MUJIZAT AND KARAMAT
All believers believe in extraordinary events seemingly suspending and contravening the regularity of natural events and dictating themselves on a situation in a way impossible to explain except by the Existence and Power of God. No religion has ever offered and explanation for such events except-
ISLAM! (As always the winner).
After all Allah said:
"It is He Who sent His Messenger sws with Guidance and Truth in order to make it to triumph over all religion- Allah is enough as a Witness- Muhammad sws is THE Messenger of Allah" (S. al Fath: 28-29).
But this statement is not made in a vacuum, just asking us to believe. It proves itself by an undeniable proof in the preceding verse; it is only after displaying a miracle in the very text of His Qur'an that Allah makes the statement. He Almighty, All-Gracious said:
"Indeed Allah has honoured His Messenger's dream: You (believers) shall enter the Sacred Prostration Ground (Masjid al Haram), with Allah's permission, safely, shaving your heads short (as part of the rituals) without fear. He already knows (predestined) what you never could know and made a conquest to happen soon".
The visit to the Masjid was the 'umra which was agreed at the Truce of Hudaibia the previous year and the conquest to follow was that of Mecca itself!
How could Muhammad sws dare to prophesy both events on his own, seeing that in case they did not come true he had to explain himself and lose face and more?
Which means accurately prophesying the future is one kind of mujiza or karamat as we later Muslims have come to call them.
Now please note the last sentence. In it lies an example of one of our mistakes after the pure age of the Prophet sws passed away and we dabbled in the culture of people's who had no real Islam for a long time before the advent of Muhammad sws. These were the Christians steeped in Greek-Roman culture and the Persians inheriting and mixing many ancient cultures rich in spurious myth and a habit of gaudy embellishment and outrageous exaggeration. The Greeks analysed and philosophised while the Persians pumped air into their dreams and exaggerated. Before I say more let me hurry to add that I am not against either the Greeks or the Persians or any other nation: All men and all nations have their credits and discredits with Allah and only Allah knows all and can judge. Muslims picked both viruses- the viruses of the Greeks and the Persians, except the most carefully discriminating Muslims.
For example our illustrous Imam al Ghazali learned the Greek philosophy better than anybody else and then demolished all Muslim philosophers like Ibn Rushd who were losing their way under its influence. Our Naqhsibandi masters learned of all spiritual esoteric assumptions and practices of both the Greek Gnostics and Indian yogis but were not deceived by them like some other less careful Sufis; They stuck with the Sunna of Rasulullah sws pure and simple!
Now, what is this a bit off-the-mark mistake we later Muslims did about the concept of extraordinary events happening around prophets and some members of their ummats?
It is inventing two spurious unscriptural concepts and terms, namely 'mujiza' and 'karamat'. They sagaciously explain that an extraordinary effect produced around or by a prophet should be called mujiza and another quite similar effect around or by a good member of the ummat of a prophet should be called 'karamat'. This is not only quite needless but may also be misleading. That is because whoever the person involved the event or effect in question is entirely the work of Allah and Allah alone Who is the "Khaliqu kulli shay'in ''(Surat al An'am: 102), i.e, "The Creator of each and everything". One does not call bread given to a prophet one thing and to another man another thing- both are bread and given by the Lord.
So, what should we call it? Why, what Allah calls it: an 'ayet'- a Sign (from Allah). Allah Almighty, All-Gracious as the BEST SPEAKER OF ARABIC Who cannot be excelled calls all His works- whether regular or extraordinary- 'ayat' and nothing else. He calls the coming of and precipitating rain by the clouds as one of His ayat, He calls the easy flow of sailing ships an ayet and HE CALLS THE CONVERSION OF THE STAFF OF MOSES AS AGAIN AN AYET! He only makes one distinction though. Such phenomenal ayets He gives to His distinguished servants He calls His 'ayet al kabira' but always in the plural form "Ayatuna-l Kubra", "Our Greater Signs". So He All-Wise and All-Kind says:
(After converting the staff into a snake and making the hand of Moses AS to glow white) "That is for Us to show thee something of Our Greater Signs" (S. Ta Ha: 23).
He repeats the same term to describe the experience of Muhammad sws at Mi'raj:
"Laqad ra'a min ayatinal kubra", i.e., "He (Muhammad sws) saw some of Our Greater/Greatest Signs" (S. al Najm: 18).
Yet, it is possible to divide ayat into those about knowledge ('ilmiyya) and deed (kawniyya). The ayat given to the strange companion Moses had sought out as narrated in Surat al Kahf was about knowlede of future possibilities while the ayet signalled by the attendant of Suleiman/Solomon AS when he promised and delivered the throne of the Queen of Sheba was an ayet of deed. Both of course were Allah's first and in full. Nobody can deliver ayat let alone create them. How do 'Ayat al Kubra' sit with other natural events?
Again, such a question suffers from The Greek philosophy. What we mean by 'nature'? If we are to believe the philospers nature is the self-made principle or sum total of the rules of the universe. Today we call it Physical Law. But the Arabic equivalent 'al fitra' is not left in such a vacuum. Allah owns it up in His Qur'an when He Almighty, All-Wise says, DESCRIBING ISLAM:
"Fitrat Allahi Fatara-n-nasi alaiha; la tabdila li khalqillah" (Surat al Rum: 30)
i.e. "(Islam) is the Nature on which Allah created mankind; there can be no change/exception to the creation of Allah".
He All-Gracious is also the Giver of its nature to the universe. He describes Himself:
"Fatir as samawati wa'l-ardi" (S. al An'am: 14), i.e, "The Originator and Nature-Giver of the heavens and the earth".
