Friday, May 20, 2016


Much wealth is rarely a blessing for people. 
It's a zahmat, not a rahmat.

More often than not, it pulls one deeper and deeper into it's world. A world of no satiation, no mercy, no justice.

As the Blessed Messenger (upon him be abundant peace and blessings) remarked, 

If the son of Adam had a valley full of gold, he would like to have two valleys for nothing fills his mouth except dust. Allah will forgive whoever repents to Him.”

May Allah save us and protect us.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

The Language of the Heart


Many years ago, through the sheer Mercy and Favour of my Lord upon me, for which I will be eternally grateful (had He bestowed no other blessing upon me, this would have been sufficient), I came to meet Sidi Shaykh Abdellah al-Haddad.

Before his arrival, one of my dearest friends had told me I should "prepare to fall in love". He came and from afar, he was beautiful, the words he spoke were pearls, the spiritual presence he brought to the zawiya, palpable.  I needed to speak with him about a spiritual matter and when I went to see him I looked into his blessed eyes and there was a sea of love, merciful, unadulterated love, like nothing I had seen in any eye before. This is the essence of Sidi Shaykh and it never fails to make me weep. Such purity, such wealth that he gives and gives and gives of his love and yet, somehow, each time I lay eyes upon him, there is more love than before.

At the time I first met him, I was going though a trial that I used to pray in earnest for Allah to lift from me. Once he had accepted me as a faqira under his guidance, I had a beautiful vivid dream in which he was leading myself and that friend of mine in salat-ul maghrib. Upon completion of the prayer, I closed my eyes was in earnest prayer until I felt a strong presence with me, and when I looked his hands were beneath my hands. This was perhaps the first lesson the nisbah taught me. We are bound to our Shaykh. When we beseech our Lord, he beseeches with us. His concern for us is sincere and deep, it never leaves us.

Those who know Sidi Shaykh, know that his jalal is reserved only for what benefits. He is otherwise, jamal, jamal, jamal. And this was the nisbah's second lesson to me. I had always been very shadid in my spirituality, very jalali. Yet literally overnight, I came to espouse that immense mercy that characterizes Sidi Shaykh. Suddenly the students dancing and playing the drum didn't inspire within me a dislike for the ghafla, but rather a realization that this is the search of their soul for Allah. That were they to be guided, they would find a far greater peace and tranquility in the dhikr, in the hadra. And this led me to pray that Allah guide them to that knowledge of Himself.

Each year we are blessed from above, with a visit from Sayyidna Shaykh. He comes, I sit with him and ask his nasiha on one thing or another, and either his daughter or Salik translate between us. In truth, I always feel this is the formality of this world, we go through the motions that are the norms of the life of this world. Yet my greatest questions, those I cannot often even articulate, are communicated in the initial silence that follows the salams and exchange of niceties or in the final silence before we depart. When he looks over at me and smiles and I cannot even bring my lowly eyes to look back at him. It is in those moments that our hearts speak. And it is those moments that have taught me that language of the tongue or the pen, is in reality so impoverished in comparison to the language of the hearts.

Recently, Shaykh Yahya was speaking about the dense nature of this world and its resultant pull on us. And spending some moments with Sidi Shaykh is indeed in such contrast to that density. He is subtle, latif. And what a peace that brings the heart in comparison to the unrest of this dense world.

May we empty our hearts of the hardness, harshness, and density of this world so that we may have our hearts filled with the Light, Lutf and Mercy of our Lord Most High. Sidi Shaykh and those like him, they are calling us to the real purpose of our life in this world. We must pay heed, we must answer that call, for the life of this world is but two days -- it is here today and will be gone tomorrow. All that will be left is the light or darkness that we filled our hearts with. Let us fill our hearts with Light that never extinguishes. Ameen.

May Allah preserve Sidi Shaykh, give him health and strength, and grant him a long life by which he benefits many. Ameen.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Facebook, Twitter and The Study Quran

Arabic, Persian, and Urdu tafasir have had divergent opinions available in them for centuries (varying legal opinions, positions of varying theological schools, many sunni tafasir even sound as though they should be shiite), and nobody has had their back up about that or flooded social media about those or argued they should be confined to scholars or academics. 

Why when this has been done in English are people suddenly so afraid? What are people afraid of? Will people read the SQ and leave Islam? Will Sunnis become Shias or vice versa? Will Asharis suddenly espouse Maturidi positions (gasp!). Seriously, folks, I love the 'ulema, I love to sit at their feet, I love to learn from them, but we do have an intellect as lay people.

