The Critical Importance of Al-Ghazali in Our Times

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Event Name: The Critical Importance of Al-Ghazali in Our Times
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 4/24/2022 8:32:08 AM
Transcript Version: 2

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, keifa Patricia.  and she named all of my family

It just it just really it was such a dagger to the heart because I realized she wasn't just asking to chat she wanted to know their names and she internalized their names and ten years later she could recall names that she'd never heard in her life.

because they're not Arabic names and she

only knew Arabic and I I was just so

stunned but she was a present human

being she did dhikr

all the time that was her life she spent

her life serving the students of that

place she knew every name of every

student that ever came to that and gray

eyes ahmet met her and and and remembers

her you know she she was present and and

this was from practice this was from

just the monotony of everyday working on

your presence with God because when

you're present with God you're present

with the creation of God you start

noticing things like the wind in the

trees you start noticing the subtleties

of everything that's around us it

becomes real and and this is this is

what Imam al-ghazali is arguing the end

and so he has the book of he begins it

with eating and drinking we eat with no

presence anymore people used to take

time before they ate and said grace even

in this country people would stop before

they ate and they would thank their Lord

for the gifts which they were about to

receive this was common practice being

present with food people used to be

present when they cooked food they

cooked food with love

One of my teachers, Omer Hilajee, his wife would cook her food doing prayer on the Prophet the entire time.  With Nyah (Intention) for Shifa (healing); That God would make that food a healing for the people that ate it and make the energy that they derive from it, used for worshiping Allah.

They would only buy from grocers in Medina that they knew prayed five times in the prayer in the Masjid. 

They would go out and pick their own animals and sacrifice them, because they didn't want to buy meat from these butchers that they didn't know how they were treating the animals.

This is a real family that I have visited over the years.  It is a fact and I guarantee many people have experienced this.  If you go and have eaten a full meal, and you go there, and they serve you food in the house of Omer Milahjee, you will not get indigestion by eating a second meal immediately after at his house.  Many people have testified to this because they will force you to eat.

They will say "Kul! (eat) Kul! (eat) Kul! (eat) <arabic text>", meaning  "eat like men and drink like camels"

That food was made with presence.

We forget people don't have energy anymore how is your food being manufactured how is it being grown how is it being cooked because this is where energy come from it comes from that's the sub up for the inner the energy that we live on is caloric its heat derived from these means that God has given us so he talked about being present when you eat chewing your food being grateful not putting another morsel in until you've finished chewing the morsel that's in your mouth because he says this is from gluttony -



eat quickly to eat with gratitude never

mention death at the table he says death

is not an appropriate because he said if

your heart is alive and people

mentioned death at eating you should

lose your appetite and if you don't it's

a sign that your heart is dead

Wendell Barry the other night talked

about people now reading about massacres

or watching them on television while

they're eating their dinners and it has

no effect on them this is from deadened

hearts we're no longer feeling and and

then he he moves into he ends this

chapter he begins the next section with

the section on the wonders of the heart

and this is the section where he deals

with what he calls the money cut those

things that are destructive to us and

the money cut in his understanding are

the vices that will kill the heart and

he ends he talks about pride and

arrogance and he distinguishes between


and arrogance he says vanity all you

need is a mirror but arrogance always

requires another person so the vain

person simply needs a mirror to admire

himself but the arrogant person needs

another being to oppress and and he

talks about the roots of these and much

of it is related to death the fact that

people have forgotten that they're going

to die and then he ends this section

with the book of delusion or what we

would call illusion this the internal

state where we completely miss read

ourselves we don't know who we are the

Arabic word the the Roman word for

personality persona means mask in Arabic

it's called Shazia which comes from a

word that means a shadow so the

personality is is is a shadow it's an

illusion who you think you are is not

who you really are who you are is is

related to your historical narrative

where you were born where you grow up

you speak if you speak here like a

Kentuckian you have a certain way of

speaking but if you grow up in New York

you would be speaking like a New Yorker

these things have nothing to do with

your personality they're simply the the

circumstances you find yourself in and

and he says that to get out of this

delusional state is is is the beginning

of the path to want to get out of this

state to recognize that you're in it and

that's why the next book which is the

last ten books the book of salvation the

first chapter is about repentance

Metanoia changing your mind turning back

realizing that the destination that

you're on is one to your own debt and he

ends this he has fear and hope and trust

in God and he puts trust and tawheed in

the same chapter which is very

interesting because to him till he is

not a theoretical construct which it is

to most Muslims this I did God is one no

to him God is doing everything at every

instant that is toe he'd and gazali is

arguing that if you really understand

this you will have utter trust in God

you will put all your trust in God

because it's all God God is doing

everything in every instant and this is

why if you're not content with your

circumstances he argues you're not

content with God because it's God that

put you into those circumstances but

what God is asking you to do is respond

to them appropriately that's the

challenge it's not the circumstances the

challenge is the power that God has

given you in your will your yadah to

actually take your circumstances and

respond appropriately and there are only

four circumstances and four requisite

responses you're in tribulation and he

says the response to that is patience

you're in a situation of blessing and

you have to respond to that with

gratitude and that will increase you and

if you don't do those things what he

says if you're in a state of gratitude

and you respond by he

the blessings will be taken away from

you not as a punishment but as a

reminder to pull you back one of the

things he says if God he said there's

only two types of people from a hadith

people in tribulation and people in good

situations he said if you're in a good

situation God will send the people of

tribulation to you and if you reject

them and close the door on them

he will make you the people of

tribulation he'll take away your

blessings because your blessings are to

serve the people in tribulation these

are the awakenings that he's trying to

instill and inculcate and this is why as

you read this book a transformation

should occur if it doesn't you haven't

read the book but the book is not to be

read once in the Haggadah me tradition

the 40 books were read one book a day

for the rest of your life and this is

what the Habad EEMA did every 40 days

they would do a hutton of the iya and

start over again and I was fortunate to

be in one of those gatherings with Holly

Bell foggy a Hitomi scholar and he

literally could finish the sentences by

rote of the area because he knew it so

well and when we would read it on

Thursday nights we would go to his house

and we would read it and he would

literally correct all he was blind he

couldn't see and he would correct the

with the readers when they would read if

they made a mistake he would correct

them it was really quite an

extraordinary experience for me to see

somebody who had completely internalized

this all the people that I have met that

have been part of this tradition all

really some of the most extraordinary

human being that I've ever met

teacher mama has spent several a large

period of his life reading nothing but

the eeeh in a graveyard outside of the

Bedouin encampment where he was from and

the prophets let him visit the graves

and this is why Imam al-ghazali ends his

great book that yeah with the book of

death because he knows Ali argues this

door is right in front of you you are

knocking on this door right now you

don't know when it's going to be open

but you come into this world and you are

knocking on the door of death and that

door is a door that opens through

infinity and he said you are here for

this finite period of time and it's it's

such a great gift to be alive to be a

human being it's a great gift to be a

rock as opposed to not existing at all

it's a greater gift to be a flower it's

a greater gift to be a tree and it's a

greater gift to be an eagle but what a

gift to be a human being to be a

conscious human being created on the

doors of eternity literally created on

the doors of eternity and this is what

he is constantly reminding us and he's

saying you're on this journey and you're

either conscious of it or you're not

once you become conscious of it you have

to become an active Wayfarer not

sleeping on the bus but driving the bus

making sure that it didn't take a detour

down the wrong road because all the

roads lead to death but only one of them

leads to a good death and and that's the

road of a Sun of being a beautifier

being somebody that makes the world a

better place than you found it that when

you leave the world the world was better

for having you in it and this is the

ultimate criterion of a human being

whether they lived a worthwhile life or

whether they squandered their life

in frivolity vacuity and stupidity and

he uses the word stupid many many times

many times he doesn't shy away from that

word because all of us know that we have

elements of stupidity in our lives

nobody's free of this but to not

squander do not do not squander this

life is the essence of intelligence

whether you're a street sweeper or a

professor a doctor a judge a lawyer

whatever you're doing if you're doing it

with purpose intentionality purity of

end and means then you're doing the

right thing it doesn't matter what

you're doing I would argue that we're in

one of the greatest crises that we've

ever been in as a community the Muslims

and I'll conclude just by saying a few

words about this and why Imam al-ghazali

is so relevant for us today Imam

al-ghazali hated sectarianism because he

felt that the sectarian mind was a

provincial mind it was a mind that was

incapable of seeing universals that it

was trapped in the in the realm of

particulars and he also recognized the

concept of the Wayfarer and my father

who taught philosophy and humanities at

the university level spent a good deal

of time with Aquinas and a lot a lot of

time more time with Plato probably but

he knows the Western Canon very well he

spent his life reading and rereading it

he saw a film about him out of Azadi and

he asked me is this man in translation I

said yes he said could you get me the

book so I gave him several books of the

amount of Isaiah including the alchemy

of happiness the two volume version and

he devoured those books and when he

finished he told me two things he said I

know my tradition reasonably well and he

said and I can honestly say to you I

don't think

the West has ever produced a Ghazali and

the scent coming from him for me that

was quite a statement the second thing

he said if you spend the rest of your

life just reading this man it won't be a

life wasted an intellectual waste of a

life but the purpose that all Ghazali

makes very clear is it's not about

reading me it's about taking what I've

written and writing your own story with

your life being these meanings embodying

these meanings and that's why he's heard

jetted Islam he is the proof of Islam

and in in this age that we're living in

when men of religion and women of

religion are so few throughout the

Muslim world I can honestly attest to

the fact that I met many very devout

Muslims but it's rare that I've met

these types of people that are

transformative by being in their

presence that the work that they've done

and put into themselves and I've met

women and men of this caliber and

stature in the Muslim world and and they

have always had the same effect on me

and and these are the people that Imam

al-ghazali is calling us to be because

we need more people like this

the imbalance on this planet is from the

lack of people of stillness of people of

presence the Quran says that when the

Hamidah jellia

this zealousness and fanaticism of the

jati people riled them up Allah says

that he sent down his Sakinah his

tranquility on the believers on the

Prophet and on the believers that the

response to fanaticism and gsella tree

is Sakina it's not more fanaticism and

more gsella tree but Sakina is not

something it's something that god will

descend upon hearts that are open to it

if the hearts aren't open to it they

won't receive it they'll miss it in

their own agitate

and so imam al-ghazali is really to me

an antidote to so much of what we're

seeing out there all this madness I

think they would be shocked at at the

type of Islam and the lack of community

we've got a lot of good Muslims

everybody in this room

you're good people but our community our

Ummah when we saw what was done to

Gaddafi when he was captured that that

brought shame on our community as a

community it brought shame and if it

didn't bring shame on you then shame on

you because our prophets Elijah when he

came into Mecca he came in with his head

bowed when he had the power to crush the

people that had crushed his people for

13 for 20 20 years when he had them in

his power and they said what are you

going to do with us

and he said that's a three Balika

million he said what Joseph said there's

no blame today this is not a day of

blame hind' who had bitten into the

liver of his own uncle his beloved uncle

he sat with her and spoke with her and

it was painful when he met why she he

asked him to tell the story of his

killing his uncle and when he got to the

point where he pierced him he said

kohanga has polka it's enough and tears

were flowing down his eyes and this was

the necessary confessional that they did

in South Africa where they made these

criminals come before the South Africans

and tell them their crimes speak their

crimes because this is how we purge

these things from ourselves by admitting

these things it's not about public

humiliation it's about people taking

responsibility for their actions and a

great opportunity was squandered but

this is the crises that we're in and we

have an immense amount of work I want to

thank a few people in here dr. Parata

for coming he's a dear friend and

really wanted one of the pillars of our

national community

I also gray Henry Aisha gray Henry is a

friend of now many years and I'll just

briefly say the first time I met her was

in Cambridge Massachusetts I was a very

young student of Arabic and I didn't

have enough money to buy it but I just

wanted to see lanes legendary two-volume

masterful dictionary of the Arabic

language and so I I went to her shop in

Cambridge the Islamic Tex society and

she actually had the two volumes on the

desk and and I told her I just want to

look at this book I I'd love to buy it

but I can't afford it and she said how

much money do you have and I looked in

my pocket and I had ten quid and so she

said just give me ten pounds I gave her

ten pounds I think was about fifty five

pounds at the time and she gave me this

two volume which I still have in my

library this was over 20 years ago and

we've been friends a good way of gaining

a friend quickly being generous so she's

been a dear friend she's from a

beautiful family Kentucky and family

from the founders of Louisville and and

I want to also acknowledge another great

Kentuckian family that the Binghams

Eleanor bingham's here tonight these

these are these are the really the the

families that built this city that that

that put their money and their lives and

their civic service into this city and

those of you who have migrated to this

city from other places acknowledging

these are the ioan they're what the

Arabs call the mela and and it's

important to acknowledge these people

and and seek their counsel and and and

work with them to better this community

and also I would have much rather had

the great Coleman barks come up and

recite some Rumi for us but one of the

great poets of America came tonight

dr. Coleman barks and and I just say one

thing roomie like gazali is what I call

a trans historical figure because they

speak across centuries some people speak

to their time in their place but these

people speak to every time in every

place not on on every detail sometimes

they're men or women of their time but

on these great issues they speak across

centuries and that's why when we read

them they affect our hearts and Coleman

really single-handedly has opened up to

a generation of Americans the great

wisdom teachings of our tradition of

which Rumi is only a voice he's one of

the greatest voices because he was

gifted in that but he is part of a

tradition and we forget that Rumi in

that way is not saying anything from

Genaro Deen what he is reiterating is

these eternal truths that were given to

our prophets Aliza them and that's why

he and the end is a student of our

Prophet Muhammad Imam al-ghazali is a

student of our Prophet Muhammad I want

to thank the community for coming out in

support of Zaytuna I really hope that in

the coming years you see the fruit of

this we have immense potential may Allah

give us TOEFL and also Peter from the

careers here he wrote a very nice

article the last time I'm not going to

hold you to that this time you can write

whatever you want so it's a free country

and a Free Press

last I heard anyway so god bless all of

you vertical love feet comb I really

thank you I think dr. Sandberg bee who's

a great servant of this community and

rightly honored tonight may Allah

subhana WA Ta'ala

elevate all of you increase all of you

bring you closer to God you bring you

closer to Allah Allah is closer to us

than our jugular vein it actually says

carotid artery but jugular vein sounds

nicer in English so it's usually

translated a jugular vein but the

carotid artery is the artery of

consciousness because all you have to do

every doctor knows you want to knock

somebody out put your thumb on his

carotid artery and he's gone

and God is closer to us than our

unconsciousness so may Allah make us

conscious servants of the one true

living eternal Lord of all the world's

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