Vision of Islam

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Event Name: Vision of Islam
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 3/29/2019 8:41:07 PM
Transcript Version: 1

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ht was a big test. It is not the other way round but when the verse came down after 13 years the sahaba migrated to Madinah. Now at that point the difference now is that there is a state of authority and I am using the word state loosely. In other words I don’t want to use state like it is understood in the modern concept of a state because  that is not really what Madinah was but they did have power that was centralised and it was a city state in that way. So at that point they were permitted to fight. This was the first verse that came down permitting them to fight “permission has been granted for those who have been fought to fight because they were oppressed”. Now remember this is 13 years later, they were persecuted from the start but permission came when the circumstances changed. The idea of fighting when you do not have legitimate state authority is not permissible. It never has been. The Muslims have never viewed that. Permission to fight comes when you have state authority. That does not mean an individual does not have the right to defend himself from being killed but if you look at the sahaba and the situations that they were in: some of them were tortured, some of them were killed. Sumayyah was stabbed with a spear, the first shahida, the first martyr in Islam. This was the first verse that came down and Allah said “those who were chased out of their homes without right for no other reason than saying my Lord is Allah”. Now this is really important because these are the two reasons that permission is granted to fight.


  1. People who oppose your religion
  2. People who steal your land


This is why Allah says in the Quran “Allah does not prevent you from showing kindness to people who have not opposed you in your religion or chased you out of your homes, to show them kindness, righteousness, to share your wealth with them and Allah loves those who are upright and just and fair”.  Allah does not prevent Muslims from being kind to non Muslims but if they are fighting you in your right to worship your Lord and stealing your land and chasing you out of your homes then you have the right to fight them. That is the permission that is granted by Allah in the Quran. The second period is to fight the mushrikeen “fight those fisabilillah who fight you and do not be aggressive for Allah does not love the aggressors”. The ulema say that the fact that Allah does not love aggressors, you cannot change that. In other words the muhaba of Allah, the love of Allah is not fickle love. If Allah does not love aggressors, He does not love aggression in any time or place and so aggression is always wrong. That is why when Allay says that “fight those who fight you and do not show aggression”.


The next level Allah said “fight the polytheists completely just like they fight you completely”. Now this time because these people broke treaties with the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam), this is something very important to remember about the nature  of war, that war occurs generally between two states. This is the nature of war. You can have what is called a civil war but in Islam that is called fitnah. What occurred between the Muslims and the mushrikeen was in a type of sense a fitnah and the reason for that is that they were one tribe. They were related by a shared father. Quraysh was the father of all the people in Makkah and for that reason Allah when they fought in the sacred month “they ask you about the sacred month” because the Arabs had four months that they never fought in. They asked about the sacred months, fighting in it because they had never heard of this. So Allah says “fighting in the sacred month is an enormity, it is a grave thing”. Preventing people from following their religion, disbelieving in what was given to them, rejecting it completely, preventing them from the sacred sanctuary, Makkah and then chasing people out is worse than that. This type of social division and dissention is worse than killing itself.


In other words, that there are times that the actual engaging in martial conflict is better than allowing certain situations to emerge. That is why when Allah says in the Quran “you will have see churches, temples, synagogues and mosques wherein Allah’s name is recited often destroyed” because of predations of aggressive and velacose people fighting each other so Allah says “if Allah had not used one group of people to stop another group of people” and in another verse it says “there would be nothing but corruption on the earth”. This is an admittance or rather a teaching in the Quran that the root of human nature is aggressive. The founding fathers when they were arguing whether you had a confederation, this was the first big debate when they were ratifying the articles of federation. Hamilton wrote a piece saying “we did not want confederation because if you have a group of confederate states, each one of them an individual state, you are setting yourselves up for war and that is why he said there should be a centralised government and this is what monarchy means “ one source of authority”. It is what it means in Greek. War occurs when people do not accept the same sources of authority. This is at the root of war and that is why the idea of international law is only valid in an international community that accepts the laws. If you have vogue states that do not accept the law, now part of the trickery of modern state theory is that the international community itself, they are vogue states. This is part of the problem. So far instance the real calamity right now, people do not know this, it is not on Palestine, it is in Chechnya. Right now they are just massacring Chechniyans, it is not in the newspapers. Why? Because the Russians struck a deal with the Americans, war on terrorism. We will let you do whatever you want to the Chechniyans. Go wipe them out, that is what is happening. David Elliot now in Newsweek at the end of the article “pity about Chechnya”. That is how he ends his article, the whole article is just about real poitics that this is the nature of the world we are living in. All that moral background is lip service for the masses. So what happens in a world where you have people that all they have in their mind is their interests. They do not have higher concepts in mind because at the root of higher concepts is the idea of accountability. To whom are you accountable to? If you are not accountable to your citizens are no longer willing to challenge the rights and wrongs of the state. You have people in this country 200 years ago, if you look at the reasons that they rebelled against King George are nowhere near as significance as the type of oppression that exists in most parts of the world today. Things were not that bad in the US when the British were running, that is why a lot of Americans did not want to fight the British. They did not have a problem, they were doing fine.


Chapter 4


So if you look at the Muslim world now the fact that there are not mass revolutions and revolts is a testimony to the incredible patience on behalf of the Muslims. I mean I really believe that. It is a testimony to the fact that because they believe in God, because they believe in a sense that they know in essence that this about their own states not their governmental states but their spiritual states. In other words the conditions that we find ourselves in a society are reflections of the overall health of that society which at root is a spiritual health. A society is either well spiritually or sick spiritually and unfortunately the vast majority of people are very sick so this idea of jihad it is a noble concept. It is the idea of fighting for what is right, it is as simple as that and people have a right to do that. They have a right to defend their homes, to defend their religion, to defend their lands against the predations of aggressors. The Quran says “always be in preparation”. Why? Because the best way of maintaining peace is to always be prepared for war and that is unfortunately a truth of the world that we are living in until human beings can sit down and have a civil discourse and work out their problems like human beings. As long as you have people out there that are living to get and take what they want by hook or by crook by force and by power then you need to have people prepared to stand up against that.


Pacifism, the pacifist at the end of the day is somebody that becomes landless and a victim and that is why Aboriginal people traditionally the reasons they survived is that they lived in places that nobody wanted. Now they want the forest of Brazil. Look at all those Aboriginal people that just get wiped out because they want their wood but traditionally nobody bothered them because nobody wanted to go and live in the jungles of Brazil. Nobody wanted to live in the outback of Australia. The Aborigines were fine, they did not have any problem. The same with the native Americans in this country when they wanted to graze their cattle they needed to wipe out the buffalo and that is what happens to Aboriginal people. That is why Islam is just telling people to be prepared to defend themselves because that is the nature of the world you are living in, so the idea of submitting to Allah. That is why Muslims long before Brodieus or any of these European developments of internalised law which are now seen really as platitudes. I mean I am talking of the level of people that are running the worlds. I mean I read their stuff, read foreign affairs, read what they say. This is not conspiracy. This is just what they talk about. They are very open about it. Moral high ground is for the masses. The reality of it is real politics, business as usual.


Now unfortunately in the modern Muslim world and are signs of the end of time and I will say about jihad if you look at the rules of enagagement, who determines the rules of engagement? Islamic rules of engagement in the Mukhtasir of Sidi Khalil, it is prohibited to use poisoned arrows which is basically biological warfare. I mean Muslims developed rules of engagement. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “do not poison the wells of your enemies” This is biological warfare or chemical warfare basically. “Do not use fire in fighting your enemy because only Allah punishes with fire”. Nuclear holocaust.  We use incendiary bombs all the time in this country. We use incendiary bombs. People are incinerated literally and you can see in Nagaski, Hiroshima, they have footage at the shadows of people, just a shadow , people just blasted, annihilated. A hundred thousand civilians. They were civilians. They were only 10,000 Japanese soldiers in both of these cities and they knew that. That was actually taught to them by the British. Mad bomber Browning or something. British war theorist who thought that the best way to subdue a people into submission was to attack their civilian population. William Tomoska-Sherman, the march to the ocean I mean this is civil war theory. The confederates did not have this concept. They were deeply troubled by this idea of making civilians suffer but the idea of Sherman was that war is hell and there is no nice way to wage war. The best way to end it is to make the civilians suffer until the infrastructure breaks down because no state can support an army if the civilians are not behind it. That was the idea. This is why Dresden and the bombing of the German civilians is the same thing. These things are prohibited in Islam. That is when you look at the rules of engagement in Islam, Muslims should not be ashamed of them because we should be proud of, that these were given to us 1400 years ago, not killing women and children, it is a mutawatir hadith. It is absolutely prohibited in jihad to kill women and children, certainly not raping or pillaging. The idea of war booty which is permissible in Islam. Allah says “Anfal are Allah and His Messengers” you cannot take them.


One of the worse crimes in Islam and one of the greatest wrong actions is predating during war, to actually take property from people. No, the imam has to collect the property and then it is distributed. There are rules of engagement to make people civil in their behaviour. Abu Bakr when he sent his troops out said “do not poison wells, do not cut fruit trees, do not kill old people, do not kill women and children”. He would actually walk about and remind them of these principles and these were completely alien to the jahili Arabs. These were deeply revolutionary ideas. Jihad is grossly misunderstood, it is an unfortunately reality. I just want to finish this section in saying one thing. Last century, almost 200 million people were killed in war. 200 million people, the majority of whom were civilians. Unprecedented by far more than all of the human wars prior to that in one centuary because of modern technology. Now those people were not killed in the name of religion. They were killed in the name of communism, socialism, facism, democracy, whatever. Everything but religion. So this idea that religion causes wars is simply not true. Humans cause war, it is as simple as that. Humans are belligerent and Aristophiles the Greek playwright indicated that is really the men who are belligerent and the only war is going to stop this is if women go on strike and stop producing sons for these old men to send out to die.


There is a beautiful scene in a film that was done, I think it was 1929 or 1930 “All Quiet on the Western Front” it is an-anti war film that was prohibited. They did not allow it be shown in this country. There is a scene where these German soldiers are all sitting around. It is World War One. One of them says “how did the war start?”. The other German says “Well France offended Germany”. He said “what does that mean? I am German, they didn’t offend me”. He says “no no no, the country offended our country”. He said “well how did they do that?”. He said “Well I don’t know”. This is the point, like who starts war? Who starts them? The majority of wars that are started are total acts of insanity. Really stupid, they really are. That is why you look at the during the 23 years of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) of the major wars that were the cause of the those deaths. You compare that to 1900 people on both sides killed during the lifetime of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam). All they were doing were defending their homelands. These were individuals who knew who was aggressing them. It was not some state that was aggressing another state, it was human beings treating other human beings wrongly and they knew exactly who they were. They could actually point them, they could name them. Nobody knows who is starting what, nobody even knows the names of these people. A lot of it is just missile contracts and armaments. That us why Eisenhower after serving the military industrial complex when he left the White House in 1960, his farewell address, he warned Americans of this very dangerous collaboration which was new to this country that was of the military industrial complex. Once you get the military in industry in this collaborative relationship, the industry produces the arms, the military uses the arms. You are setting yourselves up for a very dangerous situation. You just wonder about who is reaping all the benefits of all this killing that is going on. Who supplied all the weapons? Every time I see pictures of Palestinians or Jews I see weapons manufactured in Britain or America, in Afghanistan. Where are all these weapons coming from? They are all Klashnikovs, M16, stronger missiles, Afghans did not make any of them. Who gave them all to them to do all that stuff? I mean that is the real question and the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “the one that sells weapons during strife, during times of discord is damned to hell”. That is why in the Maliki madhab it is not even a valid contract. You cannot sell a weapon when there is civil discourse. I don’t think anybody in this day, nobody has any moral authority to talk about the belligerence of Islam, that is my personal belief. They used to call the cold war the taunt status. The idea was we had enough weapons to blow them up. They had enough weapons to blow us up. They called it MAD. That was the acronym in the Pentagon. Mutually Assured Destruction. Let’s make sure if they push the buttons that we push the button before their rockets get here. So all of them get wiped out, again just real stupidity here. The biological weapons technically, I mean these things are supposed to be banned right? The problem is there is no vigilance in terms of the citizenery because the citizenary they are interested in what is on television or watching the latest ball game or what the batting average of so and so is. That is the reality so you get what you deserve but I am inclined towards those hadith of if it gets like that then just….. the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said towards the end of time there will be so much destruction it would be best to be like the two sons of Adam who just said “if you are going to raise your hand to kill me I am not raising my hand to kill you. I fear Allah the Lord of the Worlds”. If killing is pointless, indiscriminate, there is nothing it in that can be justified. It just becomes indiscriminate killing. You cannot justify that and so morally there is no justification. You cannot philosophically justify that kind of warfare. You cannot indiscriminately kill people. It is as simple as that. Only combatants in a just war are legitimate targets, that is it.


The next section he goes is the shariah which is the sacred law and I want to say about that when people think about the shariah you have to be careful because there is no concept whatsoever in Islam of a theocracy. This is one of the modern myths that have been perpetrated by modernist types of Muslims. The idea that Islam is a theocracy. If you look up theocracy in the dictionary it says “the rule of God or those who stand in the place of God”. Isn’t it interesting that the word for Abu Bakr when he was called the Khalifah, he was called Khalifah ta Rasulullah. He was not called Khalifatullah. He was called the Khalifah of the Messenger of God not of God because the only one that can truly rule with God’s judgment is the Prophet of God. No one else. If Prophets are not walking the earth then nobody has that authority to say that this is the rule of God. It is as simple as that. What the Muslim shariah is in essence, understanding any circumstance you find yourself in. Each circumstance will have a ruling. One of the five rulings:


1. An obligation or a requirement which is wajib, you have to do it, paying charity

2. Something which is recommended highly encouraged to do. Zakat is wajib, sadaqah is mandoub. If someone is in need even though you have paid your 2.5% of zakat, if you see somebody in need, it is encouraged, you do not have to do it. It is highly encouraged to do it.

3. The permissible which is the majority of things in this world are simply permissible.

4. Mubah. Nobody can tell you have to do it, nobody can tell you, you cannot do it. It is just a permitted act. The majority of acts in this world are permitted. Then you have disliked actions like talking too much without benefit is disliked. To talk as in just chew the fat or something like that in this culture that type of talk is permissable unless it becomes excessive because there are things that are prohibited to say. You cannot backbite against people.

5. Prohibited: the things that are prohibited in this world are very few. If you take Imam Malik’s position all that is prohibited “what is prohibited is from eating is carrion (dead flesh), blood, pig, meat and anything that is sacrificed for other than God”. That is it and even that if he is forced to do it not out of transgression then there is no sin in that you can even eat pig if you have to eat pig if you are starving. So those are the only things that are prohibited. That intoxicants are prohibited, that is it “Do not go near fornication” it is a foul thing and has a bad end effect on society”. One you allow fornication, just look at the end results, venereal diseases, illegitimate children, breakdown of family. That is all the Quran says, it is a bad road to take. Do not go down that road. Do not slander people. Do not steal. Pretty basic things that is what is prohibited. If you want to understand the essence of shariah is that it is a logical set of understandings that enables you to live your life without harming yourself or others, that is the essence of shariah. I will give you the essence as the usoolis understand it. There are five things or six, some break the dignity into lineage, honour and name.


