Honesty with God’s Light 4

Being Honest with God's Light

I, Me, My

fear, lust, lies:

All doubt

Is set alight

by the Sun,

Giver’s Light,

Your Sweetness

Shines Waves of Warm

Purifies

Everyone

Until the dark

Is gone

 

Only in

The Unseen

Is Confidence

Born—

For all—

and sicknesses

of trustless-ness

de-thorned

 

Life is witness

Our experiences

Are witness

To God’s Existence

 

Belief in Unseen

Is but the Summit

Of all Seen


Follow Surah Fatihah

Follow Surah Fatihah Not Path of Calf

Through time’s woven patterns

We see History

Repetitively

Repeating

In our own time—

Our life—

we see

History

Repetitively

Repeating

In Surah Fatiha

we read

“Guide us on the straight path

Not the path of those

Who earned anger

Nor of those who go astray”

This speaks

Of history

A pattern of behavior

Choose the pattern best

To repeat:

The Straight Path:

The path of Growing, Learning,

Reforming and Performing

Kind Acts,

Honesty, Humility

Don’t follow the way,

The path,

of other religious communities,

misled or wronging,

But how did they stray?

In what thing

did they engage?

Worshipping

the calf (4:153)

The symbol of the herd,

To blindly serve

“Whatever” Leaders

Whether religious or others

Nay, should you serve

God First,

Only,

before you serve

the community dearest

nearest to you

that community is not you

God is He that our identity

belongs to

From the Truth, Never Swerve

Even if it be against you or yours

rich or poor (4:135)

Or Against Your calf.

 

If you do not,

you will follow the path

of communities other

That do the same

And fail.


Sleepful Wakeness

Sleepful Wakeness

Sleepful Wakeness

Imagine waking
and it’s a dream:
the lovely chants
material scenes
worldly melodies

that charmed our hearts;
We thought them real
spent life upon
material
superficial
Thinking all else
ethereal
forsaking
the Divine,
substantial
Real

We believed this most:
survival of the fittest
survival of the most
materialist
the tribalist

We believed it our
only truth
because we looked
with charmed eyes

We groped with swelling
appetite
we lived by communal,
programmed lines

We thought life just
filled with pain
or self-satisfying gain

We hurt and suffered
without hope
in the rising sun
nor confidence
in the ever present One

We sulked in numbered negatives,
and forsook numberless positives

Never trusting in ourselves
or the ever present Light
We scoffed our truth
at every turn
and put  down
what God put within
favoring the dream
of the lowly world

We live asleep
never waking
from the dream-
the nightmare-
not swelling with Light
awake,
experiencing,
God’s ever-presence
living beyond
mere reactions
to the lowest plane
but being at one with the Highest

All Good we see is Life
All Truth we seek
is always here,
very near,
Speak to your Creator.

God answers and hears.
Be true to yourself and accept the smallest truths.
Then will you grow to see the greatest.

 

 

Please feel free to share any thoughts.


Personal Breakthroughs & Fractals

Personal breakthroughs and Fractals

Today’s blog post is about a huge personal breakthrough. Maybe it could help in your journey on God’s path too, so sit back and enjoy 🙂

Life is like a fractal pattern. A fractal pattern is so cool. I know this sounds nerdy, but give me a second because it’s really worth it. A fractal is any pattern that constantly repeats itself, whether you zoom way out, or zoom way in, you see the same pattern again and again. It’s very easy to spot in geometry. For example, if you draw a small circle and keep repeating it over and over, you will end up with a very big circle made up of a bunch of repeated circles within.

The concept of a fractal pattern is harder to see when it comes to our own lives though. Did you know that how you live life in a single day can represent the pattern of how you live your entire life?1 Say that a person blames someone else when they can’t find their socks. Guess what happens when a more major life event occurs, their first reaction is to blame someone else. The pattern always repeats—unless we are honest, acknowledge our mistake, and amend our behavior of course.

Where are fractals in the Quran? They’re in many verses, but we’ll save all the details for another blog post. For now, here’s one verse highlighting the fractal. It’s verse 5:32 and says whoever kills an innocent person it is as if he killed all of mankind, and if he saves an innocent person it is as if he saved all of mankind.

Did you see it? Whether you zoom way out—all of mankind, or zoom way in—just a single person, the pattern is the same!

Well, fractals are all well and good—in fact they’re beyond good since fractals applied to your personal life are some pretty life-changing, breakthrough stuff on their own. You can turn around all the bad habits in your life by stopping the tiny ones you‘re engaged in right now! Told you this was amazing!

What left me in more amazement was to see how fractals apply to iman—the confidence and belief we have in God.

Let’s simplify life down a whole lot. Let’s winnow life down to just two choices: we have the option to doubt or the option to have confidence.

Let’s be scientists here and think about this using all of our experiences as evidence. One option increases difficulty, while the other option increases success. Think about it. When has doubting yourself ever led to success? Now I don’t mean doubting that you can fly off a cliff is a bad thing. I’m saying that doubting yourself, your ability to succeed; having self-doubt because of low self-esteem, this is bad. This choice always leads to difficulty.

Which option will you choose?

We have the choice to think about all of the possible doubts and accomplish nothing, or we have the choice to think about all of the possible positives, as much as we can, and accomplish anything. The choice is ours. Given the two options and the two results, which do you prefer?

To doubt is to increase difficulty in all its forms, always.
To have confidence in is to increase success in all its forms, always.

There are many reasons to doubt but all those reasons are unreasonable in comparison to all the reasons to have confidence.

You can get lost in all the reasons to doubt, admittedly. But if you never compare them to all the reasons to have confidence, you will never realize how unreasonable doubts really are.

This ties in like a fractal pattern to yourself. If you’re a doubtful person, you will also doubt in God. If you are a confident person, you will also be confident in God.2

No matter what happens, no matter how difficult the scenario, you always have trust and confidence in God, just as you always believe in yourself to succeed in any test that God puts you through, or any good undertaking that you apply yourself to. The fractal pattern exists and is hugely beneficial to your personal development! Negativity and all its forms are so closely connected to doubt. Please be positive my brothers my sisters in humanity.

