Posts with category - Defeating the Ego

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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My “halalmixed” parody to Sia’s “Chandelier”

Here is a parody I wrote for Australian singer Sia’s “Chandelier”. Her vocal range for this song is powerful and impressive.
The original song is about a young woman’s justification and struggle with her addiction to drinking, my version is about a different type of “drink”. :)

Warrior souls don’t get hurt
Can’t help but fight, against ego’s might
They push it down, push it down

Calling out to One, for that taste of Union,
Mind’s clearin’ up, from all mundane thought.
They aim for Love, aim for Love

One Two Three, One Two Three, drink
One Two Three, One Two Three, drink
One Two Three, One Two Three, drink
From the pool of transcendence

I’m gonna shine like the chandelier
Like the chandelier!
I’m gonna pray like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist!
I’m gonna rise like he* did on Miraj,
Feel my tears as they fly!
I’m gonna shine like the chandelier
Like the chandelier!

Cuz I’m longing hard for His light, won’t stop now won’t open my eyes
Keep my tongue full until morning light, ’cause I’m longing hard through the night
My Lord, I’m holding on for Your light, won’t stop now won’t open my eyes
Keep my heart full until morning light, ’cause I’m holding on for Your light
All through the night

Sun is up, past Fajr time
Gotta get out now, rise and climb
Work in His Name, Work in His Name

One Two Three, One Two Three, drink
One Two Three, One Two Three, drink
One Two Three, One Two Three, drink
From the pool of transcendence

I’m gonna shine like the chandelier
Like the chandelier!
I’m gonna pray like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist!
I’m gonna rise like he did on Miraj,
Feel my tears as they rise!
I’m gonna shine like the chandelier
Like the chandelier!

Cuz I’m longing hard for His light, won’t stop now won’t open my eyes
Keep my tongue full until morning light, ’cause I’m longing hard through the night
My Lord, I’m holding on for Your light, won’t stop now won’t open my eyes
Keep my heart full until morning light, ’cause I’m holding on for Your light
All through the night

All through the night
‘Cause I’m holding on for Your light
Oh, I’m holding on for Your light
All through the night
All through the night
‘Cause I’m holding on for Your light
‘Cause I’m holding on for Your light
Oh, I’m holding on for Your light
All through the night
All through the night

*Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)

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What Qualities make up the Successful Employee?

Great article that describes the qualities that make up the successful employee. Not surprisingly, many of these traits/characteristics are within the muhsin (sincere believer/lover of God):

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/do-you-have-right-personality-successful-dr-travis-bradberry

They’re willing to delay gratification.
They can tolerate conflict.
They focus.
They’re judiciously courageous.
They’re in control of their egos.
They’re never satisfied.
They recognize when things are broken and fix them.
They’re accountable.
They’re marketable.
They neutralize toxic people.

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Rumi on the Night of Power

if you stay awake
for an entire night
watch out for a treasure
trying to arrive

you can keep warm
by the secret sun of the night
keeping your eyes open
for the softness of dawn

try it for tonight
challenge your sleepy eyes
do not lay your head down
wait for heavenly alms

night is the bringer of gifts
Moses went on a ten-year journey
during a single night
invited by a tree
to watch the fire and light

Muhammad too made his passage
during that holy night
when he heard the glorious voice
when he ascended to the sky

day is to make a living
night is only for love
commoners sleep fast
lovers whisper to God all night

all night long
a voice calls upon you
to wake up
in the precious hours

if you miss your chance now
when your body is left behind
your soul will lament
death is a life of no return

-Rumi

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Fasting is an Expression of Freedom

Fasting is an expression of freedom.

Freedom from the routine patterns and habits of everyday life.
Freedom from the enslaving urge for food, drink, and sex.
Freedom from instantaneous gratification.
Freedom from the opinions of others regarding the status of our stomach, tongue, and limbs.
Freedom from our lower selves and ego.
Freedom from worldly attachments.
Freedom from indifference to Divine bounties.
Freedom from mindless and profitless chatter.
Freedom from empty hearts into hearts brimming with awareness and love.

I choose freedom, do you?

Here is a relevant hadith on fasting and the removal of veils at the time of iftar (meal of breaking fast):

“Prophet Moses said to God:
‘O God! You have granted me the honor and privilege of talking to you directly, Have you given this privilege to any other person?

