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Acquisition of the Clear Light: Part 2

This is the second part of a series of translations of Habib Umar’s work, Qabs al-Nur al-Mubin, an abridgment of Imam al-Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Din.

 

A Summary of the Heart’s Qualities

Within a human being’s nature lie four blemishes:

Qualities of beasts of prey, animals, demons and that of a divine nature. When he is overcome by anger, he adopts the actions of beasts such as enmity, hatred, physical and verbal attacks. When he is overcome by desire, he adopts the actions of animals such as gluttony and greed. When within his soul there is something lordly, in accordance to Him Most High saying: “Say, ‘The spirit is my Lord’s affair.’” (Sura al-Isra 17:85) Therefore, he will call towards being worshiped, and has a liking for usurpation, appropriation, sole allocation and exclusive position within leadership, a slow withdrawal from worship, humility and seeking of knowledge. He is different from other animals in terms of his intellect, however if he adopts a demonic anger and desire, he then begins to use his intellect towards contriving ill intentions and attaining objectives by scheming, deception and deceit and carries out evil as if it were goodness, and these are etiquettes of the devils.

So, it’s as if the total urges in the skin of a human being are: a pig, which represents the desire, a dog, which represents the anger, a devil, which stimulates a pig-like desire and beast-like anger. The wise man which represents the intellect that has been assigned to repel the plots of the devil by exposing its deception, to break the pig-like desires, by setting the dog upon it, to repel the dog-like greed by setting the pig upon it, and if he does act in accordance with this, he will find consistency in his affair, state and striving upon the straight path and if he is unable to overpower all of this, it will conquer him and exploit him and as long as he is giving deep thought towards that satiating of the pig and pleasing the dog, likewise, will he continue to be in the worship of a dog and pig.

This is the state of the majority of people and it’s strange that the one who rejects the devoutness of the idol worshipers towards stones, for if the veil was to be lifted from him and the reality of his state was made manifest to him, he would see his soul personified in prostration to a pig on one occasion, and bowing to it in another, awaiting its directions and commands or he would see his soul personified in a dutiful and obedient servitude state to a mordacious dog and this is the peak of injustice.

Thereafter, what results after the obedience of the pig of desire, is the appearance of a quality of impudence, filth, squandering, stinginess, boastfulness, insanity, idleness, greed, covetousness, self-admiration, envy, hatred and pleasure toward another’s pain and the likes. As for what results after the obedience of the dog of anger, is the quality of heedlessness, spendthriftness, haughtiness, boastfulness, exaggeration, arrogance, self-praise, mockery, despising and hatred towards human beings and a desiring of evil and oppression and the likes.

As for the obedience of the devil, is by following the desire and anger and from within it, the quality of scheming, plotting, slyness, indolence, deception, corruption, secretiveness and the likes.

If the affair was to be reversed and all of this was subjugated under a principal of divine characteristics, then the divine characteristics would be established in the heart such as knowledge, wisdom, certainty, precaution towards the reality of matters and the knowledge of the essence of things, taking over everything with the power of knowledge and foresight, worthiness of leading the creation due to complete knowledge and loftiness, becoming independent of being in servitude towards desire and anger and spreading within in him, the control of the pig-like desire, returning it to the point of moderation, honorable qualities such as chasteness, contentedness, calmness, asceticism, scrupulousness, God consciousness, cheerfulness, tidiness, shyness, politeness, helpfulness and the likes.

From among that which takes place within him as a result of the strength of anger, the conquering of it, returning it to the point of necessity, the quality of braveness, generosity, courage, self-control, patience, forbearance, tolerance, forgiveness, steadfastness, nobleness, sagacity, tranquility and the likes.

The heart is like a mirror which has been surrounded by these influential factors and these effects are continuously coming into the heart. As for the praiseworthy effects, they increase the heart in clarity, radiance, illumination and brightness.

As for the blameworthy effects, they are like dark smoke ascending towards the heart’s mirror which accumulate around it, until it turns pitch black and this is known as the seal and the stain. “By no means! but on their hearts is the stain of the [ill] which they do!” (Sura al-Mutaffifin 83:14)

 


This is part one of a translation of al-Habib Umar bin Hafiz’s abridgment of Ihya Ulum al-Din by Imam al-Ghazali entitled Acquisition of the Clear Light, not only provides the reader with a concise understanding of the Ihya but also serves as clear guideline to the main themes and focal points within the actual book.

