Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Marvels of the Heart: Chapter 2

Chapter 2: An exposition on the armies of the heart (Bayaan Junuud Al-Qalb)
Imam Al-Ghazzali says:
Allah says: no one knows the armies of thy Lord save himself. For in the hearts and spirits of other worlds, Allah has armies levied (Junuud Mujannadah).

Junuud Rabika – the armies of your Lord, which are the Angels (malaika)

Junuud Al-Qalb – the armies of the heart:

The heart has two armies – the armies seen with the eye (outwardly) and the armies seen with the inner sight (inwardly)

 The heart is as a King. And the armies are as servants and helpers.   The armies visible to the eye, include, the hand/foot/leg/ear/eye/tongue etc. These were created with a disposition to obey the heart, and not to rebel against it.

When the heart commands the limbs, they obey, as do the angels when Allah commands them.
Thus note: if the heart is pure, then it will command the limbs to do pure actions.

The heart needs these armies due to its need for a vehicle to make the journey to Allah. Thus, the body is the vehicle of the Heart. The heart needs this vehicle in order to:

-          Procure food -  by the internal army (apetite) and the external army (hand/mouth)

-          To drive off things that will destroy it – internal army (anger), and external (hand/foot). – thus anger is not always a bad thing in terms of protecting yourself and your family.

These things are related to preservation of the body.
And so the heart also needs this vehicle to gain knowledge, again with internal and external aspects.

We have learnt the two types of armies of the heart (internal/external) and why they are needed by the heart. The next post will be about how the heart uses its armies to gain this provision for the journey, inshallah.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Marvels of the Heart: Chapter 1

Title: An exposition on the meaning of the Soul, Spirit, Heart and Intellect and what is intended by these names.

·         Nafs – Soul

·         Ruh – Spirit

·         Qalb – Heart

·         Akl – Intellect/mind

All of the words listed above have two meanings; a higher and a lower meaning.1 There is something outwardly related and something inwardly related to them. In their Higher meaning they all have a similar aspect, they coincide with one another.

The Qalb (Heart):

Lower meaning: The fleshy organ on the left side of the chest

Higher meaning: The Spiritual Centre

The Ruh (Spirit):

Lower meaning: the “energy” that circulates the blood around the body

Higher meaning: this coincides with the higher meaning of the heart – it is a “mystery” beyond the comprehension of Man.

The Nafs (Soul):

Lower meaning: this is something that is driven by the physical forces such as appetite, aggression, pleasure seeking, pain avoidance

Higher aspect: No different to the Higher aspect of the Heart and the Spirit where they coincide, it is termed The Serene Soul.

The Akl (Intellect)

Lower meaning: the faculty that processes the information from the sensory apparatus, organises this information, selects the relevant parts and then precedes

Higher meaning: “Inspired intellect” the recipient of knowledge from higher worlds

(so in the lower form, it relates to knowledge itself and in the higher form it relates to the Knower himself)2

Imaam Al-Ghazzali says:  They all have meanings specific to them, but then they also all share a meaning inwardly.2
(Note: that all the lower meanings are as they are in the Dunya, and all the higher meanings are something on a spiritual level, something in the next world, something that is much of a mystery as we cannot comprehend it as such but still we must strive towards it.)

To be continued...The next chapter is really interesting, it explains the role of each Nafs, Ruh, Qalb and Akl within the “Kingdom” the body.

1 “Man and the Universe” a book written by Dr Mustafa Badawi – taken from Imaam Al-Ghazzali’s Marvels of the heart.

