Celebrating the Birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 20, 2014

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Monday, January 20, 2014 is the National Holiday to celebrate the 85th birthday of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, (born January 15, 1929). I do not have the words to do justice to his life and work, and so I will quote only two paragraphs that may help explain why he is one of this nation’s exemplary heroes.

“The gospel at its best deals with the whole man, not only his soul but his body, not only his spiritual well-being, but his material well being. Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.”  Pilgrimage to Non-Violence, 1960

“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Stockholm, Sweden, December 11, 1964.

God bless his soul and memory, and may we as a people learn from his example.  Amen!

Ya Haqq!


Jesus was a Palestinian

December 23, 2013

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Christmas will soon be here, and in the spirit of true understanding, and to begin a hopefully fruitful and honest discussion without rancor or religious intolerance, I am reposting the following, with permission:

Jesus was a Palestinian and Why it Matters!

Because of modern alarmist reactions to the word “Palestine,” many non-Arabs and non-Muslims take offense when it is argued that Jesus was a Palestinian (peace be upon him). Jesus’ ethnicity, skin color, and culture often accompanies this conversation, but it is interesting how few people are willing to acknowledge the fact he was non-European. A simple stroll in the Christmas aisle of your local shopping store will show you the dominant representation of Jesus: a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, White man.

Islamophobia and anti-Arab propaganda have conditioned us to view Palestinians as nothing but heartless suicide bombers, terrorists, and enemies of freedom/democracy. Perpetual media vilification and demonization of Palestinians, in contrast to the glorification of Israel, blinds us from seeing issues such as the Palestinian refugee crisis, the victims of Israel’s brutal attack on Gaza last winter, the tens of thousands of homeless Palestinians, and many other issues that are constantly addressed by human rights activists around the world. To speak from the perspective of the Palestinians, especially in casual non-Arab and non-Muslim settings, generates controversy because the minds of many already associate Palestinians with violent stereotypes. So, how could Jesus belong to a group of people that we’re taught to dehumanize?

When I’ve spoken to people about this, I’ve noticed the following responses: “No, Jesus was a Jew,” or “Jesus is not Muslim.” The mistake isn’t a surprise to me, but it certainly reveals how ignorant much of society still is. Being a Palestinian does not mean one is Muslim or vice versa. Prior to the creation of Israel, the word “Palestine” was a geographic term applied to Palestinian Muslims, Palestinian Christians, and Palestinian Jews. Although most Palestinians are Muslim today, there is a significant Palestinian Christian minority who are often overlooked, especially by the mainstream Western media because the agenda is to simplify the conflict as “Muslims versus Jews.” To learn about many Palestinian Christians opposing Israeli military occupation, as well as Jews who oppose to the occupation, is to reveal more sides to an immensely one-sided story. Professor Jack D. Forbes writes about Jesus’ multi-cultural and multi-ethnic environment:

“When the Romans came to dominate the area, they used the name Palestine. Thus, when Yehoshu’a [Jesus] was born, he was born a Palestinian as were all of the inhabitants of the region, Jews and non-Jews. He was also a Nazarene (being born in Nazareth) and a Galilean (born in the region of Galilee)… At the time of Yehoshu’a’s birth, Palestine was inhabited by Jews—descendants of Hebrews, Canaanites, and many other Semitic peoples—and also by Phoenicians, Syrians, Greeks, and even Arabs.”

Despite these facts, there are those who use the color-blind argument: “It does not matter what Jesus’ ethnicity or skin color was. It does not matter what language he spoke. Jesus is for all people, whether you’re Black, White, Brown, Yellow, etc.” While this is a well-intentioned expression of inclusiveness and universalism, it misses the point.