That ultimately all without exception obey Him one way or another and do His bidding in an ultimate sense He Almighty confirms:
"Are they seeking other than the Religion/LAW of Allah to whom submit (are Muslims) all that are in the heavens and earth willingly or unwillingly and on to Him shall they return" (S. Ali 'Imran: 83)
The Law of Allah is Islam and applies to the whole animate and inanimate creation and ADMITS NO EXCEPTION. From this perspective what we call mujizat and karamat are totally natural as the moderns nowadays term the Divine Law, without being aware of the Divine though. They are equally pre-known to and pre-destined by Allah and happen in due course as routinely and effortlessly on His Part. Lastly, in what way this discussion of this subject applies to and helps us. Let me explain with Allah's permission and by His help if He kindly so pleases:
We must lose the extremely bad and counter-productive habit of seeking mujizat and karamat in ourselves and in others and not entertain such a desire as them when we intend to walk the Sufi path. That is simply destructive of all our prospects on this path. Instead we must launch a career unto death of submitting to Allah's Law stated in the Religion of Islam, both inside (batin) and out (zahir) and keep in mind at all times that the salvation promised IS NO OTHER THAN SELF-SALVATION, SALVATION FROM OUR IMMATURITIES, our bad habits, wrong beliefs and self-subverting and frustrating attitudes. Day by day we must become more serious about and sincere in our faith, day by day we must lose more of our lying and cheating animal instincts, of our greeds and lusts, profane ambitons and poisonous jealousies. Day by day our enthusiasm for salat and saum and sadaqa and if possible zakat must grow, day by day our love towards all loved by Allah and compassion towards all in need of mercy must grow. In fact our love and compassion must be more and more universal until we cannot even hurt an ant or drop a tiny litter on the pavement or break a single rule of traffic- all governmental laws and the rules of any society we live in are Allah's Own in a special sense- except when involving an explicit sin. We must remember that when the Messenger of Allah had to spit on the ground he used to rub it into earth by rubbing his shoe over it- he was so citizenly and civilised. He was the man with the most constant smile and so must we be. He never interrupted a talker whoever he was, even when a kafir- so must we be. He was the man in whose vocabulary the word 'No!" did not exist; he would apologise and promise to help if means came his way- and he was sincere- and SO MUST WE BE!
The list can go on as long as the verses of the Qur'an and the pages of a hundred Hadith books go on. And only when we become like this are we true Muslims, true believers and true Sufis and not before or otherwise. Now look around you and see hown many of us fit this description and sit down and covering your face burning with shocked shame with your hands and weep your eyes and heart out! We are anything but like that.
And look what we are best at: Talking about the jinn, talking about how and who starved himself to achieve delusional dreams and make attrocious claims to openings and powers. What are these to us while we remain the same lying, envying, gossipy and superstitious wrecks from the bad dreams world?
But I also have goodnews: It is that whoever takes to the path of self-purification without delay or compromise shall be treated to karamat from day one, beginning like a barely perceptible trickle and gradually if slowly growing into a rivulet, then a river and then a torrent right down from Heaven. All wrong and worryibg things will disappear from him and all the blessing and pleasing things invade his environment and his inner chambers of perception; all the right and ennobling and consoling interpretations of life shall rush on to his mind until he can be described as Allah described His friends whom He so graciously calls His Awliya:
"Alaa inna awliya Allahi la khawfun alaihim wa la hum yahzanun. Allazina amanu wa kanu yattaqun. Lahum ul bushra fi'l hayatid-dunya wa fi'l-Akhira. La tabdila likalimatilllah. Zalika huwa'l fawzul azim"(S. Yunus:62)
or "Beware of the friends of Allah: For them there is no fear nor shall they ever come to grief. THEY ARE THOSE WHO BE-LI-EVE AND HAVE BEEN TREMBLINGLY AND DUTIFULLY OBSERVANT (OF ALLAH'S COMMANDS AND PLEASURE). For them are goodnews both in this world (many lucky breaks with deserved rewards) and and in the Next. THERE CAN BE NO CHANGING OF ALLAH'S WORD (and promise). THIS IS THE GREAT SUCCESS EVER (possible for anybody)".
Yes, BELIEVE, not KNOW. That is beacuse faith is the single greatest source of Divine approval and blessing for us. Once faith becomes knowledge (which we would agree how impossible is that had we known how great and other are the secrets Allah holds in store for us). We are most beloved to Allah when we just believe without seeing and obey without question simply because we have fallen in love with our invisible Beloved and for His sake we can risk and do anything. Only then are we in for rewards about which the Most Beloved of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa sellem) said:
"Allah prepared for His good servants in the Garden what no eyes have ever seen, no ears have even heard of and no imagination could ever conceive".
Among the worst cultural contaminations have been Then comes whether one may pray in absentia to any other than Allah. Can awliya hear us in absentia and can help or intercede for us? We find no confirmation for this claim at all in the the Qur'an al Karim but the very emphatic opposite. Allah is only too emphatic and vehement in claiming all credit and authority EXCLUSIVELY for Himself Almighty in hearing and responding to requests from His servants and challenges us:
"Those whom you call on (pray) to are (helpless) servants like yourselves; call on them of you are truthful" (7: 194), or
"Say: 'Do you see, if punishment of Allah was to come or the hour, to any other than Allah would you call on if you are truthful? Nay, TO HIM (ALMIGHTY) YOU WOULD CALL, Who would then remove what you wanted removed from you, if He so willed and you would forget all partners you imputed to Him" (6: 40- 41).
In fact the verses that dua is only lawful and acceptable when only directed to Allah exclusively are so abundant and unambiguous that one should have no fear of Allah to say otherwise. Allah tells us that even the ploytheists become monotheists at the hour of mortal emergency:
"`It is He Who moves you on the land and the sea. When they are in a ship and a nice wind is helping them on and then comes an angry storm and waves come to them from every direction until they think they are being overwhelmed THEY CALL ON TO ALLAH WITH PURITY OF RELIGION "IF YOU SAVE US FROM THIS WE WILL INDEED BE GRATEFUL" (10: 22)
You see, even crassest mushriks realize eventually that only Allah can be prayed to and can grant what is wanted and at the critical moment DROP their false helpers and apply to Allah DIRECT. What is more, just because for once they called on to Allah and NOT anything or anybody other than Him Allah may SAVE them. So, what about a true Muslim?
