Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘The Struggle’ Category

It was a long and difficult day, as I am sure it was for many.

It was the first day in my life that the news said a Shi’i Muslim American was killed by a Sunni Muslim American because he was Shi’i. Whatever the outcome of this specific court case, it was the perception that mattered. The feeling that the bloodshed that happens so regularly in Pakistan, Nigeria, Saudi, and other nations far away has finally crossed the Atlantic.

I did not tell my son about any of it.

Right before he fell asleep, he said he wanted to tell me something.

Usually, I would say, “no, it’s time to go sleep.”

But for some reason I didn’t.

He started telling me about this story he heard at school, about a fish that granted wishes. Since he was so tired, he wasn’t telling it in a way that was clear. Again, normally I would just let him trail off and say something like, “interesting,” until he fully passed out. But this time, for some unknown reason, I started asking him questions to clarify what he was trying to say. Eventually it became clear that it was a story with a moral not to be greedy with your wishes. And I thought that was it, and he would go to sleep.

But then he said, “Abba, so I thought about what I would do if I had 3 wishes.”

“Oh, what are they,” I said.

“I would wish to go back in time 1400 years, be 40 years old, and fight for Imam Husayn.”

Yes, my son, I wish that too.

Read Full Post »

I spend every day as an American the same way I spend every other day.

With the choice to obey God or not.

With the choice to believe in God or not.

With the choice to believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins or not.

With the choice to believe whether Muhammad is a Messenger from God or not.

With the choice to believe whether Krishna is waiting for me in Goloka Vrindavan or not.

With the choice to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster or not.

With the choice to believe that the world is flat and George Soros has funded the Great Reset and Q has exposed the Clintons or not.

Whether this is better or worse than the daily reality of other countries is a moot point, because if I truly believed that somewhere was better for me, then wouldn’t I be obliged to move my family there for the sake of Allah (like the Sufi Auntie who gave me the unsolicited advice to move my family to Istanbul and everything would take care of itself)?

America is my country by God’s Decree. God could have created me in the womb of a woman in Botswana or Indonesia, but that was not God’s choice.

I am simply trying to be where God has established me (كن حيث أقامك الله).

Over the years I have learned a lot from studying about and visiting Saudi, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, India, Kuwait, Turkey, Bangladesh, Spain, France, Iraq, Kenya, UK, Canada, Mexico, Panama, Sweden, Syria and Norway. There are places I have yet to visit that I believe it is important for me to learn more about, such as Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan, South Korea, Chile, Japan, China, Philippines, Bahrain, Lebanon, Russia, Peru, and Brazil.

But none of them are my country.

I understand this sort of connection to a nation is not how some feel, but it is how I feel. It is my daily reality.

Islamic law is just another choice I face every day, and I choose to follow the best of what I have found, and that currently means I am a muqallid of Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Taqi al-Modarressi of Karbala. In that choice, I am in solidarity with other Americans, Britishers, South Africans, Iraqis and more.

But I can always change my mind. I used to be a Hanafi, and then a Maliki, and now I am a Ja’fari. With each choice, I feel I have moved closer to what God wants from me. But only God knows and only God can judge. May Allah accept from me the deeds I have done trying to be in conformity to Allah’s laws, ameen.

Life is a journey, and if there is anything I have learned, it is to expect the unexpected. I believe Allah constantly tests the sincerity of my belief, often in ways I never foresaw, and I have found Qur’anic proofs for that, such

“Do people think once they say, ‘We believe,’ that they will be left without being put to the test? We certainly tested those before them. And Allah will clearly distinguish between those who are truthful and those who are liars.” (29.2-3)

Whether or not you believe that about yourself is up to you to decide. May Allah make me from the truthful (الصادقون), ameen.

I share this because this is my reality. Every post you have ever read from me has been articulated against this socio-political backdrop. I recognize now very few of my readers share this experience, and often my readers expect me to articulate positions that mirror their realities. But I can’t do that. All I can do is be sensitive to the realities of others, and then act accordingly from the point in space and time in which I exist.

