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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam, Assalaamu alaikum. Inshallah this Special Issue of Voice of Unity, based on Spirituality, has reached you all in the best of health and imaan. Just as the physical self is nourished and finds pleasure in the physical bounties of Allah (SWT), the soul also finds peace and tranquillity in a bounty of Allah (SWT) – the ability and opportunity to perform His dhikr. ‘Surely in the remembrance of Allah do the hearts find rest’ (13:28). The hearts and souls of believers are gifts from the Almighty to the believers, which have been bought back by the Most Merciful Himself. ‘Allah has bought from the believers their souls…’ (9:111). It is for us to protect and nurture this amanat (trust) of the Creator and decorate and beautify it during the journey back to the Master and away from the Self.

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Editorial Imam Askari (AS) has said, “To reach Allah is a journey, and the mount is the night.” Before embarking on any journey, it is essential to select the most suitable mount, in order that we may reach the desired destination. The Holy Prophet (SAW) has advised on the correct use of the mount in the form of ibadat during the night, “I urge you to keep up the night prayer, keep up the night prayer, keep up the night prayer…” The night prayer is the way and tradition of the Prophets (AS) and acts as an intercessor between the offerer and the Angel of Death. Imam Sadiq (AS) has listed its merits, “Night prayer makes the face beautiful, conduct righteous… It increases sustenance, repays debts and increases the light of the eyes.” However, the sweetness of performing the night prayer is reserved for those believers who refrain from using the bounties bestowed by Allah (SWT) in His

disobedience. Imam Sadiq (AS) has said, “Indeed the servant commits a sin, and as a result he is deprived of the night prayer.” I beseech Thee by Thy glory and Thy honour, by Thy supremely high attributes and by Thy names to cause me to utilise my time, day and night, in Thy remembrance, by engaging myself in serving Thee and to let my deeds be such as to be acceptable to Thee, so much so that all my actions and offerings may be transformed into one continuous and sustained effort and my life may take the form of constant and perpetual service to Thee. And I beseech Thee to hasten the reappearance of the one who will be seen unfurling the flag of victory, and make us be from amongst his helpers and defenders, Ameen.

Sr Tahera Tajri

Prophet Muhammed [SAW] said: “The absence of need does not lie in the abundance of wealth but it lies in inner plenitude.” Prophet Muhammed [SAW] said: “Do not deaden your hearts by the means of excessive eating and drinking, for man’s spiritual condition is like a farm which is destroyed when flooded with excessive water.” Imam Ali [AS] said: “The spirit of a person possessing faith is more resistant than the hardest stone.” Imam Sadiq [AS] said to Abdul Aziz Qaratisi: “Abdul Aziz, faith has ten degrees like the steps of a ladder, which are climbed one by one. If you find anyone below you by one step, pull him up to you gently and do not burden him with what he cannot bear, or else you will break him.” Imam Kadhim [AS] said: “He who does not take account of himself once every day is not one of us.”

Prophet Muhammed (SAW): “A man giving in alms one piece of silver in his lifetime is better for him than giving one hundred when about to die.”


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Br Abbas Virjee

We always hear that spiritual purification is of utmost importance and that it is something that we must endeavour and strive to practise and implement in our daily lives and thus reach the required goal of becoming that pure and perfect human being! Alhamdulillah, this is something that we all acknowledge and admit to, however when it comes to the crunch, how do we go about traversing this acknowledged yet mysterious path of self-refinement? There are some fundamental concepts that we need to take on board before setting out on this mission to shed the filth that we have accumulated and emerge as pure and clean beings walking the earth as beacons of light truly representing the Almighty Creator. In this brief article we shall look at a couple of essential concepts to aid us in our understanding of the mechanics concerning our spiritual journey. The Four Faculties Allah (SWT) has created us humans and endowed us with four main faculties, which if made use of correctly, will enable us to reach that desired spiritual perfection. These are as follows: 1. The Faculty of Base/Low desires – that which is concerned with animalistic desires such as eating, drinking and mating with the opposite sex. All animals have been given this faculty, not just human beings. It is drawn towards what the faculty of Imagination deems desirable. 2. The Faculty of Anger – that which is concerned with our temper. This faculty is also possessed by all animals. It operates

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by repelling what the faculty Imagination deems desirable.

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3. The Faculty of Illusion and Imagination – that which involves the perception of things such as universal concepts and particular ones and also allows us to make inferences between them. Its images and thoughts govern the motivations of the previous two faculties. 4. The Faculty of the Intellect – this is associated with reason and enables us to distinguish between things such as good and evil, right and wrong, etc. It is this faculty which enables man to supersede all other creation if refined and used correctly. It is the intellect which should be obeyed by the previous faculties of the animal self. We require all four faculties to attain perfection as humans. If we were to lack even one of these four, we would not be able to reach the desired goal. All the vices that are present within ourselves stem from an imbalance of these faculties. Each faculty has its own vices associated with it. For example the vices of gluttony and lust result from an imbalance in the faculty of base desires. Deceptiveness and trickery arise from an unstable faculty of imagination, etc. The ultimate goal is to refine ourselves to the point whereby the faculty of the intellect governs the other three faculties. The important thing to note is that the focal point for wayfaring and the spiritual journey revolves around these four faculties. The Veils Allah (SWT) is continuously sending down (continued on page 12)

Hadhrat Fatima (AS): “O Allah! Belittle me in my eyes and glorify and magnify Your station to me.”


