The Healing Light of the Prophet Muhammad (sal)
Bismillaahi-r-Rahmaani-r-RaheemOh Allah, we ask You for words which will make certain Your Mercy, actions which will make certain Your Forgiveness, freedom from every offence, a supply of every virtue, entering Jannah and safety from the Naar.
Allahumma inna nasaluka mujibati rahmatika, Wa’aza’ima magfiratika, wa salamata min kulli, Itmin, wal-ganimata min kulli birrin, wal-fawza bil-jannati min-a nnar.
(excerpt from lecture)
The Importance of Attitude
But we must also do our part. Even the allopathic doctors now recognize that the attitude of the patient is a part of, if not at least half of the cure. Without the inner motivation, or the opportunity for that motivation, there can be no cure, no good health, no lasting happiness, and no purpose.
How important is attitude? We need only look at the example of the Prophet (sal) to see.
Once a group of Jews in Medina greeted Nebi Muhammad (sal)) by saying, “Al Samu alaykum,” which means, “Death be upon you.” Aisha (raa) grew angry and retorted, “May death be upon you, and curses!” The Prophet (sal) disapproved of what Aisha (radiy Allahu Ta’aalaa anha) had said, commenting,
Innallaaha yuh.ibu-r-rifqa fi-l-amri kulih.
Truly Allah loves kindness in everything.
Allah (swt) loves kindness in everything, from everyone, in every circumstance. Even if there is no kindness in return, still, there should be kindness
We may say to ourselves that such attaining the goal of that frame of mind and heart is unattainable, but most important is our aspiration to that goal. To aspire is natural (himma); but to have positive results, i.e. contentment, fulfillment, sense of progress, it is necessary also to extricate oneself from the grips of disillusionment, fear, and self-doubt. To identify these symptoms, we must genuinely ask ourselves whether or not the “I” wants to change. Every one of us says we do, but it is normal to question whether our aspiration and intention (niyat) can be transformed into something of a higher nature; something that is lasting (a maqam), not a momentary experience. Regular appointments with the spiritual doctor can assure us of progress toward full health and well being, but there is more to understand. The doctor prescribes or gives methods to practice, which assists our body, heart and soul to regulate themselves (like the immune system does for our physical body).
One Sufi master said that,
“No one may be transformed into something greater or higher than the ordinary man by any act or will from the Teacher. Yet, somehow this expectation is fostered by some Teachers (and students), and certainly hoped for by indolent mureeds and mureedas. It is not the role of the teacher to be a miracle worker, although to the receptive heart, many apparent miracles transpire between the teacher and the student. “
The guide certainly can help to mollify our reactions to circumstances; can give us new perspectives, better tools, inspiration, good guidance, and the continuous blessings of his knowledge and his power, developed through his efforts, meditations, prayers, and the blessings of his Shuyukh. But, for the radical change that is necessary for the transformation from sleep to wakefulness, from illness to health, from fear to courage, from doubt to belief, from otherness and blame to selfness and responsibility, it requires totally sincere, practical effort and an active, participatory life in the good works of society, and of the Order, and of the enterprises of the Sheikh, with more than equal attention to inner development, prayer, meditation, service, and community responsibility. It requires that attitude of nebi Muhammad and openness for the fayat (divine energy) to flow over our hearts, as it did with Rasulallah (sal). Obviously, to achieve this it requires a unique individual with a burning desire to achieve a deep level of spiritual awakening.
By looking at Nebi Muhammad (s.alla-llaahu alayhi wa sallam), we see the best example an awakened individual, of someone living the attributes of Allah, with a deep awareness of His nearness to Allah. In a Hadith Qudsi, Allah (Subh.aanahu wa ta’aalaa) said,
…My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him, I am the ears with which he hears, the eyes with which he sees, the hands with which he strikes, and the feet with which he walks.
We see this most clearly in Nebi Muhammad (s.alla-llaahu alayhi wa sallam). The Prophet was a conduit for the attributes of Allah (Subh.aanahu wa tacaalaa) as they are expressed in Allah’s creation. From his light and life we learn to live in the realm of possibilities not just linear probabilities.