But it is also important that my readers are sensitive to my reality, and the inescapable conclusion that faith/belief/knowledge has always been a choice for me. No one put a Qur’an in my hand and said, “believe or perish!” I chose to read the Qur’an with my own freedom, to determine if I believed that God had spoken to humanity or not. At the same time I was first reading the Qur’an, I was reading the Baha’i scriptures for the same reason.

“Whenever Our Revelation is recited to them they say, ‘We have heard all this before – we could say something like this if we wanted – this is nothing but ancient fables.’ They also said, ‘God, if this really is the truth from You, then rain stones on us from the heavens, or send us some other painful punishment.’ But God would not send them punishment while you [Prophet] are in their midst, nor would He punish them if they sought forgiveness.” (8.31-3)

And so every day I invoke blessings upon the Prophet and seek forgiveness:

أستغفر الله وأتوب إليه

اللهم صل على محمد وآل محمد

It is my choice and my tongue, and I try to use it for the sake of the One who gave it me.

Not for my parents, whom I love dearly.

Not for my country, which is a part of me.

But for my Creator (الخالق), the One who made my existence possible (المحيي), the One from whom I seek benefit (النافع), the One in whom I seek protection from harm (الضآر), the One in whom I hope to the utmost extents of hope (الوهاب), the One who I fear more than coming to the end of my own existence (الجبار).

May my Lord accept from me, āmīn.

a book published 90 years ago about our family’s first 300 years in North America

Read Full Post »

Like many people, I enjoyed watching the shows of Anthony Bourdain. I can’t speak for others, but for me, I lived vicariously through his adventures. It would be nice to travel that much, and see the world Allah has created, and all of its people. It is not that I wasn’t blessed to have that possibility, but rather that I chose to focus on other things. But he was a reminder that, “dear humanity, we most certainly created all of you from a single male and a single female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may know one another.”

A darker side of me, left over from my days before Islam, subtly wished I could just eat and drink anything like he did. If a people’s food represents something of themselves, he was willing to try almost anything, and thus experience all of what humanity had to offer. I had been that way before Islam, but Islam put a number of restrictions on that process that I sometimes struggled to embrace. Late at night, when I was tired from another day of struggling to address my spiritual wounds, it was fun to fantasize about having “no reservations.”

And so I, like many others, was shocked and hurt by his suicide. How could someone who lived such an interesting life, who was appreciated by so many around the world, take his own life?! For a long time, it didn’t make any sense to me. From what I have read, it seemed that his search for something higher, as expressed through deep love for another human being, fell apart and the pain was just too much to bear.

In a way, the pre-Islamic version of myself feels like it can intuit what he was going through. Perhaps he really felt there was nothing left to live for – he had already done everything he could think to do, and the one thing that filled his heart with joy was being ripped away and there was no hope left and no refuge. But the version of my self that has been shaped by Islam recoils in horror at such a worldview, and thinks of the Qur’an stating, “and the Earth, despite its vastness, seemed to close in on you.”

I am reminded of him now, and my private grappling with his death for the last 4 years, after reading this passage tonight:

“The heart of a believer is like a garden. A believer has to face material difficulties in the world. But he is not aggrieved of these problems. These thorns only prick the body and are confined within the boundaries of the garden. However, the garden of the heart has no place for these thorns. Even in this material world the soul of the believer is safe from all calamities. ‘for such there shall be safety, and they are the rightly guided.

The sole desire of a believer in this world is that his Lord should be pleased with him. Such a person does not despair due to failures and material setbacks. He considers only Allah as his guardian and the guardian of others. He recognizes the power, wisdom and mercy of Allah. He considers Allah his Master and considers himself His slave. ‘That is because Allah is the Protector of those who believe, and because the unbelievers shall have no protector for them.’

Thus a believer does not become sorrowful and aggrieved by the difficulties of this worldly life. They do not even make him angry. Allah keeps the hearts of the believer peaceful in this world also. ‘He it is Who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers.’