Here is where we see the sickness in the hearts of many materialists. Notice their arguments against God always focus on the world of negatives. They try to increase doubt in themselves and others, but all the while there’s an entire Universe of positives in comparison! We can think about all the positives and be confident in God (and ourselves, his creation), or dwell on the few negatives and doubt God (and ourselves, his creation).

Which option will you choose? To doubt or to be confident?

See you next post, God willing 🙂

 

Footnotes:

1. We will repeat the bad patterns of behavior in our lives, our bad habits, unless we change them. How we change starts with acknowledging our wrongs:

“Except for those who repent, reform, and make (that reform ) manifest, those are whom I turn toward (in mercy) for I am the Acceptor of Repentance, the Merciful.” (2:160)

By repenting, we acknowledge what we’ve done as wrong and by completing the rest of instructions in the verse, we reform and make that reform manifest. This is how to change the fractal patterns of bad behavior in our lives. You can do it! God will help!

2. If you aren’t aware of how doubting God affects you negatively in a material sense, then consider how it affects your psychological wellness. By doubting God, you have nothing to depend on but the material, dependent world. You become fearful, paranoid, pessimistic, possessive, and so on. You are moved by fear, lust, and all things belonging to your lower, material nature. However, the choice to be confident in God is another reality. It leads to all kinds of success. And in being confident in God, you must be confident in yourself, the creation of God.

 

Please feel free to share any thoughts.


Be Thankful—Be Happy

A Thankful and Happy Tree
Last post we talked about happiness and how to reach it using this verse as our guide:

“Only in the remembrance of God do the hearts find peace” (13:28).

Let’s add to that a little bit. One of the easiest ways to remember God is to be thankful to him.
Imagine living in a state of thankfulness. Not the superficial kind but the genuine kind. Your mind focuses on all the positive and the Good. No matter the conditions externally, within yourself, in your heart, you are thankful. This would definitely make all of us much happier.

Can we be thankful even during difficult times? Of course we can 🙂

“If you were to count God’s blessings, you would never be able to. God is indeed the Forgiving, Merciful” (16:18)

Even during the worst of times trust in God and know that he encompasses all. Remember all the blessings God put in your life and be confident that he is here with you. He will pull you through, just like he has countless times before.

Patience is like a badge. It’s earned by going through difficulty. You’ll never know how patient you are until you go through something significant. Well, thankfulness is just like that. You’ll never know the sincerity of your gratitude to God until you go through both the best and worst times in your life. It’s a necessary truth. In this world, all truth is made open and laid bare (you can ignore it, but it’s there). The greatest truth for each of us is the state that we cultivate our souls to reach. There is no greater cultivation than being at harmony with God. Since everything except God is a dependent, our true wholeness comes from submitting to the One, Independent.

Thankfulness is the path to God.

“If you are thankful, I will increase you, and if you are ungrateful, then my punishment is indeed strong” (14:7). (Note that ingratitude is not God punishing us but us punishing ourselves.1)

By being thankful we draw nearer to God. It’s like a plant slurping up rays of sunlight. As its thirst is quenched, it grows. It stretches out its branches and leaves growing ever nearer to the sun, and it grows, and it grows, and it grows. But if we were to be ungrateful, we end up punishing ourselves, like a plant shriveling up its leaves and refusing any light.

Thanklessness and hopelessness go hand and hand. If a plant chose to shrivel up its leaves, it’s choosing the path of hopelessness. Sometimes we human beings do this too. We feel depressed and see nothing good. We curl up and don’t want much to do with the sadness of life. But be strong and be patient. Everything you seek has always been with you. Your empowerment comes from God. The Light of God is in your heart and all about it. True happiness is in the Independent Creator.

Remember that the choice to be thankful is the choice to stretch out your branches and open up your leaves, while the choice to be thankless is the choice to curl them up and sulk. Remember God with your heart. Be thankful. Be happy 🙂

See you next post, God willing 🙂

 

Footnotes:

1. The punishment we receive is not God punishing us. It’s really how we are punishing ourselves. Here’s a verse communicating this point:

“Are they waiting for angels to come to them or for the command of your Lord to descend? This is how those who were before them acted. And God did not wrong them but they wronged themselves” (16:33).

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

 


Only with God do Hearts Find Happiness

A Happy Heart

What is happiness but satisfaction?

What is satisfaction but true peace, inward and outward?

We read in the Quran that,

“Only in the remembrance of God do the hearts find peace” (13:28).

True satisfaction, harmony, and peace only come from a heart at one with its Creator.

We may find satisfaction in other things, but it will ultimately be superficial and short-lived. This includes satisfaction with your toy collection, your home, and even people (like relationships with people that are devoid of higher divine truths like honesty and love). Everything other than God is dependent and no amount of those things will ever satisfy the lower, worldly nature.

The material world is not all bad of course. In fact we pray for “the good in this world and the good in the hereafter” (2:201). But only through a heart that’s conscious of its Creator can we enjoy the material world on genuine, deeper levels.

There are three different stages of the soul mentioned in the Quran, and they seem to speak on the different stages of happiness:

the soul commanding towards evil (12:53),
the soul reproaching itself (75:2), and
the soul at peace (89:27).

The “soul that commands towards evil” is the soul intoxicated by the material. It does anything for its “fix” and ignores its higher nature for the lure of the worldly. No matter the momentary satisfaction it gets, with the new day, it’s more hungover from the escapades of the last than satisfied. The lower nature will never find true happiness. It is unsettled, fearful, lustful, discontent, and in disharmony with reality.

The next stage of the soul represents higher awareness. The “soul reproaching itself” is a soul that acknowledges its own wrong actions. We all do wrong, and we all need to improve because no one is perfect. Only God is. To accept that you are doing a wrong is the first, pivotal step in purifying yourself. Unlike the soul that commands towards evil, this stage of the soul is aware of its higher nature and strives to be guided by it. It’s trying to right its wrongs and lift itself up from the numbing dishonesty and appetite of the lower nature. This soul is seeing happiness at the end of the tunnel!1

The epitome of the soul’s development is “the soul at peace.” In Arabic it’s called nafs muthma’inna.