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Br Ehsan Neamat

Suppose that the Holy Prophet (SAW), whose truthfulness cannot be denied by the deniers, was to say, “In the hereafter, it will make no difference whether you had spent your lifetime swimming in an ocean of wicked sins, drowning yourself in satisfying your base desires and doing whatever pleased you, or you had spent it in hours of intense worship, with tears of mercy sparkling in your face, shining your very essence with the beauty of repentance and worship of Allah (SWT). You will reach the Gardens of Paradise, whatever road you chose to walk. Both will save you from the everlasting chastisement and bring you salvation. It will not make any difference whether you prayed or sinned, both will lead you to Paradise. However, if you chose to obey the Beloved, abstain from evil acts and purify yourself with worship to Him, you will win His smile and pleasure.” How many of us would continue to worship Allah (SWT)? Would we wake up from a good night’s sleep to pray at dawn, or put that interesting book aside to pray our evening prayers? Indeed here lays a great problem, the mother of idols (as stated by Prophet Muhammed (SAW)), which Prophet Ibrahim (AS) prayed to be rescued from – the Ego. It is unfortunate that we do not worship Allah (SWT) because He is worthy of being worshipped, but rather to reach Paradise or save our weak selves from Hell. My friends, we need to wake up and realize that when we step onto the prayer rug, which is a Buraq for us to ascend to the seventh heaven, and say, “I pray such and such prayer to seek nearness to Allah (SWT)”, we only deceive ourselves and the truth is that our prayer serves as an ascension to the ego. We

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do not worship Allah (SWT) because He is Absolute Love, He is Supreme Beauty and He is there for us always and forever, even if we turn our backs to Him, the One worthy of worship, but we pray to Him for the sake of His reward. We abstain from this world for the next. Imam Kadhim (AS) has said, “Judge yourself, before you are judged!”. How many of us would perform all the mustahabat (recommended actions), pray five times a day, and fast for a whole month, if Allah (SWT) had revealed in the Holy Quran that we would not be rewarded for it and there would be no chastisement, but we would only win Allah (SWT)’s pleasure? We need to open our eyes and examine ourselves and start our journey with the caravan of the heart to the castle of the Beloved. ‘Indeed I have turned my face to Him Who originated the heavens and the earth, a man of pure faith; and I am not of the polytheists’ (6:79). Purity of Intention A long journey begins with a small step, and the first step is the intention. We cannot perform any action without intending to do so. We cannot drink, walk or swim without intending to do so. When we wish to grow a tree, we plant a seed and then nurture it so that by the grace of Allah (SWT), one day it will bear delicious fruits. Indeed we choose to plant the seed on good earth where both the mercy of rain and the warmth of sunshine reach. If we do not do this, but plant it in salty earth, the earth will devour all the water and the tree will become naked and die sooner or later. The intention is similar to the earth, if we have good earth a beautiful tree will grow, but if we plant the seed in bad earth then the outcome will be almost ghost-like.

Imam Ali (AS): “Contentment is wealth that does not diminish”


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We must strive to purify our intentions for the sake of Allah (SWT), and Allah (SWT) only. This is indeed a very tough battle and I dare to say that the very core of Jihad al-Akbar. The struggle against the self, ego and base desires, lays in purifying the intention. Allah (SWT) states in the Holy Quran, and this luminous verse is indeed worth r e f l e c ti n g u p o n , ‘ L o , t o Allah belongs sincere allegiance’ (39:3).

impure actions and thoughts. Within love there is just pleasure. We will just wish to please our Beloved and through that we will be pleased. Allah (SWT)’s will, will become ours. We will even give our lives if it pleases our Lord, and through purging the intention of duality and performing all actions just for the sake of the One, His love and pleasure, we will transform our former plural intentions into unity only for Allah (SWT).