When you see so many depictions of Jesus as a Western White man with Euro-American features, the ethnocentrism and race-bending needs to be called out. No person is superior to another based on skin color, but to ignore the way Jesus’ Whiteness has been used to subjugate and discriminate against racial minorities in the West and many other countries is to overlook another important aspect of Jesus’ teachings: Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Malcolm X wrote about White supremacists and slaveholders using Christianity to justify their “moral” and “racial superiority” over Blacks. In Malcolm’s own words, “The Holy Bible in the White man’s hands and its interpretations of it have been the greatest single ideological weapon for enslaving millions of non-white human beings.” Throughout history, whether it was in Jerusalem, Spain, India, or Africa, so-called White “Christians” cultivated a twisted interpretation of religion that was compatible with their colonialist agenda. And racism was a key component of their atrocities.

And here we are in the 21st century where Islamophobia (also stemming from racism because Islam gets racialized) is on the rise; where people calling themselves “Christian” fear to have a Black president; where members of the KKK and anti-immigration movements behave as if Jesus was an intolerant White American racist who only spoke English despite being born in the Middle-East! It is astonishing how so-called “Christians” like Ann Coulter call Muslims “rag-heads” when in actuality, Jesus himself would fit the profile of a “rag-head,” too. As would Moses, Joseph, Abraham, and the rest of the Prophets (peace be upon them all). As William Rivers Pitt writes:

“The ugly truth which never even occurs to most Americans is that Jesus looked a lot more like an Iraqi, like an Afghani, like a Palestinian, like an Arab, than any of the paintings which grace the walls of American churches from sea to shining sea. This was an uncomfortable fact before September 11. After the attack, it became almost a moral imperative to put as much distance between Americans and people from the Middle East as possible. Now, to suggest that Jesus shared a genealogical heritage and physical similarity to the people sitting in dog cages down in Guantanamo is to dance along the edge of treason.”

Without acknowledging Jesus as a dark-skinned Middle-Eastern man — a Palestinian — who spoke Aramaic — a Semitic language that is ancestral to Arabic and Hebrew — the West will continue to view Islam as a “foreign religion.” Hate crimes and discriminatory acts against Muslims, Arabs, and others who are perceived to be Muslim will persist and they will still be treated as “cultural outsiders.” But what about Christianity and Judaism in America? Aren’t these religions “cultural outsiders” according to the racist logic of xenophobes and Islamophobes?

Jesus would not prefer one race or group of people over another, and I believe he would not encourage today’s demonization and dehumanization of the Palestinian people or the misrepresentations of him that only fuel ignorance and ethnocentrism. As a Muslim, I believe Jesus was a Prophet of God, and if I were to have any say about the Christmas spirit, it would be based on Jesus’ character: humility, compassion, and Love. A Love in which all people, regardless of ethnicity, race, culture, religion, gender, and sexual orientation are respected and appreciated.

And in that spirit, I wish you all a merry Christmas. Alaha Natarak (Aramaic for:  God be with you).

- From Jehanzeb’s most excellent Muslim Reverie blog.

Ya Haqq!



Bismillah – Rumi’s Poem for Eid Al-Adha

October 13, 2013

BISMILLAH!

It’s a habit of yours to walk slowly.
You hold a grudge for years.
With such heaviness, how can you be modest?
With such attachments, do you expect to arrive anywhere?

Be wide as the air to learn a secret.
Right now you’re equal portions clay
and water, thick mud.

Abraham learned how the sun and moon and the stars all set.
He said, No longer will I try to assign partners for God.

You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave
till it gets to shore.

You need more help than you know.
You’re trying to live your life in open scaffolding.

Say Bismillah, In the name God,
As the priest does with knife when he offers an animal.

Bismillah your old self
to find your real name.

- Jalaladdin Rumi

Ya Haqq!


Khalil Gibran on Wisdom, Philosophy, and Greatness

September 30, 2013

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

“Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.”

- Khalil Gibran

Ya Haqq!


“Seek, and you may find the Truth.”

July 21, 2013

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

“…If you can walk on water,
you are no better than a straw.
If you can fly through the air,
You are no better than a fly.
Conquer thy heart,
So that you may become someone.

