Self-Analysis (I)

'Self-analysis' or self-examination that is directed towards creating harmony in our character and soul - to my mind - is like completing a traditional mosaic.


Today I was lamenting in front of my father about the oppressions of American establishment (by that I specifically mean the political elite, and not the academic elite or its general people) on foreign cultures that lie outside the narrows boundaries of their nationalism, obviously its East, especially the Islamic part of it that has the genius of providing humanity the best solution to all of its perennial problems through its 'profound realism and ideals'. The moment I stopped, he gave me a fresh example from his one recent experience where so many corrupt people were deploring their bad leaders, and when they were asked about their wrong-doings - they just make you thunderstruck with their devilish, nonsensical answers, devoid of any morality, showing how subservient we've become to the Satan and our own desires (or lusts) as a nation. Therefore, he demanded that I should, unlike the followers of Satan, be self-critical towards myself so as to recognize and correct my own flaws. Thus a little self-analysis. There is so much to be written on this mere topic, and as a matter of fact this act of self-examination should naturally go on till life runs and burns. A never-ending process, not to be mentioned...

In this post I'd, however, seek to correct my relationships with the people serving me at home. Prophet of Islam, the First and the Last religion, once said that you cannot win people's heart with money, but with good manners. I at this point lack the latter, and anyone lacking the latter lacks everything. The reason is that I do not have control over myself. I can see the best way for me, only I cannot regulate myself, only I fail to direct my energies on doing the best, that is, following the Sunnah of Prophet (his way of life), may peace be upon him. After an advice session from outside, I have figured out that I can do good to my servants and win their hearts by strictly following some codes. But at first, what I need to do is to clean my thinking of materialistic thinking that puts God and His creation below ones own desires and lusts, thanks to the prevalent practice of Western materialistic conception of life, I inherited being a part of this environment. Although I'd like to confess that I deliberately, consciously chose to follow this anti-human path. I don't blame my environment, I just reject it from top to bottom, left to right (if it has left anything that is 'right').

So. What to do? Following are some codes I with some external help have chalked out to bring about a change in me, please feel free to add your valuable comments:

* Correct the timing of my sleep - to make it balanced, and to form and follow a routine.
* No late night going out, except if a need arises (we do have a definite sense of it!) And, I'll have to regulate the timings of going-out - plan it.
* Inform these people of any irregularities. For example, if visitors or relatives are to visit, the guys at home should be informed so that they get plenty of time to prepare for the services.
* Keep them aware of my schedule if I am outside home, so that they know and can manage things on time.
* Meal routine: fix it. Now, this depends on some variables, and on a fixed principle, that is, I cannot eat if I do not feel an inclination towards eating. This can disturb the 'routine', so what I can do is eat less, for instance, at night (if I have ate late at night) in this way I'll feel hungry in the morning. Things may well adjust, God willing.
* Today I was thinking of how to increase my knowledge in the best manner. I recalled the following hadith of the Prophet (may peace be upon him): "He who makes his conduct accord with his knowledge receives from God more knowledge." The floor of my room and bathing room is filled with dust, if I make it clean and attain purity I have a better chance of increasing my knowledge than by studying books.

That's all for now. i guess I should write these points on the window as well for reminding my slippery memory of it, and start executing them. May Allah make my path easier and protect me from all jinn and shaitan. (Ameen!)

The "Civilized" Ones

This video was shot in Lahore in front of the famous Awan e Iqbal, where the Iqbal Academy is located as well. It shows the duality between what is said and what is done by the so-called Euro-centric civilized ones. (Coincidentally, the video was made by yours truly.)

The person reporting is Mr. Farjad Adnan, ex-president of a student organization in Pakistan called ESEF. He is currently studying at NUST.

William C. Chittick: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul: The Pertinence of Islamic Cosmology in the Modern World by Muzaffar Iqbal

"In the short introduction to this work, William Chittick states that after almost forty years of sitting back and letting sages such as RCma, Ibn 'Arabi, Sadr al-Din Qunawi, 'Abd al-Rahman Jami, Afdal al-Din Kashani, Shams-i Tabrizi, and Mulla Sadra speak through his translations, he has finally felt at ease in applying their wisdom to the complex problems of the contemporary world. At the heart of this book consisting of seven chapters, all but one of which were originally written as lectures for conferences, is the question: "how do we know what we know?"