If we only cared to put some effort into the intention, making it sincere without any trace of ego or desire, we would bear such sweet fruits beyond those of the trees of Paradise; just ponder upon why Imam Muhammed Baqir (AS) said, “The intention of the man of faith is better than his act. Lo, verily intention is the act itself!”1

Suppose my God, my Master, my Protector and my Lord, that I am able to endure Thy chastisement, how can I endure separation from Thee?2

Just as water is a purifying agent for the body in the fields of jurisprudence, so is the water of life, love, the purifying agent for the soul in the fields of Gnosticism, Mysticism and Spirituality. The only way to purge our hearts from the filthy traces of egotism and carnal desires is by awakening them to the celestial dimensions. Just a glance at the Infinite Beauty of the Beloved will illuminate the impure heart with His Sublime Light and all the shadows of the world will be lost in its Shine. As we open up the inner eyes of our souls and start beholding the wonders of Allah (SWT), we will slowly begin to love Him, and just as a lover wishes to be with his beloved, we will wish to be with Allah (SWT). As this love increases and only our Beloved is our concern, the traces of the world will be lost. When we fall in love with the Sacred Essence, Who is beyond names, actions, stations and the like, we will only wish for one thing – to be with our Beloved. Only this feeling of love will motivate us to worship and abstain from

My Lord, if You condemn me for my crimes, I will cling to Your forgiveness, and if You hold me for my sins, I will cling to Your granting pardon. If You haul me into the hell, I will tell its inmates that I love You.3 May Allah (SWT) open our esoteric eyes of the Heart to behold the Infinite Beauty of His Absolute Love, to such an extent that we soar and ascend to His pure threshold, to the Highest of Ranks in the Station of His proximity, for the sake of Taha, Ameen. None except the Beloved has a place in our hearts. Give both the worlds to the enemy, for the Beloved suffices us. And All praise is due to Allah (SWT) in the Beginning, and at the End, Outwardly and Inwardly and may His Smile, Mercy, Love and Blessings be upon the Holy Prophet (SAW) and his Pure Household (AS).

References 1. Al -Kulayni al-Kafi, kitab al-'iman wa al-kufr, bab alniyyah, hadith No.2. 2. Dua Kumayl bin Ziyad, Imam Ali (AS) 3. Munajate Sha’baniya, Imam Ali (AS)

Imam Hasan (AS): “Politics means observing the rights of Allah (SWT) and the rights of the living and the rights of the dead.”


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Br Fazleabbas Kanji

‘And establish the prayer and pay the poortax and whatever good you send ahead for yourselves, you shall find it with Allah; verily Allah sees what you do’ (2:110). A command from the Divine, the beauty of which is hidden from so many, due to the dark veils we have set about in front of our eyes. Do we truly appreciate the splendour of this gift from Allah (SWT) or do we regard the importance of salah in the same way as a child regards the danger of fire – knowing from others around him that fire is harmful without actually having experienced the stinging burns that it causes? Do we feel the awe of our Creator as we stand humbly in front of t h e Al m i gh t y, a w a r e o f o u r insignificance before Him, or is salah merely a practice performed out of habit in order to discharge an obligation that has been prescribed upon us? ‘And seek help (from Allah) through patience and prayer, verily it is (a) hard (task) indeed, save for the humble’ (2:45). Years pass by in which we admit to ourselves, the weakness of our hearts and minds in focussing on the only Beloved, but confessions themselves will not make us reach new heights; rather they are simply the foundations for improvement. After having acknowledged our weaknesses, is it not time now that a remedial procedure is performed? Imam Sadiq (AS) narrates that it is written in the Torah, “O’ Son of Man, if you EMPTY yourself, i.e. disengage yourself from all other pre-occupations to make yourself available for My worship, I will fill your heart with richness and I will not abandon you to what you seek and long for. And it will be upon Me to close the door of poverty upon you and to fill your heart with awe for Me. And if you don’t empty yourself for My worship, I will fill your heart with preoccupation with the world. I will not close upon you the door of poverty and will abandon you to what you seek.”

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The true potential of salah cannot be achieved unless one stands before his Creator away from all temptation and deviation, willingly submitting his soul to his Master alone. He is not only aware of the presence of his Lord watching over him but the eyes of his heart open to see the magnanimity of the Fashioner himself. How insulting it is to say that this state is only to be achieved by the great scholars of Islam, when each one of our souls has been created by Allah (SWT) Himself. It is man’s natural inclination to yearn for perfection and we have been blessed with the opportunity to meet with the most perfect One in our salah. But if the dark veils covering our hearts, primarily my own, are too thick and prevent this awe from reaching our souls, then we can at least have the humility to stand as slaves before our Lord, seeking His forgiveness for being in such a low state and pleading to Him sincerely to remove the veils and enlighten us with His grandeur. For man to climb higher in the realm of existence, he must lower himself to Allah (SWT). Imam Sajjad (AS) has been quoted to have said, “As regards the rights of the Prayer, you are to know that it is a visit to Allah (SWT) and that in it you are standing before Him. If you realized that, you would deserve to be, through it, in the position of a slave who is humble, desirous, horrified, frightened, hopeful, distressed, and imploring. He is also glorifying the state of the One in front of Whom he stands with complete stillness, solemnity, submission of the limbs, humility, well supplicating to Him for himself, requesting Him to free his neck, which is encircled by his faults and consumed by his sins. And there is no power except by Allah (SWT).” If we genuinely regard our salah as a visit to Allah (SWT), then what we often fail to recognise is the fact that there needs to be considerable preparation to make the visit worthwhile. If, when

Imam Hussein (AS): “Death is nothing but a bridge which you must cross after facing trials and tribulations so as to reach Heaven and its joys.”


