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Aashiq al-Rasul - General Matters

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Home Blog General Matters
"Music is a transcendent language that all can understand. In a world of mass killings, genocides and terrorism, we need more positive emotions.”  - Padma Shri Dr. Allah Rakha (A.R.) Rahman
General Matters
Taming ego enables us to see life beyond self PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 27 January 2011 18:12

Rumi uses the word dying to imply the killing of the ego. Each time we kill the ego, we rise spiritually.

We are all gifted in some way, so there is no point in putting others down. Nasruddin the Sufi tells a story of a proud grammarian on a boat ride who was ridiculing a boat driver who did not know grammar.

He insulted the driver by saying half his life had been wasted. Then the tide rose and the boat was sinking. At that point it became apparent that the grammarian did not know how to swim and his whole life was wasted.

In a corporate setting positive pride is a great quality to have. It enables people to excel and to do great things for the betterment of society. It is the zest and gumption to go out and give your best.

Egotism, or negative pride, on the other hand makes us narrow and unable to see life beyond self. We achieve “success” at the expense of others and belittle and exploit them in the process. We rely on our wealth and power as opposed to our authentic self. Such an attitude injures ourselves as well as our work.

If we want to accomplish great things, we can never do so if we are egotistical. It can only happen through positive pride and by taming the ego. Many great works done by entrepreneurs, scientists, and artists happened because these people were driven by positive pride and forgot themselves in the bigger purpose of their work. The subject disappeared in the object.

If we find ourselves becoming defensive or taking things personally, these are signs of our ego creeping in. When we share the limelight with people who help us achieve the success and admit our mistakes when we make them, these are signs of positive pride. Bayazid Al-Bistami, a Sufi saint, says, “When does a man become a man? When he knows his own mistakes and hurries to correct them.”

The Sufis remain grateful for receiving all of God’s bounty. They focus on the positive. The Sufis are not greedy; their ambition to do well is driven by the need to help others who are less fortunate. They value what is sufficient, not what is excessive.  Contentment is a prize enjoyed by fewer and fewer people today. Excessive materialism can cause much unhappiness. In the words of Gandhi, “There is always enough for the needy, but never for the greedy.”

We can learn contentment from the tree that takes from the earth only as much water and nutrients as it needs, or from the earth which will not imbibe any more rain water than it needs, letting it sit on its surface until it is evaporated by the sun.
Assigning blame is a fruitless exercise that achieves little. It breeds discontent and alienation. It destroys the team spirit.
Criticism is normally thrown at people of substance, just as stones are thrown at trees full of fruit.

Sufis believe that, if we are driven from within and have sincerity of purpose, public opinion should not concern us. But, if we are unclear or have doubts regarding the sincerity of our actions, then we will be affected by criticism. We should be driven by sincerity of purpose without wasting energy on justifying and defending ourselves.

Sufis believe that judgments are made by human beings. The Divine does not judge; It provides the means for us to learn from our errors so that we can grow and evolve.

We must realize that, although we have lived with ourselves for all our lives, we still grapple with knowing ourselves completely. How can we even begin to know or judge anyone else? Our judgments are only a reflection of our own paradigm and not an assessment of reality.

The Sufi’s mind is like an umbrella, wide and open; it deflects others’ flaws and weaknesses. He knows that everyone is playing his part in creation—big or small.

In a corporate setting we can take a non-judgmental attitude and give people the benefit of the doubt. By overlooking other people’s shortcomings and realizing that everyone has faults, we make a positive difference in the lives of others.

A corporate person’s drive to make millions should be driven not by selfishness but with a view toward making a difference, helping one’s family, aiding those who are less fortunate, and acquiring wealth through ethical means.

The Sufi Inayat Khan says, “All great musicians, Beethoven, Wagner, and many others, who have left the world a work that will always be treasured, would not have been able to do so if they had not forgotten themselves (ego) in their work.” These people were able to transform themselves just like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. This self-transformation happens through the annihilation of the ego from which the magnificent new form emerges.


Azim Jamal is the author of The Corporate Sufi and co-author of The Power of Giving.  You can read more of Azim's writings here http://corporatesufi.com/blog/

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 18:18
 
The Blessed Tree ! New Documentary PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alim Ali   
Sunday, 19 December 2010 22:42

This film tells the story of the meeting between the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon Him) and a Christian monk named Bahira.  The meeting happened in the shade of a tree.

Fourteen hundred years later that same tree was discovered still alive in the northern deserts of Jordan. The only tree alive in hundreds of square miles of emptiness. This tree is a link to the life of the Prophet and a place of pilgrimage today.

 

Quotes from the film:

“In this place, we pray to God to make our hearts containers of the love of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings be upon Him).”
Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Sa‘id Ramadan Al-Buti

“The Prophet sitting under this tree, and its reacting to the Prophet makes the tree the only living terrestrial witness to the Prophet , what we would call in Arabic a sahabi.”
H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad

“This tree was blessed with the touch of the Messenger of God (Peace and Blessings be upon Him).”
Shaykh Al-Habib Ali Al-Jifri

“That thing that deserves to be loved most is that which brings forth from the depths of our spirits the recollection of the Divine Name. The title of the Holy Prophet of Islam is Habib Allah, the Beloved of God. This hub, this love for the Prophet could be described as the great transformative emotion of Islam.”
Abdal Hakim Murad

“You have to be able to apply a symbol in a wise way, from one domain of reality to another. There is, in a sense, a vertical dimension that goes through our heart vertically through our head and up to Heaven. The line of transcendence. This is the inner tree. The roots of it are actually the roots of the Divine reality in our hearts. For most human beings this tree has dried up because they are not aware of its roots. It is virtually there but not actually; and the spiritual life means the reviving of this tree within us by sinking the roots of the Divine once again in our hearts.”
Prof. Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 December 2010 23:05
 
Dr. Tahir ul Qadri: Jihad it's perception and the reality PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alim Ali   
Tuesday, 26 October 2010 03:39

In a historic and stirring speech at the Global Peace and Unity Conference [GPU], Dr Tahir ul Qadri removed the incorrect perceptions of Jihad and placed it in its proper text and context as within the Islamic paradigm,  GPU was held in London at the Excel Centre on the 23rd and 24th October.  Dr Tahir analyzed the concept of Jihad from its dictionary meaning, its text and context in the Qur'anic teachings and the example of the Prophet Muhammad [s].  This forceful speech brought the thousands assembled to their feet on several occasions. You can listen to the full speech here.
Listen Now:


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 October 2010 14:58
 
The Historical Evidence of Religious Poetry PDF Print E-mail
Written by Siddiq Osman Noormuhammad   
Tuesday, 03 August 2010 19:31

All praise is for Allah, the Glorified and the Exalted, and may He shower His choicest peace and blessings in perpetuity on His most beloved of all creations, Sayyidina wa Nabiyyina wa Habibina wa Mawlana Muhammad ibn 'Abdillah, Nurin min Nurillah, Sallallahu 'alayhi wa 'alaa aalihi wa sahbihi wa Sallim.


When we study the Ahaadith Shareef (noble sayings) of our beloved Prophet Sayyidina wa Mawlana Muhammad Mustafa, Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam and his seerah (blessed biography) to research the subject of religious poetry, we are blessed with obtaining the following historical facts:

1.    The Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam said that there is wisdom in poetry.
2.    He was greeted with madeeh (eulogy) when he entered Madina.
3.    He recited some verses as he carried stones together with his sahaba (blessed companions), Rady Allahu 'Anhum to build Masjid an-Nabawi in Madina.
4.    He encouraged the recitation of the Holy Qur'an al-Karim, the inimitable, uncomparable and uncreated Word of Allah, in a melodious voice.
5.    He encouraged wedding songs and allowed songs with musical instruments on the day of 'Eid.
6.    He had a pulpit erected in the mosque for Hadrat Hassaan bin Thabit Rady Allahu 'Anhu to stand upon and reply to the enemies of Islam in poetry.
7.    He recited some verses at Ghazwa-i-Khandaq (the battle of the Trench) while digging the trench together with his sahaba, Rady Allahu 'Anhum.
8.    He supplicated for Hadrat 'Amir bin al-Akwa' Rady Allahu 'Anhu who recited a qasida (religious poem) while they were marching to Khaybar to fight the Jews.
9.    He appointed Sayyidina 'Ali Rady Allahu 'Anhu to lead in the battle of Khaybar and Sayyidina 'Ali Rady Allahu 'Anhu replied to his opponent in verse.
10.    He gave his personal mantle (burda) to Hadrat Ka'b ibn Zuhair Rady Allahu 'Anhu after he had versified on him and on the Muhajireen (the Emigrants from Makkah) and expressed the wish that he would versify on the Ansar (the Helpers in Madina) too.
11.    He praised Labid, the pre-Islamic poet, for praising Allah in his poetry.
12.    He requested 'Amr bin Sharid's father to recite the poetry of Umayya bin Abu as-Salt. 'Amr bin Sharid's father obliged by reciting a couplet whereupon the beloved Prophet Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam continued to request him to recite more and more until he had recited 100 couplets!

To study each of these universally historic events in a little more detail, the main sources referenced are:
(a) kutub (books) of Hadith, especially
·    Sahih al-Bukhari (translated by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan),
·    Sahih al-Muslim (translated by Abdul Hamid Siddiqi),
·    Mishkat u'l Masabih (Niche For Lamps) of Imam al-Baghawi (translated by Al-Hajj Mawlana Fazlul Karim);
(b) classics of Muslim spirituality, such as
·    Ihya 'Ulum al-Deen (The Revival of the Religious Sciences) by Hujjatul Islam Imam Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazali (translated by Al-Hajj Mawlana Fazlul Karim),
·    It'haaf-is-Saail (Gifts For The Seeker) by Qutb u'l Irshad Sayyidunal Imam al-Habib Abdallah bin 'Alawi al-Haddad (translated by Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi), and
·    Miftah u'l Jannah (Key To The Garden) by Sayyidunal Imam al-Habib Ahmad Mash'hur bin Taha al-Haddad (translated by Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi); and
(c) books of history such as the biography of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu 'alayhi wa Sallam by Martin Lings.
[Rady Allahu 'Anhu / Naf'anAllahu Bih / Rahmatullahi 'alayh is recited after the name of the sahaba (companions) and the mashaayikh (spiritual masters) as appropriate].

The Historical Evidence of Religious Poetry

Last Updated on Friday, 13 August 2010 20:34
 
Soccer and the Sacred PDF Print E-mail
Written by Nazim Baksh   
Monday, 14 June 2010 19:22

You can listen to a podcast of this comment here.

FIFA has spent more than 60 billion U.S. dollars getting ready for the competition now underway in South Africa. It’s a staggering amount for a month’s worth of entertainment. Many South Africans are still trying to figure out what’s in it for them. So far it has done nothing to reduce poverty and massive unemployment for the masses in Johannesburg and Soweto.

And even when the contradictions are so incredibly stark, the game of soccer has a certain magical quality that converts people from curious onlookers into ardent fans. Could there be a sacred dimension to the game of soccer?

There are many who will disagree. They have lumped soccer into the category of play and amusement or worst, declare it to be forbidden. God Almighty reveals in the Quran:

Wa Mā Al- Hayāatu Ad-Dunyā 'Illā La`ibun Wa Lahwun  ۖ  Wa Lalddāru Al-'Ākhiratu Khayrun Lilladhīna Yattaqūna  ۗ  'Afalā Ta`qilūna

What is this life but play and amusement. Far better is the abode of the hereafter for those who are God-fearing. Have you then no intelligence? (6:32)

The two important words in this verse are la’ib and lahw. According to the classical Quranic interpretations, la’ib is defined as play or sport that has no benefit. Lahw, on the other hand, is a form of amusement -- a temporary distraction from the mundane and does not require the use of the intellect.

Like most verses of the Quran, there are deep secrets encoded in its verses. Human beings were created with a propensity to play and amuse themselves in sports, but ingrained in their DNA is a recognition that there is a higher calling and that what is to come when this life is over is much more important than the here and now.

The meaning of the word religion, after all, from the Latin ‘religio’ means “to bind.” In other words, religion is meant to bind man to his contract with God Almighty. From a purely sociological perspective, religious rites emerged to remind men and women of their sacred contract.