Every single ruling in the shariah in the sacred law of Islam is designed to preserve one of these five things:


  1. Religion because that is why you were created to worship God so preservation of religion and the beauty of Islam even though it is the preservation of Islam it also demands that Muslims preserve the right for other people to worship in their land. That is why the Hanafi and Maliki fiqh have even supported the Hindus, Buddhists and every religion to worship as they see their God or whatever they worship. Therefore commanding us to pray is to preserve religion. Commanding us to fast to preserve our religion. All these things hajj to preserve the religion.


  1. Protection of life: That is why the prohibition of killing to preserve life. So all the laws that related to transactions and treating people correctly in things have to do with the preservation of life and property. You can create wars and things like that if you treat people wrongly. You can end up fighting and things like that. “Do not kill a soul that Allah has made sacred”, “whoever kills a soul without just do or as a result of brigands or highway robbers and things like that in the earth (people that sow corruption on the earth) it is as if he has killed all humanity” so the soul is sacred, every human soul whether they are Jew, Christian, Buddhist, Hindi whatever. The soul is sacred and you have no right to take the soul without permission so those laws that related in shariah to preservation of life.


  1. Preservation of property, of intellect. The prohibition of intoxicants is to preserve the intellect. That is why they are prohibited because the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “intoxicants are the roots that the matrix of so many foul things” and he said “that a man will become so drunk and end up sleeping with his child or his relative or kill somebody and not even know it”. Manslaughter, 50,000 people die every year in US because of drink drivers and people intoxicated. Most of the deaths on the road in accidents in America are related to drugs and alcohol. The prohibition of drugs and alcohol, people said we tried that in this country. We tried the temperance movement. The truth is that Muslims because they believe in it that it is from God, I mean if you think it is not God that has told you not to drink but it is just the government “well why should I do that if it is just the government, it is an absolute arbitrary law” whereas if you really believe it is from God for your protection and preservation then that is a different matter. That is why the Muslims generally have lived in societies, if you go to Mauritania, it is almost impossible to find drug taking and alcohol people,  because people believe in that. They do not drink for that reason. I became Muslim when I was 18 and before that I had not touched anything. Before that I was just like teenagers in this country exposed to those things. You give it up for the sake of God. So I lived my entire adult life without every touching any intoxicant. I have not missed it, I am glad that I did not, I am glad I was protected from all that sorrow and suffering and things related to that. Then also the preservation of property. Prohibition of gambling, prohibition of usury, Prohibition of stealing, of theft, of embezzlement all these types of things to preserve property.


  1. Preservation of lineage. Prohibits fornication to preserve lineage and also honour, dignity. That is why it is prohibited to slander and backbite, to speak ill of people because they have their name, their name is sacred and also you honour people’s names by not speaking ill of them. Unless you have a just reason to do that like in a court of law where you have to testify against somebody and then that rule is set aside for the greater good so there is a situational type of ethics here. There are things that override other things. That is why it is permitted to kill somebody who has taken life.


So that is the shariah. Shariah is a logical set of principles and precepts. There are a few things that the Quran has legislated clearly. One of them is inheritance and the reason for that is because one of the things that breaks families apart is the distribution of wealth after death of a wealthy relative so what shariah does it apportions that. Now out of nine categories, six of them are women. The things about Islam is that women did not inherit even in 19th century Britain. Women did not inherit wealth. In Switzerland in the 1920’s I think women could not even vote. Women in Switzerland could not vote until 1980 or something and that is considered one of the most progressive European countries but their idea was the family, one vote one house type thing.  Then if you look at the differences, the idea of women getting half of men, that is not always the case. There are cases where women get more than men in the division. With a daughter and a son, the son gets twice as much. Now the reason in shariah and it is never in the history of Islam, Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyyah in the 8th century, they interpreted this idea that men are better than women or they get twice as much because they are twice as good, never, it was always understood that the responsibilities of wealth that men have that women do not have. That was understood to be the rationale. That men have to take care of women, maintain them, it is an obligation, therefore their money is obligatory whereas women’s money is discretionary. Whatever she earns, whatever she inherits, it is hers. She does not have to support anybody or give it to anybody as long as she pays zakat. That is why the Muslim world was full of very wealthy women over history. Many of them were great supporters of Islam as well as building mosques, hospitals, universities.


The Quran and Sunnah and the historical embodiments talks about the madhabs and I want to go over that very quickly. The basic four Sunni madhabs came out of a recognition that there are many ways to interpret a verse for instance the Quran says about divorce that you should wait, the word it uses is “quru” and qur in Arabic means it is from the opposite words. It means the time in which a woman is menstruating but it also means the time she is free from menstruating. There was no clarification from the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) about which one it was and so it became an ijtihadi issue. Some of the scholars said it means the time between periods. Other said it means the time of the period. The reason that we believe that God left it like that is that it forces people to think that part of the reason that the Quran was revealed was to force people to use their intellect “We sent down this Quran in order to force you to think”. That is one of the meanings of that verse, in order for you to use your intellect. Ijtihad means it comes from jihad to exert one’s utmost intellectual endeavour, to understand the intentions behind a verse of hadith. That is what ijtihad is. For that reason there are multiple interpretations and therefore the shariah is open to interpretation as long as it is not crazy or something that is off the wall. Generally there are many different opinions. Abu Hanuifah for instance believes that Muslim and non Muslims are equated in murder so if a Muslim kills a non Muslim the the Muslim dies. Imam Malik did not. He said that they had to pay the blood money. That is a difference of opinion. You get those types of differences of opinion in the shariah and those are all open to discussion and debate.


I think a very interesting section here which is jurisprudence and politics. One of the things that modern Muslims have really come to believe is Islam is a political philosophy which is very interesting because that at its essence is the claim of Zionism. Zionism turned Judaism into a political philosophy. One of the signs of the end of time is that the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said that “you will follow Bani Israil”, you will become like Bani Israil and just as Bani Israil wanted a Zionist state there are now modern Muslims that want this thing called an Islamic state. An Islamic state is the idea that you can force people to be good Muslims which is a completely instance idea. It has never existed and it will never exist. If you think religion can be legislated by a government you are completely deluded. It is a delusional state and I have no other word for it and Allah says in the Quran “do you think that you can force people to be believers?”. Do you think that you can force people to believe? It does not work. Islam is an internal mechanism. The best thing a government can do is to provide as close as possible a court system that is not open to bribery. Even the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “out of three judges, 2 go to hell” which is bad odds. That is why traditionally Muslims scholars never wanted to be judges and that is why all four of the imams were completely apolitical. They were not involved in politics. The only political stand that Ahmad bin Hanbal took was actually not a political stand. It was related to aqeedah because he declared openly that the Quran was uncreated because the mutazalite had convinced the ruling party that the Quran was created. It was a stupid period, people did stupid things. Abu Hanifah refused to enter into politics and was imprisoned for it. Imam Malik, if you read the entire mu’aduna does not have one political statement . He was once accused of sympathizing with Muhammad Nafz Zakia who was on the family for the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) that led a rebellion in the Hijaz. He did not have political positions. All he was doing was teaching shariah. If you want to learn and apply it, murhaban, if you do not then good luck in the akhirah. That is the way that religion has to be. It has to be free of politics. Once the scholar becomes engaged in the political process he is corrupted by it because that is the nature of the world. It is a corrupting element and you do not want religion to be tainted by the temporal. You always want religion to have that atemporal quality to it. That is why Islam did not create a priesthood an ecclestical society. The idea is that every believer should try and be as close to God as he or she can. So you do not want a group of priests dictating for you. Anybody can become a scholar. There is no ordainment. Scholars if they are really routed and trained can have differences of opinion. There is no official church theory. The Pope says “no you all have to agree with me”, no the ulema differ one of them says this and another says that and people are deemed intelligent enough with common sense to be able to discern right and wrong in a healthy society.


This modern concept is really unfortunate. It has just had a really bad effect on the Muslims because what happens is that if these guys get into power they will be just as bad as the previous governments if not worse. They will create the same intelligence mechanisms and they will do the torture, the same thing. If you do not think that this country has it, we have it. It just does not happen in the same way. The school of the Americas they trained people to do torture and do all that stuff but they do it in South America, they do it in the Middle East that is why some of the Qaida guys, they want to interrogate them in other countries. So they can put the electrodes on and do all that stuff and feel good about it because it did not happen inside the United States. Fuqahah can become like lawyers everywhere, jurists know how to manipulate the lawful their own ends and there has always been jurists who would sell their skills to the powers that be. Every king has had an official mullah or two who was willing to issue whatever Islamic edicts that were necessary for the government to function in the way the king desired. So it still goes on.


That is why Muslims always saw that scholars that were aligned with government rulers or leaders that were in their pay and things like that to visit them, to speak the truth that is encouraged. An alim should go and if he is able to tell the truth to an oppressor or a ruler. Most rulers are oppressors in one way or another, that is encouraged but to become a court mullah, the real scholars fled from that like they would flee from a lion because they knew what it meant and then in our view of things politics was never a very important issue for the vast majority of Muslims throughout history like most people. Many Muslim thinkers were intensely interested in establishing social harmony and equilibrium on the basis of shariah but they did not see this as something that should or could be instituted from above and that is the truth. I mean you look at all these ulema and read their books, they never saw the idea that you could institute ethics and morality in a society. Ethics and morality comes from families, comes from how you were raised, how your parents taught you and whether you are going to live upto those morals that they gave you. In bad societies, parents do not have ethics and morals to transmit to their children. A lot of the world now it is just very little real ethical and moral behaviour because people are not raised with those ideals anymore. They see their parents cheating and doing all those things and that is what they end up doing. So it is as simple as that.




It is mentioned that the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) considered suicide……


That was wrong. Those narrations have never been considered sound by scholars. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) would never have contemplated suicide but he was troubled by that.


As we as American taxpayers accountable for our states decision to sell weapons?


There is some accountability if you are paying taxes. There is some accountability. Theroux went to jail because he would not pay taxes. Read “Civil Disobedience”, when I was growing up they taught that in high school. I am not sure if they still teach it anymore probably not pay taxes because he thought the government was supporting slavery. He thought that was wrong. When his friend Emmerson went to get him out he looked up and said “Henry what are you doing in there?”. He looked at Ralph and said “what are you doing out there?”. He said “in an unjust society the only place for a just man is in jail”.


The global war picture, is it a war of religion?


I think it is a very strange thing but I think right now what it seems to me that is going on is there is a lot of money to be made now in war. The one great detriment historically for war was commerce which is why Muslims are always commercial states and Muslims actually preferred peace to war because they liked to do business, they liked to trade with people and when you have a society whose number one industry is war, you have a problem and Israel is the biggest arms producer outside of America and France. It is just massive arms production. I do like fairness, you know the Arabs have been saying for years they are going to chase every Jew into the ocean and Europeans were stuck in the middle of the Middle East by Europeans. It was a crazy idea and the most foolish thing that the Arabs did was they got rid of all their Jews. The Moroccan Jews never wanted to go to Israel. They did not want to migrate, they have been in those countries for centuries. The Persian Jews loved Persia and I have met Persian Jews that told me about growing up in Persia and what an incredible country it was. Iraqi Jews  loved Iraq. That is the truth and you can still find the stories of this. The Muslims have never had a problem with Jews. Hamza Abu Bakr who was imam of the mosque in Paris. The imam in Paris hid Jews. You will not see this in Schindler’s list. The imam in Paris hid Jews in the basement of the mosque in Paris from the Nazis. 200 of them and fed them. The Jews of Morocco because King Muhammad the fifth would not deport the Jews to the Germans and they were protected. The Moroccan Jews loved the king. Moroccan Jews go from Israel to Morocco to take bayah with the king whenever a king died in Morocco. So the Jews have never had a problem with the Muslims. There are rare exception where Muslims did stupid things like the Fatimid, the insane ruler, killed Jews and killed Christians but he was insane literally stark raving mad. It was an unfortunate period but no one has ever justified it. The Muslims have never had any problems, they have never killed Jews, they have never gone and massacred them, they have never had that problem.


Unfortunnately the Jews were treated like dirt for centuries in Europe, they were spat on, humiliated, they were shamed, they used to force them to run naked through the streets as a kind of joke. Their children would throw rocks on them and spit on then. Read the “History of Jews in Europe”. It is horrific. Muslims did not treat them like dirt. In fact Jews ended up reaching some of the highest levels of social status in the Muslim countries. Some of the greatest philosophers, Andalusia produced the greatest Jewish philosophers in history. Gabara, Musha bin Maymuna, Nichimites, these are some of the greatest scholars and they came out of Islamic Spain. They wrote in Arabic and their teachers were Arabs. It is just crazy, everything is going insane and people are going crazy and it has happened before. This is not the first time. Read history, humans are just very unfortunately unbalanced and it is going crazy right now and things come around. We just have to ride it out. We might survive it, we might not. This is what humans do, just ride out this stuff but there is a lot of imbalance on this planet. People are very out of balance. They are walking around in states of total imbalance. What we are doing, how we are treating each other. Just the trees, I think of the trees. 300,000 fruit trees have been uprooted in Palestine. What is their crime? What did they do? 300,00 fruit trees, what did they do? Then you wonder why that hadith says “there is a Jew behind me, come kill him” in Sahih al Bukhari. I mean what would I say if I was a tree about ready to be pulled up and I could talk “Get rid of this character, you know get rid of him, why is he doing this to me, what did I do,?”. You don’t think trees have a right to be here? Trees worship God. Trees do not have any legal rights, they have rights. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) never harmed a tree. Aligning yourself with heaven is what Islam is about you know, get back in order, get back into harmony. That is why we are supposed to pray with the sun, get up with the sun, go to bed with the sun, be in order. My advice to myself and all of you is just to find some order in your lives. Go walk, it is incredible, what an incredible world, just look at it, just awesome. What a glorious day, perfection, it is everywhere, excepting this one odd figure of the human. He is the only thing mucking it all up. It is all perfect. Frogs are having 5 legs now, did you read that? They are all getting mutated. What did they do? What did the frogs do? It just wants to worship God, that is all they want to do. They just want to worship God and now they are mutating because of all these chemicals and all this horrific stuff people are doing and the human guinea pigs. It is just madness. So anyway I’ll stop my rant. What do we do? Ride it out. The moment you check out of this hotel, I guarantee there is no looking back. Dunya is not something to write home about.