“Oh soul at peace, return to your Lord satisfying and satisfied” (89:27-28).

Although this verse mentions the “soul at peace returning to your Lord” in the context of the next life, we can attain this beautiful sate of harmony with God right here in this life.

How do we return to our Lord, The Truth, The Compassionate, The Merciful, here in this life? How do we harmonize with The Light of the universe that cradles the heartbeat of every creature on this beautiful planet?

The answer is to harmonize with the truth that God inspired in you. It’s there. Be silent. Open your ears.

“And He inspired in [the soul] its wrong and its right” (91:8).

Harmony with God grows from within, from a state of being inside of you, and then affects everything external. Remember that “Only in the remembrance of God do the hearts find peace” (13:28). We can all reach the nafs muthma’inna, the state of true peace and harmony with The Reality.1  To be at harmony with God, you must certainly stand with truth and forsake what’s false. This is not easy. But it’s worth it. Trust in God, be patient, and progress.

Islam means submission and comes from the root of the word for peace. To be Muslim is to submit to the reality of God’s Light. And herein is peace. It is the truest happiness and satisfaction our souls will ever experience. Be at harmony with the Creator, with yourself, and all of creation. Be whom God made you to be.

See you next post, God willing 🙂

 

Footnotes:

1.The two higher states of the soul, the soul that acknowledges its wrongs and the soul at peace, are not completely distinct stages. They cycle back and forth between each other and even merge. This is because as human beings we’re constantly in need of self-improvement. So acknowledging our wrongs—no matter how small or big—and striving for better is an unchanging need in our lives. This process of honesty and submitting to reality is part of remembering God and leads our souls to peace.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.


Always Keep Positive; Keep Focus on God

Always Keep Positive Keep Focus on God

No matter what loss you face, keep positive. By keeping positive, you’re keeping focus on God. Isn’t this the most peaceful state you could ever be in anyway? Compare this state of peace to the angst, anger, and all the unsettling feelings that come by focusing on loss.

When you focus on worldly loss, you’ve actually lost God—at least God-mindfulness anyway.

No matter what someone takes away from you by way of false accusation, crime, etc. always keep positive. If you are attached to what you’ve lost or may lose, you will never find peace. God, The Reality, is peace.

One of the most stunning forms of loss comes from “victim-blaming.” All oppressors and arrogant people do it. And what dishonest behavior it is. Imagine being African American. Their ancestors were literally robbed from their homeland and brought to the Americas, robbed of their freedom, robbed of any kind of compensation for their work, and yet, they are constantly portrayed as thieves by those who control the media. How absurd! It’s unfortunate how this subconscious programming affects us and why it’s done.1

No matter the depth of the loss, or the breadth of its injustice, keep positive, and focus on God. Be aware of the loss, as you would a compass needle pointing to success. Learn the lessons from the loss, but do not focus on it. If you do, it will consume you and strip you of your mindfulness of God. Forget the worldly losses because if you don’t, you, yourself, will be lost.2

Where in the Quran have we been taught this? The Quran is so relevant and gorgeous that we can even explore specific examples of “victim-blaming.” The response towards this type of loss or any other is still the same however.

Prophet Yusuf (the Arabic name for Prophet Joseph) is our beautiful example. So many perpetrated crimes against him, and these same people turned around to blame Prophet Joseph for the very things they did to him. The Prophet’s brothers threw him down a well and abandoned him because of their jealousy and desire for their father’s attention. Many years passed and they met Joseph as an adult, but didn’t recognize him. When his brothers speak about their long-lost younger brother, they call Joseph a thief (12:15)! These are the same people that abducted him and attempted to destroy his life. They stole him from his loving father and threw him into a dark well, all alone.

He experienced victim-blaming in another instance too. Prophet Joseph resisted the seduction of a married woman but when this incident came to light, the seductress accused the Prophet of trying to seduce her (12:23–26)! As a result, he was sent to prison and spent many years there, convicted of crimes others committed against him.

You’d think these were terrible losses. You’d be upset at the moments with his father that he’d lost, at his criminally-minded brothers who stole him as a child but blame him as a thief instead, at the years lost in prison when he could have been enjoying life. You would only think this way if you focus on the loss.

Always keep positive. Keep focus on God.

When you focus on God, watch what happens to our impression of the story. Prophet Joseph was never alone in the well nor in the prison. He always had God with him. His life was not ruined. Through his patience in the well, in servitude, and in prison, he earned honor. After being freed, he was even awarded a position of high ranking in the Egyptian government. (12:54-56). Prophet Joseph always kept focus on God. When the Prophet revealed his identity to his brothers, he didn’t use his power to imprison them or avenge any loss, but he forgave them and called them all to live in Egypt with him as a family (12:92 & 99). Can you believe that? You should 🙂

Through all of the worldly losses he faced, he kept focus on God. He knew that God, The Truth, would avail him.

To let others’ actions born of a lower mind state strip you of your God-mindfulness is the worst and most consequential impact of any perceived wrong against you.

We cannot focus on the loss, for whatever we lose always belonged to God anyway: “to God we belong and to Him we return” (2: 156).

And as we “return to God,” even if this return is not physical as with death but spiritual as with our mindfulness turning back towards him, we realize that we always have everything we ever need.

 

Footnotes:

1. There is an insightful paper titled, “Seeing Black: Race, Crime, and Visual Processing” by researchers at Stanford, Yale, and a few other universities: http://web.stanford.edu/~eberhard/downloads/2004-SeeingBlackRaceCrimeandVisualProcessing.pdf

Their research shows that ordinary people regularly exposed to media programming make a split-second judgement upon Africans as being criminals—subconsciously! Sick ruling powers use these feelings of suspicion, frustration and hatred to divide the citizenry against each other. Why? To divide and conquer. It’s how such rulers choose to remain in power. There is a choice though. To choose to rule through fear and negativity is the path of least resistance. It’s easiest. Real strength and intelligence is exemplified by doing what’s considered impossible. Why not rule through humility and honesty?

