Unite in the Ocean of Love: Don’t Harm the Lovers of God

Dear lovers,
When we travel the path of Love,
When we connect on the level of the spirit,
Do our differences in fiqh really matter?
Let us look beyond our forms,
Beyound our physicalities
Beyond methodology of law
Beyond the realm of labels
And unite in the Ocean of Love.

There is so much unnecessary bloodshed and violence in the world; just to name a few: Burma, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, etc.
We all love the same Being, let us unite in this Love. When we look with the eye of Tawhid, we see Oneness, One Love, One God, One Spirit, One Universe. When we look with the eye of multiplicity, we see insignificant differences.
We should think before picking up the weapon, “Am I killing another lover of God?”

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Reflections on the Divine from a Beautiful Writer

I recently had the honor of meeting an amazing writer, who goes by the initials of NAD. I wanted to preserve his reflections, since they are utterly beautiful and touching, and cause the mind to enter into another dimension of thought:

“The beauty of creation is a reflection of the majesty of its Creator, while the majesty of creation is a reflection of the beauty of its Creator. You are the mirror upon which these reflections appear. The more you polish your self, the more you’ll see the center in what’s left and right, you’ll be a crossroad between east and west, and you’ll know beauty and majesty all point to a singular Grace. Mirror images aren’t identical but they are symmetric when held together. What appears to be an opposite that contradicts something, may in reality just be a reflection that balances it. Be patient, and give yourself time to register and reinterpret the images you encounter. ‘And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.’ ”

“God’s artistry is dynamic, it’s always in Flux. He fashions and refashions the same thing according to an infinite array of possibilities but always maintains the singularity of Truth through Beauty. No two days are a like. The sky will never look the same twice. It looks different every second as it is forever being made whole. It’s a masterpiece that’s always complete, and yet, by His grace, always in the process of being made more complete. Gray skies and clouds don’t make a day ugly, they merely manifest another attribute of His divine artistry. The trials and tribulations we face individually and as a community, the evils we lament about, and the tragedies we fret over aren’t obstacles to stop us in our tracks. They’re hurdles made to be jumped over so that we learn more about our abilities and potentials. Each one is a brushstroke from The Supreme Fashioner’s unparalleled and endless depths of talent that further completes the masterpiece that is you, and that is also us. It may not always be sunshine and clear skies, but remember, even sunflowers need the rain and shade from time to time.”

“It’s amazing how every single snowflake is unique. Each one points to the infinite creative power and knowledge of God. There is more knowledge manifest in one snow storm than there is in all books written by man. Each snowflake is itself a Divine Revelation, a manifestation of the Word of God, of the Quran. When we see these flakes falling we may think them to be insignificant because they’re so small, yet we also realize that if these seemingly insignificant specs were to band together and amplify each other’s purpose, they could literally bring our day to day life to a screeching halt. When snowflakes stick together they become interpreters of the infinite knowledge within one another. They function as letters and as words. They form words, then sentences, then paragraphs, then books in a bilateral process both individually and collectively and internally and externally. They become the context clues for each other in a Divine statement of God’s Divinity, Unity, and Oneness. God tells us His story on the pages of the present moment, in His book of creation, at a speed we are unable to comprehend or appreciate. Though we may miss the craft in His peerless eloquence and expression, let us pray to understand the moral behind the story. May we understand, accept, and live by the fact that we are all like a snowflake. Full of immense, limitless, and deep knowledge by virtue of being momentary figments of the All-Knowing’s reality and mere utterances of His Divine speech. We must stick together in order to extract the infinite knowledge that lies deep within the patterns of our fabrication. We must stick together if we’re to make a difference in the day to day happenings of the world. We must stick together if we’re to make the world stand still and admire its own beauty. We must continue to be manifestations of La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadur RasulAllah.”

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Mindful Drum Meditation

Yesterday I attended a workshop at the Nur Ashki Jerrahi Sufi Center in Manhattan. The teacher presented the different maqams (scales) of music in the Islamic world. She also taught us basic drumming techniques, which can be used on the daff (frame drum), darbuka, or rek. The teacher was a deeply spiritual individual, which made the class more lively and touching than many other drumming workshops that I have attended. There were about 9 students in the class – thus making the class intimate and cozy. We also had a session of mindful drumming, which was one of the most powerful meditation experiences I ever had.

