A collection of many of my statuses on Facebook in 2015 that I deeply connect with:
If they are not in quotation marks, then they are my own words.

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”
-Henry David Thoreau

“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”
-Norman Peale

Seize the moment! Embrace the opportunity!
Openings do not come when you have everything.
They come when you feel the pain of constriction…
When the pangs of longing return to you unrequited
When you fall broken and bewildered at your soul’s stagnation.
When every fiber of your being is pierced with confusion.
When every breath is a gasp for understanding.
When your mind strives for a reasonable explanation
For your breakdown and state of insanity…
Stop, pause, and reflect. Relish the moment. Within it you will find its secret.
(Written after being inspired by my dear sister Umbreen)

“The Truth is the Truth whether heard from behind a pulpit or a drunk homeless man…
Those attached to titles, looks, forms, will not be able to ‘extract truth’ in this age of ‘Extraction’ ”
-Sarwar Nassiry

All praise to the Divine who provides for His servants in mysterious ways and with the best of wisdom and mercy.
“To completely trust in God is to be like a child who knows deeply that even if he does not call for the mother, the mother is totally aware of his condition and is looking after him.”
-Imam Ghazali

Spirituality and activism are not mutually exclusive. Activism is the fruit of spiritual effort, and the activist who strives for justice with a sincere heart overflowing with love for God is the proof of spiritual excellence. : )

“Violence is the language of the inarticulate.” – Sh. Muhammad Ninowy
It is words that win hearts.
Violence breeds hate, anger and fear.
To stop bigotry and ignorance we must use our tongues effectively and eloquently. Petitions only go so far. We can speak, we can write, we can meet people in person. That is the prophetic path, the path of the courageous. The path of violence is the path of cowardice.

It is better to err on the side of mercy and inclusiveness than on retribution (punishment) and exclusion.

How we interpret the world is a reflection of our own heart:
Two people can take the same class on philosophy. For one person the new material will strengthen their faith, for the other person the new material will weaken their faith. The first type of person finds connections between the new knowledge and their own faith; they find beauty and wisdom and appreciate its depth. For the second type of person they find and focus on the dissimilarity between the new knowledge and their faith, and allow the ugly to veil them from the overarching truth and beauty.
Let us wash the windows of our hearts and remove bias and pre-conceived notions. Let us think in three dimensions, and stay away from simplistic, surface level understanding. Let us not allow the minor flaw in a beautiful painting prevent us from gaining the immense benefit from the deeper message of the art and the author. How we interpret the world is a reflection of our own heart. : )
Rumi’s teacher, Shams of Tabriz, said, “The world is like a mountain, your echo depends on you.”

“Seek the moon in the heavens, and not its reflection in the creek.
A gnostic was sitting in a rose garden with his head on his knees. A fool came up to him and told him to wake up and look at all the beauty around him. The gnostic said, “You fool! The real garden is eternal. This is just a reflection of what’s inside me!”
Everything we see on earth is a reflection of what’s inside us. And everything is a reflection of the Beloved.
Die before you die. This death will leave you illuminated; not like the death that takes you six feet under.”
- Fatima Minty (sharing her notes from Ustadh Feraidoon Mojadedi )
“Die before you die” – let your ego die so that your soul may truly come alive!

Try to transform the tunes from the radio into a “tasbih” for remembering God based on your perception of the lines: “The gnostics never hear a verse, a riddle, a panegyric, or a love poem that is not about God, hidden beyond the veil of forms.”
-Ibn al Arabi

And say to yourself:
I am not defined by others’ perception of me.
I am not defined by the media
… my facebook page, or my blog.
I am not defined by the color of my face, nor eyes.
I am not defined by the elders’ thoughts of me
…my career, my status, or my zodiacal sign.
I am defined by my conversations with God.
By the knowledge that I implement.
By the character I manifest to my teachers, parents.
By the intentions that hide in my heart.
And the hidden deeds that contribute to a better world.
And when you reach the state of soul maturation,
You no longer care to define.
Nor need to…
For the Definition that really mattered…
Was witnessing Him.

“Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.”
Beautify your character and sharpen your talents.
Be amazing. You are complete just the way you are.

“Life’s greatest difficulties are actually life’s biggest blessings, for they serve to deepen us and open us up to a wider experience of living. Breakdowns always lead to breakthroughs.”
-Robin Sharma, author of “The Saint, the Surfer, and the CEO”

Where would we be today if Native Americans in the 1400 and 1500s refused to let the European colonists & religious refugees aboard the Americas if they were worried for their safety. Unfortunately, the Natives didn’t have a choice, many colonists forcibly occupied land and used tactics of terror to marginalize them.
In our present times, it’s an act of hypocrisy for the states to refuse to accept Syrian refugees.