2. This paragraph may seem a bit confusing. How can we be aware of the loss, but also forget it? We should ignore the negativity of the losses we experience but embrace their positivity. There is positive in everything because God is constantly teaching us. Learn the lessons we need and grow, but make sure to release everything else. Think of it like food. Keep what is beneficial and release the toxic.

 

Please feel free to share any thoughts.


We All Have Self-Confidence

Heart with light beaming from within

Self-confidence is worth so much, yet you can’t put a price on it. It can’t be bought. It’s the very definition of priceless 🙂

Self-confidence means not only to believe in yourself—that you can succeed in anything—but also to regard yourself. It goes deeper than that though. Self-confidence doesn’t come from just your material accomplishments, your material losses and gains. It doesn’t come from your association with a tribe, society, language, or government (see 49:13 for clarity). These are all hollow forms of self-confidence because they’re material—they’re all worldly. The material world and everything in it is ultimately an illusion. Don’t take my word for it:

[…]the life of this world is nothing but the wares of illusion. (3:185)

Your self-confidence should not be based on an illusion. That’s the definition of being delusional. Some people may give an air of self-confidence, but it’s actually a facade covering their arrogance. We’ll touch on the distinction between these below. Everything material is dependent and will all fade away:

All that is on (the earth) will pass away. Yet the face of your Lord, full of majesty and honor, will remain. (55:26-27)

Real self-confidence springs from something much greater than material. Self-confidence can’t be bought or pretended. It’s something known. It’s innate. And not just to a few of us either, but self-confidence is innate to all of us.

Here’s the proof 🙂

We are all the creations of God, al-Haqq (the Truth).1

That’s the answer. Pure and simple. That is the source of all our self-confidence, or at least it should be.

If we lack self-confidence, yet we believe in God, the Truth, then that’s a sign that something needs improvement.

We can’t have low self-esteem if we know who created our “self” the first place. Malcolm X once said, “You can’t hate your origin and not hate yourself.” He was talking specifically about how people of African origins are taught to hate Africa, but it also applies in a larger context. We can’t hate ourselves and not hate God, our Originator (even though this hate can be subtle). We can’t think of ourselves as deficient and not think of our Creator as deficient. We can’t think of ourselves as inherent failures without implicating God in the process.

Yes, reproaching yourself for a wrong that you’ve done is essential and absolutely healthy. Acknowledging your mistakes and your failures is necessary. But the sum of all your failures still doesn’t mean you should hate yourself, because your essence, your spirit, is from the Divine. Your self-esteem should always be rooted in this. You must know who you are: the creation of the Divine.

You are not perfect, but your Creator is. And his creation of you is perfect!

God did not make a failure, although you do fail at times. Acknowledge when you do and grow from it. That is how we achieve “perfection” as human beings.

And herein is the beautiful balance. Esteem yourself, because your Originator is the most high. But the moment you esteem yourself based on the material, lower desires, you will unavoidably become arrogant and detach yourself from God, the Most High.

Let’s look at how majestically God reminds the material-minded of this fact. The following verse is about as divinely ironic as I can think of! Since they worship the material, then why don’t they consider from what material thing they were created?

So let man consider from what he was created. He was created from a fluid issuing out. (86:5-6)

Arrogance is based on the material, so let them remember that they were created from an ooze of sperm. That should check anyone’s arrogance—if they are honest. (Since things are rarely black and white, there are material-minded people with self-confidence not based on the worldly—see footnote 2).2

Yet for those who worship the Independent, their self-confidence springs from the Truth, the Reality beyond all material: that they are indeed creations of the Most High.

Believe in yourself like you believe in the sun rising. Believe in your abilities like a bird believes in its ability to fly. Neither can the sun nor the birds explain how they do what they do. They are just thankful to their Creator, know that they can, and do! As human beings we have the ability to become the best of creation or the worst (98:6-7). We learn and grow, perfect and improve. Believe in yourself and strive to do all that is best (2:148)!

See you next post, God willing 🙂

 

 

Footnotes:

1. The Truth, the Independent, the Originator, the Most High: these are all some of God’s beautiful names.

2. The Truth manifests itself in our lives in many ways. A material-minded person can have sparks of true self-confidence if it is based on the truth he’s experienced. For example, everyone has the innate knowledge of God in their hearts, even if they don’t consciously express it. They will believe in themselves because of something special within. Something they know for certain within them that’s special. By it’s very nature, the “special” within cannot be material! In fact, it is the light of our Creator. This point is so ironic. Even a zealous materialist who knows there is something special within him or her must admit that it’s not material! Wow! Reminds me of the verse where God says that we submit to him willingly or unwillingly (3:83)   🙂

 

Please feel free to share your thoughts.


Trust & Denial, Iman & Kufr

Iman is rooted to the ground and strecthes far above.

Iman is quite important in Islam. It nourishes our conscious connection to the Creator. It’s usually translated as belief or faith. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “lost in translation.” Well, it definitely applies here because iman means so much more than its common translation. It also means confidence and trust.

Why do faith and belief not do iman justice? Because faith and belief have a popular connotation, an underlying sense, that you can believe in something without experience and proof (actually this meaning has become an entry in the dictionary.)1 We can have faith in something absolutely imaginary, like having faith in the Easter Bunny, Spiderman, our own prideful nature. Confidence and trust have a different connotation. Although one of the meanings of confidence is to be presumptuous, the overall connotation of confidence gives another sense. When you’re confident in something, you trust in it based on previous experiences. This is the aspect of iman that’s lost in translation.

Iman is not about having blind faith in the Creator. Iman is to have faith based on experience and evidence. Notice in the Quran that whenever God calls people to have iman, he says things like, “Remember when we did this for you,” “Do you not see how we do this for you?” and “Think about what we do here.” Here are some examples:

Have they not considered how we drive water to dry earth and produce harvest from which you and your livestock eat? Will you not see?” (32:27)

[…] When (the mother) has become heavy (with child) the parents call out to God, their Lord, “Give us a healthy child and we will indeed be grateful.” But when he blesses them with a healthy child they ascribe partners to the (blessing) which He gave them. God is above all the partners they ascribe. (7:189-190)

And (remember) when we established the (sacred) house (in Mecca) as an abode for mankind and made it secure, and (said), “take the station of Abraham as a place of prayer.” […] (2:125)

Here’s a quick but very insightful side note. My friend Adib made a great point: Every instance God says, “Remember” and follows it by recounting some gracious event, like “Remember when we saved you from the Pharaoh” (14:6), God isn’t just talking to the Children of Israel, but he’s also reminding us of some favor he bestowed upon us like the time he saved us from some type of oppressive influence in our lives, for example. The Quran is, after all, a book made for each and every reader’s own, personal growth. Let’s get back to the point about iman 🙂

Iman isn’t a baseless belief in God, but it is a trust and confidence in God that’s grounded in reality and consistent experiences.