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visiting a mere creature of the Master of the universe, we adorn ourselves with a fine fragrance and respectable clothes, to what extent should man’s nature dictate the level of beautification when visiting the Master Himself? Furthermore, in today’s age with our lives being governed so much by time, should our visits to Allah (SWT) be fitted in with our busy schedules or should our busy schedules be fitted in around our visits? Or to take it one stage further, should our visits be our busy schedules? The following is advice from Ayatullah Khomeini (RA) with regards to our commitment to salah, “A devout person should be observant of the times of his worship under every circumstance. Of course, he should observe the timings of Prayer, which is the most important of the acts of worship, and carry it out in the most meritorious part of its time, refraining from engaging in any other work during those times. In the same way as he assigns a certain time to making an earning and for study and debate, he should do the same in respect of these acts of worship. During this time, he must be free from other pre-occupations, so that he can achieve concentration of the heart. This makes up the quintessence and kernel of worship.” Of course, we find that at certain times of the day it is challenging to perform salah exactly when the time sets in, and especially at those times, it is much harder to achieve a high level of concentration. For this reason the All-Knowing has blessed us with the opportunity of making up for our lapses in attentiveness by offering us the nafilah prayers, among which is the highly recommended night prayer – Salaatul Layl. It is during the early hours of the night, when the mind is free to devote oneself completely to Allah (SWT), that one can attain closest proximity to one’s Creator. ‘Verily the rising at night is (a time) when impression is most effective, and (it is) most suitable for (clear pronunciation of) words. Verily you have a long occupation during the day; So remember the name of your Lord, and devote yourself to Him with an exclusive devotion’ (73:6-8).

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day should revolve around trying to attain proximity with Allah (SWT). If we keep our Lord in front of every action that we perform, be it something significant or something trivial, then when the sound of the adhan reaches our ears, our hearts and minds will already be focussed on none other than the Almighty, as He is what they have been habituated to throughout the course of day. Imam Ridha (AS) has been reported to have said, “Prayer enables a person to constantly engage in remembering Allah (SWT), both day and night, so as not to forget one’s Lord, Master and Creator, since forgetting will cause rebellion. Man, while offering Prayer, stays in the presence of His Lord and in the state of His remembrance, and this very condition constrains and stops him from sins and many kinds of corruption.” However, in reality, we often feel that the prayer remains to be a ritual no matter how hard we try to focus on our goal. Because we are now in the process of removing the veils from our hearts, which have grown thicker and thicker over the years, we cannot expect for there to be an immediate revolution within our salah, since this process of unveiling also takes time and patience. It is only after much commitment and dedication to our aim that we shall, Inshallah, experience the fruits of our perseverance.

References 1. Holy Qur’an, Suratul Baqarah [2:110] – Translation by S. V. Mir Ahmad Ali 2. Holy Qur’an, Suratul Baqarah [2:45] – Translation by S. V. Mir Ahmad Ali 3. Al-Kulayni (RA), Usul Al-Kafi,2, "Kitab Al-'Iman wa1Kufr', "Bab Al-‘Ibadah", Tradition number 1 4. Mustadrak Al-Wasa’il, Book of the Prayer 5. Al-Tawhid, Quarterly Islamic Journal. 27th Hadith – Prayer and Concentration 6. Holy Qur’an, Suratul Muzzammil [73:6-8] – Translation by S.V. Mir Ahmad Ali 7. www.concentrationinprayer.com - Discussion 1

One of the keys in attaining solemnity in our prayers, is not only to show devotion within the prayer but also to appreciate the fact that our entire

Imam Sajjad (AS): “Remember: the highest positions will be given to those who have been most useful to their brothers in faith.”


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Sr Rabab Al-Yassin

‘O thou man, verily thou art ever toiling on towards thy Lord, painfully toiling, then thou shall meet him’ (84:6). The aim of any devoted Muslim is to be a reflection of the above ayah, to suffer and to struggle in the quest of spiritual development, to strive against desires in order to be steadfast on the path to Allah (SWT). Such a path is at the start, very difficult and hard. However with the help of Allah (SWT) and sincere will and perseverance, such a path will become easy and the acquired faculties will be second nature for those who are sincere. The pressures are tremendous, though the human willpower should be greater. The determination to overcome all the barriers psychological, social, physical, cultural or even everyday occupations, may not seem easy. Yet overcoming these obstacles is the true manifestation of the essence of humanity. This struggle is the reflection of the inner spirit of the true Muslim who adopts the faith as a way of life to practise and apply. A true Muslim is one who elevates him/herself from the materialistic part of his creation, from that part that attracts to the earth, clay and mud. The aim is to set free the soul, the spiritual part of creation that ascends to the Heavens. Islam, the perfect religion, has clarified the way to develop that sacred relationship with the Creator, and the magnificence of the religion of Allah (SWT) is that this process is not set to be a wajib (obligatory) act in itself, as Allah (SWT) wants our hearts, and not our outer casts, to long for Him. Nevertheless, for those longing hearts

