Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Internet

Category: STRONG

The Internet

The Ulema have told us that spiritual development, the aim of which is Taqwa, is the only real way to achieve the goal of salvation because it is the best defense from sins and the whispers of Shaytan and your Nafs.

As many Sunni theologians will say, increased Taqwa is like increased Iman if not actually being it.

They have told us that this is achieved through spiritual striving, through struggle (mujahadah). Against Shaytan and against your Nafs, the causes of what lead mankind to sin.

When elaborating on Sufism, they tell us that all of their spiritual prescriptions and 'strategies' in the form of Tasawwuf, acknowledged as its own subject due to its specialization, are necessary to compensate for the fact that we are not in the company of the Holy Prophet (saw) and the original Muslims. In fact, the Sahaba (ra) would achieve such high spiritual stations purely on account of performing Jihad with the Prophet (saw) alone that we could not achieve through any number of fasts, dhikr, etc. Things like that propelled them from non-Muslims to the best Muslims of all time within two decades. But since we are not in those circumstances, we keep to the company of the Ahlullah and Waliullah... those Muslims who have specialized and focused their entire lives on achieving the highest spiritual station possible through whatever means they could find (via the system of Shaykh and Murid, etc.). These are those known as 'Sufis'.

The rich tradition of Sufis that developed towards this goal is popularly known and described elsewhere.

Some begin to wrongly think of Tasawwuf as a seperate, optional entity. The truth is that Tasawwuf is just the name given to a specific phenomenon fundamentally important to Islam and the original Muslims who had it in such great quantity, and spread it around so freely everywhere they went, they rarely needed to ever sit down and talk about it.

The fundamental question is How Do We Improve Ourselves?

The answer is, obviously enough, by adhering to the guide Allah sent us in the form of the Qur'an vis a vis His Messenger, Rasulullah (saw). His Sunnah being the details and interpretations of the former. How to do what the Qur'an tells us to do.

And most people leave it at that. But then again, most people aren't good Muslims, or even Muslims, and most people, Muslims included, will go to Hell according to sound Hadith.

We ourselves know that it just isn't that simple. We consistently fail at following the Sunnah and abstaining from sin. We consistently leave Islamic values for man-made values. And worse, for those made by civilizations (West) which war with others and tout obviously anti-Islamic and anti-human doctrines (perversely calling itself humanist). It's not even like we've become Buddhist monks living up on some mountain somewhere when we abandon Islam. We get frustrated, maddened. We close our eyes and grit our teeth and feel like screaming at our own inexplicable helplessness. WHY do we just not... change? Why do we want to change but then lose control of ourselves to the parts of us that don't want to change? Is this frustration the best we can do? Can we ever have hope of achieving what we want? Of becoming the people we swear we really want to be?

This is the question posed by the first answer to 'How Do We Improve Ourselves?'. We know how to improve ourselves, but how do we actually DO it. How do we turn that knowledge into action?

We always tell ourselves that the answer is simple (it was, I mean, it took just a sentence or two). That the failure is in ourselves. That we have to roll up our sleeves and just get to it, there are no shortcuts or tricks. It's pure willpower.

It sounds honorable, and correct. But I think one of the first big shocks here is that it's WRONG. It's simplifying to the point of criminally misleading ourselves. And who would want to do such a thing? Shaytan. He employs one of our Nafs' traits in use against ourselves (we feel as if we're admitting some honorable truth to ourselves, thus appeasing our Nafs/ego/Self... but the Nafs is being blissfully tricked into going where Shaytan's whispers have a hard time reaching).

Tasawwuf is the answer to that question. The 'how' behind the 'How'. Muslims that came before us, all of them, have had to deal with these issues. Including the first few generations. They systemized their findings into what we now term 'Sufism' or 'Tasawwuf', but the original answer was IMAN and/or TAQWA (depending on which specific interpretation of Sunni 'Aqeedah or creed you ascribe to). And the purpose of Tasawwuf is to address that. Taqwa directly correlates with us changing, our actions changing. It's that magical silver bullet that answers all of our questions about Islam and Iman. If you have Taqwa, if you're conscious of Allah, then you will behave accordingly. You'll be able to ignore Shaytan better and keep your Nafs on a leash. Of course this is for Muslims who want it. Even Shaytan is conscious of Allah but look at what happened there.

So. Possessing Taqwa and increasing it will achieve the goal of changing us into who we want to be, the sort of people who do right and abstain from wrong. And Tasawwuf is the science of achieving that.