Nobody is saying don't study tafsir with local scholars or online. The SQ is not intended to be a manual on aqidah, fiqh, tasawwuf -- it's not meant to give you philosophy or metaphysics. It's tafsir -- it is simply meant to present the context of verses/surahs and the varying ways in which the mufasirs have understood them. It's not devotional in the sense that litanies are, its to assist in one's reflection on the various level of meanings contained in it -- because there are various levels of meanings and to think otherwise is to limit the expanse and depth and great heights of Allah's Words.

I logged back on to FB after 5 months (will be deactivating once more) and people are still condemning without reading, spreading without verifying. Get off of this lowest common denominator known as FB, stop reading what other people are saying about a book, or trying to corner the two editors that are on FB about their religious beliefs/positions (even if you "extract" some information -- do you think all the editors have identical positions or affiliations?!), and actually read the book. The first command of the Quran was to read! Muslims have never been afraid of divergent ideas or opinions or even completely foreign ones -- we have a strong intellectual history. Be proud of that, say bismillah and read with a pure heart, this SQ that you are condemning. Or if you don't want to read it, at least get off FB and go memorize the Quran -- Allah knows the amount of time people waste on this waste of time social media, our ummah could be producing huffaz of the Quran by the thousands. Wassalam!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Gift-Giving Expectations


I was listening to a podcast of a talk by our dear brother, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus (may Allah preserve him), as he spoke about the high rank of Sayyida Fatima al-Zahra (radiy Allahu anha), as being the closest to Rasul Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) in both her outward appearance and her character. He then mentioned something that really resonated with me. I do tend to be on the sensitive side so this was a good reminder to my heart in response to the behaviour of others.

He mentioned that whenever Sayyida Fatima (radiy Allahu anha) would send someone a gift she would ask her servant to listen attentively to any dua that person made for her upon receiving the gift. When the servant would tell her of their dua, she would immediately make the same dua for them -- "a dua for a dua", she would say, "for the reward of the gift, I want from my Lord in Heaven".*

How often do we think about the fact that someone didn't say a simple thank you or show their appreciation. This almost makes us wish they don't!  Some food for thought :)


*not a direct quote, but paraphrased.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Newborn to Sage: The Symbolism of the Belt


Salik Junior came down a few months ago dressed for his first day of Karate lessons. As we got out his fresh white belt, Salik had some insight into the symbolism of the belt gradations -- he mentioned them to Sansei who confirmed that there was truth in what he thought. The belts start with white and then through a series of gradations, go to yellow, orange, red, black, and finally that black after many years begins to lose its threads and turn white once again.

This is symbolic of the Spiritual Path.

White. We are born pure, untainted by the world.

As we go through life, its trials, tribulations -- the fire, if you would, of the Spiritual Path which seeks to purify us, begins to burn the ego…yellow…orange…red at its height…until the ego is burnt, annihilated, black.

Look at the belt of the Sansei who has had it for years and you will see the threads coming apart to reveal white once more.  This is it.  That newborn, that pure child, has grown. He has battled his ego through arduous work, and now has that very purity of the newborn, of that pure child -- but the Sage is superior because he has the purity, only now it is with knowledge.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

The Upshot of "The Study Quran: What Gives?"

Bismillah. AsSalamu'alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu,

It seems that a certain individual who has attempted to leave "comments" on my previous post is upset that I have not approved them.  To this individual, please note that my blog is just that, mine. And I have chosen to make it a place free of hate-speech because my Master, Allah bless him and give him peace, was not a hateful person who found some sick pleasure in imagining other people burning in Hell. When the people of Ta'if did unthinkable things to him, he (Allah bless him and grant him peace), prayed for their guidance and the greatness of their offspring -- he didn't have hate-filled prayers for them. 

Please refrain from attempting to post any further such comments as I will report you for harassment and violent remarks.

Perhaps my post was too lengthy to read, for as I said, our ummah is suffering intellectually. The upshot, you should know, brother, is that it was NOT a defence of perennialism (I don't wish to defend something I don't believe in).  You clearly didn't read the post. 

The Study Quran is NOT a perennialist book. So before you blow your top cursing it, know what it is that you are cursing because you are responsible on the Final Day for what you say and write and harbour in your heart. 


And read my post and the linked statements so that you understand what the work is meant to do. 

May Allah increase us in knowledge. Ameen.


Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The Study Quran: What Gives?