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the way is illuminated and the rules to walk that path are laid down very clearly. Recitation of the Holy Quran, salah, sawm, tahajjud, i’tikaf, acquiring religious education, helping fellow Muslims and so on, are all ways for us to become nearer to Allah (SWT) and to His pleasure. However, the core of all the above ways is the remembrance of Allah (SWT) – dhikr. In the Holy Quran, that eternal call from our Lord to remember Him states, ‘Then do ye remember Me, I will remember you. Be grateful to me and reject not faith’ (2:152). Remembrance of Allah (SWT) has two forms: the first form is the attentive remembrance, when the heart and soul live with and for Allah (SWT) and the whole being is absorbed in the aqidah (faith). This form is the base; the existence in this form will lead to total observance and obedience to the Lord. The second form is the verbal dhikr, remembering Allah (SWT) with the tongue, examples are, tasbeeh, takbeer, istighfar and so on. This form is a way that should lead to the origin, the first form, remembering Allah (SWT) in each and every state. The Holy Quran and ahaadith are full of verses encouraging the state of dhikr. The Holy Prophet (SAW) said, “He who performs four, will be given four. He who performs dhikr will be remembered by Allah (SWT), for Allah (SWT) says, ‘Remember me, I will remember you’, he who performs dua will be answered, for Allah (SWT) says, ‘Call upon me, I will answer you’ (40:60), he who performs shukr (gratefulness) will be given plenitude, for Allah

Imam Baqir (AS): “We are the ahl al-dhikr (people of remembrance).”


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(SWT) says ‘if you are grateful, I will give you more’ (14:7), he who performs istighfar (repentance) will be forgiven, for Allah (SWT) says, ‘ask your Lord for forgiveness, He is the All forgiving’ (71:10)”. Moreover, the Holy Prophet (SAW) once called on his companions and said, “Enjoy the gardens of Paradise”. When asked what those were, he answered, “Majalisul dhikr (the gatherings of remembrance of Allah (SWT))”, and he added, “The best of your deeds, the highest in rank, and the best that the sun has shone on, is the remembrance of Allah (SWT), for Allah (SWT) has said, ‘I accompany whoever remembers me. Remember me with worship and obedience, I will remember you with blessings, grace, ease and pleasure’”. In hadith qudsi, Allah (SWT) says, “O son of Adam, remember me in yourself, I will remember you likewise. Remember me alone, I will remember you alone. Remember me in a group of people, I will remember you in a group of angels”. The reason for this high value of dhikr is quite obvious, as one who remembers Allah (SWT) and observes His watchfulness and Greatness will definitely stay away from sin, thus fulfilling the aim of creation - worship. Imam Sajjad (AS) in his munajah (invocation) calls on Allah (SWT) saying, “How can I forget You, when You always remember me?” Yet we all suffer from ghaflah, a state opposite to dhikr. We go through the states of forgetfulness and heedlessness. There come times when our hearts and minds are just blank, blank of good and evil; we do not know where our hearts are, or we feel like a worn out cloth, or a decaying bone (as in the hadith of Imam Sadiq (AS)). The big question is, how can we overcome this state? The Imam (AS) answers, “Remember Allah (SWT). Fill your hearts with His remembrance, He will love you.” He added, “The one who remembers (Allah (SWT)) amongst a group of forgetful people (ghafileen) is like a mujahid (fighter).”

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Finally, here are some practical steps that may help us to stay in the appreciated state of dhikr: 1. Make a conscious decision to commit ourselves to start each and every action with the name of Allah (SWT) – Bismillah al-rahman alrahim. This verbal repetition will gradually move to the heart. 2. Harness the thoughts, observe where they are leading to, and try to bring them back to Allah (SWT) and His pleasure. 3. Before going to any gathering in which one anticipates that there will be ghaflah or deeds that may displease Allah (SWT), one should be prepared either to bringing up useful ideas, or reminding thoughts that can be of use to everyone. 4. One should be honest and serious in abandoning all places where there is ghaflah. 5. The states of extreme joy or sadness, like weddings or unfortunate accidents can lead to ghaflah, so one should pay attention to such states. 6. Some states of ghaflah can originate as a result of physical conditions, such as lack of sleep, exhaustion or overeating. So taking care of the body is a must to help the soul. 7. Try to occupy daily spare time with a certain dhirk, like a certain number of tasbeehat or salawat, and try to commit oneself to that amount of daily dhikr. 8. Make a resolution to punish the self if it carries on in the state of ghaflah, to rectify it. However, one should be careful that the punishment should be among those allowed, like sawm, sadaqah, and of course within the abilities.

Imam Sadiq (AS): “And the person who is jealous of a faithful (person), faith will dissolve and disappear from his heart just as salt dissolves in water.”


