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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rial;color:black'>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 Muslims as well about the nature of the qadr, that the idea that things are pre-determined. One of the thoughts that the authors bring out which is very important is that if that was the case then the Quran would actually not make any sense because the Quran is commanding you to do things and if you have the ability to do anything and I command you to do something then my command is meaningless so it would then be saying the Quran is meaningless and that is impossible for a revelation to be meaningless. Everything in a revelation is meaningful so the idea that divine decree or the qadr is pre-determination is a dangerous one.


One the other hand you have to look at hadiths that indicate certain things about the world that are also important to understand and this is where you get into what some religious scholars in the West have called an antinomy which is not really a paradox but ….a paradox is when you have two things that are in a sense mutually exclusive but they are both apparently real and the idea of human beings are free and predetermined at the same time seems like a paradox. An antinomy on the other hand is that something is true at one level but at a higher level, a higher truth emerges. And so there is an idea that there can be a resolution of what is apparently paradoxical by moving to a higher level of understanding.


So the idea that human beings…I think a good analogy of it in the modern world is the idea of light being both a wave and a photon because in modern physics they have this idea that the quanta are particles of light and there is an idea that on the one hand it behaves like a wave and they can watch its movement and on the other hand it appears to have the qualities of quanta or intermittent particles of light as opposed to being something that is unified. So that is I think is an interesting analogy for the understanding of free will and determination.


There is no doubt that human beings certain things are determined with human beings, Your parents were determined for you. You did not choose your parents and now we have no recorded history of anyone replacing their biological parents. In other words we do not have any testimony or proof that anybody has been able to become somebody else so that certainty was not determined.


The country that you were born in, the time in which you find yourself, all of these circumstances that we found ourselves in whether we were from rich families, whether we were from poor families also intellectual abilities and gifts, artistical qualities and gifts, there are many many qualities, athletic abilities.


There are people that are more lithe than other people, there are people that are more balanced, that are more flexible, that are quicker. When you were in school, there were those people that in the math classes that just would get the answers seemingly effortlessly and other people would grapple with it. There are people that word problems were as clear as instructions on a coke machine or something like that where they would just see very clearly what type of problem it was and how to arrive at an answer and then there are other people that would not see it for the life of them. They would struggle, and struggle and struggle and still it would not get through so all of those type of things that we find in the world, the discrepancies are very interesting and Islam has a very interesting reason in why it presents that.


The first thing just to look at this idea of qadr. If we look at the root word it comes from qaddara. It has the idea of power. Quddura – means power. The qadr is the one who is capable of doing something. They have the capacity to do something. It is one of the names of Allah.


There is a book by Crosby which is about Western dominance and how the Western world became dominance. His thesis is that they mastered the art of measuring everything and so one of the things about the ability to measure something is that if you can measure it you have a certain type of power over that thing. That is why if somebody is able to break down a machine, take it apart and understand all its constituents and components are they able to put it together, they have a power over it that somebody that does not know how to do that does not have.


And so the idea that Allah has determined everything is the idea that Allah has power over everything because He created it and determined it in that way so in human beings we are determined in our bodies in other words if you are 5”10” or 5”, there was a point at which your cells stopped growing, it was a point that your skeletal structure stopped, now that point that did not occur for someone who is taller than you it went up so there is a determination in the size of people as well. There is a determination in the size of the world that we are in. The universe itself has limits. The Quran says “if you were able to penetrate the limits of the universe then do it”. The universe itself has limits. The One who put limits on something has power over it because He was able to put those limits and that is why a King is powerful because he is able to constrain his populous, his kingdom. If he loses that capacity he loses his power therefore he is not a real King and that is the difference between a government that has power and a government that does not. The government that has power has the ability to suppress and squelch resistance inside that government so the idea of Allah being all powerful is that He has absolute power in His creation.


Now in the Quran one of the things that Allah says they did not measure God which is very interesting because it gives the idea that human beings are obsessed with measuring and that is what geometry came out of an attempt to measure and in fact we have Greeks and Egyptians over 2500 years ago that were already measuring the circumference of the earth and coming within 500 miles of doing that and they did that using some very simple geometrical calculations with shadows and measuring the pyramids at different times, looking at the distance between Alexandria and what is now Cairo and the basically a simple calculation. They basically measure the earth being close to 25,000 miles in its circumference so humans have been interested in measuring.


Now if you look in the enlightenment period they began to measure air, gas, they began to measure Boyles Law all these things came out of a desire to measure. The more they come to understand the measurements of things the more power they had over them so if you look at the jet flight. A jet flight, they have to understand what liquid fuel. This is the basis of engineering that you need to measure fully everything so humans have this obsession with wanting to measure and one of things with the signs of the end of time, the Quran says “that the humans would actually think they are completely powerful in relation to creation”. They have qadara over it. This is part of the idea that really knowing everything that is there so this idea that we can….I mean now they have sonar waves that they beam into the earth from space and when sonar waves come back they are like the sonogram that they do in a foetus. They can actually tell where oil is, where gold is and the HARP stuff what they are doing in Alaska is similar to that, measuring everything so Allah puts the interesting ayah in there, they have not measured God, that this is the one thing. They want to measure the universe I mean they can actually extrapolate out to try to understand how big the universe is. I mean this is one of their goals so the idea is yes you can measure everything. God has given you this qudra and that is part of a divine attribute that manifests in the human being, it is the human beings have this extraordinary ability to reflect these qualities of God and one of them is knowing the limits of everything but God has no limits and therefore God cannot be measured.


So the Quran uses the qadr in ten verses and from this merges a doctrine in Islam of the belief in the qadr although it is in the hadith. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said the six objects of faith in the hadith of Jibril, one of them is we believe in the divine decree or the measuring out its good and its bad or its good and its evil and we are going to talk about that. He and she go into that in a lot of detail and it is important.


There is khayr and sharh and it is sweet and bitter. Life is sweet and bitter and it is important I think the riwayah that mentions sweet and bitter because there is a way to look at khayr and sharh, the believer, a believer sees it as bitter that there are things in life that are bitter but they are not things for him and her that are evil and sharh, because the believer everything that happens to somebody who believes in God and believes that God is ultimately the One who is creating these circumstances that we find ourselves in and these tribulations then we begin to see it as a test as something we need to bear. That has to do with the idea of swallowing a bitter pill I mean we say that in colloquial English “I had to swallow a bitter pill” or “it has a bad taste”. Medicines are often bitter in Chinese, the heart herbs, the herbs that are good for the heart one of the qualities in Chinese medicine is that they are always bitter which is very interesting.


The next thing in this section that he brings out about is the idea of the servant, an abd. The word abd has many meanings. At one level it means a creative in other words it is something that is subservient to God by its very nature so if you make something it is automatically in a subordinate position by the fact that you have made it. It is subordinated to you and it cannot free itself from that condition so the idea of an abd is the verse in the Quran 19:93 everything in the heavens and earth comes to Allah Ar Rahman as an abd. It comes as a servant and so that is the general sense that everybody is an abd of Allah. Now there are conscious servants that are aware of their uboodiyah and there are servants that are not aware of this servanthood to Allah. This is the difference so the servant in its narrow sense is someone who consciously sees God by following a Prophet and in a still narrower sense it is a human being that serves God perfectly with full awareness and total freedom of choice.


So this is the idea of the servant in its most narrow sense is the abd in fact and is somebody who freely gives up his state to his Lord and this is the gift that Muslims believe that God gave His creation because in the Quran in Tawbah the verses “that God has purchased from the believers their wealth and their lives and against that purchase is paradise”. If God owns you in the first place then how did you engage yourself in a transaction? How do you sell what is not yours? This is the gift, it is the gift of somebody who if you come into a shop and he gives you something and then buys it back from you because he knows you are in need so it is the idea of the fadl, it is a bounty from Allah that He on the one hand already possesses you but on the other hand has engaged you in a commercial transaction in which you become a partner in other words you become a free agent and this is what the idea of taqrim, human beings have been honoured in that way because everything else in creation can only be what it is. If you look out at creation, there is nothing that can be other than what it is and this is something very interesting. A tree can only be a tree, it cannot be anything else, the dog can only be a dog, the pig, the horse, the donkey everything is determined in its attributes and its qualities except the human being. The human being can actually take on qualities that are strange to its nature. You have people that will actually bark like dogs. You have people that behave like animals or worse than animals and the Quran indicates that they are actually worse than animals because animals do not do things that harm them with knowledge.