Will he call on to Allah and Allah will turn him down and ask him to pray first to such and such man? And Allah in fact taught us many prayers (duas) in His very Qur'an all of which we may use in our salat and other supplications and ALL BEGIN WITH ADRESSING ALLAH DIRECT: Allahumma, Rabbana, Rabbi (o Allah, our Lord, my Lord...) and no other form at all. There are also very many duas Rasulullah sws taught us and again all begin with Allahumma, Rabbana and Rabbi. Are these kind and generous gifts the duas meant not to be accepted by Allah? Can there ever be duas more excellent, legitimate and acceptable duas in the whole universe and should we stoop to the level of Christians and Hindus for example and put a thousand veils or foilers between ourselves and our Lord see duas directed to Jesuses, Marys and St Johns more hopeful than the direct, vigororous and Allah and Prophet taught duas which no other religion can match or boast of?
Yes a 'hadith' or two may include a 'ya Muhammad' phrase but in the face of the Qur'an's EXPLICIT instruction and exemplification and the Prophet's personal duas he legacied to us we may ignore such rarities to say the very least. That praying to any creature is out of question is proven by the following verse where Allah the Most High criticises Ahl al Kitab as follows:
"They took their scholars and mystic-monastic priests (ruhbanahum- their supposed saints) as well as the Christ son of Mary for lords while on the contrary they were commanded to serve and worship One God. There is no god but He and He is high exalted over what they ascribe as partners to Him" (9: 31).
You see, ALLAH, yes ALLLLLAAAH is calling Ahl al Kitab who take their prophets and alims and spiritual men as lords besides Allah MUSHRIKS, those setting up partners to Allah. And Allah spoke the truth; to this day Christians pray to both Jesus and Mary. Yes, Jesus is a prophet and Mary is a saint but Allah is still accusing Christians for taking these two and many more (like St Athanasius, St. Bernard, St, St. St.... ) as deputy gods to whom praying to amounted to taking them for gods. That praying is the ultimate act of worship is proven by Allah's Word:
"What value would Allah attach to you was it not for your praying to Him" (25: 77), i.e., only your making dua to Him endears you to Him!
As for the intercession, this is plainly legitimized and stressed by Allah:
HE ALLOWS SOME SERVANTS TO INTERCEDE WITH HIM ALMIGHTY FOR OTHERS. He All-Gracious says "How many angels are in the heavens whose intercession give no benefit except after Allah's permission for whom He will and is pleased with (53: 26).
So, shafaat is possible but only after Allah allows and He allows it only for His best servants. Sahaba used to go to the Prophet sws and ask him to pray Allah on their behalf seeing that he was the Allah's most beloved Messenger sws. We also can ask fellow Muslims which we think are dear to Allah to pray for us. This is the shafaa in this world. In the next world Allah's beloved shall themselves ask and be given the permission to ask forgiveness for us the pitiful sinners. As we can see from above, all basic and indispensable questions we may ever ask are answered by Allah in advance in His Quran and we are not supposed to play fast and loose with Allah's statements in the Qur'an to justify our any and every fanciful and delicious spiritual delusions, backgrounds or innovations. Genuine hadith can only expand on Allah's answers thanks to the authority Allah delegated to His Messenger sws.
Put together Qur'anic statements and GENUINE Ahadith which constitute a minority among the bulk of ahadith reported in their hundreds of thousands and it is these verses of Allah and the few thousand genuine reports of sayings and doings of His beloved Prophet sws that we must spend our lives on their loving and careful scrutiny and application. Eventually lead us to acceptable faith in enough detail* and higly moralising and gracing character build-up. Spurious, dubious, hair-splittingly miniscule details shoud not delay or distract us from the inalienable aim of Allah and His Messenger sws put before us: BUILDING IN OURSELVES THE HIGHEST MORALS AND MOST GRACEFUL MANNERS. I would humbly suggest that we at Warid spend all our times and energies around this holiest and saintliest aim, helping each other to cultivate humility, brevity, directness and practicality of expression so characteristic of our matchless Prophet sws and to enrich our knowledge and ennoble our emotions in the few moral things that matter with our Creator and enlists for us the intercession of His Prophet sws. Amen.
THE MAD STREAK
The ancients called mad persons demon-possessed (‘majnoon’ in Arabic). The treatment was driving out the demon (exorcism). Jesus (pbuh) is described in the Gospels as a master exorcist among other things. Modern psychiatry denies the existence of demons in any physical form; yet many schools, like the Jungian accept them in a different form as real. Be as it may, there is no doubt that certain people at certain times behave in ways which gives an undeniable impression that they are not their usual selves but are taken over by an invisible stranger who display his or her character through the patient. The ‘possession’ need not be complete nor singular- many patients report hearing voices and even seeing human-shaped beings as well as hearing them talk to them and these companions or visitors which are invisible to others may be more than one. Modern treatment depends on drugs more than on psychotherapy which exorcism is. Results are mixed but almost never completely satisfactory.
But things don’t have to go that far. There are lesser forms of disturbed behaviour in which the patient is undeniably normal and efficient in all practical matters and in fact sometimes brilliant as well but something looks not O.K. It is difficult to put a finger on what is so subtly, even subliminally wrong and one must wait to be amazed by an act of madness to have his suspicions confirmed. It may be an unprovoked anger, a murder or a suicide which looks inexplicable. It is as if in an otherwise perfect personality is hidden a mad streak which takes over the show in certain expected or unexpected situations. It is this mad streak that affect some religious people who are characterized by too much zeal. These will behave like sweet saints until they are unexpectedly crossed. Then the hell breaks loose and woe to the offender!