“The works of great sage-scholars like Rumi, Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi, Ahmadu Bamba, Sa’id Nursi, Tierno Bokar, Salim Suware, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Fatima al-Yashrutiyya, and Abdoulaye Dieye teach a Universal, Loving, and Transcendent Way of practicing Islam that appreciates and celebrates the diversity of humanity’s cultures and religions, a Way that calls to dialogue and peaceful coexistence with people of other religions or no religion not debate, death, and war, a Way that raises human consciousness to our interconnectedness with God and Nature, a Way that calls us to be selfless servants of humanity not self-righteous or self-serving bigots, a Way that empowers women and youth to fulfill their greatest human potential, a Way that invites us to pursue technological innovation that is in harmony with our spiritual illumination, a Way that calls us to the fulfillment of divine realization not the empty shell of rituals without spirituality, and a Way that calls us to battle against our egos not other human beings.
Their works are the fruit of study, application, and realization of the outer and inner meanings of the Qur’an and Muhammadan Sunnah at their loftiest levels. We ignore studying their lives and works in our homes, mosques, schools, and Islamic/cultural centers, and neglect embodying their principles in our daily lives to our own detriment and peril.”
-Shaykh Mendes

“Many years ago when I was a graduate student, I studied post-colonial theory. We learned about how the colonizer’s world becomes destabilized by the process of colonization- how those who have been oppressed, dominated, & othered eventually enter the metropole (home land of the colonizer). Colonization is a form of violence, and it cannot remain forever removed from the metropole. That seems to be what is happening today in a very overt way.”
-Heidi Hutner

“If you put the sunnah before mercy, you have lost both.”
-Dr. Abdal Hakim Murad

“Do you know what is more precious than prayers and fasting? Making peace between two people.”
-Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

Life is a process of acquiring, appreciating, and letting go.
Almost every gift and blessing comes with a date of expiration.

“You can’t teach children the truth. They will recognize truth. We just have to provide ways for them to polish their hearts.”
-Gray Henry

“If you would only treat every person with the same love and reverence
with which you treat your Priest, Shaykh, Imam, Pastor, Rabbi, or Guru,
you would find rivers of Sacred Knowledge and Supreme Wisdom
flowing from the tongue of every person you encounter.
The Sudanese sages have a saying:
‘Treat every night like Laylatul Qadr (The Night of Glory)
and treat every person as if he were Khidr.’”
-Shaykh Mendes

“You have not truly forgiven another person until you come into the realization that there was never really anything to forgive in the first place.”
-Aly N’daw

“Whatever joy there is in this world, all comes from wanting others to be happy; and whatever suffering there is in this world, all comes from wanting oneself to be happy.”
-Shantideva, Inner Revolution

Do not underestimate the capacity of the heart.
Love is not a destination, it is an infinitely ascending path. : )
“He loves them, and they love Him.” (Qur’an 5:54)
#ExperienceMeaning #DivineLove #InfiniteAscension

“And how many are unknown in this world but famous in the heavens…”
Forget about this world and Facebook, aim to be popular in the unseen realm. : )

“Knowledge is not gained, it is there all the time. It is the “veils” which have to be dissolved in the mind.”
-Idries Shah

“No one loses anyone, because no one owns anyone. That is the true experience of freedom: having the most important thing in the world without owning it.”
-Paulo Coelho

“To keep calm while you rage with anger
To show happiness you don’t even feel
To hold a smile though everything within you weeps
To mend others’ hearts while yours is aching…
That’s what they call strength.”
And a beautiful character.

“Listen! Clam up your mouth and be silent like an oyster shell, for that tongue of yours is the enemy of the soul, my friend. When the lips are silent, the heart has a hundred tongues.”
-Shaykh Rumi

“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. They are engines of change, windows on the world, ‘lighthouses erected in the sea of time.’”
-Barbara Tuchman

“We are caught in a global struggle among and between materialists, who ultimately seek pleasure and status in this world, and religionists, who ultimately seek pleasure and status in the Hereafter. So the news is full of reports of materialists fighting against and killing other materialists, materialists fighting and killing religionists, and religionists fighting and killing other religionists with words and weapons. They are all in a zero-sum game in which even the “winners” end up as losers.
The wise person knows that both pleasure and status are finite and limited and thus seeks only what is beyond finitude and limits in this world and beyond, for them there is in reality no struggle, no fighting, no losing, and no game.
These are the beloveds of the Absolute Truth, who experience neither fear nor sorrow.”
-Shaykh Mendes

Dear God, please make it easy for us to sacrifice the desires of our egos, symbolized by the animal our noble father Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon his soul), sacrificed for You. And please reward us for any sacrifices we have made in our lives in a similar manner of Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) reward.
Eid Mubarak to my Facebook friends and family!