Recently I made the intention to learn to become a meditation guide because of the happiness and benefits that it brought me and for others. However, something about regular meditation wasn’t enough for me. It lacked movement (as well as dhikr). I wanted to incorporate movement in my meditation, thereby allowing the peace reached within meditation to penetrate into my entire physical being. This is how I felt while participating in the mindful drumming. Imagine sitting in a circle with people playing the same rhythm on their drum as you, at the same time. The reverberations are powerful; they permeate throughout the room, bounce off the walls, and penetrate into our hearts. I felt immense healing and happiness – more than I felt in regular meditation. The vibrations of the sounds had a healing effect on my soul. We also stood up during part of the session and swayed with our drums. We were taught to “inhale and exhale” with our drums. During inhale we could kneel close to the floor, during exhale we could stand up and extend our drum into the sky. It was the perfect combination of movement, rhythm, music, and meditation. It was perfect. All praise to God! Now I have expanded my intention to be a mindful meditation coach. I want to be a mindful drumming meditation coach, and incorporate dhikr into it as well. May God facilitate what is best and with the most ease, and allow me to benefit others!

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Multiple Veils, Single Reality

“God is the separated beloved whom the human being has to find in everything beautiful, including one’s own heart. The thousands of forms in this world are like thousands of veils across the face of a single Reality. True seekers learn to ignore the appearance (majaz) of whatever they see, and concentrate instead on the unseen, the Reality (haqiqat). In other words, God exists everywhere and those who can see beyond appearance see Him manifest in things as little as a glow-worm and as huge as the Himalaya.”
-Khurram Ali Shafique on explaining the philosophy of Muhammad Iqbal

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Be Silent, God will become Manifest

“There are two kinds of silence: firstly, silence of the tongue, which consists of not speaking of other than God with other than God … and secondly, silence of the heart, which consists of refraining from all thought occurring to the soul that concerns any created thing. The one whose tongue is silent, even if his heart is not, lightens his burden. When someone’s tongue and heart are both silent, his innermost consciousness becomes manifest and his Lord reveals Himself to him. The one whose heart is silent but whose tongue is not speaks wisely. The one who possesses neither a silent tongue nor a silent heart remains under the domination of Satan and opens himself up to become an object of ridicule.”

—Shaykh Ibn al Arabi

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Transformation

Some people shake your foundations. In one encounter all of your deficiencies fall onto the floor, leaving you naked, embarrassed. You desperately try to hold onto the last remaining threads of what you held as absolute truths of yourself. But no, those have flaws and holes too. Confused, bedazzled, you seek validation. But validation cannot be sought from sentient beings.

You are left alone with the scraps of yourself on the floor. You try to put them together into a coherent whole again.

This process is personal transformation. Painful, but liberating. Traumatizing, but strengthening. Life altering. Character correcting. Life mission improving.

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Words of the Elements (poem by Rumi)

“A whole afternoon field inside me from one stem of reed.
The messenger comes running toward me, irritated:
Why be so hard to find?
Last night I asked the moon about the Moon, my one question
for the visible world, Where is God?

The moon says, I am dust stirred up
when he passed by.The sun, My face is pale yellow
from just now seeing him. Water: I slide on my head and face
like a snake, from a spell he said. Fire: His lightning,
I want to be that restless. Wind, why so light?
I would burn if I had a choice. Earth, quiet
and thoughtful? Inside me I have a garden
and an underground spring.
This world hurts my head with its answers, wine filling my hand, not my glass.
If I could wake completely, I would say without speaking
Why I’m ashamed of using words.”

-Mawlana Rumi

These are the main interpretations that form in my mind when I read the poem:

The narrator is looking for signs of the existence of God through the elements of the visible world (moon, earth, fire, wind, etc.)
While the elements’ reactions to witnessing God are phenomenal and cause some of them to step outside their normal characteristics (the wind desires to burn and the earth is usually quiet and thoughtful, but it announces the great energy it has within: “Inside me I have a garden and an underground spring”), none of these answers are adequate enough to fulfill the curiosity of the narrator, and thus the narrator has wine pouring into his hand but not into the glass with which he can drink and satiate his curiosity and understanding of God. The words uttered by the elements are not enough to describe the majesty and reality of God.
I think that the poem is also alluding that the narrator needs to look at the “invisible” world instead of the visible world to find these signs. If the narrator looks within his own self, he will find the answers that he is looking for, for the human being is the microcosm of the universe, and the only creation that can fully reflect the attributes of God through his polished heart. The wind, fire, earth, etc. all emanate qualities that already exist within the human. I also think that the “glass” mentioned in the end of the poem can be a symbol for the heart, and that the words uttered by the elements are beautiful, but not enough to fill his heart. In conclusion, while it is excellent to look for signs of God in the visible universe around us, it is also just as important to look within and contemplate His Reality in the invisible world, and also to understand that words are not sufficient enough to explain His Reality. And it is perhaps better understood through experience that is felt.