An animal would never purposely harm itself, it will only do what it thinks is beneficial for itself so if an animal sees fire, it flees from fire whereas a human being will actually do things knowingly that harm itself and this is where the rational soul is overwhelmed by the irascible the concupiscent soul, those lower energies in the self.


One of the things that this idea in the Quran that God measures out carefully what He gives to His creatures and part of the reason for that is Allah did not do that they would overstep greatly, they would transgress. Now you can already see that there is transgression out there but if everybody got what they wanted then what would it be like? In other words the fact that not everybody gets what they want, there are only certain people that have enough power to sow corruption but if everybody had that power then what type of world would it be and so the point that there is a balance of power and this is the idea in the Quran that Allah says “had not Allah used some people to constrain other people” the entire world would be filled with corruption so there is a balance of power in the world. There is not one dictator that can simply do whatever he wants because if one emerges here, somebody else emerges over where to counterbalance them.


One of the major problems that have emerged in our lifetimes is the fact that America does not have any counterbalance, most of our lifetimes and certainly for the older people in the here during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and even the 80’s the Russians acted as a counterbalance to the Americans so the Americans could not do everything that they wanted because they only had to take into consideration what is going to be the reaction of Russia and vice versa and whereas now that has been removed that there becomes this vacuum and this is a very unusual scenario. It is not historical precedence, the Romans at one time were probably similar in a large portion of the world but the Romans did not control Africa or at least not most of it. They controlled North Africa, they certainly did not control Asia nor did they control India.


When Alexander the Great who was in Macedonia when he went to India, he wanted to conquer India, he got sick, all his troops got sick, they had to leave. That is another thing Horatious mentions that nobody has ever moved towards the Arabian peninsula except they were stopped so there have been people…there have been people…in fact Alexander the Great died of a fever in Egypt, he was on his way to invade Arabia.


Arabia was never intended in the ancient period, armies were always stopped from invading it. Abraha was the Ethiopian who lived in Yemen, when he set his sights on the Mecca, his army was destroyed so there has always been these constraints in the world and the thing about it is many of them you are not even aware of. There are times when a country wants to do something and then something really tragic happens that prevents them from doing it because they become pre-occupied, their economy collapses or they have major natural disasters, their economy collapses or they have major natural disasters, they have this or they have that. So there are things in the world that you are not even aware of that you cannot comprehend because we as human beings we are limited in our perspectives.


When we look at the world, what has to be understood is that there is a balance in the world that is not always discernable, not that it is not there because of short-sightedness and one of the things that Imam Raghab says is that all things are “everything is equal and they are not different in that everything was created with a wisdom” so at the essence of every thing, the rock is equal to the human that the rock was created for a purpose just as the human was created for a purpose so that at the level when you look at the world everything that is in the world is in the world for a reason and this is what he meant when Allah says  you will not see disparity in the creation of the Merciful in other words we look at the creation you will not see that one thing is different from another and then Allah says keep looking if you think there is keep looking and your eye will come back to you exhausted and fatigued in trying to find something that has no purpose in creation, everything has purpose, the least atom has purpose.


Then it says that humans are different in that everything that is existent is specific to a benefit and if you look nothing has more difference in all of this but human beings and Allah says they were created in stages. We raised some humans over others in other words that this is according to the Quran from God that there are these differences in the creation.


Look at how we have preferred some over others in the world, you are told in the Quran to look in the world and see how some have been preferred over others in the world and then immediately after that and in the next world are even greater differences and more preference. So do not become deluded by things in other words these are infinite, limited. A person might have wealth, fame, have beauty, have lineage, have all these things for 50, 60 70 years and then it is over but the next world is infinite and therefore you cannot compare the two in that way. Had God wanted He could made you one ummah, one people all the same but He desired to try you in what He has given you. In other words, the differences “had your Lord wanted, He could have made you one people and He is the One who made you replace others in the earth” just as we are here know there were people before us. There were people in Hereward and those people mostly were Hispanic people who worked in the fields here, before them there were Indians here, they were native Californians. They were here, they were living here. They had a whole cosmology, they had religious festivals on Mount Diablo and they have gone now and now we here and replacing them and then it says “We raised some of you over others in order to test you to try you in what He has given you” and then also “Had God wanted He would have made you one people and look you continue to be different” which means you are different but also you differ except those who specific mercy has been given them.


After that it says “for that reason He created them” in other words to differ and to be sharh mercy so that is part of the intention of the creation. That in the earth, you see all of these different types of earth out there that are different. Earth are different, soil is different. There is rich soil, there is poor soil, there is soil that if you plant nothing grows, there is salt marshes, nothing will grow there or only certain specific vegetation. There are areas where fruit trees flourish, there are other areas where they cannot grow because of air.


One of the meanings of Tur (Surah Zaytoun) is a mountain that trees grow on because there are mountains that no trees grown on. It gets too high and it cannot sustain vegetable life. So even in creation there is all this diversity and that is going to have an effect on people living there and then he says these are signs and we go back to the idea a few weeks ago talking about signs that human beings are here to perceive signs. These are signs for people who have intellect that can actually reflect that can actually think and then he says wisdom necessitates all of this because the human being cannot sustain himself alone and therefore had a human being been forced to sustain everything that he needed alone, most human beings would not survive for very long and so because human beings need other human beings there needs to be this tafawit. Had everybody been given wealth then how would some people serve other people? If all of us had equal wealth how would some people serve other people?


There is another important point here which is had God not created with free will these human beings to feel impoverished then who would need God? If everybody felt independent they would feel no need and this is what the Quran says, human beings become aggressive and oppressive and they transgress when they deem themselves independent of God and so the state of impoverishment which the human being whether his is wealthy materially or impoverished materially is the same. Every human being is in reality impoverished before God, is in need of God for that sustenance and this is why animals have been subjugated to human beings. They are subordinated, human beings benefit from animals. We eat, we have leather products, we have all these things.


Everything if you look around here, a lot of the stuff that is coming from animals and we do not even think about it, all these carpets you are on they are Afghani wool carpets. They are coming from animals. We benefited from those animals. If there was a human being they are not going to let you shave their hair so you can make a carpet with it or something like that but what can the animal do? It is subjugated to you.


Now the same is true for most people you cannot ask your neighbour to take out your garbage for you right, really you cannot do that. So who is going to take the garbage because somebody has to do that. That is a function because human beings create garbage and it would be very difficult for people to have to get rid of their own garbage.


There are people that Allah has subjugated to other people. Now the beauty of the Arabic language is the word in the Quran that is used for this suqriah and siqriyah, uses the same word. The word for using and the word for exploiting, the difference between them is a vowel, it is literally a kasrah and a dhammah.


So what happens is you can start having contempt for other people because you are in this position where you can subordinate others to you and this is the danger. Human beings always become contemptuous of other people and that is a disease and that is why the Quran warns about that, that it is God who did this. It is not you and what then is supposed to happen is if you are a servant of God you begin to see it as a bounty that God has given you not for any specific reason but that He gives to whom He pleases.