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Br Haider Al-Mosawi

People often equate love with spirituality, and regard hatred as an obstacle in the spiritual journey. This idea has been popularised by the New Age culture that speaks of unconditional love, not only to Allah (SWT), but in all directions and to all people. When confronted with such ideas, some Muslims are confused as to why Islam would sanction hatred. For example, the branch of faith known as bara’a deems it necessary – an act of faith – to denounce and bear enmity towards the enemies of the Ahlul-Bayt (AS). Or the belief that Muslims must hate the oppressors: does this not conflict with the idea of showing love and compassion to fellow man, unconditionally, and regardless of what crimes they may have committed? Since Islamic teachings all contribute towards our spiritual guidance, what role does hatred play in the spiritual quest? Love vs Hate Hatred is the antithesis of love. Thus, one cannot love and hate the same thing at the same time. However, it is also true to say that one cannot love two contradictory things at the same time. Let us take the definition of philosophy as an example. Philosophy is from the Greek word philosophia, which means: Love of Wisdom. If a philosopher (lover of wisdom) equates wisdom with ignorance, then he will no longer be recognised as the lover of wisdom, because there would be no reason for such a distinction. And he certainly cannot be indifferent to ignorance, because his very pursuit of wisdom aims to reduce his ignorance, since both ignorance

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and wisdom exist on the two ends of the same spectrum: as one moves towards an extreme he moves further away from the other. So a philosopher cannot be called indifferent to ignorance. One who loves wisdom, therefore, will naturally hate ignorance, since the love of the two cannot exist in a single heart, unless one suffers from a split personality disorder. True Love of God Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Quran, ‘Allah has not created for man two hearts in his chest’ (33:4). If our heart is to carry love for Allah (SWT), then it cannot love any other thing, otherwise our love for Allah (SWT) is not sincere, and made impure with shirk (polytheism). But love for what Allah (SWT) loves is part of our love of Allah (SWT) and hatred for what He hates also counts towards this love, because moving away from what Allah (SWT) hates brings us closer to what He loves. From this understanding we can approach bara’a and say that it is a means by which we foster greater love for the Ahlul-Bayt (AS) and a more sincere love for Allah (SWT). It is meaningless to speak of pure love without hating that which draws us away from the object of our love. All sin and vice is hated by Allah (SWT), and all obedience and virtue is loved by Allah (SWT). We must, therefore, teach ourselves and build our character to love what Allah (SWT) loves, and to hate what Allah (SWT) hates, as the Holy Prophet (SAW) has said, “O servant of Allah (SWT), let your love and hate be for the sake of

Imam Kadhim (AS): “Whoever of My servants clings to one of My creatures, turning his face from Me…I shall make the earth sink under his feet.”


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Allah (SWT), because no one can attain to the wilayah of Allah (SWT) without that, and no one shall find the taste of faith without that, though his prayers and fast be great in number.” Imam Ali (AS) is also narrated to have said, “Our love can never be combined with the love of our adversaries in one heart.”1 The Compassionate Approach Some Muslims may assume that since Allah (SWT) loves that Islam be the religion that mankind follows, then Allah (SWT) must hate all non-Muslims and we must do the same. It is important that we realise that we are all the creatures of Allah (SWT), and where Allah (SWT) Himself has granted His favour on some with His divine religion of Islam, He expects the Muslims to spread this blessing to those who have not yet embraced it, through love and not while bearing a grudge against the non-Muslims. The mission of a Muslim preacher is to strip a hateful trait – disbelief – from Allah (SWT)’s creation, and hatred is only for those who have taken disbelief as a virtue, or those who are keen on harming the Muslims, as Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Quran, ‘Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly, surely Allah loves the doers of justice’ (60:8). While we realise that hatred has a role in the spiritual journey, it is important to familiarise ourselves with the boundaries for this hatred, and not to forget that our purpose for hatred is to migrate towards Allah (SWT), and away from other than Him, so that our hearts can express sincere love, which is the true embodiment of monotheism.

References 1 Amali of Sheikh al-Mufid – 27th Assembly

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Imam Ali (A S) on Spirituality “Do not be like him who hopes for (bliss in) the next life without action, and delays repentance by lengthening desires, who utters words like ascetics in this world but acts like those who are eager for it; if he is allowed something from it he does not feel satisfied; if he is denied he is not content; he is not grateful for what he gets and covets for increase in whatever remains with him; he refrains others but not himself; he commands others for whatever he himself does not do; he loves the virtuous but does not behave like them; he hates the vicious but himself is one of them; he dislikes death because of the excess of his sins but adheres to that for which he is afraid of death. If he falls ill he feels ashamed; if he is healthy he feels secure and indulges in amusements; when he recovers from illness he feels vain about himself; when he is afflicted he loses hope; if distress befalls him he prays like a bewildered man; when he finds ease in life he falls into deceit and turns his face away; his heart overpowers him by means of imaginary things while he cannot control his heart by his conviction; for others he is afraid of small sins, but for himself he expects more reward than his performance; if he becomes wealthy he becomes self-conscious and falls into vice; if he becomes poor he despairs and becomes weak; he is brief when he is doing a good thing but goes too far when he is begging; when passion overtakes him he is quick in committing sin but delays repentance; if hardship befalls him he goes beyond the canons of the (Muslim) community; he describes instructive events but does not take instruction himself; he preaches at length but does not accept any preaching for himself; he is tall in speaking but short in action; he aspires for good things that will perish and ignores things that will last for good; he regards profit as loss and loss as profit; he fears death but does nothing in its anticipation. (Continued on page 13)