A person takes seventy years in learning,
and fails to become illumined.
Another, all his life learned nothing,
But hears a word, and is consumed by it.

In this Path argument has no value,
Seek, and you may find the Truth.”

- Khawaja Abdullah Ansari of Herat.

Ya Haqq!


Rumi’s Easter Poem – Happy Easter 2013 :)

March 26, 2013

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Easter is Sunday, March 31st this year, and I pray we all know at least once in our lives the rebirth of faith and love which is manifest each spring in the story of Jesus (pbuh).  And so, once again, here is Rumi’s beautiful homage:

________________

Everyone has eaten and fallen asleep. The house is empty. We walk out to the garden to let the apple meet the peach, to carry messages between rose and jasmine.

Spring is Christ,
Raising martyred plants from their shrouds.
Their mouths open in gratitude, wanting to be kissed.
The glow of the rose and the tulip means a lamp is inside.
A leaf trembles. I tremble in the wind-beauty like silk from Turkestan.
The censer fans into flame.

This wind is the Holy Spirit.
The trees are Mary.
Watch how husband and wife play subtle games with their hands.
Cloudy pearls from Aden are thrown across the lovers,
as is the marriage custom.

The scent of Joseph’s shirt comes to Jacob.
A red carnelian of Yemeni laughter is heard
by Muhammad in Mecca.

We talk about this and that. There’s no rest except on these branching moments.

- Jalaluddin Rumi, from The Essential Rumi, by Coleman Barks

Ya Haqq!


Milad Un-Nabi – The Birthday of the Prophet (saw) 2013

January 22, 2013

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! 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 blessings of Allah be upon him).

According to Sunni scholars, the Prophet’s birthday is observed on 12th Rabi al-Awwal, which falls this year on Thursday, January 24, 2013, and 17th Rabi al-Awwal (January 29th this year) according to Shia scholars.

Since the best historical estimate is that the Prophet (saw) was born in March or April of 570 CE, he would be  1443 years old this year.

It is celebrated as a time to read the Qur’an, fast, pray, and remember the life, teachings, and example of the Prophet (saw) with good deeds.

When praising the Prophet (saw), we are warned, however, 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, may Allah bless you all, gentle readers, and guide you to the best of his noble qualities on the straight path of love, compassion, mercy, generosity, and kindness.  Amin!

The Names of the Prophet (saw)

In the same way that Muhammad(un) rasul Allah (Muhammad is the Messenger of God) follows La Ilaha ill Allah, the names of the Prophet (saw) flow from those of God and are a ladder that leads to Him. The Prophet (saw) has even been honored by God by having some of the Divine Names such as Ta Ha and Nur also bestowed upon him. The chanting of the litanies of the names of the Prophet (saw) is an important practice in Sufism and on a more external level in the everyday activity of many pious Muslims.

Not only is the Prophet (saw) called Muhammad, the most praised one, but he is also Ahmad, the most praiseworthy of those who praise God. He is Wahid, the unique one; Mahi, the annihilator of darkness and ignorance; and Aqib, the last of the prophets. He is Tahir, the pure and clean one; Tayyib, he who possesses beauty and fragrance; and Sayyid, prince and master of the universe. He is, of course, Rasul, messenger, but also Rasul al-Rahmah, the messenger of mercy; and Khatim al rusul, the seal of prophets. He is Abd Allahl, the perfect servant of God, but also Habib Allah, the beloved of God; and Safi Allah, the one chosen by God. He is both Nasir, the victorious helper of men, and Mansur, the one who is made triumphant in this world.

The Prophet (saw) is Muhyi, the vivifier of the dead hearts of men, and Munji, he who delivers man from sin. He is Nur, light, as well as Siraj, the torch that illuminates the path in man’s life; Misbah, the lamp that contains the light of faith, and Huda, the guide to God and paradise. He is Dhu quwwah, the possessor of strength; Dhu hurmah, possessor of sacred reverence; and Dhu makanah, the possessor of integrity. He is both Amin, trustworthy, and Sadiq, truthful. He is Miftah, or key to paradise, and Miftah al-rahmah, the key to God’s mercy. The love of the Prophet (saw) is in fact both a sign of the love of God and the gate to that Mercy from which the very substance of the universe was created.

