The secret of religion is love.
Religion is a divine law.
The secret of religion is Law (rights). The secret of Law is conscience. And the secret of conscience is love.
Religion comprises these three in the same way that a fruit is composed of rind, of a fleshy part and a core. Although the core is not apparent from the outside, it is the innermost, the active part. The heart of all religion is love. Love gives rise to conscience, to consideration, to compassion and to tolerance.
The Law is the external covering of all this. It prevents the flesh and the core from being spoiled and destroyed. Although it may not, at first glance, appear to have much in common with its contents, in reality it is directly based on them. Just as conscience arises from love, Law in turn arises from conscience. It is merely the codification of rights already granted implicitly at the level of conscience.
The Secret that is Law
Law is a delicate balance between rights and duties, between liberties and limitations. The duty of one person is nothing but the right of another, and the limitation of one is the freedom of another. Absolute freedom cannot exist, and if it could, then law, and hence justice, would not exist. It is as if freedom were in short supply and had to be apportioned equally. For the increase of one's freedom occurs only at the expense of another's, and if justice is not distributed equally, that is injustice. Hence we have equality before the law, and equality before man's law is based on equality before God's Law, since all men are equal before God.
Because Law is based on conscience and ultimately on love, what is lawful in Islam is that which is informed by love. To put this is a little differently, the only action which is free of blame is that which is based on love, and the Divine Law is a compendium of such action or non-action.
The all-important conclusion from this is that even if you do not feel love for a creature, you will have done it no wrong if you treat it according to the prescription of Divine Law. Thus Islam answers the critical question: "How should I behave toward beings?" in the following concise way: treat them as if you loved them, in the same way as you would act if you loved them. And for our convenience, Islam outlines in its prescriptions of Holy Law what such action is.
In religion, Law means righteousness above all else. For instance, a person must not touch or covet what does not belong to him. When we say law or rights, this doesn't mean only those rights pertaining to humanity. Law means to recognise the same right for all beings in the universe, whether animate or inanimate, from an atom to the sun. It is the requirement of being human and of being a Moslem to treat them in the same way. For all beings are the beings of God. If one claims to love God, one absolutely must love His beings as well. One who does not love existence cannot be said to love God. In view of this, our own personal choices of what is good and bad, beautiful and ugly, useful and harmful, attractive and repulsive, have no place in Law. If these become involved, they precipitate the wrath of God. Here, to like or dislike is one thing, and Law is another.
The inability of human beings to truly progress arises from their failure to understand this point. He who does not abide by the Law is the greatest of sinners and has no inkling of what it means to be human. About this there should be no doubt whatever.
Man is free to act according to his disposition. He may not take an interest in any being he dislikes, which he finds bad, harmful or repulsive. But if for any reason an interest or relationship is established, he must recognise their rights. This is because man is responsible for rights, and for rights alone.
Whether one is a Moslem or a Christian is immaterial at this point. For this is where the door of happiness opens. All beings are the forms, the manifestations, of God's names. Therefore, the holy books declare God's order unanimously: "You are to think of the other as you think of yourself." For all beings, whether animate or inanimate, contain His spirit.
It is due to this fact that where Law is concerned, no one can act according to his whim. God has forbidden this. For His command is not whim, but the very yardstick by which all things are to be measured. The human heart is His holy dwelling-place which He has reserved for Himself. He who breaks a heart will suffer, even if the poor fellow doesn't understand why.
In reality, man is the representative of God and His viceregent over creation. As such, he is burdened with the utmost legal responsibility and obligation. He is responsible for all things living and nonliving, from the stone he steps on to the bird in the sky. This is why the People of God say: "The requirement of honesty is to consider one another," and they do not show negligence in serving this rule.
God has graced man above all beings and placed them under man's care. If a mishap occurs, however, this is due to us. If man becomes corrupt, everything becomes corrupt. If man is polluted, all nature is polluted. Hence the present state of nature can stand as a mirror to our internal state. We should know that this is so and touch everything with "In the name of God" on our lips, replacing it with these same words. We should never forget whilst using something that it possesses spirit. We should treat it in the same way as we treat and care for a part of our own body. Then the Koranic statement: "You are pleased with God and He is pleased with you" (89:28) becomes reality-that is, you will be pleased with Him and He will be pleased with you. This is the answer that heals (makes whole).
The Secret that is Conscience
Law is derived from conscience. Without conscience, there would be no consideration of others and no respect for their rights. In fact, not even the existence of such rights would be recognized. Conscience requires the implicit presupposition that "the other" is, at some basic level, the same as or at least not different from the self. This leads to an unexpected conclusion, that the so-called "positive sciences" are, in fact, covertly normative. Behaviorist psychology, for example, by taking the other and his inner world as an unknown, by treating the other as a "black box" that can be judged only on the basis of exhibited behavior, reduces people to the status of automatons, quietly revoking their claim to rights. This, in turn, is nothing but lawlessness where the "other" is concerned. All rights then belong to the self, and to the other?-None. This is nothing but injustice.