Brilliant quote from a wise soul:
“There seems to be a misconception that mystic and warrior are roles that are mutually exclusive. Our illustrious history shows otherwise. One cannot be a fighter without being a lover first.
Those travelling on the path of suluk are the ones who can save us from both the violence of those who distort the deen and the hedonism of those who deny it.”
Suluk – As a noun it is the path in which one ardently conforms his/her exterior and interior reality into one that is deeply conscious and obedient to God. As a verb it means to travel on this path.

“The wise saying is the lost property of the believer, so wherever he finds it then he has a right to it.”
-Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) [Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2687]

Quite befitting description of extremists (and many ordinary people) in our age, quoted centuries ago by Imam al Ghazali, bless him: “What a pity it is that these who would find fault in those who worship stones do not see that on their part they worship the pig (appetite, lust, gluttony) and the dog (anger, aggression) in themselves.”

I visited my dad at the cemetery this Monday and gratefully I also bumped into this martyr couple who died on Sept. 11th, 2001: Shakila Yasmin and Nurul Miah. The victims on this day belonged to all religious groups and all cultures. The crime wasn’t an attack on the “west” or an attack on “modernity”, it was an attack on humanity. May their souls rest in peace.

The raindrop is like a human.
An individualized drop of water with its unique flight to the earthly ground.
Falling fast into the community of drops forming the swift flowing stream towards the river.
The nations of rivers meet and exchange their talents and energies at the bay.
The bay eventually gives in to the larger Ocean and disappears into its vastness and unity.
New drops are slowly resurrected as the Ocean evaporates a unique reflection of itself into each drop.
Such is the path of the human in the progression from egoic individuality to community to nation to egolessness and God’s unity.

“If all of the tullab (religious students), murids (spiritual aspirants), Facebook shaykhs, da’ees (preachers), imams, etc, on social media would stop criticizing, fault finding, hair splitting, and condemning others (be it Muslims or people of other religions) about issues that are not explicitly and definitively resolved by the Qur’an, Authentic Sunnah, and Unanimous Consensus, more people’s time, attention, and energy would focus on more crucial and urgent matters that are of universal and manifest benefit to all human beings, rather, to all creatures.”
-Shaykh Mendes

“Everyone I meet is my superior in some way – in that, I learn from them.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Teaching: the art of simplifying complex ideas in an appealing way such that the student is eager to build from these basics to create similarly complex ideas that reflect their own creative energies and light.

Growth: the shift of identity to incorporate multiple modes of relaying information so as to be more inclusive, relate to more audiences, and reach more hearts, without compromising or letting go of the essential roots/laws.

“For me the province of poetry is a private ecstasy made public, and the social role of the poet is to display moments of shared universal epiphanies capable of healing our sense of mortal estrangement—from ourselves, from each other, from our source, from our destiny, from The Divine.”
-Daniel Abdal Hayy-Moore

I release you into His ocean of forgiveness.
To be raised again to heights unimagined.
So that purity may once again spring forth endless,
Re-emerged from your soul, a brightness rekindled.

Al Maqasid Retreat 2015 Gem # 4 & 5
Many people use spirituality/religion as a mask/band-aid for their deep emotional and psychological wounds; this won’t help. The point of spirituality is to heal the wounds, to clean them out.
The tariqah is the inward path of developing/acquiring virtuous character traits such as selflessness, generosity, honesty, sincerity, and more.
-My paraphrased notes from Sh Mendes talk this morning.

Al Maqasid Retreat 2015 Gem #3
“If your du’a is not answered, it is because God will grant you something better than it, or will grant it to you in paradise. You never lose!”
-Sh. Yahya Rhodus

Al Maqasid Retreat 2015 Gems 1 and 2:
“Every knowledge that does not result in a spiritual fruit is useless. If you are a doctor (just one example), realize how the act of healing others acts as a way of healing your own soul.”
-Sh. Mendes
Each of you is a shepherd accountable for his/her flock. “Flock” also includes items, possessions, your limbs, your words, and the earth you walk upon, etc.
-My notes and reflection from Sh. Jihad Brown

“It is as if I can hear the spirits of Dr. Betty Shabazz and Imam Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X) saying to us at this moment: ‘Freedom is yours if you would only be yourselves. Outwardly manifest your natural self and inwardly manifest your Highest Self!’”
-Shaykh Mendes

“The essence of knowledge is awe of God.”
-Imam Ahmed
“It is those of His servants who have knowledge who stand in true awe of God.” [Quran 35:28]
And there are many paths to increasing one’s “awe” of God. Gaining awe is not limited to studying fiqh and hadith. The mind blowing “awe” reality is the goal behind many of our faith tradition’s scholarly works and poetry, including:
Sh. Ibn ata’illah’s Hikam
Imam al Haddad’s poem Qad Kafaani
Sh. Rumi’s Mathnawi
Imam Ghazali’s Ihya
Ibn al Arabi’s Futuhat
Imam al Busiri’s “Burdah”
Don’t limit yourself, embrace the fruits of our tradition. Give people the fruits, and they will follow it back to the roots