A believer always faces adversity with determination. He does not stumble, nor do his feet tremble. He does not fall down on this path. He knows that behind every calamity is hidden wisdom and he alone shall be eligible for the benefit of this hidden wisdom. All that he hopes from Allah is that He removes this difficulty or in this way recompenses it so that even the physical pain does not remain for him. ‘If you suffer pain, then surely they too suffer pain as you suffer pain, yet you hope from Allah that which they do not hope in.’

That is, you hope for salvation from problems, forgiveness and rewards, but the unbelievers have no such hopes. They remain forever in the darkness of hopelessness.”

I suggest listening to the recitation of each verse, available through the links. It reached my heart, and it reminded me of how much hope Islam gives me in the face of so much sorrow on this Earth, even from the sorrows that have nothing to do with war, disease, poverty, and oppression.

This hope doesn’t erase the sadness I feel when I think about Anthony Bourdain, but it does clarify why I never took him as a role model. And more than that, it makes me realize that Islam can address the realities of all Americans. The person I was becoming before I became a Muslim was more like Anthony Bourdain than Malcolm X. In fact, with the exception of Islam, I identify far more with Anthony Bourdain than I do with Malcolm X. I was never in an actual prison, needing redemption. I didn’t grow up facing structural oppression that limited my life choices. I was, like so many other White American men, in the prison of my own self, in what another White American Male suicide David Foster Wallace calls a “tiny skull-sized kingdom, alone at the center of all creation.” And it was there that I heard the call of a caller calling towards faith in a Garden whose expanse is vaster than both the heavens and the Earth, and that has made all the difference.

So when all is said and done, thank You God for sending me the Qur’an to guide me out of darknesses and into light, and please provide hope to all those whose hearts feel heavy when they think of Anthony Bourdain.

Read Full Post »

After 24 years of being a Muslim, what do I consider the central challenge of being Muslim in the 21st century?

The tension between the local and the global.

On the one hand, Islam is supposed to be universal. In theory, some Muslim in Malaysia or Peru and I are part of the same “community.”

But on the other hand, no human being can be both in the USA and Malaysia and Peru at the same time.

Muslim communities function the same way that all human communities function – with the assumption that one person has one body that can only be located in one place on the planet Earth at any given time.

This leads to the intellectual challenge commonly known as postmodernism. “Postmodernism” is a catch-all term for the trend in human intellectual culture to focus on the ways an individual makes sense of reality. Postmodernism highlights the worldview of a single individual in history, and from that basis tries to build up a sense of the aggregate formations of human culture that are built on those individualistic building blocks.

So, for example, what does that Muslim in Peru think about the USA? What do I think about Malaysia? What does the Muslim in Malaysia think about Peru? All three places are created by God, and all three people were placed there by God (according to the most basic and universal Islamic theological concepts). But the fact of the matter is that all three of us might know nothing about the other two! Even though we are all 1) human beings, 2) Muslims, and 3) inhabitants of the planet Earth, we really are living in a state of fundamental ignorance about each other.

My entire adult life has been dedicated to overcoming this problem, and I realize that it has been part of my struggles with Facebook for the last 4 years. I am here to say that even though I have been blessed to study more than most and to travel more than most, the problem is truly daunting. I have met no single Muslim individual anywhere on Earth who is not bound by their individual limitations of study, travel, experience, and global positioning. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I do not know.

I am posting this online because the internet is by far the most accessible international medium that I have access to. But even it has limitations, due to WordPress being based in the USA, and governed by American laws. And I too am an American, governed by American laws and American standards. Because Allah decided that I would be born in the USA, and not Malaysia or Peru or anywhere else, and that I would have white skin, and that my father would be the CEO of an investment bank – all of that means I am who I am. I cannot be other than who I am, but I want to be in a state of submission to the Lord of all the worlds.

I have been to Makkah and Madinah three times to worship my Lord, but each time I have returned here to my homeland. 500 years ago, there was not a single person born on this side of the Earth (North and South America) that had ever visited Makkah even once. But still everyday myself, and the Muslims of Malaysia and Peru, face in that direction for prayer.