There are certain things that we have confidence in. For example, the sun rising. We don’t know for a fact that the sun will rise tomorrow. But, it’s been shining for so long, so routinely, that we have confidence that it will rise tomorrow. Because it’s so consistent, our confidence in it is very strong. This is the kind of iman that we’re called to in the Quran. It’s a confidence and trust in God, in the unseen, based on all the things that we do see and experience all of the time. God constantly shows us these things. This is why, in chapter 55, he repeatedly asks,

Which of your Lord’s favors will you deny? (55: 18)

The fact that the favors exist are not disputed by the ungrateful. They can’t deny the shining of the sun, nor the purity of water, but they can deny being grateful to God for these things. And this is a terrible state. It’s a state of dishonesty. In the Quran, this state is described by the word kufr which means to deny the truth of something and be ungrateful.

Even if you are an atheist you should still recognize the countless favors you experience. And if you do recognize them, shouldn’t you at least be thankful for them? To whom should you be thankful? To the being that created them. That is the most honest thing to do because we know, each of us, that we did not create these things.

Remembering God’s favors is the basis of our iman. See you next post, God willing 🙂

 

Footnotes:

1. In modern usage, the word faith has taken a bit of a negative connotation. For example, one definition for faith via Dictionary.com is “belief that is not based on proof.” For this reason, using faith or belief as translations for iman do not do this Quranic term justice.

 

Please feel free to share a comment.


With Every Loss, We Can Gain 2

Tree During Fall/Spring

Ever wonder why

The tests are in our lives?

“We will surely test you by fear and hunger; and loss of property, lives, and fruits. Yet give good news to the patient. Those who, when difficulty afflicts them, proclaim, ‘We belong to God and to Him we will return’” (2:155-156).

Every test, every fitnah, happens by the Will of God. God is not guilty for any test He wills for us.

“He is not questioned about his acts, but they will be questioned about theirs” (21:23)

He is the Creator. He made us. We belong to him. So he can do with us whatever He pleases.

He is Independent.

It is we who are dependent.

We submit to Reality,

Either willingly

Or unwillingly,

But,

He never wills as a sadist

He always wills what’s Best,

Trust Him.

Everything that happens to us,

Everything lost

Is a reminder

not only of Everything we have,

“If you were to count God’s blessings, you would never be able to. God is indeed the Forgiving, Merciful” (16:18)

or where we are in our journey,

(Are we so pained by the hurt in our past

That we hurt ourselves and others?)

More important than that,

With Every loss, we can Gain.

 

We are not defined by what we have.

Perhaps it takes loss for us to realize that.

We are not defined by what we’ve lost.

Perhaps it takes acceptance

and patience for us to realize this.

Everything we’ve lost was given to us by God

In the first place.

It is His to give

and His to take.

 

Everything we lose,

if we accept it and trust,

Have hope in our Creator,

He Will Produce Something Greater,

Allahu akbar :

God is Greater

 

For with every loss, we can Gain:

Know better where we are:

dishonest, pompous, hopeless?

Humble, Hopeful, Honest?

Yes,

With every loss, we can Gain

A Gain that is greater still—

One never lost—

So Great

Indeed

Is God, The Greatest

 

 

Please feel free to share your thoughts.


Have a Question? Follow the Connections

A bursting chain in the form of a question mark linking to answers
As you’ve read the Quran, many questions likely crop up. What should you do when you have yourself an unanswered question? The answer is simple. Ask God to help you find the answer, and patiently apply your own effort in its search.

A verse that always puzzled me was the one in Surah 2 saying that the fuel for the Fire is “men and stones” (2:24). After reading this for a while, the thought came up, “What did stones do to deserve being in the Fire?” This is really a sincere question and wasn’t meant to be difficult or nitpicky. It is sincere because everything created worships the Creator, even stones, although their worship is in a language that we don’t understand:

Do you not see that everything in the heavens and everything on the earth bows down to God in worship: the sun, the moon, and the stars; the hills, trees, and animals; and multitudes from among mankind? But multitudes are (also) deserving of Punishment. Whomever God disgraces none can ennoble. Indeed, God does whatever He wills (22:18).

The seven heavens and the earth and all beings within sing His glory. There is not a thing but celebrates His praise, yet you do not understand how they praise Him. He is indeed Forbearing, Ever-Forgiving (17:44).

So everything, even stones, really does worship the Creator. Then why are they in the Fire?1

Whenever you’ve got a question about a verse, ask the Creator for the answer, then start searching through his glorious book. He always answers!2 And since the whole of the Quran is connected, the answers are always in other verses. Let’s keep reading to find our answer!

Some verses after 2:24, we find 2:74 saying, the hearts of the ungrateful are “hardened like stones—nay, they are much harder.”3 Did you notice what just happened? Read on! The verse continues:

For there are some stones from which rivers gush forth, others that split and water comes forth, and others that sink from fear of God. And God is not heedless of your behavior (2:74).

God just defended the sanctity of stones! Have you seen this formula before? First, God compares ungrateful people to something in his creation that seems insignificant, then says, “Nay, the ungrateful are even worse.” Check out this verse where he defends cattle:

We have indeed multiplied many Jinn and men for Hell: they have hearts by which they do not understand, eyes by which they do not see, and ears by which they do not hear. They are like cattle, nay they are more astray. Those are the heedless (7:179).

Although God defends stones and cattle, the question remains: there aren’t cattle in Hell, so why are there stones?