Just as He gave you He can take it away and He can give that person what He has given you and then in the Quran Allah says that their affairs between them were all different and every group was happy with what they were doing. Now one of the things about the modern world which is different because it is important to note this in fact America is the unique place where the idea of place in society was removed. In other words you had this, in the traditional Muslim world people had places in society and the only thing that could get you out of that was knowledge. Even wealth was very difficult to break into, it is still like that in most Muslim counties, it is still like that in this country. It is very difficult if you do not have capital to make any money then it is very difficult. Very clever people can do it and there are ways to do that and those people are usually people that you know people are interested in them because how did they do it? So a person who has nothing and ends up becoming wealthy, it is usually again some type of knowledge, it is some type of creativity they find something nobody else has done before, they find some niche or something like that and then there is crafty people that learn how to do things dishonestly and they can also do that organise crime or disorganise crime or however it happens. ENRON was organised crime, it was organised at a very high level.


So this is a very nice poem by an American poet. It is called the fear of God:


If you should rise from nowhere upto somewhere

From being no one upto someone

Be sure to keep to repeating to yourself

You owe it to an arbitrary God


He means by arbitrary and arbitrary it is somebody that does things according to their own discretion, nothing is imposed upon them by the outside to do it, that is what the Quran emphasizes that “He gives to whom He pleases”. That is an arbitrary decision from God. An arbiter in English is somebody who has the authority to dictate a judgment.


You owe it to an arbitrary God whose mercy to you rather

than to others won’t bear too critical examination


If you really start looking at yourself you start seeing that you do not really deserve this more than this person so you begin to analyse that, you see that.


Stay unassuming if for lack of licence to near the uniform of

who you are you should be tempted to make up for it

in an insubordinating look or tone, beware of coming too much to the surface and using for apparel what was mean to be the curtain of the inmost soul


In other words if you start realizing and this is the sense of inferiority that you do not really deserve to be… do not have a right to what you have. That can make you feel inferior and so you make up for that by looking at people with a subordinating look, in other words you place them in a class lower than yourselves so if for lack of license to wear the uniform of who you are you should be tempted to make up for in an insubordinating look or tone, because that reality is an inward reality, that is what he is saying it is not outward because if you have been given all these gifts and you are just an arrogant monster with the gifts, they have not benefited you so anything that you have been given you have to see it as a bounty of God. That is a beautiful expression of what this is about of recognising that these differences that we see in the creation are differences that God has placed and if He has placed you in a position over others, it is not because of some inherent betterness, it is because that is the nature of the world that you are in and then it becomes a responsibility. That is why the highest quality of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) is his servitude to Allah and His creation because He was a servant before anything. If you look at his entire life was in service to others even before He was given the revelation, he was a trustworthy merchant in the service of another and in the service of a woman which for many Arabs would have been seen as humiliating whereas the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) did not have that same view of the world that a lot of people have, he did not see things the way other people saw it that if something is honourable, it is honourable and it does not matter what it might appear to others.


One of the things that is brought out which is really important is that it may happen that you will hate a thing that is good for you and it may happen that you love a thing and it is evil for you and God knows and you do not know. God knows and you do not know. If you are given something someone else was given it might destroy you so you want something people want to win the lottery, there are all these people that have won the lottery and it has ruined their lives completely destroyed their lives, they ended up losing all their friends, they got divorced and this is the reality of the world. You do not know what is good for you and what is not good for you and that is why you do not ask for specific things in Islam, the sunnah is not to ask for specific things because you do not know if it is good for you or not and Talibah is the great example of that, the man who came to the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and said “make prayer that God gives me wealth” and he said no. He kept coming back to him “Ya Rasulullah please make dua that I get some wealth and I promise I will use it for good and this and that”. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) would not do it, it is called ilhah, the man did not get the message and the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) out of his generosity, will not turn away somebody who questions him or asks for something. So he made a dua and this man who always used to be in the front of the prayer line he suddenly started getting all this wealth, animal, livestock and he would get further and further away from the mosque as he would have to go out and graze his animals, he would end up not praying in the community and when the time came for zakah and he said “this is like jizyah”. So it actually had a terrible effect on him and that is what the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) knew but he became a lesson for others. I mean that is even why I am mentioning him today as a lesson, he became a lesson for the rest of the believers so you do not know what is good for you.


Now one of the things is that good comes to us through the qadr, one of the things that is measured out is the degree of freedom that Allah created everything and guided it to its purpose and because the human being was created by Allah, the human being has a purpose and he and she was guided to that purpose which is servitude and servitude means that one knows that one is in a subordinate position with one’s Creator and not with anybody else and therefore what happens is you begin to look at things differently. This does not mean that you do not recognise hierarchy in the creation but you do not have this value statement on the hierarchy that the people of the outward have. In other words, if you look at creation you do not know if the street sweeper is closer to God than the physician. The physician might be more beneficial in worldly terms, the street sweeper might be more beneficial in worldly terms, the street sweeper might be closer to God in piety and in awareness of God and have answered prayers and actually be more beneficial without even knowing.


The inward eye is different than the outward eye. When you look with the inward eye, it has a different vision than the outward eye has but the inward eye is in most people, it is veiled. It is like when children are born they cannot see, they can only see very very closely, they cannot see anything and some of them have this gunk in their eyes that prevents them from seeing so part of growing up is being able to open your eyes and also sleepers do not see because their eyes are close when they sleep.


We have different awakenings. There are three basic human awakenings. You have the bestial awakening which is the awakening of the senses and this obviously begins with touch, this is why children put things in their mouths. They want to experience everything in their senses and that culminates in intimacy between husband and wife, I mean that is the height of that culmination of the sensual awakening.


You also have the emotional awakening and this is the feelings that one has of love and hate and these type things so that is a type of awakening that you begin to awaken to feelings that you have and why you have them and why he makes you angry or she makes you angry or why you love this person and why love that person.


Then there is an intellectual awakening that people have and many people unfortunately do not have that in school and things like that. The school actually do the opposite because the teachers are often incompetent and do not respect the awareness and understanding of the students that they have, that they sometimes end up making people actually hate learning which is a real crime. I once met a guy in Marilyn who was a bricklayer. He said he had never really thought about anything. He was interested in sports. A brick fell on his head, they were building a house, it fell on his head and he ended up, he was in the hospital for a long time and somebody gave him a book “how to read a book” and he had never read books before and what he told me was it is in the first or second chapter, the chapter begins with you have a mind, he said it was the first time he even considered that and what happened from this point because no one ever told him that, he was always told that he was stupid and he had been told that in school, he was a stupid person and he ended up becoming a bricklayer, it does not mean that bricklayers are stupid but it was a job of labour but he had this intellectual awakening. He began to read and got interested in literature, he got interested in history and actually his wife because his wife married someone who did not have that and so they actually began to grow apart because she was not growing with him, she was not having the same awakening.


Now the final awakening, the fourth awakening, the great awakening is the spiritual awakening and many many people never wake up to this or it is too late like Firoun. It happened as he was being drowned, his spiritual awakening. So the idea of realizing at a certain point that just as you realised you are a sensual being though the bestial awakening you realise you are an emotional being and at a certain point you can realise that you are an intellectual being, that you have an intellect.


Every human being has an intellect. People that are called average in this culture or even below average have immense intellectual capacity but it has not been tapped, it has not seen exploited. So human beings have immense…people say “I have a terrible memory” you have an immense memory. If you start thinking about all the things that you remember, where your bank is, what it is called, what type of dishwashing soap you buy, I mean you have a massive amount of data stored there. It is phenomenal. That is part of the problem, you are memorizing the wrong things so the spiritual awakening is something that will often occur with some trauma, it is very common for people, people have a heart attack, people will have a sickness, people will lose a parent, people will lose a child and suddenly these questions come into focus, they had not been in there before and that is the greatest awakening because ultimately we are spiritual beings you know the bestial that goes, the emotional one goes, the intellectual one according to the Muslims everything that you learn you lose when you die except what you learned that was beneficial for your next life ultimately even the intellectual, the true intellectual awakening is a spiritual awakening as well.


