Spirituality

Hallmark of Lovers

Posted by on Feb 21, 2012 in Spirituality | Comments Off

Hallmark of Lovers

Speaking about the station of love, Ibn al-Qayyim wrote: ‘It is the station for which the competitors compete; to it do the workers fix their gaze; for reaching its mark do the forerunners strive; upon it do the lovers annihilate themselves; and with its refreshing breeze do devotees revive themselves. It is the heart’s strength, the soul’s nourishment and the eye’s splendour.’ In this piece from Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, the nature of divine love is discussed in relation to divine obedience. The masters of the inward life tell us that the lowest degree of love is that love of God should reign supreme in one’s heart. Its litmus test being: to disobey someone you love should they invite you to disobey God. The utmost degree is that there remains not even the slightest love for other than God in one’s heart. And that is rarer than red sulphur!

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Dhahabi’s Gifts Of Gold: 2

Posted by on Dec 3, 2011 in Spirituality | Comments Off

Dhahabi’s Gifts Of Gold: 2

This is the second instalment in the series from al-Dhahabi’s treasure-trove, Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala. In this instalment, gems are related about the merits and status of Abu Hanifah; the dangers of learning sacred knowledge from only books, without sitting at the feet of living teachers; Imam Malik and the concept of praiseworthy trials; on lovers and limits of love; Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal, spiritual blessings (barakah) and the Prophet’s relics; the correct way to understand the divine attributes; and also a concise and just word regarding Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah.

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Ma‘rifah: Being Acquainted with Allah

Posted by on Jun 23, 2009 in Spirituality | Comments Off

Ma‘rifah: Being Acquainted with Allah

Knowing God in order that hearts incline to Him in loving submission and wholehearted commitment is, as Islam sees things, the higher purpose of life. Quoting classical scholarship, Abu Aaliyah explores what ma‘rifah (“knowing” God) entails and how it can best be nurtured as a reality in our day-to-day life. For amidst life’s dramas, and amidst its songs of sorrow and joy, the Qur’an asks the human creature to know their Maker and to remember Him, and to live out their lives in conscious awareness of Him.

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Nuturing Love for Allah

Posted by on Feb 27, 2009 in Spirituality | Comments Off

Nuturing Love for Allah

In his usual characteristic flare, Imam Ibn al-Qayyim outlines ten ways whereby the seeker may cultivate a profound love and yearning for God. Grounded in scriptural texts, the journey starts with love as an expression of divine obedience and culminates in being lost in the love of the One being loved. Ibn al-Qayyim says elsewhere, that first the seeker’s heart shows interest in the Beloved; this is followed by an attachment, which gradually develops into an ardent longing. This longing is followed by infatuation, finally reaching tatayyum – “thralldom”, “enslavement”: where the Beloved becomes the owner of the lover, who finds no other in his heart. It all begins, however, with interest and attachment.

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The Prophetic Character

Posted by on Feb 22, 2008 in Spirituality | Comments Off

The Prophetic Character

This is a short piece translated from Ibn Qudamah’s Mukhtasar Minhaj al-Qasidin. It distills a picture the Quran and hadiths build up of the Prophet’s virtues and character, peace be upon him: trustworthiness, integrity, honesty, steadfastness, affability, courage, courtesy, and other qualities too numerous to list. To say the Prophet’s is a life well documented is an understatement. There is hardly an area of his life which did not come under the scrutiny of his close companions, who left for posterity all that they saw him do or hear him say. The reason: to know what the Prophet, peace be upon him, did is to know what we all should do. The Qur’an describes him as “a beautiful example”, and so the Prophet’s sunnah or practice, Qur’an aside, is the very notion of Islam itself – emulation of which becomes the life work of a believer in his or her journey to God.

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I‘tikaf: Alone with the One

Posted by on Sep 22, 2007 in Spirituality | Comments Off

I‘tikaf: Alone with the One

I‘tikaf, in its lexical sense, means to “cling” to a thing, or to be “confined” and “devoted” to it. Religiously, it is to confine oneself to a mosque so as to remember God and be devoted exclusively to Him. I‘tikaf, or spiritual seclusion, is a recommended act, even more so during the last ten days of Ramadan. Imam Ibn al-Qayyim explains the goals of i‘tikaf, this withdrawal from ordinary life in search of the extraordinary, and the spiritual openings it offers.

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Structuring Our Time & Litanies

Posted by on Jun 25, 2007 in Spirituality | Comments Off

Structuring Our Time & Litanies

Imam al-Shafi‘i once said: ‘Time is like a sword, if you don’t cut it, it will cut you.’ It has also been said: ‘Time is but the stream we go fishing in.’ Islam’s arbab al-qulub (lit. “masters of the heart” or simply, “spiritual masters”) tell us that filling our lives with works of faith and service to others is how spiritual blessings within our time is manifested and the journey to God made constant. The cornerstone of the journey and the seeker’s weapon is dhikr – the remembrance of God. Here, al-Ghazali (d.505H/1111CE) speaks about the need to organize our time and fill it with prayer, dhikr and litanies so that it is blessed and not squandered, and that we are not cast adrift from the path by constant procrastination.

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Have You Parted Company with the Qu’ran?

Posted by on Mar 10, 2007 in Spirituality | Comments Off

Have You Parted Company with the Qu’ran?

‘The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it to others,’ says one hadith. Another tells us: ‘Indeed, God elevates a people by this Book and debases others by it.’ These hadiths probably go a long way in explaining why the Muslims, and what is still referred to as the Muslim world, are in the plight they are in. Ibn al-Qayyim, in corrective mood, describes five ways in which we can and do neglect, ignore or even desert the Qur’an! Only by knowing them may we offer a candid response to: Have you parted company with the Qur’an? So if not the fear of God, then curiosity alone ought to make this essential reading.

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Dhahabi’s Gifts Of Gold: 1

Posted by on Feb 15, 2007 in Spirituality | Comments Off

Dhahabi’s Gifts Of Gold: 1

Imam Shams al-Din al-Dhahabi (d.748H/1348CE) was an outstanding hadith master and historian of Islam. His thirty-six volume hagiography of scholars, saints and prominent personalities of Islam, Siyar A’lam al-Nubala, is nothing less than a treasure-trove. The work is peppered with places where he says, in the course of relating a biography: qultu – “I say” – after which he offers some theological, legal or spiritual gem of profound value. Abu Aaliyah has translated a few of these gems here, as part of an on-going series. In the first of them, gems are related about how a student balances between knowledge and devotion; the believer’s attitude towards the prophetic relics; what qualifications are required to “weigh-up” proof texts and select the “strongest” view; and a moderate word on Yazid b. Mu’awiyah.

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A Bizarre Affair

Posted by on Jan 1, 2007 in Spirituality | Comments Off

A Bizarre Affair

Ibn al-Qayyim, here in the role of admonisher and exhorter, stirs us from the spiritual slumber most of us have lulled ourselves into. He sets the alarm bell to ring with thundering clarity, even as the minute hand of the soul approaches the first few lines his pen scribes. His words, when read with an openness, challenges our lethargy, shatters our complacency, and strips away the self-righteous smugness we can feel merely because we have uttered the words: “I believe”! So let souls be shaken and hearts awakened.

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