2 The Religious Psychology of Al-Ghazzali: A translation of his book of the Ihya on the Explanation of the Wonders of the Heart with introduction and notes. Skellie, Walter James (1899), 77-32, 719

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Marvels of the Heart: Introduction

The title: Marvels of the Heart

 عجائب القلب      
There are many wonders of the physical heart – its function in the body, scientifically there are still many mysteries that surround the heart, and thus just as there are wonders of the physical heart, that is also so for the inward spiritual heart

Other names for the heart that is found in the Quran and Imaam Al-Ghazzali uses: Fu’aad, Sarira (sara’ir plural)
I wanted to include the arabic text, alas my rubbish IT skills wont allow it. it sounds rather profound in English, but more so in Arabic, thus, I would encourage it to be read or listened to in Arabic.
Translation (by Walter James Skellie) – hopefully I won’t get killed for copywrite, I just had to include exactly what the sheikh said from this translation, it’s just absolutely beyond beautiful, and I couldn’t add anything of my own without ruining its essence.  (Anything written in brackets is just my notes to help me understand it better).

“Praise be to Allah whos majesty does perplex the hearts and thoughts of those who seek in vain to comprehend it; whose shining light is such as to bewilder the eye and sight; the one who beholds the secrets of the heart, the knower of the hidden aspects of our heart; he who has no helper in the ruling of his kingdom; the one who oscillates the heart; the forgiver of sins, the veiler of faults and the one who relieves from anxieties. And peace and blessings be on the master of all messengers; the uniter of the religion and the one who cuts off the people of disobedience, and on his family.”1

And so he begins  أما  بعد    to percede:

“the honour and excellence of man in which he surpasses all other creation/animals in his ability and spiritual preparedness to know Allah – thus the reason why we were created.” 1
(so he says that what makes us humans different to all other creation, is that Allah gave us the ability to know Allah, and this is an honour for mankind, hence why the (mala’ika) angels were ordered to bow down to Adam, the Angels simply obey Allah, as angels were not created with free-will or choice (the same as any other creation, tree/animal), however Mankind was created with free-will, they have the ability to disobey Allah if they choose to, so the people that choose to obey Allah and choose to seek out knowledge of Allah, this makes them superior to all creation for this reason only, that man was given the ability as well as the choice to become spiritually prepared.)
“this knowledge of Allah in this world is mans beauty and perfection and glory and in the next world, it is his provision and store. “1
(to know Allah in this world; the more you know Allah, the more perfect you become,  and the more perfect you become in this world, the more provision there will be for you in the next world – not sure if I understood this correctly but it made sense to me this way.)

“He only prepares himself to know his Lord by way of his heart, not with any of his limbs, the heart! It is the Heart that knows Allah, it is the heart that draws near to Allah, it is the heart that works for Allah, it is the heart that strives towards Allah, it is at the level of the heart where unveilings take place in Allahs presence.  All of the Limbs are subjects, servants and instruments of the heart. For it is the Heart which is accepted by Allah”2
(the key to drawing near to Allah, is doing so with your heart. When the heart is corrupted, then so too are the limbs and when your heart is on the right path, then the limbs will be also. The heart is like the King and the limbs are merely its subjects and servants in the kingdom. The limbs are instruments, they can be used to help the heart get closer to Allah. i.e. doing dikhr – involves the tongue, the lips, the hands/fingers  tasbeeh,  etc)

“…Since every vessel drips that which it contains” 2
e.g. milk in a glass, when spilled will pour out milk, thus, whatever the heart is filled with, if the heart is filled with goodness, it will diffuse goodness out onto the limbs outwardly, and if it is filled with impure things, then this will be shown externally on the limbs. 3

The heart is that in which if a man knows it, he knows himself, and if he knows himself, he knows his Lord. It is that in which if a man knows it not, he knows not himself and thus he knows not his Lord.” 2
To know your weakness and your personality, your bad qualities, is all related to knowing ones Lord, if you know what is disliked by your Lord then you will know what weak qualities you hold.3
(thus knowing oneself is the key to knowing ones Lord)