To the Sufi, as with the Prophet (sal), all circumstances are essential for developing the qualities necessary to attain higher goals. After all, what is the Divine intention behind creation/life as far as we can understand? Is it not to develop the highest potential in human beings; to realize their divine origin? Is it not the reality of ‘understanding’ the Names of Allah? Yet, since the names are endless, one needs to focus on the lata’if as a means of developing the natural vision or perception from within themselves.
This prescription is progressive and builds inner and outer health and well being. Just as the revelations to Rasul’llah were progressive and timely and build his inner and outer strength and well being. To take the daily outer activities and attribute spiritual significance to them is desirable; it is desirable to weave the outer and the inner aspects of life together. Certainly, the interactions with others in the workplace, the home, or social realms are always opportunities for affirming the Divine names and the Divine attributes; what I refer to as Universal spiritual values…i.e. compassion, tolerance, perseverance, patience etc. They are always an opportunity for refining one’s own self, seeing one’s weaknesses, and developing compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, and patience.
As one advances on the spiritual journey, the truth is revealed about our real state and place: Man ‘arafa nafsu faqad ‘arafa Rabbah[i] “Whosoever knows his self, knows Allah;” the result is automatic: the more one develops a detachment from physical ailments and previous mental fears, the more one is free.
Affirming Unity in Diversity
As we come to know our self better, we see that we are both unique and alike in our state and our challenges. We must know the right approach to the problems and challenges of life. Ibn Araby wrote,
The Divine relationships are diverse only because of the diversity of the states. So there is a remedy for each state… The ill person calls out, “O Cure-Giver! O Healer!” Another one who is hungry calls out, “O Provider!” Another who is drowning calls out, “O Helper!”
These ‘differences’ illustrate the Mercy of the diversity within the Unity that is Allah (swt). The Prophet himself said,
The differences among my followers are a mercy.
This tolerance for diversity amidst unity is the core of the love of the Prophet (s.alla-llaahu alayhi wa sallam). Everything in Creation is a reflection of what is found throughout it, not only the Universes but also a reflection of the essential attributes and relationships within the dynamic reality (Allah swt). Therefore, we can posit that there is relatedness (nisbat) between the names/attributes that are describing Allah (swt) to His Creation/creatures.
Just as we realize that Allah (swt) responds appropriately to circumstances depending on the circumstance or individual; even differently to the same circumstance at different times or in different individuals, so too we see the same thing reflected in nature and especially human communication. It is precisely these parallel characteristics that affirm the continuity and coherence and balance; that affirm the verity, the absolute Truth of the Creator, of Islam.
Striving to ‘overcome’ differences it does not mean to end them, but to incorporate them into our understanding and thinking. Indeed in diversity we find commonality. Take for example, animal behavior. As I prepared this lecture I was watching a woodchuck outside my window. He was no more than 10 feet from me; if I open the window to speak to him, to tell him how beautiful he / she is, he will run. But I sit and watch and marvel at his beauty and attentiveness. The longer I look the more I see, the more I feel relatedness to him/her. He/She stands on his haunches…arms folded , small beard coming from his cheeks like ‘mutton chops’ of the 1700’s. He looks calmly, turning left then right, peaceful… I am relating to him by my human characteristics and values.
When we naturally see such things, reflect upon them:
“…Kadhalika Yubayyinu llahu lakumu-l-ayati la-allakum tatafakkarun…” (Qur’an 2:219)
Allah makes clear the signs to you in order that you might reflect
‘inna fi dhalika la-ayatil-li-qowminy-ya’qilun
‘…Surely in that are Signs for a people who use their intellect…’ Qur’an 13:04
Success Come to Those who Make Sincere Effort
In conclusion, let me speak to the importance of sincere effort in awakening our hearts and reframing our thoughts. If you can awaken your heart, you will find that in your heart, you are standing in the presence of the Prophet (sal); of the Auliya, of the ‘changer of hearts’. In your heart, you are standing in the presence of the abdals, ( deputies of Allah), you are standing in the presence of the Shuyukh. You will be strengthened and you will be liberated. By concentrated focus and meditation on the heart, and then the other lat’aif, under the proper direction, one becomes attuned to the subtleties of the light and its diverse manifestations in the outer realms and in the inner realms. And progress is made quickly. There is no replacement for reframing one’s mind through the verification of the hearts’ submission. There is no replacement for reframing one’s heart through the turning of attention (Main mutawajjeh Qalb ki taraf, Qalb mutawajjeh hay zat pak ki taraf).