Imam Ridha (AS): “It is not adoration to perform the fast or the prayers a great deal; adoration is to contemplate upon Allah (SWT) a great deal.”


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upon all creation His unlimited divine grace. However, in order for us to be able to be true receptors of this grace we need to purify ourselves. The key factor here is that the grace is there and it always has been, it is us who have not yet activated ourselves to be worthy receivers. It is in fact the primary reason for Him creating us, for us to experience and enjoy this divine grace! We hear wonderful stories from the lives of great scholars and mystics about amazing things they have done or jaw-dropping experiences they have had or certain super-powers they have demonstrated when needed, but it is important to realise that these were ordinary people like you and I who strove hard to combat their inner selves, cleansing their souls and reaching the destination of proximity to Allah (SWT) and thereby activating their souls to receive the unlimited divine grace of Allah Almighty. This is why we cannot feel such nearness to Allah (SWT) or even do such things since we have not been through the rigorous journey of expelling the vices from our souls, because it is the vices that are the root problem. It is the vices that cause us to sin and the sins in turn bring about inner darkness in our souls and this darkness produces veils upon our souls which in turn prevent us from receiving the unlimited grace of Allah (SWT) and distances us from Him. Hence we have to launch the attack at the root cause which is the vices and thereafter furnish our souls with the corresponding virtues. For example, we need to remove the vice of stupidity or its extreme counterpart, slyness, and replace it with the moderate way which is the virtue of wisdom! This is because a virtue is defined as being the middle-way between two vices. As we strive in this way the veils will gradually be torn away and we will elevate ourselves closer to the Almighty thus allowing the gates of divine favour to open in our direction. It is essential to understand that one will not be able to become pure overnight, or even after one week or a few months, rather it is a painstaking mission which will require struggle and strife over many years till one is able to attain

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that station of purity. However, once the first steps are taken, Allah (SWT) will no doubt provide that huge helping hand to pull us closer and aid us in the immense struggle to reach the ultimate goal. ‘And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them in Our ways; and Allah is most surely with the doers of good’ (29:69). Where to begin? The fundamental question after acknowledging these facts is where do we start? The mystics and wayfarers of the path have all given direction. It is commonly appreciated amongst all that the primary stage is that of yaqdhah (awakening), meaning that in order to begin the steps to self purification one has to awaken or realise their own negligence. However in order to awaken, one needs to practice tafakkur which is the key to traversing the spiritual path. Tafakkur means to reflect, ponder or meditate. Imam Khomeini (RA) urges towards contemplation as the initial stage in his magnum opus work Forty Hadith. Contemplation on what? you may ask. Here contemplation refers to meditation on the Power of Allah (SWT), His unlimited bounties that He has bestowed upon us, the wonder of His creation, accounting for our own daily actions and most importantly, how we can move closer towards Allah (SWT). Pondering over these matters brings them to the surface of our intellect, and in turn enables us thus to enliven our hearts simply through reflection. The best way for contemplation is to arrange a special sitting on your own, maybe on a prayer mat or in a place of natural beauty, i.e. devoting a specific time to meditation. The Holy Quran mentions phrases such as ‘Do they not reflect?’ or ‘So that they may ponder’. The sayings of the Holy Ahlul-Bayt (AS) are also replete with amazing statements encouraging one to ponder, “Tafakkur calls towards goodness and acting upon that very goodness.”“There is no knowledge like tafakkur.”“Meditation is like a clear polished mirror.” (Imam Ali (AS))

Imam Jawad (AS): “And there is nothing more spoiling and decaying for man than greed.”


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Other narrations even mention that meditation for one hour is better than the worship of one year, or in other traditions, better than seventy years! We have been encouraged by our Imams (AS) to “arouse our hearts to contemplation”, so we see the immense importance of doing such a thing. In fact there is so much depth to this subject of tafakkur in itself that in this very brief article true justice to the matter is not possible. However if one wishes to pursue further reading on the issue, hadith no. 12 of Imam Khomeini’s Forty Hadith is all about tafakkur. The great Persian mystic and poet Jalaluddin Rumi has expressed the rewards of meditation in a beautiful verse from his collection of poems The Mathnawi, “The Sufis polish their breasts with invocation and meditation so that the heart’s mirror may receive virgin images (from the unseen world).” It is vital to note that the mention of the word sufi is simply a terminology used for the wayfarer and is not necessarily implying the commonly understood meaning of the word.