On the purpose of meditation:
“When we bring enough concentration and enough relaxation to our ordinary experience, our ordinary experience ceases to be material, and we have a direct experience of the spiritual nature of our selves and of all of creation. This leads naturally to a sense of oneness with all of creation.”
-Shinzen Young (Buddhist Monk)

“When something bad happens, there’s no point in wishing it had not happened. The only option is to minimize the damage.”
-Violet, the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey

“Clothing does not make you a woman; it’s your demeanor and your personality and how you carry yourself that make you that way. Own who you are. Don’t be distracted by small, shiny things. And reject the many, many marketing messages that try to tell you otherwise. It won’t make you less of a woman; it’ll just make you more of a human.”
-Nadia Eghbal

“We are responsible for raising the bodies of our children…and raising their souls…nurturing their intellect and their emotions. The Prophet did not rebuke children…he didn’t say to them, ‘Don’t do this!’ and ‘Why didn’t you do that?’…this is in sahih hadith…why? There are two ways to motivate people, one is out of love, and the other is out of fear. The way of our Messenger is engendering in people such a deep love and veneration for his way and teachings that people will want to follow him…even the children.”
-Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

“If all you do on your job is complete your tasks on time…you are likely to be laid off. You are not an asset to the company. Your boss can easily outsource those tasks to someone else. You need to offer your ideas, your creativity, your leadership, those intangible qualities that set you apart and make you stand out from the rest of the employees. Not only do you have to look professional, you have to act professional, show professionalism, and offer innovative ideas on how to increase efficiency and success for the whole company.”
-Saied Tousi

“Individuality is about developing the intellect, not the expression of the outward form.”
-Shaykh Hamza

“Gratitude bestows many benefits. It dissolves negative feelings: anger and jealousy melt in its embrace, fear and defensiveness shrink. Gratitude deflates the barriers to love.”
-Roger Walsh (American psychiatrist and philosopher)

Three helpful hints to maximize your daily reading experience:
1. Leave your home. Your refrigerator, bed, siblings, and parents are huge distractions…not to mention other books in your library.
2. Turn your smartphone off. If you are an addict like me…you may end up checking it multiple times every 10 minutes.
3. Utilize a writing tool/highlighter. This will keep you become physically engaged with your book and will allow you to retain and emphasize important lines.
Happy reading!

Many people assume that zuhd is to own and be occupied by less. The reality of zuhd is the abandonment of desire.
When we ask people unnecessary questions and cause them unease with our probing, we will arrive on the Day of Judgement with debts owed to them…and we will have to calm them down/apologize for our probing.
-Some gems from Sh. Ahmed Saad’s talk on self- purification as explained in Sh. Ibn ata’illah’s ‘Taj al Arus’.

Our good deeds are not completely ours, they are gifts from God…gifts that we get rewarded for. Therefore show gratitude for these beautiful gifts, the deeds that God has given us the ability to do.
-paraphrased notes from Sh. Ahmed Saad’s talk on spirituality as explained in Sh. Ibn ata’illah’s ‘Taj al Arus’.

“Loving can heal, Loving can mend your soul…
It is the only thing that makes us feel alive…
And it’s the only thing we take with us when we die.”
-Ed Sheeran

“Withdrawing from the world does not mean going away from inhabited places. The essence of seclusion is to isolate blameworthy traits in order to substitute the divine names for them. It was asked, ‘Who is the gnostic?’ …It is someone who appears to be together with people, but is inwardly separated from them.”
-Imam Al-Qushayri

The heart is like a garment. Too much careless wearing of the garment will cause it to rip, become soiled, and will need mending, cleaning, ironing and more. Protect your garment, protect your heart before the breakage occurs. Once breakage happens…do not lose hope for the process of mending only takes time and some effort.

“God is not a religious bigot. He is not a male chauvinist. He is not an ethno-centric tribalist. God is not the oppressor of anyone. God is with those who care, those who want for others those things they want for themselves.
One tendency for people who claim to follow a religion is to slide into the position of believing that they are better than the others. We over-estimate our virtues and under-estimate the goodness in others.
The tendency is for us to be spiritually arrogant and forget that others are people like us. And if you are in other person’s position, you probably will be like someone else..we condemn the murder and the murderers of all Christians; we condemn the murder and the murderers of all Muslims; not because they are Christians or Muslims but because they are all human beings—creatures of God.”
-Shaykh Nurudeen Lemu (Dawah Institute of Nigeria)

On earth, we envy the wealthy, famous, and the material – based successful (including spouses, children, house, career, and more) and we pity the afflicted and poor.
On the Day of Judgement, an inversion occurs and we envy the afflicted and poor, and pity the wealthy and materialists.
Live for the afterlife now: embrace your tests, show gratitude, shy away from fame and hoarding wealth, and refrain from showing off material success.
Reminder to myself first.