Who are these people? Firstly they populate not only all religions but all belief systems. Secular ideologies like Marxism and nationalism are as pregnant with it as religious faiths. In each and every case the patient is so good a believer and committed activist that can only be described too good. He is disciplined, ready to sacrifice and fearless in execuction. These types are the darlings of all ordinary religious and ideological leaders and they cannot have enough of them. Lenin’s right-hand man for Bolshevik terror Feliks Dzerzhinskii (1877-1926), head of the notorious Cheka (parent of KGB) was such a darling. He attended the politburo meetings ready to put into execution any decisions taken with an immediate action mandate. In one such meeting he was asked to put in front of Lenin a list of a recent batch of arrests and Lenin, after going through it briefly perhaps whether anybody recognized by him was in it ticked the list in the sense ‘OK I have seen it’ and handed it back to Feliks. That was enough for the man of action. He just slipped away and ordered the immediate execution of the prisoners. Mind you, at the time the method of execution was choking the prisoners with exhaust fumes from a lorry after locking and sealing them up in a shed. Exhaust gases came from a hole through the exhaust pipe was passed. The prisoners died a horrible, protracted death, bleeding from lungs and throwing themselves from place to place in to see the list for a second time he was embarrassed to learn that the prisoners had been executed. Lenin was briefly angry but waved his hand as if to say ‘forget it, mistakes happen sometimes’. Yes, this total disregard for human rights and incredible brutality were practiced supposedly in the interests of creating an utopia on earth which God and His religions were guilty of not creating. To discredit and bury religion the Bolsheviks were practicing the equivalents of the worst abuses of religion: mad-streaked ideological fundamentalism and blood curdling brutality!
Yeah, we said it: Fundamentalism. It means a too literal, too graphic and caricaturised understanding and application of any belief system tied to an action plan. As much as the Bolsheviks the Nazis and the Faschists and as much as any the fundamentalist versions of religious idealisms have been its sufferers. It is not a madness in the normal sense of psychosis for the sufferers are lucidly logical, most of the time decent and even endearing and perhaps also charismatic and very effective in action. It is only a mad streak; yet even worse than ordinary madness for that. The ordinarily mad is easily recognized and being illogical as well as incompetent in many respects can be cornered and isolated. The mad-streaker isn’t like that. If anything, he may be unanswerably convincing and irresistibly ingratiating as well and being therefore very persuasive can abuse his audience and make them work and even die for him. What is more, those who can resist his charms may still feel that they better not cross him but at least appear to support him lest he unleashes his dogs on them. Such was the condition of many Bolsheviks, Nazis and Faschists who felt that if they were to get away with their lives they had to join the chorus and ride the wave and wait for a rescue later.
No need to point out that religious ‘mad-streakism’ which is fundamentalism is the same jam with a different label in a different jar. What we need now is finding the cause (aetiology).
The cause I think to be an imbalance in the mental apparatus. As you may know the present theory is that the brain’s two halves have slightly different hardware. In most people the right half specializes in intuitive, spiritual and artistic skills. These work best when the left half is suppressed. Before I give an exemple let us also see what the left half is like. Here the logical, mathematical and verbal skills dominate. When the left is the stronger half we have a person who is a good speaker, arguer and calculator. But he is less well in intuiting about situations where there isn’t enough objective clues to go on. So, while a mere child with well-developed right half can smell rat from a man talking persuasively on something but giving body-language signals of treachery a professor with a poorly developed right brain will be taken in carried away by the verbal skills of the speaker. For the perceptive right-brainer even the subtlest vacillations in a speakers voice may be enough to see through the spreakers pretense while an extremely left-brain dominated man will be so over-impresed by the mere words spoken by a liar that he won’t see through the pretense even when the man makes faces and undulates his voice to intimate that he is not serious or telling the truth.
For the extremely left-brain dominated there can be no metaphors or over- and under-statements: He perceives them literally and acts accordingly. And that is the basis of the mad-streak which leads to fundamentalism.
Now this inability to perceive both the verbal and non-verbal messages coming from one’s environment makes the sufferer a poor socializer. From an early age his peers, like schoolmates, find him difficult to relate to. He doesn’t seem to understand their jokes, their metaphoric statements or respond to their non-verbal communication signals like an upset face or an inviting gaze. So each side turns away. The normal children forget about the worrying and socially clumsly boy or girl and go about their social interactions with no regrets. Because the loner is shut out from the real social world he now needs another world to feel comfortable and effective in. But that usually has to wait for until he attains his teens. Then the sex hormones switch on and there ensues a rapid development of intellectual capacity and other skills going with adulthood.
Because he is a loner he finds comfort from burying himself in those kinds of books which create and build up in his imagination a world he thinks he can pleasantly inhabit. There are not only vistas and viewpoints which thrill his lonely heart in them but also many friends he can relate to with delight. If he is secularly inclined he will be thrilled by the likes of Das Kapital by Marx or Mein Kampf by Hitler. He will then feel that at long last he has found the explanation to the so far unintelligible workings of society with which he always had found difficult to integrate. He will shout with a happy ‘eureka’. You see, it is not him who has been wrong all along but the rest of the society. They need to be reformed as, for example, Marx or Hitler is prescribing before they will understand and be able to like and follow our loner genius. So he delves even deeper into the master books of his suddenly discovered ideology and seeks to join the ranks of comrades at the first opportunity. From there it remains to be seen where he ends up: At the top of the conspiratorial organization or as one of the first martyrs as a result of participating in one of its necessarily risky plots?
In the case of the ideological discovery and embracement being a religion or cult exactly the same mechanism works. But in the case of a mainstream reputable religion things are a bit different. To see how let us see how any group of religious people differentiate.
Roughly speaking, in each religious group of people, say the muslim ummah, there are three kinds of souls with their respective interpretations of that very same religion. One is the majority and two are minorities.
The majority are made up of people who feel they have to have a faith and a law ‘from above’ just to feel cared for supernaturally and basically safe whatever happens even at death. But beyond that they feel they cannot think about and act according to them too much and at all times. Instead they basically want to live as they like and make a minimum possible investment for an afterlife just in case. And even in this the group display great variations. At the lower end there is barely a lip service and then an almost areligious living while at the higher end we find near complete obedience to the objective rules of religion with only variable moral proof. Thankfully among born muslims in general atheism is relatively rare. Of the two minorities there is a lower end minority and a higher end one. I feel we better begin with the latter.
These are relatively rare souls who have both high left and right brain intelligence. In other words they are both quite logical, rational and expressive, good calculators and planners and also benefit from strong intuitive powers as well as a strong sense of moral compulsion. Their conscience is well developed so that they cannot be happy unless they do their possible best to discharge their obligations to others as well as act most charitably under any circumstances. What is more the good balance of the left and right halves of the brain enables them to win over others without offending them and lead them to realize their potential, each his or her special own, instead of treating them as if they are duplicate robots of a person. Please keep in mind this last point I call x.
The Prophet sws and I think all prophets are of this group, forming the top quality section. A reading of a detailed biography of the Messenger of Allah sws amply demonstrates that. He had the best of both worlds when it came to leadersip and competence. Firstly he was the best of friends- loyal, helpful, witty, charming yet always leading. He was the best of judges, arbiters, traders and organizers. He was the best of speakers- fluent, lucid, practical and to the point always. He was the sincerest and most honest of men. Lastly the most charitable and generous to the full. His intuition was second to none- he simply couldn’t be deceived by big talk or show action (I am not foxy but foxes cannot fox me). He was a superb general and politician- in fact the best. After the Prophet sws and other prophets of course come the true and great awlia (saints) of Islam who are mostly from among the ranks of the Sufis. Their success is based entirely on what the success of the Prophet was based: A superb right-left balance of their enormous mental powers. That is why many are from ‘ahl al bayt’ (descendants) of the Prophet. Because mental powers are genetic based and inheritable. Which means serious muslims should not marry just anybody but marry those whose spiritual ability and moral potential are prominent.
Incidentally and thankfully such people are also often physically beautiful or at least very appealing for some reason. Let me give you some signs. A future saint is somebody who is morally so sensitive and socially so pleasant that you might thing he or she is a naïve and gullible person but if you dare to hoodwink such you find it backfires. They are so blessed that even their ‘mistakes’ bring luck to themselves and others. They seem to be at the right place at the right time for some ‘inexplicable’ reason. If poor they are never destitute nor undignified but somehow get along without complaint. They just have enough. If rich they are very charitable as well as extremely approachable and affable. They are equally at ease with both poor and rich, powerful and weak, sinful or pious people. Why? Because both their rational intelligence and profound intuition contribute to an insight into the truths and realities of the word no other devices can provide. They are the first to respond to a true prophet or true saint (e.g. Abu Bakr to Muhammad) and never to turn back. In fact they are saints from birth and need only further development. Their company soothes you and their word penetrates your heart.
Now these people have something other religious people don’t. It is that they understand metaphor very well. And you may or may not know it all religious dogma is based on metaphor which Allah calls ‘mutashabihat’ in His Qur’an (3:7). Both Allah’s existence and qualities (asma and/or sifat) are metaphoric to start with. For example when we say ‘Allah is great’ it does not mean that He has a size or depth or some other imaginable things which, when compared with things we know, is greater. Even ‘Allah exists’ is a metaphor, because our concept of existing defines only created existence like ours and not Allah’s unknowablity.
The life after death, the scales, the paradise, the hell… are metaphors because the death is such and experience that nobody alive went through it to know what it brings. The concepts like ‘before’ and ‘after’ has no place in the spiritual world for it is a timeless and spaceless world which has something far better than these two physical dimensions. In fact nobody can understand and explain in terms of this world of ours the nature or secrets of what Islam’s dogmas signify without first dying for good. I mean ‘understand’ and ‘explain’ in the normal rational sense, using concepts like time, space, form, sensastion etc. The realities behind the dogmas are utterly incomprehensible in terms of our present concepts as well as non-transmissible in words. But in the prophets and saints are spiritual powers which intimates to them the ineffable realities corresponding to these verbally transmitted dogmas. The faith this ineffable intimation gives is unshakeable and eminently utilizable: the prophet or the saint knows what to want and what not to want from Allah in any given situation and with such matching of their will with Allah’s will their prayers are answered and miracles happen to them. In fact their whole lives is an unbroken spell of miracle and is described as ‘blessed’ (mubarak). This must be tasted to be believed and understood.
It is with this blessed ability of understanding the ineffable as distinct from the verbal and conceptual that puts a prophet or saints I a category of their own. As again metaphorically expressed in the story of Moses and Khidr (Ala nabiyyina wa alayhimas salam) they look free to break the laws of the shariah which shocks the uninitiated but in actual fact they are not breaking the shariah but implementing it in each and every perplexing case. Let’s take the first part of the story. Moses and Khidr board a ship but before it sails Khidr punctures the ship. When the captain discovers the flooding of the vessel he cancels the trip pending repairs. In the mean time a pirate king who was marauding a few miles away in pursuit of ships for capture sails away.
So despite the accusations by Moses (pbuh) of doing illegal damage to a ship Khidr was in fact implementing the shariah by saving the ship from the pirates. The difference between Moses and Khidr was that the latter was given ‘a knowledge from Divine Presence’ (ilm al ladun) which Moses wasn’t given but was seeking. Of course the belief in such a possibility is eminently exploitable by spiritual conmen and has been exploited since time immemorial to this day; but that does not mean that we may discard it just to stay on the safe side. ‘Ilm al ladun’ is still with awlia and we should avail ourselves of its blessings by associating with its owners. The only thing is that our preoccupation should be more with the non-miraculous signs of sainthood of possible saints than the extraordinary effects they seem to cause or produce because the latter may well be magic and magic is nothing but a science and art based on illusion and sleight of hand and is no miracle at all. For example a TV broadcast is magic like a stage magicians producing a rabbit from his hat. Laws of physics are used to produce extraordinary perceptions in both cases. But the possible saints moral and social qualities are unmistakeable: He or she is consistently honest, loyal, considerate and charitable and has no greed for money or being served and will not wax proud or arrogant for example. Personal revenge? Never in his vocabulary.
With this blessing of ilm al ladun the true saint behaves far more flexibly and tolerantly towards both apparent believers and non-believers than mere scholars and muftis which sometimes upset and enrage the latter. But the results the saints get are always better.
Their general tenor is universal compassion and punishing anybody is a rare exception for them. At the first sign of repentance and apology they are readiest not only to forgive but also reward !
We may now turn our attention to the lower end minority of a religious group. They are the mad-streakers, the fanatic, the fundamentalist. As already explained, these suffer from an imbalance of their mental powers: They may have very good left brain skills like logic and persuasive argument and lots of academic skills as well, but their intuition is so weak that the ineffable realities behind the verbally stated dogmas of religion totally escapes them. They cannot mentally function, for example if Allah does not exist in an unadmittedly physical-looking way like sitting on a throne at the top of the physical universe with comings and goings of winged angels as tangible as birds or a hell raging with fires that could melt mountains. The paradise to be paradise must feature orchards of palms and vines and pomegranades and real girls must walk and talk and come to lie with them on demand- just like a very rich man could get for himself in this world.
If Allah said ‘punish this fellow for this felony with this punishment’ nothing more should be read into it, like reading a compassionate intention on the part of Allah to dissuade (deter) intending offenders rather than punish them in each and every case in full. In the last case, while the Prophet sws himself is on record for seeking to dissuade some confessors to adultery to keep it secret and repent in private instead of facing the stone-to-death squad and a thief and his accusers to conspire in a charitable lie to avert the mutilation prescribed… and while both Allah and His Messenger (sws) categorically and emphatically banned espionage on and policing people’s private lives the mad-streakers will have nothing less than espying on, policing, exposing and punishing sinners or alleged sinners with a malicious triumphalism and disgusting gusto that must be seen to be believed. Similarly, while both Allah and His Messenger (sws) and true awlia criticize unbelievers or non-muslims with an ulterior motive of persuading or scaring them into belief and obedience and therefore salvation and to that end will not grudge them some incentives and even bribes the mad-streakers do what?
Look how the Prophet sws treated that adamant unbeliever Safwan b. Umayya after the battle of Hunain after the conquest of Mecca when he gave him a valleyful of red camels from the war booty he was covetously eyeing whereupon Safwan couldn’t stand this miracle of generosity and forgiveness and broke into the ‘kalima’ of iman (embraced Islam). No doubt had someone with the background of Safwan and with his persistence in blasphemy been captured by a mad-streaker leader he would be put to sword on the spot. It is this tolerance of even the worst offenders with an eye on winning to the Truth even such bad apples which distinguishes true servants (ibad) and true friends (awlia) of Allah from the mad-streakers who can only hate and destroy. Unlike the Prophet and the saints they prefer sending people to hell and therefore register one more loss to Allah’s Way and one more gain to the Satan’s instead of registering one more gain to Allah’s Way and one more despair to Iblis Devil. For whom they work one can only wonder. They simply love the materialistic and literal renderings of the dogma articles like hell and paradise and the ruthless ferreting out and destruction of only too fallible fellow muslims on account of their natural sensual indulgences because in the first matter they prefer matter to spirit and cannot consent to serving Allah unless they are promised and given utterly material and sexual rewards and their heart’s flames of jealousy will not be extinguished by the repentance of sexual sinners but only by their horrible destruction.
That behind all the prescriptions and threats of Allah lies only compassion and intent to save rather than wrath and intent to hurt not only totally escape them; they also hate such compassion and hate even more any prospect of Allah forgiving the sinners. It is as if they want to say but cant articulate or dare to say “How dare You o Allah after poisoning and blighting our lives with your terrible threats and horrible laws of worship and abstention to treat those who just enjoyed themselves as you would us who toiled and hurt?”
Because they think what Allah means by His Qur’an is what their simple, idiotic as well as savage minds make of it they dare to think or hide such thoughts as they do. Until and unless they understand that the message of the Qur’an has subtler and nobler meanings thanks to Allah’s infinite compassion and goodwill towards even his weakest or worst servants as well as digest and assimilate such a compassionate outlook they shall neither smell the smell of paradise nor would like others less holy than they attain it.
True believers, true saints are those who keep all the commandments of Allah but without forgetting that the top commandment is unlimited loving kindness and goodwill towards all that Allah granted existence and that working for their salvation is the top salat and zakat without prejudice to ordinary salat and zakat.
THE EMBRIOLOGY OF THE SELF
All of us are selves, call ourselves ‘I’. Listen to quarrelling people, especially children like in a school grounds. Perhaps the most frequently and emphatically said word is ‘I’ and its derivatives ‘me’ and ‘mine’. Each ‘I’ wants to appear as the most right, most deserving and winning etc. Each will go to extreme extents to justify its doings and sayings sometimes even when they are ridiculously or atrociously wrong. Now make no mistake about it. It is this contentious, self-worshipping I which, unless it is subdued by a higher ‘I’ in the same person, is the root cause of all man-made disasters. We may call this self-worshipping ‘I’ the ‘ego’. Like a wild horse it need be tamed before it can be a constructive member of the society. In the end I’s like that of a matured, just and fair person may be produced. We need another term to include all levels of I’s and let that term be ‘self’.