- From Islamic Spirituality, edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Ya Haqq!

Note:  For a list of Major Events in the Life of the Prophet (pbuh), click HERE.

Ya Haqq!


Beauty and Love

January 17, 2013

 

“Follow only beauty. Obey only love.”

- Khalil Gibran

 

 


In Memorium – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 15, 2013

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Today is the birthday of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, (born January 15, 1929). I do not have the words to do justice to his life and work, and so I will quote only two paragraphs that may help explain why he is one of this nation’s exemplary heroes.

“The gospel at its best deals with the whole man, not only his soul but his body, not only his spiritual well-being, but his material well being. Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.”  Pilgrimage to Non-Violence, 1960

“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Stockholm, Sweden, December 11, 1964.

God bless his soul and memory, and may we as a people learn from his example.  Amen!

Ya Haqq!


Mr. Niktab’s Journey

January 13, 2013

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

One day many year ago, when Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order still lived in Iran, he sent for Mr. Niktab, who had been made a Shaykh recently, and instructed him to go to a remote khaniqah in another province. It was a three day journey by bus, so Mr. Niktab set out to go at once, and walked to the door of the khaniqah.

“Wait, where is your suitcase?” the Master asked.

“I don’t need a suitcase. A darvish travels light and trusts in God” Mr. Niktab said.

“Take a change of clothes,” the Master said.

“Really, Master, I will be fine,” Mr. Niktab insisted.

The Master shook his head and walked away. “Nafs!” he said.

And so Mr. Niktab began his journey. It was mid-summer and a long and dusty journey in an old rickety bus without air-conditioning. Finally, after three days of travel, getting off the bus feeling very hot and sweaty, he began the five mile walk through the desert-like countryside to the khaniqah.

About a mile from the khaniqah, he came upon a grove of trees and large pond fed by a nearby stream. Since the area was deserted, he decided to take a swim and cool off before walking the rest of the way to the khaniqah. He took off all his clothes and waded into the water, uttering a sigh of relief at the coolness, and washed off the sweat from the long journey.

Just then he heard the voices of women coming up the road.  He swam to a nearby reedbed to hide himself, and heard the women stop and talk among themselves.

“Look, someone has left clothes by the water,” one said.  They looked around, and Mr. Niktab had to duck under the water so as not to be seen.

Eventually, the women, who were dervishes on their way to the khaniqah, could not find the owner, and decided to take the clothes with them in case they had dropped out of someone’s luggage.

As they walked off, Mr. Niktab came out of hiding and stood in the center of the pond, naked and alone.  “I’m sorry, Master! Forgive me, Master!” he cried.

He broke off a few branches with leaves to cover himself, and stood waiting behind a tree for a long time, until finally a young man came walking down the path. He recognized him as a darvish, and he called him over.

The young man was astonished to find Mr. Niktab, whom they were all expecting, naked and hiding behind a tree. “What happened?” he asked?

“Nafs!” was all Mr. Niktab would say. He told him to run to the khaniqah and bring back clothes for him to wear.

As the boy disappeared down the road, Mr. Niktab sighed, shaking his head at the lesson the Master had taught him.

When the Master tells you to do something, do it.

Ya Haqq!

NOTE:  It has been suggested by brother Ruslan in the comments that if Mr. Niktab had taken a suitcase, the women would also have taken it. I repeat  that I am certain that if Mr. Niktab had taken a suitcase, no women would have come by. The Master’s lessons are designed in the most succinct way, and always for what is necessary at that moment.

For example, read the post on the Miracle of the Angel, which is also a true story.

http://darvish.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/miracle-of-the-angel/

And Allah knows best :)


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