So the baseera is that inward sight. It is the ability to perceive something with the inward eye and one of the things about the world is that when you look at the world and this is where the good and evil are very interesting, when you look at the world most people look at the world in terms of good and evil by what they think is good and evil in other words when I look out at the world this is good, why? Because I like it and that is evil, why? Because I do not like it and so things that I do not like happening are evil and things that I like happening are good. This is the criteria of the human being.


Now one of the things about the Arabs is they say in a proverb “the calamities of one people are the benefits of another people” so one people’s good is another people’s evil. So for instance if you look at this country the fact that you can go to the store and but really cheap clothes, that might be something that is good that you like about this country but if you really understand the reasons why those clothes are cheap it is because of suffering that is going on in South America or in Indonesia where people have to work in sweatshops that make those cheap shirts that end up in mass produced malls in America where these people go in and they buy the thing because somebody was working for $1.50 an hour and in some places they have to use these children because their hands are small, they do not want big people because they are cheaper. So what is good and what is evil and that is a really difficult question.


Now if you look at the Islamic definition, khayr and sharh do not really correlate to good and evil, they are really not good translations for khayr and sharh because of this idea “maybe you hate a thing and think it is evil and it is good” and therefore to determine it with any type of moral certainty is very very difficult thing to do. Now obviously the shariah or the scared law of Islam gives the criteria for determining. Killing is bad. Is it always bad? No. It is not always bad. Sometimes it is a benefit. If somebody is about to kill you unjustly, you have a right to defend yourself and if you kill them you did something that was sanctioned by scared law. On the other hand the other person who was doing it was evil and if the other got his way it was khayr. Do you see that? Same act but two different. Now the person who was killed maybe that causes a complete spiritual transformation in several people who knew that person or maybe some law comes into being because of that person’s death that changes and has an effect on the whole society so then what was evil as a singular act actually produces much good again, this is something, the whole point of the Quran is you do not know and then there is a really interesting…I think this is so fascinating the way that this was articulated which is from the …… and apology if people who know this story which is from Socrates, he was condemned to death for blasphemy because they said that he did not believe in the official gods of the state and also for corrupting the youth and he says in there the real reason he was condemned was that he said that “I spent all my time going about trying to persuade, young and old, to make first your chief concern not for your bodies nor for your possessions but for the highest welfare of your soul’s proclaiming as I go. Wealth does not bring goodness but goodness does bring wealth and every other blessing both to the individual and to the state now if I corrupt the young by this message, the message would seem to be harmful but if anyone says my message is different from this he is talking nonsense”. So his corrupting of youth was that he was making them lose their materialism and parents always get upset when their children became less materialistic because they start worrying about who is going to take care of me when I get old if he does not make any money? So they have this idea of no you have to do this, go out and make a lot of money so anybody that will change that gameplan becomes a corrupter of youth so that is the real reason.


The other reason he said is “because somebody went to the oracle and asked who was the wisest person in Greece?” They said “Socrates” and he said “that cannot be right”. So he went around to disprove it, he went to all these wise people he ended up finding out that they were all really ignorant and so that is why they condemned him to death. He said “you guys just don’t like me because I go around talking in public examining your so-called wise people and exposing their ignorance in front of everybody so it has made them mad so they want me dead”. I just want to set that for people who have not read this just to know, what interest me here is that he said that he had what was called a damon and it was a voice that he heard that would tell him, he said he never wanted to do anything bad but that voice would stop him even if he wanted to do something wrong. What he said is that people think death is bad, he just says to them it is not a lack of arguments that has caused my condemnation but a lack of infantry and impudence and the fact that I refuse to address you in a way that would give you most pleasure. You would all like to hear me weep and wail and doing and saying all sorts of things which I regard as unworthy of myself that you are used to hearing from other people but I did not think then that I ought to stoop to servility because I was in danger and I do not regret now the way in which I pleased my case. I would much rather die as a result of this defence than lie as a result of another resort. In a court of law just as in warfare neither I or any other sought to use his wits to escape death by any means in battle it is often obvious that you could escape being killed by giving up your arms and training yourself on the mercy of your pursuers and in every kind of danger there are plenty of devices for avoiding death. If you are unscrupulous enough to stick at nothing but I suggest gentleman that the difficulty is not as much to escape from doing wrong which is far more fleet of foot. That is what really takes doing.


And so he says I will tell you in killing a good man I want to tell you my executioners that as soon as I am dead then vengeance shall upon with a punishment far more painful than your killing of me. You have brought about my death in belief that though it you may be delivered from submitting your conduct to criticism but I say that the result will be just the opposite. Not only will you be condemned historically by people that come after you are going to get punished in this world and all these men they were all just killed when the Spartans came in, they just massacred the whole lot of them. It is very interesting. He said “I feel moved to prophecy” that is what he said.


I mean if he was an Indo-European Prophet, I do not know, Allahu Alim but he is a very interesting character in any case. But he says “if you expect to stop denunciation of your wrong way of life by putting people too death there is something amiss with your reasoning. This way of escape is neither possible nor credible, the best and easiest way is not to stop the mouths of others but to make yourself as good men as you can in other words do not wipe out your critics, listen to their criticisms and take them seriously and rectify yourself so that they don’t….but again this is an interesting dialogue here but what he says is I will tell you, he is now telling him because they have now condemned him to death, they said you choose what you think would be an appropriate punishment, he said “well since I am doing social welfare here by showing you all your ignorant and telling you not to engage in materialism. I think you should provide me with free meals for the rest of my life. That is his punishment so he said now you are going to hell.


They condemned him to death but he said “I will tell you I suspect that this thing that has happened to me is a blessing and we are quite mistaken in supposing death to be an evil see because that is all people want to do, they want to live and what he is saying is “look you think it is an evil that is just your perspective I have good grounds for thinking this because my accustomed sign could not have failed to oppose me if what I have been doing had not been sure to bring some good result” because it never failed him in his life. This damon, what he called a damon, it was a voice that he used to hear. We should reflect that there is much reason to hope for a good result on other grounds as well. Death is one of two things either annihilation and dead have no consciousness of anything or as we are told it is really a change a migration of the soul from this place to another. So if it is nothing then he said it us like a sleep and if it is something then he says if on arrival in the other world beyond the reach of our so called justice, this phoney justice of this world, one will find the true judge who presides in that court in other words you are going to get real justice in the next world and if you are a good man why do you have anything to fear? And I am willing to die ten times over if this account of true. In fact I am particularly interested in experiencing those on the other side like Palamites and Ajax son of Telemon. I would actually like to compare my fortunes with theirs because they all got unfair trials as well.


Then he ends it by saying I bear no grudge for my own part against those who condemned me and accused me although it was not this kind of intention that they did so but because they thought they were hurting me so I forgive you all because I don’t think you are hurting me, I think you are doing me a favour. You are making me a martyr. So here is what he says “Now it is the time that we are going I to die and you to live but which of us has the happier prospect is unknown to anyone but God so you see you think you are getting rid of me, an evil, and you are doing your society a good but as far as I am concerned what you are doing is the evil and you will be recompensed for it. As for me all I have done is good in my life, I have been warning you, I have been trying to tell you not to have lives of profligacy and that I why I am not afraid of death”. So that is another example of this perspective and he called it compounded ignorance to see that death is an evil because he said you do not even know what is on the other side. So your assumption that it is evil, it is just your own ignorance.


If like me because in another dialogue in Gorgious he says that he believes there is a hell and paradise and that everybody is judged by a just judge, he says they are stripped naked and they are going before this court, they will not be able to fool anybody with fancy clothes or articulate arguments and he tells this one guy “maybe you can box my ears off in this world but in the next world you are going to get your ears boxed off”. He says “you probably think it is a myth but I do not think it is. I believe it to be true” and he said “the good will go to the Isle of the blessed” that is what he called it, the Isle of the blessed. That is the idea of you do not know what you think is good and what you think is evil.


Now another really interesting thing that if you look at good and evil in the Quran is about loss and gain and that is the point he is making. You think you are gaining something by getting rid of me, I say you are losing something. You think I am losing something by depriving me of life I say I am gaining something better because I believe in life after death.


