A South African Muslimah's Blog

Constructing Identity: Loud Whispers, Lasting Echoes

Fasting with the Heart, Returning with the Heart July 20, 2015

Eid Mubarak to you and yours!

The origin of Eid is “to return”, and one of the derivatives of Qalb (the heart) is also “to return”

“And surely to our Lord we must return” (43:14)

The only way of return which benefits the believer is as –

“one who brings to Allah a pure, sound heart” (26:89)

May we be counted amongst those who face Allah this Eid with such whole, radiant hearts. May Allah accept with a beautiful acceptance all our efforts to return to Him in Ramadan. May Allah bring us all together in the sacred fellowship of hearts

“And hold fast, all together, by the rope of Allah and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favour on you; for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, you became brethren … ” (3:103)

With Love and Hope

Safiyyah

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Muhammad (pbuh)

Connecting with the memory of Muhammad (as) in these blessed last days of Ramadan … a memory which stretches back over a 1000 years to a tiny cave and a beautiful human being who was touched by an angel on the eve of Revelation … our path begins with Love’s embrace – the clasp of Jibra’eel (as) and the arms of Khadija (ra). Our retreat for intense devotion and reflection during these nights of the fast are a celebration and commemoration of that moment – an eternal moment – when Allah reached out to us through His Chosen servant. The Qur’an offers an intimate way of knowing Muhammad (as) for his lovers – the people of hope and dhikr –

“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a beautiful example for him whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.”(33:21)

“And most surely, you have an exalted moral character.”(68:4)

“He is concerned over you and to the believers is gentle and merciful.” (9:128)

“And We have not sent you except as a mercy to the worlds.” (21:107)

We must give ourselves over to Muhammad (saw) – in this is our covenant with Allah –

“Surely, those who give their pledge to you, pledge allegiance to Allah. The hand of Allah is over their hands.” (48:10)

In his (saw) way is everlasting Life –

“Oh you who believe! Answer the call of Allah and the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life, and know that Allah comes between a person and his own heart, and that to Him you shall be gathered. (8:24)

In gratitude for his life, the best salawaat (salutation) we could ever sing and inscribe on our hearts is Allah’s own –

“Indeed, Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet. Oh you who believe! Ask blessings on him and salute him with a worthy salutation. (33:56)

As these nights draw to a close, as exhaustion may be weighing us down and as Eid beckons – remember when we wrap ourselves in our spiritual garments, stay awake to worship, when we stand in adoration and recite the Qur’an slowly & melodiously, we are following his (saw) sunnah as inspired by Allah –

“Oh you wrapped in garments
Keep vigil the night long, save a little –
Half of it – or a little less,
Or add to it, and recite the Qur’an with measured recitation.”

 

Forgiveness

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We are in the midst of the nights of seeking forgiveness and turning to Allah … so difficult to choose a few verses to write about from the hundreds about forgiveness – captured by the names of Allah – al-Ghafur, at-Tawab and al-‘Afuw.

Istighfar is to pursue the covering of Allah, Tawba to continuously turn and return to Him, and ‘Afwa is when He turns away from our mistakes. Of the most repeated Divine attributes mentioned alongside each other and deeply connected are “Ghafur Raheem” … The Forgiving and The Compassionate. Almost all of the blessed du’as by which we learn how to call on Allah from the Qur’an include a plea for forgiveness.

The forgiveness of Allah is vast –

“Indeed, your Lord is vast in forgiveness.” (53:32)

He forgives anything except for when we see other than One –

“Surely Allah does not forgive shirk to Him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases … ” (4:48)

Seeking forgiveness is dhikr and it is one of the dearest and most intimate forms for the people of abundant remembrance because the aspirants of forgiveness are asking to be covered by Allah and for Allah to turn to them.

“And those who, having done something to be ashamed of or wronged their own souls, earnestly remember Allah and ask for forgiveness for their sins,- and who can forgive sins except Allah? – and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in what they have done.”(3:135)

“Allah does wish to Turn to you, but the wish of those who follow their desires is that you should turn away, far, far away.” (4:27)

Allah has given human beings the capacity to forgive, an emotion and act He loves

“…and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” (24:22)

“… but what is with Allah is better and more lasting for those who have believed and upon their Lord rely, and those who avoid the major sins and immoralities, and when they are angry, they forgive.” (42:36-37)

“But indeed if any show patience and forgive, that would truly be a matter of courage.” (42:43)

In the beautiful verse describing men and women who seek to walk the path to Him, Allah says “for them He has prepared forgiveness and a great reward” (33:34). The notion of Allah preparing something for us is so poignant – it touches the soul … it speaks of God’s Forgiveness as a labour of love, which in turn indicates the highest levels of care, attention and adab (refined ettiquette) with which we should approach seeking His Merciful Forgiveness … Allah inspires us in such ways, for example –

“The patient, the true, the devout, those who spend and those who seek forgiveness in the hours before dawn.” (3:17)

“Oh you who have believed, turn to Allah with sincere repentance” (66:8)

“And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord …”(3:133)

May Allah grasp us in His Mercy as we turn to Him (tawba), grant us His Forgiveness (maghfira) and turn away from our shortcomings (afwa).