Put simply, the Islamic tradition that existed for the first 1000 years of the Ummah never had to deal with a truly global world. At its best, such as in the famous story of Ibn Battuta رحمة الله عليه, the conversation reached from West Africa to China (but importantly did not yet include Japan, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand, let alone North and South America). In an era of manuscripts and travel by camel or ship, it took a long time for ideas to travel throughout those parts of Earth.

So what is the point of me saying all this?

Let’s be a little more charitable with each other, and less quick to rush to judgement. I have been guilty of this in the past, without a doubt. But I realize now how deeply complex things are, and how few are willing to face it. I am trying to sincerely grapple with it, and I am always looking for other intellects who feel that they are trying as well.

If you don’t want to face it, that is your choice. Maybe you just want to retreat to your little corner of the world where you are certain about what is right and wrong, and true and false. Maybe it is just easier to say these are the good guys/gals and those are the bad guys/gals, and besides, I have more important things to worry about like my job and my family and my health and so on.

But if that is the case, then please don’t listen to me, because what I say is just going to frustrate you, and your comments are going to frustrate me too. You are going to want me to just reaffirm what you already know to be true, and be pissed off when I deviate from the script. In every single instance where I feel that I was dismissed by another Muslim, it was because of this – because they already knew the right way of thinking and acting, and didn’t see any value in what I am trying to do.

I truly appreciate those who have engaged me online, and I want to continue that. But I want to use the internet in the best way possible, and I am realizing now that means that I need readers that understand I am an American who lives in America. I am one body and one mind, and I am located in one particular place on Earth. Perhaps if I was Lebanese and lived in Beirut, I would think differently about a number of different issues. But that’s postmodernism for you – I cannot see the world but through these 21st Century White American Male Upper Class Heterosexual Muslim eyes.

As much as I have tried to see the world through the eyes of others, and to arrive at the unadulterated universal truth and the unmediated command of the Lord, I cannot but be who I am.

Anyone who took the time to read through all the posts since 2008 could see that very clearly. I could even write a postmodern academic article about myself: “Desperately Seeking Objectivity: Epistemological Nostalgia in White American Conversion Performance” or something like that.

May al-Ḥaqq al-Ghanī accept from this faqīr, āmīn yā arḥam al-rāḥimīn!

Read Full Post »

Marry one Muslim woman.

Try to make her happy.

Have kids.

Try to be a good father.

Serve your parents and your wife’s parents if they are still alive. Also honor all the aunts/uncles/cousins on your side and your wife’s side, so that you are a source of benefit to both extended families.

Do what is obligatory (farḍ/wājib).

Avoid what is forbidden (ḥarām).

If you have any energy and time left over after doing all this consistently, maybe do some extra fasting (ṣawm), or memorize some more Qurʾān, or pray the recommended night prayer (ṣalāt al-layl), or if you have extra wealth give recommended charity (ṣadaqa) to the best organizations you can find.

It’s not that complicated.

But it isn’t easy.

This is your struggle (jihād).

الله

“The best of you is the one who is best to their family, and I am the best of all to my family.”

Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ

Read Full Post »

ya Husayn

my baby is asleep

the night is quiet

a little warm

but there is no thirst here

blessing upon blessing

uncountable

my mind wanders to desert sands

burning and pain

tears and longing

how history treated you differently

there was no quiet for rest

there was where innocence was lost

the young who witnessed the slaughter

had no earthly hope for redress

trauma met only with certainty

tribulation met only with perseverance

i can only hope that my children

use their comfort and ease

to light Husayni fires

and invite all to share

in the light and warmth

you have given us

the undying hope

that dispels all darkness

ya Husayn

Read Full Post »

i thought i had something then

but i didn’t have you

i thought i was something then

but where were you

our Lord’s Mercy made it possible

so i could enjoy for many years

the hero of my own story

then i was told of Karbala

and my heroics were washed away

in blood and tears

nothing but a child i was

lost in his own fantasy world

dreaming of courage and insight

better to be nothing more

than a dying body riddled with arrows

to keep you safe

noble grandson of humanity’s peak

blessings and peace upon you both

Read Full Post »

Surah al-Shura, Chapter 42, Verses 19-25

Abridged from commentary project led by Sayyid Kamal Faqih Imani (d. 2021)

Verse 19

اللَّهُ لَطِيفٌ بِعِبَادِهِ يَرْزُقُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَهُوَ الْقَوِيُّ الْعَزِيزُ

19. Allah is very Gracious and Kind to His servants. He gives provisions to whom He wills. And He is the All-Strong, the Omnipotent.

Grace embodies gentleness and consideration. Allah is Most Gracious, that is, He is All-Aware of the minutest affairs and is the Omnipotent Lord Who does anything with facility. Divine Omnipotence and Grace guarantee provision of sustenance for God’s servants. Divine Might is Invincible.

“Laṭīf” (“the Gracious”) is one of the Most Beautiful Names of God Almighty which is cognate with “luṭf” (“gentleness, grace, compassion, mercy”). Grace may indicate that God Almighty provides everyone with his daily sustenance in a manner unbeknownst to him. Divine Grace and Bounty is infinite and enlarging and straitening provision solely depends upon Divine Will. Divine provision is based on His Wisdom and consideration of common good and He is the Omnipotent, the Dominant, and the Victorious.

Verse 20

مَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ حَرْثَ الْآخِرَةِ نَزِدْ لَهُ فِي حَرْثِهِ وَمَنْ كَانَ يُرِيدُ حَرْثَ الدُّنْيَا نُؤْتِهِ مِنْهَا وَمَا لَهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنْ نَصِيبٍ

20. Whosoever desires the reward of the Hereafter, We give him increase in his reward, and whosoever desires the reward of this world, We give him thereof, and he has no portion in the Hereafter.

The value of man’s deeds depend upon his intentions as well as his long term and short term goals. All rewards shall be granted by God Almighty. Such rewards shall be granted proportionate to man’s intention and choice. The Arabic word “ḥarth” indicates earning and acting as it is said “so and so works to earn a living for his family.” The agricultural land which is plowed for sowing is figuratively called ḥarth, since benefits will be gained from working on it as farmers plow their land in autumn and sow the seeds such that they reap the crops in summer.

Actions are likened to seeds, since they are supposed to be scattered onto the land, penetrate into it, remain there for some time, sprout through sunshine and irrigation, and grow and bear fruit and crops. Likewise, righteous good deeds are sown in the farmland of man’s soul and turn into permanent dispositions of mind through recurrently acting upon them and they will bear fruit in this world and/or the Hereafter. It should be known that any deed will bear fruit whose quality depends on intent and will of the agent.

One who sows the seeds of good deeds in the farmland of his heart and removes the weeds and impurities from it through the hoe of fearing God Almighty and irrigates it with the pure water of faith and devotion aspiring to reap the harvest in the Hereafter, he has done good deeds with perfect faith and devotion. As God Almighty has said regarding expending in His Cause, He will reward him seven-hundredfold or more. To reap the crops of the good deeds in this world depends upon Divine Mercy and Grace, but it will entail being deprived of the portion of rewards to be granted by God Almighty in the Hereafter.

Verse 21

أَمْ لَهُمْ شُرَكَاءُ شَرَعُوا لَهُمْ مِنَ الدِّينِ مَا لَمْ يَأْذَنْ بِهِ اللَّهُ وَلَوْلا كَلِمَةُ الْفَصْلِ لَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُمْ وَإِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

21. Or have they partners with Allah who have instituted for them a religion which Allah has not ordained? And had it not been for a decisive Word [as to giving respite to sinners], the matter would have been judged between them. And verily, for the wrong doers there is an excruciating torment.

Man is in need of Divine Laws and such need may solely be met by God Almighty rather than anyone else. Divine Laws are solely realized through Divine Permission without which it shall be devoid of legitimacy and lawfulness…There shall be excruciating torments for wrong doers who wrong their own selves and act upon laws besides Divine Laws.

Verse 22

تَرَی الظَّالِمِينَ مُشْفِقِينَ مِمَّا كَسَبُوا وَهُوَ وَاقِعٌ بِهِمْ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فِي رَوْضَاتِ الْجَنَّاتِ لَهُمْ مَا يَشَاءُونَ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْفَضْلُ الْكَبِيرُ

22. You will see [on the Day of Resurrection] the wrong doers fearful of that which they have earned and it will surely befall them. But those who believe and do righteous deeds [will be] in the flowering meadows of the Gardens. They shall have whatsoever they desire with their Lord. That is the supreme Grace.

Resurrection is now invisible, but it is as if it is evident. Man’s vicious deeds entail nothing other than Hellfire. Although people of Paradise are believers and do righteous good deeds, but all those Favors are the consequences of Divine Bounties rather than the Rewards of their deeds. The Arabic word “rawḍa” is applied to a place abounding in water and trees. Addressing the Noble Prophet of Islam, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, the blessed verse says that the Prophet sees wrong doers who are afraid of their acts and are aware of the viciousness of their deeds, but they do not desist from committing evil deeds. They are unaware of the fact that they will pay for the evil consequences of their evil deeds, as if their eyes and ears are filled with muddy water hindering them from perceiving the viciousness of their deeds.

The blessed Verse is explicitly saying that wrong doers’ hearts are darkened by the viciousness of their deeds and they pay for the consequences of their sins in this world and the Hereafter; au contraire, committing righteous good deeds has illuminated believers’ hearts as if they stroll in the meadows of Paradise and whatever they desire will be provided by their Lord. It is the consequence of their faith and righteous good deeds, but they will be granted the true reward on the Day of Resurrection.

Verse 23

ذَلِكَ الَّذِي يُبَشِّرُ اللَّهُ عِبَادَهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ قُلْ لا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْراً إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبَی وَمَنْ يَقْتَرِفْ حَسَنَةً نَزِدْ لَهُ فِيهَا حُسْناً إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ شَكُورٌ

23. That is [the great Bounty] whereof Allah gives glad tidings to His servants who believe and do righteous good deeds. Say [O Muhammad]: “No reward do I ask of you for this except to be kind to my close relatives.” And whoever earns a good righteous deed, We shall give him an increase of good in respect thereof. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Ready to appreciate.

The preceding Verse treated of the reward of beneficent believers, e.g. gardens in Paradise and attainment to all desires and Divine Bounties. The blessed Verse in question is about the Reward of the Noble Prophet of Islam (S) who has guided hundreds of millions of people to these Gardens and Bounties. Giving a flower to someone as a gift requires a favor in return, delivering mankind requires a far greater Reward…“That” (dhalika) is a reference to the preceding blessed Verse, saying that the great Bounty promised to Godfearing believers is God’s glad tiding to His righteous servants as it is also reflected elsewhere in the Holy Qur’an:

“For them are glad tidings, in the life of this world and that of the Hereafter.”

In short, these Verses indicate that the perfect believer is happy in this world through the illuminations reflected on his heart at all times as if he is in Paradise…To express the greatness of this reward, the blessed Verse in question further adds:

“That is [the great Bounty] whereof Allah gives glad tidings to His servants who believe and do righteous good deeds.”

Such glad tidings aim at alleviating the pains of obedience to God Almighty, struggling against concupiscent desires, and jihad against enemies. They also encourage them to proceed with more vigor in vicissitudes and hardships in this life for the attainment of Divine Satisfaction…

Fakhr al-Dīn al-Razi states regarding “my close relatives” that,

“The family of the Prophet (S) are those to whom they shall return, those people whose relationship is firmer and more perfect are regarded as the ‘family’ and it is evident that Fatima, ‘Ali, Hasan, and Husayn (as) had the firmest relationship with the Messenger of Allah (S)….This fact is substantiated by consecutively transmitted traditions. Thus it is incumbent upon us to call them as the family of the Prophet (S)….

In terms of traditions, Shi’i and Sunni sources unanimously reveal that the blessed Verse in question is revealed concerning the Noble Prophet’s (S) family (Ahl al-Bayt) loving them is obligatory and enmity against them is forbidden. To sum up, all Sunnis and Shi’is, friends and foes, are unanimous in saying that it is incumbent upon all Muslims to love and support the Noble Prophet’s (S) family…

Verse 24

أَمْ يَقُولُونَ افْتَرَی عَلَی اللَّهِ كَذِباً فَإِنْ يَشَأِ اللَّهُ يَخْتِمْ عَلَی قَلْبِكَ وَيَمْحُ اللَّهُ الْبَاطِلَ وَيُحِقُّ الْحَقَّ بِكَلِمَاتِهِ إِنَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ

24. Or say they: “He has invented a lie against Allah?” If Allah willed, He could have sealed up your heart. And Allah wipes out falsehood and establishes the truth by His Word. Verily, He knows well what [secrets] are in the chests.

Regarding the question of Prophetic Call disbelievers and heretics said that the Noble Prophet of the Islamic faith (S) was a man like them and his Prophetic Call was an accusation against God Almighty; likewise they voiced the same accusation regarding the question of Imamate.

Those who did not intend to regard the love for Ahl al-Bayt as a Prophetic Call said:

“Muhammad invents lies against God by saying that his reward is that people love his next of kin.”

The blessed Verse in question is saying had the Messenger (S) invented a lie against Allah, He would vent His Wrath upon him by sealing up his heart. It is worthy of note that the blessed Verse in question resumes the subject matter of the preceding Verses concerning Prophetic Call and the Reward thereof, love for his next of kin and the Family of the Prophet…

The blessed Verse is in fact an allusion to the well-known logical argument as per which if someone claims to be the Prophet and works miracles and signs and is supported by God, but invents lies against Him, Divine Wisdom will necessitate that the miracles and His Support be taken away and he will be disgraced as it is reflected elsewhere in the Holy Qur’an.

“And if he had forged a false saying concerning Us, We surely would have seized him by his right hand [and would have cut the vessel of his heart].”

It is also noteworthy that one of the false accusations made by disbelievers and polytheists was that they said that he had regarded the love for his kith and kin as the reward for his Prophetic Call and had thus forged a false saying concerning God. Taking into account the preceding Verses, the blessed Verse in question rejects such false claim…

It rests with God Almighty to disgrace falsehood and make truth appear. Thus, He never allows anyone to forge a lie against Him and render him assistance and allow him to make miracles at the same time…

Verse 25

وَهُوَ الَّذِي يَقْبَلُ التَّوبَةَ عَنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَعْفُو عَنِ السَّيِّئَاتِ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ

25. And He it is the One Who accepts repentance from His servants, and forgives sins, and He knows what you do.

It solely rests with God Almighty to accept the repentance of His servants and forgive their sins. There are no deadlocks in Islam and the path of return is open at all times. God Almighty forgives all sins, but repentance is supposed to accompany change of words and attitudes unless it would be a kind of dissimulation and hypocrisy known by God Almighty. Since God Almighty leaves the path of return open at all times to His servants, following reproaches as to sinners’ and polytheists’ vicious deeds, the Holy Qur’an repeatedly makes reference to the path of repentance at all times and adds:

“He is the One Who accepts repentance from His servants and forgives sins.”

The point is that if man pretends repentance but keeps on committing vicious deeds, he should know that nothing is concealed from Divine Omniscience, since

“He knows what you do.”

It was mentioned above that following the Revelation of the Verse of loving Prophet’s (S) family, some hypocrites and those of frail faith said that Muhammad (S) had invented a lie against God intending to belittle them before his kith and kin following which the Verse:

“He has invented a lie against Allah?” If Allah willed, He could have sealed up your heart”

was revealed; as a consequence of which some of them regretted their words, grieved, and wept. Thus, the blessed Verse in question was revealed to bear them glad tidings that if they sincerely repent, God Almighty will forgive their sin…

Read Full Post »

my dear friends

seth, usama, sohaib

where are you now

what is life like for you

we are still here on earth

and your names still cross our lips

and i can still see your faces

in my minds eye

but i feel so distant from you

i cannot hear you

i cannot see you standing over there

i cannot put my arms around you

so that we can embrace

as we once did

there is no body left for you

that i can perceive

and so i type these words onto the screen

and i hope you just received

the Fātiḥa and Āyat al-Kursī I sent

as a gift

we are still debating and building and giving

worshipping our Lord in community

deeds without recompense

but you are where

there is only recompense and no deeds

so i hope your past deeds give you comfort there

but i also hope my gifts make a difference

and the day that i enter the world where you are

i will know

just as you have known

what i did right and what i did wrong

but you must know now more than you ever did before

and so it would be great if you could come teach me

a little bit about what you have learned

i learned from all of you while you were alive

it would be great to learn from you again

now that you are dead

for Allah is al-Mumīt

and Azrael has scheduled my appointment

so if you can

beseech our Lord

to help me make the most of the time i have left

i would deeply appreciate it

love you all

see you soon

Read Full Post »

There is a lot of passion out there right now.

White people ready to fight and die for “relatively civilized” people.

Palestinians/Rohingya/Kashmiris/etc. and their allies pointing out the hypocrisy that now all of a sudden “the West” pulls out all the stops.

Shi’is suffering yet another attack in a masjid killing dozens of people, and no one really cares.

And myriad other things going on that would just prove my point even further.

So what are we to do?

The same thing we are always called to do by the Qur’an: stand out for justice even if it is against our own selves.

It is wrong for the West to be so hypocritical and so Westerners need to have a more global perspective, stop invading countries and sending drones to blow their people up, and generally be less racist.

It is wrong to back the invasion of another country, the destruction of its infrastructure, and the killing of many civilians simply because it fits your foreign policy agenda, so show solidarity somehow with the Ukrainians who are fighting and dying.

It is wrong to turn a blind eye to Shi’i suffering because you think Shi’i theology is wrong or you just don’t have the time or whataboutism. So just do something – really anything is a good step in the right direction – to affirm that Shi’i Muslims are just as Muslim as Sunni Muslims and are your brothers and sisters in faith and/or humanity.

As a rule, just don’t listen to any government in the world all the time. Russia is sometimes right when they point out the militarism of the West, but that doesn’t make them right when they unilaterally choose to invade Ukraine. The USA is sometimes right when they point out Chinese mistreatment of the Uyghur people, but that doesn’t make them right when they sanction Iran over nuclear weapons that they do not have (but Israel has 200 of them). India is sometimes right when it speaks about the mistreatment of Hindus in neighboring countries, but that doesn’t make them right when they turn a blind eye to violence against Muslims within India and pass laws based on Islamophobic concepts like “Love Jihad.”

No government in the world is the source of perfect justice. They are all flawed institutions that are locked in a system of mutual cooperation and competition, and which seek their own interests in a way that often puts morality aside. In my opinion, this is why the Shi’i and and Sunni legal traditions have historically been skeptical of government service (for example, by serving as a qāḍī [judge] appointed by the ruler). Once you are part of the system, the system may force you to do something that is hard to justify, and no government takes kindly to dissent from its own employees (especially if you are in the military).

Of course, anarchism is not a solution either (just read about the atrocities committed by anarchists on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War from 1936-1939). Pure liberation from the system, at least as the last 100 years have proven, has meant just committing more immorality in the name of utopian liberation. So we are stuck where we are by God’s decree, but we still have to be the best we can be.

Since I am not Russian, I don’t have to make amends for the Russian invasion the way I have to for American invasions of Afghanistan, and Vietnam and so on. As a White American, I am morally obliged to grapple with the meaning of my own whiteness. I don’t know what you struggle with, but the point is that we have to look within and struggle. And not just as individuals, but as nations. I can speak to collective American spiritual problems since I am American. Russians will have to teach me what they need to do to correct their nation.

Of course, I and probably you have very little influence. The world moves without our consent and we just react. I may learn something new tomorrow that changes my perspective. But since God is just, God will not judge me based on something I do not yet know. I can only be judged based on what I know today, and this is the best I can do right now.

I hope it has been helpful for you in some way, and you are all welcome to share with me your insights on how to be better.

May Allah make us people who make this Earth a better place to live, and keep us from being people that contribute to injustices upon the land and sea, animals and humans, Muslims and all peoples, āmīn.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: