May God Have Mercy on Those Who Lead the Way

May 15, 2011

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

May God have mercy on those who lead the way
and those who come behind,
and those who fulfill their vows,
and those who seek to fulfill them,
with His Grace and bounty,
…His great benefits and favors!
For He is the best object of petition
and the noblest object of hope;
and God is the best protector and the most merciful
of those who show mercy.

Amin!

- Rumi

Ya Haqq!


Camels in the Desert!

December 26, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

This is a picture taken from directly above these camels in the desert, at sunset.  It is considered to be one of the best pictures of the year.  When you look closely, you can see that the camels are the little white lines in the picture. The black images are just their shadows!

Sometimes, our “problems” seem to be as big as the shadows…but in reality they are caused only by a slanted way of looking at things, by the absence of light.
In the coming year, let us resolve to let the True Light of God shine forth in our lives, and chase away the shadows.

Happy New Year 2011!

Ya Haqq!

Times of Suffering and the Ultimate Connection

July 11, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Here’s an often misunderstood and misinterpreted statement: many people feel drawn to God in times of suffering.

During a serious illness, a family crises, the loss of a job, or the death of a loved one, many people will say that they turn to God… More skeptical minds may chalk this up to desperation. The person, they say, has nowhere else to turn and so turns to God. God is seen in this light as a crutch for the foolish, a refuge for the superstitious.

But… we do not turn to God in suffering because we suddenly become irrational. Rather, God is able is able to reach us because our defenses are lowered. The barriers we erected to keep out God – whether from pride or fear or lack of interest – are set aside… We are not less rational. We are more open.

Near the end of his life, my father started to talk more frequently about God. This was a complete surprise… he had, as long as I had known him, never been overly religious… My dad also became more gentle, more forgiving, and more emotional.

After his death, I remarked to my friend Janice, a Catholic sister, that my dad seemed to have become more open to God.  “Yes,” she said, “Dying is about becoming more human.”

Her insight was true in at least two ways.  First, becoming more human for my father meant recognizing his inborn connection to God, though we may ignore it, or deny it, or reject it during our lives. But with my father’s defenses completely lowered, God was able to meet him in new ways. Whatever barriers had kept God at a distance no longer existed.

This, not desperation, is why there are so many profound spiritual experiences near death. The person is better able to allow God to break through.

Second, my father was becoming more human because he was becoming more loving. Drawing closer to God transforms us… the more human we become, the more divine we become.

This is not to say that God desires us to suffer. Rather, when our defenses fall, our ultimate connection is revealed.

-   edited from The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life, by James Martin, SJ

Ya Haqq!


The Son of the Moment

July 1, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The sufi is the son of the Moment, O companion! Saying ‘tomorrow’ is not among the conditions for (being on) the Path.
Rumi, from the Mathnawi 1:133

The Sufi is of the River, not of time, for ‘with God is neither morn nor eve’: there the past and the future and time without beginning and time without end do not exist … He (the Sufi) is son of that ‘moment’ by which is to be understood only a denial of the divisions of times, just as ‘God is One’ is to be understood only as a denial of duality, not as a description of the true nature of Unity.Ananda Coomaraswamy

Ya Haqq!

Note: This most intriguing and subtle distinction is reposted with thanks from the Mystic Saint blog.


What is left behind when we die

June 7, 2010

What is left behind when we die
but bone and dust

And kindness given and love
shared

From which other kindnesses
are born

And love expands from us
exponentially

Each death a gift of love
to the living

Life evolving in spirit as well
as matter

Which is as God intends
after all

- Irving Karchmar,  © June 2010


“There is no existence save His existence.”

April 21, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

“There is no existence save His existence. The existence of the beggar is His existence, and the existence of the sick is His existence. And the existence of all created things, both accidents and substances, is His existence; and when the secret of one particle of the atom is clear, the secret of all created things, both outward and inward, is clear; and you do not see in this world or the next anything except God.”ibn Arabi

Ya Haqq!

Note:  See also this poem.


Meditation on Death

April 9, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Because I could not stop for Death he kindly stopped for me. The carriage held but just Ourselves and Immortality.Emily Dickinson

In December of 1986, I was operated on to remove my pituitary gland and the small benign tumor within it that had resulted in Cushing’s Disease, and had caused a lengthy hospital stay in the beginning of that year. It was during that earlier hospital stay that I had the out-of-body experience I have written about in a previous post (which you can read here).

I remember the anesthesia being administered and being told to count backwards from one hundred. At about 96, I blinked my eyes, and when I opened them again an instant later, I was being wheeled back to my room. I asked the nurse, “When does it start?”  She answered, “It’s all over.”

Eight hours had passed in the blink of an eye. It could have been eight years, or eight million. The anesthesia blanked me out of existence so completely, that I wondered if death was like that:

An instant that lasts for eternity!

In the years since those two events, and as I approach my sixty-fifth birthday, death itself holds no fear for me, because just as in the Angel of Death excerpt from Master of the Jinn, I really do consider it a mercy from God.  But I cannot but wonder if one of those experiences holds the answer to the great mystery of what comes afterward.  Both possessed the immediacy of experiential truth, but can both be real? Is the instant of nothingness a precursor to awaking on a different plane of existence? Can it be that our spirit, or soul, or ka, or whatever your faith calls it, leaves the physical body at death and after an instant of blankness, joins, or rejoins, the Eternal Godhead?

