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

Transcript Text

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.