Psalm 19 – A Song of David

March 5, 2009

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.

The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.

They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.

By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.

Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Ya Haqq!

Note:  This is my favorite Psalm for its simple beauty and universal truths.


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!


Isa ibn Mariyam – Jesus, the Son of Mary

March 22, 2008

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Happy Easter to all my Christian brothers and sisters :)

Most people in the West do not know that Hazrat Muhammad al-Ghazali (may Allah keep his secret), who was called The Proof of The Faith, collected and authenticated several of the original saying of Isa ibn Mariyam (Jesus the son of Mary) in Aramaic (the language that Jesus spoke) and translated them into Arabic.

In al Ghazali’s time, 10th -11th century CE, there were still Christians who were unaffected by the doctrines of Paul. The Church founded by Judas Thomas for instance, was still strong in Syria and protected by the Khalifate.

It was written in the original Gospel:

Isa ibn Mariyam (AS) said:
Seek what you do not Know only after you
have put into practice what you do Know.

The disciples of Isa ibn Mariyam (AS) came to him and asked;
“O spirit of Allah, is there anyone else like you alive in our time?”
He replied: “Yes indeed, Whoever has the dhikr of Allah in his heart,
and is silent in thought, and who learns from what is given,
surely that one is like me.”

Isa ibn Mariyam (AS), asked his people:
“Where do you find a plant growing?”
They replied: “In the dust of the earth.”
He said: “By Al Haqq, I will tell you,
Marifat (Gnosis) does not grow except in a heart
that is like the dust of the earth.”

Isa ibn Mariyam (AS) met a man and asked him what his profession was.
The man replied: “I worship Allah.”
Isa (AS) then asked: ‘Who feeds and clothes you while you worship?”
“My brother,” The man replied.
Isa (AS) said: “Your brother’s worship is better than your own.”

Isa ibn Mariyam (AS) met three people while traveling,
They were pale and thin with fasting.
He asked them: “What has caused this state in you?”
They said: “Fear of the punishment of Allah”
Isa (AS) replied: “Allah has taken it upon Himself to lessen your fear.”
He continued on a ways and came across three more
who were pale and thin with fasting, even more than the last.
He asked them: “What has caused this state in you?”
They answered: “Desire for Allah’s rewards”
Isa (AS) said: “Allah has taken it upon Himself to give you what you long for.”
Once again in his travels Isa ibn Mariyam (AS) came across yet another three who were pale and thin with fasting. Their faces shone as if they were lit from within.
So he asked them: “What is the cause of your state?”
They answered: “We love Allah, the Mighty, the Glorious.”
Whereupon he replied: “You are the nearest, and nearer still!”

The companions of Isa ibn Mariyam (AS) said to him:
“Look at this temple, is it not beautiful?”
Isa (AS) replied: “My people,
by al Haqq I tell you, Allah does not leave this temple standing
except to destroy it by the sins of it’s inhabitants.
Surely, Allah does not care about gold and silver,
He does not care about this building that you admire so.
What Allah, the Most High loves are good hearts.
Allah inhabits the heart that remembers Him and He desolates
the heart that does not.”

Isa ibn Mariyam (AS),
passed by a group of men who shouted evil things at him.
In return Isa (AS) spoke to them with kindness.
His companions asked:
“Why did you reply to these men with kindness when they spoke evil to you?”
Isa (AS) replied: “Everyone spends from the coin he has.”

The song of Isa ibn Mariyam (AS)

My meal is fasting,
my standard is awe of Allah.
My clothing is of simple wool,
my prayer in winter is at suns rise.
My lamp is moonlight,
My steed is my legs.
My meal is whatever the earth gives me.
I lay down to sleep at night and have nothing,
I awake in the morning and have nothing,
yet there is no one richer than I.

– From The Traceless Warrior Blog. Commentary and English versions translated by Mushtaq Ali al Ansari. Copyright 1999. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Ya Haqq!


Muhammed Ali on Modesty – A Father/Daughter Talk

September 30, 2007

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The following true incident took place years ago, when former Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammed Ali was visited by his daughters, who arrived at his home wearing clothes that were immodest. Here is the story as told by one of his daughters:

“When we arrived, the chauffer escorted my youngest sister, Laila, and me to my father’s suite. As usual, he was hiding behind the door waiting to scare us. And we exchanged as many hugs and kisses as we could possibly give in one day.

“My father then took a good look at us. He sat me down in his lap and said something I will never forget. He looked me straight in the eyes and said: ‘Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to. Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down and in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get them.’

“He looked at me again with serious eyes and said, ‘Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.'”

Taken (and slightly edited) from Rohi Padela’s excellent Drunk on the Wine of the Beloved blog.

Note: It is worth noting that Muhammed Ali now follows the Sufi path of Hazrat Inayat Khan, according to Hana Yasmeen Ali. An interview with her, where she mentions that fact, can be found HERE.

Update Note: Because of the response in the comments, here are links to two previous posts on Hijab: Wearing Hijab – A Spiritual Concept and Wearing Hijab in Mecca.

The Prophet (pbuh) also said: “Faith is naked, but its clothes are modest.”

Ya Haqq!


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