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Islam

A Call for Surrender

 

They who see their beloved today
Are the ones who see tomorrow.
What will they know of the beloved there,
They who are of the blind here?

Ibn Arabi, "Kernel Of The Kernel" Written by Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, Translated by Ismail Hakki Bursevi. Beshara Publications. The tiny book is from a larger work written by the great Spanish Sufi from the 12th century, Ibn 'Arabi.

“I was a hidden treasure, I wanted to be known so I created the world”

Extra-Quranic Revelation
(God through Muhammad)

“I was when Adam was still between water and clay”

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

“I was created from the Light of God and everything was created from my light”

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) meditated on God in a cave of Mount Hira in the outskirts of the city of Makkah (Mecca) when one night during the month of Ramadan in 610 AD the first few verses of the Quran were revealed through archangel Gabriel (in Islam, Gabriel is the Spirit of Truth):

“Recite!
In the name
Of thy Lord and Cherisher,
Who created
Created man, out of
A clot of blood;

Recite!
And thy Lord
Is Most Bountiful--
He who taught (By the) Pen*--
Taught man
Which he knew not” (Quran 96:1)

(* The Pen symbolizes Divine Intellect, Divine Wisdom, Divine Revelation etc.)

Thus began a new chapter, a new dawn for an old song. The word ‘Islam’ means ‘(the path of peace through) submission (to the Will of God)’. Islam therefore is not a new religion but a new manifestation of the Eternal Truths passed down through the ages:

“The same religion has He
Established for you as that
Which He enjoined on Noah--
That which We have sent
By inspiration to thee--
And that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus:
Namely that ye should remain
Steadfast in the Path of God, and make
No division therein” (Quran 42:13)

 

One is formally initiated into Islam through the mystic formula: "La ilaha Illallah Muhammad Rasul Allah" (There is no god but The God, Muhammad is Messenger of God). This formula is known as the ‘Shahada’ or the ‘Witnessing of Divine Oneness.’

The first half of the shahada "There is no god but The God (La ilaha Illallah)" is the central doctrine of Islam. What does this enigmatic expression mean?

Islam teaches that God is one and only reality. Not just that there is only one God but that nothing else really exists! We have made ‘gods’ of money, status, name, fame and many other concerns that are only transient, temporal and incapable of giving us the lasting peace that we all seek.

‘La’ means ‘there is no’. ‘ilaha’ means ‘god’ (with small letters). With the sword of ‘La’ we cut away from ‘untruth’ and are left with nothing‘except Allah’(Illallah)! Allah is the all encompassing, all pervasive Reality; Indivisible and Self-Subsisting. With ‘La ilaha’ we turn away from distractions and with ‘Illallah’ we recall our Reality. With ‘La ilaha’ we turn away from multiplicity and with ‘Illallah’ we recall ‘Unity in Diversity.’ All that is not Him must be burned in the fire of Love for Him who alone Exists.This love is nurtured by the five pillars of Islam namely faith, prayer, charity, fasting and pilgrimage.

Islam does not believe in ‘compartmentalizing’ life. There is only One Reality and hence every aspect of life must reflect the Whole. This realization is portrayed most vividly in Islamic art with ‘Unity in Diversity’ in harmony and simplicity being the most common theme.

If God alone is Real then all our perceptions and thoughts which weave a fragmented view of Reality are mere ‘veils’ hiding God or Al-Haqq (‘The Truth’ being one of the 99 names/attributes of God). Through frequent recollection of ‘La ilaha Illallah’ a Muslim strives to turn away from falsehood and dissolve the ‘veils’ of separation. With the sword of ‘La’ we leave behind all negativity and find Life, Existence in God:

No to ‘untruth’ yes to ‘Truth’
No to ‘ darkness’ yes to ‘Light’
No to ‘death’ yes to ‘Immortality’

Every aspect of Islam revolves around ‘La ilaha Illallah’ and therefore we would be coming back to this foundation in one way or another whenever we speak of Islam. In Part II I will speak of the significance of the second half of the Shahada: ‘Muhammad is His Messenger’.

© Copyright 1998 Tarique Quadir