Translator: Abdullah Salih, converted to Islam in 2003 and thereafter, embarked on a journey of seeking knowledge in the Valleys of Hadramowt in the beautiful city of Tarim. He was fortunate enough to sit in the company of Habib Umar, where he studied under him various sciences such as, but not limited to, some of the original works of Ihya as well that of the abridgment. He now resides in Namibia with his family and is engaged in Dawah activities locally as well as internationally.


 

 

Acquisition of the Clear Light: Part 1

This is the first part of a series of translations of Habib Umar’s work, Qabs al-Nur al-Mubin, an abridgment of Imam al-Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Din.

In the Name of God, the Gracious, the Most Merciful

Praise is due to God, who is all aware about the subtleties of the souls, who is all knowing about the secrets of the hearts. May His Peace and Blessings be upon the master of the messengers, the unifier of the religion and upon his pleasant and pure household.

To proceed, the honor and virtue of a human being is in relation to his inclination towards knowledge about Allah Most High which is that which renders him beautiful, complete and honorable in this world, and is a means of preparation and provision for the Hereafter.

This aforementioned inclination towards knowledge takes place in one’s heart, as the heart is the knower of Allah Most High, that which causes proximity to Allah Most High, serves Allah Most High, strives towards Allah Most High, is the recipient of the manifestations from Allah Most High and the limbs are but followers, helpers, and tools.

The heart, soul, spirit and intellect are synonymous in meaning which is a subtle spiritual substance divinely governed. It is the very essence of a human being and the point of perception for the Gnostics among them. So this subtle, knowledgeable and gnostic substance of a human being is at times referred to as a heart, spirit, intellect, or soul.

At times, the heart is referred to as a piece of flesh like a pine-cone in form, positioned at the left hand side of the chest which is the same heart present in animals and it is from the visible material world.

The soul is sometimes referred to as the container of a human being’s capacity of anger and desire. At times, the soul is referred to as a light body originating from the heart’s cavity, which disperses by means of arteries to the rest of the body.

The intellect is sometimes referred to as the means to knowledge of the true reality, and if what is meant is the comprehension of sciences, then this is the heart, and at times all four of these words share this meaning.

Soldiers of the Heart

The heart has three types of soldiers.

Firstly: a type that is dispatched towards obtaining that which is beneficial and appropriate, such as a desire or a protection from that which is harmful and incompatible, such as anger. His dispatching is referred to as will.

Secondly: That which causes the movement of the limbs towards the obtaining of these objectives which is referred to as capability.

Thirdly: That which perceives and comprehends things similar to the role of spies. This is the power of sight, hearing, smelling, taste and touch which is referred to as knowledge and perception.

Explanation of the Distinct Characteristics of the Human Heart

What distinguishes the heart of a human being, resulting in his great honor and his worthiness of attaining proximity to Allah Most High, is knowledge and will.

As for knowledge: It is knowledge pertaining to affairs of this life, the Hereafter, and intellectual realties. These things surpass the senses and no other animals partake in them.

As for will: If, through the medium of intellect, the end result and rectification of something becomes known, it brings about a strong inclination within one’s self towards that which is beneficial, its respective practical means and yearning towards it, which is neither similar to the desire’s yearning nor the will of animals. In fact, it is opposed to desire, as at times desire could shun a surgical operation whilst the intellect yearns for it.

So the heart of a human being is distinct in terms of its knowledge and will which differentiate it from the rest of the animals, in fact, even from the youth at its prime stage of its natural disposition, as this only takes place once puberty has been reached and one thereafter attain theses sciences through two stages:

Firstly: One’s heart must contain the core and fundamental knowledge, that is the science of the impossibility of impossible things and the possibility of outwardly possible things [logic], without which the speculative sciences are not attainable. However, their proximity is possible. This is like unto someone who, as far as the art of writing is concerned, only knows the inkwell, the pen, and the alphabet. He has gained proximity to the art of writing but has not attained it.

Secondly: To acquire knowledge through experience and contemplation, which is like a storage tool which one refers back to whenever one desires.