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He regards the sins of others as big but considers the same things for himself as small; if he does something in obedience to Allah (SWT) he considers it much but if others do the same he considers it small; he therefore rebukes others but flatters himself; entertainment in the company of the wealthy is dearer to him than remembrance (of Allah (SWT)) with the poor; he passes verdicts against others for his own interests and does not do so against himself for others’ interests; he guides others but misguides himself; he is obeyed by others but he himself disobeys (Allah (SWT)); he seeks fulfillment of obligations (towards himself) but does not fulfill his obligations (towards others); he fears the people (and acts) for other than his Lord and does not fear his Lord in his dealings with the people.” - Nahjul Balagha

In conclusion, we can clearly see that there is a long road ahead to reach the desired destination of attaining that pure human soul, however it has to start somewhere and that place is the key to the treasure house of Divine favour and bounties, the single action that can instigate leaps and bounds in short spans of time and accelerate one to the proximity of the Almighty Allah (SWT) - this is tafakkur. References 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

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The Holy Qur’an – M.H. Shakir Mizan al-Hikmah – Shaykh Muhammad Rayshahri Forty Hadith: An Exposition – Imam Ruhullah Khumayni The Journey of the Self – Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri The Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi – William Chittick Jami’ us-Sa’aadaat – Mulla Mahdi Naraaqi

Imam Hadi (AS): “Beware of jealousy for its effect will be on you and it shall not affect your enemy.”


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“And Allah's are the best names, therefore call on Him thereby, and leave alone those who violate the sanctity of His names; they shall be recompensed for what they did.” Suratul A’raf, verse 180

Al Ah’adu (The One) Recite this Name many times to have love and friendship. He, who recites it 1000 times, in solitude, feels as if he is in the company of angels.

Al Barru (The Good) If recited regularly, it gives inspiration to act piously; and removes hardships; creates love of Allah; and children to have long lives.

Al Baaqee (The Survivor) Al Awwalu (The Foremost) To bring any job to a successful completion, recite “Al Awwalu”. If recited regularly, people who come into daily contact act with kindness and extend co-operation.

Al Aakhiru (The Last) If “Al Aakhiru” is recited regularly, whatever work is undertaken, will end in permanent success. This Name also helps to attain success in projects which are apparently unfinished and hopeless.

Al A’leemu (The AllKnowing) If recited 6 times daily, knowledge and wisdom increase. If recited a great deal, the Light of Allah illuminates the heart and mind.

If recited 113 times regularly every day, it brings prosperity, disperses troubles and drives away enemies.

Al-Baa’ithu (The Resurrector) Reciting this Name 100 times before going to bed will strengthen the heart with Divine knowledge. Recite 573 times to improve intellectual power. Recitation of Al Baaithu is very useful to pacify an ill-tempered officer.

Al-Ghafooru (The Forgiver) If recited 17 times after each obligatory prayer regularly, Allah (SWT) forgives all the sins of the reciter, if He wills. If recited often, the reciter is kept safe from the enticements of Shaitan.

Imam Askari (AS): “The mouth of a wise person is in his heart.”


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Al-Hameedu (The Praiseworthy) Recite 62 times daily to settle all affairs in your favour; to have a long life; to be pious; to possess good manners and polite behaviour.

Al-Muta’aalee (The Most High) To possess a dignified, awe-inspiring and commanding personality, recite this Name regularly.

Al-Nooru (The Light)

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Al-Mu-i’zzu (The Bestower of Honour) Recite this Name many times to bring honour, recognition and fame.

Al-Mujeebu (The Hearer of Prayers) To cure a headache, recite this Name 55 times. Before making any request to Allah (SWT), always recite Al-Mujeebu.

Al-Qayyoomu (The Selfsubsisting)

If recited regularly after every obligatory prayer, it enlightens the heart and mind.

If recited regularly, it purifies the heart and mind and brings prosperity. To have a sound sleep, recite this Name before going to bed.

Al-Rasheedu (He who guides on the right path)

Al-Qaadiru (The Omnipotent)

If recited habitually, you will never go astray from the right path. If recited 514 times between Maghrib and Isha prayers, all legitimate desires are fulfilled.

Al-Tawwaabu (The Relenter) Its recitation inspires the reciter to turn repentant unto Allah (SWT), and He accepts the repentance.

To overcome powerful enemies, recite this name frequently on the last Wednesday of the lunar month after performing Whudhoo. Regular recitation strengthens the heart and gives a dynamic personality.

Al-Raqeebu (The Guardian) Recite 312 times to have peace of mind or to be able to manage a job carefully.

Imam Mahdi (AS): “As to the benefit of my existence in occultation, it is like the benefit of the sun behind the clouds where the eyes do not see it.”


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Sep - Oct 2003