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Archive for the ‘Adhkar’ Category

after all is said and done

after 20 years of effort and choices

the plain truth is

i have been given that which is uncountable

and so what i have done

is insignificant

as an expression of true gratitude

and what i should not have done

means i owe even more thanks

for the forgiveness without which i am lost

so whichever way i turn

there is the Generous starting back at me

and all i can do is bow down

offer inadequate praise

and submit

to the Lord of ‘Ali

اللهم صل على محمد و آل محمد

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Perhaps someone somewhere has explained this better than I can, but I wanted to share what I consider to be the supreme profundity of our simple dhikr: Subhan Allah Alhamdulillah La ilaha ill Allah Allahu akbar.

 

سبحان الله – Subhan Allah

Subhan Allah means that nothing is like Allah. Anything you see, hear, smell, taste, feel is different from Allah. Allah is transcendent above all of our embodied experience.

الحمد لله – Alhamdulillah

Alhamdulillah, on the other hand, is related to everything. Anything that you can conceptualize is from Allah, and thus all praise for everything in all existence belongs to Allah. There is no wanting something that is not, in the final analysis, wanting Allah, for that which is praiseworthy in that thing could not be there without Allah. Thus, Subhan Allah and Alhamdulillah are two sides of the same coin.

لا إله إلا الله – La ilaha ill Allah

If Subhan Allah was metaphorically like pushing Allah away from everything you can conceptualize, and Alhamdulillah was like bringing Allah as close as possible to everything, then La ilaha ill Allah is the stripping away of that distinction. Is there conceptualization without the Knower of everything sharing a drop of knowledge? Is there an existent world without the Living sharing a drop of life? Is there something to experience, and an experiencer to experience it, that is ever, for even a single moment, independent of Allah?

الله أكبر – Allahu akbar

Subhan Allah was based on the plain understanding that Allah is unlike the creation. Alhamdulillah flipped that observation on its head, and made the creation reveal the Creator at every moment. La ilaha ill Allah erased the distinction entirely. Allahu akbar brings us back into a relationship, where beyond every horizon there is something greater. Where the furthest limits of our imagination cannot reach. For no matter what I say, or do, or experience, or think, or imagine, or want…Allah is always greater than that.

So the next time you repeat these four phrases, try to remember that this simple dhikr is an expression of all that ever was, is, or will be.

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This is the third and last video on spirituality. In it I discuss the concepts of Beauty (جمال) and Majesty (جلال) and our hope and fear in God. I pray that you find benefit in it, and that God accepts it from me, ameen.

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Yesterday two friends who I love for the sake of Allah each encouraged me to return to a more public teaching role. In response to their request, I have decided to start a video series on spirituality that I hope has the same ethos of the writing on A Mercy Case: free, available globally, honest and personal.

Over the past few years, I have come to realize how influential videos are in global religious discourse. Increasingly, people do not like to read much. As such, I hope that these videos will be a complement to my writings. May Allah accept it and put benefit in it, ameen ya Nafi’.

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for You

You need nothing

and yet

let me offer this to You

Creator of my soul

Provider of my consciousness

Giver of a promise to all

 

i cannot even fathom what lays hidden

but what i have heard and seen and felt

is already so beyond words

 

so let my gratitude flow through these words

using what You have given me for Your sake

to glorify You to the extent that You have opened my heart

to understand You

 

only You know Yourself truly

for us the approach has no end

so bless my works in this short life

for how can i claim anything

when i did not create my hands or my mouth or my mind

 

 

You

forever You

always You

never me

 

have mercy on David

for he is who You chose me to be

and were i to thank You

with every breath remaining in my time on earth

it would not even approximate

the reality of Your Generosity

 

يا كريم

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choices

Numerous choices are looming.

حسبنا الله و نعم الوكيل

God is sufficient for us and the best to act on our behalf

There is no way my mind can encompass all the myriad factors relevant to these choices. Past, present and future are lumped together, and I know next to nothing about them all. Better to let the All-Knowing (العليم) lead me.

The other day a friend gave me a dhikr to read, and said I would see the Prophet in my sleep.