Religious traditions clearly distinction two modes of knowing and hence the two kinds of knowledge: transmitted (naqli) and intellectual ('aqli). The former is passed from generation to generation, the latter is learned by training the mind and polishing the heart. Transmitted knowledge is revealed knowledge. God wants the believers to fast during the month of Ramadan; He reveals this to the Prophet who transmits it to the believers and those who hear him say so, pass it on those who are not present--and so on down the generations. Intellectual knowledge, on the other hand, is acquired by the knowing subject. Even though it may require teachers, it does not ultimately depend on the authority of the teacher for its verification and existence; it resides in the heart and mind of the knower. That two plus two equals four does not rely on an authority once it has been comprehended.

The first three chapters consist of lectures delivered to Muslim audience, and therein one finds ample evidence of Chittick's command over the material he has studied and translated for over forty years. It is also in these three chapters that one finds the sharpest and most clear diagnosis of contemporary Muslim dilemmas as seen from the perspective of a deeply concerned but objective scholar, who can stand aloof from the moribund tradition and look back at the times when it produced great thinkers and sages. He can thus wonder: what has gone wrong? Intellectual tradition is essential for the survival of religion, for one cannot think of Islam without simultaneously comprehending the Qur'anic commands demanding Muslims to think, reflect, and ponder.

Muslims have stopped thinking, Chittick states boldly, knowing that his observation would be contested by many. Thus he explains what he means by "thinking". By "thinking", he means the kind of thinking that produced the intellectual tradition of Islam which is now rapidly disappearing. It was a training of the mind, a discipline of the heart which was rooted in the message of the Qur'an. Modern intellectuals, trained in modern modes of thought, inhabit a mental schizophrenia where faith and practice are not harmonious, mind and heart are at war with each other, and the gods of modernity reign supreme in the lives of those who claim to worship only one God. "A god is what gives meaning and orientation to life, and the modern world derives meaning from many, many gods. Through an ever-intensifying process of takthar, the gods have been multiplied beyond count, and people worship whatever gods appeal to them."

Containing clear but frightening prognoses of the modern world, Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul leads one to think about the contemporary state of the world from an uncommon perspective and debunks modern ideology, rooted as it is in humanism, scientism, and many other "isms" which have emerged in the Western thought since the European Enlightenment. Without being "too Islamic", the book draws upon a variety of traditional sources to articulate its main concern: fallen into a path of self-destruction, humanity needs to wake up before it is too late. It is the role of intellectual tradition to help humanity in this effort." (Source)

Faith with Certitude

Our attitude towards certain hadith (sayings of Prophet Mohammad, the last prophet) should be that of an experimental scientist who tests the hypothesis or hitherto unproven statement(s) by experiencing it and not just talking about it. So far so, there isn't one hadith that I found against the intellect and reason, although it may go well beyond the both; none that is empty of wisdom, yet there are certainly of whose wisdom I'm ignorant of, and I don't need to know about it. Whatever there is in it, can be testified through practical application on ourselves; the truth of it will be manifested on that person. Al-Ghazali in his "Deliverance from Error" has said what I have been trying to put in hollow words in this way:
"[In order] to deal with doubts relative to the inspiration of a particular prophet ... we shall not arrive at certitude on this point except by ascertaining, either by ocular evidence or by reliable tradition the facts relating to that prophet. When we have ascertained the real nature of inspiration and proceed to the serious study of the Qur'an and the traditions, we shall then know certainly that Mohammed is the greatest of prophets. After that we should fortify our conviction by verifying the truth of his preaching and the salutary effect which it has upon the soul. We should verify in experience the truth of sentences such as the following: "He who makes his conduct accord with his knowledge receives from God more knowledge"; or this, "God delivers to the oppressor him who favors injustice"; or again, "Whosoever when rising in the morning has only one anxiety (to please God), God will preserve him from all anxiety in this world and the next." [Emphasis added]

The Immutable

How many times would I change the most outward part of my self by imitating this and that person, whoever appeals to my mind? Countless times have I done this. I'm guilty of it! And instead of creating and strengthening a 'character' that would shake the ocean of falsehood, I have chosen the most superficial path of mere outward imitation of others. I am losing faith in Idea.

Thus. I find myself failing in my commitments; falling into the Satanic lap of luxury that dull the fire of Islamic faqr in me. The result is that I can't create a movement, I can't manage a movement, let alone leading it from heart. I don't seem to have life in me, or even its soul that could instigate me to act for the service of humankind, only for the sake of God.

Here I have the right to ask: Where do I find such energy? Where do I find a cure to these serious spiritual ills?