In traditional societies, sports such as stick-fighting, gladiatorial games, jousting, yoga, swordsmanship, martial arts, wrestling, chess and archery emerged out of religious rites. Sports was a relief from the strict concentration and discipline required when fulfilling religious obligations.

The meaning of sport, from the Middle English word ‘disporter,’ means light-hearted recreational activity, or from the Latin ‘desporto’ which means ‘to carry away’ such that amusement momentarily carries us away from the tediousness of daily life.  

In Spartan society sports was a means of educating, disciplining and inculcating virtues in the youth. The gymnasium in ancient Greek culture was designed to help transition men and women from the levity of childhood to the responsibility that comes with maturity.

According to Imam At-Tabarani, the Messenger of Allah a instructed his companions to “practice archery - it’s good for you,” he is reported to have said.

In the collection of Sahih Al-Bukhari Salama bin Al-Akwa narrated that the Prophet a passed by some people of the Tribe of Bani Aslam while they were competing with each other. The Prophet said: O Bani Isma’il practice archery because your father Isma’il was a great archer. Keep on shooting your arrows, I am with Bani so and so. In other words, the Prophet, desiring to participate in the competition, picked a side. Asking why the opposing side was suddenly backing out of the competition, they said, ‘how can we compete when you’ve taken their side? To this the Prophet said: “Keep on competing, I am with all of you.”

In another hadith, this time in Sahih Muslim, the Apostle of Allah, said: “Allah Most High, will cause three persons to enter paradise for one arrow: The maker, when he has a good intention in making it, the one who shoots it, and the one who hand it off; So take aim and release and ride (your horse), but archery is dearer to me than your riding. Every form of amusement is vain except three: when a person is training his horse, enjoying the company of your spouse, and competing in archery. If anyone abandons archery after becoming adept at it through distaste for it, it is a blessing he has abandoned, (or he said), for which he has been ungrateful.”

There are some Muslim scholars, sure enough, that will say these ahadith pertain to Jihad. Yet the word Jihad is never mentioned nor implied in either ahadith. What is clear is that God’s Messenger is equating a recreational activity with the reward of paradise.  

We know these ahadith because they were handed down from generation to generation of Muslims in an unbroken chain going back to the Messenger of God. Around 1835 Sultan Mahmoud II, one of the greatest patrons of the Ottoman archer’s guild, commissioned Shaykh Mustafa Kani bin Mehmet to collect 40 ahadith pertaining to archery. In one hadith the Prophet is reported to have said that Angel Gabriel gave the first bow to Adam. In another, Prophet Ibrahim was the first to receive a composite bow from the Angel Gabriel and he and Prophet Isma’il were celebrated archers of their time.

In the community of believers the Prophet’s cousin and companion - Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas - emerged as the archetypal model for the Muslim archer and his name was invoked by members of the archer’s guild during the era of Ottoman Khilafah which ended less than a hundred years ago.

According to Eugen Herrigel’s 1950’s classic “Zen in the Art of Archery,” the archer’s aim is not directed at an external target but at the spiritual target within. The archer, Herrigel says, must master his aim until he is able to hit the bull’s eye blindfolded.

Since the art of archery has a sacred dimension, likewise the game of soccer too has sacred overtones. It is an edifying and wholesome sport that is good for both the soul and the body.

The ball represents the unpredictability of life itself and when one gets possession, skill, patience and a calm composure, often lead to making the correct decisions and a good outcome.

Soccer is played within strict boundaries and rules, much like religious life, and each player must respect them and the referee’s decision, to succeed.

Scoring a goal is a victory not against your opponent, but against the ego of our lower self. 

Soccer teaches the virtues of sacrifice, patience, self-control, temperance, courage, decisiveness, courtesy, friendship, generosity, nobility, humility, contentment, not forgetting team work, strategy and memory. It is only through these qualities that victory in the world can be achieved and a place in the hereafter can be guaranteed. 

As we cheer on our favorite teams may we become inspired  to imitate the virtuous conduct we observe in the game.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 August 2010 20:40
 
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