Hazrat Ali’s Sermon on Eid ul-Fitr

July 16, 2015

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The blessed month of Ramadan is over today, and Muslims around the world will soon be celebrating Eid ul-Fitr on Friday, July 17th this year, so it is fitting to post this again:

On the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, Hazrat Ali (A.S.) delivered a sermon in which he said:

“O people! Verily this day of yours is the day when the righteous are awarded and the wretched are losers. It is a day which is similar to the one on which you shall be standing (before your Lord). Therefore, when you come out of your homes to go to places of your prayer, remind yourselves about the day when you (your souls) shall come out of your bodies to go to your Lord. When you stand on places of your prayer, remind yourselves of your standing in the presence of your Lord (on the day of Judgment). And when you return to your homes (after prayer), remind yourselves about your returning to your homes in Paradise. O Servants of Allah! Verily the minimum reward for those men and women who fasted (during Ramadan), is an Angel, who calls out to them on the last day of the month of Ramadan (saying): O SERVANTS OF ALLAH! REJOICE THE GLAD TIDING THAT ALL YOUR PREVIOUS SINS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN…”

– From the Nahjul-Balaghah.

Eid-ul-Fitr is a unique festival. It has no connection with any historical event nor is it related to the changes of seasons or cycles of agriculture. It is not a festival related in any way to worldly affairs. Its significance is purely spiritual. It is the day when Muslims thank God for having given them the will, the strength and the endurance to observe the fast and obey His commandments during the holy month of Ramadan.

Alhamdulillah! May Allah bless us all and grant that we use this Eid as a lens to focus the sunlight of good works, which have shone so brightly during Ramadan, to light the way through this coming year until the next Ramadan. Ameen! Ameen!

Eid Mubarak!

Ya Haqq!


In the Company of the Master

June 30, 2015

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

banbury gateThe following anecdote is a lovely remembrance of Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh (1926-2008), Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order. It will be included in the forthcoming book, Tales of the Sufi Master.

___________________________

I leave dry Santa Fe and arrive in the misty green English countryside. Here, every taxi driver knows the way to the Old Windmill farm, twenty-four acres of fruit trees, flowers, and deep bed vegetable gardens. A dog and a welcoming party greet me at the center gate.

I sleep in a brick grain tower with a spiraling staircase winding up three floors of wall lined bookcases, attached to an old Tudor house. Surprisingly, I meet an old friend I haven’t seen in years. We “room” together on the second landing of the tower. Rugs, snakeskins, dream catchers – a vast collection of gifts accumulated from international guests also line the walls. Master’s room in the main house is overflowing with flowers and gifts; weird and yet strangely beautiful and humorous at the same time. More gifts hang on the walls; an array of musical instruments rest by the fireplace in the large meditation room. The breezeway connects the Master’s room with the meditation room.

My hair discovers its African roots in the mist. It is happy in its short ringlets. It is as relaxed as my skin. But I can’t only claim the climate for the change. Lack of stress has conditioned my hair here and moisturized my skin. Lines are there but they sit easy on my face.

I garden, weeding for two weeks solid, and then for a change plant flowers. But here is where words fail me. I am laughing, crying, talking to myself and seem to be opening up with each weed I pull, with each flower I plant. At one point I lie down on a mound of earth blissfully holding on like a child to its mother.

I am left alone while others work together in the apple orchard. While all this is happening Master comes and goes, instructing me in the proper conduct of life, my life. But not with many words; a laugh, a demonstration regarding attention to details, intuition, a word or two, a stern word, a loving word, a look…and so it goes. I pay close attention and pray I learn. I never finish an area of work, I never complete a project; Master moves me on to another project. One time the rain began to come down heavily but I didn’t hear anyone call me in. When a few finally yelled to come in for lunch, I ran upstairs to clean up, got in line to welcome Master, as we could see him from the window screens in the breezeway. He stopped, looked down at the one flower I neglected to plant when called in. It was still in my hand. He didn’t look at me, he looked at the plant in hand amid the pouring rain. I left the line, went out and planted the flower. They all waited until I cleaned up and came down again. So it goes.

There are about fifteen others here. I am happy to see “Bruja”Jane; mistress of the garden. It’s been three years sine I’ve seen her. In my enthusiasm I weed more than just weeds. Actually, one of her prized African lily seedling. She asks where is her prized African lily and I freeze. I think I heard myself say, “I’m sorry.” She wasn’t angry but…So I’m thinking I know less about weeds that I thought I did. I ask her this time to take me around the garden and point out those that are and are not weeds. My ego is not feeling too good.