In the purification of self!
In the attainment of religious knowledge, of Quran primarily!

They say that there are three steps to the realization of purpose of our life: To know God; to love Him; and to serve Him.

How can a heart know Him if it is a house of Satan? And how can an intellect actually know Him fully if it has not the light of the Last and the Final Revelation? Both activities complement each other. They just can't be divorced from each other, while excluding other complex factors.

That's today's reflection, a solution I've arrived after much struggle and perplexity. May Allah forgive me and show me true light. (Ameen)

How to remove the sickness of heart?

A scholar once said that do following three things to remove sickness of heart:

* Visit the sick.
* Go to funerals.
* Go to graveyards.

Beyond doubt these actions soften hearts even if we are contemplating these, the latter action however is too meager to be called an action...

Of a Lifetime War

I find asking myself such question now-a-days: Any wind of change? Any hope of domaniting these thousand 'against the fitrah' (un-natural) urges that destroy the solace and harmony (the latter term as they say much misunderstood and misused) in me, the two precious things I inherited from my innocent childhood days?

[Pause in the flood of thoughts and feelings]

Shaikh Isa Nur-ud-din said:

"A noble man is one who dominates his self."

When you're caught up in later part of your life due to your misdeeds of past, how do you take the very first step? What if you're terrorized not by the troubles of this war you're to wage, but by the horrific error you live in, which has the potential to destroy you completely, in case you surrender?! Can this latter thought, when in affirmative, help the first proactive step sustain?
Or, can you ever hit-the-nail at the right spot if you're not even aware of the situation completely?

The answer to the last question is in Nay. Here becomes the "useful knowledge" - the kind of knowledge that takes Man from darkness to light - a blessing for being a 'necessity' in the first place. Some call it the "force": the energy behind the right offense againt the wrong offense. And rightly so. It's indeed a blessing, the right knowledge that frees man from error.

I thank God for that. And my prayer is - O Lord free us from the intoxication of ignorance and of this world.

* * *

You never are, however, in the position to say: All the rest is the work of man if you're a just Man once you have known the truth through God's help, or that you're given a set of integers to manipulate with them. Prayer is must for many reasons. One reason that fits in the mosaic this post is: on the one hand, there's "Taqdeer e Mutliq/Mutlaq", which means that destiny can change with the help of prayer or by some other mean; and on the other, there's "Taqdeer e Mubarram" (please correct these terms if wrong), the sort of destiny that is absolute and unchangable. Since we never know what the case is with someone, or with a particular situation, so it proves that prayer is must!
Prayer after "discernment between the Absolute and the Relative, the Real and the Illusion" is most "essential" thing for me, as it was for late Shaikh Isa Nur-ud-din.

Collector's Edition: Exotic Letters

First time in the history of "Umer Toor Blog", we present you the collectors, the highly bizzare and exotic letters your keyboard might possibly be lacking. Behooold!

"ÀÁÂÄÃÅÆæàáâäãå; Çç; íÌìÍÎîÏï; ÉÈÊËëéèê; ÓÒÔÖÕØŒœóòôöõø; Ññ; ÙÚÛÜûüúù; ÝŸÿý.


Note: Handle them with care, and if you're Muslim, then any kind of 'wudu' would be more appropriate.

Divine vs. Worldly

Scene: Last moments at an airport departure longue.

Dr. Agha to Umer: Remember. Divine thought/knowledge/Light is inversely propotional to your indulgence in this world.

The former, i.e., the religious enlightenment, is never in direct relation with the absorption in this world, or, in other words, with worldly progress.

So let this formula be your yardstick to judge who has Light and who doesn't have. You can easily discern with it between True and False Spiritual Master. But above all live and apply this formula.

I don't think that material progress is in conflict with spiritual, although both are diametrically opposed to each other in quality (see "Islam at the Crossroad," ch. The Spirit of West). And that spiritual progress may take place with the material progress simultaneously, although it need not be necessary, as M. Asad remarks in the suggested book. What supports the advice of my teacher is the evident reality that when our roots are strong in this world the contemplation of the divine becomes very difficult. It was only possible for Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to balance between this world and the one beyond. I cannot go to "Mirage"; he did. I can't bear the immense pain he had to bear. He nonetheless remained absorbed in the thought of divine through both contemplation and practice. I wish to assimilate at least one world that which is higher. What else can I desire than that which is eternal!
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MuddleHead Signs Off!!

MuddleHead Signs Off!!