What is the source of this self? It is the Creator. The Creator of the universe replicated His uniqueness, an image of His Self in each and every one of us. But this created self of ours starts like an embryo with a long process of development ahead of it together with many dangers, some of them mortal. Before we go further we need to say something about the structure of human self
The Hologramic Metaphor
A hologram is a 3D picture produced by a special photographic method using lasers instead of ordinary light. The photo of an object so produced is not only 3D solid looking but if cut into pieces each piece contains the whole image and not only a part, as would be the case with an ordinary photo. The Being and man is like that. Although man is only a tiny part of the Being (universe and anything beyond) he contains a working image of the whole Being in himself albeit in fuzzy and diminutive form, like a hologram piece would. As his best ingredient he has an effective image of God which, when developed and served, elevates and saves him. At the worst end he has the Satan which is pure evil intelligence whose mission is tempting him, if possible to destruction.
That is why we are so interested in everything, physically from galaxies and big bang to viruses and quarks and spiritually from God to Devil and all life in between. That is why are able to emphatise with all animals and plants and seek to protect them (e.g. animal rights groups). That is why we have the capacity to respond both to God and the Devil. We can so much identify with all life that we, for example, adore our pets and project into them our feelings and aspirations and they seem to respond to and deserve our love. No other animal has such universal interests and concerns and so much care for everything as a civilised and refined man has. In such men the self is as much universal and perhaps ‘divine’ (or rather Godly) as it is personal and self-protective. Their hologram is well-developed and inclusive of many others. In less civilised and refined men the self is more interested in its pleasures and personal profits and may hurt and rob others of theirs without much compunction. Man-made evil is a result of people having less universalised selves in which God (the Universal Self) has not showed up yet. Their hologramic image is only partially developed around their egos. The rest remains latent and need be developed, if possible, by education.
The Dualistic Nature of the Self - In its embryonic stage the self is like a seed which can sprout and grow in two opposite directions. If we visualise it like a dot in the middle of a horizontal straight line (Darkness………… . ………….Light) to its right is the Divine realm of Light and to its left is the Satanic realm of Darkness (where the ‘Prince of Darkness’ rules). As a baby gains consciousness and gets its first inklings of good and evil it finds itself torn between the two. One part of it wants to move in the direction of good which is the direction of better integration and cooperation with others in the interests of the positive aspects of social life. Normally all parents, elders and teachers try to mould the child into a civilised, conscientious person. The self first expands to include the family and gradually absorbs wider and wider circles to identify with. The neighbourhood or the tribe may be the next circle after the family. Recently I saw a sign displayed on a rural roadside “Cricket match this Saturday on the Green: Reigate vs Walton”. No doubt residents of Reigate will wish their players to win and Waltonians theirs. The umpire will be booed by each side if he rules against them. The sides may come to blows at some stage. What is football pitch battles if not the battles of extended selves? May not a day come when the selves expand enough to identified with ALL- all the way to God and become universally JUST persons? With good enough universal education I don’t see what not.
What is Holding Us Back - It is the Satanical attraction applying heavy brakes to our move towards Godliness. In some cases the pull to the left on the self’s axis (Darkness…… . ……Light) wins and the self grows and moves in the direction of the realm of Darkness. If anywhere the Devil is inside us and if we are deceived to identify with him we become really evil. You know there are some people (thankfully not too many) who are almost pure evil. Some of them actually found Satanic cults and engage in evil-inculcating teachings, rites and rituals. Extremely secretive they rarely come to public notice. Sometimes even ritual human sacrifice is involved. Where does the embryology of self go wrong?
A normal baby in a normal social environment is expected and often does develop in both INTELLIGENCE and CONSCIENCE. But the future evil ones develop (and often over-develop) in intelligence but none or too little in conscience. Remaining totally selfish as if they are solitary crocodiles, they use their otherwise razor sharp intelligence to cut through all obstacles between themselves and their selfish desires of which perhaps the desire to dominate and over-rule and if necessary eliminate others is the main one. The self of such one person is extremely inflated, in fact it may fill up the whoe universe but it contains almost only himself as the exclusive identification. If family manages to get a place in there the rest of humanity stands no chance in that respect. So, they may or may not betray their near families but will not hesitate to betray their colleagues or their nation when the price is right. Their relations with everybody including the opposite sex is based on exploitation and feelingless self- gratification. They can rob or rape as easily as they sell something or can marry. They are Satan incarnate.
Examples of Satanic people are everywhere. Hardened criminals and especially their gang leaders (e.g.‘ mafia ‘godfathers’), most third world dictators and many cultic leaders are among them. A cultic leader may claim to be God incarnate and demand total obedience. But lesser devils aren’t far away. Conmen of all sizes and specialities (financial, political, spiritual etc.), ‘sharks’ and tough guys and even some doctors and lawyers who cheat and exploit their clients… are among them. Heavy abusers of authority and embezzlers of public funds are also among them. Sexual seducers who keep producing children without any interest in their welfare and even knowing them are among them. And many more. All these suffer from lack of conscience which may be result of either or both of the following factors: bad genes and bad education. As an embryo, their selves suffered deformity.
Against them we have the men of God.
Men of God - Thanks to both good enough genes and upbringing some people absorb the best moral and spiritual traits they are exposed to and develop a powerful, effective conscience capable of helping them resist temptations man is heir to. God for them is ‘love at first sight’ and they cannot hear enough about Him. They instinctively understand that God is for them and they for God and they have only one definition of Him and a one-way direction to Him. God for them is the very best spiritually they may aspire at and men of God like Jesus (pbuh) or Muhammad (sws) or Rumi… are their essential role models. Now we must avoid a mistake. NOT everyone apparently obsessed with God and men of God are necessarily good men. In fact many if not the majority are plain evil. This is what causes scandal to all religions and spiritual traditions. The God-obsessed are of two kinds: Those who are out to SERVE GOD and those who are out to make God serve THEM. Those who are out to serve God are not after fame and power and influence and may go unnoticed despite whatever spiritual achievements they may attain in themselves. In most cases the only recognition they get from those who come to know them is “he is a good man, a nice fellow. Isn’t he sweet?”. It is those who are after making God serve them who get most attention as well as the worldly goodies. God gives the world to them because that is what they want and DESERVE.