 

Taqwa – Higher Consciouness July 7, 2015

One of the immense blessings of a thematic reflection of Quran is being able to once again truly witness and fully appreciate the ways in which all of its beautiful teachings and deep wisdoms are intricately and inextricably interwoven into the radiant tapestry of our Islamic spirituality … this reveals itself once again and more-so in my reading last night for Taqwa, which is connected with all of the Quranic motif’s I hope to, insha’Allah ruminate on this Ramadan … all of the ways of being and believing which the Quran illuminates for us reinforce Tawhid – the Unity of all things – they all come together in a circle of no-beginning, no-ending.

I leave you with these verses on Taqwa – higher consciousness of Allah – which are my meditations for today. Taqwa is to nurture and protect our soul selves so they may easily enter into awareness of Allah. Being conscious of Allah also encompasses awareness of the sacred Ruh within each and every human being, and furthermore, being mindful of all of creation.

We are in the month of striving for Taqwa –

“Oh you who believe, prescribed upon you is fasting as it was prescribed upon those before you so that you may attain Taqwa.” (2:183)

Spiritual unveiling –

“Oh children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the garments of Taqwa – that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember.” (7:26)

Spiritual sustenance –

“And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is Taqwa of Allah. Be conscious of Me, Oh you of understanding.” (2:197)

Nobility of spirit –

“Oh humankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the one of most Taqwa amongst you. Indeed, Allah is all-Knowing and well-Acquainted.” (49:13)

Ease –

“And whoever has Taqwa of Allah – He will make for him of his matters ease”. (65:4)

Social ethic –

“And cooperate in righteousness and Taqwa” (5:2)

Living Justice –

“Be just; that is nearer to Taqwa. And have Taqwa of Allah ; indeed, Allah is well Acquainted with what you do.” (5:8)

Becoming beloved –

“yes, whoever fulfills his commitment and has Taqwa of Allah – then indeed, Allah loves the Muttaqeen” (3:76)

 

Peaceful Submission – Islam

“Indeed the way with Allah is submission” (3:9)

Thinking about what it means to be peaceful and to live in its counterpart – submission.

In my readings – Submission before God is to surrender yourself to His Mercy by following what is expected of a believer – this was exlempified by Nabi Ebrahim (as) and his son Isma’eel (as) when they were tested with the sacrifice,

“And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead
We called to him, “Oh Ebrahim you have fulfilled the vision’. Indeed, We thus reward those who do good.” (37:103-105)

Nabi Ebrahim (as), through his perfect submission was able to face the fires of this world unaffected – even in the midst of trials, he was given peace,

“We said: ‘Oh fire, be coolness and peace for Ebrahim’.” (21:69)

Submission is also to admit to our own weaknesses, to yield without hesitation to truth when it reveals itself – as Bilqees (as) did, when the reality of Allah became apparent to her and she joined forces with Nabi Sulayman (as)

“She said: “Oh my Lord! I have indeed wronged my soul: I do submit with Sulayman to the Lord of the Worlds.” (27:44)

Peace is intrinsically linked to submission,

“And whoever submits his face to Allah while practicing excellence, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold. And to Allah will be the outcome of matters.” (31:22)

To me, this orientating of ‘the face’ to Islam is connected to identity – we navigate mutliple identities : ethnic, gendered, religious, national, political, professional etc. I believe this verse articulates a spiritual identity for Muslims – we must be inwardly at peace with the Divine Will so we can live and spread peace in the world.

Peaceful submission must transcend our greetings – it is an attitude, a lifestyle, a constant striving to reconcile …

“Oh you who have believed, enter into submission completely … ” (2:208)

“And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them, they say words of peace” (25:63)

Peace is Divine, it is an attribute of Allah (59:23), a state of Paradise – Dar as-Salaam (6:127) – and it is from the very sacred Words of Allah

“Peace! – a word from a Lord Most Merciful!” (36:58)

Ramadan is a time when seek Peace, more-so in the last ten nights when we search for Laylat al-Qadr, a night of immense Peace in which we pray for our destiny and seek nearness to Allah, not co-incidental then, that it is the night described as,

“Peace, it is until the emergence of dawn” (97:5)