Bismillah. AsSalamu'alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu.

Afwan, I am generally concerned on this blog about inward matters and reflections, so please forgive me as I unleash my more jalali side here, but something needs to be said when, as one prominent scholar put it, so much benefit is being withheld from people because of detractors.

The much anticipated HarperCollins The Study Quran (#StudyQuran) came out about two weeks ago and has really captured in many ways, the state of our ummah today. I must say, as a teacher, one thing I note with great sadness is that our world as a whole is in a real state of intellectual decline. I'm not referring to formal academic training or output. I'm speaking of the basic ability to read, think, consider the logic of statements/claims. Our ummah, once a leader in learning and preservation of knowledge, is today, unfortunately, no exception. We've forgotten to read and think for ourselves -- we'd rather read tweets about books by people who themselves aren't reading them.

An immensely detailed work that took five trained academics (with the help of countless graduate students, an indexer, professional cartographer, and numerous scholars who contributed essays) a decade to complete, was released.  Over 2000 pages and nearly a million words of just commentary alone. To be sure, this was a labour of love -- such endeavours don't do much by way of career advancement in the academy -- for that one is better off spewing off short books of their own opinion with lots of footnotes paying homage to other academics.

In less than a week's time, an individual who does not personally know the editors and who does not even own The Study Quran, decided to take it upon himself to tweet to the world, "be aware that the editors do not hold Islam as the only valid religion to be followed today." This of course, was then retweeted by his friends and students, and so the social media fire began. In Punjabi, we have a saying that captures what has transpired on social media over the past week or so -- "Bandar dai hutt matches ahgee" -- "the monkey got a hold of some matches" -- not in reference to any one person, but the entire phenomenon of people thinking aloud on social media. This was followed up, by numerous tweets, comments/replies, Facebook posts and the like, stating that the editors are perennialists and that this is a view that is "outright kufr".


  • Let's stop right at the start of this social media mess. When this was tweeted, many people it seems, failed to ask a few simple questions of said tweeter.
    • Do you know the editors? (Answer: Nope.)
    • Did you contact them to find out their religious views? (Answer: Nope.)
    • Exactly what kind of training do you have that entitles you to "warn" the world about what you have assumed to be the religious views of four people who you don't know? (Answer: None, except that he studied with the Editor-in-chief, and then decided that anyone that works on a project with him must espouse all of his religious and philosophical views/perspectives/beliefs).
      • All of this alone, should have ended the discussion at its inception because it started with a faulty, baseless claim. In fact, being someone that might just know something about the editors, I can tell you that they are not all perennialists nor do they all have identical views on everything.
      • When one of the editors objected to being called a kafir, said tweeter denied it. Really? Well, when your tweets say that 1) the editors are perennialists; and 2) perennialism is kufr; well then, the basic syllogism would conclude that the editors are kafirs. I will assume as someone with academic training from the very academic institutions which he derides, listed on his social media as the places he earned degrees, that this much "A is B, B is C, therefore A is C" logic he must understand. And then recently, said tweeter posted saying that no matter how heated discussions get, they shouldn't become personal (even a hadith to support this assertion). I agree -- we have an entire genre of writings called the etiquettes of disagreement (and sufism itself is adab and akhlaq). I don't know about you, but if you accused me of kufr, I'd consider that pretty personal. Maybe said tweeter is just that much more "chill" than me.
Perennialist Book?

Shortly after this initial tweet, were posts with screenshots of pages of The Study Quran claiming that these clearly show perennialist thought being craftily inserted / camouflaged into the commentary.
  • Clearly, craftily camouflaged? If it's craftily inserted/camouflaged…it's done in a fashion that is clear? So is it overt or covert? I'm having a hard time understanding. Here's what is really muddling my understanding:
    • Others who retweeted/shared, said that The Study Quran "clearly and actively promotes perennialism". If it's clear and active this sounds to me like it's literally on every other page and stands out like a sore thumb. Yet, other tweets by these folks claim X or Y verse shows perennialism, though still "not clearly" or that it is "camouflaged" or "craftily inserted".
      • Hmmm…so it's everywhere, intentionally inserted in a "disingenuine" manner that is hidden but clearly all over the place. Does this make sense? Seems about as clear as mud to me.
"Critical Reviews". 