One thing that I wanted to say about jihad that I did not mention in the session was that and this leads into the madhabs. There is a difference of opinion about the reason for jihad. Out of the four Sunni imams and they are Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi and Imam Ahmad and before I go into explaining that I’ll just…..and that is the section here. When the initial Islamic event occurs which begins in 610 with the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) the beginning of the revelation and ends in approximately 632 in which the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) passes. During this time the Quran was being revealed and initially the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) prohibited them from writing down his words because he did not want the Quran to be mixed with the hadith. Just to explain the difference for the people who do not know. The Quran is Muslims believe that this is directly from God to the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) through Jibril. There is no other means of transmission. The Quran came, everything that the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) uttered that as from the Quran according to the Muslims came through Gabriel.


There is a second source of revelation which is called hadith and hadith is anything that the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said or was said of him or was done in his presence or said in his presence and he agreed with it. Then some add to that a fourth category which is descriptions of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam). So generally that is what hadith is, obviously the strongest one would be the one he himself said.


Now the Quran is over 6000 verses and it comes in 114 chapters or surah which means enclosure. It is made of ayah which are roughly translated as verses and of over 6000 verses of the Quran there are approximately 500 that directly related to legislative matters. The vast majority of the Quran does not relate to legislation. It actually relates to what we understand about God and then the historical process, history, its purpose, what human beings are here for, a lot of it is calling human beings to reflect on the creation, some of it tells us of the stories of those who went before us, this conflict between the prophetic tradition and the pharonic tradition. The Quran in a sense sets up a dialect in the world between a pharonic impulse to control and a prophetic impulse or prophetic truth to liberate people from control models and to enter into a type of submission in which they are no longer subjugated to these control models that tyrannise them and keep them basically trapped in delusional ways of viewing the world and what the world is here for. So the pharaoh, his symbol is the pyramid. It is a very interesting symbol because the pyramid is moving to a human apax which is the Pharaoh and his inner circle and the rest of that society is supporting that structure. So human beings are really seen as servants of those in power or those in charge and those in charge then have magicians.


They have four components that the pharonic model has. Firoun which is the political component, Haman which is the economic component, it is the economic power base. Then there is the military component which empowers both the political and the economic to do what they want. Allah says that all of them are wrongdoers. So being a soldier for this system is also participating for the crime of the system. There is a fourth component and these are the magicians. These are the ones that keep people in awe, that bewitch people, that put veils over them to make them think something is real when it is not real so that is the Pharonic system. Those are the fourth components of the pharonic system that are mentioned in the Quran.


One of the things about the pharaoh is that he is very sensitive, he sends spies out so he uses a spy network. He wants to know everything that is happening in society. He is very forceful because what he is afraid of, what Allah says in the Quran “Allah is going to show Firoun his economic power, his military power, the very thing that he was fearing” so Pharaoh focuses the Prophetic element in the society because a Prophetic element is exposing the lie of the pharonic culture and so the Pharonic culture has a deep seated fear of the element because it is an element that is telling people you were not created to create pyramids, you were not created to serve pharaoh, you were not created just to make money, you were not created to exploit, you were created to worship Allah.


Now the Pharonic model uses manipulation of nature and that is why when then threw down their sticks they looked like snakes whereas with the Prophetic model, it is truth. It is not illusion. When it shows its hand, it gobbles up the falsehood. That is why they do not like the two to be together. They like to make sure that element is not allowed any type of mass audience because if it is it becomes very dangerous so that is one of the most important elements in the Quran is this model and that is why the Pharoah and Musa is the most important story in the Quran, it is repeated more than any other story. Each time it comes in the Quran it has nuances because ultimately that is the human conflict. It is between a control model which is about getting the creature to submit to higher creatures and the Islamic model is that you do not submit to creatures, you submit to the Creator. So these are in opposition. So that is one element of the Quran.


There are many different aspects of the Quran but the legislative aspect is really, it is not the major portion of the Quran. From the hadith now which are the sayings of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam), one of the really interesting things for me as somebody that learned Arabic and can read both the Quran and the hadith is that are completely different.


Anybody who is well trained in Arabic will immediately recognise the Quran even if he does not memorise the Quran because it has a unique quality to it that is different from other Arabic speech even great poets, great orators when you read their speeches you know it is not the Quran even if you do not memorise the Quranm, the Quran has a mysterious component. It is very different to other speech and that is what the Quran says “it is not like other speech”. The Quranic challenge is to imitate the Quran and in 1400 years nobody has ever done it and there have been people who have attempted it. There is no doubt, there were attempts. Now what happens with language is because language is such a strange phenomena in the world for instance if I say “John came yesterday”. If you read that would not see intonation. I could say “John came yesterday”


Chapter 5


The corpus of hadith is not the proof for everything in Islam and that gives you the next category of proof which is called qiyas, analogical reasoning. A large portion of shariah and a lot of Muslims do not know this, a large portion of shariah or sacred law is actually not directly from Quran or hadith. It actually comes out of human understanding. Now who do we trust? We trust people that first of all the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said that the best generation are my generation in the understanding of Islam and behaviour according to it. Then the next generation and the next generation. That third generation ends with these groups of imams. They are the last group. So they are called the people who wrote everything down. The people before them were people who heard it from the sahaba and the sahaba were people who lived it. So each generation is less adherent to the tradition then the one who preceded it. That is why the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “no time will come except the time that follows it is worse that it until you meet your Lord”. What that means is that each generation, they are less understanding, less practising and less aware of God. The ulema say that in each generation there is always exceptions so you will have somebody in a generation that might actually be better than some of the scholars that preceded him, more knowledgeable, things like that but they will still not be from a generation. The best generation were the first three, that does not negate the possibility of individuals coming later that are great like the people who went before but as large numbers of people, that disappears and it increasingly does so until the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “till people will have sex in open public places and the best people in those days will say “would you go do that somewhere else?”.  There is a hadith that says that. So things get morally worse and all of these things.


The madhab is when you have a hadith that is open to several interpretations and most words by their nature can have more than one interpretation. If the imams differed on it then because they have reached a level which is called ijtihad mutlkaq where you reach a level of absolute ability to determine or derive legal rulings. That does not mean that you cannot be wrong but it means you are so knowledgeable that you have the authority to be wrong. Somebody who is a fool, even if he is right, he is wrong whereas somebody who is very brilliant and very humble and capable of his limitations which these men were then even when he is wrong, he is still right because he is basing it on deep deliberation. He is basing it on thought, he is not basing it on thoughts, opinions or foolishness, no his judgment has arrived out of serious effort. It is a very different when you meet somebody who holds an opinion because he read it in Newsweek or someone who holds an opinion because he has thoroughly examined the issue, he has weight and authority. If somebody just reads the headlines and then he is just going to spout his opinion then he is a fool and it is a fool that takes his opinion seriously. I mean that is the reality of it. That is when the Quran says “are they the same those who know and those who do not know?”. They are not the same even when they are wrong, they are not the same. Somebody who is wrong, who is speaking out of knowledge is not the same as someone who is right and speaking out of ignorance. You are still safer with the one who is wrong with deep knowledge and understanding. The thing about these people is that they will never be way off because they know the principles.


One of the things that the ancients, particularly the Greeks, they had this understanding that if you understood the universals, the particulars would take care of themselves. One of the things about modern men and women is that they are obsessed with particulars and they know nothing of universals and so when you know the general principle you are not going to make big mistakes in the particulars. You just will not make big mistakes. If you know it is a general rule “there is no harming and there is no reciprocation of harm”. That is a principle of Islam. If you know that principle that is going to save you from a lot of problems. If you know the principle “that matters are based on intentions behind them”. That is going to affect how you view people’s actions. If you understand the principle “duress necessitates facilitation or ease”. That when people are under stressful conditions you need to help them by making things easier in order to remove that stress because people in stressful situations will begin to break down mentally so that is why rulings will change in times of great difficulty. So a scholar who knows that like Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah he has opinions what other scholars they do not see it because he knows the universal so when he moves into particulars he knows how to work with them in a different way whereas there are people who lean the particulars of shariah, they memorise all the rules for a do b, for c do d and when they see c then that is what you do. Well is that always in every situation? So there is a very big difference between people who have this and this is what these imams are famous for. There were famous for this vast understanding of this philosophy behind the shariah is for human benefit and therefore if they found things that were harmful to people even thought the law said do it they would change the law and that is hard for a lot of Muslims to understand because they have lost their flexibility. Intolerance generally comes from ignorance. That is a root of intolerance.


You want to remove intolerance first you have to remove ignorance. So the madhab are based on those differences of understanding. So what I want to say about the jihad. There is a difference about what is the reason for jihad. Out of the four imams: Imam Malik, Abu Hanifah, Imam Ahmad believed that the reason that fighting was legislated was to remove aggression or belligerence. Imam Shafi said no it was to remove kufr, it was to get rid of kufr. Now that is a big difference in understanding. Generally in the history of Islam the ruling governments favoured the Hanafi and Maliki madhab which created an incredible tolerance for other peoples, non Muslims. But even with the Shafi when they had authority they basically applied the principle of the other imam. So even thought that is the principle of Imam Shafi it was not the practice of the scholars of this madhab.


As we move into Islam and iman. What is the difference between Islam and iman? Islam in the Arabic language comes from the root word “salimah” and salimah means to be whole. It is the same root of the Jewish Hebrew ward they get Shalom from shalama, The idea that salaam is wholeness, when we speak of God as as-Salaam, that is a name of God, what it means is that God has no parts. Now when you have wholeness you have peace. War comes about when you have divisiveness. Do you see how the understanding of peace comes out of this understanding of wholeness?. If people are whole, if there is an integrity in a people then you will not have wars. But when a people become divisive, you get belligerence. In Islam generally when they ruled they believed that Jews and Christians and other religions had a right to live and practice amongst them. They were certain conditions but they had that belief. It is in their religion whereas there are other religions that have ruled that did not believe that. They actually believed that they had no right at all so that creates a very different type of society. It creates a divisiveness that leads to a war. So the Muslims have always seen that.


If you look at the human body there are things on the body that do not serve a purpose for the body as a whole but they are part of the body. You can have scars on your body. They are part of the body, you do not dig further to get rid of the scar, you just leave it the way it is. There is still a wholeness even thought it might not be something you necessarily like or want there but you tolerate it because it is part of the body.


So traditionally Muslims saw other religions not as co-religions but as co-human beings. They are human beings we would rather they be Muslim but they are part of the social body and so we should tolerate them. The Quran says that they can be part of families, they can be married into families, they should be treated with dignity but even with kindness and friendship and these things.


The difference between Islam and iman is the word salimah which means whole relates to the outward of Islam. When we say Islam what we mean is an outward practice. That is why a Muslim is anyone who basically says I am a Muslim. The way they say that is “la ilaha ilal Allah”. Anyone who says “there is no God but one God and Muhammad is His messenger” is considered a Muslim whether he practises or not. That is enough to come into Islam and then they are treated as a Muslim. They are buried as a Muslim as long as they never reject that.


According to Islamic teaching the more you practice with good intention the stronger the iman gets. So the iman is the inward component. It is not something you can see. Islam you can see basically. Iman is something only God can see. That is the secret of bani Adam. The unseen element of faith. That is why in the Quran when the Arabs say…. These desert Arabs came to the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and said “we believe”. Allah said “don’t say we believe but say we have submitted because iman has not yet come into your hearts”. So the Quran clearly distinguishes between Islam and iman. Now we can also see Islam as a greater rubric that includes iman and ihsan. So it is looked at as a specific but also looked at as an inclusive word.


He takes the mutazalite approach here a little bit. Generally the Sunni scholars believe that iman was merely tasdeeq which means to verify something in your heart, to believe it in your heart, that is all it was. Then there was a difference of opinion whether you actually had to say it with your tongue. Obviously if you were mute and could not speak it, you didn’t. But if you could they said it was an obligation and then action according to this.


This is a classic debate between the Protestants and Catholics, also, is it faith and deeds that one is saved or is if faith alone? Obviously the Protestant tradition says it is faith alone, deeds do not come into it. In a sense that is closer to the Islamic tradition in that particular aspect the Muslims believe that faith alone in God is enough although there is an idea that there might be some purification in the next world for those people so it is a very dangerous and precarious type condition to be in where you have faith in your heart but no deeds. Malik bin Dinar tells a story that he saw a funeral and he decided to go help them bury this person. He helped put him down into the grave and it had a very powerful effect on him which it often does if you go to funerals. Muslim funerals are particularly powerful because the body is just in cloth. It is not in a coffin so you are putting the person right into the earth and throwing dirt on them.


So he went to his home and fell asleep and he had a dream that he was in the grave with the man. He saw the angel of mercy and the angel of punishment. They look at the man and one of them says, the one of punishment says “this man is mine”. He said “look at his eyes, they are filled with the prohibitions of Allah things that Allah prohibited. Look at his ears, they are filled with things he never should have listened to”. Look at that tongue, it is filled with a life spent in speaking ill of others, deception and lying. Then he said “look at that stomach, filled with haram, look at those genitals, going where they should not have gone”. Then the angel of mercy says “but look at his heart, it is filled with faith and he is mine”. That is at the essence of the idea of no matter what a person’s actions are, only God knows the heart and ultimately it is the heart by which people are judged. If we were judged by our actions we would all be like Hamlet says “if you give people what they deserve, who would escape a whipping?”. Don’t give them what they deserve, give them out of your magnamity. That is what Allah shows people on yaum al qiyaamah because the hadith in which it says that Allah has 100 parts of mercy and one part He sent down to the earth and that part is the part that every mother that shows mercy to her child is from that part. Every foal that will not step on its mare from that part. Every good kind act in the world is from that part so all mercy in the earth comes from that one portion that Allah allowed to come down from the celestial sphere and then the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “and He has saved the other 99 for the day of judgment”.


So the idea of just being Muslim on the tongue is part of Islam. People as long as they say that, that is why the man simply recites shahada with two Muslim witnesses, like two people who marry, they use the example of a man who wants to marry a Muslim woman. This happens quite a bit. He just officially goes and does the shahada. Muslims are generally a little wary when they see that but they accept it nonetheless because that is what Islam tells them to do.


There is a man in our history known as Muhajir um Qays the man who emigrated for this woman who he said “I want to marry you” and she said “emigrate to Madinah with the Muslims and I will marry you”. So he did for her. He is called Muhajir um Quys. So even if someone does something outwardly and he has a different inward intention, we are commanded to judge by the outward.


Now about the location of faith in the heart. The Quran says that Allah knows what is in the breast and what is in the heart. Then the idea of actions according to Islam, actions confirm your faith, the action itself is what confirms the faith. That is why charity is called sadaqah which comes from the root word to be truthful because charity is a sign of truthfulness of your faith. When you are charitable, you are showing that your faith is true.