The people of this stage have innumerable ranks, surpassing one another in relation to the larger or lesser amount of knowledge, the honor and baseness of such knowledge, the method of attaining it, as some hearts receive it through divine revelation, and others through learning and acquiring it rapidly and slowly, so therefore the ranks of advancement are innumerable and the furthest of such ranks is that of the Prophet to whom most, if not all realities become manifest without effort or difficulty, in fact, through divine manifestation in the shortest possible amount of time.

The most honorable type of knowledge is knowledge of Allah Most High, His Qualities, His Actions, as by it, a human being is rendered complete and this completion results in his felicity and suitability for the Splendored and Perfect Companionship. The body is a vehicle for the soul, the soul is the location of one’s knowledge, and knowledge is a human being’s objective and distinct quality which is the very reason of one’s creation.

A human being is ranked between the animals and angels in that his nourishment and reproduction is like a plant’s, his senses and movement is like an animal’s, and his features and extension is like an engraved picture on the wall. What distinguishes him is his knowledge of the realities of things.

Whoever uses all of his limbs and strength whilst depending on this for attainment of knowledge and work, is similar to the angels and as for the one who directs his concerns to the pursuit of bodily pleasures, eating just as the grazing livestock eat, has as a result, declined to the lowest of animals.

It is possible to use every single limb as a means of arrival to Allah Most High. The one who uses them in this way attains success, however, the one who deviates from this, is lost and is unsuccessful.

A summary of felicity is for one to make his meeting of his Lord his objective, the Hereafter his place of settlement, this life as his temporary settlement, his body as a vehicle and his limbs as helpers.

Ali, Allah ennoble his countenance, described the hearts by saying: “Verily Allah Most High has vessels upon His land and they are the hearts and the most beloved of these to Him, are the most soft, pure and solid, thereafter he explained this by saying: The most solid in terms of religion, the purest in terms of certainty, and the softest towards brothers, which is an indication to Allah Most High saying: ‘Severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves,’ (Sura al-Fath 48:29) and His saying: ‘The similitude of His light is a niche in which there is a lamp.’” (Sura al-Nur 24:35)

Ubay ibn K’ab, Allah be pleased with him, said: “What is meant is, the similitude of the light and the heart of the believer. He Most High further says: ‘Or is like the depths of darkness in a vast deep ocean.’” (Sura al-Nur 24:40) which is the similitude of the heart of a hypocrite.

Zayd ibn Aslam, Allah be pleased with him, said about His saying: “In a preserved tablet” that this is the heart of a believer.

Sahl stated: “The similitude of the heart and the chest is like that of the Throne and the Chair. These are likenesses of the heart.”

 


This is part one of a translation of al-Habib Umar bin Hafiz’s abridgment of Ihya Ulum al-Din by Imam al-Ghazali entitled Acquisition of the Clear Light, not only provides the reader with a concise understanding of the Ihya but also serves as clear guideline to the main themes and focal points within the actual book.

Translator: Abdullah Salih, converted to Islam in 2003 and thereafter, embarked on a journey of seeking knowledge in the Valleys of Hadramouth in the beautiful city of Tarim. He was fortunate enough to sit in the company of Habib Umar, where he studied under him various sciences such as, but not limited to, some of the original works of Ihya as well that of the abridgment. He now resides in Namibia with his family and is engaged in Dawah activities locally as well as internationally.


 

Connecting Our Hearts to Allah – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Get some much needed Soul Food , and spiritual nourishment with Ustadh Amjad Tarsin in this richly packed workshop on 10 practical steps to connect your heart to Allah.

Foundationally rooted in the Hadith Jibrli, Ustadh Amjad delineates the 3 dimensions of religion and ushers us into the spiritual path of seeking and connecting with Allah.  To understand how we can connect our hearts to Allah, we must first step back and understand the nature of the heart and how it functions. With this in mind, Ustadh Amjad takes the listeners and viewers on an investigation of the Qalb, the spiritual heart, and the nature of its parts and its much needed nourishments.

