Milad Un-Nabi – Birthday of the Prophet (pbuh)

February 27, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

“You have indeed in the Messenger of God a beautiful pattern of conduct for anyone whose hope is God and the Final Day.” (Al-Ahzab 33:21).

Alhamdulillah! The moon is full, a reminder that this is Rabi a-Awwal, by the Lunar calendar the month of the blessed birthday (Milad Un-Nabi) of the Prophet Muhammad (the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him and his family).

According to Sunni scholars, the Prophet’s birthday is observed on 12th Rabi al-Awwal, which falls on February 26, 2010, and 17th Rabi al-Awwal (March 3rd this year) according to Shia scholars.

There is a difference of opinion about whether the Milad Un-Nabi should be a time of celebration. There is evidence that the Prophet (pbuh), his Companions, and the early followers after them did not celebrate or otherwise observe his birthday. On the contrary, he was careful to warn his people not to imitate other faiths, whose followers elevated their prophets and added to the religion what was not in the original teachings.

Those who disagree see it as a time to read the Qur’an, fast, pray, and remember the life, teachings, and example of the Prophet (pbuh).

When praising the Prophet (pbuh), we are also warned not to exaggerate in his praise. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Do not overpraise me as Christians overpraised Jesus, son of Mary. Say [when referring to me], ‘Servant of Allah and His messenger.’”

Servant of Allah and His messenger!

Surely that is a title that needs no embellishment. And so, what will you do to celebrate the Prophet’s (pbuh) birthday? Will you be fasting and praying? Having a celebration and giving gifts to family and friends? Giving to charity, visiting the sick, going to the mosque, helping a neighbor?

“Remember Me and I will remember you!” (Qur’an, 2:152)

May Allah bless you all, gentle readers, and guide you on the straight path of love, compassion, mercy, generosity and kindness.  Ameen.

Ya Haqq!


Eid Mubarak!!!

September 19, 2009

Salaam And Greetings of Peace:

May Allah bless you all this Eid with generosity of hand, sincerity of speech, kindness in action, and love and joy in remembrance of Him, who is the Source of all Generosity, Sincerity, Kindness, Joy and Love.

Ameen!

“O Lord! Let not our hearts deviate now after You have guided us, but grant us mercy from Your own Presence; for You are the Grantor of bounties without measure.” (Quran: 3:9)

Ya Haqq!


St. Francis meets Sultan Malik al-Kamil

December 23, 2008


Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

St. Francis di Bernadone, born in 1182 in Northern Italy, is popularly known and loved as the poor, generous, traveling friar who talked with birds, tamed wild beasts and sang the “Canticle of Creation.”  But Francis was once also an inter-religious emissary of peace and nonviolence.

Francis lived in the political turmoil of the 13th Century “Holy Roman Empire,” locked in a culture of war, fought both within the empire as city fought city and without, as the empire united in a series of Crusades against Moslems, Jews and “heretics.” It was during the fifth crusade, in 1219, that Francis began an amazing journey that directly opposed this culture of war and enmity. Christians in his time viewed The Crusades as holy; a complete reversal of the first 300 years of Christianity when disciples of Jesus would not participate in any killing.

In response, the Sultan of Egypt had decreed that anyone who brought him the head of a Christian should be rewarded with a Byzantine gold piece.

Francis began his prophetic resistance to the violence of the Crusades by meeting first with his own religious leaders, begging Cardinal Pelagius, the Christian commander, to stop the fighting. Pelagius refused.

Francis then took a companion, Brother Illuminatus, and set out, unarmed and filled with love for his “enemy” brother, to visit the Sultan of Egypt, Malik-al-Kamil, the nephew of Saladin. The men of the Sultan’s army captured Francis and Illuminatus and dragged them, beaten and exhausted, before the Sultan – just as Francis had wished.

The Sultan was receptive to these two unarmed messengers from the enemy camp. St. Bonaventure, in his Major Life of St. Francis, described the event, “The sultan asked them by whom and why and in what capacity they had been sent, and how they got there; but Francis replied that they had been sent by God, not by men, to show him and his subjects the way of salvation and proclaim the truth of the Gospel message. When the sultan saw his enthusiasm and courage, he listened to him willingly and pressed him to stay with him.”

Francis’ enthusiastic desire to share his “good news” with the Sultan, without insulting Islam or refuting Mohammed, was unique and disarming.

In the encounter between them, both Francis and the Sultan were changed. When Francis finally left to return to Italy, the Sultan showered him with many gifts and treasures. Because he had no interest in worldly wealth, Francis refused them all, except one special gift: an ivory horn used by the muezzin to call the faithful to prayer. On his return, Francis used it to call people for prayer or for preaching.

Francis also shared with his community his new and deep respect for his Moslem brothers and sisters, breaking down the cycle of enmity and misunderstanding that fueled the Crusades. Francis was especially struck by the Moslem five times daily prayer, and the practice of prostrations in worship of God; his letters urged Christians to adopt a similar practice: To make prayer a part of everyday life, in effect to remember God in everything you do, as in the Sufi zekr.