“Your ego is your prison. When you have escaped from it, you find yourself in eternal ease.”
-Al Nasrabadhi

“Cruelty to others is nothing new. But online, technologically enhanced shaming is amplified, uncontained, and permanently accessible…. online we’ve got a compassion deficit and empathy crisis…. Let’s acknowledge the difference between speaking up with intention and speaking up for attention.”
“A marketplace has emerged where public humiliation is a commodity and shame is the industry. How is the money made? Clicks. The more shame, the more clicks. The more clicks, the more advertising dollars…. The more we click on this kind of gossip, the more numb we get to the human lives behind it…All the while, someone is making money off of the back of someone else’s suffering.”

“Anything He decrees is for our benefit. Out of His love, even pain is a blessing in disguise.”
-Ustadha Maryam Amirebrahimi

“A penitent person is like the one who has not sinned at all.”
-Imam Ghazali

The moment you stop learning is the moment you stop living.

“The sky is freedom for the bird but death for the fish.
The sea is wide for the fish but will engulf the bird.
We ask for freedom but freedom to do what?
We can only express our nature as it was created.
The prayer mat of the earth is freedom,
Freedom from slavery to other than the One,
Who offers a shoreless ocean of love to swim in
And a horizon that extends to the life beyond…”
- My cousin Imraan Khan

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
-Maya Angelou

“Following one’s inner impulses is not the way to be a leader. A true leader is to be a leader of oneself. Call yourself to account, before you are held to account.”
-Some notes from Dr. Abdal Hakim Murad

“People ask me, ‘What do you make of so-and-so?’ I’m just trying to take care of my own heart, how can I comment on anyone else?”
-Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

“Do not resent the calamities that come and the disasters that occur, for perhaps in something that you dislike will be your salvation, and perhaps in something that you prefer will be your doom.”
-Al Hasan al Basri

“Don’t take so much on to yourself.
Sit silently with your beloved,
and together
contemplate the Beloved of All.
Don’t take so much on to yourself.
Remember what you are:
a tiny water droplet
lost amidst the Ocean.
Don’t take so much on to yourself.
Live, love, serve, remember:
what’s here today will be gone tomorrow,
so give of yourself freely while you can.”
-Abdur Rahman

“Before death takes away what you are given, give away what there is to give.”
-Mawlana Rumi

Learning the spiritual geography of the heart with Dr. Umar Faruq AbdAllah
“Be inclusive, not exclusive, do not close the doors on people and say, you do not belong here. Embrace everyone!”- Dr. Umar

The dumbing down of religion to simplistic and literal terms has brought on the likes of ISIS. The intellectual elevation of religion to metaphysical and spiritual terms has brought on the likes of Rumi, Attar, Hafiz, Rabi’a al Adawiyah, Shams Tabrizi, and more. May God preserve the elevators and elevate the simpletons.

To be amongst the elect…
Eat less, sleep less, and be restless. :)
Read more, to Him adore, and to Higher Realms of Consciousness soar!

“One of the things that I really like about Islamic Meditation practice is that it elevates your consciousness beyond the mind to your heart, spiritual intellect, spirit, and beyond. Our cosmology of the Self allows for ever more subtle depths of awareness, even beyond nirvana. And you know the ritual prayer, salat, is actually supposed to be a form of meditative and contemplative practice that you experience at least five times a day, accessing those higher dimensions, but prayer just isn’t taught this way in most mosques.”
-Shaykh Mendes

“Drown me in the Essence of the Ocean of Unicity
until I neither see, nor hear, nor find, nor sense, except through it.”
-Just one gem of many from the prayer of Ibn Mashish, the teacher of Imam Shadhili.

“Your sickness is from you, but you do not perceive it and your remedy is within you, but you do not sense it. You presume you are a small entity, but within you is enfolded the entire Universe. You are indeed the evident book, by whose alphabet’s the hidden becomes manifest. Therefore you have no need to look beyond yourself. What you seek is within you, if only you reflect.”
-Imam Ali

“Sacred Activism is the fusion of the mystic’s passion for God
with the activist’s passion for justice, creating a third fire,
which is the burning sacred heart that longs to help, preserve,
and nurture every living thing.”
-Andrew Harvey, author of “The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism”

“A heart that has no sorrow in it is as a house with no one living in it; it falls into ruin.”
-al Qushayri
“The sorrowful person experiences in the Way of God in a month what, without his sorrow, he would not experience in years.”
-Abu Ali al-Daqqaq
My notes: This is a contemplative sorrow, a sorrow of genuine concern for matters of critical importance.

