Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Reflecting on the Order of Priorities...




As salaamu alaikum one and all,
Today is the first day of Ramadan 1426/2005. Ramadan mubarak to one and all...
Kullu 'aam wa antum bi khayr wa taqabbal Allah minna wa minkum...
Imam Abdallah ibn Alawi al-Haddad's short book Knowledge & Wisdom (published in 2001 by the Starlatch Press) is a veritable treasure of profound spiritual insight. I bought the book more or less when it was published and have found it thought-provoking and useful. I've read it through several times, although I'm still trying to figure out the first lesson...
In the next few blogs, I intend to offer some reflections on the first chapter of this inspiring work. The first section reads thus...
'Gnostics and scholars focus mainly on making their faith and certitude sound and strong and in purifying their belief in God's oneness [tawhid] from the blemishes of hidden idolatry... So learn and understand!...'

'...making their faith and certitude sound and strong...' is no easy task! Whilst it seems simple enough to say, 'I believe in Allah', it is quite another to put this into practice. Faith requires action and that means hard work. Moreover, action requires a pure intention. The Prophet himself (peace be upon him) underlined the crucial significance of intention (niyyah):

"Actions are [judged] by intention, so each man will have what he intended. Thus, he whose migration was to Allah and His Messenger, his migration is to Allah and His Messenger; but he whose migration was for some worldly thing he might gain, or for a wife he might marry, his migration is to that for which he migrated."

Thus in trying to strengthen my own faith, I must have a pure intention to follow Allah. Purity of intention requires introspection; in order to move forward, I have to know where I am now. Purity of intention also requires honesty. 'Lie to others if you must, but never lie to yourself', as my mother often says!
Purifiying one's understanding of tawhid is also another fundamental. And, again, this requires uncompromising honesty with one's self. In other words, we have to bring the light of tawhid to bear on the dark recesses of our souls. Laying ourselves bare requires both the heart and the intellect in partnership. That is, we need our minds to understand the Sacred Law of Islam, whilst we need our heart to distinguish between what Imam al-Ghazali has called 'the subtleties of hypocrisy and injustice...'.
One must also struggle to grow. Development is always challenging. New ways of thinking and behaving challenge old modes of thought and action; the birth process is indeed stressful, but it ulitmately brings forth new life. The Imam's emphatic command (may God have mercy on him) to '...learn and understand...' thus seems doubly appropriate here. You cannot understand until you learn and you cannot learn until you make the effort.
Time is another factor in spiritual growth. From all that I have learnt of the Prophet's way of teaching (peace be upon him), I see that he introduced new duties in a gradual manner, allowing them to become firmly rooted. Becoming a better Muslim requires time to learn, grow, think, mature and understand (again we come back to Imam Abdallah's injunction to learn and understand)!
May Allah give us all the grace (tawfiq) to grow, learn and understand.
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman

2 Comments:

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