Chapter 8


He is putting it in terms of loss and again and that is the real understanding of good and evil. It is about loss and gain so who gains and who loses. That is what you have to look at when you see the world, who gains and loses? Because you can see this man who gains all this wealth though his corrupt transactions but has he really gained. Even in the New Testament “what has a man gained if he has obtained the whole world and los his soul?” What have you really gained? That is a different way of seeing the world, of seeing good and evil and that is why when you look out you do not know what is going on. You do not have an idea, I mean once I was with Shaykh Abdullah and we were in Mauritania and in West Africa, in maintaining the people with the least in that country are the blacks and I asked him once about just that situation because it always bothered me, it is something that really bothered me when I was there and he said to me one time he said you know if you look in the terms of this side of the world you only see the one thing but he said that if you look in terms of the other side the people that have the greatest difficulty in this world and have the patience in dealing with that have the least hisab in the next world. He said maybe these people are just the people of paradise. So it is a different way, it does not justify the condition, you still have to oppose the condition but it gives you a different perspective on it you know in other words the way that was used in the past, is to opiate people and to justify injustice and Islam never does that. It says you still have to oppose the wrong but do not assume that it is all evil, do you see? That is the point because you do not have the full picture, you only have a portion of it and that is at the essence of what this is about of recognising good and evil as loss and gain.


That is why Allah says (in the first line of Surah Asr), Allah could have said “La fee sharh” by time the human being the nature is that he is in loss, he is losing, except those who believe and do good deeds and they enjoin what is right and they enjoin people to be patient” because it is difficult, there are many things that are wrong in the world so you enjoin right but you have also to enjoin people to be patient and bear the difficulties of the world because if all you have out there is the demand for right and not recognising that one, not all the wrongs will be righted in this world and that is where we believe in the next world that the wrongs of this world, there is a grave that I saw one of the Muslim slaves that was here in America, I think it is in Mississippi but it shows a hand like this, his name was Yusuf and on the gravestone it was not a cross, it was a hand with the fingers pointed up and it said on the tombstone “there is justice in the next world”. It is going to happen, if it did not happen in this world, it will happen in the next world and so that is a different way of again of seeing the world is that if you do not believe in that world then you will go insane by looking out there because there is just so much wrong out there. You will go insane and it does not mean to accept it. That is what is important, it is not that you accept it in other words that you should do what you can to redress the wrongs of the world but it does not destroy you that they are there because you know they are there for a wisdom.


That is the point is that there is a hikmah behind that, that there is nothing that happens in the world that does not have wisdom.


Now one of the things that the Quran points out is that God did not have the attributes of a wise parent and there are hadiths that indicate that Allah has that care of a mother, the love of Allah for His servants is greater than the mothers love but He said He would give the foolish children of this world what they want and this is one of the things about this world. Most people are so spiritually immature because you can have an adult emotionally, you can have an adult intellectually, you can have an adult sensually. Somebody can go out and fornicate and do all these things, it is an adult sensually, a child cannot do that, an adult can. Somebody can go and work in the world with their mind and acquire wealth and do all these things but as an adult, a child cannot do that.


But a spiritual adult, that is a different category, because most people are spiritual children. They are in the state of the infant in terms of their spirituality and because of that if they were given what they wanted, it would be like giving a child poison. It would like giving a child a gun to play with that is loaded. This is why the Quran says “what is it they who divide up the mercy of your Lord? We have divided among them their livelihood in the life of this world and raised some of them above others in rank.”. So some take others in forced labour and that forced labour here is the idea of using them not oppressing them but the mercy of your Lord is better than what they collect in other words do not get deluded by this dunya and all these categories in dunya, to strive for the akhirah is better, the mercy of your Lord is a higher thing, were it not that people would be a single community through ingratitude and truth concealing in other words through kufr we would have appointed for those who have kufr towards the Merciful roofs of silver to their houses, stairs where up to mount and doors to their houses and couches whereinto recline and ornaments surely all this is but the enjoyment of the life of this world and surely the next world with your Lord belongs to the people of taqwa in other words it is saying all the kuffar had all this wealth and luxury, the believers would want to be like the kuffar and that is one of the signs of the end of time is that people want to be like the non Muslims. That is from hadith is that people imitate non Muslims.


When the Muslims had all their wealth, it was the non Muslims that did not have anything so the Muslims looked at Europe, the Europeans had nothing to offer the Muslims so they never got deluded whereas now the tables have turned and all you have is the Quran which should be enough because if you read those verses you would have the guidance to see that it is not the real thing that there is something different and that is why in the end of time what did the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said to Imam Ali when he said “how do we get out of all this confusion?”. He said “KitabAllah”. You have to go back to the book of Allah and understand its core messages, understand the centrality of this book so one of the things that they talk about is this idea of good.


The dua of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) “all good comes from you and evil does not return to you”. The reason for that is the essence of Allah is purity and there is no room for evil. There is no room because evil is absence, it is like darkness. Darkness is the absence of light. Evil is the absence of good and therefore that element does not exist but Allah created evil, sharh, it is a creation of Allah so it is not God but it is a creation of God and this is the odyssey in Christianity, the biggest problem that they have is the problem of evil because they do not know where it comes from. The problem goes if God is Omniscient, All-Knowing and all good then He would know where the evil is and He has the power to remove it and because He is all good He would not want it in the world and that is called the problem of evil. Philosophers always love that one to challenge Christians with and what Christians tend to fall into is this manichaeism that free will, the devil but if it is free will then it is against the will of God in other words the fact that it is in the world, where did it come from? Because the world is a creation of Allah and everything in it is a creation of Allah so the fact that he created creatures that He knew would do evil means that He created evil and this is something that Christians, they do not want to admit that whereas Muslims we are told that right from the start and the point again that the Quran and the Hadith emphasise is it is relative to you. You do not really understand it and therefore do not assume what you think is evil is evil or what you think is good is good because you just do not know. You do not have all the variables and you do not have the complete picture so the mirror image is identical to the real in as much as it reflects the reals attribute but it is other than real in as much as it is supported by non existence so this is not talking about the world itself that the world what is good in it is what reflects the divine and what is evil in it is absent of divine attribute or qualities.


So when you look at the world, if you look at the world as a mirror that does not exist. If you can allow your mind to imagine a mirror that does not exist and if you could imagine looking into that mirror and seeing your image and then the mirror has other than your image because you need the mirror to reflect the image so the image is not reflected completely in the mirror, part of the mirror is there so you see your image in the mirror. Now good is what is reflected, if you look at the universe as a reflection of God, it is not God but it is a reflection of God’s attributes that the evil in it is what is demarcating the good in other words you could not see the image without the evil. You could not see the good of God without knowing the sharh because if you had no evil in the world, you would not know good. You would not know what it is because like the Arabs says “by opposites things are distinguished”.


And so Allah created a world and then reflected his attributes. Now the human being is called insaan which means the pupil of the eye and one the meanings that some of the scholars indicated in a sense the human being is like the reflected vision of God in other words the human being has been created to witness God in the world because God is reflecting on Himself in the world in other words the world is also because it is a desired act of God, God brought the world into existence and there is a purpose for the world which is that God is known “I only created the world that I might be known”. Who can know God in the world, it is not the bird, it is not the frog, it is not the donkey, it is not the rock. They cannot know God with cognizance, they only know God as a state in which they are in of absolute worship but they cannot cognitively know God. That is the human being and that is why he and she has this extraordinary position in creation which is where we get to the next section which is the trial, the idea of a trial, that human beings have been brought into the world and they are tried so God measures out good and mercy to test people’s faith and to allow people to prove their own nature not to God in other words when God says He created us to try you to see which of you is best in action, He does not need to see which of you is best in action because He knows that. It is to show you your true nature and that is the word for trial in Arabic is to test metal and the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “human beings are minerals, you have hold, you have silver, you have copper, you have lead and then you have toxic metals” and what tribulation does is that it shows people their nature and that is why when some of the worst calamities happen to people what they say when they get though it is “I didn’t know I had it in me to get though that”. In other words, they saw something about themselves they did not see when they survived the immense hardship and another thing about tribulation is all of us who have lived, I don’t think there is anybody in this room that had had a tribulation that when all of the bitterness and all of the difficulty was gone they were not able to look back and say they learned a great deal from the experience.