“Humility beautifies everyone.” -Yahya bin Muadh
“Nobility is in humility, grandeur in awe of God, and freedom in contentment.” -Ibrahim bin Shayban
Both quotes are from Qushayri’s Risalah: the book of Spirituality that Rumi recommended his students to read first

“Some of the best things in life come as divinely orchestrated surprises.”
-A beautiful soul

Only in separation do I appreciate Your beauty
Only in my longing do I feel the fire of burning
Only in our union do I feel exuberance and mirth
Our union happens daily when my forehead rests upon the earth.
Open our hearts to what is best and fulfilling, remove from our hearts the anxiety and uncertainty, allow us to embrace new opportunities, expand us to accommodate diversity… guide, protect, love, nurture us, for we are Your dependent servants…hopeful lovers…and aspiring vicegerents.

“I want to keep my soul fertile for the changes, so things keep being born in me, so things keep dying when it is time for things to die. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same page recurrently.”
-Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts

Sacrifices sears the souls so special Divine secrets slowly shift in.

“In the desert of the heart
Let the healing fountains start.
In the prison of his days,
Teach the free man how to praise.”
-W.H. Auden

“Every knowledge (ilm) without merciful love (rahma) is ugly. Every Fatwa without merciful love is devilish and not divine. In order to be God’s people on earth, we only need to exude beauty from His Jamaal attributes (pardon, mercy, wisdom..etc).”
-Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui

“The body is purified by water, ego by tears, intellect by knowledge, and the soul is purified by love.”
-Imam Ali

“Be with people as if you have no ego, and be with God as if there are no people.”

“To be human is to see, the rest is only skin.
To see is to see your beloved.
If your beloved is not seen, better to be blind.
If your beloved is not everlasting, better not to have one.”
-Sh. Rumi

The idolatry of the modern age doesn’t consist of man-made statues made of wood and metal like in the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) time…but of atheism, materialism, and egoism. These are the main idols of the modern era. And we can effectively dismantle them with wisdom, eloquence, and beauty.

A great reminder for myself: some reflections on a recent post by Habib Muhammad as-Saqqaf:
We claim to care about the struggles of our brothers and sisters in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and more. Have often do we awake in the late hours of the night and shed tears for their struggle? Are we sincerely yearning and asking for their relief? Or do we sleep comfortably in the abode of our warm beds?
The prophetic example shows that we must be tearing for our larger community as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did the same for his future and present communities. This is the prophetic attribute of mercy and selflessness that we must try to embody to attain inner and permanent paradisial peace.

Eloquence in language is Ihsan in action.
Developing your writing is therefore an act of Love, an act of worship, with the right intention.

“There will come a time for my people when there will remain nothing of the Qur’an except its outward form and nothing of Islam except its name, and they will call themselves by this name even though they are the people furthest from it.”
-Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

“This world is like a mountain.
Your echo depends on you.
If you scream good things, the world will give it back.
If you scream bad things, the world will give it back.
Even if someone speaks badly about you, speak well about him.
Change your heart to change the world.”
-Shams Tabrizi

“The greatest adventure a human being can undertake is the journey from the ego, the “I,” to the Self, the divine consciousness that exists within each of us. This most demanding and fulfilling journey takes us from a world of separation, governed by the ego’s fears, anxieties and desires, into the experience of divine unity, the oneness, peace and harmony that belong to the core of our being. It is a radical shift in consciousness that unfolds gradually within the traveler, helped by spiritual teachings, practices, and above all the grace that is given. Traditionally it is described as a turning away from the illusions of the outer world of the senses, to discover the deeper truth that is within us. In the Sufi tradition it is a “turning of the heart” that reveals the truth of divine love that is veiled by the illusions of the ego and our lower nature. Traveling the path these veils are gradually lifted, and we awake in the sunshine of the Self, in the wholeness of our divine consciousness.”
-Dr. Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, from foreword to “101 Helpful Illusions” by Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri

Love vanquishes the waves of uncertainty.

“For you Lovers:
You have not truly loved another until you love their unseen essence,
beyond their visible attributes and how they may benefit you;
for when you love another’s essence you love that which is in them
that neither changes, nor dies, nor disappoints.
To love another’s essence you must first be traveling-
the path towards your own.
This is true love, without fear of separation or infidelity.
That radiant human essence, the Spirit of your spouse,
your parents, your children, or your friend,
is absolutely beautiful, complete, and glorious,
so towards this let the lovers direct their love.”
-Sh. Mendes

“Why are you so enchanted by this world, when a mine of gold lies within you.”
-Sh. Rumi

“As a human being becomes purified of selfishness and ego, as a believer empties him or herself of all that is impure, the vastness of divine love begins to fill his or her being with such grace and power that it transmutes not only his or her life, but such pure and true love begins to transform all one comes into contact with. Such an individual becomes a portal for divine love, goodness and grace into the world.”
-Ihsan Alexander
“How can a love so great live in a being so small?”
-Jalaluddin Rumi

“Maghrib, a meeting of the blue and red skies; a juxtaposition of the celestial and the terrestrial; an engagement between the lover and the beloved.”
-Yousaf Seyal

“Love is the spirit of life, and mercy is the secret to its maintenance.”
-Habib Ali al Jifry

“He who pursues leadership will be disgraced.”
-Fudayl bin Iyad

“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.”