Resources for Seekers:

Marvelling at the Heart – Reflections by Sidi Suhayb

“Verily, in the body is a small piece of flesh that if it is healthy, the whole body is healthy and if it is sick, the whole body is sick. This small piece of flesh is the heart.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

[Marvels of the heart course]
Knowledge of the heart is considered to be fard al-ayn (an individual obligation), and after completing the Marvels of the Heart course with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, I understand why.
This is my first time doing a course with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus. I found him to be a person who reminds you of All Mighty Allah when you look at him. He exudes gentleness and mercy and I was left wanting whatever it is that he has. His character alone would guide people to Islam.
[Transforming and life changing]
The course is nothing short of amazing and to this day remains my favourite Seekers Guidance course, and if acted upon, the most transformative and life-changing. From the beginning of the course to the very end it is full of insight and deep meaning.
I have only done this course once but intend to do it again God Willing. With this course in particular, I bought a translation of the text. I would read the relevant chapter in English before listening to the lesson and then read along again during the lesson, ultimately reading the book twice throughout the course. This really helped me to grasp the concepts.
I converted to Islam around thirteen years ago Praise be to be God, and really just thought that after taking my shahadah that somehow I would be miraculously cured of all the problems I had in life. Somehow without making any effort except saying I believe that All Mighty Allah would grant me a huge spiritual experience and all would be well. Thirteen years later I realise this is not going to be the case for me and that I am going to have to struggle against my ego and my desires, that I need to really strive to seek Allah’s pleasure, All Mighty Allah owes me nothing but I owe Him (God Almighty) everything.
The thing that really hit me throughout the course was the realisation of the state I am in. I am a person who has suffered from addictions in life to one thing and another and doing this course made me realise that even though I am in recovery alhamdulillah, I am still what you might call a suffering addict in my behaviour. I am impulsive by nature and often act on a whim to please myself. This course brought these things to my attention and made me realise that there is a better way to live my life.
[Closeness to God]sh.-yahya-and-cam.png
“The special characteristics of the heart are that by which we draw near to All Mighty Allah. These special characteristics are based on knowledge and will, ‘ilm and irada. The will follows the guidance of the intellect. If the intellect sees something as beneficial it will drive the will to do it. It is different to the animals as the will of the human being can go against your desires based on the judgement of the intellect”.
After hearing this I realised that I have an intellect and that I need to use this to keep my ego and desires in check.  Amazingly, even though the book was written so long ago, the lessons from it are so relevant today, especially in dealing with addiction. When overcoming an urge to use, the addict is encouraged to listen to the rational part of his or her brain to control that urge. Very much like the battle that takes place for the heart with the intellect acting as the advisor to the kingdom (heart) and directing the foot soldiers (our ego and desires) to stay in line. There is a battle underway for this kingdom and we must be ever vigilant.
Perhaps the scariest part is that I have now learned that the heart is ever-changing, and the science of the heart (tasawwuf) is required in every single moment because of this. There is no miraculous overnight cure heading my way, only a lifetime of struggle. But perhaps my miraculous cure is the realisation and acceptance of that.
I recommend this course to everyone and feel that it is perhaps one of the most important things we should learn. From the way it is taught to the teachings it conveys, it will change your outlook on life and how you practise your deen. If more of us are aware of the state of our hearts, its disease and how to treat them then the world will be a better place.
“If you know your heart you will know yourself, and if you know yourself you will know your Lord”
———
Purchase the book, Click here 

SeekersGuidance Course:
The Marvels of the Heart with Shaykh Yahya Rhodus
Relevant Resources:
Habib Umar’s Morning Lessons on Imam Ghazali’s Marvels of the Heart – Day 1 – Select Quotes
The Importance of Study in One’s Spiritual Development – Imam al-Ghazzali
On Knowing Yourself to Know God – A SeekersCircle Reflection

My Inability to Escape My Desires Fills Me With Despair – Is There Any Hope for Me?

Answered by Ustadha Rukayat Yakub

Question: I am unable to escape my desires. Every time I have finished satisfying myself I want to kill myself. What is the point of living if not in obedience? There is no human I hate more than myself. I know of no pain in this world worse than this: knowing right from wrong and being unable to stop oneself from wrong. It doesn’t even satisfy. The desire itself is just a lie. It’s just replaced by an emptiness, a sickness spreading from an empty, black, encrusted qalb to the rest of the body.

Should I wish for death? Would I be one of those who just beg to get sent back to work righteousness? And yet here I am and I can’t? Am I destined for the fire then either way? Do I have more than an earthful of sins? Yet even if I were forgiven, could I be happy knowing about the ranks of the foremost and knowing that I’m not amongst them?