God replied, ‘O Moses! During the last period I am going to send an Ummah (community), who will be the Ummah of Muhammad (pbuh), with dry lips, parched tongues, emaciated body with eyes sunken deep into their sockets, with livers dry and stomachs suffering from the pangs of hunger. They will call out to me (in du’a). They will be much closer to me than you. O Moses! While you speak to me there are 70,000 veils between you and me but at the time of iftar, there will not be a single veil between me and the fasting Ummah of Muhammad (pbuh). Oh Moses! I have taken it upon myself the responsibility that at the time of iftar I will never refuse the du’a of a fasting person!’”

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A Letter on Preparing for Death – Al Ghazali (Excerpts)

Translated by Shazia Ahmad:

“The phrase sharh as-sadr is a common Arabic expression used to refer to a spiritual expansion of the heart or chest that gives rise to inner enlightenment, tranquility, and relief from anxiety and worry. It is a phrase that is used in a number of places in the Quran. When going to face the Pharoah and convey to him the message of Islam, the noble prophet Musa (upon him be peace) prayed to Allah, “My Lord, expand for me my chest, ease my task for me, and remove the impediment from my speech so that they may understand what I say.” (Taha, v. 25-28) In reminding the Prophet (peace be upon him) of the great blessings He had bestowed upon him, Allah says, “Have we not expanded for you your chest?” (Al-Inshirah, v.1) Imam As-Sabouni says in explanation of this verse:

“His (pbuh) chest was expanded with true guidance, faith, and the light of the Quran. Ibn Kathir states that [the phrase sharh as-sadr means] ‘We have filled your chest with light and made it expansive and unconfined.’ And just as Allah has made the Prophet’s (pbuh) chest expansive, He has made His Shar’ (Law) generous, tolerant, easy, and without difficulty or narrowness.” (Safwat at-Tafaseer, pp. 553-554).

Imam Al-Ghazali entitled his letter Sharh as-Sadr because properly preparing for death is a means of attaining that spiritual expansion, illumination, and comfort. May Allah make us among those who experience that state, and who ready and beautify themselves properly for the journey to His Divine Presence, Ameen.” -Shazia Ahmad

You have asked – may Allah grant you success – about readiness for death, and the conditions and means [of attaining that spiritual state]. When is a servant (of God) ready for death? What should one strive to achieve so that he or she is fully prepared for this path?

Know that death is an expression used for the journey from this world to the Divine Presence, for to Allah is the ultimate return. Anyone traveling to a royal court is in need of three things for his journey: a severing of the ties that keep him from advancing; a preparation of provisions for the road; and an acceptable gift for the king, to present to him and by which to attain his pleasure. Similarly, the traveler journeying to the Divine Presence is in need of three things: preparation of his provisions, a cutting of ties, and the offering of a gift.

The traveler’s provision refers to a deep consciousness of God [taqwa]. Allah says, “…And take a provision with you for the journey, but the best of provisions is taqwa.” (Al-Baqara, v. 197)

The cutting of ties means a severing of the heart from the pleasures of this world. This is what was meant by the Prophet’s (pbuh) words, “an indifference towards the abode of delusions”.

The gift to be presented to the King is love, the origin of which is in true gnosis [ma’rifah] and faith [iman].

One who has no beloved in this world is completely ready for death. One who loves someone in this world, but finds that the love for Allah is stronger and more intense in his heart is also ready, though his level is not like that of the former.

A sign that a servant has true love for Allah is that he or she does not have any feeling of dislike towards death, no matter when it may come. An aversion to death is a sign that this world and one’s status in it is more beloved to a person [than meeting Allah in the hereafter].

The Prophet (pbuh) said: “The child of Adam will never be safe from three things: envy, fearing evil omens, and having bad opinions of others. I will inform you of a means of escaping from them. If you feel envious towards someone, do not seek to attain what he or she has. If you observe an omen said to be evil, continue without any change in your behavior. And if you think ill of someone, do not try to confirm your thoughts [by discussing them with others.]”

Full letter can be found here: https://cairocaprices.wordpress.com/my-translations/a-letter-on-preparing-for-death-by-imam-ghazali/

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Emptiness

“The bird that escapes from the trap of its ego has no fear, wherever it may fly.”

The dagger of hurt pierces you.
You tell the dagger that you deserve it.
It came under the permission of God.
Emptiness.

People look down upon you.
They desire not to be in your presence.
You think, they have found the Divine attributes within others
Let them enjoy the presence of God,
Manifested through the goodness of others.
Emptiness.

You envy the good in others,
the warmth, the exuberance that attracts.
You turn the envy into admiration of God.
You marvel at the beauty God places in others.
Emptiness.

Your parents ridicule your incompetence.
You accept your flaws and take their ridicule,
As a way of God correcting your adab.
Emptiness.

You admire the physical beauty in others and think,
“How beautiful must God be?”
Emptiness!

