Archive for the ‘Attributes of God’ Category

The Grace of gradual revelation

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

The style of the revelation of the Quran was gradual, over a period of 23 years. A command would initially be revealed in much general terms. This was done to ease Muslims into the new Divine regulations. When the initial command is absorbed by Muslims, God followed it with more details about it, such as how to implement it properly. Many scholars thought that subsequent commands were abrogation of the initial command! But that is incorrect, since abrogation means cancellation, and the initial command always remained in force.

A good example of that is the prohibition of drinking alcoholic beverages. The first command God sent down on this issue was,
“And from the fruits of the palm trees and grapevines you take for yourselves intoxicant and good provision. Verily, in that is a sign for a folk who reason.” (16:67)
Here is a very subtle indication that intoxicants are not a good thing. God leaves the word without an adjective to describe it, but He follows the word “provision” with the adjective “good.” Those who got the hint, Umar ibn Al-Khattaab (RA) was one, understood that God is not pleased with alcoholic beverages.

A subsequent command was then revealed,
“They ask you about intoxicants and easy gain (gambling). Say: In them is major sin and benefits for people. But their sin is bigger than their benefit.” (2:219)
So, those who did not notice before are now left with no doubt that alcohol is bad. Notice that this verse does not abrogate 16:67, because not describing something as being good is tantamount to describing it as more bad than good!

Then, a third command was revealed,
“O you who have believed, do not approach prayer while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying, ” (4:43)

Now the matter is getting serious; intoxication prevents a Muslim from even approaching a prayer! Still, many people thought that it was OK to drink outside prayer times! They still didn’t get the hint. You see why God is walking them those baby steps? It is very hard for a society used to drinking alcohol to quit that habit. They need training. That is what God was doing, out of His Grace, by the gradual revelation of these commands. Notice also that this verse does not abrogate either of the aforementioned verses, because not praying while drunk does not mean drinking is allowed.

Finally, the prohibition was revealed in no uncertain terms,
“O you who have believed! Verily, intoxicants, easy gain (gambling), [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than God], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that perhaps you may prosper.

Verily, Satan only wants to drop between you enmity and acrimony through intoxicants and easy gain (gambling) and to shun you from the remembrance of God and from prayer. So, are you ceasing?” (5:90-91)

It is of particular interest to notice that Chapter 5 was one of the very last chapters of the Quran to be revealed. That means that the prohibition of alcohol took the entire period of revelation between Chapter 16 and Chapter 5, almost a decade!

That is just one example of why the Quran may not start off a command with the clear statement outright.

Is Islamic inheritance law unfair?

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

The British newspaper The Telegraph published today an article with the heading “Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs”. The author, John Bingham, alleges in the article that British lawyers will now for the first time be able to write wills for their clients that “deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude unbelievers altogether.”

Is that true? Have testators never been able to exclude from their wills heirs they resented, or wished to penalize, and given some heirs more than others and even given people who were totally unrelated to them a large portion of their estate? I doubt that, since the English law, as far as I know, regards the testator as the sole owner of his or her estate and therefore the only one who has a say in how the estate is to be distributed. Probate courts only interfere when a litigator contests the will as being contrary to common standards of fairness.

One article I found, written by a lawyers group, spells out how a testator can disinherit some heirs. I’m sure you can find many other.

However, is Bingham’s Islamophobic allegation true about Islamic law? Does Islamic law of inheritance deny women an equal share of inheritance and exclude unbelievers altogether?

Not quite as stated. The reason women inherit half of what men inherit is because Islamic law requires men to financially support women! If this requirement is not found in a Muslim community, then the division becomes invalid. I hope that the legal guidance the article refers to has taken into consideration that important proviso. Bingham really should have asked about it before he published his article.

And what about non-Muslims, can they possibly inherit from a Muslim? While some schools of thought do not allow it, there really is nothing in the Quranic verses that makes that ruling. A Muslim testator certainly can specify a bequest in his will, not to exceed one third of the estate, to be given to any one person or group who is not a regular heir.