Stories of the time told about the change in the Sultan after his encounter with Francis. He placed Francis under his personal security and provided safe-conduct through Muslim states. From then on, several accounts relate that he treated Christian prisoners of war with unprecedented kindness and generosity.

Francis lives out the core of the Christian mandate: to love one’s enemies, to reach out in respect to those of other religions and cultures.

Meeting the sultan confirmed to Francis that we are all brothers and sisters. Neither converted the other and yet they met each other as men of God.

And their meeting appears to have changed more than Francis and the sultan.

Almost immediately we see some iconography in the eastern world showing these two men. One of the sultan’s own spiritual counselors (a Sufi), it was said, had engraved on his tomb that what changed his life was the meeting between a Christian monk and the sultan in his tent.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and Joyous Kwanza to all :)

Ya Haqq!


What Love Demands

December 6, 2008

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Eid Mubarak!

May Allah bless you all this Eid, dear Brothers and Sisters, with generosity of hand, sincerity of speech, kindness in action, and love and joy in remembrance of Him, who is the Source of all Generosity, Sincerity, Kindness, Joy, and Love.  Ameen!

“O Lord! Let not our hearts deviate now after You have guided us, but grant us mercy from Your own Presence; for You are the Grantor of bounties without measure.” (Quran: 3:9)

This is the time of Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, which celebrates the faith of Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice even his son Isaac as God had commanded. Now what are we willing to sacrifice in order that our prayers may be accepted?

That is the question I ask myself every year. Jesus (pbuh) kissed the leper, the whore, and the thief, out of love and forgiveness and healing. Because of the great expansiveness of his heart, miracles were possible. What have we done, what can we still do, to be worthy of the love and forgiveness and healing we ask of God? The answer that comes to my heart is always the same:

Do what love demands.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. -1 Corinthians 13:4-8

According to a hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) once said, “A true believer is one with whom others feel secure. One who returns love for hatred.”

Alhamdulillah! Indeed, Love is the greatest miracle of God. There have been Spiritual Masters of the past who would not let an aspirant be initiated until they had gone to everyone whom they had wronged in their life, and begged forgiveness, making amends in any way that was required. And until they had gone to everyone that had wronged them in their lives, and granted them forgiveness without asking, and with a whole heart. Only then could such a one be initiated on the mystic path.

And so we come to the great task of our lives, brought into focus on this day of Eid al-Adha: To sacrifice our fear and hatred, our envy and greed and all the other works of the fearful and self-absorbed nafs, in the certain knowledge that anyone who forgives a debt will be repaid tenfold by God, and anyone who forgives a wrong will be forgiven by God a hundredfold, and anyone who returns love for hatred will make of this life a paradise. That is what love demands.

Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.
- Rumi

Ya Haqq!

PS:  Click HERE for another wonderful post on forgiveness.


Generosity of Spirit

October 4, 2008

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

In my younger years, whenever I walked down a street, beggars would let a hundred people pass and unerringly come right up to me, no matter how much I scowled or tried to look uninterested. What did they see in me, these ragged men and women who could read faces so well? Perhaps I looked like a soft touch, an easy mark, a sucker, a fool who was easily parted with his money. Invariably I would give them a few coins, resenting it all the while. Did they use it to buy alcohol, drugs, food? I was deeply suspicious of the cause of their poverty, and felt robbed of both money and pride.

What a fool I truly was, and feel rightly ashamed of such a miserly spirit, which made me the greater beggar. After many years on the Path of Love, I have learned this at least; the giving of zakat for Eid, or of charity in general, is either from generosity of spirit or it is nothing. God alone is the judge of another’s heart or intention.

As the Master says in the Sufi novel, Master of the Jinn:

“The generous heart always has enough to give. It is the miserly in spirit who believe they never have enough to be generous. It is not lack of possessions that leads to spiritual poverty, nor prayer and fasting by themselves. It is in the abandonment of self-absorption, and in constant remembrance and reflection that the heart becomes detached. Then the hands gladly open their grasp on worldly things and cleave to God.”

And the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Indeed, an ignorant man who is generous is dearer to God than a worshipper who is miserly.” – (Al-Tirmidhi )

May Allah bless you all with generosity of spirit, whose foundation is Love, and whose Source is the Most Loving, the Most Generous. Amin.

Ya Haqq!


Eid Mubarak!!

October 1, 2008

Salaam And Greetings of Peace, Dear Brothers and Sisters:

May Allah bless you all this Eid with generosity of hand, sincerity of speech, kindness in action, and love and joy in remembrance of Him, who is the Source of all Generosity, Sincerity, Kindness, Joy and Love.

Ameen!

“O Lord! Let not our hearts deviate now after You have guided us, but grant us mercy from Your own Presence; for You are the Grantor of bounties without measure.” (Quran: 3:9)

Ya Haqq!