“He who knows not his own heart is still ignorant of everything else.”4
So if you are ignorant of knowing your heart, then don’t expect to know anything else with this ignorance. By not focusing on the heart and its characteristics means not being able to control outwardly the limbs. The wrong actions that people commit, is all due to this internal blindness. The ignorance of not knowing the importance of the heart and its connection to the Ruh and to Allah, all provides ignorance of ones own actions. 3

1 The Religious Psychology of Al-Ghazzali: A translation of his book of the Ihya on the Explanation of the Wonders of the Heart with introduction and notes. Skellie, Walter James (1899), 77-32, 719 (page 1)
2 Same ref as 1 (page 2)
3 Comments of Sheikh Yahya Rhodus
4 Same ref as 1 (page 3)

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Marvels of the Heart

I have just recently started studying the following book by Imaam Al-Ghazzali
From Book 21 of Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya Uloom Al-din)
Book 21: Book of an explanation of the Marvelsof the Heart
There is no way I could possible capture all the aspects of this book, and noway can I say I can fully comprehend it. Although every word seems to be truly breath taking, I endevour to try to portray the parts that have completely blown me away. With the help of the right books and English translations and the Sheikh whom has proper knowledge to explain it, And with Allahs help, I do only that which is within my ability.
 “The heart is called the heart due its constant Oscillation, it moves from state to state in every moment.”

If we think about it, even biologically in the physical sense, the heart is constantly  moving from one state to another, where in one beat of the heart it contains oxygenated blood and in the next beat it contains deoxygenated blood, its oscillation is its blood circulation in the body, and so the heart also constantly oscilates spiritually,  in imaan – one moment the heart is filled with imaan, and the next moment there is no imaan and one finds themselves committing sin, and then one repents and the imaan is raised again,
Thus the importance of the the science of tassawuf, to know the fiqh of the heart and the nature of the heart, in order to know how to deal with each state. Usually when studying Fiqh, we are taught the right way of doing things externally, i.e. making wudu, performing prayers, however when the internal fiqh is missing, the fiqh of the heart, it makes the external actions quite pointless. One needs to know the nature of one’s heart in order to respond appropriately in situations and capture the true aspect of being a Muslim, this is part of the journey of every traveler on the spiritual path to become closer to Allah.
My following posts will be what I have written up so far, of my very basic understanding of this book, so stay tuned - its extremely interesting and enlightening, and let me know your thoughts, I would encourage everyone to take this course.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

When the nafs takes over...

It doesn’t matter how well you think you know yourself, Allah will surely send someone down to you to try your patients, to make you realise, infact, you still have much to learn about yourself, and about other people in the world.

What we must do is to try and be as prepared as possible for when our patience is put on trial, try to train your response, because most of the time, it will catch us off-guard. If you let your guard down, you could be a victim of letting your nafs get the better of you.

Generally when a person is giving another person hardship/discomfort/unease it is generally because they have some insecurity and that they are infact quite confused about who or what they are. But, we need to be sure that, before we are a father, a mother, a student or a teacher, a husband or a wife, an employer or an employee, WE are first and foremost MUSLIM. And, so long as we are Muslim first, in everything that we do, we will be successful in the eyes of Allah.

There are people out there who are ugly, who have morals with no manners, or they have manners with no morals. Either way it makes them look ugly on the outside, however, inside every person, there is a perfect and pure soul which laments as the nafs is destroying it.

The nafs, this is the ego, it is gluttony, it’s the part of you that wants to scream at the other person, it’s the part of you that wants to smack them in the head for nicking your favourite pencil, it’s the part of you that wants to show others your bigger and better and you have power – infact, these people have no power over their nafs, they have allowed their nafs to take over and torture the soul.

I believe that every person that walks into your life, will teach you something new about yourself. Whether it be that your not as patient as you thought you was, or your not as tactfull as you thought you was, or that you don’t actually have a way with words. There is no weakness in realising your weaknesses, so long as you realise it. Remember that however anyone treats you, you are not anyones slave except Allahs slave and you serve no one but THE one, your Lord.