darted back and forth like twin flames in that broad,
swarthy face. And wide wonder came into those terrible eyes that some power existed among mortal men that was greater than his will.

Twice the height of the King he was and more, greater even than Goliath that David slew, the King’s father. And of so dark and menacing a countenance was the demon that even Assaf the wise drew back in horror. Only Solomon stood firm, and a light shone before him.

Then the demon saw the face of the King, whose arm pointed toward him, and beheld the seal of the ring. The demon’s cruel, lidless eyes went wide, and he let out such a ghastly, howling shriek that the very stones of the palace trembled to their foundation. It was so horrible a sound that all the people of the kingdom who heard it covered their ears and cast themselves on the ground in fear. Oxen died of terror in the fields and birds fell from the sky, for it was like unto the cry of a soul newly plunged into the flames of hell.

But the power of God was within the ring, so that even the
demon was helpless. He fell to his knees and prostrated himself before the King.

‘Mercy, Master!’ cried the Jinni.

‘Name thyself, demon.’ commanded Solomon.

‘I am called Ornias, O Great King!’

‘Why hast thou done such mischief to my household? Speak truly!’

‘Hunger, Lord of the World! Hunger insatiable!’ And he
revealed himself as a vampire spirit, who with fangs harder than adamant pierces the gems of the earth to drink their light.

‘Why dost thou drink the light of earthly jewels?’ demanded
Assaf the Vizir, ‘It is a thing unheard of among the wise.’

But the Jinni was silent.

Speak the answer,’ said the King, ‘I command it.’

‘Thou knowest my answer, King of Wisdom,’ said the demon.

Then Solomon looked into his heart, for the forty-nine
gates of wisdom were open to him, as they had been to Moses. This derives from the belief that each word of the Torah has forty-nine meanings. And he discerned there the answer, and it amazed him, so that he looked on the creature before him with a new understanding and pity.

Know then the sorrow of the demon. For the gems
of the earth were born at the dawn of the world, created by the death of ancient forests buried beneath the weight of mountains. It was a time of upheaval when both Jinn and Angels were cast out and the world was broken. The light of the new sun was still in the green life of those forests as slowly they were transformed, crystallized
by the long years into the light that sparkles from the cut and polished jewels. And so Ornias the demon, denied the light of heaven, drinks the light of the first morning, feeding his sorrow and his loss.

And so, Solomon burned the seal into the neck of Ornias as a brand of his sovereignty, and the Jinni from that moment did his bidding, and was given the task of cutting stones for the building of the Temple.

And other of the Jinn who were causing mischief within the
realm were also commanded to come forth: Onoskelis, who had the shape and skin of a fair-hued woman; Asmodeus, who professed the Hebrew faith and was said to observe the Torah; Tephros, the demon of the Ashes, and after him a group of seven females spirits who declared themselves to be the thirty-six elements of the darkness; and Rabdos, a ravenous, hound-like spirit. All were branded with the seal of the ring.

Others there were also for another tale, but one more for
this: A demon having all the limbs of a man, but without a head. The demon said, ‘I am called Envy, for I delight in
devouring heads. But I hunger always, and desire YOUR HEAD NOW.’

The Master smiled. “Indeed, envy is the prison of the spirit,” he said.

Adapted from Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel


Gratitude

July 12, 2006

Without Thee, O Beloved, I cannot rest;
Thy goodness toward me I cannot reckon.
Though every hair on my body becomes a tongue,
A thousandth part of the thanks due to Thee I cannot tell.

– Pir Bishr Yasin


Inspire Magazine reviews Master of the Jinn

July 10, 2006

Salaam And Greetings of Peace:

Salma Mohiuddin, editor of the Islamic Canadian periodical, INSPIRE Magazine – Muslim Perspectives, has written a review of Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel in the latest issue. You can read the review


Yah Gafuru – The Forgiver

July 8, 2006

Yah Gafuru
Oh God of Mercy! Forgive me!
I have idled my life for years.
I have struggled to win the world and worldly fortunes.
I have dived into sins and never done any good.
My sinful deeds make me fear Your justice.
Yet the greatness of Your compassion makes me hope in You,
Oh Healer of souls.
I have not merited paradise by my deeds,
And I cannot endure the pains of hell.
So I entrust myself simply to Your grace.
Wash me of my sins, Yah Gafuru!
Give unto me the robe of the redeemed.
And in Your mercy, cast me not away from Your presence.
Ameen.

A prayer from the heart of brother Hakeem, a dervish in Nigeria. May Allah bless him and forgive me.

Ya Haqq!


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