That is why when somebody sees someone do a lot of good actions, the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “if you see somebody who frequents the masjid a lot, testify to his faith” because those actions are indications of his faith. So an action is always an indication of somebody’s faith but not necessarily. There can be hypocrites, there can be people who can be ostentatious, all of these types of things.


He talks about kufr. We go into the idea of opposite of faith which is kufr. Now kufr is generally translated as infidelity or disbelief. If you look up the root word of kufr it comes from kaffarah which means to cover. In fact, cover might actually be a cognate. It means to cover over something. Kefir which is a yoghurt you do by covering over with a cloth. It is called kefir. The kafir is also a farmer in Arabic because he covers the seed with earth.


The Quran uses the word kafir to mean farmers. Someone once saw Imam Ali who was planting something and somebody asked him “how are you doing today?”. He said “I am a kafir” in other words “I am a farmer today”.


Now the idea is very interesting because at the root of this idea is that people know the truth but what they are doing is covering it over. The idea that God is so outwardly manifest that to reject God is to reject what is so blatantly apparently in the world. Only a kafir could do that, someone who is covering over. That is why the word literally can also mean in gratitude. Ingratitude is another meaning of kufr. Kufran means ingratitude. So a kafir is actually an ingrate. It is somebody who is not showing God gratitude by repaying the debt of consciousness and the debt is the deen. It is the deen that you owe to God.


He likes the word truth concealing for kufr. She says someone might object to the use of truth concealing by saying “I do not know these truths” nor do I accept that these are truths so how can I be a truth concealer”. Traditional Muslims would typically reply that such people have simply not understood what the Quran is saying. In other words if they really understood it they would not reject it but it is because they do not understand it. If they would pay more attention to the message they would actually say, this is an interesting exercise to do with anything. Let me look at this unbiasedly. Le me look at this without judging it because if you ask most people about Islam they assume it is just wrong. They have not studied it “that religion, they are just this or that”. It is no basis or foundation for that remark. So if I am a Christian, I say no, Christianity is right. Why? Because my mother told me and my mother does not lie. Well that is the same thing that the Sri Lankan Buddhist mothers said that Buddha was the one he should call on and mother does not lie. The Muslim in Egypt, his mother said “O Allah send blessings upon the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and she does not lie”.


So who is right? Most people have inherited their beliefs. They have never thought about them, they have never examined them. That is why people or fanatics or extremists tend to be people whose belief is very shaky because they are actually so afraid if having a challenge that they are willing to kill anyone that challenges it which means they do not really have a challenge for their beliefs because someone who is deeply rooted in faith would never be afraid of sitting like Abu Hanifah who sat in huge auditoriums and debates with atheists because he was not afraid. He really believe that I can, my faith and my understanding of it can stand up against anything that falsehood has in its arsenal but if I don’t have a strong faith, I am very afraid of the arsenal of disbelief that it might overwhelm me so that is the way that traditional Muslims would say that.


This is a more personal belief, not an Islamic belief. My personal belief that the variables involved in judging anyone are so overwhelming and it is so complicated that it is best not to judge people. Just leave it to God, because you have not walked in their shoes, you did not have their childhood, you do not know what was done to them. We do not know enough and this is why people their filters are often as a result of the families they had, the society they grew up in and delusional states are types of madness. Delusion is a sign and symptom of madness, to be in a deluded state, junoon.


So even with the outward we are commanded to judge certain things by the outward. We should always do that in this world. The best thing to do is to reserve judgment for the next world in those ultimate things because Allah says in many verses in the Quran “you will return to Him and He will explain to you all these things about you which were different”. He will tell you, He will inform you so people should have some patience. Things will be made clear and you do not know where people are in their evolution.


An example is Michael Wolf, Michael Wolf is a person who told me, he said the reason I am telling you because he said it on a television programme, he thought about becoming a Muslim for 20 years so was he a kafir for those 20 years? The thing is he ultimately became Muslim. So where does he lie on the spectrum? It is a fuzzy logic question. At which point do you go into kufr from iman and vice versa. It is a fuzzy logic there, because only a life in its totality can be judged, You cannot judge anyone at any specific point in their life because you do not know what the total life is. At the end of the day if he dies saying tawbah and Allah accepts that tawbah, he could be the worst human being that ever lived and that is success according to the Muslims. So you cannot judge people at any particular point in their lives. You have to have the whole life. Only God can do that. So do not judge people unless somebody stole, you have to deal with that problem, that is a problem and there is a judgment that goes with it. Even in that case you can forgive them. If I own a store and someone steals and I can say it is yours. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “have mercy on anyone in the earth, on those in the earth”. It doesn’t just mean specific people. Have mercy or compassion with those on the earth and the One in the heavens will have compassion on you. This is what Thomas Jefferson said “when I looked at people I demanded divine justice. Then I started looking at myself and I began to beg for mercy”. That is a powerful statement.


You look outside and you want justice. You start looking inside and you want mercy. I will tell you another thing and people do not realise this, every fault that you see out there and this is from misbahaani every fault you see out there is a fault on you. It is a fault in you either manifest or like fire in flint. In other words had you lived that person’s life you might be doing that exact thing that that person is doing.


So because you are human and humans are susceptible to all things human, anyone you see out there with a fault is a fault in you either manifest or hidden in you like fire in flint. In other words the right cause can start the spark and that is a way of looking at the world with compassion. You actually begin to look at human beings in a different light because you do not know what they have been through, you do not know the suffering they have had.


The three principles: this deals with tawheed because we are going into tawheed. The foundation of tawheed falls into three broad categories. The first is called the divinities, the second is called the things related to prophethood and the third eschatological matters. Those things that are related to eschatology or what comes after we die. So we have theology, then you have revelation and then you have eschatology. Those are the three branches of tawheed.


Now one of the things that is important here is God is the foundation the beginning of everything Islamic according to our belief. The angels are creatures nearest to God in cosmic hierarchy and they play a central role in God’s interrelationship with human beings so they are intermediaries. The measuring out which is the qadr both its good and evil refers to how God interacts with creation. To each thing God measured out a certain limited amount of good and as the negative consequences of exactly the same act a certain amount of evil.


Everything is created in pairs because only Allah is without pair. This world is a mixture of good and evil, light and darkness. The whole world is shade, there is no pure light in the world. The only reason you can see right now is a mixture of light and the absence of light. If it was pure light you would be blind. If it was pure darkness you would be blind. So the whole world is a mixture of light and darkness. Now what Allah is telling is that He created this world to take you from darknesses into light so the process of being in the world is a process of moving through shades. It is a process of coming from darkness into the light but that is a process. He is taking you out of darkness so there are different degrees of darknesses to the one light which is the light of guidance. This is an evolution so human beings if they are on a spiritual are evolving, things are becoming cleaer because more light is coming in. More light is being introduced into the darkness of the material world. So this is the penetration of the spiritual realm into the material realm. This is what revelation in essence is. It is the movement from the unseen into the seen from that pure light, it is light moving into the darkness of the material world. Because the material world in a sense not pure otherness but because it is other than God because it is corruptible because it has elements that are suscepitble to corruption. The degree to which these elements exist in the world is the degree of darknesses in the world because it is other than God.


The elements in the world of light relate to the fact that the creation is an act of God. So tawheed, the first is the shahada. The first shahada expresses tawheed while the second speaks of prophecy. Now this I think is very important insight for all of us to understand here. If you look at the shahada la ilaha ilal Allah. Now the way that is said is significant. There are three letters here in the whole shahada that is all, there is just three letters. The alif, hamza, laam and ha which means ilah, God and this is the definition of ilah. Another thing about shahada is if you actually say it la ilaha ilal Allah. It is the same thing. It is just moving the tongue up and down. Now what that is is contraction and expansion. Contraction la, expansion la ilaha ilal Allah. Contraction, expansion. That is related to the two aspects of shahada which is negation and affirmation. You have negation which precedes affirmation. In other words you have to negate before you can affirm.


So when you say in Arabic, when you negate you say la. In Arabic when you affirm you say ajal. La is the negation, a is the affirmation. That is the Arabs say awai, awaillahi, that is how you affirm something. When you negate you say la. That is why the first thing a child learns in most cultures is negation, la because it hears it obviously “don’t do that”, no no. So it learns quick that it is a powerful thing. They realise it is powerful because negation is very powerful but more powerful than negation is affirmation.


Affirmation wipes out negation. So what happens is you begin by negating and you end up by affirming. You begin by saying la ilaha ilal Allah. That is the beginning of tawheed, negation la ilaha, there is no God. What does that mean? There is no God worthy of worship. In other words there is nothing worthy of worship. In reality, this is why the Arabs say “there is nothing worshipped in truth other than God”. That is what it means. There is nothing worshipped in truth other than God, that is what it means. There is nothing worshipped in truth other than God. That is why when you say la ilaha ilal Allah, you are saying there is no God in reality except the one true God. You are also saying that there is nothing that I should devote myself to except God. There is nothing I should be devoted to in truth except God. Not money, money is not God, fame is not God, fortune is not God, beauty is not God, material world is not God, nothing is worthy of worship except God. There is your affirmation except the true God, Allah. That is the essence of tawheed and then because that is not self evident in reality. You need to understand it through a medium because self evident truths are not truths that are simply obvious. They are truths that are simply not obvious on reflection and that is why, if you look at the declaration of independence, it says we hold the truths to be self evident that all men are created equal. That is not something that is obvious to everybody but if you begin to reflect upon it, it is a self evident truth. It does not need to be proved from outside of itself.


So what we mean by God’s existence is self evident, it does not mean necessarily everyone is going to get that, that there is only one God. In fact most cultures fall very quickly into polytheism because it is very easy to think there is more than one God and that is why the Brahmin actually believe that most people are too stupid to understand divine unity even though the highest varna or class in Hinduism believes in one God. They do not believe in idols but what they say is that the people in the lower class do  not have the intellect to grasp this truth so we need to give them forms that they can hold onto. The same is true in other religions that there are icons and they need objects of worship because it is difficult to worship the abstract. Outside of the Muslims the Jews are unique because Christianity quickly moved into worshipping forms and icons became objects of worship. In Judaism, there is no form for God that is why the holiest of the holy was an empty room when the Roman Emperor, when they conquered Jerusalem. They actually went into the holy of holies. He thought he was going to find all these idols but what he found was an empty room like the Kabah. It was like what do they worship? Well that is exactly it. It is not in this world. So that is difficult, abstractions for people are really difficult. That is why tawheed is a high thing. It is not a low thing even though it is very simple in the outward la ilaha ilal Allah even children do it. La ilaha ilal Allah is one of the first things that children can say. Lullaby comes from a Greek word lulin which means soothing. That is why lullabies have lalala in them. That is why la ilaha ilal Allah is very soothing.


Some psychiatrists that were doing that study about just the soothing effects of people just saying the divine name and it is true. I once met somebody, she was given the name, she didn’t know it, she didn’t know what it was, she was told repeat la ilaha ilal Allah over and over for depression as a treatment. She got cured of her depression and she ended up becoming a Muslim but she didn’t even know. She told somebody that her psychiatrist gave her this amazing formula to say. He told her do it in the morning preferably before the sun comes up and in the evening before she went to sleep for about half an hour. She would do that and she said she started to feeling better. She said what was it? He said that is the Muslim creed. That is a true story, she died rahimullah but I met her in England. She was an English lady from Liverpool.


So when we go into tawheed, understanding God. One of the things they point out that I think is very important is that there some Muslims that believe that God is something else and there is also non Muslims that think Allah is something else. I saw a Christian and a Muslim having a dialogue. The Christian said “I just have to say that I don’t believe in the God you believe in”. If you read certain Christian literature about Islam they will say that Muslims believe in another God like the moon God or whatever God. There are Muslims that think the Christians because they believe in the trinity that they believe in another God. Now the point that that Quran makes when it says let us look upon what we agree upon before we discuss anything else that we worship only one God. The understanding there is are we talking about the Creator of the heavens and the earth? Yes then we are talking about the same God. What we are differing on is the particulars, the universal we agree on. But we begin to differ when we look at what is our concept is of that God.


Christians believe God is One, they do not believe God is three. They really do not. They do believe God is three, He is One but He is tripart in this mystical mysterious way and they will never explain it and they believe in One God. They are not idolaters like that, they believe in one God and the Jews definitely believe in one God. In Judaism there is some anthropomorphism where you begin to describe God as human having hands and feet and limbs and things like that which is haraam to do that. You cannot do that. One thing that Ghazali says that the word in Arabic for hands has 17 meanings yet which one are you going to choose that God meant? In other words do not interpret that. Leave it the way it is but we know it does not mean this with absolute certainty. We now that when God says hand of Allah, He is not talking about something like this (holds up hand). We know that. There is a universal, there is nothing like God and therefore it is not like this because if I said that I am saying that God is like His creation which is impossible.


So when we look at the word God in the Quran, Allah is used. Now the Orientalists say it is obvious this is from ilah. Well that is not obvious to the Muslims. Muslim theologians do not think Allah is from ilah. People say it is from the same letters. It is like saying Arizona is from arid zone, it is a dry area. It looks just like it. You are making up an etymology that is not there. So the Muslims prefer just to say Allahu Alim where Allah comes from, the word itself. Some says ul illah then it got what they called the idghaam where you say Allah. Most of the ulema including Imam Suyuti say the word Allah does not come from any other word. It is not derived from any. It is ism alam, that is what they call it, it is a proper name.


Now before we can understand really, how we understand God, the important thing is how we do not understand God. That is why he goes into this idea of shirk. One of things that he and she point out before that which is important is the idea of ilah. In the Quran ilah which can have a plural is called alihat, gods and gods as well as goddesses and things. The word ilah is used sometimes positive, sometimes negative. It basically means the objective of devotion or worship. In the Quran it says that there are those that take their own desires as gods beside Allah. In fact, the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) in a hadith that Imam Qurtabi relates says “the thing Allah hates, the idol that Allah hates more on the earth that is worshipped is man’s own desire” which is very interesting because most people do not think of idolatory as being something inside of you, they see it as something outside. You have to have a stone or a wooden form or something, a cow, an object of worship but the Quran says “have you not considered the one who has taken as his God his own desires”. His own caprice, his own whims.


That is very interesting because that is the thing that is the most difficult to remove. That is the real shirk that becomes difficult. Worshipping our opinions because we become absolutely devoted to them. We are not willing to give them up for anything. We will even die for them. That is a God beside Allah. There are many idolaters amongst Muslims from that category, may Allah protect us from that. Many Muslims do not realise that they fall into that category. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “somebody who is addicted to drugs is like the worshipper of an idol” because you will do anything for your God. There are people who will kill for drugs literally kill for drugs. Money, people will kill for money. Desires, it is just for desires not the object of desire. What is forcing someone to steal? It is inside, it is not outside. The object is called cause occasionalis, a good latin word in logic, it is the occasional cause, it is not the deep cause. The deep cause is desire because another person sees the object, they do not have any money, they might even want it but they do not steal it. Why? Because they are in control of their desire. So when the object outside, it is only seen, the delusional state is “I had to have it”. That is what made me do it. No, it was inside from the beginning, that desire was there and that was only the exciting cause, it was not the deep cause. The deep cause is covetousness for the things of the world.