You admire the knowledge of others and think,
“How wise must God be?”
Emptiness!

You revile in your state, lowly before God.
You admire the fullness and unmatched power of Him.
You forget your own state, as you contemplate His.
Emptiness!

If you desire wealth of soul, seek emptiness!
If you desire happiness, seek emptiness!
If you desire company, seek emptiness!
If you desire wisdom, seek emptiness!

Empty yourself of your selfhood!
Empty yourself of your ego.
That foul creature that seeks praise, fame, popularity.
Empty it!

Remove the ego from your soul.
Forget yourself and surrender non-existence to God’s existence!
Be the moth that catches fire in the candle flame,
Burn yourself so that you reach height within the Flame!

Free yourself of the filth of this world!
The burdens of desire, ego, and self-worth.
Empty yourself, and you will find freedom!
“Die before you die” so that you are alive!


Life after death.
Calm over strife.
Finally, peace in emptiness.
______________________________________________________________________________________________
“The bird that escapes from the trap of its ego has no fear, wherever it may fly.”
“The world is like a mirror displaying Love’s perfection. Oh friends! Who has ever seen a part greater than its whole?”

These are two lines amongst thousands of Rumi’s poetry that Professor Chittick translated in his book, “The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi”. Chittick divides the content of his book into three sections (dimensions): theory, practice, and attainment to God. This is similar to Iman, Islam, and Ihsan, yet Rumi is specifically focusing on “theory, practice, and attainment to God” within the dimension of Ihsan. Thus, there is form and meaning (multiple dimensions) within Islamic esotericism itself.

The first quote above infers that the source of suffering arises from man’s own ego. Satan may tempt and whisper to us, but men commit sins and suffer from their own selves and state of mind. A person who is easily offended by the words of others places a lot of value on his/her own self-worth, when in actuality; we are worth nothing in comparison to God. Sensitivity is an attribute of the ego, and mankind will be happier if they accept the ridicule of others and humble themselves. The second quote downplays the world view of dualism and dichotomy. Everything, including opposites (mercy and wrath) is a manifestation of God’s oneness. The beauty in the world of multiplicity acts as a mirror of the Beauty of God. Thus Rumi warns us not to be deceived by beautiful parts, but by the Beautiful Whole that is the source of them.

I wrote the above more than 6 years ago, and posted it now. =)

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One Danger in Seeking Sacred Knowledge

Powerful and beautiful reminder:

“Sacred Knowledge is usually accompanied with danger to the soul. The majority of people, except the few chosen ones, who begin their pursuit of Sacred Knowledge will find the feelings of self-righteousness and intellectual arrogance taking over their hearts. Indeed, that was Imam al-Ghazzali’s problem as noted by his own brother. Before he went on his 10-year journey that made him into the magnificent scholar we look up to today, Imam al-Ghazzali was known for his remarkable level of knowledge and erudition. But that was combined with a level of intellectual pride not to be missed by people of the hearts. Imam al-Ghazzali described it as being on a cliff about to fall into an abyss. His knowledge was in his brain and on his tongue, but it had not yet taken over his heart.”

-Mohamed Ghilan

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Some Gems from Sh. Faiyaz and Sh. Yacoubi at ICNYU

Shaykh Faiyaz was my classmate during my undergraduate university studies, we took several classes together, especially since we both majored in Religious Studies.  It was an honor to see him again at ICNYU; him and his wife are beautiful people.  May God increase them both with all good.

The following are some gems from the talk delivered by Faiyaz:

-Islam is a religion of reformation.
-It was the duty of the public treasury in the Islamic world to provide for the poor.
-We live in a world where everyone wants tasks to be completed fast, instantaneously, and efficiently.  This is the era of instant gratification.  However, unfortunately, marriage has not become easier or more efficient for our youth.  In fact, it has become even harder to get married, and people are delaying it further.  We need to make marriage easier for our youth!
-When the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) arrived home from his travels, Khadijah (RA) would stand up and say, “Here is my love who has arrived from his travels.  If the women of Zulekha had seen you, they would have cut open their chests and break their hearts for you (paraphrased by me)
-One of the tricks of the devil is to provoke others to leave out their sunnah prayers

Shaykh Muhammad al Yacoubi–the teacher of my dad’s friend, Shaykh Faisal Abdur Razak, of over 20 years. The following are some gems from his talk:

-The heart is the home of spiritual life.
-People are veils blocking the path to God
-You will not get any power unless you recognize your weaknesses
-You will not get any success unless you recognize your failures
-Admit and confess your weaknesses to God in order to gain from Him
-You can reach a state in which every breath you take is a Dhikr of God

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