“Who is our Lord?” This is the very first and the very last question we are ever asked. It is the question we all answered, when Allah gathered together all the souls:
And Remember when your Lord took form the children of Adam…their descendants, and made them testify of themselves, saying, “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes, Surely we bear witness to that….” (7:172)
In his third talk of the TASAWWUF NOW! FIVE SUNDAYS SERIES (2011-2012), Shaykh Ahmed Abdur Rashid approaches the question“WHO?” from different angles. Following are passages from the talk, which give you a taste of the depth and direction that he takes in addressing this vital question for all sincere seekers. We invite you to listen to the full dars via audio or video (below) or “Download “WHO?” transcript. (pdf)
Shaykh Rashid continues:
This very first question also implies the answer to the question, “Who am I?” That statement of who we are begins this process of reflection and self-examination; if we know Who/Hu is our Lord, then who we are must be in submission to our Lord.’
These questions that continue even to our death, lead one to seek answers during life:
When we pass away, this same question of “who” is also the last question we are asked. As Abu Hurayra reported, the Prophet (salla-Llaahu calayhi wa sallam) said:
When a dead body is buried, two jet-black angels with blue eyes come. One of them is called Munkar and the other Nakir… They ask the dead person, “Who is your Lord, what is your religion, who is your prophet?”
Who is your Lord? Who is your Prophet? And who are you? These are the questions we need to know the answers to, in this life and the next.
Who is our Lord? The answer, of course, is “Allah is my Lord.” But is it enough to name Allah? Or are we really being asked WHO is your Lord? What are the qualities of your Lord? What is your knowledge of your Lord? How can we possibly, really, answer the question, “Who is our Lord?”
Discovering who is our Lord and who are we requires guidance in life of the sincere seeker:
To the Sufi, simply applying the names of the outer world is not sufficient. The outer answers to the questions, “Who am I?” “Who is my Lord” are not enough. We strive to answer the question behind the question. There is something else that is transpiring, and we are seeking it, but at the same time we are caught in this world, we have to live in, and walk in, and speak in this world.
Allah (Subhaanahu wa tacaalaa) provides us with the tools to understand Him, His universe, internal and external. In the external, He gave blessings in the form of scientists like Einstein and Planck and Heisenberg and others who provided us with quantum physics to give us a glimpse into the essential nature of things beyond the logical and reasonable.
And just as He has provided external guides, He has also provided us with internal guides in the form of our Prophets, Awliyaa and Shuyukh. But of course, all intersect within the greater Universe of guidance and understanding of Allah (Subhaanahu wa tacaalaa).
Through these guides we are invited to travel on the path toward knowledge of our self:
For the Sufi, we have means for retraining our minds and intellect to see the hidden meaning behind the apparent reality; through the transmissions, and through contemplation and meditation, we can begin to see, just a little, through the veil of this world, to the greater reality behind.
We have all been invited to this unveiling of truth. We are cordially invited, because of our sincere interest and love; because of our capacity to understand, to join this elect group of people who are given a key to doorways of understanding. Where other people will be standing outside those doorways loving and examining, maybe even worshiping, kissing and appreciating the beauty of the carvings of those doorways, we are the ones who ask what is inside the door.
And they provide the means for that travel:
As Sufis, we are given keys to the non-ordinary states of consciousness, those in which we can go beyond just the three-dimensional world of everyday life and experience multiple dimensions, multiple realities in different time-space relationships. We are guided how to seize the moment (waqt) and use that moment as an entry point to the precincts of the Eternal…Allah (Subhaanahu wa tacaalaa)
The way we look at our life and our work is different; we try to apply that greater understanding of unity to the specific experience in day-to-day life so that the physical reality itself can benefit from the spiritual reality. This is why I call it Applied Sufism.