And God knows best.

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“Did you miss Me?”

“But tell me, did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?
Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star
One without a permanent scar?
And did you miss Me while you were looking for yourself out there?”

Lines from “Drops of Jupiter” by Train

“I am going to light a fire in the Garden and pour water onto it so that both these veils may disappear from the seekers, and that their purpose may be sure, and that the servants of God may see Him, without any object of hope or motive of fear. What if the Hope for the Garden and the Fear of the Fire did not exist? Not one would worship his Lord, nor obey Him. But He is worthy of worship without any immediate motive or need.” -Rabia Al Adawiyah

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Salawat Naariyah (A blessing/prayer for the Prophet)

This is one of the most beautiful prayers I have come across for the Prophet Muhammad:

“O Allah, bestow seamless salutation and perfect peace upon our master Muhammad – through whom difficulties and calamities are relieved, needs are fulfilled, aspirations are attained, the best outcomes are achieved, and the clouds deliver their rain by virtue of his noble countenance. And bestow such salutations and peace upon his family and his companions at every moment that lasts the duration of the flickering of an eye or the drawing of breath, and do so to the number of everything that is known to You.”

Here is my reflection on the translation:

1. Peace is described as “perfect” and “seamless” which is fascinating – the fact that there can be levels and degrees of peace, and that we are praying for the most beautiful and perfect peace to descend upon the Prophet, his family, and his companions.
2. In addition to the afflictions that are removed, the needs that are fulfilled, and the aspirations that are achieved due to the noble status of the Prophet, the salawat then states that the clouds send rain due to his noble status as well. This is amazing as well because rain descending to the earth is being compared to the removal of afflictions and the fulfillment of needs. Rain is a powerful metaphor and symbol for God’s mercy and blessing. With rain comes many great bounties.
3. The salawat states to send peace to the Prophet, his family, and his companions to every moment equal to the “flickering of an eye” or the “drawing of a breath”. That is an impossible number to count! We cannot even fathom such a large number!
4. Lastly, the du’a/salawat then asks Allah to send peace to the prophet for the number of everything known to God. The number of everything is such a vast number again, and it can only be an infinitely ascending number, since God is always creating every moment we encounter. Every cell is constantly dividing, every experience we have He is creating, and every abode in Paradise is constantly becoming more beautiful. Insha Allah. And the fact that only God can know that number is proof of His Magnificence and Power, and proof of our meek and dependent servitude.

So in conclusion, with that one du’a/salawat, we are asking Allah to send perfect peace to the prophet, his family, and companions for an infinite amount of times. SubhanAllah.

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“Redemption” (My Parody to Shawn Mendes “Stitches”)

“Redemption” (Parody to Shawn Mendes “Stitches”)

I thought your foils would be no more
But I’ve learned the world was made to make me sore
It can cut deeper than a knife
But I have a Being to breathe me back to life

Got a feeling that I’m going under
But I know that I’ll make it out alive
With His help I’ll come out much stronger
Move on

Yes I may bleed until I can’t breathe
Shaking, falling onto my knees
But now I know of your deception
Got time for redemption
Tripping over myself
Aching, begging God to come help
Yes now I know of your deception
Got time for redemption

Just like a moth drawn to a flame
Oh, you lured me in, I couldn’t sense the pain
Your bitter heart cold to the touch
I don’t wanna reap what I sow
Cuz I can repent on my own

Got a feeling that I’m going under
But I know that I’ll make it out alive
With His help I’ll come out much stronger
Move on

Yes I may bleed until I can’t breathe
Shaking, falling onto my knees
But now I know of your deception
Got time for redemption
Tripping over myself
Aching, begging God to come help
Yes now I know of your deception
Got time for redemption

[x3:]
Needle in the thread,
Gotta get you out of my head
Needle in the thread,
With God I’ll transcend

Needle in the thread,
Gotta get you out of my head, get you out of my head

Yes I may bleed until I can’t breathe
Shaking, falling onto my knees (falling on my knees)
But now I know of your deception
Got time for redemption (Got time for redemption)
Tripping over myself,
Aching, begging God to come help (begging, “Allah, please.”)
Yes now I know of your deception
Got time for redemption

(Yes now I)
Know of your deception
Got time for redemption

(Yes now I)
Know of your deception
Got time for redemption

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