One might wonder (I would hope), how did these folks draw such conclusions about this dense work so soon after it was released? I mean to have enough conviction that their assessment is correct that they felt compelled to take to social media to warn the masses and save their faith! If you actually read what these folks are saying, one thing is very clear. One scholar told me he was "expecting the strong perennialist tone that pervades the works of the editors". The tweeter cited twelve examples as being places he (who does not own The Study Quran) was sure were misinterpreted -- before he even saw the work.
  • It's as though this group was waiting for The Study Quran to be released so that they could start to spew venom about it. Nobody can honestly say they read even a considerable portion of the work in so short a time. Here, the tweeter clearly doesn't have a high opinion of the intellectual capacity of his followers because he actually readily admits that he does not own a copy of the very text for which he is offering this "critical review" via social media (and no, because something was marketed via social media doe not legitimize criticizing it on social media because the work was not published on this medium -- rather, write a real review once you've read the work and then publicize your review on social media).
  • There's a hikm of ibn Ata'illah that one of my teachers often quoted to us, "he whose beginning is light, his end is light". I would venture to say also, that "he who begins with suspicion, ends with suspicion". The Quran warns us against suspicion and the Sufis (who these people proport to be/follow), pride themselves in having husn al-dhann (a good opinion) not su al-dhann (a bad opinion).
  • Again, the assumption that all the editors are perennialists because the editor-in-chief is? And that perennialism pervades their work? Not all of Dr. Nasr's books do -- and definitely not all of the works of the other editors! But how does one believe this assessment anyhow? Was the reading those works anything like the reading of The Study Quran -- i.e. opinions formed on the basis of perceived knowledge of the authors?
  • Coming to any work searching for a particular philosophy/perspective, one can surely find some way of locating it. As an English teacher I always drive that point home to students, we can easily read into any text and that is something to be weary of... That said, are people actually reading the translation and commentary of those twelve verses? You'd have to be searching harder than a Qadiyani looking for their creed in the Quran. The alleged perennialism just isn't there. What is there is a respect for the People of the Book, which is part and parcel of our faith. The Quran is also very particular in its language. For instance, "a guidance" is not the same as "the guidance". Respect for other faiths isn't acceptance nor is it perennialism. I've looked up all of the references. Sometimes their issue is with the actual verse because if you look at the commentary, often it's just reiterating what is in the verse itself.
  • We always tell non-Muslims not to take verses out of context. Well let's not do that either. The Study Quran is meant to be studied as a whole…they have copious cross-references -- read all of the related discussions. That said, if you find in all the related discussions the fiqh position given is wrong etc., make a note of it and send the editors a note or politely tweet/post what you have learned as the correct, ahlan wa sahlan, but there is no need to dismiss the entire work. Nobody should be taking fiqh from tafsir anyways, its not a fiqh matn it's tafsir :)
Another issue in its own right which I will not get into in detail about here, is the entire notion of having these "sincere" discussions on social media. The very nature of social media is such that it easily lends itself to assumptions, over-simplification, and divisiveness. There is too much distance and misinterpretation, and its public nature elevates egos in a dangerous way. As many commenters on social media have made clear, all this "scholarly" chatter is confusing people. Is that what is desired here? To deter people from reading tafsir? There has then been a claim that the intention isn't to do this because there "is much benefit" in the work, it just needs to be looked at "with caution". In reality however, the exaggeration of the alleged dangers in The Study Quran has frightened many away from it all together. As someone who is reading the work and often moved to tears because of the beauty of the Quran that is revealed to me, this saddens me.

Universal Validity of Religions vs. Salvation. 