Both God’s prophets and saints are unanimous that worldly satisfactions are often deprivation and punishmnent in disguise. The worst case is a man whose claims and ambitions know no bounds and imposing his claims and teachings on thousands and perhaps millions achieves the false status of a ‘living god’ or a ‘god-king’ (title of ancient despots like Nimrods and Pharaohs) and live a life of extreme wealth and luxury with his believers worshipping and slaving for him. They both hand him their any wealth and bring in more from outside the circle by various means. Each such modern false god is characterised by a huge ego whose appetite the swallowing of whole world hardly can dent. Giving some credit to physiognomic theories about character most of them have a broad faces like a big round shield and coarse features and a thick frame. They have powerful bellowing voices, broadcast strength like a rhinoceros and can rave and rant for hours to the transfixed delight of their addicts. In fact in my humble opinion both Hitler and Mussolini were one of them despite their claims looking more political than spiritual. And many other great dictators besides who pose as ‘teachers’ and ‘fathers’ of their nations.
In each case the game is given away by the intractable, persistent corruption surrounding such men who for their part enjoy a great monopoly of power, enjoy sycophants and persistently employ evil and corrupt people whom serve the purposes of both doing any task assigned to them no matter the morals and being blackmailable and expendable on account of their corruption. In the meantime the dictator avoid dirtying his hands just in case. Many people are taken in by this tactic and they ruefully comment “it is not the boss who is corrupt but those around him. They tell lies to him”. The ‘boss’ almost becomes a cheated and betrayed saint surrounded by such devils. Stalin was a supreme example of dominating everybody and committing unspeakable injustices and atrocities by proxy while keeping a whiter than white image in the eyes of the long-suffering naïve majorities toiling and dying for him. All these cases of peddling salvational ideologies or fringe religions are the brain children and horticultural gardens of huge satanic egos endowed with equally huge but unconscionable intelligences, egos whose greatest ambition is playing god. We constantly run the risk of being sucked in such satanic ideologies and cults unless we learn to look for the signs like the above and diagnose the evil madness underlying them.
True men of God never pretend or imply being gods but prove themselves as true men. They are embodiments of universal loving kindness, imposing only on account of being kind and just but otherwise humble to a fault, selfless to self-effacement. The reason for being so genuinely humble and worldly-wise selfless is that they found something which is better than this world and everything in it. It is an inner world of Godly perspectives and emotions which give too much delight and satisfaction to leave room for the hotly contested prizes of this temporary and unstable world. In other words all the treasures a man of God needs is inside him and no robber can steal them and also these treasures contain the only kind of wealth which does not diminish by giving. How can giving a kind look to a fellow man diminish my kindness?
How can lovingly stroking a cuddly kitten diminish the love I poured out to it? If anything such treasures increase by giving and may well replicate themselves in the recipient as if by magic. Only today I had one of my innumerable confirming experiences of this fact. I was about to park my car on the supermarket parking grounds when a young man on top of a van next to my lot angrily shouted at me “Don’t park your car here, we are about to repair the lights over it”. He needn’t shout like that. He could just politely tell me. But thanks to my experiments in Godliness I smiled at him ‘with stars in my eyes’ and grinning like a spring day said “Sorry son, get on with your work, I am moving away with pleasure”. As I hurried away I saw him grinning back and waving a hand with a sudden friendliness. You see, I haven’t lost any of my inner treasure of willing tolerance of people who didn’t know better while he gained instant friendship in his heart towards a stranger without any cost to me or himself. All spiritual treasures are like that.
Can you imagine what this world could be like had we realised that moods are reciprocally reinforcing. Therefore ignoring unkind behaviour and responding to it with kind behaviour may well kill the unkindness in the bud? None other than Allah says in His Qur’an “Return evil with something better and you will see that the one between whom and you there is hostility becomes as if he is a warm fiend. Only the patient can attain this, only one with a great share (in spiritual treasures) can attain this (). Had this been the approach in human relations from that between a wife and a mother in law to the likes of between the Arab and the Jewish hostilities between the parties could well crack under the strain f love and kindness. But this needs an orientation in God. Rare commodity and especially rare among the clerics of all religions. If anything these press for more hatred and more hostility. Let me tell you a sufi anectode. A true sufi sheikh came across a Christian monk who slightly bowed to him to show respect. The sheikh immediately prostrated before the cleric to repay the kindness many times over. Letting go a mighty shout of wonder the monk fell down. The next moment he was a disciple of the sheikh. We moderns are too much cold intellect and too little human warmth. No wonder cynicism, deceit, treachery and exploitation are what we excel in. Of course I know that these satanic traits have always been the stock in trade of the politics of all ages with little exception. But at least an universal public education geared to promote cold intellect and suppress human warmth is a modern phenomenon.
Conclusion - The physical human embryo is not the only basis from which a human being develops to eventually become an effective world citizen thanks to nurture and education. We have a spiritual side to ourselves which, although cannot exist without the body, IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE MERE BODY. Without our spiritual assets and values we better not exist at all. So, we may say that there is embryo within embryo and the inner one needs at least as much nurture and care as the outer. We should study this spiritual embryology as seriously as the physical and take care that this spiritual side is not neglected and let to wither away or get satanically deformed. With birth the physical embryo stops being an embryo at all but becomes a person. But the spiritual embryo continues as an embryo in the womb called the human body where it needs constant care and nutrition until it grows into a Godly spirit filled with the Holy Spirit. It is only then that it can cope with the temptations awaiting it in this grosser world and contribute to objective justice and world peace.