Socrates asked the same question, concluding: “Death is one of two things…Either it is annihilation, and the dead have no consciousness of anything; or, as we are told, it is really a change: a migration of the soul from one place to another.”

My late father-in-law believed the former. Once I asked him if he thought that we live on after death. He said, “Yes, in blood and memory.”  In other words, we live on in the bloodline passed to our children and grandchildren and down the generations. And in the memory they carry of us, until that is lost in time, when those that still remember us have also died.  He considered himself a realist.

And yet, the first law of thermodynamics, an expression of the principle of the conservation of energy, states that energy can be transformed (changed from one form to another), but cannot be created or destroyed.

Is that also true of the energy of consciousness, which is, after all, the only part of us that really would go on after the body dies? Or is it just our greater Self that goes on, our soul, which is that ineffable part of us that is always in touch with, and originally a part of, the Oneness of Divine Love? Inshallah, it is so.  I do not mind at all leaving the lesser self behind; the individual ego with its fears and jealousy and enmity and regrets. Let it die as the electro-chemical brain and body functions come to a stop.

I know that love goes on.  And after years on the Sufi path,  I have seen what can only be described as a glimpse of… something other.

There is some comfort in the belief that the body is nothing but a shell for the evolution of consciousness, “to evolve toward the Godhead,” as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the French philosopher and Jesuit priest wrote in The Phenomenon of Man.

And, so as not to waste what God has given, I am also an organ donor; I prefer to leave all organs that are still of any use to help others, and the rest to be cremated.  I like the efficiency of the fire, taking up as little room at the end as I did at the beginning. And I like the idea of my ashes scattered to the winds of the world.

But does individual consciousness completely die? Or does the soul or greater Self have its own higher level of consciousness? My late Master, Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, was asked this very question, and he said, “In the end, the drop becomes one with the Ocean, but it does not lose its wetness.”

There is hope in that statement. I have studied many religions and their beliefs of the afterlife, and in all honesty they sound mainly the same, a heavenly paradise where the individual self consciousness, and often the resurrected body, is kept intact and rewarded or punished for its life on earth in just measure to its deeds. But if the individual self stops at the end of life, the afterlife must be something else entirely. What that something else, that wetness is, is one of the eternal questions of living beings.  The ultimate mystery!

And that’s what I’m counting on :) All questions are inevitably useless. The answer will come soon enough!

No mythology and metaphor for me. I want the great mystery, all of it, no matter what it is—a billion years in the blink of an eye, or an infinite panorama as vast as the universe; and an endless sea of stars on which to sail.

Death is an angel with two faces; to us he turns a face of terror, blighting all things fair; the other burns with glory of the stars, and love is there.
– T. C. Williams

Alhamdulillah!

Ya Haqq!


Acquire Knowledge!

March 4, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

To acquire knowledge is binding upon all Muslims, whether male or female.

He who travels in the search of knowledge, to him God shows the way of Paradise.

Acquire knowledge, because he who acquires it in the way of the Lord performs an act of piety; who speaks of it praises the Lord; who seeks it, adores God, who dispenses instruction in it, bestows alms; and who imparts it to its fitting objects performs an act of devotion to God.

Knowledge enables its possessor to distinguish what is forbidden from what is not; lights the way to Heaven; it is our friend in the desert, our companion in solitude, our companion when bereft of friends; it guides us to happiness; it sustains us in misery; it is our ornament in the company of friends; it serves as an armor against our enemies. With knowledge the creatures of Allah rises to the heights of goodness and to noble position, associates with the sovereigns in this world and attains the perfection of happiness in the next.

- Sayings (hadiths) of the Prophet (pbuh)

Note:  See also this older post, Benefits of Acquiring Knowledge.

Ya Haqq!


“Everything is Love!”

February 21, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

I read of a Christian woman years ago who went on a forty day meditation retreat in a monastic cell. When she finally came out, all she could say is: “Everything is love!”

Surely those who open to faith and do beautiful wholesome works, for them the One Who is the Most Gracious will appoint Love.  -  Qur’an 19:96

A man once came to the Prophet (puh) and asked him about the hereafter. The Prophet asked him, “And what have you prepared for that time?” The man replied, “Nothing, except that I love Allah and I love you.” The Prophet (puh) answered him, “You are with the ones you love.”

I profess the religion of love,

Love is my religion and my faith.

My mother is love

My father is love

My prophet is love

My God is love

I am a child of love

I have come only to speak of love

- Jalaluddin Rumi

“…the guidance of Islam is the guidance of love. The innate, natural and ancient religion that is Islam is the religion of love. The Prophet (pbuh) came to guide us to love and to make clear the love that is at the core of all religion. Our purpose as human beings is to consciously manifest Allah’s love in our lives.”

- from Love in Islam, a Khutbah (Sermon) by Mahmoud Mostafa

Ya Haqq!


A Woman’s Heart

January 24, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

“A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man should have to seek Him first to find her” - Maya Angelou

“The word shams (sun) is feminine, and qamar (moon) is masculine. The sun burns itself out to give light and life to everything around, and the moon is muneer, meaning it reflects the light. Within itself it has no light; it radiates the brilliance of the sun. So when we shine as men, the implication is that we are reflecting the glorious light of our women. May Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’aala be pleased with them.”  – Shaykh Abdallah Adhami

Ya Haqq!



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