So shirk in the Arabic language means to share, to be a partner, to make someone share, to give someone a partner, to associate someone with someone else. Shareeq, literally, this my partner in commerce. You are sharing. Musharqa, if we share things, food, conversation, whatever. So the idea of associating or sharing with God something which is God’s alone. This is why the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said that Allah said in a hadith qudsi “whoever associates, I have no need of those partners”. So if you associate with Allah partners, you have associated with Allah what He does not need. Why do you go into partnerships? Because you need them. In commerce why do you have partners? Because you need them. So Allah is saying you are associating with Me something I have no need of and therefore it is batil because there is no purpose.


So shirk is the reverse side of tawheed. Now the literal sense of the term shirk may suggest that one has to be conscious of associating other than God in order to be guilty of it. How can I give a partner to someone if I do not know the someone? Well that is actually true and that is why the Quran says “do not associate with God once you know”. That is why a person whose in that state without knowledge is forgiven. But once it has been explained to you, then after that you are taken to account for your knowledge and that is why the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) in hidden shirk taught us to say “O Allah I seek refuge in You from associating with You and I am aware of it, I ask forgiveness for that which I am not aware of”.


There are subtle things that modern psychology called the subconscious mind. The Muslims understood this. The Quran says “they are not conscious of it, they attempt to deceive God and those who believe but they only succeed in deceiving themselves, but they are unaware. The modern Arabic word for the subconscious la shuhur which is exactly the way Allah describe the state of hypocrite except he is not aware.


Now the thing about la shuhur the subconscious is there is an understanding in the Islamic tradition that in a truly deep sense you are aware. It is not an excuse. That is why the Quran says in the next world people will say “would we have only listened and comprehended what was being said to us we would not have ended up in this wretched place?”. Then Allah says “they finally admit they are wrong”.


These defence mechanisms of projection and denial and all these things that human being do are essentially according to Islamic understanding, they are still responsible for it. The reason for that is this power that Allah has given us it is just too vast and too enormous. If you do not make use of it, then only you have yourself to blame. All the tools were given to you so it is like someone is given a plot of land. They have the cow, they have the plough and they just sit there and watch it. Then when the harvest comes and everyone else is harvesting and they are saying “Nothing grew”. Well you had the seed, you had the plough, you had the cow, why didn’t you do anything? “O you mean I should have done something?”.


Rumi has a poem about the day of judgment. He says on that day you will come with your head bowed and you will look at the Prophets and say get me out of this mess, the mud of my life because I am mired in the mud of my life. He says “you left the plough in the middle of the field and now you want us to harvest for you”. You had all that time, you had all that energy.


So there is a belief in Islam that tawheed is from the fitrah of human. It is something we deeply know. It is in our inherent nature to know. That is why children will completely accept the understanding. They will just completely accept it. They will accept tawheed. It makes perfect sense to them.


Now the idea of hidden shirk. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) came out, this is a hadith that Ibn Majah relates, the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) came out and they were talking about the anti-Christ and he said “shall I tell you about something that is more frightening to me than the anti-Christ?”. They said what. He said “hidden shirk, riyaa that a man should perform prayer and do it beautifully for the sake of someone who is watching”. Sahdi tells the story about the man in the mosque praying and he hears the door open and he decides that I am going to pray a long time because that person will think…and when he finishes his prayer, he looks to see if the person saw him and it was a dog that came into the mosque. You see it is all in your head. It is not about what is out there, it is all your perception.


Now this is my favourite section here which is the signs of God. The Quran is called qalamullah which is God’s speech directed at human beings so whatever is said in the Quran we believe is an expression of God Himself. In the same way when we speak we express ourselves. So I speak I am expressing myself.


We may be playing a role and no one else will play the role in the same way. Every role we play we express something about ourselves. Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet is not Laurence Olivier’s. Same text but they have different interpretations. So even an actor reciting the same line, he is still expressing himself. So the idea of words being an expression of the nafs according to the Quran when Allah speaks we believe it is an expression of Himself in the Quran. The Quran expresses Allah. It is not the only thing that expresses Him. Other scriptures also express him and so do His creatures.


So now we get into something very interesting which is this idea of the expression. What is an expression? It is when I speak what I am doing, I am articulating symbols. If you speak my language, you are familiar with. So when I say “look at that tree” I do not have to look at the tree. You will begin to look around at the tree. You can ask me which tree but when I say tree an image emerges in your mind of something which has a trunk, branches and leaves. If it doesn’t have a trunk, branches or leaves it is something else. It might be a bush but when I say tree that is what comes to your mind. If I say in Arabic to an Arab tree he will say what are you talking about it? I will say shajarah.


Now shajarah to an English speaker does not mean anything but to an Arab speaker he has the image in his mind that you had when I said tree. So what is shared? It is the tree but what else is there? What is the nature of language is that it is a symbol, it is a sign that signifies something else. This is called in Arabic an ayah. So an ayah is something that signifies something else. Now when we say that God has signs what we are saying is there are things that signify a God. There are the prophetic signs, the revelatory signs but then there are the natural signs so ayah in the Quran means in a general sense anything that means something else. Anything that indicates something else. This is what ayah means. So that is a general sense. In the Quran it means everything in the heavens and earth, everything is a sign and this is why We appointed the night and day as two signs. The day and night are two signs, of what? Of God. A sign for them is the dead earth, from amongst those signs the dead earth and then it is brought back to life. That is a sign of God, you are seeing a sign, it is indicating something else.


Amongst His signs are ships that run on the sea like landmarks that is on the ocean like a landmark, like mountains, these are all signs. In the earth are signs for those who have certainty and in yourself. In the earth are signs and in yourself are signs. Do you not see? In other words, do you not make the connection in the same way when I said tree you connected that with this thing that has trunk, branches, leaves. This is what Allah is saying, do you not see the connection between all the signs out there and all these signs in here, what they are indicating? What they mean.


The second narrower sense is the miracles and scriptures given to the Prophets so Prophets are given two types of signs:


  1. Scripture which is an ayah
  2. Things that break the normal chain of events so with Moses, it was his staff. It was his sign and the magicians recognised. That is why when they saw it they said “We believe in His God” not in you because they knew. Firoun said “this is a conspiracy” this is what he said. “You planned this, this is a conspiracy you did somewhere else”. He cannot believe because he is not seeing the same thing.


The other is the wahy itself, the revelation is a sign. They said to Prophet Salih (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) “you are merely one of us who are bewitched, you are a mortal like us. Produce a sign if you are truthful” so they want a sign. People, they want signs. This is what they said to Jesus (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam). He said “wicked is a generation that want signs”. In other words, it is so clear like Lut, someone asked him “what is a proof for the existence of God?”. He said “you are asking for a lamp to see the sun”. That is what the Arabs say “nothing will make sense to you if you need a proof for daylight”.


This idea of signs which is very interesting because the essence of 20th century philosophy is semiotics. They have become obsessed with signs. This is what philosophy has been reduced to which is very interesting that the question, that is what it is talking about, it is talking about signs.


That is why one of the brilliant philosophers of the 20th century was Izuzu a Japanese philosopher. He spent his life studying the Quran and wrote this amazing book on the signs, the semiotics of the Quran because he was just so engrossed in this idea.


So now the most specific sense of the word is the Quran, the actual sentences of the Quran which is called ayat the actual syntactical components. They are meaning statements that are called ayat. Now use of the really interesting things about signs and I just want you to think about this and everybody has had the experience when you do not know a word and suddenly you look it up in the dictionary and now you know it and then suddenly it starts appearing everywhere. You are like that is amazing, what a coincidence. Why dos it suddenly start appearing everywhere? Because now you know what it means. Suddenly it becomes meaningful and before you were just knowing it from your field of vision. Now you are allowing it in because you have accommodated it into your frame of reference.


Now one of the things about human beings. If you are traveling on a trip and I love road signs. I just got a traffic ticket yesterday in San Jose. He actually reduced it way down because I told him this is a crazy city and how do you get out of this city once you are in it because that song “do you know the way to San Jose”. You don’t know where you in that society, it is just crazy and I told him. He said “didn’t you see that sign?”. I said “no I didn’t see the sign?”. “Why didn’t you see it, it was right in front of you”. I really didn’t see the sign. It is as clear as the day. “That is what the angels say to people, didn’t you see the sign? It was right in front of you”. Why? You know why I didn’t see the sign, because there was a mailman in front of me going like this (motions) there is a cop behind you, don’t turn left. He distracted me from seeing the sign. That is what Iblees does, you don’t see the sign.


Ignorance is not an excuse in the eyes of the law. Your have a drivers licence, you are driving a car. There are signs, you are supposed to know what they mean. You took a test to prove that you know what they mean. Then you are going to plead ignorance. I did not see it. Well you should be more attentive. This is what he is saying so he wants to write you a ticket and then you have to pay a fine. When I said hey, he said this is my job to write tickets. That is what the angels say, I am just doing my job. My job is to punish you. That is what he was saying to me. My job is to punish you not to sit here and debate. You broke the law. It is an infraction and that is my job and I am sorry. It is a painful thing to do if I really think about it but it is my job. There you go, so what can I do? Rip it up, the police take your car away. If you ignore the warnings, that is just a warning, if you ignore that there are more repercussions. It just gets worse and worse and worse.


So imagine humanity on this highway. You are driving along. The first sign they see Lustville, 100 miles. Suddenly speeds up, only 100 miles, if I do 100 miles an hour, I will get there in an hour. On the way there is a sign Paradise and it is pointing that way to turn. Does he see that sign? No because he is so preoccupied with Lustville. He cannot see the sign to Paradise. And then there is another sign Gluttonyland so maybe he is a glutton. Gluttonyland I am going there. Floors it, can’t wait to get there to eat so he does not see the sign to Paradise. Each one of the signs that people see on the road and they cannot see the other sign because they are so preoccupied with their destination but they chose that destination.


Now if you were given a job and this is Vanity Fair. I think it is Thackeray or whoever wrote it. The story of vanity fair where the man was given a job by the King but on the way to fulfill his job there is a fair on the side of the road and he thinks I have all the way to sunset so I am just going to stop and just enjoy the show and there are some distractions and I will have a little fun then I will go and do what the King told me to do. So he goes in and Vanity Fair filled with distractions. He is having a great time and he gets too engrossed in all of these distractions that suddenly it is sunset and Vanity Fair is closing up and he has not done what he was supposed to do. Now he has to go back to the palace and tell the King. The King says “I sent you in the morning, you had all day to do it”. Is the King going to accept the excuse that I saw this beautiful fair on the side of the road. On my time? You were playing on my time?


Somebody works for Fedex but he has a gambling problem so he goes out in the morning with all these packages and then he passes by a gambling casino. I will just go in and do one time on the slot machine. He goes in one time and then suddenly one time leads to another and then suddenly the day is over, he goes out and he has all these packages he has not delivered that he has to take back, is he going to keep his job. No. So that is the nature of the world. The task is very clear but the signs are ignored. It is not as if they are not there. They are just ignored and that is why how many a clear sign there is in the heavens and earth that they pass by, turning away from it. It is all there. It is very obvious. That is what the Quran is saying. The people ignore these signs because they do not have time for them. They are too occupied with their worldly things, making more money, getting that bigger house, enhancing my portfolio, building up my CV.


Chapter 6


The beauty of Islam is it does not turn away from the world. It says be in the world like a stranger, just know that you are not going to be here forever and then act accordingly because a stranger does not behave like other people. You come into a village and you are passing through it, you do not set up shop, marry and have a family in the village when you know that you are going to leave. I am not saying that it means that you do not do that in the world but you do it with that understanding that there are things I am going to leave behind so that you do not become totally obsessed and attached to them.


Questions & Answers


Words have an intrinsic value in themselves but their purpose is to signify something else definitely and there is a correlation. He goes into a little bit, but he is taking it from a 13th century Andalusian scholar philosopher who thought that the world was composed of letters. Like DNA you have four nucleic acids and these four nucleic acids combine into 64 possible combinations. Those 64 possible combinations then translate out into certain structures and that is what gives things their uniqueness but it is all based on the same basic building blocks of life. Basically it is the same thing, everything has the same DNA. So his idea was everything in the world is a manifestation of speech and the letters they were like DNA so liver is a certain combination and in every body it will be the same combination. Any creature that has a liver, the liver is composed of the same archetypical letters. It is a philosophy. I don’t know what his proofs were from the Quran or anything like that. I am sure he had them. It is an idea but the world alam in Arabic means sign. Alam is ism f’al. F’al is the thing that you do something with like tabih is the thing you seal with so alam is the thing that you know something by. The world is that by which you know, the alim, the knower who is Allah. The difference is between fathah and kasrah between God and the world. So if you have that faith from the world then you get opened up to see the truth of the world which is that it is an ayah of God.


What kind of desires are halal? What kind of desires are haram?


I mean the desires are not bad things. Desires generally unless it is things that are haraam in shar’iah, the desire for food is a good desire. If you do not have the desire for food, you will die but if you have desire for pork then you have a problem or if you have a desire for excessive food that is going to harm you, you have a problem. It is not haraam to overeat but it is makruh. But if you do it until it damages your health  and the doctors tell you, you have to cut down your food consumption then it becomes haraam because “don’t kill yourselves”. They say most people dig their graves with their teeth.


Can you divorce a person who has haraam desires? Is this a good reason for divorce?


If it is things that are prohibited and they want that person to partake in that, it is haraam to do that, that would be grounds for divorce if the person was forcing them to do something or demanding them to do something like rectal intercourse.


What are the natural signs of God beside nature?


The natural signs of God are other than Prophets and revelation so everything other than Prophets and revelation is a sign. Our own souls are signs of God, ourselves. The fact that we are hearing, seeing and living, all these things. These are signs of God. Sight, speech, understanding, comprehension.


Question about the Japanese philosopher Isuzu


He has a book the Quranic Veleter Chalen. He spoke like 32 languages or something, phenomenal intellect. The book is called Quran veleter Chalen which is German word for world view and he has another book on the ethical……..If you are interested in his books you can get them through Fons Vitae on the web.


Can someone say shahada on the phone?


You need witnesses, you can say the shahada wherever you want to but to make it sound you need witnesses, two witnesses so it would be better to do it in person. If you are living on a desert island with a cellphone and there was nobody there, and you want to say shahada so you called a Muslim country and asked for a second operator to come on or something like that then you could do that. It is a good question.