The questions and answers page of this software may answer more of the readers questions about Islamic law of inheritance. God says in the holy Quran “Verily, God does not wrong even the weight of a speck.” (4:40) Don’t let Islamophobic writers give you the wrong impression about God.

Bingham also reports in the article that the legal guidance documents will exclude out-of-wedlock children and adopted children from inheriting. Is this true? Apart from the fact that any British testator can probably do that already under British law, Islamic law does not deprive out-of-wedlock children. The Quran does not say they are excluded! As for adopted children, they are not regular heirs for the reasons we explained in previous posts, but they can inherit by way of a bequest.

Next Islamophobic allegation in the article is the exclusion of people married in a church or in City Hall! Where is that written exactly in the Quran? If the reader can point to the verse, I’d appreciate it.

Is that guidance document “the first step on the road to a parallel legal system” for British Muslims, as the article quotes some campaigners? My humble answer to this question is that it can be, but never has to be. It all depends on how Islamic law is defined. If the definition is made by a school of thought, or some influential person, then the fears expressed in the article are legitimate. But that does not qualify as Islamic law. Islamic law is the Quran and the authentic Hadeeth, properly interpreted according to universally recognized logic, called in Islamic disciplines Usool-ul-Fiqh (Foundations of Deduction). Anything else is somebody’s opinion.

This whole issue of fear of “Sharia”, which resulted in several American states banning Sharia altogether, mixes two things which are not always related: Islam and Muslims! What Islam teaches is not necessarily followed by Muslims, and what Muslims do is not necessarily taught by Islam. To ban unfair laws is a good thing regardless of who wrote those laws. But to ban something based on misunderstanding it, or on mixing it with something else, is unwarranted.

If I were to advise the Law Society of Britain, I would only say that what they are told is Sharia may not be. It could simply be a tradition, or somebody’s refutable interpretation, and therefore should not overrule British law. They and the detractors and even many Muslims may be surprised to learn that much of British law has always been Sharia-compliant. In fact, the beginnings of the English Common Law were much influenced by Islamic law.

Being a beacon of light

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Brother, why do people, believers and non-believers, not understand the power of faith?

And question number two: The prostration of the heart. I have read that once the heart prostrates it remains in that position. That the body returns to the upright position but the heart has no fear of death. Can you give me some links to ponder this one?

Lastly, I have caught so many blessings my hands are teaming full. Now…what do I do with the blessings. How do I serve my Lord and Creator such that the blessings are spread as the hadith about the corn…how does one make one blessing turn into the thousands? I am a simple woman. I am not Yusef (Joseph, peace be upon him).

I would respectfully disagree that the heart remains prostrate. Did you know that the word for heart in Arabic, Al-Qalb, literally means that which keeps turning over? Recall the supplication of the Prophet (PBUH), “O Turner of hearts, steady my heart upon Your religion. O Diverter of hearts, direct my heart toward obeying you.” (Narrated in different versions by Umm Salama and Anas and reported and rated between authentic and sound by At-Tirmizhi and Al-Albaani).

I wish the heart could be set once and for all, the task of faith would’ve been easy.

People underestimate the power of faith because it does not work the way they expect! People want things now and faith produces results on God’s own timing. People want specific things, but faith brings them what God has determined to be best for them. “And God knows and you do not know.” (3:66)

The way to turn one blessing into thousands is to “lend God a goodly loan” (57:18). That expression God uses in the Quran several times and it a surprising statement, isn’t it? How do we creatures lend anything to our Creator? And what do we lend Him? He is the owner of everything we’ve got, including our lives. How do you lend someone something he owns and you don’t?

The best way to understand this metaphor is to contemplate an Egyptian proverb that says, “Do the good and throw it in the river!” What the Egyptians mean by that is that we are to do good and not expect anything in return because we know that God will reward us for it sometime somehow. That is the goodly loan. You do not collect interest on it nor recall it nor does it become due any time, but it pays off big time. You just don’t know when or how.

Is the word “Allah” exclusive to Muslims?

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

A court in Malaysia ruled that non-Muslims cannot use the word “Allah”,
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/14/us-malaysia-court-allah-idUSBRE99D01J20131014

Is this proper?