“The tear of the sinner is more beloved to Allah than the arrogance of the righteous man.”
-Ibn Ata’illah

“Do not talk about your riches in front of the poor.
Do not talk about your good health in front of the sick.
Do not talk about your power in front of the weak.
Do not talk about the joys of your life in front of the sad ones.
Do not talk about your freedom in front of the captivated.
Do not talk about your children in front of those who cannot have any.
Do not talk about your parents in front of the orphans, for their wounds cannot bear more pain.”
-Imam Ali (Ra)

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
-Joseph Campbell

Adab (manners) is Ihsan (beauty, spiritual excellence) in action.

Life isn’t a video game. It’s not about accumulating the most points in order to gain the most material rewards in heaven. This is the path of infantile spirituality. Life is about developing an inexhaustible love connection with your Creator, such that you would do anything for His pleasure, such that the actions He declares beautiful become so enticing and intoxicating, that you cannot help BUT do them. Life is about living for Love. Life is about leaving behind the realm of multiplicity, bestiality, and the pursuit of the ego’s pleasure for the realm of unity, ascension of the human spirit, and the pursuit of Divine Reality.

“Indeed I have fasted from all of the delights in my life,
And the day that I meet You, that day shall be the Iftar of my fasting.” -Ibn Rajab
Iftar-the meal in which the fast is broken

“Everything which the eyes see is related to knowledge, and everything which the hearts know is related to certitude.”
-Dhul Nun al-Misri

“I am designed and created
to have inner reliance.
Inner reliance does not mean
I do not recognize needs
or dependence on others.
Inner reliance means that I trust
that what I need will come to me
through ways and means
that I may not know,
but I will recognize them as they come.
If the means is not there,
then I must be patient.
Inner reliance does not mean
being doped in a corner
or being isolated from existence.
It means I am relying on
what is within me, above me,
before me, and around me.
Really, what I mean is
-Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri

Wisdom comes with sound knowledge and gentle manners, not old age.

Respond to hate with love, ignorance with wisdom,
A frown with a smile, and ugliness with beauty.
That is the way of Muhammad (peace be upon his soul), all of the preceding Prophets (peace be upon them all) and all of humanity that choose the path of compassion.
“When I die
when my coffin
is being taken out
you must never think
i am missing this world
don’t shed any tears
don’t lament or
feel sorry
i’m not falling
into a monster’s abyss
when you see
my corpse is being carried
don’t cry for my leaving
i’m not leaving
i’m arriving at eternal love
when you leave me
in the grave
don’t say goodbye
remember a grave is
only a curtain
for the paradise behind”

“I wish I could have catched the water that dripped from you…
Wish I could have been at Uhud and take that hit for you…
Blessed are the companions that sit with you…
I close my eyes…my body trembles as I picture you…
My throat swells
My eyes are wells
Not being with you in the afterlife…
…that’s hell…”
-Baraka Blue

Yesterday I heard Baraka Blue recite poetry for the first time and I was almost in tears – such beautiful words placed in an intricate and rhythmical pattern. It rekindled my love of poetry and my desire to write. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf once said that adab is to place things in their proper places. Poetry is to place words in beautiful, wisely crafted forms…words that have the power to transform and empower, words that rekindle love and breathe life into the hearts

Islamic Theologies: Theological Indoctrination or Education?
“Though I may adhere to the Ashʿarī school of thought as codified by Imām Ghazālī (450-505/1058-1111), I do not look at my brothers and sisters of the Atharī school with a heart of suspicion or misguidance. I will not simply tolerate them, or sign a pact of non-aggression – that is not where our hearts should be in regard to each other. We need to have a mutual sense of love and respect for one another and mend this bridge of theological debate. As leaders and educational institutes, if we carry on making theology an issue of contention between each other, we will continually drag Muslim Americans through the same vicious cycle of fragmentation…”
-Moutasem Atiya.

“The Qur’an is like a bride” -Rumi
Approaching the Qur’an with the correct manners, propriety, and state of mind will enable you to receive its beautiful mysteries unveiled, just like soft words and gracious manners will persuade the bride to remove her veil.