Do you have any guidance to offer this seeker?

Answer: Bismillah

Dear Questioner Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

Having a good opinion of our Lord and turning to Him in repentance

Never give up on the mercy of Allah, iblis actually means to despair, and despair is in his bag of tricks, He tries different things on different people seeking to convince people that they are not worthy of forgiveness or of leading a righteous life.  When these thoughts come to your head seek refuge in Allah, glorified is He.

Allah, glorified is He, tells us: “Tell them (O Muhammad ): ‘O My slaves who have wronged their souls, do not despair of Allah’s mercy, for Allah will forgive all the sins. He is indeed very Forgiving, very Compassionate, Turn to Him then, and obey Him (in all your affairs).'” (Al-Zumar:53,54).

Dear seeker, please do not waste any more time dwelling on your current state or the state you believe you have, rush to Allah ta’ala in repentance immediately, with no doubt in His mercy.  Commit to repenting from the acts you need to seek repentance of and be steadfast in your turning to the Lord of the Worlds.

Wishing for Death

Narrated Abu Hurairah: Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and grant him peace said, “None of you should wish for death. If he is a righteous man, perhaps he may add to (his) good works, and if he is a sinner, possibly he may be repentant (in case he is given a longer life).” (Al-Bukhari)

Allah ta’ala has blessed you with life, so seek repentance and get busy.  Do you know your mission in life?  Your particular mission, I am not talking about our collective mission on earth, but what way you are can serve the creation with the unique gifts the Creator granted you.  If you do not know the you need to identify your mission and live it,  Are you serving your local community?  If you aren’t, this needs to change.  Do you have regular devotional practices you do to nourish your heart? If you haven’t you must start,  Do you have good company that remind you of Allah ta’ala and His messenger,Allah bless him and grant him peace?  If you do not you need to seek them out, by first of all being the kind of company you would want for yourself, this attracts like-minded people who can be your companions in the journey of life, in sha Allah.

Learning about the heart and the ego (nafs)

In order to equip yourself, you need to understand the heart and the lower-self.  So i would recommend you take a class that teaches you the true nature of these.  Marvels of the Heart and Purification of the Heart & Praiseworthy Character are two excellent options.  An excellent resource for repentance in addition to these classes is A Poor Man’s Book of Assistance, which is a CD set by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, which goes over a book on Repentance by the Moroccan Scholar Sidi Ahmad Zarruq, who was a man who really understood the way the ego works, and his writings are so relevant even though he lived in a different era from us.

Be steadfast, have a good opinion of your Lord, equip yourself, work towards your goal and never ever give up on yourself.

May Allah ta’ala strengthen you and fill your heart with light and love of Him.

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

The Importance of Study in One’s Spiritual Development – Imam al-Ghazzali

The Importance of Study in One’s Spiritual Development

Imam al-Ghazzali

“The Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) said, “The heart of the believer is more unsteady than a cooking pot as it boils. He also said, “The heart of the believer is between two of the fingers of the Merciful.” During such strenuous effort the physical constitution may be disordered, the intellect confused, and the body diseased.

If progress in the discipline and improvement of the soul is not made by means of the realities of the sciences, then the heart is ensnared with corrupt imaginings in which the soul trusts for a long time before they come to an end; and one may live out his appointed time without succeeding.

Many a Sufi has travelled this way and still has continued to hold a certain fancy for twenty years, whereas if he had studied science thoroughly beforehand, the point of confusion in his fancy (khayal) would have opened up to him at once. So to busy one’s self in the path of learning is a surer and easier means of attaining the aim.

They claim that it is as though a man left off the study of jurisprudence (fiqh), asserting, “The Prophet did not study it, and he became one who understood the divine law by means of prophetic and general inspiration without any repetition or application, and perhaps discipline of the soul will bring me finally to that goal.”

Whoever thinks this wrong himself and wastes his life. Nay rather, he is like the one who gives up the way of gain through farming, hoping to chance upon some treasure. The latter is indeed possible, but extremely unlikely. So too in the matter  of gaining knowledge.”

(p. 77 of “The Marvels of the Heart” by Imam al-Ghazzali)

Related Course: “The Marvels of the Heart” taught by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus