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Dear Reader

بسم الله

السلام عليكم

Dear Reader,

I have decided that how many people read what I write does not matter. What matters is having readers that care for me as I care for them. That we be of those who counsel each other to truth and perseverance in an age when a million voices tell us to give up. That we push each other to reach higher, until with God’s grace that which is far becomes near.

I have completed reviewing all the posts on this blog. I have deleted approximately 20 old posts that did not sit right with me for varying reasons. As far as I am able to discern, I believe the posts that remain are beneficial, and I hope God will bless me for keeping them in the public domain. I invite you to look over old posts and provide any feedback. We are mirrors unto one another, and perhaps there is something I have missed that you will catch.

As a writer, the only thing that is important to me is the hope that what I do could be pleasing to the Creator of all reality. The One who gifted us with language and taught us by the pen. The One who reminded us to speak well or remain silent. Yet, there are whispers of what God thinks in what you think. We are a community of souls, after all, sharing a journey into eternity. You listen to me when you read my words, and I benefit from listening to you as well. I look forward to continuing this journey together insha’Allah.

It is the 3rd of the month of Sha‘bān, often commemorated as the birthday of Imam Husayn. One can only imagine the joy the Prophet of Mercy felt upon seeing his newly born grandson so many years ago, صلى​ الله عليه و آله و سلم. I wish you all the best on this happy day.

Best,

R. David Coolidge

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Everything is philosophy (‘ilm) and politics (‘amal). Sincerity (ikhlas) in both is the basis of salvation and connected to the depths of one’s realizations of Allah’s Oneness (tawhid).

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The most valuable thing in the whole world is free: “I believe in what has come from Allah as it was intended by Allah, and I believe in what has come from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) as it was intended by the Messenger of Allah.” (al-Shafi’i)

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The Qur’an implies that those in history most likely to reject Allah’s rights over them are propertied men with male offspring.

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There are those that are trying to get to Paradise, those who do not know there is a Paradise, and those who obtain a lot of this world by oppressing those trying to get to Paradise. Seek the first with sincerity, teach the second with mercy, and oppose the third with courage.

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Every valid criticism you have ever made of another person, and every valid criticism you have ever heard another say or seen in print – look inside yourself and apply it to your own self.

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Every moment is Divine Intervention.

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If we were to give every breath from now until the moment we die for the sake of Allah, it would not be equal to the blessings we have already been given prior to this breath.

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Whatever we do, we should try to obey Allah, and however we choose to do it, we should try to not become an excuse for others to hate Islam.

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Islam is about opportunity cost: there will never be anything more valuable than choosing what Allah wants from me at any given moment.

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I don’t know my own state with Allah, and you don’t know your own state with Allah, so let’s not pretend anymore that I know your state and you know my state.

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We can’t speak of desiring only Allah unless we actually desire nothing except Allah: not food, sleep, sex, companionship, housing, clothes, job, social life, family, study opportunities, respect, honor, dignity, and so on. Allah has described Jannah in deeply physical and social ways. So if we are not willing to give up something in this life for its superior mirror image in the hereafter, then we are definitely not truthful about giving up the rewards of the hereafter for the Creator of the hereafter alone.

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love the prison

there is a swirling tempest in my soul

and there is no escape

it cannot let itself out

a prison of duty and empathy

have shut the doors

respite is temporary

and the waves surge

and yet

on the outside nothing moves

nor sound is made

 

i must quiet the fury

and find peace

in the reality of this day

dissolve the craving

for different people

different places

different activities

 

يا سلام

 

You are with me here

shouldn’t You be enough

for this seemingly unbreakable will

that dreams when imprisoned

unable to fully embrace

what You have decreed

 

يا غني

 

forgive this selfishness

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suffice me

write it into your mind

lying down

lights off

sleep waiting

to end another day

لا إله إلا الله

لا إله إلا الله

لا إله إلا الله

there is so much

that i can’t carry with me

to where i must go

but You do not need to be carried

You created that place

and all who dwell there

Witnessing the dream-fears of every heart

so You

O Inward in Your Outwardness

be with me

through the remembrance

that You know my dreams even when i cannot say them

and encompass my fears even as i run from them

suffice me

in my worries regarding both this world and the Hereafter

O Most Merciful of those who show mercy

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thank You

ya Allah

thank You for life

thank You for blessing me to worship You

thank You for my eyes which witness Your wonders

thank You for my ears which hear Your praises

thank You for my lips which say Your Names

thank You for the darkness of night in which I rest

thank You for the rise of dawn which means another day to move towards You

thank You for everything

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[written in the late night, saturday, april 2]

Last night, there was a moment amidst my various dreams that I want to remember.

I was holding my son, and we were on a hill in Pakistan. All of a sudden, a massive tsunami wave appeared, and it was clear we were doomed. My son said that he was scared, and I held him close to me and told him not to be. I asked Allah to make he and I from the people of Jannah. I started saying لا إله إلا الله and told my son to say it as well. We walked peacefully towards higher ground, as that seemed the right thing to do, even though it was clear that it would not matter. That was it.

Waking up, it was the first thing on my mind. And as I read some Qur’an tonight before going to sleep, I was about to end on a particular verse. But then I just glanced ahead at the next one:

It is God who enables you to travel on land and sea. And when you are sailing on ships and rejoicing in the favourable wind, a storm arrives, and the waves surge upon those on board from every side and they think they are encompassed, then they make a fervent appeal to God, saying in all sincerity, If You deliver us from this, we will surely be of the thankful. (10.22)

These are the moments when God seems so real, it makes me shiver.

May my son and I always be from amongst the thankful (al-shakirin), in both life and death, amin.

2012_image

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When I was a kid, I used to hang out in the science section of the library. I would pull the books off the shelf, and look at pictures of Red Giants, enormous suns much larger than our own. I remember becoming freaked out at the idea that one day our own sun would become a Red Giant and engulf Earth in a fiery apocalypse. These were the first stirrings of my imagination through the expanses of spacetime, and the concomitant challenges in conceiving of a beginning and an end to the universe. Beyond the Big Bang, no human mind can penetrate. Across the event horizon of a black hole lies undiscovered realities. The truth is, we are locked in our little place in spacetime. Our intellects can only travel so far, but our imaginations can take us much farther.

Most young lovers of science naturally gravitate to science fiction. It is the way the imagination takes us beyond the limits of what is actually knowable. We fantasize about distant worlds with sentient life, even though none has been detected. We project our own earthly troubles onto intergalactic empires as a way to humanize the dead cold of space. In some forms of science fiction, there is nothing but meaninglessness and despair to be found beyond our solar system, but in most, humanity is on a continual process of discovering the meanings of the vast universe. The creation of this narrative is natural in a secularized world – if we abandon the idea that the Heavens come down to us on Earth, then our only hope for purpose in the long run is that we go forth from Earth into the unknown heavens. It is a mythical crutch that helps the secularized mind deal with the unavoidable meaninglessness of human existence that results from describing spacetime in a purely materialistic and empirical fashion.

In college, I took an astronomy course, because I wanted to learn the real science behind my youthful readings and teenage sci-fi movie binges. It was wonderful, but it also made me realize how trapped we really are on Earth. It is only the imagination that can take us much farther, and it was in college that my imagination was ignited by the Qur’an and the life story of the Prophet Muhammad (upon him and his family be blessings and peace). Of all stories on Earth, it has been the one that makes me feel closest to the Heavens.

In short, astronomy brought me incredibly far, science fiction brought me even further, but faith has brought me to the realm of eternal meanings behind the observably beautiful universe.

لا إله إلا الله

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