Cannot hear question clearly


Lichtenstein at the end of his life did not speak because he did not believe you could say anything true in a language and he was a philosopher of language. The whole world is running or not running, it is actually probably not running because of language as well as it is running because of language. The problem is language, communication. Rumi one of my favourite stories of Rumi is one of the three, there is an Arab, a Persian and a Roman. They are traveling together on a road and they come across this dirham. They all grab at it at the same time. The Arab says we have to buy enab with it. The Persian says no we buy angoor, the Roman says no we are going to buy venatas. They are all words for grape so they start fighting each other and Rumi’s comment is all that was needed was a good translator.


Part of the problem is language, one of the things they point out here that I really believe in is that when people say I don’t believe in God, Muslims should say what is your definition of God because I do not believe in that God either. A lot of people do not believe in an unbelievable God. That is true but in dealing with somebody who is trapped in that rejection of language….you have to establish first that language can….if I tell him to stand up and he stands up, that my language has been meaningful enough to make him do and act and therefore something that has meaning can be conveyed in language and can be demonstrated very easily and that language is meaningful. If he means that we cannot use language to speak about transcendent truth which is the idea of logical positivism which is another modern aberration, the idea that any metaphysical language is meaningless that we can only speak about material and concrete things. That is also very problematic because the human mind has universals and yet you will never see a universal but when I point to a particular tree that is not the universal tree. That is one particular tree so there are even within language abstract things that we recognise to be true that indicate a shared or common thing that particular all share.


I have gone out and watched trees. Trees are very interesting things. I have gone just walking and looking at all these different trees realising each one of them is completely unique and feeling whoever invented this idea of a universal tree, it is not true, because every human being on this planet is unique yet we share the fact that we are human beings although I cannot point to your particular example as a human being.


We have a concept in our mind of what is human that is not to be seen in the world and universals you cannot find them and yet the mind recognises them. That is a metaphysical concept because it is beyond the material world, the universal concept. The idea of God, the brain is wired for it, simple as that.


There is a book “Why God will not go away” and it is the neurobiology of belief. People are wired to believe and there is truth in that, simple as that and people do have belief. Unfortunately you get caught in these mind games. I think ultimately for me it was a car accident. Sometimes it takes real powerful shocks to wake people up put of that type of slumber. Shaykh Saeed Ramadan says for the Muslims the atheists are signs of God just the fact that somebody can deny God in this world it is a proof not only of God but that He is merciful and compassionate. That he can walk around and say it with impunity “I don’t believe in God”. Some of them will do that “I don’t believe in You”. What is that? Then they will say “no lightning bolt came down”. People say that “there is no God, strike me down now strike me down. God if You are really there do it”.


God is Merciful. Sidi Ahmed Zarruq said for him one of the biggest proofs of God was sailors because he said they are some of the worst people on the planet and he said yet that can safely cross an ocean. No offence to any sailors. In English, they say his language is so bad that he could make a sailor blush and port cities are famous.


How do we know we are forgiven after tawbah?


We should assume that because the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said Allah says “I am in the opinion of My servant” which means if you made a sincere tawbah and you don’t believe God forgave you, He will not forgive You. But if you believe He did, He will if it is a sincere tawbah.


Some of the words that the Quran uses for those who can discern signs or who can understand signs and one of the fundamental points that the Quran makes, is that there are two types of people. There are people who reflect on the signs and then there are people who ignore the signs. They ignore the signs to their own detriment. The Quran also gives us a clear picture of the results that happen from people that ignore the signs and those signs to both effects in this world and also effects in the next world. So for instance the Quran gives a lot of signs of what happens to societies when they are irreligious and begin to deviate from the path that Allah has given them. Consistently the Quran is saying “travel in the land and look at the people who went before you, look at how they built buildings that you built and yet they came to nought because ultimately they began to disbelieve in the signs of Allah”. The analogy that the Quran strikes is of the city “Allah strikes the similitude of the city or the likeness of a city, it was safe, content and then its provision would come from all over and this was really to the Meccan people, reminding the Meccan people and then the Quran says that “they began to deny the bounties of Allah”, In other words they forget that Allah was the Provider. That is what happens when you ignore the source of the blessing and begin to see yourself or your society as being the providers of whatever you have done. There are people who see their work as being the reason they are getting something out.


So the Quran uses certain words in relation to these two signs. The signs being out there and in ourselves. Those are the natural signs and then the signs of the revelation. The Quran uses the world akala which means “don’t you use your intellects” so the aql  which is the component that Allah has given man is there to be able to comprehend. So the idea of using your aql and Allah says He gave you hearing, sight and a heart. The ulema say the reason that these three are mentioned together is because the ways in which knowledge comes into you are though your sight and sound. They are signs in themselves but it is through the sight and the sound. That is why Allah says that are signs “don’t you see them?” in Surah Mulk when Allah says that the people in hell  say “had we only listened” and you will see these two attributes. Allah says “We gave them sight in order that they show gratitude” so the idea of showing gratitude through these capacities so the idea of showing gratitude through these capacities that Allah has given you to perceive these.


So the aql is rooted in the fu’ad, that is the Quranic view “they have hearts but they cannot perceive with their hearts”.


The second, the idea of understanding. Allah gives the human being the ability to use the intellect to understand meanings and so you have faham, and also you have the fiqh in the Quran which is the faqih in old Arabic was the one who could discern a pregnant animal in the midst of a herd. It was the one who could see what was not apparent to others and the faqih has a perception that the other people do not have.


When the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “whoever Allah wants good for He gives him the understanding of the deen”. Even though it has come to mean jurisprudence it really does not mean it in that hadith. In that hadith, it means they are able to comprehend the purpose of the deen and obviously the usooli the real faqih not the one who knows the ahqaam but the one who knows how to apply Islam in the world irrespective of the circumstances. That is the real faqih. Then also tufakara, fakaara is a negative word in the Quran, it is only used once with Al Waleed. Tafakara which has to do with struggling with thought in other words attempting to understand, fakara is to produce thought whereas tafakara is to attempt to understand. Waleed al Mughirah was someone who was thinking what could he say about the Quran. Is it magic? Is it this, is it that? And so the takafar is reflection, it is the idea of something enters into you and then you being to attempt to understand what that means, that is what tafakar is whereas fakara is coming out of you projecting onto something else. It actually has the opposite meaning, it is you projecting into something else whereas takafar is you allowing something to stimulate in you a desire to understand it at its real level and then also you have tadakarah which is recollection which is very important concept in the Quran because there is an idea in the Quran that human beings really do have an understanding of what this is all about in the innermost and there is a type of forgetfulness that has come over human beings because they have come into the world and so the Quran gives this idea that this is a dhikr, it is actually a reminder of something you already know “remind them because reminders benefits believers”.


You can only be reminded of something you already know and so there is this understanding that all of these things and so there is this understanding that all of these things we are being taught, we actually already know them and so it becomes a recollection that we are really recollecting something that the human being has already perceived.


Then tawasama is another, wasama is a sign as well and tawasama is to perceive the meaning of a sign and again the mutawasim was somebody who could see from the face of a person whether they were good or bad. That was the jahil understanding of a mutawasim, it was someone who could see what was hidden behind the apparent.


If you look at all these words and these ideas they are all revolving around the same idea, that the world is signs and what human beings are is interpreters of signs and Allah has given human beings what is in the Quran lubb, qalb, fu’ad, aql – there are all these different words that are nuances of the same meaning.


Lubb: the people that have lubb, the word lubb, if you look at the root meaning, it is a seed and again the idea it is a pith, it is something obviously, when you say pithy, it is deep because the seed is buried deep in the centre of something that contains the whole thing in other words the lubb is like the seed of a tree, the entire tree is contained in the seed, in the same way in the human being, there is something at the essence of the human that contains this knowledge of Allah and of the universe. Then in terms of ayahs, there are different types of ayahs. There are ayays of naimah, so there are signs of Allah’s blessing. Good health, al afiyah is a sign of Allah’s blessing, it is a ni’mah, all these types of things are signs that Allah has given you blessings.


The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “true wealth is contentment” so somebody who does not desire is really the wealthy person. If someone has a great deal of wealth and yet they are still filled with desire and trying to acquire more and more then they are not wealthy according to our understanding.


Then rahma is mercy and there is a belief that at the root of this entire universe is mercy. Ar Rahman is really the essential attribute that Allah is giving to His creation and at the essence of the Prophet’s (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) being is rahmah. “We only sent you as a mercy to all of the worlds”.


So there are all of these signs in the world that are signs of His mercy. Ibn Abbas said when you real a level of perception everything becomes mercy in other words you do not see anything other than mercy because even in the punishments that Allah inflicts on human beings they are much less than we deserve. In that is a mercy so you begin to actually see that Allah is a Merciful Lord that at the root of His tribulations in the world is actually mercy more than anything else.


Then also there is tabshir which is the idea of Allah giving bushra. If you do this then this happens. If they believe then Allah will given them reign, He will increase their crops, all of these things. There is tabshir in the Quran so there are signs of tabshir.


On the other hand there are signs of intiqam which is that Allah takes vengeance. So Allah will avenge His people so if they are righteous people that are persecuted for their righteousness then there is a belief that Allah is a personal God in that He will actually take vengeance upon those who oppress and persecute so that it is a warning.


So these become warnings and again these are signs as well even though it is very difficult for you to discern. It is not really permissible in shariah to look at something in that sense and that is because he did this and this. It is something according to the Quran is a possibility that should be considered.


So whenever anything happens to people that is terrible they should always consider the possibility that this is from their own hands, it is what their own hands have wrought and it is a very important idea in the Quran.


Iqab comes form a word aqaba which is what comes after so iqab is a punishment is a result of prior actions. So you do not see the punishment as arbitrary tyranny that there is something cruel here no, you see the punishment as a direct result and therefore what Allah says in the Quran again and again is that He does not oppress His servants.


Then also you have adhab and adhab is a direct result of also of those who transgress and then indhar which is very important because just as you have tabshir you have indhar. Just as you have glad tidings you have a warning. The Prophets are unique in that they have tabshir and indhar – in other words they warn and they give good news. You will also see in the Quran whenever there is a verse that deals with punishments it will also be followed by a verse that deals with mercy. You will never see verses in the Quran separate like that that you will always see that there us a promise. So ths is called wa’ad and wa’eed. You have the promise of if you do right then you get the promise of the righteous which is that Allah accepts you and blesses you. If you do wrong then you have this indhar this warning that there is a retribution, there is requital.


Then the human response to all of these because this is all happening out there, I mean this is the world. There are wonderful things happening and there are terrible things happening. So the human response to these events in the world is one of two. There is only two possibilities. It is either tasdiq or taqdeeb. Either you believe these signs or you deny them. So those who deny them will turn signs into arbitrary meaningless events which is what nihilism does. We reduce events to chance and accident, that we do not live in a moral universe, that our actions do not have repercussions in the world. If they do, those repercussions are arbitrary repercussions. They are not repercussions that have any significance in a cause and effect type of relationship with any moral component there but rather cause and effect as a certain aggregate of certain variables that come together and then something happens that so crime does pay, it does not always pay but it can pay if it is organised, it usually pays very well,


So that type of attitude that they have, the people that deny these signs. The people that accept the signs are people that believe the universe is meaningful that we are living in a world where everything that happens has both existential import so me as in individual my life is meaningful. The events that happen in my life are meaningful, they are not arbitrary events. Then we see this is a collective group in other words groups as collective groups of people have courses. The courses that they take will determine outcomes as a collective group and this is when you get into the idea of clans, cities, countries or states. An actual country can bring upon the wrath of God and because they bring this upon them they are taken to account as an aggregate not as individuals and that is why the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “that when the punishment of Allah comes it afflicts the good and bad”. It afflicts everybody. The Quran says “you should fear and guard yourselves from calamities that do not just affect the oppressors among you”. The reason for that verses that if only the oppressors were ever harmed by wrong in the world then no one would have nay cause to stop wrong in the world. They would simply wait until the oppressor got what was coming to him but once you begin to understand that wrong in the world affects everybody and therefore the kind of modern concept “well as long as I do not hurt anybody then it is alright” but from the Islamic cosmology that any wrong that is done openly and in public that is not rejected by society will actually affect the society even if it is not harming anybody per se.


There is no apparent harm but the reality of it is that it does take its toll and eventually it begins to corrode the society until all those signs that come in civilisations in the past begin to happen and then the civilisation will disappear, be overrun by the hordes. If you want to go into Ibn Khaldun’s philosophy that societies decay and then they are invaded by hordes and then the hordes will tend to reinvigorate the society so America gets invaded by the hordes of the south or something if you want to look at Pat Buchanan’s type of scenario of what is coming that south America and Mexico overrun in America but then from that comes a reinvigoration. That is projection. In the past it would be things like Moghal hordes coming down and completely decimating the Muslim societies but from the Moghal sprung this entirely invigorated Muslim culture and civilization so they ended up being a blessing whereas you cannot see the blessing when it is happening. All you can see is the massacre and the slaughter and this is the part of the thing the Quran reminds us “do not judge things because you cannot see the whole picture” so you might think something is terrible when it is happening. That is why the Quran says “sometimes you detest things and yet they are very good for you” so you can see something in the short term. The short vision of something you see it happening and you think it is terrible but then in the end it actually becomes something that there is a lot of blessing in it. That is why it is always important to wait and to withhold judgment because ultimately it is only understanding the things in its entirety, can you judge it. That is why the people of bayan which is one of the sciences of rhetoric in Islam they say “before you can judge something you have to conceptualise that thing in its entirety” that you cannot make a judgment about a thing if you only understand one facet of it. You really have to be able to comprehend it. That is why ultimately it is God alone that can judge humanity see we can only judge by what is apparent. That is a limited type of judgment but it is only God alone who can judge human beings because He is the only One that can encompass all of the facets and variables involved in judging.


So the immediate consequence of the human response which is one of two things is either gratitude or ingratitude. That is the human response. You are either grateful which is called as-shakir or a mumin or you are an ingrate which is called a kafir. This is the only two outcomes of interpreting the signs that are in the world. For the one who has gratitude because he wants to maintain this state this causes this person to enter into what is called a state of taqwa. Taqwa is protecting yourself from losing what you have and the way that you do that is by maintaining gratitude because the Quran says “if you show gratitude I will continue to bless you” but when you stop showing gratitude then those blessings stop. That is why Ibn At’illah said that “the hobbling cord of blessings is gratitude”.


If you have an animal and you want to make sure it does not go astray you hobble its legs. He said “hobbling cord of blessing is gratitude”. Therefore if you are not showing gratitude you allow your blessings to wander off. You are not protecting them and the final result of this is iman or kufr. The results of iman or kufr are jannah or jahanaam.


Before we go back to the book, I just want to look at because I think this is very interesting presentation of guidance that Raghab il Hisbahani gives. What he says is the highest thing in the Quran really the highest thing is called tawfique. This is the highest state a human being can be in the state of what is called tawfique.


