Posts with category - Advice & Wisdom

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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Nothingness

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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“Saints are like the circumference of a circle”

“Saints are like the circumference of a circle. The circle is composed of points. On its circumference there are countless points. Yet the circle’s center consists of but a single point, and from that point each saint receives light and power. The radii of the circle extend to every point on the circumference but the distance from the center to each point on the circumference is identical. Each point on the circumference is one saint, one here and another there.

Each saint takes from the center. All on the circumference are brothers and sisters there is no difference between them. When they reach this level, each knows and recognizes the other. But outside this level, humans do not know each other. That is why 124,000 great saints know each other, for all of them swimming in the same orbit. That is the meaning of the verse from God’s Holy Words:

Each one is swimming in his orbit.

The illustrious saints swim in the orbit of the 124,000, taking from the Center of everything, God most High. If you hold the hand of any one of them it is as if you are holding the hand of all. When you reach one it is as if you have reached them all. At that time the light they all possess will be bestowed on you and illuminate your heart.”

-Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

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You are a light that others may not see

Every friend/saint of God is different, yet every saint is a beloved to God. Every sahabi (companion of the Prophet) was different, yet every sahabi was a beloved to God. If someone cannot see/value the beauty, talents, and light within you, do not allow the veils shrouding their inner vision to temper your confidence.

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The Source is Overflowing

“Everything you see has its roots
in the Unseen world.
The forms may change,
yet the essence remains the same.

Every wondrous sight will vanish,
Every sweet word will fade.
But do not be disheartened,
The Source they come from is eternal –
Growing, branching out,
giving new life and new joy.

Why do you weep? –
That Source is within you,
And this whole world
is springing up from it.

The Source is full,
Its waters are ever-flowing;
Do not grieve,
drink your fill!
Don’t think it will ever run dry –
This is the endless Ocean.

From the moment you came into this world
A ladder was place in front of you
that you might escape.

From earth you became a plant,
from plant you became animal.
Afterwards you became a human being,
Endowed with knowledge, intellect, and faith.

Behold the body, born of dust-
How perfect it has become!

Why should you fear its end?
When were you ever made less by dying?

When you pass beyond this human form,
No doubt you will become an angel
And soar through the heavens!

But don’t stop there,
Even heavenly bodies grow old.

Pass again from the heavenly realm
and plunge into the vast ocean of Consciousness.
Let the drop of water that is you
become a hundred mighty seas.

But do not think that the drop alone
Becomes the Ocean –
the Ocean, too, becomes the drop!”

- Mawlana Rumi

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Fawakih Winter Intensive 2017

I spent about a week and a half this month with the Fawakih Family, which was a decision that I will never regret. They offered the exact type of environment that I needed to boost my motivation and energy in Arabic studies. The environment is holistic and rejuvenating for the soul: (students participate not only in learning and studying, but in traveling, serving, cooking, recreation, poetry night, swimming, and more). We had classes to stimulate the mind (Arabic grammar and morphology), as well as the heart (spirituality). I recommend this program and this beautiful institute to all those wayfarers on the path who desire to deepen their intimacy with the Qur’an and, ultimately, their Creator. It was certainly a feast for the souls!

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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! It would be lovely to share this rejuvenating experience with others, perhaps as a mindful meditation coach one day myself.

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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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