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Archive for November, 2017

Signs

When We let people taste [Our] mercy after a distress that has befallen them, behold, they scheme against Our signs! Say, ‘Allah is more swift at devising.’ Indeed Our messengers write down what you scheme.

It is He who carries you across land and sea. When you are in the ships, and they sail with them with a favourable wind, rejoicing in it, there comes upon them a tempestuous wind and waves assail them from every side, and they think that they are besieged, they invoke Allah putting exclusive faith in Him, ‘If You deliver us from this, we will surely be among the grateful.’

But when He delivers them, behold, they commit violations on the earth unduly! O mankind! Your violations are only to your own detriment. [These are] the wares of the life of this world; then to Us will be your return, whereat We will inform you concerning what you used to do.

The parable of the life of this world is that of water which We send down from the sky. It mingles with the earth’s vegetation from which humans and cattle eat. When the earth puts on its luster and is adorned, and its inhabitants think they have power over it, Our edict comes to it, by night or day, whereat We turn it into a mown field, as if it did not flourish the day before. Thus do We elaborate the signs for a people who reflect.

Allah invites to the abode of peace, and He guides whomever He wishes to a straight path.

– Verses 21-5 of Surah Yunus translated by Ali Quli Qara’i

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The following du’a from al-Sahifa al-Sajjadiya has become one of the defining texts of my faith over the last year. It expresses better than anything else I know a fundamental spiritual truth that helps us to understand the world and the God Who created it. Essentially, it is about the limits of thankfulness (shukr). On a day when Americans are supposed to be in a state of thanksgiving, I thought it would be beneficial to share it.

 

The English translation by Dr. William Chittick is as follows:

O God, 
no one reaches a limit in thanking Thee 
without acquiring that of Thy beneficence 
which enjoins upon him thanksgiving, 

nor does anyone reach a degree in obeying Thee, 
even if he strives, 
without falling short of what Thou deservest 
because of Thy bounty. 

The most thankful of Thy servants 
has not the capacity to thank Thee, 
and the most worshipful of them 
falls short of obeying Thee. 

To none of them is due 
Thy forgiveness through what he himself describes 
or Thy good pleasure for his own merit. 

When Thou forgivest someone,
it is through Thy graciousness, 
and when Thou art pleased with someone, 
it is through Thy bounty. 

Thou showest gratitude 
for the paltry for which Thou showest gratitude 
and Thou rewardest 
the small act in which Thou art obeyed, 
so that it looks as if Thy servants’ thanksgiving 
for which Thou hast made their pledge their reward 
and made great their repayment 
is an affair from which they could have held back without Thee, 
and since Thou wilt recompense them, 
and who cause is not in Thy hand, 
and then Thou wilt repay them.

Nay, my God, Thou hadst power over their affair 
before they had power to worship Thee, 
and Thou hadst prepared their reward 
before they began to obey Thee; 
and that because Thy wont is bestowal of bounty, 
Thy custom beneficence, 
Thy way pardon. 

So all creatures confess 
that Thou wrong not him whom Thou punishest 
and bear witness 
that Thou bestowest bounty upon him whom Thou pardonest. 
Each admits that he has fallen short of what Thou meritest. 

Had Satan not misled them from Thy obedience, 
no disobeyer would have disobeyed Thee,
and had he not shown falsehood to them in the likeness of truth 
no strayer would have gone astray from Thy path. 

So glory be to Thee! 
How manifest is Thy generosity 
in dealing with him who obeys or disobeys Thee! 
Thou showest gratitude to the obedient 
for that which Thou undertakest for him, 
and Thou grantest a reply to the disobedient 
in that within which Thou art able to hurry him. 

Thou givest to each of them 
that which is not his due, 
and Thou bestowest bounty upon each 
in that wherein his works fall short. 

Wert Thou to counterbalance for the obedient servant
that which Thou Thyself hadst undertaken, 
he would be on the point of losing Thy reward 
and seeing the end of Thy favor, 
but through Thy generosity Thou hast repaid him 
for a short, perishing term 
with a long, everlasting term, 
and for a near, vanishing limit 
with an extended, abiding limit. 

Then Thou dost not visit him with a settling of accounts 
for Thy provision through which he gained strength to obey Thee, 
nor dost Thou force him to make reckonings 
for the organs he employed 
to find the means to Thy forgiveness. 
Wert Thou to do that to him,
it would take away 
everything for which he had worked 
and all where he had exerted himself 
as repayment for the smallest of Thy benefits 
and kindnesses, 
and he would remain a bride before Thee 
for Thy other favors. 
So how can he deserve something of Thy reward? 
Indeed, how? 

This, my God, is the state of him who obeys Thee 
and the path of him who worships Thee. 
But as for him who disobeys Thy command 
and goes against Thy prohibition, 
Thou dost not hurry him to Thy vengeance, 
so that he may seek to replace 
his state in disobeying Thee
with the state of turning back to obey Thee, 
although he deserved from the time he set out to disobey Thee 
every punishment which Thou hast prepared 
for all Thy creatures. 

Through each chastisement 
which Thou hast kept back from him 
and each penalty of Thy vengeance and Thy punishment 
which Thou hast delayed from him, 
Thou hast avoided from Thy right 
and shown good pleasure 
in place of what Thou hast made obligatory. 

So who is more generous, my God, than Thou? 
And who is more wretched than he who perishes 
in spite of Thee? 
Indeed, who?
Thou art too blessed to be described 
by any but beneficence 
and too generous for any but justice 
to be feared from Thee! 
There is no dread that Thou wilt be unjust 
toward him who disobeys Thee, 
nor any fear of Thy neglecting to reward 
him who satisfies Thee. 

So bless Muhammad and his household , 
give me my hope, 
and increase me in that of Thy guidance 
through which I may be successful in my works! 
Surely Thou art All-kind, Generous.

اللهم صل على محمد و آل محمد

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The Goal

On your birthday, you are reminded of your years and why you have done what you have done.

The goal is clear: Paradise.

The means to the goal: striving to know the best inward states and outward actions at any given moment, embodying them, and if best, teaching that to others.

“The best remembrance of Allah is when a person is faced with something forbidden (which he has the ability to perform), however because of the remembrance of Allah, he prevents himself from falling into sin.”

– Imam ‘Ali عليه السلام (as quoted in Weapon of the Believer: A Manual of Daily Prayers & Supplications, trans. by Saleem Bhimji, p. 82)

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Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois visited the Rohingya Cultural Center in Chicago on October 18th.

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He then spoke about his visit and the ongoing genocide of the Rohingya from the Senate floor a few days ago.

 

He and a bipartisan group of senators have met with the Ambassador of Myanmar and introduced The Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act (S.2060). The International Campaign for the Rohingya have created a form so that you can easily contact your senator to support it. I have contacted my senators in New York.

Please consider doing this.

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/tell-your-senators-support-s2060-and-sanction-burmas-army-now?link_id=1&can_id=25d2a07726257dcb887fb5b1b08d65c9&source=email-tell-congress-sanction-burmas-army-now-2&email_referrer=email_258434___subject_312551&email_subject=take-action-sanction-burmas-army-now

 

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