This also indicates the need to be very careful with our sciences and philosophies. It is never very obvious what metaphysics lurk behind our "objective" hypotheses or conclusions-nor where they may lead. If metaphysics is an ineradicable residue underlying all science and philosophy, then it is much better that this be of a life-enhancing, rather than life-denying, nature.
Conscience is the prime mover of Law-it creates and resonates in the heart and mobilizes man. If a person does everything lawfully, in the way prescribed by Law, believing in its utter rightness and content in his heart about its truth-this, then, is conscience. This is the foundation of Law; another name for it is "faith." It is the "still, small voice" that comes from the depths of one's heart. It is the product of an indubitable, pure and undefiled feeling. May God grant us all that state, which comes to us on a tide of the ocean of compassion (Amen).
If man has no faith, neither does he possess conscience. Lacking conscience, he also lacks humanity. Blessed are those who recognise Law and have a clear conscience, for God is with them.
The Secret That Is Love
Love is the real source of man's feelings of compassion and kindness, the sublime synthesis of his finest and most delicate feelings of conscience. Since the sway of conscience has purified the heart, purging it of all things, good and bad alike, God installs His throne of manifestation in that heart. Thus love of God engulfs one's being, and that person becomes pure love. Then everything loves him and he loves everything.
And so, that person becomes invested with God's attributes and friendship, harmony and welfare, and joins His Chosen People. Henceforth, his place in both worlds is Paradise and his station, comfort and friendship.
This is a three-stage process: (1) Righteousness, diligent observation of the Law enabling (2) the conscience to flower-and the full maturity of conscience is (3) love.
But what happens once one becomes, as it were, an incarnation of love? Does one shed the Law and conscience as if they were autumn leaves?
On the contrary, the Law and conscience find their fullest, most mature, manifestation in a person who has become pure love. Rote Imitation becomes Realization. He or she no longer acts out of blind obedience to the letter of the Law, but in full knowledge and consciousness of why the Law prescribes or prohibits a certain thing. The clumsy, mechanical, sometimes jarring and disturbing implementation of the Divine Law gives way to a smooth, harmonious flow-the grace of love. Such people are a guiding light to all beings lucky enough to come within their sphere.
Such a person is called a saint, or a "friend of God", and has become identified with pure love. The motto of the friend of God is "I, if I be lifted up, will lift up all mankind with me." The saints are the channels or vehicles by which God's love, compassion and mercy reach the world. Indeed in ages when there are many saints of high realisation, there are fewer wars, plagues and calamities-the world is a "closer" place to Paradise. In ages when they are few and far between, these channels of access to grace are "clogged," as it were, and the situation is reversed. Look around you and, with this measure in hand, you will be able to judge what kind of times we live in.
Seven Hells, Eight Heavens
Islam is based on eight principles. These are referred to as the eight gates of Heaven:
1. Compassion, kindness and affection.
7. Knowing one's poverty and weakness.
8. Giving thanks to God
Without these, there is no peace, happiness or Paradise in either world.
Anyone who is clothed in these praiseworthy traits and has made them part of his constitution is a proper Moslem and worthy of the Noble Messenger of God, Mohammed. For these praiseworthy manners and characteristics are the beautiful traits and attributes of our Prophet. They have radiated from him to his family, children and Companions, thence becoming the fundamental constituents of Islam. So testifies the Koran.
And this is why Islam is not simply the recitation of the Word of Witnessing or the search for Heaven in a mosque. The firmness of God's revelatory secrets depends on these qualities; hence, so do the continuance of life, its peace and happiness. Throughout one's life one must always be based in the good, the true and the beautiful. Only with these verities are immortality and eternity feasible.
It is for this reason that the above principles have always been a guiding light and torch in the hands of mankind and the travelers to Truth. Just as one cannot see in the dark or find one's way, neither can he reach his Lord. God says: "Be light, come to Me, attain My mystery," and desires us. Our great Prophet exemplified the meaning of this declaration in his Ascension (the Miraj). Without these lights of truth, in the darkness of our ignorance, how could we find the way to our Lord and be worthy of His Pleasure?
Therefore, these agreeable traits and characteristics are what is valuable, whether at the stage of general Law, or of mystical schools (conscience), or of attaining Reality (love).
Without them, a person cannot be worthy of his Lord, no matter whether he is a prophet or a madman. This is the secret of the Four Books and the Hundred Pages revealed to the various Prophets. These eight principles are the sources of life for humanity and human conscience that bestow happiness, peace and joy.
All the virtues and merits in the world are encompassed by these traits. This is why they have been called the eight gates of Heaven. Those who possess them live in Paradise even while in this world.
As for the seven circles of Hell, the following are the traits that open their gates:
All the evil traits and manners in the world are, in turn, contained in these. No matter what or who he is or how true he may appear to be, these are the characteristics that lie close to a person's heart if he does not acknowledge goodness, beauty and truth. It makes no difference if he never raises his head from prostration. Being human and being a Moslem are both possible only by relying on Truth. Islam cannot be attained by following the lead of one's caprice, by being carried away by one's ego, by exhibitionism or by fishing for other people's praise. One will then have opened the gates of the seven Hells, pride, rebellion and downfall.
Note, however, that there are eight Heavens as opposed to only seven Hells. This is because God Almighty has said: "My Mercy encompasses (is greater than) My Wrath." Indeed in Islam, "In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful" precedes everything. No matter how great one's sins, they are swept away in a torrent of Divine Compassion and Mercy, provided one resolves to rectify one's ways in accordance with the Law. The opportunity for absolution is always there, and never far away.
For the secret of religion is love.
SUBLIME SECRETS OF THE NAMING
The Naming is to recite the Formula: “In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” Please read the following with care.
It can be seen that, after a brief stay in this world, having lived days of bliss and sorrow, we are taken out of it without being asked and delivered into the Hereafter. Like it or not, we have to give up our places and make way for newcomers. Such is the plan of the Almighty, the law of creation: whoever comes, goes. Whoever is born, dies.
In between, however, there is an art to living and dying: to know God, to affirm his great Prophet, to recognize the rights of human beings, to show affection to God’s creatures, to leave behind a pleasant echo and some benefit for posterity—and then to depart.
For this reason, the wise have said:
“Conceited one: don’t settle in this world. Don’t wander around in ignorance. The earth you step on once was either the cheek of a beloved or the belly of a world-famous hero. Don’t think your business in this world ends with family, food, and work. Enter into true humanity. Prepare two wings that will fly your spirit on the path to its true goal: the Lord Almighty. Those wings are called faith and work.”
Now, let us pause with respect and humility in the presence of the following sacred verse:
“We have honored human beings” (17:70).
Yes, let us understand how the “crown of wonder” has been bestowed on humanity, how the Real has blessed us. Let’s not allow our lives as humans to go to waste, nor idolize cruelty. Instead, let us recognize our worth.
Indeed, the human being is a fruit of the tree that is the cosmos: its most inclusive, finest, most refined fruit.
God has created all beings through love. Among these, Man is a creature of great worth, aware of the divine secrets of the Supreme Artist, created with the aptitude to be worthy of His glorious attributes. He is endowed with All-comprehensiveness. No other being has been blessed with this rank. Of all beings, Man is the one created last, as the elect and essence of creation.
God is beyond events and comprehension. Everything stands with the support of His Everlasting Essence. He makes the one many and the many, one. He exists with His being, is surrounded by His Attributes, known by His Names, manifested in His Actions, and apparent in His works.
God loved—desired—to be known. He stood on the battlefield of water and clay which constitute man’s nature, and fashioned a mirror of earth for Himself. Therein, He manifested the reflection of all His attributes. He made man a divine representative on Earth. He willed that every truth in the universe be present in the human. The Supreme Artist informed man of the labels on his artworks, thus giving him the Divine Names. In short, Man became the reflective surface of the mirror that is the universe, and the spirit of all these forms of being. Just as the pleasure of vision resides in the eye’s pupil, Man became a pleasure to behold for the rest of created beings.
But Man was divided into two: Perfect, and Imperfect.
Although both were the recipients of the All-Comprehensive Name of God (namely Allah), Perfect Humans chose the path of purification, emptied themselves in the Real, and returned to their wellspring, their Source. They understood that the existence of all creatures was temporary, and hence these were “real” only in a relative sense. They stripped themselves of all such false beings, dedicated themselves to God, and became exalted partakers. These were called “worshipers of the Real.”
The other class of humanity put their trust in imagined beings and worshiped themselves. They were unable to recognize their own worth. They said: “I exist,” setting themselves up in opposition to God’s being, and were called “self-worshipers.” Disillusionment became their lot.
With his radiance, the Perfect Human became part of the Treasury of Light, and also the master of Satan, whose nature is the Fire. And imperfect man, with his fire, became part of the world of fire. Instead of becoming the master of the devil, who was created of fire, he became his slave.
Now, there you have it. This world is a sowing field, the next world the harvest—and heaven and hell, a granary each.
So, do you wish to learn the truth of everything, to live in peace, to find happiness in this world and the next? Seek awareness, seek cleanliness, embrace the Koran, and find the answer to all your hardships in the solutions it provides.