I've seen numerous people asking the editors to answer the "simple question" of whether they believe people of other faiths can attain salvation -- this "simple" question of course is meant to "reveal" whether they are perennialists or not. The question however, is flawed. Now, for the record, I'm not at all a perennialist (not even close). I learned my aqidah according the Ashari school from a very staunch Ashari scholar who I respect greatly so please don't start labelling me here as well. That said, a number of my own teachers taught me years ago that these are two separate issues. Universal validity of religions is one thing (an absolutely heterodox view) and salvation for people of other faiths is an entirely different issue (fatra doctrine of the likes of Imam Ghazali or the teaching that our Master, Rasul Allah, God bless him and grant him peace, will intercede for other communities once his intercession for us has been accepted because he is a mercy to all the worlds). This is a key distinction for the masses on social media to grasp. That others may attain salvation does not validate their religion in this world. Not to mention that most people don't seem to know much about what perennialism is anyhow -- perhaps said tweeter has actually just done lots of dawah for the perennialists since I'm sure more people have looked them up in the last week than have done so for years since their popularity waned. In fact, I can confidently say, that more people have looked into it prompted by all the chatter on social media than would have based on reading The Study Quran with no such prior "warnings".
  • Which brings me to another contention I have with all these warnings of perennialism being in The Study Quran. The average Muslim has not heard of this philosophy (particularly prior to last week) and it is so foreign to the Muslim psyche, and so well-hidden (read: absent) in The Study Quran, that nobody coming to it with a clear heart and mind would be led astray in their aqidah based on the commentary found in it.
  • I first encountered perennialist thought at the tender age of 19 with no warnings and little knowledge of the religion other than what I knew by growing up Muslim. I knew immediately that this was not a mainstream perspective or one I wished to adhere to. Have more faith in yourself, folks -- why are you suddenly afraid to touch your copies of the Study Quran?! It's not a textbook on perennialism :)
  • Look at all the endorsements. Did they managed to pull a fast one on that many highly learned people? After its release many shuyukh who are not amongst the endorsers have also called this work "a victory for Muslims", and a "historical event". They've encouraged everyone to get one and are teaching from it themselves.
  • The editors have made a statement clearly indicated that they had no agenda in putting it together and that this is in fact what their methodology was:
  • Also, this:
Know too, that when Imam al-Ghazali's Ihya Ulum al-Din first came out, it was condemned and even burned in al-Andalus. Today it is the go-to orthodox work on Islamic spirituality and the Path. 

So my parting advice, readers, is this:

Do not allow yourselves to be herded like sheep by those who are the self-proclaimed shepherds of knowledge and orthodoxy. Instead, pay heed to the very first command of our faith: READ. "Read in the Name of Your Lord", and trust that you have enough of an intellect that you will not be led to kufr or heterodoxy by doing so… Read. Read. Read.

And Allah Ta'Ala knows best.

Friday, November 27, 2015

"Still clutching the standard of the Muslims" - The Study Quran, Surah 80 Introduction

Bismillah. If you haven't actually seen The Study Quran, do get yourself a copy of this incredible resource (its at most booksellers online or in-store!).  Here is an example of the first instance that made me weep!

The Khushu' of Newborns

Bismillah. For Sophia, who taught me how to be with my Lord in prayer.

A baby comes into the world, as Anse Tamara says, "bursting with the Glory of God". As she leaves her home and enters the dunya, she immediately cries out. 

Listen to the reed as it tells its tale, 
complaining of separation.

"Ever since I was cut from the reed bed,
I have made this crying sound.

Anyone who is apart from who he loves,
understands what I say.

Anyone pulled from a source,
longs to go back."
(Rumi, Masnavi)

Her first instinct is to suckle. Why? Because it is the only connection she has to that home from which she has come. She learns quickly that she can no longer be inside that home, but must suffice herself now by latching on from the outside in order to drink of what is inside -- her source.

In the first days and weeks of life, she is more soul than she is body. So when she latches on to nurse, she has complete presence in this act. Look at her. Nothing and nobody can distract her. Older siblings crying of jealousy beside her. Firetrucks blasting their sirens. She doesn't flinch, she doesn't look, and she certainly doesn't unlatch. Look at her. It is as if none of this is taking place around her. She is connected to her source and nothing could be sweeter. Nothing more worthy of her, than her source. She connects with every ounce of her being. She is more soul than she is body.

As months begin to pass, as she slowly comes into her body a wee bit more with each passing day, her presence in the act of nursing slowly, but surely is diminishing. At first, she begins to notice whilst nursing that she can look up with her eyes and see mine smiling down at her. She smiles back, continuing to nourish herself all the while. She is ever so slowly, becoming less soul, increasingly body.

With time, she begins to actually unlatch to look towards sound. As she starts to roll over, crawl, cruise…as she is increasingly body, she finds it harder and harder to focus on suckling to nourish herself. Now she benefits from having quiet while she nurses. It's easier for her if she's in a dimly lit room. 

She begins to walk and is thus even more body now. And now? Now she can also benefit from secondary nourishment. She can eat and gain satiation through secondary sources. It no longer has to be  directly from the source. But even then, when she's not feeling well. When she gets hurt. When she's tired. Nothing soothes her like that direct connection to the source.

Indeed there is much to be gleaned from this for those who reflect. Suckling is the salat of a baby. The womb is her source. Milk is knowledge of that source.

Let us pray as if we were born today. Let us have khushu'!

Back to Blogging!