“The Qur’an is like a bride.
Although you pull
the veil away from her face,
she does not show herself to you.
When you investigate the Qur’an,
but receive no joy or mystical unveiling,
it is because your pulling at the veil
has caused you to be rejected.
The Qur’an has deceived you
and shown itself as ugly. It says,
“I am not a beautiful bride.”
It is able to show itself
in any form it desires.
But if you stop pulling at its veil
and seek its good pleasure;
if you water its field, serve it from afar
and strive in that which pleases it,
then it will show you its face
without any need for you to draw aside its veil.”
-trans. William C. Chittick

“If people avoid in themselves what they find reprehensible in others, their character would be refined without the need of a guide.”
-Imam Ghazali

Sahl ibn Sʿad (ra) was asked: “Did the Prophet (peace be upon him) eat white flour?” Sahl said, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not see white flour until he met God.”
[Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 65, Hadith # 324, narrated by Abu Hazm]

“It is pain that guides us in every enterprise.
Until there is an ache within,
a passion and a yearning for that thing arising within us,
we will never strive to attain it…
It was not until the pains of birth manifested in Mary
that she made for the tree.
Those pangs drove her to the tree, and the tree
that was withered became fruitful.
We are like that story of Mary in the Qu’ran.
Every one of us has a Jesus within,
but until the pangs manifest,
our Jesus is not born.
If the pangs never come,
then our child rejoins its origin
by the same secret path
through which it came,
leaving us empty,
without the birth of our true self.”
-Jallaluddin Rumi

“No work is small that comes from an abstinent heart, and no work great that comes from a greedy heart.”
-Hikam 45 of Sh. Ibn Ata’illah

The media and news are not the best sources for information or reality. The winning pieces of journalism usually portray the dark and negative sides of humanity. This “shock” and “awe” approach is the most lucrative for business. People don’t get as riled up or curious about religious groups taking care of orphans and the homeless (like Abdul Sattar Edhi who has helped thousands), working to eradicate epidemics, working to reduce hunger and poverty (like nobel peace prize winner Muhammad Yunus with his microcredit ideas), etc. That’s never as interesting than to hear about the lone fanatics and crazies that run around aiming to harm their “enemies”.
Wake up to the delusion of the media.
Media does not represent the reality of the majority.
Use multiple sources.
Meet real people and talk to them.

Dr. Nasr: another testament to the fact that a man can be a lover of both the hard, physical sciences and the spiritual sciences. =)
“Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr holds undergraduate degrees in math and physics from M.I.T, a Masters in geology and a Ph.D. in the history of science from Harvard University.
‘The Qur’an addresses not only human beings, but also the cosmos,’ says Nasr. ‘It is much easier to be able to develop an environmental philosophy. Birds are called communities in the Qur’an. Human beings, bees, it is so easy to develop an authentic Islamic philosophy of the environment.’
Nasr’s interest in science, religion and the environment spans five decades. He’s published dozens of books including Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis in Modern Man. In it, Nasr compares how Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, see humankind’s relationship with the environment.
‘As long as men lived according to religion there was no environmental crisis,’ says Nasr. ”

“May God give strength, peace, safety, and guidance to the French people
in the aftermath of this heinous crime committed against us all apparently
to defend the honor of a Prophet (God bless his soul and give him peace)
who never condoned in any way such monstrous acts against any person regardless of their religion, ethnicity, ideas, or actions.
If Muslim clerics, political leaders, and scholars do not actively educate the Muslim masses in the Islam of tolerance, peace, love, charity, and spirituality taught and embodied by the likes of Jalaluddin Rumi, Ibn Arabi, Tierno Bokar, Ahmadu Bamba, Rabi’a al-Adawiyya, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, Ibrahim Niasse, and Salim Suware and the living inheritors of their teachings then I fear that things will continue to get worse before they get better.”
-Sh. Mendes

I see that some individuals have called for the destruction of the people who have ruined the grave and maqam of Imam Nawawi. The harm of his maqam is a terrible travesty indeed. But where is our compassion? Did the Prophet ask for the destruction of the people of Taif when he was stoned and there was blood apparent on his body? No, he prayed for their guidance, and had mercy on them. He did not repay violence with violence. This is the cause of the destruction of the Ummah. When we resort to repaying violence with violence.

Knowledge is the most beautiful of garments, and a sincere smile is the most appealing make-up. Confidence is more impressive than muscle mass, and passion is more intoxicating than wine.

“This Year…
If you follow the Buddha find your own Sacred Fig Tree,
If you follow Jesus Christ find your own Mount of Olives,
If you follow Moses the Lawgiver find your own Mount Sinai, and
If you follow Muhammad the Prophet find your own Trustworthy City;
Surely the Human Being was created by God in the most beautiful of spiritual forms
Then was caused to descend to the most dense and low of physical dimensions,
Except those who have Faith in the Unseen and work to fulfill their highest life purpose-
For them is a divine reward without end!”
-Reflections from Shaykh Mendes on Chapter 95 of The Qur’an: The Fig