Start each and every action in the name of God. Recite His name: receive by His name, give by His name, do everything by His name—for the Door of the Almighty opens with the Divine Names.
Yet, among those names is also the Destroyer (al-Qahhaar). It overwhelms anyone who is vain, and heedless of the reason why we come and go. Conceit in a servant violates the true nature of servanthood. And whoever leaves his true nature behind tires himself, ending up in oblivion. Instead of being vain, humble yourself before God, that you may be exalted among people. The more you decrease yourself, the faster you return to your Source.
Try to discover the sweetness within the Naming, taste the goodness of the names you recite—“God,” “the Compassionate,” “the Merciful.” Then you will comprehend that His Mercy exceeds His Wrath.
Recite the Naming at the beginning of every task. Inspect the outcome of any venture that doesn’t start with the Naming, and observe how it only ends in deprivation. If you desire an example from history, consider the lives of Pharaoh and Moses.
In this stage that is the world, Pharaoh abandoned God’s name, did many things in his own name, had many innocent children strangled, but finally himself choked on the darkness and thickness of his oppression. “Oh, no,” he said, but it was too late. He was extinguished.
In contrast, Moses also came into this world, but he started with God’s name, and opened the path to deliverance. His work being done, he too departed for Eternity. But his voice is still heard here, millions follow him and mention his name with respect.
Then there was Nimrod. He established his reign on earth, relied on his dominion, did many things without mentioning God’s name, strangled people, and finally perished.
Opposed to him, Abraham the Friend of God also came into existence. But what things he accomplished in God’s name! He, too, finally passed away. But for thousands of years, his name is mentioned in praise by millions of human beings. In each of the Five Daily Prayers, millions of Moslems mention the name of Abraham, the Friend of God, together with that of Mohammed, the Beloved of God, in the Divine Presence.
Then again, there was Abu Jahl—the Father of Ignorance. He trusted his false being, at one time he had his own followers, he rebelled against truth, he did many unseemly things.
Against him, the eternal pride of humanity, the Prophet Mohammed, came down and honored this world with his presence. When he raised the Word of Unity (“There is no god but God, Mohammed is His Prophet”) from Mount Hira, he was all by himself. Not only civilisations and societies, but even his kinsmen were against him. But he started out with the Name of God.
During the Battle of the Ditch, they encountered a hard rock while digging which refused to budge. Repeating the name of God, Mohammed shattered the rock with his pick-axe. The sparks that flew gave good news of future success for his Community, amazing them all. And that is what happened. In a short time, the Godless bowed their heads, were put to shame and rendered mute.
Rising from a climate that scorches human beings, the sun of Mohammedan Truth radiated everywhere, ended idolatry, and soon reached India. It overcame Hinduism and Buddhism, it removed Christian sovereignty in the East. Zoroastrianism fell in Iran, Spain had a new owner, the Eastern Empire of Rome was ended. Thus, the miracle of the Koran was seen in world events, as it ever will be. It was always Mohammed’s word that came true, his predictions that were realized. And finally, it became crystal clear that both those who obey the Koran and those who don’t are judged by the Koran’s rules. Millions lived and still live infatuated with Mohammed and his miracle, the Koran.
Even though Islam doesn’t have a missionary organization or a treasure vault, those who love Mohammed are on the increase. Today, thousands of Moslems in Japan and England say: “There is no god but God, Mohammed is His Prophet.” In the West, many European scholars publish papers upholding Mohammed’s rights. The Koran is recited on radio and TV, the sound of the Koran is broadcast to the universe. Millions who never saw the face of that great Prophet, who never listened to the sentences issuing from his blessed mouth, love him more than their selves and regard him as the light of their lives. If it were known for certain that an article or even a piece of rag once belonged to Mohammed, there are devotees who would willingly pay millions for its possession.
Isn’t this the greatest proof that a task begun in the name of God delivers results?
The Naming, therefore, is the beginning of all that is good and beneficial. These sacred words are the sign of Islam—indeed, of creation itself. In the language of their very being, all things constantly repeat: “In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” To one who has tasted the sweet grace that flows from “the Merciful,” the distance between Heaven and Earth is but a mosquito’s wingspan. If you enter the service of this Name, you forget both this world and the next. Kings in their palaces admire the hut bathed in the light of this sun. The riches of this world mean nothing to one who drinks a drop from the fountain of this name. The sun of bliss, rising under the sign of good fortune, shines in such a person’s heart. Such hearts have become the precincts of the Sacred House, the Kaaba. The names of God in the Naming are so potent that with them, Jesus revived the dead and healed the sick. With them, Abraham transmuted Nimrod’s fire into light. And it was with these names that the Prophet’s finger split the moon.
Glory be to God, the deathless, the unwaning, the invincible. If one acts in His name and under His divine command, what can one not achieve? And to actualize this, there is no fee, no obligation, no difficulty and no trouble. If this is so, why not say “God”?
Know this for a fact: every particle in the universe seeks Him, and all things move by His name. Every seed carries the huge weight of the tree above it, thanks to His name. If it did not invoke His name, could its branches spread themselves out and yield fruit? Could a tender shoot, finer than cigarette paper and more gentle than silk, split with its root the soil and the rock that a hoe can’t break, unless by invoking His name? God cooled the raging fire of Nimrod so that it wouldn’t burn Abraham by ordering it: “Fire, be cool and harmless” (21:69). Likewise, the hard is rendered soft by the invocation of His name.
Again, “In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful” produces milk in the animals that sustain us—it is offered us under the name of Compassion. Thus all things, in the language of their being, recite “In the name of God”—His name is our benefactor. Since this is so, let us, too, invoke the Naming, give by it and take by it. We should consider all blessings to be the Mercy, power, gift, and good news of God, who is the One and the All-Sufficient.
Suppose a philanthropist sent us a gift, delivered to us by a servant. We would be pleased, wouldn’t we? But even as we lavish our thanks on the servant, we should not be oblivious of the real sender. Don’t just praise the outward form of a blessing, and befriend only that. It is its true Author whom we are beholden to.
Our true Benefactor expects three things of us:
- Remembrance. This is achieved through repeating “In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.”
- Gratitude. This is achieved through His praise.
- Thought. This is achieved by contemplating the gifts and wondrous power of the Compassionate.
Rather than living a life without God, let us make room for faith. Even those who don’t believe in God are eventually compelled to do so. Those who recite His name before the curtain is lifted from this life and they lose their say in the matter—those are the wise ones.
Do you imagine that those who don’t believe in Him fail to praise Him? Take note of this divine rule: “There is nothing that does not praise Him with gratitude” (17:44). Such is the power of the Almighty that He manifests His name with each and every breath one takes. Not affirming Him is no option: by breathing you are praising Him, the subdued sounds of breathing are none other than His names. Your inhalation is His name of Life (Hayy), your exhalation is His name “He” (Hu). This is what constitutes your breathing, and only a stubborn fool refuses to breath—but not for long.
Besides, faith gives one peace, it lets one taste the truth, the pleasure of everything. Unbelief leads to sorrow.
In the eyes of an unbeliever, this world is a house of mourning. The faithful await the joyous day of discharge from this world, the faithless confuse laughter with tears and discharge with court-martial. In their view, man is a creature torn apart by the claws of death. All other creatures are corpses devoid of spirit. In short, the faithless are always in distress. The atheist trembles as he ticks off the days on the calendar: “I am headed towards oblivion, I am sliding into nothingness.” Whereas the believer checks each day with anticipation: “I will soon be discharged, I will go to meet my Essence. I walk towards Eternity.”
The believer recognizes God, says “God,” affirms Him in all servanthood. He says: “There is no particle apart from God,” respects His law, recognizes people as the family of God. In his sight, this world is an abode for invoking the Compassionate, a training place and testing ground for human beings, and all deaths are a discharge and an end to work.
Those who finish their life’s work properly leave this mortal world happy and free of troubles, so that a new shift can come in and start work. “God—there is no god but He, the Living, the Everlasting” (2:255). In His dominion, all births are an enlistment, all a call to duty.
Consider two people. One of these looks at the universe and ponders it, seeing that in this Grand Book, there is nothing out of place, nothing can happen by coincidence. S/he sees that this universe is a printing press, not the printer, an embroidery not the embroiderer, the deed and not the doer, the moved rather than the mover. S/he perceives, therefore, that there is a Power above and independent of all things on whom s/he always depends. That in this cosmos created with His wisdom, s/he cannot be left to drift aimlessly, forgotten. That everybody in possession of their senses will one day be held to account by the Owner of all Being for their words, deeds and ways. S/he comprehends that hence, good deeds will be rewarded and evil will be punished. And to those who do not comprehend, s/he says: “Don’t tire yourself. Just consider how the reproductive organs of a couple can come about by coincidence. Ponder this and face up to it that He exists.”
The other, on the road to oblivion, says: “Time gives, time takes away. This universe is the result of blind chance. There is no creator and no God, man is an animal that has evolved. Good, evil, heaven, hell—these are all empty words, emotional expletives. When you can satisfy your selfish pleasures, your animal passions in this world, that’s heaven. When you’re deprived of animal pleasures, that’s hell.”
Now of these two, which do you think would serve humankind better? Which would be of greater service to society? Which of them would be more willing to serve his country, its religion, tradition and culture? Which would be willing to risk his life?
The one with faith, of course, right?
The heart of the faithful is instilled with love and longing for his Essence. He says, “If I’m vanquished, the Lord Himself will be my prize. If I live, all my sins will be forgiven because I am prepared to pay the price.” The unbeliever beats his chest: “I’m still young, I haven’t yet tasted all the pleasures that are my due.”
In short, whereas all beings are the submissive servants, friendly functionaries, and appealing books of the Compassionate in the sight of the faithful, they are nothing in the sight of the nay-sayer. For all sublime, rapturous truths are born of faith. If the seed of faith is present in one, the fruit of happiness and earnestness will grow from it. One will be granted the highest strength. Sincerity lifts the heaviest weight, it overcomes every devil it encounters, poisons hypocrisy, and lets the spring of obedience flow unpolluted. Just as sincerity is the fruit of belief, so is knowledge. For this reason, faith is the enemy of ignorance.
Islam is the religion of Unification. It is, therefore, the marrow of knowledge and gnosis (God-knowledge). It is all good and purely good, it is opposed to ignorance, and ignorance is one quality God doesn’t like at all.
Islam describes this world as a body, and man as the spirit of that body. Without the religion of Truth, this world would be a dungeon. So let us understand the Word of Unity that liberates the spirit of humanity from darkness, and taste the pleasure of saying God. Let our hearts begin to beat with His love.
Again, faith gives us good morals, which give us good thoughts, which in turn show us the silver lining to everything. It explains the most delicate aspects of Divine rule. It makes us contemplate the manifestations of the All-Powerful upon the universe. Faith reveals that the key to the secret of creation is in the enlightenment inspired by the words of praise: “There is no god but God.”
Behold the universe, behold the power of God, who has made the sun a small lamp to light a room out of billions of rooms in countless billions of palaces. Watch the way spring issues forth, how the Eternal Embroiderer flips a white page in winter and a green page in spring and summer. Then recite His name.
Air is needed by the body, “He” (Hu) is needed by the soul. Since it is a fact that we breathe, why not experience the pleasure of this process? Behold the power of the Almighty. Again, proclaim the Naming.
The religion of Islam has come, not so that we should take leave of our minds nor to extinguish the light of human nature, but so that we may recognize the light in both, and as their support and guidance. It provides rest for the heart and light for the eye.
God, the Lord of the heavens and the earth, provides us with countless blessings that give us sustenance and strength. But what is His aim? What does He want from us? Don’t you ever wonder? Curiosity and wonder: these are the most essential response to the riddle of existence. And they would be the fuel of our ascent to our Essence, if not for our plugged ears and veiled eyes.
Therefore, let us listen carefully to what He says:
“Human being, you can’t take your eyes off your graying hair. You have no say in when you come into this world or when you will leave. You were without name or form, nobody knew you, you were but a mote in My knowledge. I endowed you with worth, I placed you on the pinnacle of all creation. I brought you into being as a human, not as some lowly creature, but ‘in the fairest of statures’ (95:4). I loved you and exalted you. What ill have I done to you, that you now rise in defiance of Me? The sun, the stars, the planets, all heed my call. Where is your support when you set yourself against Me?”
Those who reject the Truth should realize that there can be no benefit, material or spiritual, in its denial. One can only come to ruin. Knowledge leads one to affirm God, ignorance leads to rejection.
Consider the following:
- The Great Book, namely the Koran—the Book of the Universe.
- The Book that Speaks—namely, the Prophet himself.
You must explore the depths of both books. They are not just books for the dead, to be intoned solemnly after the dear departed. Rather, their dominion is of the living. The melodious tones of Koranic recitation are fine, but it is the meaning of the words that will inspire the soul and teach us how to become truly human.
In the loftiness of his morals, the Noble Prophet was a role model for us. The Koran introduces us to the Prophet, who introduced us to what it means to be human. The Koran proclaims that human beings are together in creation and are brethren in reality. It addresses the spirit, it provides subjects for the sciences and models for the arts. It teaches that right makes might, not the other way around. Its goal is virtue, not self-interest. Life is not strife, but mutual aid. The pointer of that book indicates that “what is with a man is only his labor” (53:39). It exhorts us to always be stronger than our enemy. Its first command is: “Read.” It wishes for us all to live without shame in society.
It tells us that God’s attribute of Mercy races to overcome our sins. It calls for the elimination of harm, not the pursuit of self-interest. It says: “Don’t be afraid of poverty. Neither should you shun wealth.” It warns: “Contentment with oppression is itself oppression. Fire will engulf those who favor the cruel even slightly.” It demands valiant deeds, not contemptible fawning. It tells us that the sense of shame is kept alive by calling oneself to account.
It calls us to “See what is,” and to contemplation. Yes, knowing and thinking are two different things. If people gave thought, would any evil survive? The diseases of greed, avarice, conceit, hate and enmity would all be cured.
That Book reaches out to anyone in distress. It gives the highest rank to those who show the greatest respect for God and the greatest compassion for His creatures. It proclaims that the highest station is the station of Love.
It tells you that when your loved ones deliver you one day into a hole in the ground in a coffin called “the sum of your deeds” and turn their backs on you, God alone will turn towards you and offer you relief.
Just as a heavy rain makes us drowsy after a while, the fast pace of our lives lulls us into the sleep of heedlessness. Don’t fall asleep, get moving. Open your eyes.
Just as the Almighty grants a baby its senses after it begins to move in its mother’s womb, you too should begin to move in your prison and come to your senses. If the Eye of the Heart stays blind in this world, so will it remain in the next. Don’t be oblivious, live in Truth.
The nourishment of life is good morals. Morality is born of the sacred, the sacred is attained by faith in God, and faith in God comes with religion. Religion is the trainer of conscience. It is the mother of morality.
Expand the cage of the body in which your spirit is trapped with knowledge and wisdom. If the bulb is all black, the light won’t shine. And for those sunk in heedlessness, darkness and light are the same. Don’t be like that. As the scissors of night and day open and close, the cloth of your life is carved up each day. Pull yourself together. If you just make your head a lunch box, your heart won’t have joy or wisdom. Don’t let the honor of humanity fall to the ground. Find a way to meet your Maker free of blame, without sullying your human dress, without darkening it with sins.
Don’t fall into darkness with cruelty, don’t depart in unbelief, don’t be cursed for your cruelty, don’t aid oppressors, don’t break a heart—rather, save a ruined heart. This kind of property is much better than the palaces, mansions and apartments of this world. The pearl of great price is in a broken heart, not in any king’s treasury. Just as a drop of water in one’s face ruins a good sleep, a teardrop shed out of oppression and cruelty can burn up a world.
First, you must remove the veil that keeps you from the Truth. Know yourself, and you will know your Lord.
Now, after all this, if you come across people who want to slay your heart with worldly over-indulgence. Who show you a honey-sweet form while masking the poison within. Perverts and perverters, who wish to lead you into denial and confusion. When you encounter one of these, without tiring yourself or overstating your case, simply say:
“With so much grandeur as God’s proof against you, you’re out of luck. To prove your case, you must first kill death. Remove mortality from this world. Destroy poverty and destitution. Shut the door on suffering. When you’ve achieved these, come back, and we can have another talk. Otherwise, keep your silence. The Koran is being recited in the whole world—lend an ear to it. Let’s enlighten ourselves with its light and reach salvation. Let’s recite it ourselves.
“Time is short, events are ever pressing—let’s say His blessed Name, now.”
VIRTUES OF THE BELOVED
PROPHET OF GOD
Sacred Verse (from the Koran):
· We sent you a Messenger from among you, to recite Our verses, to purify you, to teach you the Book and the Wisdom, and to teach you what you didn’t know. (2:151)
Tradition (Saying of the Prophet):
· I am a prophet, sent to you by God. God sent me so that I should proclaim the Divine Law and explain the Verses revealed to you.
Due to His grace and generosity, the Great Lord gives good news that He has sent a representative to purify polluted and corrupted souls within the framework of Islam, to restore the fallen honor of humanity, and to explain the inward (esoteric) and outward (exoteric) meanings of His divine injunctions.
· Say: “If you love God, follow me, and God will love you and forgive your sins. God is Forgiving and Merciful. (3:31)
· What I prohibit is the same as what God has prohibited.
· Whoever follows me is of me. Whoever turns away from my Way is not of me.
· Whoever puts my Way into practice, God surely places in Paradise.
Loving God’s Beloved (the Prophet) and obeying him is the surest way of attaining God’s mercy and forgiveness, of realizing obedience to and love for our Dear Lord in the most complete way. Evoking God’s love in response to our love for Him is possible by living in accordance with the Divine Law.
Our Lord, forgive us with Your mercy, treat us with Your blessings and generosity. Grant that we may be of Your servants whom You forgive and cause to be forgiven, whom You love and cause to be loved, whom You wish well, whom You cleanse and purify in your ocean of mercy. Amen.
· Obey God and the Messenger, that you may find mercy. (3:132)
· Whoever obeys God and His Messenger, He will place them in gardens underneath which rivers flow, therein to dwell forever. That is the great liberation. (4:13)
· Show mercy for those on Earth, that those in Heaven may show mercy for you.
· At a time of discord in my Community, the one who clings fast to my Way has the merit of a hundred martyrs.
· Obeying me is the same as obeying God, and rebelling against me is the same as rebelling against God.
Regarding precepts that organize social and personal life, God considers obedience to His Prophet equal to obedience to Himself, and makes this a condition for divine mercy.
Dear Lord, Yours is the will, the wish, and the command. For You are One, Singular, All-Sufficient. Only what You say comes to pass. Your mercy alone protects us. Have mercy on us. Place us among those who receive the intercession of Your Beloved (Prophet), those who walk the radiant path of Islam and persevere on that path, who obey You and Your Beloved (Prophet). Forgive us for the sake of your Beloved (Prophet). Amen.
· Your true friend is only God and His Messenger. (5:55)
· I am the true friend of the believers.
Whereas God and His Beloved have declared themselves our true friends, how much longer do we intend to pursue false, fleeting friendships? How can one trust the friendship of those who reject the friendship of the Creator and the Teacher of the Universe? True friendship can occur only among those who take God and His Prophet as true friends.
Dear Lord, make us of those who count God and His Prophet as true friends, and are together with Their friends in both this world and the next. Amen.
· Obey God and His Messenger, do not quarrel with each other. Or else you will lose courage and fall weak. Be patient, for God is with the patient. (8:46)
· My Community will fall in among themselves in the future. God will cause the bad among them to pester the good.
All the problems of humanity can be solved only if human beings agree on obedience and submission to God and His Prophet, and walk that radiant Straight Path. That is the only salvation.
Dear Lord, please remove all enmity, hate, discord, jealousy and division among the Community of Mohammed and among humanity in general. For the love of Your Beloved, and with your blessings and generosity, create love, tolerance and unity among us. Amen.
· A Messenger has come to you from among yourselves. Your suffering is grievous to him. He is anxious over you, gentle to the believers, and compassionate. (9:128)
· During a part of the night, keep vigil and perform extra (supererogatory) Prayers. Perhaps thus, your Lord will raise you to the Station of Praise. (17:79)
· We did not send you, (Mohammed,) except as a mercy to the worlds. (21:107)
· God is loving-kind, he loves loving-kindness. He rewards what is done with loving-kindness in a way He doesn’t reward what is done with violence.
· With the permission of my Lord, I shall intercede for anyone with faith the size of a (tiny) mustard-seed in their heart.
Our Prophet, the reason for being of the universe, is more distressed than a mother when a member of his Community faces hardship in this life or the next. On Judgment Day, he will use his power of intercession especially for Moslems who have waded deeply into sin. The reason that the Teacher of the Universe is “a mercy to the worlds” is because he has shown humanity the one path to salvation. That great Prophet emphasizes that differences of society, geography, race and gender are trivial, and invites all humankind to unite in the consciousness of being a servant of the Creator and of belonging to the Community of His Beloved.
Those who turn a deaf ear to this call have been condemning themselves, and the societies they drag behind them on selfish paths, to live in suffering for centuries.
· Surely you (Mohammed) are upon a mighty morality. (68:4)
· The Prophet is nearer to the believers than their selves. His wives are their mothers. (33:6)
· Those who offend God and His Messenger—God has cursed them in this world and the world to come, and has prepared for them a humbling chastisement. (33:57)
· People of the Prophet’s Household, God wishes to remove all flaws from you and to purify you completely. (33:33)
· The Emigrants and their Helpers, and those who follow them in doing good—God is well-pleased with them and they, well-pleased with Him. For them, God has prepared gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will dwell forever. That is the great liberation. (9:100)
· God and His angels pronounce blessings on the Prophet. You too, believers, pronounce blessings on him and wish peace upon him. (Exalt his glory and wish him well.) (33:56)
· I leave you two things: the Book of God and the People of my Household. If you follow them, you will never go astray.
· I was sent only to show and teach you the best of conduct.
· In terms of faith, the best of you is the one with the most charming morality.
· Who does not pity our children or respect our elderly is not of us.
· I swear to God that true faith does not form in the heart of anyone who does not love the People of my House.
· Loving the People of my House causes one to easily cross the Bridge to Paradise that passes over Hell.
· My Companions are like the stars in the sky. No matter which one you follow, you will find right guidance.
· Whoever pronounces blessings on my name once, God blesses him ten times, forgives ten of his sins, elevates his station ten times.
The Lord Almighty declares to his servants that the most important requirement for pleasing Him is to love His Beloved, and the Prophet’s Household and Companions. Islam is rooted in love and affection. In order to live it properly, one has to love the Beloved of God more than all other things—indeed, more than oneself. The most important reason for our recurring material and spiritual crises is the lack of love and affection in our hearts. Our Lord loves and tells us to love that Grand Threesome. Whoever fails to do so cannot properly love his mother, father, children, country, Moslem brethren, or human beings.
Dear Lord, make us of those who love Your Beloved, his Family, his Companions, and cause them to be loved, in a way that pleases You. Please place Their love and respect in the hearts of all your servants. For Their sake and the sake of the saints who follow Them, save humanity from all its troubles. Amen.