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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

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.