No. To begin with, one cannot censor the use of words that other people use unless the usage is defamatory, slanderous, libelous or profane.

Secondly, the word “Allah” is simply the Arabic word for God. God uses it in the Quran to refer to Himself because the Quran is revealed in the Arabic language, not because that is His name. God does not have a name. He does not need one. You and I have names because there are many creatures that are just like us, so a name is necessary to distinguish us from others. But there is only one God.

Arab Christians and Jews call God “Allah.”

It is true that many Islamophobes have been abusing the word “Allah”, but these folks do not realize that, by doing so, they are abusing the same God they believe in!

When God says in the holy Quran that He has beautiful “names” that we should use when we call upon Him (7:180), He is referring to His attributes, such as Ar-Rahmaan (The Beneficent), Al-Ghafoor (The Much-Forgiving), At-Tawwaab (The Oft Accepting of repentance). One of those attributes is Allah, which means The God.

Can faith go up and down?

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Brother, I pray this finds you in high eman (faith) and good health.

Here is one of my serious questions. I did not know where to start the research.
I pray. I believe in prayer. I try not to miss my salat (prayer).

I got sick. I could not pray. I do not mean physically. There arose the problem. I could not make myself pray. I put it off. I blamed the physical lethargy. I could not understand nor rationalize the blockage.
The inability to pray ran down to my soul. I could not find an answer.

To try and sum it up in words: Why do we have periods of such low eman (faith) that prayer becomes difficult? It is not the total abandonment of prayer but a temporary inability to pray. Does this even make sense? I understand that the body hurts but the soul hurts more when prayer is ignored. It was as if I felt I was abandoned.

Point the passages in the Quran for me to ponder on this one. I know others who have the same blockage. It is not that you do not want to pray..but something prevents you from praying.

You’re asking why is this happening to you. The answer is simple: Satan got to you. Don’t panic; it happens to everybody. Satan never tires of trying to get to people so that they may follow him instead of following God. In the holy Quran, God quotes Satan challenging Him and saying, “I will come to them before them, behind them, at their right sides and at their left sides, and You will not find most of them thankful!” (7:17)

What do you do about it? You show Satan who’s boss! You fight him on it. You drag yourself to pray if necessary and cry to God in your prayer to help you win that fight. It is not an easy fight, it’s a jihaad (struggle). And if you just start it, God promises He will be on your side, “And those who struggle in Us, We shall surely guide them to Our ways.” (29:69)

Prayer is the second most emphasized notion in the Quran, after the oneness of God. Why? Because once you understand who God is, you certainly want to find out how to communicate with Him.

Prayer is an audience with God that He invites you to five times everyday. It is a privilege given to every believer, similar to the privilege God gave to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on his Mi`raaj (ascension journey to heaven). Unlike audiences with human dignitaries, you don’t make an appointment first, you don’t need intermediaries, you can stay as little or as long as you want, and you can ask for anything and be sure that an answer will be given right away and in the way that fits you best.

Prayer, therefore, is much more than a duty upon every believer toward His Maker, it is a fabulous opportunity; like a freebie you get five times a day and all you have to do is open the door to get it. No strings attached.

Prayer is a chance to thank God five times a day for the many more than five favors He has given you that day.

Belief does not go up and down, but faith does. Belief is binary :-), you either believe or you don’t. Faith, on the other hand, is the practice, cordially, mentally, verbally and manually, that proves the belief and affirms it. Since all of these can go up and down, that’s why faith can go up and down. God defined believers as follows, “Verily, believers are only those who, when God is mentioned and His verses are recited to them, it increases their faith, and upon their Lord they rely.” (8:2)

To make your faith go up, you increase the rate at which you affirm your belief. Cordially, you contemplate God’s love and grace often. Mentally, you reflect on God’s creation and bounties often. Verbally, you do Zhikr often, and manually, you perform the rituals, charity and good deeds often. The more you commit yourself to that, the easier it gets, because Satan will find you a tough nut to crack and will look for an easier prey, just like a car thief doesn’t bother with cars that have a powerful alarm.

The Prophet (PBUH) often said this supplication, “O turner of hearts, steady my heart on Your religion! O diverter of hearts, direct my heart to obeying You!”

And he always said this supplication after ending each prayer, “Allahumma a`inni `ala zhikrika wa shukrika wa husni `ibaadatika” (“O God, help me to remember You, thank You, and comply well with your ordinance.”)

Are we at fault for all bad things?

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

I would like to know why do we tell “Everything good is from Allah SWT and everything bad is from us.”

If you have already answered this question in your older posts, please provide me the link.

You are referring to verse 4:79, but you should also take verse 4:78, which establishes the context, in order to understand it:

“{4:78} Wherever you may be, death will catch up with you, even if you should be within towers of lofty construction. And if good comes to them, they say, “This is [coming] from God”; and if a bad [thing] hits them, they say, “This is [coming] from you.” Say, “All [things come] from God.” So what is [the matter] with those people that they can hardly understand a statement?

{4:79} What comes to you of good is [caused] by God, but what comes to you of bad is [caused] by yourself. And We have sent you, [O Muhammad,] to the people as a messenger, and sufficient is God as Witness.”

Most translations I read of these two verses fail to distinguish between the two different prepositions that God used here, namely من and من عند, which would lead the English reader to view these two verses as contradictory to each other! 4:78 says that God is the source of all things, good and bad, while 4:79 says that only good things are caused by God while bad ones are caused by us. The distinction specified in the Arabic is lost in the translation and leads to a wrong conclusion! Rather, من عند means “comes from the reservoir of” while من means “is caused by.” Thus, to be faithful to the Arabic, and in doing so dispel confusion, I suggest the above translation.

It is particularly interesting to me that in 4:78, God chastises people for not understanding plain talk. That means that this distinction I explained above was clear enough, yet people did not get it. Indeed, the source of all things is God. Who else is or can be a source? But the cause of something is creature action. If we don’t do the wrong things, nothing wrong will happen! The Sunna (way) of God is that everything is in order, working as planned, in harmony, in precise measure and timing, well designed for maximum benefit. That is why God says that the cause of good is He. God does not do anything to ruin His plan or design. But we often do.

Why are there wars, famine, scarcity, disease, poverty, ignorance, etc., in the world? It is all caused by human action. We are all capable of choosing right, but some of us willingly and knowingly choose the wrong. The result is suffering. That is the cosmic law of cause and effect that God created and set forth.

Related post: Why is there suffering, death, evil and injustice in the world?

Three plateaus of contentment

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Quick question: When we acquiesce to the call of Allah swt, there is a word in Arabic that sounds phonetically like ridah and roughly translated I believe means the tranquil acceptance of Allah swt’s will.

Could you expand on this, please.

“Tranquil acceptance” is an excellent translation of Ridha.

I usually translate it as contentment. Contentment can be motivated by several motivations. It can be motivated by surrender to reality. In such case, it is more like coping rather than contentment. It is then pragmatic. The motivation here is literally Islam (surrender), which some do willingly and others unwillingly. Consider,
“So is it other than the religion of God they desire, while to Him have submitted [all] those within the heavens and earth, willingly or unwillingly, and to Him they will be returned?” (3:83)

Contentment can be motivated by peace of mind; that feeling that everything is in order and taken care of by the Supreme Caretaker (Al-Qayyoom). In such case, it is tranquil acceptance. It is then rational. With that mental attitude, one is in harmony with other creatures, swimming downstream. The motivation here is Eeman (faith).

Contentment can also be motivated by pleasure; that feeling that God, being the source of everything, is the source of whatever happened and therefore it must be good for the person even if it doesn’t look that way at first. In such case, it is love. Contentment here is two-sided! As God has said in the holy Quran, “…God is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. That is the grand win.” (5:119). With that mental attitude, one is in heaven on earth; one has that elusive inner peace. The motivation here is Ihsaan (benevolence).

God has mentioned several times in the holy Quran how Ridha is the ultimate reward. Take for example His praise of a pious, charitable, unselfish person, “But the most watchful [of God] will be averted from it (the Hellfire). Who gives [from] his wealth purifying himself. And no one has a favor with him to be rewarded. Except seeking the Countenance of his Lord, the Highest. And he shall contend.” (92:17-21).

Tests of faith are healing and guidance

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

I am on an adventure that I know has been sanctioned by Allah swt. My learning curve is off the charts.

I hold on to the precept after difficulties comes ease.

It would be good to address, yet again, how fortunate are the ones that Allah swt tests.

We often forget that our testing is a way to stay alive. We are kept young. We become resourceful. Often in our monotonous lives we become ungrateful of the favors of our Creator. We take things for granted. When the rug is pulled under our feet we become alive again.

We commence on a deeper esoteric journey. When it gets tough it seems the only door open is the door of the Mercy of Allah swt. The example of Yunus (Jonah) becomes alive. He was alone in the belly of the whale at the bottom of the sea. Not even a candle to give some light. Yet, the test was for him to call upon Allah swt.

We overlook the healing process after the ejection from the whale. Once the internal, the soul, is rescued then the body can recover.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

I am blessed too, as Allah has provided me with Believers that I can share my spiritual journey with

You bring up a very important point: that tests of life are nudges along the Straight Path. Picture a father teaching his son to ride a bike. We cannot be steady in life without God’s constant guidance and occasional nudges, because Satan would then have a field day with us. And the only way to avail ourselves of that infinite source of guidance and redirection is correct, true faith in God, recognition of His correction to us, acceptance of His tests of us and doing good deeds.

It is then that we got it. Only then do we understand why we’re here, what we’re supposed to do and not do.

This relates to the question I had regarding ridha. Trust me the term tranquil acceptance is not mine. I was listening to the Imam of Cambridge college. He is a revert. Brilliant mind. One who can think and be clear and precise. Here is a link: http://cambridgekhutbasetc.blogspot.com/.

It seems to be the case, and it is a difficult pill to swallow, that often the guidance of Allah comes at His Pace. When He guides us and wishes for us to purify our souls, for the fragile human ego it is a difficult period. Any metamorphosis requires a degree of what can be described as growing pains. Who wants to yield the warm bottle of milk and the comfort of mothers lap.

Yes, I understand that part of the tests are we give up our misconceptions and notions of what ought to be in a perfect world for ourselves. However, it is not our world. We are participants in His Creation. What I have come to understand is the Truth of the Quran. It is absolute. There is not one lie in it.

This is an earth-shattering experience. It is scary. When we read Allah is sufficient unto me…we have to believe in that 100%. He has told us so. And we are tested to understand the meaning of that. One of the blessings of the test is the ridha. But, in the midst of the chaos of the test we have to stop and count our blessings. This is where we need the strength of community. Almost a reinforcement of enjoining good and forbidding evil.

As life is a new experience each day, is that not a definition of striving, we are in constant change.

Maybe, I am blessed.

He is indeed successful who “gets” the Quran before they die, because back to its author they are going.

Supplication during the night

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Assalaamu ‘alaikum WR WB brother.

Is there any specific Du’a recorded in the Sunnah which should be recited
specifically during night prayers (Qiyaamul Layl)
If so , please do share them Insha Allah

The first time God ordered the Prophet (PBUH) to stay up at night praying was in Chapter 73 (Al-Muzzammil), very shortly after revelation started. In this chapter, God only tells the Prophet to recite the Quran.

Later, in Chapter 17 (Al-Israa’), God tells the Prophet two things about night prayer: (a) that it is voluntary (Naafila) and (b) to say in it this supplication, “Rabbi adkhilni mudkhala sidqin wa akhrijni mukhraja sidqin waj`al li min ladunka sultaanan naseera” (17:80) which means, “Lord, make me enter an entrance of truthfulness and make me exit an exit of truthfulness, and set for me, from Your Own, a supporting authority.” Followed by, “Jaa’a-l haqqu wa zahaqa-l baatilu. Inna-l baatila kaana zahooqa” (17:81), which means “Truth has come and falsehood has passed away. Indeed, falsehood is always passing away.”

The Prophet (PBUH) did that and much more. He was committed to night prayer even after he was told it was voluntary. And he added other supplications, such as this one reported by Al-Bukhaari in his authentic compilation,
“O God, to You is praise; You are the Caretaker of the heavens and the earth and whomever is in them. To You is praise; You are the King of the heavens and the earth and whomever is in them. To You is praise, You are the Truth. Your promise is truth. The meeting with You is truth. What You say is truth. The Garden (Al-Janna) is truth. Hellfire is truth. To You I have submitted. In You I have believed. Upon You I have relied. Back to You I have returned. With You I have argued. For Your sake I have judged. So, forgive me what I have put forward and what I have put behind, what I have kept private and what I have made public. You are the Advancer (Al-Muqaddim) and the Regresser (Al-Mu’akhkhir). There is no god but You and there is no capacity nor strength except by You.”

Waiting for a blessing

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

What about someone that is waiting for a particular blessing and it does not come? I know dua (supplication) and qadar (precision) meet and whichever is the stronger manifests. Yet, a blessing is a gift isn’t it? A sweet chocolate kiss from Heaven.

Is it the ego that prevents blessings from flowing?

This may not seem like a serious subject but it is…give me a good Sura (Chapter of the Quran) or ayat (verse) that defines blessings.

Ego, sin, impatience, doubt (including self doubt), etc. In other words: lack of true submission.

Picture an airplane full of food and medicine for victims of a disaster but is unable to land because of lack of runway. Blessings are kinda like that. Remember the hadeeth in which Gabriel told the Prophet (PBUH) when Laylat-ulk-Qadr is, and the Prophet (PBUH) went out to tell Muslims but because two Muslims were arguing loudly he was made to forget it? (Narrated by Abu-Saeed Al-Khudri and reported by Muslim). The scene was not welcoming to the blessing even though the Prophet (PBUH) himself was there.

One of my favorite verses is this, “He knew what is in their hearts, so He sent down tranquility upon them and rewarded them with a nigh victory.” (48:18) It always starts with us submitting, hoping and waiting without hurrying and with full faith that good will happen. Only then does it happen.

Your statement that dua and qadar meet and the stronger of them wins, needs discussion. I addressed a misunderstanding about this in a previous blog post. Qadar comes with or without dua and it can be a reply to a dua. It does not meet dua nor fight with it. Qadar does not mean fate; it means precision in measure and timing.

I read your response..you have a way of making things easy to understand. There is a youtube video that someone posted on a forum I follow. The young scholar discusses “the dua meeting the qadar”. The viewer gets the impression that supplication overrides destiny. I think you need to explain in your discussion that we can not mold the dua. We can not have dua be wishful thinking. I can not make dua and wish only for my knight in shinning armor. I can not have the mold. That is my shortsightedness and ego. Am I correct?

Contemplation is a part of reviewing the blessings. In hindsight, we see what Allah subhana wa taala has sent to us. And it makes sense. Trust me the past two years have been full of blessings yet I have felt as if I were in a dark wilderness, alone. When I take time to reassess I realize it could not have transpired any other way.

Yes, He is full of Mercy and He sends His Blessings. We are so scared of the blessings. There is accountability in accepting blessings. That is a part of submission. The runway in your example would be accountability in my words, correct?

You need to write on true submission. Honestly, we are so busy trying to be super-Muslims we forget the simple things. There is a fine line. We have to be busy with life while we wait for the guidance of Allah subhana wa taala. That is not easy.

I understand self-doubt to be an instrument of Shytan (Satan). I know dhikr (remembrance of God) and dua and salat (prayer) are cures as is the biggie sabr (patience).

Actually, we can mold the dua. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Let any of you ask his Lord all of his needs, even ask Him to replace the lining of his shoes that was torn!”, narrated by Anas ibn Maalik and reported by Assuyooti who rated it authentic. Most scholars, however, have doubted its authenticity. The point of this hadeeth is that nothing is too small or too big to ask God for. When you really think about it, you will find that most of what we wish for in our prayers is rather trivial and that what is really important God is already taking care of. He is Al-Qayyoom (The All-Caretaker).

