A New Year Reflection

I do not believe in conforming to the cookie-cutter paradigm
of what it means to be successful and accomplished by a certain age.

I am a striver of witnessing the blessing within the present moment,
which is the goal of every spiritual path, regardless of your theology or religion.

I enjoy diving into the unlimited depths of ecstatic poetry and wisdom that effuses through the books that I read.
I enjoy traveling and visiting the sacred cities and homes of our spiritual sages throughout time.
I feel utter bliss when I teach and see the glimmer of awe and wonder in the eyes of my students.
I feel soul tranquility when I meditate, and contemplate the signs of the Divine in the outward world
and within my own self.
I feel soul satisfaction when I march and actively speak to protect our beloved home, earth, and the oppressed inhabitants within it.

And most of all…
I revel in the bliss of sitting at the feet of my teachers, feeling more and more enlightened as they guide and radiate their experienced knowledge to the world.

We are so, extraordinarily, blessed.
Thank You, O Source and Light of the Universe!
For your phenomenal, endless gifts.

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Movement and Remembrance: A Reflection on the Hadra

A reflection piece and poem that I wrote recently and was published in the Newsletter of the Perennial Foundation after the July 2019 Retreat:

Movement and Remembrance: A Reflection on the Hadra

Swaying from left to right and chanting “La ilaha il Allah”, and bowing downward and rising again to the chant “La ilaha il Allah” – both are powerfully rejuvenating mediums of remembrance that will hardly allow the one remembering to finish without feeling energetically transformed – on all three levels of body, heart, and mind. The hadra is a compelling reminder of the impact that occurs when there is a beautiful integration of the three dimensions of religion: sound activity (body realm), sound beliefs/thinking (mind realm), and sound intentions (heart realm). The hadra helps me to focus (meditatively) on the Divine with all three faculties which culminates in a tremendously gratifying experience. In addition, the use of drumming and melodious singing impacts my heart directly: the drum as a solidifying form and the singing as an expansion of the heart. During the hadra I feel at complete ease, and have a greater understanding of what “stillness” means. All of the distracting emotions and thoughts that inundate my heart disperse during the hadra. The movement of my body also helps me to “physically” dispel my thoughts and emotions. The hadra was also one of the components of the Majlis program that immediately caught my heart’s attention when I visited the Baltimore Zawiyah for the first time. It was magical.

The directionality of the specific motions of the hadra are also an aid in increasing my presence and concentration. As I sway to the left (while saying ‘La ilaha’), I focus on negating all false thoughts, ideologies, experiences, and objects that distract me from the Real. When I sway to the right (while saying ‘il Allah’), I focus on affirming the existence of the Real, the Source. As I bow (while saying ‘la ilaha’), I aim to submit myself helplessly before His illuminating Presence and acknowledge that there is nothing comparable to Him. When I stand up and slightly bend my knees (while saying ‘il Allah’), I focus on affirmation again, and acknowledging His Holy Perfection. The entire process makes one feel like they have just had a “spiritual shower” in which all impurities and negative thoughts have been washed away. Imagine, then, the one whose heart is in a perennial state of ‘hadra’.

Freedom through Observation

My feeling is an object.
One among thousands
A fluctuating and transient
Coming and going
Piercing and fading

That which observes my feeling
Is the Subject.
Real and Permanent
Subsisting and Remaining
Discerning and Illuminating.
The Source.

When I taste this realization
I will surely master
The art of knowing my emotion
Without being enslaved to it.

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Ramadan Reflection # 1: alone with the Alone

What great comfort there is
in being alone with the Alone.

Whether we’re in the company of others or not,
the state of alone-ness, will leave us feeling soul full-ness. Connected to Being in every mode of being.

“When He alienates you from His creatures, know that He wants to open for you the doors of intimacy with Himself.”
-Shaykh Ibn ata illah

Please find me on Instagram @haseena.reflects, where you can find more of my micropoetry and reflections.

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call me irrational
call me a fool
i am proud
to be unbound
by the superficial
created my men
and instead
try to submit
to the bounds of
the Uncreated One

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Art & Spirituality (Wise Words from Sidi Ali Hussain)

“The coming of prophets to open countless unique paths for people to journey to God, aside from just becoming seekers of religious knowledge and its scholars, has to do with connecting all of creation with the spiritual realm and transcending their attachment to material meanings.

One reason the Muslim community seems to obsess over disciplines such as law and theology is precisely because they pertain to this body and mind, even the spiritual reality of these sciences is neglected.

Consider, for instance, that shaykh al Akbar Ibn Arabi included an entire section in the Meccan Openings on the inward reality of shari’a where he discussed, among many others, the reason for permissibility to wear shoes during prayer as being that prayer is a journey.

It is worthwhile noting that the word shari’a itself, linguistically, comes from shaari’ (road), and thus refers to ones path to the water of spiritual life. This necessarily includes a constant awareness of the spiritual reality of our bodily worship.

Like metaphors in a poem, our bodily existence is a metaphor of our spiritual reality … we are a spirit first and foremost and a body second. The body is auxiliary and perishes, while the spirit is essential and remains.

Therefore, any discussion of law or theology that focuses solely on the bodily dimension, leaving out the spiritual reality is steering us away from our objective, God.

Even any attempt to rectify injustices in the world by resorting to social criticism without rooting the sickness and medicine in the spirit first and foremost is steering away from our objective, God.