The word in Arabic tawfique comes from a root word which means to correspond with. Muwafaqa means a correspondence. The definition of tawfique is that the will of the human being corresponds with the will of God and that comes about by following the guidance and guidance according to the Quran has three degrees in this world. There are three degrees of guidance.


The first is knowing good and evil. So that is a level of guidance even if you do not act upon it. The Quran says we have guided the human being to the two paths of good and evil. So every human being has been guided to this understanding of right and wrong and that is the nature of the soul and the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) was once asked that “what is a wrong action?”. A wrong action was that which you did that caused trouble in the breast in other words your heart was troubled by it. That is the nature, the fitrah this natural state of a human being is when they do wrong and are troubled by it.


Human beings have different strategies of dealing with that trouble and obviously alcohol is one of them, drugs, being immersed in the world, looking for affirmation. There are people that are doing really wrong things and they tend to hang out with people who do really wrong things because that confirms that they are alright.


In Operation Candyman which is the operation of trying to find all these paedophiles. In the interview they had with one of these FBI agents they said these guys know what they are doing is wrong and the reason they need to be connected to the internet is to try and fee a little better about it. That is a very Islamic insight into the nature of wrongdoing, you want to be in bad company….he is doing it as well so it cannot be that bad. That is why one of the worst things in the Islamic tradition is to wrong publicly because what it does is it causes people to think that the wrong is not that significance. That is why it is so dangerous and one of the French ethicists said “hypocrisy is a homage that vice pays to virtue”. That is very similar to an Islamic understanding.


In this culture there is this idea that it is better to let it all hang out, let it all out, don’t feel bad. The Catholic Church, they used to absolve sins by making you do hail Mary’s and all these things. In this culture sins are absolved by telling you they are not sins. This is what happens is we say no it is okay nothing is wrong with you. But he is feeling there is something that is wrong that is why he is at the psychiatrist. The psychiatrist is saying “don’t feel bad about yourself, you have low self esteem”. Well why does he have low self esteem? Because the society is telling him this. Where does all this come from? You see because you get into this chicken/egg thing.


Where does this idea of virtue come from? In other words I mentioned this before, this book of ethics that I took in the University by Chichester, he said that “religion solves the very problems it creates”. So religion creates the idea of sin, then it gives you the idea of tawbah or repentance or atonement.


You have to ask the question where did sin come from? Where did this idea come from that human beings knew something was wrong? Why? Because it is in the first story of Cain and Abel. He feels bad after he kills his brother. Why did he feel bad? If we were in a nihilistic world where there is no wrong and right what was in him that made him feel bad? He did something wrong and that is what the soul knows, the soul knows what is wrong and that is why the soul is troubled by it.


So the first is a knowledge of right and wrong. Now there are two ways that that comes about. There is a natural law, which is called fitrah which is the inherent nature that human beings generally know what is right and wrong inherently in the same way that a cat, if you give it food it will eat it in front of you but if it sneaks it, it will grab it and run away. You could say it is because it got hit the last time but even dogs and cats know when they are taking something legitimately and when they are not. So that is the idea that human beings have this understanding.


Now the other is that revelation introduces this understanding so the Prophets bring this understanding of good and evil of khayr and sharh. It is an old problem, the old philosophers talk about the idea – are things good because God says so or did God tell us to do those things because they are good? They idea is something good in of itself or is it good because God says so. The dominant opinion amongst Muslim scholars because they split on this issue, the dominant opinion is that things are good because God says they are. In other words, the intellect cannot always arrive at what is good that you need this revelation to come in and tell you so there are things that we cannot know and there are things we know. So that is the first one and this is why in the Quran about Thamud which is a people that rejected the signs of God and went astray. It said about them “as for Thamud We guided them but they preferred blindness over their guidance” so they preferred to continue in their error and then it becomes a choice which is very interesting.


One of my boys saw this person smoking and he looked up at that person like perplexed. The person said to him “don’t ever do this”. Then he asked us “why are they doing it?”. In other words if they know it is wrong why are they doing that? This is where human beings become very complicated because despite the fact that they know something they will often go against their best knowledge and this is because of an imbalance in the soul. When rational soul is paramount then these lesser souls, the bestial souls, the irascible and the concupiscent soul, the appetitive soul the lower soul are in a harmony so this rational soul is the controlling factor and this is what Allah calls the aql and tells us to use it. If people capitulate to that then they surrender to the worst qualities of their self and they end up digging themselves down into the worst depths of despair. I mean worst case scenario is terrible but a lot of people kind of survive in this middle ground. There are some that just have completely surrendered and they end up crack, cocaine addicts or whatever just completely devastated by their appetites, alcoholics these types things addicted to all of these attempts at getting them in a state of distraction from questions of ultimate concern.


The second type of guidance is that which the servant is given this maddad or this help, this divine help in stages based on his knowledge or her knowledge and action, right actions and this is what it meant in the Quran when it says “those who took this guidance were increased in the guidance and He gave them this piety, this taqwa”. This comes from a hadith articulated very clearly in which the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “if you move towards God a hand span God moves towards you an arms length, and if you moved to God an arms length, God moves towards you like hands outspread and if you moved towards God walking, God moves towards you running” which is not meant to be understood anthropomorphically that God runs but the idea is that if you do a little bit all of this help comes to increase you. This is the second stage of guidance.


The third stage is noor al wilayah. This is the guidance of a person who has achieved a level of obedience and a state of submission with God that they are in an illuminated state and so their actions are actions that radiate the light of prophecy and this is why the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said that “pious scholars are the inheritors of Prophets” what they inherit is the light of nubuwah.


So these are these three levels and this is found in the Quran ”if you have piety God will give you true discrimination”. So you will be able to discriminate in your lives. So that is an example of this huda that emerges out of a recognition of these signs and then the appropriate response that the signs are given.


On page 55, they give an interesting analogy of the natural world and how Muslims and also Christians and Jews would have looked at it traditionally like this as well and probably the Eastern traditions but this idea of how the modern world is looked at. The way the ancients looked at the world was that it was indicating an implicate order, everything that you saw on the surface indicated something underneath so they saw it as indeed signs indicating something else. Just as you see a tree, if you understand anything about trees you realise the only reason that a tree exists is because it has this massive root structure underneath the ground that you cannot see. Now once that root structure becomes seen the tree dies.


You see the tree dies so the unseen world is really the source of the seen world. The unseen world cannot come into the seen because if it did the seen world has to disappear and so when you look at the seen world what you are really supposed to be recognising is what are the roots of the seen world. The roots of the seen world are the unseen world. That is the real meaning of the seen world and the thing about trees people do not realise this but the root structure is actually more important that the tree because what trees do is they keep the earth, actually hold down soil like mountains, the Quran says the mountains are like pegs and actually prevent the world from shaking and this is something that is known in modern geology so what you see of the mountain, what is more important is not the seen part of the mountain the fact that it is a weighted deep into the earth but you are only seeing the outward, you think that is amazing well you have not even seen the root. That is why the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said the tree that was the most like the believer is the palm tree because it did not have any roots. In other words it was not deeply planted in the material world and yet it is this extraordinary tree that does all this wonderful……while it is here it does all this wonderful things.


So the two of them say the modern world see what they say is if you went to a museum and saw a painting by Michaelangelo, the question that most people go in there will ask themselves “what is the painter trying to tell me? What is the meaning of this painting?” Or if you heard a poem you could say the same thing. What is the poet trying to tell me? He didn’t just make up this stuff. There is something he is trying to convey, a message well what the modern analyses is, is not meaning, what is the painting made of? It is made of canvas. What is the material? Well it is made out of fibres. What is that material? Well it is made of these molecules. What are the actual colours from? Well those are the light reflections and this one is a certain frequency and this why the yellow is showing up and the blue is a certain frequency and so they analyse the painting not for its meaning but just to explain what it is made out up of. That is the same way that they look at the modern world. They look out there and they want to just analyse everything but they never tell you what it means. They break it down, it is to reduce things to their components and then we feel like we have achieved an understanding of the thing. Well if you take a human being and take out their eyes, take off their ears, take off their ears, take off their hair, dissect them, open up their interior, examine their kidneys and liver and all these things do you understand what a human being is?


Has that given you the knowledge of what a human being is? Well it has given you a certain knowledge about something about human beings that they are composed of flesh and knowledge, that they have hair, liver, kidneys and the kidney does this and the liver does that. That is a certain type of knowledge but does that tell you about a human being that can think, that can speak, that can write poetry, that can paint pictures, that can play an instrument that can do all these extraordinary things, it does not tell you anything about that human being. Why does he need to do those things? Why do human beings even pursue such pursuits?


So that is the idea of trying to understand signs, it is to look beyond this superficial realm and then he gives this hadith of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam). Walking through a town with some companions and he met an old and decrepit woman from one of the tribes who was making wool into thread with a spinning wheel. He greeted her and started speaking to her. He asked her if she had faith in God and she replied that she did. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) asked her why. She said the spinning wheel does not turn unless there is a hand to turn it and the heavens cannot turn unless someone is turning them. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) looked at his companions and said you should have the religion of old women. That is faith and there is another story of Fakhr al Din ar Razi who was walking with some of his students and an old woman saw him and she was amazed at how all these students were fluttering around him and she said who is that? They student said “you don’t know who that is? He has a thousand proofs for the existence of God”. She laughed and said “If he did not have a thousand doubts for His non existence then he would not need a thousand proofs for His existence”. When Fakhr al Din ar Razi heard that he said “you should have the faith of old women”.


You know it is interesting because the whole….the ancients looked at all of the world and said this all indicates God and what the moderns have done what they have said is that we have invented God. God is an invention of man which is an amazing feat I mean that human beings created God in their own image instead of seeing that this whole thing was created to celebrate these attributes of God, it is seen as an illusion that needs to be given up.


Now the next section goes into the divine names. This is actually somewhat a difficult section in that if you look at Hinduism which has this concept of all of these deities. What they do they have Kali and Vishnu they have a deity that represents the creative force of this universe and then they have a deity that represents the destructive force in the universe. The reason for that is people have a difficult time holding opposites in their mind at the same time. So the idea that God is bringing to life and He is taking away life. That the same God is doing these two acts giving life and taking it away and that there is no type of contradiction in that. So the idea of the divine names is to understand all of these attributes of God as being and I do not want to use any analogies but if I was forced to it would be like seeing a diamond that has all these facets to it and whatever facet you happen to be looking at that is the attribute that you are looking at.


There are times when you witness the mercy of God, there are times when you witness the wrath of God and there are other times when you are witnessing the overpowering nature of God. There are other times when you are witnessing the fact that God is the One who abases people and He is also the One who dignifies people so God has all of these attributes and that is what the 99 names are. They are ways of understanding different facets of how the divine is working in the world. That is at the essence of this.


So he and she talks about that when we say God is Merciful that what we are saying is like la ilaha illal Allah, there is no God but the Merciful and also that there is no mercy but God’s mercy. There is none more merciful but the Merciful, so God’s mercy overshadows all mercy in the universe and the best way to understand any of these ideas that when we say there is no mercy but God’s mercy….in mathematics if you have any number over infinity that number is zero. So the idea is that anything in the world that resembles an attribute of God in any way is in reality null and void when it is compared to God and that is the meaning of “there is no thing like God” but then immediately after that “He is the hearing and seeing” so the verse gives you there is no thing comparable to God and then immediately after that it gives you two attributes that you can only know because you have them but if you compare your hearing to God’s hearing, it does not exist. If you compare your seeing to God’s seeing it does not exist.


This is the whole section that they try to explain about the idea of the transcendental nature of God and also the imminent nature of God that God is utterly beyond the creation and at the same time God is imminent in creation in other words we can see the works of God in the world but we cannot associate those works with God in reality because the world does not have that of substantial type of existence in relation to God to God’s existence so the being of God and Shaykh Muhammad talked about this last night, the being of our being in relation to the being of God’s being is that we are non existent in relation we exist in relation to the world. In relation to God we do not have substantial existence and that again is a difficult thing for people to grasp because we are not like the Hindus who say this is illusion, it has no existence whatsoever, Muslims do not say that. Muslims say the world has existence but the existence is contingent, it is not absolute. In other words it is contingent upon God’s existence, had God not existed, the world would not exist and as long as God sustains the world and this is the idea of God being Al Qayyum the Sustainer, Al Hayy Al Qayyum. As long as God sustains the world the world exists. The instant that God removes His glance of being onto the world, the world no longer exists.


Then they go into the mercy and the wrath and this is actually very important because the Quran and hadith clearly state that God’s mercy outstrips God’s wrath. The reason for that is mercy is an essential attribute of God whereas wrath is something that occurs as a result of the actions of God’s creation. It is something that is directly related to God’s creation whereas rahma is God’s reality. Again to use an analogy and the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) used this analogy he said he once saw a woman who was suckling her child and he said to his companions “do you think that this woman would throw her child into the fire?”. They all said “no absolutely not”. He said “God is more Compassionate and Merciful with His creatures than this woman with her child”. That is at the essence of God’s nature, is the rahma or the mercy.


What can happen with people, and the reason it is so important to keep mercy and wrath in balance is that if you remove wrath in a balance is that if you remove wrath which is what modern religion has done particularly in the West it has removed the idea of God’s wrath, people do not even believe in the idea of punishment into the next life anymore. Priests will not talk about it in a lot of parishes because they will lose their parishioners. I have actually been told that a Methodist priest, he was a bishop in the Methodist church and he told me that he can’t even talk about things and mention verses anymore because people will not come to church anymore and so God becomes like how we like God as opposed to us being as God would like us to be, we make God the way we want God. We do not reform ourselves to make ourselves like God would like us to be, we reform God so He conforms to our desires and whims. It is amazing what has happened to religion.


Then you have another problem you go to other side of the wrath, and this is the idea of people that want to eliminate everybody who does not agree with their religion because it becomes a hateful thing. You begin to see the wrath of God and you do not see anything else so that is another problem too. Both are one eyes, both are looking with one eye and you are given two eyes. You have to see the wrath and mercy. If you do not, you are in trouble and that is one of the things about Iblees is that Iblees could only see the material nature of Adam, he could not see the spiritual nature.


When in the Quran it says that God said to him why did you not bow down, he said “You created me from fire but You created him from clay. In other words I am a higher element, why should I bow down to him. What Iblees was missing was that the spirit had been blown into Adam but the nature of clay is that it is opaque you cannot see the spirit in the clay. If you have a clay container you cannot see what is in the container. You cannot tell whether it is full or empty like you have a clay jar, you cannot see it whereas if you have a glass jar you could see if there was something in it or not. So when he looked at the human being he could not see the spirit because the spirit was hidden in the material form.