In other words it is the process of human and spiritual evolution it is through calamites and that is what Shaykh Muhammad was talking about last night when he said “calamities are the holidays of the people seeking God” because when a calamity comes who do you run to? God, that is part of the beauty of tribulation is that my sister just visited Morocco and she said all of these people that were not wearing the hijab before are wearing the hijab and she asked somebody who was a friend. She said all the stuff that is happening in the world is making a lot of people think and so then you begin to see is it evil or is it good? What is happening? Are these things happening because it is bad or is it happening because we have forgotten who we are, we have forgotten what we are here for and it is unfortunate we need these massive calamites to wake us up.


So then you begin to perceive the world in a different way so trials is something that we see as part of the reason why we have been created. “We have appointed all that is on earth as an adornment for you that We may try them which of them is the most beautiful in works,  blessed is He who created death and life that He may try you which if you is the most beautiful in works”. When harm touches or afflicts the human being he calls upon God then we can confer on him blessings he says I was given it because of a knowledge that I have so this is a type of ingrate not it is a trial but most of them know not”. When Bani Israil, the Israelites were afflicted by the Pharonic people in Egypt, Allah says “men were being killed and women were being left to be servants” and then Allah said “and in that is a grave tribulation not from the Pharonic people, from your Lord” that is what the Quran says to Bani Israil. This is from your Lord, that tribulation and then what does it follow  with “and now your Lord has announced if you show gratitude we will increase not with tribulation but in blessings” because the verse begins with “remind them of the great days of God when He relieved you of your tribulations so knowing that real calamity when it gets to intense levels that is when the relief comes and that is why the Arabs they say “the darkest portion of the night announces the dawn” and there is a poem by Imam Nahawi where he said:


“O calamity get worse because I know you will get better”


It is a beautiful poem that he wrote, it is all about asking for the thing to get worse so iit can get better and that is what happened when the man in Sahih ul Bukhari, he had stomach problems, the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) told him to take honey and his brother gave it to him, he came back and said it got worse. He said tell him to take more, he took  more, it got worse, tell him to take more, it got worse. Finally he got better and the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “your bothers stomach has lied and God spoke the truth because God said honey was a cure”. It is particularly good for cleaning out the stomach but the reason that he got more diarrhea was because according to Imam Qayyumul Jawziyyah in his book on Prophetic Medicine, he said the disease originated because of things that needed to be cleared out and so when he was given the medicine it purged him even more so the actual crisis was a healing crisis. That is what they call it in homoeopathy if they give you the right remedy you often get worse before you get better and they call it in homoeopathic medicine a healing crisis.


That is why the most intense period for a woman in childbirth is just before she gives birth and that is when it gets the worst, this amazing thing is about to happen.


So that is part of what is going on in the world and also “do people reckon they will be left alone to say we have faith and will not be tested” and then this idea of when evil afflicts him he is in despair, that is the people who do not know the way the world works.


Now one of the things about moderns is that they have this idea that they are free and what is really interesting about moderns is that because they do not have particularly in a lot of Western countries is that they have lost the idea of spiritual liberation and so they become slaves to the lowest aspect of themselves. They become slaves to drugs, they become salves to sensual pleasures, they become slaves to food, they become slaves to image, they become slaves to all these different things out there and they do not have this inward freedom which is really what the Quran is talking about because the tahqiq ul uboodiyah which is the realisation of one’s state with God is to realise four qualities:


  1. It is the realisation of impoverishment once you realise that God is absolutely independent, you realise that you are absolutely dependent so that is the realisation of impoverishment.


  1. The realisation of complete ajiz which is incapacity. Once you realise that God is absolutely capable of doing all things you realise that you are incapable.


  1. Then also ignorance. One you realise God is Al-Alim you realise that you are the jahil.


  1. Then also the realisation of the state of humility or humiliation, dhul, which is you are humbled and then that God is Al Aziz. In realisation of that, and this is the beauty of it is that you become ghanybillah, you become enriched by God, you become knowledgeable by God, you become dignified by God and you become powerful by God so in realizing your servanthood you are actually drawing near to these attributes that God has manifest in this world which are divine attributes because here the purpose of Islam is to show the way to tawheed, to be human is to be relatively free but to be free as it is humanly possible to be free can only come about when full submission and surrender to reality is achieved.


You can be relatively free, I mean in America people are relatively free, they can get up, get in their car, drive to where they want, they can go and eat whatever they want, buy what they want, this type thing and there is relative freedom but real freedom is realising your state of submission to God because that frees you from putting faith in other than good because any faith in other than God is always going to let you down. It is part of the nature of the world and once you see that, when people let you down, you realise they are doing you a favour and you do not have anger towards them because they are being human. It is the whole point because the only one that will not let you down is Allah. Everybody else lets you down.


Then it is interesting that this idea on page 118 they say that all things have something in terms of tashbiyah in other words in everything in creation and it is not adab to mention things like pigs, there is no point in doing that, you speak in universals not in particulars, ignorant people will bring that up, when you say everything has some tashbiyah or something that expresses something about the nature of God in the world, when you look, the first they look is the mineral world, that a rock and so one of the things about the rock is that the tanzih is much more manifest, the otherness of God in other words you cannot see really much in a rock that would remind you of God but one of the things that does remind you of the nature of a rock is its permanence. It is not vegetative, it has a type of permanence. It is not vegetative, it has a type of permanence in the world that is very different from other things. It is solid and it is powerful also the facts that planets which are essentially almost big rocks, God moves them around in a certain way and can smash them up against each other. It is an indication of his qudara. If you go the vegetable life then it is has obviously one of the most important attributes of the divine which is life al hayah and there are seven attributes and they can them here the seven leaders. These are:


1.      Hayah - Life

2.      Knowledge – Ilm

3.      Samaa – Hearing

4.      Basr – Sight

5.      Irada - Will

6.      Qudura – Power

7.      Qalam – Speech


When you look at a vegetable, a vegetable has life but it does not have will it doesn’t have you see, it does not have any other than life so in that way it reflects something of the divine.


When you look at the human being you come to something very different because suddenly you see a human being has all seven of those attributes “In your own souls, do you not see?”. In other words do you not see what God has given you. He has given you as His greatest sign. In your own souls is the greatest sign of God and this is the meaning of this idea of man being in the image. It is not in any anthropomorphic sense, the human being reflects these seven key attributes of God which is life, knowledge, hearing, sight, will, qudura, capacity and speech. I am muntaqalim, I am qadir, I am alim, I am all these things and these are attributes of God. He put them in me in order to reflect his nature so that we would know who God is and that is the meaning of “if you know yourself, you know your Lord” because this is the closest thing to you.


That is why self knowledge is at the essence of Islam of knowing who you are but you have to have it in the proper perspective because you are also jahil, you are also dead, you are also powerless, you are also deaf, dumb, speechless without volition. You see so this s the human being, the human condition is this really interesting…and then in looking at why we have been given this because we were meant to stand as khalifah in this earth. “I am placing a caliph in the earth”.


Now on page 120-121 I personally do not like the way they did this, it is kind of done in a humorous American, I did not feel it was appropriate, there are a few things in the book, there is another section towards the end that bothers me but I mean generally the book is so good that I am going to overlook that section. It is not that bad but things like “God has something up His sleeve” and “God rubbed it in a bit”. It is not the way traditional scholars in any way would describe that so I will look at like “every steed stumbles and every razor sharp sword has a blunt point and every scholar has slips”. So anybody that writes and does anything is ultimately going to do that but that is just something, I certainly have done myself on many occasions so I am not going to take them to account but I just thought that I would bring that to your attention.


Just about the question now they kind of indicate that the angels hear, they seemed a bit upset I mean when they ask the question it is called istifhaan, it is not because there are two types of questions. A type of question where somebody rejects something and then a question where somebody is trying to get information. It is considered a question where they are actually asking for information.


Now one of the things they say like all myths, this myth can be understood in many sense and applied to the human situation in many different contexts, it is important to remember that myth is actually a very good word that does not mean a fictional account. If you look in the dictionary one of the meanings of a myth and I will give you the exact definition according to Webster “a real or fictional story that reflects the ideals of a pre-literate culture”. So obviously Islam has foundational myths. It is a perfectly acceptable word unfortunately it gives the hint of something being not true I mean we tend to think of something mythological as a fable or fabrication, that is not how they are using the word here. The point of a myth in fact the definition that an American critic of literature gave was that it is so true as to be unbelievable. One of the things about a myth is it is a universal story and that is why the power of myth is that…and obviously if people have read the hero with a thousand faces by Joseph Campbell, he is somebody who just saw the same myth in all these different stories because it is a universal story of the heroes journey and certainly we believe as Muslims that it is a true story.


We do not believe it is a fictional account but we also have to remove ideas of anthropomorphism and the idea…this is language explaining something that happened on a realm that we really have no access to other than what is described for us in the Quran so that is important to remember and one of the things about Adam was, he was given all the names is again one of things about the power of language because if you can measure and if you can label you have power. People in power label the powerless so a freedom fighter will be called a terrorist by the people in power and that is why the British considered George Washington a terrorist whereas the people at that time who were fighting in the continental army they saw themselves as fighting for liberty and freedom. So that is the power of the nature of naming which does not mean that everybody claiming to be a freedom fighter is not a terrorist, I mean there are people out there, terrorists, anytime you bring in civilians and indiscriminately kill people you have an element of terrorism and certainly there is state terrorism and there is individual terrorism but the point being the power to name or label people and that is something that the mass media obviously has. They can make people look like they are insane because they have this power, it is the power to name or label people and that is something that the mass media obviously has. They can make people look like they are insane because they have this power, it is the power to name them. They already determined the discourse when they put you on as the extreme left position, now we are going to hear from the extreme left so they labelled you and they have already defined the discourse there.


It is the power of naming so naming is power and that is why powerless people tend to be people without language and that is one of things like Paulo Freire, wrote a lot of books like Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Pedagogy for Freedom. He spent his life teaching Brazilian peasants how to read and write because he really felt their powerlessness was based on not having language.


One of the things that the Cherokee did in this country, the great Cherokee Sequoia who was the great Cherokee leader who is actually half Scottish but he developed an alphabet for his people because he said the power of the white people resides in their ability to write. He saw their power was in language. So he felt he could empower the Cherokee and that was a really interesting experiment and it almost succeeded had it not been for Andrew Jackson who acted unconstitutionally in forcing the Cherokee, you know the famous trail of tears and things like that but language is something that if you do not have it you are powerless and that is why articulation and the ability to speak is so important and that is why Islam emphasises the grammar and rhetoric if learning these things because it is an empowering element.


Now they mention here also that this idea of microcosm and macrocosm came from the Greeks and I do not think that is true because Imam Ali said “you think you are some insignificant body or entity and the entire universe is in you” so Imam Ali that is microcosm, that is what it means, a small universe.


So the human being is seen as a small universe and part of the reason that Adam was able to name everything is that everything was in him because you cannot know something outside of yourself. If you do not recognise it from inside of yourself and that is why we have mineral in us, I mean everything you see so the earth is in you. We have mineral, we have vegetable, we have animal, it is all there so when you see a tree you recognise vegetation because it is in you, when you see the sun fire is in you, it is all there. That is what caloric energy is, it is heat so everything you see out there is in you.


We are even made up of stars, I mean we know that now, modern astronomy understands that our bodies has constituents of stars that were constituted of the material that stars are made of. One of the interesting things about a human being is the human being, the body is placed on a scale of magnitudes between atom and between a star. In other words we fit right in the middle of the smallest elements in creation and of the biggest elements and that is mathematical, you can actually work that out so we are this barzarkh between the smallest elements and the biggest elements. We are right in the middle and we have this ability to bridge the unseen and seen world.


Finally here the reason we have been given this viceregency is that if we follow God’s instructions on the universal level, turtles, demons, squirrels, scorpions, mice are all following but viceregency is specifically a human quality because a human being is able to follow instructions through his or her free will.


Therefore Adam was created to be vicegerant of God, he first had to be God’s servant in other words people were created to represent God on the face of the earth, in order to fulfill this function properly, they must submit to God’s will as revealed through the Prophets. And so really that is at the essence of the Islamic teaching is that what we are here to do is to submit to the will of God as best as we can as servants. In doing that we enter into a type of harmony with the world so we are not alien to the world. We are part of the world but also we are part of another world which is the next world and so again we become this bridge this barzakh and realisation of that tahqiq ul uboodiyah is a lifelong journey, you don’t just do it in one day and one evening and you can learn all this stuff theoretically and fill your heads with a lot of information but if it is not practiced, if it does not become part of your practice then it is difficult and it is something you will struggle with all of your lives and you need company, you need reminders, you need people to put you in your place and inshAllah the goal is to get through this world in one spiritual piece both peace and piece to get through out it and get onto the other side and then the important thing is also to expect great things from your Lord because the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) he said that Allah tells us I am in the opinion of my servant so if my servant thinks good of Me, he will find good and if He thinks bad of Me, he will find bad” and that is why the hadith says “whoever wakes up in the morning if you find good, say alhamdulillah. Praise to be God”. Other than that he did not say if you find evil, let him only blame his own soul because you are still not seeing correctly what is going on in the world. You are not seeing that if you really believe in God, it is all good, it is not an exaggeration, it is all good, it is not an exaggeration, it is all good, if you believe in Allah and then it becomes that you need to conform to the divine and not make the divine conform to you because what moderns want to do is to make God conform to them so we make God just as we are and it is not going to work.


You have to conform to the divine, how the divine wants you to be and just finally that anything that occurs in the world and Shaykh Muhammad mentioned this last night but it is important to remind people that were not there is that Ibn Abbas said that no calamity every afflicted me in that I saw three blessings in it and the first one was that it was not worse than it was. The fact that it was not worse than it is, is a blessing and you should show gratitude. The next one is that it was in my worldly affairs and not in my deen and that is a blessing. In the dua of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) “O God do not make our calamities in our religion” The assumption there is already there are calamities in the world. You are in the world and you are going to have calamities and you might have not have seen the worst of it yet insha’Allah Allah makes things easy for all of us but you might not have seen the worst of it yet. If you think what you have seen is bad, you might not have seen the worse of it yet, so if the calamity is not in your deen, do not worry about it because dunya is not so important that you should get upset about it like that. You should not give it as much power to affect you in that way, to depress you, if you lose all your money, what can you do about it? I am depressed, why? Because I associated with no money happiness and now my money is gone so I have to be unhappy so you therefore have made an assumption about the nature of happiness, that it is only material goods. So it is a philosophy, that is a philosophy.


Then finally that it was in this world and not in the next world. So if the calamity is in this world that is a blessing that it was not in the next world because you would rather have your calamities here than there.


According to the hadith of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam), everything that happens in this world is a purification so it might be that you are getting your wrongs removed that is why calamities are the holidays of people seeking God. A lot of people might not like that but if you take that on it is not that you ask for calamities because the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “do not ask for calamities because you do not know if you will be able to bear them but ask Allah for well being” so we ask for wellbeing but when the calamities come, masha’Allah. That is what happens so alhamdulillah. Any questions?


Cannot hear question


I think the best thing to do is to create our own venues. Do not allow venues out there to dictate your agendas and things like that. I mean things like alcohol you cannot talk to people when they are drinking anyway I mean that is the problem with alcohol and it is not good to be around it, we believe it is the devil, it is the jinn alcohol, it is what they call it, gin. I will have a gin on the rocks. I mean man if they really knew what they were saying, I will have Iblees on the rocks. The rocks are brimstone. So you just want to stay away from that kind of energy. Cheese tastes fine without wine. Have grape juice, grape juices tastes a lot better than wine.


You would be surprised how much you can….if you really want to keep up with that type of popular culture so you can talk to people you would be surprised how much just from reading, I have read articles about films that I can talk about without ever having seen the film. You do not have to go watch a film and waste two hours of your life for something. I saw a film once by Khirasani who won Cannes Film Festival. He was Iranian. I think it was Khirasani, cannot remember. I was interested just wide this film that won the Cannes film festival was being made in Iran where apparently they have all this artistic censorship but at the end of the film they had an interview with him. The thing about the film is it almost put me to sleep. At the end of the film he says they ask him what kind of films do you like? He said “I like films that put people to sleep but then they cannot stop thinking about them after that”. The thing about American films is you go watch it for 2 hours and you are at the edge of your seat and you walk out of the theatre and you cannot remember anything like what was it about because it is all spectacle. There is no thought and then they asked him about censorship and he said every artist is censored. It is just where do you draw the lines of censorship. He said Americans have censorship. I mean there are things that they cannot go beyond simple as that. In Iran we are basically not allowed to deal with two things: sex and violence. It forces us to create films that are actually intelligent and he said when Hollywood was not allowed to use sex and violence they actually made intelligent films He said now the films are all stupid and the reason is all gratuitous spectacle, it is just stimulating people’s lower energies. It is all it is because people respond to violence. It is very intense to watch violence and so there is adrenaline. It is a very powerful drug. People get addicted to it, adrenaline junkies. Romans used to go and watch Christians eaten by the lions, we do the same thing when we go watch these Arnold Schwarznegger  films of people getting their heads blown off. It is sanitised but it is the same gore. It is a human thing. We see the Romans as decadent, why do not see it about ourselves, that is all decadence. That is what it is, it is vulgarity. It is decadence and the thing about it is thresholds get higher and higher and so you need more stimulation, you need more violence, the sexuality becomes more perverse. That is what happens. Film has immense potential because it is a very powerful medium but it is a medium spectacle. You never want to be in a theatre if there is an earthquake or something, how do you justify that with God? Watching a movie when you died


The reason Plata outlawed the poets in the Republic is because of the whole danger of entertainment, what entertainment does in a society images and……the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) he had some entertainment and that is something about Islam that a lot of modern Muslims are not aware of, that there is room for poetry, art, there is room for certain types of music and things like that. Traditionally it always existed in the Muslim world but it should be done in a certain way, it should not become something that takes people away from God. I mean we need to rethink a lot of things and be more creative about how we speak to people out there.


I mean ultimately everybody is dealing with their mortality, they are dealing with real essential issues and while Christianity and Judaism are true religions and we believe in them as an obligation, we are obliged to believe in them, we view them now as models of like a car that is no longer taking you there, it does not work anymore and so you can sit in it and feel like you are in a car and certainly it is vehicle but is it taking you where you want to go? And on the other hand for Muslims, for most Muslims, their Islam is stuck in the mud. It is not that the car does not work, it is like you have driven into the mud by your own stupidity. I will never forget I was in Mauritania and there was this man that was driving in a gap and there is this big mud puddle and there was a big dry thing on the side and he was bragging like what a great driver he was and when we were coming upto it we said like go over there and he said no no no I know what I am doing and we got stuck in this mud and we had paid this guy to drive us. We ended up, we could not get the car out, we had to walk in the middle of the desert for about 5 hours. But the point is he drove it into the mud. It was a perfectly good car, the road was there and he just took it into the mud to kind of I did it my way or something like that.


But that is the thing about people’s Islam, they drive it into their mud and then they are like why is this not getting me anywhere. Well you left the road you have gone off road. You mean it does not have four wheel drive. It has five wheel drive: Shahada, Prayers, Zakah, Fasting and Hajj. But you have to be on the shariah and on the road. They are absolutes yeah that it is, they become absolutes and you will know them because you remember this world.


If you were put in jannah and you never had any knowledge of this place but in jannah you have memory of this place, you do not have painful memories but you will remember. You are aware of hell and the people of hell are aware of paradise so the opposites are knowns still. Paradise is pure good and hell is pure evil whereas in here it is all mixed.  


Well that is the point, their blind, deaf and dumbness is like this, they will not open their eyes, they will not take their hands of their ears, they will not speak and in the next world they admit that, that is what the Quran says in Surah Tabarak they will finally admit it was their fault, they took themselves, that is why the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said “every soul wakes up ransomed and either it sells it to God or destroys it” so that is a human choice. And there is a verse “people do the acts of good until they are one handspan away from Paradise or arms length and then the decree precedes them and they do some action of the fire”. That hadith, there is another riwayah where it says “to what it appears to people” and that point is that those people’s hearts they were hypocrites, is that they will do things that expose themselves before they die. That is why Sidi Ahmed Zarruq says all the things that people do in this world that are bad in order to obtain things that they deem good, those things will be the cause of the thing that they were trying to free themselves from. So if somebody learns astrology to protect themselves from a harmful death, he will have a harmful death. If somebody learns alchemy to like enrich himself, he will be impoverished. It has the opposite so the thing you go to literally has the opposite effect on you in this world.


I mean Harut and Marut are a problem because they are angels but they are teaching something that is harmful and that in a sense is almost a negative revelation which is interesting I mean the idea of you know that you could have a negative revelation which brings in the whole idea of opposites and things like that again but Allahu Alim.


The thing about the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) he was affected by magic but he was given the last two surahs in the Quran and he never left them after that and what happened to him he was not affected in his understanding but he was physically affected.


Sulayman was not given magic because there is a difference between magic. Magic is using means that are in the creation. There are two types of magic. One is called which is like the magic of David Copperfield, people like that. It is the ability to create illusions, optical illusions and then the other type of magic is manipulation of things in creation through magic. Both of them are prohibited in Islam. What the Prophets do, in other words when Musa threw down the staff and it became a snake, it was not magic. I mean of the things if you read 1001 nights which is certainly not anything to get aqeedah from or anything like that but there is all these kind of interesting things where the genie does all this magic and then the magic when the genie is no longer working for the person all the stuff disappears so like the genie will make him a palace but when the genie now has a new master the palace just disappears so all the treasure goes back to rocks.


That is a good analogy for what magic is. It is insubstantial in reality even though it appears to be real whereas what happens with the Prophets is that it is real. It is something that actually comes into existence. So when Musa pulled his hand out and it was white that was real without any harm. It was not vitiligo or leprosy, it was light that came out. That was real, it was not magic so the difference is one is a manipulator the other is that Allah is directly not through means, there are no means, magic is usually means in creation whereas the miracle there are no means. It is direct from God and that is why people that witness it, see it for that.


If you have ever seen a film of somebody shot in reality you know I saw some films from Afghanistan during the jihad. I saw these Russian soldiers, I will never forget it because it was so different from what Hollywood does. I mean it was very real and that is the nature of miracle in relation to the magic is that it is real and that difference between art and life, we can see that a film is not real. You come out of it, you can fall into the willful suspension of disbelief which you are watching the film but when you come out you are back in reality. It is not the same, it is not real.


Magic in many ways, it is interesting because Simayu is a magic where you create images. I don’t think cinema is related to it. It is interesting that in many ways that film is very magical like that, it is a powerful magic. It is definitely slight of hand because these frames that are done to create an optical illusion because they are still frames, creating the optical illusion of motion so technically by shariah I think the traditional ulema would have seen it as magic, as a type of magic.