Here’s a magnificent—and somber—answer. When describing the Day of Judgement and the state of the ungrateful who rejected goodness and truth, verse 14:43 says:

Rushing forward with their heads stretched out, their gaze does not return to them and their hearts are a void (14:43)!

Let’s make the connections! Those who rejected truth have hearts harder than stones (2:24). Now we read here that there is a hole, a void, where their hearts are. What do you conclude? Don’t read the next paragraph until you’ve thought about it for yourself. You may have come to a different conclusion than me 🙂

The holes in their chests are what remain after their hearts of stone were removed and used as fuel for the Fire. Subhaan Allah. Real rocks are not in the Fire because they are magnificent creations of God that sing his praises. The stones that are in the Fire are the hardened hearts of the ungrateful.

This is a somber topic, yet the beauty and coherence of the Quran never ceases to amaze! All praise is due God, Lord of the universe 🙂

 

Footnotes:

1. Many commentators say these stones are remnants of idols that people used to worship. Others say that it represents the materialism that the ungrateful used to worship. Neither of these interpretations are totally satisfying because even stones that were part of idols weren’t guilty of worshiping them. They still worshiped God although they were misused.

2. God promises to answer us, but we have to do our part:

And when my servants ask you of me, tell them I am very near. I answer their call when they call upon me. So let them respond to me and have faith in me so they may be rightly guided (2:186).

3. The word kaafiroon used in this verse comes from the same root as kufr. It was translated as “ungrateful people.” This word’s root means many things: to hide or cover something, as a farmer does to a seed in the ground, to hide the truth of a thing, to reject, and to be ungrateful. If you have never heard of kufr being translated as ingratitude, here’s a great verse showing this usage clearly. Verse 14:7 presents shukr, or thankfulness, and kufr as opposite acts. Since shukr means gratitude, kufr best takes the meaning of ingratitude here.

 

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The Two Hemispheres of the Quran Part 3—Allowed or Not?

Mountain with "mutashabehat" written beneath

If you’ve read part 1 and part 2 of this blog post, you’ve discovered the balance between the two types of Quranic verses: mutashabehat and muhkamat. You’ve also discovered how beautiful the mutashabehat are. But should we really reflect upon all those beautiful symbols in the Quran? Since the mutashabehat don’t have a clear meaning but can resemble many things, wouldn’t it be better not to reflect upon them and avoid all the uncertainty?1Some take that position and cite the following verse as their motivation:

He is the one who revealed the Book to you. It comprises verses that are unambiguous [muhkamat], they are the foundation of the Book, while others are unclear and allegorical [mutashaabehat]. As for those in whose hearts is deviance, they follow what is unclear and allegorical thereof, seeking discord and its (absolute) interpretation. No one knows its (absolute) interpretation except God. Those firmly grounded in knowledge say, “We believe in it. The whole of (the Book) is from our Lord.” Yet only those possessing intellect understand (3:7).

Is interpreting the symbols really forbidden? Let’s read a little closer. What’s forbidden is the specific context mentioned in the verse: a deviant heart that ignores the muhkamat and interprets the mutahsabehat with the intention to do harm. These people seek an interpretation that causes disunity & disharmony.

How can an interpretation of a symbolic verse lead to disharmony? One way is that the interpretation is itself not in harmony with the rest of the Quran—and nature. It must be consistent with the whole book. For example, in part 1 of this blog post we discussed the “garment of God-consciousness” and how it connects to Adam and Eve’s nakedness when they ate of the tree. This interpretation is in harmony with the rest of the Quran (in fact, the verses mentioning the garment and Adam and Eve becoming naked are just a few verses apart: 7:22 & 7:26).

If someone interpreted that the “garment of God-consciousness” is what blades of grass wear every night, then this would be an interpretation that’s not in harmony with the rest of the Quran. Any interpretations in disharmony with the Quran will also lead to discord beyond it.

Another part of verse 3:7 is that no one knows the absolute meaning of the symbols in the Quran. Only God does. Only God holds the keys to the mysteries of the Universe. That doesn’t preclude our striving and searching for answers. We can gain a piece of the answer but will never know it in its entirety. No one knows the absolute truth about anything.2 We can study the physics of space but the more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know. By us not knowing and striving for answers, the Creator sets the stage for a beautiful student/teacher relationship!

Remember verse 59:21, mentioned in the previous post. This verse acknowledges the mutashabehat and tells us that their purpose is for us to reflect and engage our minds:

Had We sent down this Quran upon a mountain, you would have seen it humble itself and split apart from fear of God. Thus do We provide examples to mankind so they may reflect (59:21).

Thinking about the Quran’s symbols and allegories, seeking their deeper meaning, allows us to experience the Quran’s beauty for ourselves—each of us individually. It engages our minds and sparks our imaginations. Imagine the magnificence of a mountain whose peaks are so grand that they pierce the highest clouds. Yet even these dominant structures split apart and crumble from their humility and fear of God. Now contrast this with the hearts of some people that are so hardened and sick with arrogance that no amount of truth penetrates.

Everything in our existence is connected. When you see how the many symbols in the Quran are in harmony with each other and how they’re in harmony with nature, you begin to breathe an awareness of the beauty that surrounds us.

Reflecting on the mutashabehat is not only allowed, but it’s commanded. What’s not allowed is going to extremes, like only following one type of verse and ignoring the other, especially with the intention of being dishonest and doing wrong.

 

Footnotes:

1. Mutashabehat most literally means things which “resemble each other.” In terms of the Quran, it refers to verses that are symbolic and allegorical, as the meaning of one concept resembles meanings of another.

2. No person’s knowledge of anything is complete, since we are not God. This verse explains it best, “[…] Above every possessor of knowledge is a one (more) knowledgeable” (12:76). If a person’s knowledge were complete, then they wouldn’t need the Creator.We are all inherently dependent and always in need of God, The Independent.

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The Two Hemispheres of the Quran Part 2 —Beautiful Symbols 1

Symbolism of Tree and Quran

If you’ve read our earlier post, “The Two Hemispheres of the Quran Part 1,” then you’ve tasted a little bit of the beauty of the mutashabehat, the Quran’s symbols.