So this idea of the transcendental nature of God and the imminent nature of God and distance you have to have a transcendent understanding of God but at the same time you have to have an imminent understanding because there is a personal relationship that you have but there is also an understanding that God is so beyond the human being. This is the most difficult balance in the Islamic understanding is to keep these two in a balance that one the one hand you cannot in anyway associate God with His creation but on the other hand God is known through His creation so it is keeping those two in balance, it is called fear and hope, mercy and wrath, beauty and majesty. There are many different ways that the scholars looked at it. That is why the attributes of God if you look at the 99 names you have what are called sifat al jamalia and sifat al jallalia. Dhul Jalaali wal Ikraam. He is Majestic and He is also Beneficent. He is also giving us and this is why He has those two attributes of Majesty and Beauty. If you miss one because you have been blinded by the other you are missing the whole picture and it becomes dangerous theologically and spiritually and in a lot of other ways.

One page 22, he gives a diagram of this idea of these concentric circles and then these lines moving out from the centre. Both of them are not enough, you need the two of them together, you cannot have them separately and that is why on that figure 3 it is a figurative representation. Tawheed and then knowing….Imam Ali said “He is near in His distance and He is far in His nearness”. That is a difficult concept of people to Hold but you have to understand it in that way and then another thing in the Quran, the Quran says “I punish whoever I please” but then it says “but My mercy has encompassed all things” and the point that they make from that is that the Quran never suggests that God’s wrath is toward all things. It is only towards specific things whereas the universal is mercy but that is permeating the universe is God’s mercy. Mercy pertains to the very nature of the real whereas wrath is a secondary attribute that rises up because of specific situations of certain creatures.


So Islam begins with the perception of difference: we are different from God and fear from Him. God is utterly other and created things are totally helpless because of their lack of any positive qualities but the purpose of Islamic teaching is not to leave people in wrath in distance from God but rather take them to mercy or nearness. So people are supposed to do something about their distance and if they do they will move toward nearness so this is drawing near. My servant continues to draw near to Me and then what happens when He finally loves him, He becomes the hand with which he grasps, the eyes with which he sees, the tongue with which he speaks, the ear with which he hears in other words it is total, he is in a state when he is only seeing the actions of God. He is not God but he is perceiving the actions of God in creation in such a profound and deep way that the world becomes a theatre of these divine manifestations.


It is not God, it is not other than God in that if you want to use an analogy. The sun radiates now the rays of the sun we can see them if you are in a certain spot, you can see the sun coming through, that is not the sun but it radiates from the sun and in the same way this creation is not Allah but it is radiating, it is emanating from Allah. It is not Allah but a creation of Allah therefore it is emanating from Allah so it is the ability to see the source behind the light of the world and that is why Allah says “Allah is the light of heavens and the earth”. In other words He is the illuminator of the havens and earth so it is the light of Allah that is illuminating the world and then you get into this idea here of light and darkness and they talk about the angels which are the creatures of light. Human beings are creatures of mud but have this light in them which is the light of intellect. It is the aql. They are not strong but there are traditions that talk about that God created the intellect from light. The aql was made from light. So this is the light that human beings has despite this material nature that there is the light that this human being has.


If you look under section 87 which is that we normally think of light as visible but in fact it is invisible, we can only see light when it is mixed with darkness which is very important. What that means is the creation in that it is other than God is darkness but in that it is radiating attributes of God it is light and this is the mixture of light and darkness in creation which is one of the most extraordinary things about creation that it is this mixture of light and darkness.


At this point I want to look at a verse, to me it is one of the most extraordinary verses in the Quran because it deals with something which would never occur, it is really hard to believe that this would just simply occur to someone in this way. It is a verse from Surah Furqan which means the discrimination. It says have you not considered how your Lord moves shade and had God wanted He would have made it still in one place but shade is moving constantly. If you watch throughout the day and that is one of the beauties of watching your prayer, measuring your prayer by the shadows. You see the movement of the shade. A lot of people do not even notice that, they do not even realise that their shadow is short at midday and as the day progresses it gets long. It begins long, becomes short and then begins to expand again.


Then he says “We made the sun a proof of shade”. Now this is really extraordinary because when I first read that, I said what does that mean? Shade comes from the sun. That is where shade comes from, the sun, so why does it say “We made the sun a proof for it. Then We begin to contrast this little by little. And He is the One who made for you night as a garment in other words you sleep in the night. The darkness of the night is like a garment that envelopes you. We made sleep as a type of hibernation, a time of renewal of recreation. Then We spread the light of the day out so We made the day this spreading of light”.


Now if you look at what Fakhr ad Din says about this. He says:


“Haven’t you considered? He said one of this is the sight of the eye and the other is the side of the heart. The eyes see but again that is a sign that the eye is perceiving and the heart is meant to interpret the sign so it is important to see that. Real seeing the Quran says “it is not the eyes that go blind but it is the hearts and breasts that go blind” so the real seeing is the sight of the heart.


Then “have you not looked at the shade, how God is moving this shade?”. Now he says this meaning of this ayah and there have been many attempts at understanding this ayah goes back to two meanings. One is that shade is a middle state between pure light and pure darkness. Then he says this is the best of states.


Pure darkness, the nature is averse to it, nobody likes pure darkness and pure light is so powerful that we would be overwhelmed by it and unable to stay in it.


You cannot look at the sun but here you can look at it for a moment and turn away and you will see black dots. But if you go outside of our atmosphere for one moment it would completely destroy your eyesight to even gland towards that direction.


So what he says is because it is the best of all states, paradise is described as being shade everywhere. This perfect state of shade. Then he says if you look at anything in the world you can only see it because of shade so the fact that we perceive the world, we only perceive it because it is an admixture of darkness and light. Had it been pure light we could not have perceived it and had it been pure darkness we would not have perceived therefore God put the sun as an indication of this state that the entire world is in. Had He not done that you would not have considered shade as a phenomenon because we are in shade right now. When you go outside you are in shade. Outside here you are in shade, even when the sun is shining directly on you, you are still in shade. It is an admixture of lightness and darkness because pure light would completely blind you, you would not be able to see anything. So the fact that the entire cosmos is an admixture of these lights and darknesses is a phenomenon that is extraordinary to reflect on that.


That is why as it begins to be taken from us, it goes slowly and so this movement is a way of understanding this blessing and he said this is one of the most hidden blessings of God, most people do not even contemplate the blessing of shade, the fact that they are in shade constantly even they are in the sun.


It is only that they see the shade that they actually can realise that so the Quran is actually telling is to reflect on the fact that the sun is a proof of shade, it is not the cause of shade.


So light is a metaphor in that we understand that darkness is the absence of light and therefore what is other than God is pure absence because God is light. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) was asked “did you see God?”. He said “He is light, how can I see God when He is light”. So that the metaphor in the world that we have for God is light. The light of God is not like the light of the world because ….but it is the same way the mercy of the mother is the way we know the mercy of God. The light of the sun is the way we understand the idea that God is light.


Chapter 7


And so the absence of light is darkness, it is nothing and that is why other than God is nothing. This is what the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “the truest thing that a poet ever said what the poet Labib said “everything other than God is unreal” and so what is unreal in the world is the light of God. That is the only thing that gives the world any substance at all and that is why the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “this world is cursed and everything in it is cursed except what reminds you of God and the remembrance of God”. So the world if it is not fulfilling its function which is to remind you of God then it becomes a curse for you. It is not benefiting you it is actually harming you to be in it because the whole purpose of the world is to remind you of God so if when you look out there you are seeing God in other words the light of God in the world which are these ayats, these signs, then you have responded to the world appropriately and you will be requited appropriately.


But if you do not see God and are not reminded of God in the world then you become an ingrate and that is why the verses here about light…are the blind and the seeing man equal or are the darknesses and light equal? And always darknesses when it is related to light, is in plural and light is in singular. “It is He who sends down upon this servant signs, clear expectations that He may bring you forth from darkness into light. Why is he who is dead and We gave him light and appointed for him a light to walk amongst people as one who is from darkness and comes not forth from them. It is he who performs his prayer over you and His angels that He may bring you forth from the darkness into light”.


So angelic luminosity is a light that is in the world which is the light of the angels and angels according to the Islamic tradition are creatures made of light. Now the difference between demons which are made of fire and demons are very interesting because according to the Islamic cosmology they are made of fire. If you look at fire its nature is chaotic. Fire is not like light. If you want a light beam even the sun or laser we can control light in that it follows very exact laws where fire is chaos theory. That is why in chaos theory they study smoke and light because fire by its nature is chaos, it is unpredictable you do not know what it is going to do and it can spread very easily. You can have a controlled fire but it can get out of hand whereas light is not like that, it does not do that.


So the angels are in a state of total obedience to Allah and then the other thing about fire is that it exists by consuming others. Fire exists by consuming wood. Demons exist by consuming men. This is what they thrive on, this is the hadith about the skinny devil and fat devil. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said there were two devils that met. One of them was about ready to die and the other one was looking really good. The fat one said to the skinny one “what is the matter with you?”. He said “I have a terrible assignment. Every time he eats he says in the name of God. He gets up in the morning and prays. He is also remembering God. I am not getting any nourishment. You see like fire burning wood he is dying. Then the other one says “I have a great assignment. He never remembers God. When he eats he never says in the name of God and I eat with him. Then when he goes to sleep he does not say in the name of God and I get a great nights rest” so the point there is the nature of demonic realm that is thrives. That is why consumer in old English means the devil. That is what it means. You can look it up in the old dictionary. Consumer means the devil because the devil consumes souls. Modern consumers are devils, the Quran says “profligate people are the brethren of the devious” so all this gratuitous consumption, all of this empty…that is what it is, consumption is a disease, I think I might have it.




Then he and she talks about spirits, the nature of the spirits and the jinn. The jinn are important in that they exist alongside human beings. They are created of fire, their father is Iblees. That is the dominant opinion like Adam is our father. Iblees is their father. Some of them are good, some of them are mischievous. They do not disbelieve in Allah. Their disobedience is different from the creatures of Bani Adam, the children of Adam, they do not disbelieve in Allah, they know that Allah exists, their disbelief is a disbelief of disobedience which for the children of Adam is not a disbelief but it is partly because they are in the unseen realm and they have a lot more information than we do so their reckoning is…they know too much in that way because Iblees knows a lot. Think about shade today.


Any questions?


What is thahir?


Thahir means apparent or outwardly manifest. In the Quran it says “He is the first with no beginning, the last with no end, the outwardly manifest and the outwardly concealed”.


So the meaning is He is apparent to those who can see. If you have this inner eye then you can see this apparency of God that is why for the Gnostics somebody that knows God to deny the existence of God it is like….I think it is the H G Wells story where the man goes into the valley and it is a valley filled with blind people. They say the world is just darkness, he said not it is incredible, there is a light and there are all these colours and there are flowers and look at the mountains and the sky and you people do not have any eyes and they say this man is insane. So they go and start feeling him and they say O that is why, he has got pressure in his brain because of these bulging….so they poke his eyes out. This is the idea for the Gnostic, he is like that man who can see in the midst of blind people that are denying sight because they cannot see and that is the way the Prophets are when they come into this world. Everything is perfectly clear to them and that is why the way they speak is with such intensity, I mean Prophets are intense. If you look at their messages, they are intense because it is so clear to them and they want other people to see what they are, they are healers because they can remove the cataract, they can remove that veiling that is on the eyes. They will not remove it, they will only remove what is necessary because you do not want to have a total unveiling, you cannot handle it, you will go insane and that is why some people end up seeing too much and then they go mad. There is all this religious psychosis, the world is filled with religious psychotics, people that have seen too much. That is why it is dangerous, that is why Islam is a middle way, you do not want to go to this extreme of a religious psychoses.


There are two possibilities to blessings. One of them is for people that show gratitude and they are increased in their blessings and the other are people that are ingrate and they are increased in what the Quran calls istidraj. Istidraj is according to the Quran that “I continue to give them blessings despite their disobedience and I take them by degrees and my strategy or my plan is vast” The same is true when calamities befall. Calamities befall for different reasons. There are different possibilities, with Prophets when calamities befall, there are two reasons, one is called tasliyah which is that other people that follow them the fact that their Prophets have been through so much, they are willing to endure much more. If the Prophets never endured any hardship then the people that follow them when they endure hardship they will lose hope. They will think I am so terrible, I am so horrible, this is why God is doing it to me and so they will go into a wrath only seeing wrath whereas when the Prophets suffer immensely they suffer for us, it is not for them, they do not need it, so their suffering is actually for the people that believe in them in order for them to be able to get through the world in one piece so the Prophet lost all of his children, he buried all of them except Fatimah so if you have 5 children and you lose one and you remember “my God, my Prophet buried 6 of his 7 children” I mean that certainly makes it easier for you to bear that hardship and then you also do not fall into the trap of saying God hates me, that is why He took away my child because we know that God loved the Prophet Muhammad and yet He took all 6 of his 7 children in his lifetime.


So it makes you bear the hardships of this world and also it is what is called taqfir dunboob when hardships befall people that believe in God it is a way of purifying previous wrongs but you can also remove them by taubah. That is why it is good to make taubah. Somebody said when grace meets karma, you don’t want to just have all this stuff of the past that you have to deal with, it is better to try and atone for that and give sadaqah, give charity and things to remove those wrongs but it can remove wrongs and then also you get raised in degrees because one of the things about calamities is you always come out enriched by them, it is always hard to see that at the beginning. But there is never a calamity that happens in your life that when it is over you have a whole different perspective on the world that had you not have had that perspective on the world.


There are people that walk though life sleepwalking never appreciating anything they have and then they lose everything and the first time in their entire life they feel grateful for what they had. So the fact that they lost it all if that is what it took to put them into a state of realising that they were in blessings, it is a blessing. There are many possibilities there when things happen and it is always best to see the good in it because the Prophet in Sahih Muslim said “how wonderous is the affair of the one who believes in God because the affair of that one is all good, if God gives him calamities he is patient and is rewarded for his patience and If He gives him blessings he is grateful and is reminded for his gratitude” so it is all good.


This is an amazing book, there is a lot in there. It is a good book, I mean these people have thought a lot about it. They are drawing from a tradition I mean a lot of the insights in this book are from our tradition. What they are doing is they are pulling it out and they are presenting it to us in a very palatable way.


Once you get into the old books this is what they talk about, they are just in another world you know and now you get these modern books you know “Islam made simple”. What a tragedy because it is deep, you just have to watch out for what they call the bends, you know the bends when you deep sea diving. You have to come up slow because you will get these bend things. That is when you have to go with the Islamic tradition when you go deep sea diving you have to resurface slowly, you need to go into the decompression chamber.


We arrived to the section on the qadr. The qadr is probably the most difficult concepts not just in Islam but in any religious tradition because the qadr is dealing with the idea of pre-determination and if you look at the word pre-determine. Determine is to put limits on something de-teriminus. Terminate is to end. De is from ending our putting endings or limits on something do the idea of pre-determining means that something, the limits were already set before the thing actually came about and so there is a misconception in the minds of not just non Muslims but