I see Mr. Niktab, the Shaykh of Shaykhs, walking slowly in his 80 years and recent knee surgery. He uses a cane and only walks short distances. He has been a darvish for maybe 40 years. He mirrors-lives only to serve the Master. A sudden spring arises in my eyes and travels down my face as I see him walk by. Maybe the years he came to visit the Seattle center, maybe the years he spoke to me, have finally found a way into my heart. He danced that night for Master in our sama gathering. I am certain he used no cane.

I massage the Master’s feet and he tells me I’m not strong enough. Two days later he asks for a massage again and tells the person sitting next to me how strong my hands are. He tells me how young I look one day and tells me not to help serving lunch the next day because I am too old, I should just sit. So it goes. I realize he is training me and every person that sincerely comes before him, relentlessly, tirelessly, patiently, never saying directly what to do. But I am weak, broken, wounded by the mere outskirts of life, in search for understanding, in search of myself. I look up at the sky, pregnant with the possibility of rain again, and then it rains and then the sun shines and the process begins again and it’s all very simple and clear here. I am not thinking of my departure.

The dynamics of the fifteen or so of us keep shifting as some leave and new beggars arrive. We are kind here. We want to be. We want to serve. Our ego-the dragon-liquid fire is with us. We are aware of it as it comes and goes, tricks us, shifts, but maybe we are more vigilant here and try not to hold on, just let it come and go.

However, the two weeks are over and Master boots me out of Paradise. The list of my my unvoiced questions have somehow been answered. Master had delivered on his promise, and tells me I must return to pick apples in September. That, too, is enigma. At this point in time I am to begin a new teaching job in September. At this point in time it seems impossible.

He yells at me “goodbye” the night before I leave in a very unattractive sound and the next morning I stumble out of bed 3:30am for a 4:30am cab. In the kitchen, one darvish has made it a point to get up with me and serve me tea, bread, cheese and honey before I leave…with a hug goodbye. What a loving 4:30am.

I have been home now for one month and have not “recovered.” My dragon is a little more active and my tears are like rain clouds overflowing onto the lush countryside of longing. I yearn to return but I know the work is inward and I must live in this world too as I have lived there.

– Carole Ross, July, 1998

Ya Haqq!

 


Milad Un-Nabi – The Birthday of the Prophet (saw) 2015

January 8, 2015

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 January 3, 2015, and 17th Rabi al-Awwal (January 8th 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  1445 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 isWahid, 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 alsoRasul 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 isDhu quwwah, the possessor of strength; Dhu hurmah, possessor of sacred reverence; andDhu 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!


Jesus was a Palestinian

December 24, 2014

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Merry Christmas, 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 3, 2014

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!


What Love Demands – Eid al-Adha Mubarak :)

October 1, 2014

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Eid Mubarak!

May Allah bless you all this Eid al-Adha, dear Brothers and Sisters, with generosity of hand, sincerity of speech, kindness in action, and love and joy in remembrance of HU, 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 beloved son 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 (as) 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 (peace be unto him) 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 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!


Hazrat Ali’s Sermon on Eid ul-Fitr

July 26, 2014

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The blessed month of Ramadan is over soon, and Muslims around the world will soon be celebrating Eid ul-Fitr, so it is fitting to post this again:

On the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, Hazrat Ali (A.S.) delivered a sermon in which he said:

“O people! Verily this day of yours is the day when the righteous are awarded and the wretched are losers. It is a day which is similar to the one on which you shall be standing (before your Lord). Therefore, when you come out of your homes to go to places of your prayer, remind yourselves about the day when you (your souls) shall come out of your bodies to go to your Lord. When you stand on places of your prayer, remind yourselves of your standing in the presence of your Lord (on the day of Judgment). And when you return to your homes (after prayer), remind yourselves about your returning to your homes in Paradise. O Servants of Allah! Verily the minimum reward for those men and women who fasted (during Ramadan), is an Angel, who calls out to them on the last day of the month of Ramadan (saying): O SERVANTS OF ALLAH! REJOICE THE GLAD TIDING THAT ALL YOUR PREVIOUS SINS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN…”

– From the Nahjul-Balaghah.

Eid-ul-Fitr is a unique festival. It has no connection with any historical event nor is it related to the changes of seasons or cycles of agriculture. It is not a festival related in any way to worldly affairs. Its significance is purely spiritual. It is the day when Muslims thank God for having given them the will, the strength and the endurance to observe the fast and obey His commandments during the holy month of Ramadan.

Alhamdulillah! May Allah bless us all and grant that we use this Eid as a lens to focus the sunlight of good works, which have shone so brightly during Ramadan, to light the way through this coming year until the next Ramadan. Ameen! Ameen!

Eid Mubarak!

Ya Haqq!


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