And back to what the Ulema have told us, the key to that is to be in the company of the pious. There is of course, dhikr, the mujahadah of abstaining from sin, fasts, rectifying the technical details. But Taqwa is a near-metaphysical thing, almost a substance. We want it in our souls. We want it from the fountain that is the Prophet (saw) and his Ruhaniyat (Spirituality), and the faucet that goes back to that source are the Saints and Shaykhs (the piping could be said to be the silsila, or chain of teachers going back to the Prophet (saw)). And this is achieved, like the Ulema have been saying, by sitting in the company of the Ahlullah, the Waliullah. The people of Allah, the friends of Allah.

But common sense dictates, especially in a world like today, finding a Shaykh and then literally sitting in his company is difficult.

Is it? We can fly across the world in a day, our economies are globalized so we can emigrate, work, and set up lives anywhere we desire. We, more than any Muslims before us, have greater accessibility to the pious. Even during the Khilafa Rashidun, you might live in Medina, a city full of the pious, and you'd only need to venture out a few hundred yards to meet some. You can achieve that today if you really wanted.

It gets better. Or worse for us, depending on your view. We have the Internet. The Ulema have told us that the next best thing to having your own Shaykh and being in his company as much as possible, is to at least visit their lectures/sermons, and read their writings, and keep in touch. We can now all do that, with many different Shaykhs, alive and dead (including some really ancient and revered ones, knowledge of whom might previously have been very hard to come by), from within our own homes.

And yet, when we see a title or URL that has 'islam', 'sunni', or some Arabic word in it... we ignore it. We don't move our fingers a millimeter to click or 'open that faucet'. We find our way onto YouTube several times daily looking at or listening to things that have no spiritual gain (likely detriment), and we rarely if ever click through to the lectures of our Shaykhs.

The argument is already in your head that the Internet simply just amplifies natural tendencies. Good people will do good things online, bad people will do bad things, and the mixed will be somewhere inbetween. Therefore, the Internet won't affect anything in the end. Yes, people will tend to do online what they do offline. But this, too, is a sort of trick or misleading of your reason. We will be held accountable for every technological progress we make that makes life easier. The comparison to worry about is not really with what everyone else is doing but with those many Muslims who undertook immense struggle to achieve what we can with just a click. It is, of course, a test. If a person is pursuing Haraam relationships with the opposite sex in real life, they'll likely be doing the same online. If they aren't lowering the gaze in real life, there's no way they avoid looking at forbidden things online. If they gamble in real life, it will be beyond tempting to continue online. But the punishment might be more severe in the latter case (for online), Allah knows best, because of how EASY it is to NOT do the sin and instead do good. And yet many Muslims fool themselves into thinking retreating to the Internet is saving them from sin. It might have pulled you away from literally touching a non-mahram for instance, but the blot on your heart is just as big, if not bigger, and will stifle any attempts for future self-reformation eventually leading back to those big sins, and this time, your mind will be in a Self-made coccoon of rationalizations that will prevent you from even being conscious of this.

As Hazrat Shaykh Hakeem Akhtar put it, wasps and bees eat the same nectar, but only one puts out honey.

And the results aren't going to be pretty. The Internet will likely not be something you'd want to run into on the Day of Judgement. The test we failed, that comes back to give us a kick into Jahannum. It might say "I brought you the knowledge of the akhira and you chose the dunya instead."

It goes beyond that. Simply having access to the Internet nullifies many excuses we have for not achieving our goals of becoming better Muslims (there's enough stuff from the Ulema, the Ahlullah on here that anyone who sits down and immerses themselves in it all will get up a changed person). And who has access to the Internet and other technological advancements that improve our 'quality of life'? People who are successful or well-off. We work tirelessly, especially those of us who have made it into the West or were born here, only to wind up with, not too unusually, the biggest test of all. Wealth itself becomes a test. And this is nothing new now, is it? Yet we've never thought of ourselves as 'wealthy', again through the tricking of our minds by our own Selves and by Shaytan. Especially those of us whose parents gave us everything... WE aren't wealthy, THEY are. This is ridiculous to the point of stupidity, no doubt from the spiritual IQ points killed by sinning.

The reality is the familiar one retold by the Qur'an countless times. Shaytan and our Nafs have worked together to keep it hidden from us. Without going off into a million other topics, how many ideas or words that we have today are actually kept intact from the 7th century? The culture and civilization we embrace has changed so many of them to make instilling its values in us easier. We can't even think away from what they want, we are becoming incapable of even understanding the most simplest things about Islam and life because our brains are locked in a language maze of dead ends.

We will have to answer for a lot more than we think. The past generations will look upon us and not think "the path to good was very easy for them, but so was sin, so it balances out". No. Because the path to good for them was hard, but the path to sin for them, for all mankind, has almost always been easy.

When the prophetic Hadiths talk about how hard it will be in the world near the Day of Judgement (our world), we take refuge in that. "See? We're expected to have difficulty!" But once again, our brains are wrong. If you can read that and connect it to yourself, you're not in the difficulty mentioned, not yet anyway. And if we fail before the real trials and tribulations overtake us, what will become of us?

It might be the least expected thing in the end, the Internet, which damns us.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Laughing, Crying & Love & Rumi's Vaakiya of the Pearl

Category: SOUND

Laughing and Crying

Hazrat Maulana Shaykh Hakeem Akhtar Sahib (db) said,

“To forget about Allah and laugh is a crime, and to forget about Allah and cry is also a crime. For example, if a person cries in the memory of a non-mahram (any person of the opposite gender with whom marriage is permissible) then that person is a criminal in the court of Allah, and that person’s tears are worse than the urine of a donkey because the curse of Allah is descending on those tears. Thus to cry in the remembrance of Allah is an act of worship, and also to laugh in the remembrance of Allah is also an act of worship.”

Source: ‘Ataa-e-Rabbaani pg.35

^ If one is talking about 'romantic love' as the case seems here (and as tends to predominantly be the case for young people), then a little elaboration. 'Crying' (or just distress) over a non-mahram for marriage or with the intention of a Halaal, Islamic marriage, while not preferable, is not the same and is 'alright'. There are examples in Hadith. Being distressed over non-mahrams for non-Halaal or non-Islamic intentions of relationships is what is meant here. However, in most cases where the intention for Halaal is claimed, the reality is not so, and those would fall into this as well. To cry over a person implies remembering them, and if one is remembering Haraam interactions (even looking at the non-mahram, their image), then that qualifies here. And usually the 'heartbreak' (if it can be called that) is due not to Halaal intentions or hopes but due to the severing of a strong attachment formed through Haraam interactions to begin with (i.e, looking at, speaking with, being in private with, etc.). That too will obviously fall under this, though all pain holds the potential to work for spirituality if it is dealt with by repenting for and abandoning the sin in question and turning to Allah for His Mercy to deal with the situation. Leading into the next section of '6 Steps To Deal With (Sensual) Love', also by Shaykh Akhtar, and specifically the 6th step which elaborates more on this... I call it 'Majnun Syndrome'.

Six Steps to Deal With (Sensual) Love

Those who are involved in love affairs (mutual or one-sided) and wish to come out of this trap but cannot do so, should act on the following six points, Insha Allah, they will be freed.

1. Use the himmah (courage) which Allah has given.

2. Make dua’ to Allah to grant you the himmah you need.

3. Ask the special servants of Allah (the Auliyaa and Ulamaa), and especially one’s shaikh or spiritual mentor, or whoever one consults with, to make dua’ for one to attain himmah to leave this sin.

4. Take special care in making zikr.

5. Keep far away physically and mentally from those things that lead a person to sin, i.e. anything or anyone that is attractive.

6. Continuously go in the company of a Shaikh-e-Kamil for one’s reformation.

No matter how bad one’s condition may be or how severe the desires one may have, one should never lose hope. Love is a very great asset provided it is used correctly. The vehicle that has more fuel will cause it to be swifter. All we need to worry about now is to make sure our direction is correct. The fuel for the vehicle of our bodies is love. We just need to channel it properly. If the direction is made correct in the company of some shaikh along with zikr, such people can now reach Allah very quickly. People with no love do not reach Allah in years. Some people engrossed in sin, when they had their love channeled properly, they reached Allah immediately thereafter. They flew in the direction of Allah with the same speed at which they were flying towards the temporary love. Their lamenting, remorse, and weeping carried them in minute from the farsh (earth) to the ‘Arsh (throne).

Ayaaz and the Pearl

Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi (rahmatullahi alaihi) mentions in his Mathnawi, a story of Sultan Mahmood: One day the Sultan decided to test his ministers and ordered them to crush the most prized pearl of his treasury. One by one, each of 65 ministers declined, stating that the pearl was far too valuable to be destroyed.

The King then summoned his closest and trusted courtier, Ayaaz, and ordered him to crush the pearl. Without any delay or hesitation, Ayaaz crushed the pearl into fragments. When the ministers expressed disbelief and shock at such audacity, the King asked Ayaaz to inform them as to the reason for him having broken the pearl.

In response, Ayaaz asked these ministers: “Which is more important, the Royal Decree or the pearl? “

The question we pose to ourselves is:

“Which is more important, the command of my Allah or the haram desire of my heart?”

The haram desires of the heart are akin to pearls, which appear to be quite beautiful but we should not fulfill these haram desires at the cost of breaking the decrees of Allah.

Ayaaz attained closeness to the king through his loyalty and faithfulness and his obedience and submission. Similarly, we will gain the extreme nearness and intimate closeness to the King of Kings through loyalty and faithfulness. This in turn is dependent upon sincere obedience and complete submission to His decrees.