صل الله عليه و آله و سلم

blessings and peace be upon him and his family

But I did not. I cannot describe the anticipation I felt lying in bed, and the concomitant disappoint when I awoke. I tried it two nights in a row. But it does not change my reliance (توكل) on Allah. Whether I am given access to the unseen or not does not absolve me of the moral responsibility (تكليف) to do my best. I have to choose – that is what religion is (دين).

I choose that which is best for my child in this world and the next. I choose that which will bring me closer to the pleasure (رضوان) of Allah. I choose that which is most beneficial for humanity, animals, the trees, the water, and the soil. I choose that which will express my gratitude (شكر) to the Creator for the miracle of existence.

The most striking thing I have read in the last few months comes from a commentary on the last 30th of the Qur’an by Shaykh Habib al-Kadhimi.

A person does not need, in order to realize the magnitude of Allah’s generosity, to travel to faraway lands or plumb the depths of their soul. It is sufficient that they consider the contents of their body, especially those incredible signs that Allah has deposited in their heads (“two eyes”) and their wonders. Not only are they organs of perception, but they are also a medium through which we can convey feelings and emotions, or even spiritual influence; “a tongue” that serves amazing purposes, whether in chewing, speaking, or swallowing; “two lips” that are essential for speech, for they are the final instrument for forming sounds after the throat and mouth cavity. It should be obvious that the act of speaking with one’s tongue and lips is one of the most complex processes in existence, as it involves taking thought, which exists beyond the senses, and expressing it in a sensible format. It is through these two processes of thought and expression that all forms of human learning and knowledge are ultimately transmitted. (pp. 188-9)

The fact of the matter is that our own existence is a miracle. Everything else is just details. Whether I am writing something profound or stupid is not nearly as amazing as the fact that I am writing at all. That I am this thing with 10 fingers and ideas in my head and feelings in my heart that manifest as squiggly lines on the computer screen in front of my eyes. And that somewhere out there is another thing with 10 fingers and two eyes who can hear in their head what I am thinking right now as I write this and they read this!

The Qur’an further elaborates this existential truth when it states:

أ أنتم أشد خلقاً أم السماء

Are you more difficult to create or the heavens?!

Just look around you. We are on a planet floating in space around a massive ball of fire surrounded by innumerable other realms.

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Work may cause you to forget it. Family life may cause you to forget it. The particularities of religion may even cause you to forget it. But it is the clear and present truth of existence.

يا حي يا قيوم

O Living! O Self-Subsisting!

And so I am grateful. I am grateful that I am. I am grateful that the Giver of Life (المحي) gave me life. I am grateful that I am surrounded by other beings who have been granted life and that we can communicate with each other. I am grateful that I exist. I am grateful that you exist.

And so I will choose. Imperfect me will choose the best I know how. I have been down this road before.

But there is something different now in this season of choosing – I have been blessed to learn some of the words of the Ahl al-Bayt, upon them peace. Words I didn’t know before when I made important choices about family and career.

لو عرفوا الناس محاسن كلامنا لآتبعونا

If humanity knew the beauty of our words, they would follow us

We are a people of words: Divine Speech, Prophetic Words, and the Wisdom of Wilayah. Without those words, how could I know myself? It is the beauty of those words that make me burn inside with yearning to see those who utter them. It is words that changed my life. And so I close with some of those words, trusting in theirs more than my own.

O God,

I ask from You the best in Your knowledge,

so bless Muhammad and his Household

and decree for me the best!

Inspire us with knowledge to chose the best

and make that a means to being pleased with what You have decreed for us

and submitting to what You have decided!

Banish from us the doubt of misgiving

and confirm us with the certainty of the sincere!

Visit us not with incapacity to know what You have chosen,

lest we despise Your measuring out,

dislike the place of Your good pleasure,

and incline toward that which is further from good outcome

and nearer to the opposite of well-being!

Make us love what we dislike in Your decree

and make easy for us what we find difficult in Your decision!

Inspire us to yield to that which You bring upon us by Your will,

lest we love the delay of what You have hastened

and the hastening of what You have delayed,

dislike what You love,

and choose what You dislike!

Seal us with that which is most praised in outcome

and most generous in issue!

Surely You give generous gain,

bestow the immense,

do what You will,

and You are powerful over everything.

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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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