Those Muslims who seek to fix the world whilst criticising abundant divine remembrance and singing of divine or prophetic praises as being a nice individual activity but irrelevant or inefficient at fixing the world’s problems, quite frankly, are exactly the ones who wrongly believe that our power lies in our bodies and minds, not spirit.

The simple fact is that the closer any activity we perform is to the spiritual world, the more powerful and efficient it is at changing both our spiritual and bodily reality. Anything else is in vain … all our institutions and conferences perish without this spiritual reality.

From this perspective of reality, art has more power to change a villains heart than all institutions, conferences and lectures combined… art works on hearts and all else works on the mind. And who are saints but perfected divine art works turned artists!”

Sidi Ali Hussain

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Conversation between an Indian mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik and Alexander the Great:

The world conqueror apparently met what he called a ‘gymnosophist’ – a naked, wise man, possibly a yogi – sitting on a rock and staring at the sky, and asked him, “What are you doing?”

“I’m experiencing nothingness. What are you doing?” the gymnosophist replied.

“I am conquering the world,” Alexander said.

They both laughed; each one thought the other was a fool, and was wasting their life.

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Tariqah is the Means to the Goal

The tariqah is not the goal.

The tariqah is the means to the goal.

Those who wear their wird as a cloak of pride
To look down upon those outside a formalized tariqah
Have fallen in love with the means.
And turned veils into gods.
And lost touch with the real goal.

Those who pride themselves on labels.
And boast that they are a shadhili,
Have returned to tribalism as their deen.
Favoring their group and members
Over other lovers of God.

Those who use their tariqah
as a means of asserting their spiritual “superiority”
over others.
Have defeated the purpose of the tariqah itself
Which mandates humility, loss of egoic self, and husnul dhun.

In the end, the goal is Love for God
and to annihilate ourselves in Him.
Anyone stuck to veils along the path.
Will never progress on the path of love.

“The goal of the murshid is to remove the veils between God and his servant.”
-Shaykh Muhammad Jilani (direct descendant of Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani)

“Pass beyond form, escape from names! Flee titles and names toward meaning!”
-Shaykh Rumi
M IV 1285

One of the main goals of the Tariqah is to rid one’s heart of all reprehensible vices (such as pride, conceit, hatred, greed, arrogance, and more), and replace it with praiseworthy attributes (such as humility, forbearance, love, generosity, mercy, etc.). Once the heart is emptied of all egoic tendencies, it can then become receptive to the Divine light and Oresence. This Presence can then permeate the heart and radiate outward into the world.

The moment the murids (students/disciples of a particular tariqah) begin to assume that they are spiritually superior (or have higher spiritual aspirations) than those not in a formalized tariqah, they are treading dangerous waters. God chooses whomever He wants to bestow His secrets, and those lucky enough to receive them may or may not be in a tariqah, they may not even be Muslim. The concept of looking down upon others goes against the very concept of the tariqah. May God guide all murids back to the path of humility.

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Greater Gift

I thought I had it all.

Then God came and swept it away.

At first I resisted, hung on tightly, and bargained with Him,
immensely afraid to lose His gifts.
Fear, anxiety, and turmoil
just a few among many emotions
Built up inside of me like a whirlwind within.

Time passed and I realized that I was bargaining with God-
the one that transforms the impossible to the possible.

I slowly released the gifts back to His will.
Smiles unfolding on my face.
Understanding, and accepting.

I figured – If God knows that there are greater gifts,
and furthermore that I am worthy of them,
then let His creativity and wisdom unroll!

Surely, to have something greater than what I have now,
is sparking my curiosity.

For God never takes something away…

Without replacing it with something better.

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I hope you remember

I hope you travel across many dimensions
As you dive deeper and deeper
Into your spiritual heart
And once you are back to your present world
I hope you remember the one
Who sang a poem to you
An ode to Ibn al Arabi
In a pseudo labyrinth
On a beautiful spring day
While the sun beamed down its rays
And the breezes of nature enveloped us both.

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The Passing of Shaykh Murabit Al Hajj

There are those who do not seek to be known while they are alive. When they die, God makes them become known world over.

Shaykh Murabit is the teacher of many of our teachers, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. Our world has lost a great and beautiful soul.

“May God reward him for his service to this deen and his love and concern for the Muslims. He was never known to speak ill of anyone. Once when a student was studying Khalil with him and asked what a certain word meant in the text, he explained to him that it was a slow and clumsy horse. The student then said, ‘like so-and-so’s horse?’ At this Murabit al-Hajj suddenly became upset and said, ‘I don’t spend much time with people because they backbite, so if you want to study with me, you must never speak ill of anyone in my presence.’ It is not well known by Muslims that to speak ill of someone’s animals falls under the ruling of backbiting.”
-Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

“My eyes fell upon the most noble and majestic person I have ever seen in my life. He called me over, put his hand on my shoulder, welcomed me warmly, and then asked me, “Is it like the dream?” I burst into a flood of tears. I had indeed experienced a dream with him that was very similar to our actual meeting. He then went back to teaching. I was given a drink, and some of the students began to massage me, which I most appreciated, as my entire body ached from the difficult journey.”
-Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

“People speak of the evil eye
But they overlook the good eye.
The good eye exists.
Just as the one who possessed the evil eye can cause illness with a glance,
The one possessed of the good eye can heal with a glance.”
-Habib Ahmed Mashhur Al Haddad
From ‘Signs on the Horizons’ by Michael Sugich

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