Source: Commentary on Rumi's Mathnavi by Shaykh Akthar (db), English by Maulana Yunus Patel

Failure & Shaytan's Deceit & Spiritual Advice

Category: SOUND


If a person fails after having made the correct effort, there is no need to resort to alcohol, drugs and suicide.Many students succumb to such drastic measures. Some students work and study extremely hard but fail. Due to failure, they sink into such depression that they feel they have to take or inject themselves with drugs, tranquilizers, etc. for sleep. Why ? Because they failed.

If a person did not make Tadbeer, did not make a serious and concerted effort and thereafter fails, then he must blame himself. However, generally, we do make a reasonable effort but sometimes still meet with failure. For example : A person is fit and healthy when he started something but later becomes sick and is unable to complete what he undertook.

Tafweez is handing our matters over to Allah Ta’ala, trusting Him, placing our matters before Him and believing that in whatever Allah Ta’ala has decided, there is goodness. Outwardly, it may appear as if there is some problem that we are faced with, but great wisdom lies in the decisions of Allah.

Source: Shaykh Hakeem Akhtar,

Shaitan: The Deceitful Trader

You all believe in Maulana Thanwi (Rahimahullah). He says that if a businessman shows you a sample, and gives you an item which differs from the sample, you will call the businessman a cheat and a deceitful person. You will never buy anything from him again.

Shaytan always deceives. He shows you the cheeks and eyes of attractive people. What sample he shows you and what item he gives. He pollutes you in the organs of feces and urine. But you still have not left Iblees’ tail.

People say what must we do, there is nudity everywhere. Uncovered women do not give us a chance. I say why have you placed your nose under Shaytan’s tail. Safeguard your gaze.

Practise on the blessed statement of Rasûlullah Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. You will achieve piece. Allah will fill your heart with the sweetness of Iman and His love for every glance that you protect.

Friends, do not waste your lives. I am telling you with a painful heart and what more can I tell you? As Hadhrat Thanwi (Rahimahullah) said that if he had the power, he would have placed his heart in his friends’ hearts.

Allah has indicated two prescriptions of obtaining taqwa (piety) in these two verses. In the light of these verses I have showed you two ways of becoming a saint and becoming wealthy with the currency of the hereafter. When the entire world will kick you, only this currency will benefit you. What is this currency? It is the friendship of Allah. In order to attain taqwa, Allah has indicated in one verse that we should live with the people of taqwa. If you do not live with the people of taqwa, you will be consumed by negligence.

Source: Purpose of Life by Hazrat Shaykh Hakeem Akthar Sahib (db)

Advices of Hazrat Shaykh Akhtar

1. Neglect of Zikr is starvation of the soul.

2. One who is an Aashiq,a lover of Allah,even though not entangled in sin will yet remain a Mustaghfir(penitent).

3. Stay away from sins as well as the preludes,those things that lead to sin.

4. The connection,the link between the ,the outward and inward is such that neither can be seperated from the other.

5. Taqwa means that one has the urge to disobey and one prevents oneself from doing so.

6. The true lover of Allah is the one who knows how to to endure the grief of Allah’s path.

7. One evil glance causes several diseases even though it may be for only one minute.

8. Piety creates the light of tranquillity.

9. Ask Allah Ta’ala to muster ones courage to leave all sins.

10. Casting evil glances at beautiful faces is a filthy and polluted act.

11. No taste can match the joy experienced when one sacrifices every breath for Allah’s sake.

12. In old age potency diminishes,but desires and passion remain virile,at the same time to combat the nafs weakens.

13. Some people desire to acquire Allah’s pleasure but refuse to sacrifice any of their pleasures and desires.

14. Due to constant striving,the heart is nutured,and fertile to absorb the rays of Hidayat and Wilayat(sainthood).

15. Controlling the gaze creates a lustre(nur) within the heart which quickly manifests on the face of such a person.

16. In proportion to the severity of the urge and desire to commit sin,will be degree of nur created, on suppressing this urge.

17. One lustful gaze leads to another,just as one sin leads to another and one good deed to another.

18. Striving against the nafs is indeed a struggle and an allegorical Jihaad of the highest form.

19. The person that desires to taste the pleasures of Jannah on earth,should spend with the Ahlullah(people of Allah).

20. The religious harm of jealousy is the destruction of righteous deeds,its worldly harm is perpetual grief.

21. When a servant of Allah considers himself unworthy and inferior,
he is elevated in Allah’s sight.

22. The Awliya-Allah become even more humble when praised, becoming more grateful to Allah,for concealing their faults.

23. One of the most reprehensible forms of Riya(show) is to publicize one’s Ibadat and deeds before friends and family.

24. Regular visits to the graveyard and reflecting ,will create disdain
for the world in the heart.

25. Constant desire and aspiration for name and fame is a destructive spiritual illness.