Thursday, April 20, 2006

Knowledge & Wisdom: Insights from a Spiritual Master

As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh...
(May the peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you)

Some time back, I posted a quotation from Imam Abdallah al-Haddad's Knowledge & Wisdom and offered some reflections on it. As I mentioned at the time, although I've read through the book a number of times, I'm still on the first lesson. So, back to the lesson...

'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!...'

I'm still pondering this point. What exactly does 'making their faith and certitude sound' mean? Does it mean that faith and certitude need to come before deeds? Well, Surah al-Asr (amongst many others) refers to inna alladhina amanu wa `amil as-salihat ('those who believe and do good deeds'). Do such ayat imply that belief needs to come before action. On one level, I suppose this makes sense. But, practically, aren't we all under the obligation to act as soon as we believe? In other words, is it right to see belief and action as separate?
Imam Tahawi, in his famous al-`Aqidah al-Tahawiah, states that:

'Belief consists of affirmation by the tongue and acceptance by the heart'
(Point 62).

Does the 'affirmation by the tongue' refer to action?
Ya Rabbi 'the blemishes of hidden idolatry'! Sometimes it seems as the blemishes are the norm and the clean spots unusual! There is hidden idolatry in everything I do: whenever I do something I shouldn't, or utter a harsh word, or undertake a good deed in the wrong manner. I can do nothing right!
Ya Allah. Intention, intention, intention. Innama al-`Amalu bi al-niyyat. Oh Lord, grant me purity of intention!
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman


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