Of Speaking, Silence, and Generosity to Neighbor and Guest

July 9, 2008

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The Prophet (pbuh) said:

“Let him who believes in God and the Last Day either speak good or keep silent, and let him who believes in God and the Last Day be generous to his neighbor, and let him who believes in God and the Last Day be generous to his guest.”

- Hadith reported by Abu Hurayrah and recorded by Imam Bukhari and Muslim.

Ya Haqq!


March 20th, Birthday of the Prophet (pbuh), New Year, Spring

March 19, 2008

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

“You have indeed in the Messenger of God a beautiful pattern of conduct for anyone whose hope is God and the Final Day.” (Al-Ahzab 33:21).

Alhamdulillah! The moon is full, a reminder that this is Rabi a-Awwal, by the Lunar calendar the month of the blessed birthday (Milad Un-Nabi) of the Prophet Muhammad (the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him and his family).

According to Sunni scholars, the Prophet’s birthday is observed on 12th Rabi al-Awwal, which falls on March 20, 2008, and 17th Rabi al-Awwal (march 25th this year) according to Shia scholars.

March 20th is also the first day of Spring, and celebrated as Nawrooz, the New Year in Iran and other countries. What a blessing that the birth of the Prophet (pbuh) should fall on the first day of Spring and the New Year, surely a sign of rebirth and love as we contemplate his noble attributes and teachings.

There is a difference of opinion about whether the Milad Un-Nabi should be a time of celebration. There is evidence that the Prophet (pbuh), his Companions, and the early followers after them did not celebrate or otherwise observe his birthday. On the contrary, he was careful to warn his people not to imitate other faiths, whose followers elevated their prophets and added to the religion what was not in the original teachings.

Those who disagree see it as a time to read the Qur’an, fast, pray, and remember the life, teachings, and example of the Prophet (pbuh).

When praising the Prophet (pbuh), we are also warned not to exaggerate in his praise. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Do not overpraise me as Christians overpraised Jesus, son of Mary. Say [when referring to me], ‘Servant of Allah and His messenger.’”

Servant of Allah and His messenger!

Surely that is a title that needs no embellishment. And so, what will you do to celebrate the Prophet’s (pbuh) birthday? Will you be fasting and praying? Having a celebration and giving gifts to family and friends? Giving to charity, visiting the sick, going to the mosque, helping a neighbor?

“Remember Me and I will remember you!” (Qur’an, 2:152)

May Allah bless you all, gentle readers, and guide you on the straight path of love, compassion, mercy, generosity and kindness.

Ameen.

Ya Haqq!


A Handful of Dirt

February 4, 2008

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

For a moment ponder the Lord’s subtleties and kindnesses and the traces of the divine solicitude and care that have arranged this handful of earth. Look at the different kinds of honor and the special privileges of nearness that He has placed within human beings. For He created the whole cosmos, but He looked not upon a single creature with the eye of love, He sent not a single messenger to any existent thing, He sent no message to any creature. When the turn of the children of Adam arrived, He pulled them up through gentleness and caressed them through bounty and quarries of light. He made their inmost mystery the place of His own glance, He sent them messengers, He set angels over them as guardians, He placed the fire of love in their hearts, and He sent them continuous incitements to yearning and motives for desire.

The purpose of all these words and allusions is to show that a human being is a handful of earth. Whatever ennoblement and honor people have received derives from the gentleness and care of the holy Lord. When He gives, He gives because of His own generosity, not because of your worthiness. He gives because of His magnanimity, not because of your prostration. He gives through His bounty, not because of your good works…

- From the Kashf al-asrar wa ‘uddat al-abrar (Unveiling of Mysteries and Provision of the Righteous), by Rashid al-Din Maybudi, a Sufi Persian commentary, or tasfir, on the Noble Qur’an. The Kashf al-asrar is based on, and probably embodies, the only surviving text of an earlier Qur’an commentary by the famous Hanbali mystic, ‘Abd Allah al-Ansari. Click HERE for more information.

With thanks and gratitude to the Journey to the Garden blog for pointing the way.

Ya Haqq!


The Women in Our Lives

November 25, 2007

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

In our Sister Suroor’s recent and lovely post about men, I commented that everything I know of love, I learned from women; my mother, my daughter, and my wife. This is absolutely true. And more, all that I comprehend of God’s love and mercy, I have learned from love; and even that small fraction of His infinite bounty has its root within my heart in the endless kindness and patience and endurance and generosity of women.

My mother was the kindest, gentlest soul I have even known. I cannot think of even one instance where she considered her own needs before that of her children. I wish I could say the same for myself. My daughter is remarkable. Smart and funny, tall and lovely, in whose company I take great delight. Every man should have such an honest critic :) And my beloved wife embodies all of those attributes, and many, many more.

So here’s to the women in our lives. May we be worthy of them.

Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are — chaff and grain together — certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.

-George Eliot


Ya Haqq!


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