That said, your point is well taken. I understood it to be that a believer should not insist on an outcome. However God chooses to reply to his request should be reason for the believer to rejoice. That requires that the believer be in tune with what God sends his way. Otherwise he will not recognize the reply when it comes. That is the lesson of Salaat-ul-Istikhaara (consultation prayer). You are torn between two decisions and honestly cannot decide, so you ask God to decide one for you. How do you know what God decided and when? You will see it and feel it if you are tuned in.

The belief many Muslims have that supplication preempts destiny is a false doctrine which sadly most Muslims do not even review. It is a harmless false doctrine, though, so I don’t fret over it. Destiny never changes because God knows it already. He does not shape it for us. We shape it with our words and deeds out of our free will. He simply knows it already. It’s kinda like watching a recorded football match with your son who hasn’t yet seen it but you have and he made you promise not to spoil it for him. He can cheer his team till he’s blue in the face, but you know his team lost. They lost because they didn’t play well and didn’t listen to their coach. You had nothing to do with it! I can excuse non-Arabic speakers who do not know what the word Al-Qadhaa’ means, but what is the excuse of the Arabs? The word does not mean destiny and never did.

The “runway” in my previous example is the space in the heart that we leave open to receive God’s gifts. It’s what Rumi spoke of all the time. That space widens when we accept and narrows when we question. That is what true submission is about. After you read the Quran and recognize its truth, you let God in. Easier said than done though.

Tuning in…that is never explained enough and people run from pillar to post trying to understand how they know they are tuned in. It seems that we have a paucity of vocabulary or descriptors to help us understand when we are tuned in. I know in prayer there is a physical change when you are tuned in. Yet, there are not universal words to define the “tuned in” stage. Similar to the Zen. The area of the spiritual real and the physical real is fuzzy. You mentioned self-doubt. It is overwhelming for the psyche to live in the tuned in state for long periods of time. I am still trying to comprehend this one. Maybe that is what I was alluding to in terms of becoming reclusive; not that you do not wish to interact with the world but the need to be ” tuned in” is greater and you do not want to risk the goodness.

Your runway made me think…our trials are the shovel that make the path wider. Our trials are what makes us dependent upon Allah subhana wa taala. Rumi’s Love is so deep it is too simple. Once again it is the inability of our language to communicate to us what we have.

Salaat-ul-Istikhaara is the salaat for guidance when you have to make a decision. What about when you are in the wilderness looking for guidance?

As for understanding the Quran…there are times when Allah swt gives you a response as if you are slapped in the face and at other times one ayat takes months and months to comprehend.

Let me end with this: There comes a point in one’s life when you see the blessings. You become sure that the end of any given is going to be good; you become so used to this that the ordinary stressors disappear. You know from past experiences what the anticipated result will be. It is almost too much to take in. I guess this is being “tuned in”.

The reason why I am hung up on this is simple. I post on a forum I follow and often the responses become so obtuse that we forget in the wording, life is to be lived. We are ordinary people and Islam is a faith for the common man.

You really ought to give a kuthba (sermon) on this. Tell the imam (preacher) of your masjid (mosque) you need to speak to the youth. We are missing that in our masjids. The use of language to an audience that is real and meaningful.

Zhikr is the best way to achieve the tuned-in state, especially if it is done with mindfulness. But even when it is done by force of habit, provided the heart is sound, the believer will be eased into things. If you ever wondered why Zhikr is so lauded in Islam, that’s why IMHO.

Mindfulness is also the best way to understand the Quran. When you read the Quran mindfully, no word passes by without reflection. You ask yourself what does this word really mean? Why did God choose this word and not any of its synonyms in this particular verse and context? How is this verse related to the one before it and the one after it. That is the method taught by the late Sheikh Shaarawi, may God bless his soul. Suddenly, the Quran relates to your life intimately. You feel clued in.

A person in the wilderness looking for guidance will find it if he is really looking for it, because God says in the holy Quran, “And upon God is the orientation of the road” (16:9) You just walk the road and earnestly look for the way and God will show it to you. It’s a promise from Him.