Isn’t beauty subjective though? It is in the eye of the beholder, so everyone wouldn’t consider the mutashabehat beautiful, right? The beauty of the Quran’s symbols is like the beauty of nature surrounding us: like the beauty of the moon, or Niagara Falls, or Mount Everest. You may find some arguing that nature isn’t beautiful, but who really does that?

The following is a bit of a digression: We cannot consider nature ugly without considering ourselves the same since we are also part of nature. We also can never consider ourselves ugly—absolutely none of us—because our Creator is the Most Beautiful. Since we are the creation of the Most Beautiful, we are necessarily beautiful. No matter what worldly minds may think, each of us, as a creation of God, is indeed beautiful.1

Anyway, back to the topic of this post 🙂

Nature is the closest thing humans have to an objective standard of beauty. But didn’t I equate the beauty in nature with the beauty of the Quran’s symbols? Is there any strong evidence for such a conclusion? Yes, there is!

Isn’t God the author of nature? And for us, isn’t he also the author of the Quran? Well, take a peek at this verse:

We have revealed to you the most beautiful message,a book that is allegorical [mutashaabehan] and repeating […] (39:23).2,3
When God, the author of all the beauty in nature, says that symbols are part of what make the Quran beautiful, we can confidently say that the Quran’s symbols are as objectively beautiful as the moon, or Niagara Falls, or Mount Everest.4

And there you have it! The mutashabehat are beautiful indeed. The author of nature and the Quran says so. It’s up to us to discover this truth for ourselves. Open the Quran and start reflecting!

Some caution that we shouldn’t reflect upon the Quran’s symbols because no one really knows their true meaning. They use verse 3:7 as their basis. We’ll discuss this idea in part 3 of this blog post, but until then here’s a quick preview with a verse telling us just the opposite:

Had We sent down this Quran upon a mountain, you would have seen it humble itself and split apart from fear of God. Thus do We provide examples to mankind so they may reflect (59:21).

The verse above is a symbolic, allegorical verse. No doubt about that. And God tells us directly that he made it for the expressed purpose of engaging our minds and having us reflect. No doubt about that either 🙂 See you next post!

 

Footnotes:

1. Behavior can make a person seem beautiful or unattractive, but even people who have behaved in the worst ways are still beautiful as creations of God. Actions are ugly, but the person is not. As long as they breathe, they can repent. Reform is a beautiful thing, and each of us, no matter what, has the Light of God in our hearts. Let’s harmonize with the Light within 🙂

2. In Arabic, the word ahsan used in this verse can mean both “best” and “beautiful.”

3. Mutashabehan is an adjective form of mutashebehat.

4. We may use different terms in English to define the word mutahsabehat, such as  symbols or allegories, but both English meanings can be encompassed by the word “mutashabehat.”

 

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The Two Hemispheres of the Quran Part 1 7

Brain top view copyright Confirmwithin.com

Have you ever thought of the Quran as an allegory of the human mind? We know that the Quran is made for the human brain, but did you know that the human brain is also made for the Quran? Let’s clear this up. The brain has two hemispheres, right? Well, so does the Quran. It has two types of verses:

He is the one who revealed the Book to you. It contains verses that are clear [muhkamat], they are the foundation of the Book, while others are unclear and allegorical [mutashabehat] [. . .] (3:7)

The verses called the muhkamat are about laws and religious duties, like prayer and fasting, while the other verses, called the mutashabehat, are figurative and symbolic. (We’ll discuss the rest of this verse 3:7 in Part 3 of this blog post).

If we look at how the brain deals with language, notice that the left hemisphere recognizes the grammar and laws of arranging words while the right hemisphere mostly senses the emotional meaning of language through the rhythm of sounds.1

Isn’t this duality simply astounding? Not only do the brain and the Quran have two parts to their setup, but their functions mirror each other!2 The muhkamat deal with laws just like the left hemisphere, while the mutashabehat deal with abstract things like allegories and figurative language, much like the more abstract concept of emotion that the right hemisphere helps with.

Here’s an example of a mutashabehat verse. Do you remember the verse about the “garment of God-consciousness” being the best clothes we could ever wear?

O Children of Adam! We have given you garments to cover your shame and as an adornment. But the garment of God-consciousness [taqwa]—that is best. These are among the Signs of God so people may benefit (7:26).3

Being conscious of God/taqwa is a state of mind, but it isn’t clothes that we wear like a garment. So what could this mean? How could we wear taqwa? This verse is figurative 🙂

Let’s reflect on this a little to figure out what it means. What do we use clothes for? Clothes protect us from the heat and the cold, they beautify our appearance, and they cover our shame. Now think about being aware of God. What a beautiful and powerful state of mind. The garment of taqwa protects us and beautifies us like no other garment ever could!

Isn’t it interesting that Adam and Eve, peace be upon them, became naked when they ate the fruit of the tree?

Then [Satan] misled them through deceit. When (Adam & Eve) tasted (the fruit) of the tree, their shame became apparent to them and they began covering themselves with leaves in the Garden (7:22).

Did you notice something? What garment did Adam and Eve lose that exposed their nakedness? They lost their garment of taqwa! This is what left Adam and Eve naked and vulnerable, exposing their shame.4

Adam and Eve’s nakedness via the “original sin” of eating from the tree is in the Bible too, but the deeper understanding we have comes from the symbols placed so conveniently side by side in the Quran: 7:22 mentions their nakedness and 7:26 mentions the garment of taqwa! Adam and Eve didn’t just become naked as some people often think. They became naked because they lost their garment of God consciousness! This is indeed the worst kind of nakedness.

God is certainly our Master Teacher!

Let this beautiful symbolism be a divine warning. Do not let the embodiment of evil, Satan, strip us of our garment of God-consciousness, leaving us naked, vulnerable, and exposed to our lower nature, but let our garments be a source of protection and beauty.

Wow! The Quran is marvelous indeed, and we better understood its beauty by reflecting on its symbols, the mutashabehat. When you have two things residing in the same place, you must end up with balance. There’s a balance in our anatomy between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and there should just as importantly be a balance in how we read the Quran. Let’s appreciate both types of its verses: the muhkamaat and the mutashabehaat. We are a “community of the middle way” after all (see 2:143).