“Reframing” in this context, means not only putting things that happen in a positive form, and approaching them in a positive way, but also requiring that they are consistent with the mizan harmony of the inner and outer worlds/ systems. There is no place better to do this than in meditation, association, and accompaniment with love (mayyiat-i-hubb) with the Sheikh. There is no better effort than respect and trust, service and practice, and more practice. I will leave it to another talk or private conversation what that really entails; suffice it to say that the key is love and our subject today really is about being open to develop love, reflect the light of love, and receive it in return.
There is no better resonance than the heart of the Beloved, to be entered into in prayer and meditation, so attend to yourself. Be attentive to the guides. In the mid fourteenth century A.D. Khwaja Allaudin Attar, was asked the question, “Can one give up things by one’s own will?” He replied:
It is desirable that there should be a guide with the spirit of Mohammed in him, so that the heart can lose its own existence in the existence of the guide.
The great teachers have said that success comes only to those who make sincere effort. My beloved guide, Hazrat Azad Rasool, spoke constantly about sincere effort and progress. The help that a teacher can give is dependent upon the readiness of the student to obey the instructions that he or she is given. Without zealous work, the deeper meanings will never be found. The accomplished man or woman that is guiding can only influence a pupil for a few days at a time. There is a saying: “Perseverance cannot be given.”
Khwaja Allaudin said,
When we took part in the groups of Khwaja Bahaudin Naqshband, we tried to hold on to remembering our aim from morning to night. Nevertheless, among all the companions, there were very few who were capable of holding on for one day until nightfall.
What does this do to you when you hear this? Does it inspire you, or does it give you an excuse to remain distant from yourself? Love alone is the key to inspiration and freedom, effort and progress, studentship, and mayy’iat (accompaniment). It is effort that is going to make the difference.
There is no way, without putting our spiritual life first and working at it, that we can escape the fear of change and the anxiety that we all have. There is no way, without doing this, that we can get beyond the negative and destructive history that fashioned our character and life circumstances, and our lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, or it’s reciprocal: arrogance. Fear and arrogance are the same: a lack of ability to be secure in one’s self. I do not think there is anyone in this room who does not have a spark to ignite the fire of realization; bi ithni ‘llah.
And as we fan that small spark, it is the light of Rasullah that will grown in our hears and our lives. As we free ourselves from fear and arrogance, we will be more and more open to the Prophet (sal), who Allah tells us in Qu’an, is our light:
“O Prophet! Truly We have sent you as a Witness, a Bearer of glad tidings, and a Warner, and as one who invites to Allah by His leave, and as a Lamp spreading Light.” (33:45- 46)
Yaa ayyuhaa-n-nabiyyu innaa arsalnaaka shaahidañw-wa mubashshirañw-wa
nadheeraa. Wa daaciyan ilaa-Llaahi bi’idhnihi wa siraajam-muneeraa.
[i] As reported from Ibn al- Sam’ani’s Qawa’id fi Usul al-Fiqh by al-Zarkashi in al-Tadhkira (p. 129), al-Suyuti in the Durar (p. 258 §420) and in the fatwa entitled al-Qawl al-Ashbah fi Hadithi Man ‘Arafa Nafsahu fa-qad ‘Arafa Rabbah in his Hawi lil-Fatawi (2:412) as well as al-Sakhawi in the Maqasid and al-Haytami in his Fatawa Hadithiyya (p. 289).