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post discussing the beauty of the Quran’s symbols and the divine command to reflect upon them 🙂

 

Footnotes:

1. Carl Zimmer, “The Big Similarities & Quirky Differences Between Our Left and Right Brains,” Discover Magazine, April 2009, accessed March 14, 2015.http://discovermagazine.com/2009/may/15-big-similarities-and-quirky-differences-between-our-left-and-right-brains

2. At least in terms of how the brain deals with language.

3. Taqwa is the Arabic word for being aware and mindful of God, so the word “God-consciousness” is often used as its translation.

4. A friend mentioned this beautiful connection to me. Its credit is due to the deep-sighted Imam Warith Deen Muhammad.

 

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The Balance of Good & Evil / Yin & Yang

yinyang

In many Eastern traditions, like Taoism, the Yin and Yang represent the balance of light and dark, good and evil. Perhaps you’ve even heard some Eastern practitioners say that there’s no difference between good and evil. Many don’t mean this literally, but still, it’s a murky message to plant in people’s minds—especially to new students who tend to take everything literally.*

Yin and Yang emphasize balance. Let’s see what the Quran says about balance:  we are a “community of the middle way” (2:143), when praying we should “not be too loud, nor too low, but seek a way in between” (17:110), and when giving charity we should “not be too extravagant, nor too tight-fisted, but be balanced in between” (25:67).

That’s a lot of talk about balance. This thought leaped into mind, “If balance is so key, then a criminal could justify doing evil because he’s trying to “balance” the good in the world.” (This is warping the concept of Yin and Yang by the way). The Quran provides clarity to every system of knowledge, including the symbols in Taoism. How cool is that! Read on, and correct me if I’m wrong.

For starters, light and darkness are not equal in the least. Light really exists but darkness only exists in light’s absence. As the sun sets, darkness creeps in. But when the sun rises, it wipes away all the darkness. In this duality, Light is independent of darkness, and darkness is dependent. God puts this very clearly in an insightful verse:

“The blind and the seeing are not equal,
Neither is the darkness (equal to) the Light,
Nor the (coolness of) the shade and the heat,
Nor the living and the dead.
God indeed makes whomever He wills listen,
But you cannot make those (interred) in graves to listen” (35:19–22).

The same independent/dependent relationship exists between heat and cold, life and death, and even truth and falsehood. Where there is heat, there is no cold, where there is life, there is no death. Life is the independent. There is nothing to death but the absence of life.** The two aren’t equal. And this is where the diagram of Yin and Yang is not accurate when viewed superficially. It gives the impression that evil and good, light and dark are equal, when in fact they aren’t.

When asking God for clarity on this question, I came to this amazing, yet simple verse speaking about something we see in  nature all the time:

“Have you not considered your Lord, how He stretches the shadow?
Had He willed, He  could have made it remain in place, then We did make the Sun its guide” (25:45)

This is really stunning! The Yin, represented by the shadow, is actually dependent upon the light. No one can say they’re equal. Just go outside and take a look at nature. The Sun’s light guides the shadow! When the light commands one location, the shadow submissively responds and moves accordingly. That’s not an equal relationship, but a relationship between independent and dependent.

Since students of the divine always strive to submit to the Truth, one of God’s beautiful names, we seek to harmonize with the Independent. That Independent is God. Yes, there is potential for evil in all of us, and yes that is a challenge and test for us to grow and learn through, but light & dark, good & evil are not equal. We neither submit to darkness, to evil, nor to death. We submit to Light, to Goodness, and to the Living (these are all God’s names by the way). The next time someone misunderstands the good and evil/Yin and Yang, quote them this verse, and tell them to look outside 🙂

I don’t know about you, but this left a beaming smile on my face. I better understood verse 25:45 only by considering the ideas of other spiritual systems of the world. I asked God about the Yin and Yang. Not only did the Creator answer these questions, but his answers help clarify meanings of symbols for followers of spiritual systems across the world! Thank you God for being so Great!

 

Footnotes:

* If Eastern practitioners meant this literally, they would promote heinous behavior, which real practitioners do not do. This is a description of Yin Yang from a Taoist source here: http://personaltao.com/teachings/questions/what-is-yin-yang/

If you read the comments on this site you will see some misunderstanding the Yin and Yang by saying that they are seeking a balance between their evil and good tendencies since no one can be all good.  They are justifying continuing their evil actions, just like the example of the criminal mentioned in our post. Of course no one is all good. That is because we are dependent creatures. Only the Independent, our Creator, is all good. Their philosophy will only lead to stagnation. How could you grow by justifying your evils and continuing them? Growth is to strive to purify those evils and harmonize with Good as best we can, to constantly seek improvement day by day. Forgive this expression, but yes we must defecate everyday. But we don’t keep that waste in our body. That will only lead to death. The body constantly strives to purify itself: it takes in food, keeps what’s good, and gets rid of what is evil. You can’t use the beautiful concept of “balance” to justify holding on to filth.

** I first heard this beautiful presentation of ideas in a debate between a theist, Rajab Ali, and an atheist, Dan Barker, on YouTube. I remembered the verse in the Quran and concluded that’s where Rajab Ali was inspired to make that profound point: verses 35:19-22! You can see the debate here:

“Theist Vs Atheist Debate: ‘Does God Not Exist?’ (Part 1/3).” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlaEPERULhc

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Welcome & Peace!

Welcome, dear visitor. We hope to make this a refreshing oasis on your journey through the internet. This site’s purpose is to reflect a little good through the earth. All good comes from God, the Light of the heavens and the earth. There is nothing more fulfilling than being in harmony with God’s light and radiating it through yourself and your environment.

There’s a new book on the way: “Experience the Heights of Symbolic Literature with the Quran.” It presents a refreshing perspective on exploring the tafseer, the meaning of the Quran, using the Quran itself and the symbolic literature all throughout its verses.

This blog will share all things divine, all things natural, and all things spiritual through the light of the Quran, including  all of the content of the book mentioned above. We hope that you benefit! And if you do, please give us a prayer and support our work however you can.

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