Bismillah. AsSalamu'alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu,

Not sure how many of you will come across this now as I return from a hiatus of over two years. In any case, whoever reads these words, I pray they do so enveloped by the Mercy of the All-Merciful.

Two years ago I deactivated by Facebook account and had felt life was so much better that way. A few months ago I reactivated it for a work related purpose, but the past few days were such that I was reminded of my reasons for leaving it two years ago. 

Blogging is back, bi idhnillah.


Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Ramadan Kareem!

I pray this month finds you in the best of health and happiness. May we all make the most of the many blessings and opportunities that await us this month!

Many find it difficult to adjust to the changes life brings. For instance, Ramadan may once have been defined by fasting, going to the mosque for tarawih, and staying up all night in worship. Pregnancy, nursing, and children can drastically alter this definition for moms of wee little ones.  

So let us brainstorm some ways of making the most of Ramadan when we cannot fast or go out to the mosque for night prayers:
  • Make an explicit intention each day that your eating is not for yourself, but for the nourishment of the baby entrusted to you by Allah. Therefore, during fasting hours, avoid "indulging" in unhealthy foods that are not nutritious for your baby (candy, junk, chocolate, sweets, etc.) and only eat good foods in necessary amounts.
  • Create a wird of Qur'an or adhkar that you can do with your children (or aloud around them if they are too little to sit still). It doesn't have to be long so that they become impatient. A little can go a long way.
  • Come up with a schedule that works for you and your family. For instance, once the kids are sleeping, getting up and giving yourself 1-2 hours for ibaadah, maybe even in their room if they won't let you leave. You may not be able to get out for tarawih, but you can still keep the sunnah alive in your life by praying on your own.  20 rakats can easily be completed in as little as 30 minutes. Allah knows your heart's desire and insha'Allah, in a few years those little munchkins will be old enough to join you at the masjid!
  • Not fasting? Invite people who are fasting to come to your home for iftar! Honour members of your household who are fasting by facilitating things for them during these long, hot summer fasts. Donate to your local Muslim food bank!
  • There's nothing like a little introspection! Look at your character and choose one bad quality you'd like to rid yourself of or one good quality you'd like to improve upon. Make that your focus this month!
  • Also look at your outward actions and do the same. Maybe you spend too much time on your phone, or Facebook. Maybe you don't smile and say hello to your neighbours. Choose a bad action you'd like to eliminate or a good action you'd like to start doing. Make that your focus this month!
If you have other suggestions, ahlan! Please share :)

Please keep this faqirah in your prayers this month.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Thoughts on "How to Miss a Childhood" (Hands Free Mama)


All across the world, a great loss is taking place. Once gone, what is lost will never be recaptured. And one day, people will lay on their death beds, full of regret. 

It is a loss unlike anything humankind has ever seen before or that our forefathers would ever have imagined: parents missing out on the childhood of their own children. Older children/adults missing out on the wisdom of their parents and elders. Friends missing out on real friendship (not to be mistaken with the virtual friendship of FB and texting). Family sitting in the same room, and yet not really being with one another.

At the start of this year, I re-read an article I had bookmarked months earlier.  I had loved it when I first read it.  When I re-read it, I noticed that since then, I had somehow gotten caught up in some of the techno-obsession that now pervades our global culture. It literally moved me to tears -- let me tell you why.

I know people that are glued to their phones. That's not me. But the cell phone, at some point in the months leading up to my re-reading that article, had creeped it's way into the room -- in retrospect, all it took was a couple of friends who were avid texters. It sat somewhere on the ledge, beeping now and then...and being used as a watch. But that's all that needed to happen for my son to become so aware of it. Technology has this strange pull on us -- babies, children, adults -- on various levels and to differing degrees. When I read the line about your child picking up the phone if you left it in the other room and running to give you that beloved device of yours to win your good pleasure and gratitude, I thought "BabySalik has done that a couple of times recently"...and I began to weep. The lines warning us to not miss our children's glimpses for approval, filled me with fear of regret.

I may have thought I had a passing relationship with my phone. It was just "there". I wasn't obsessed with it, didn't have it on my person all the time or even next to me.  And I most definitely never gave it to my children to distract or busy them even for a moment because I am aware not only of the negative health-effects, but am an ardent believer in no screen time (not just TV, but tablets, phones...all screens...all techy things...the medium really is the message, but somehow we overlook that when we're told there are "educational" apps...there are also "educational" programs...but in the end, we all know that there are far superior forms of education through more traditional, tried, tested and true mediums...but I digress).  The reality from my son's perspective hit me in the face like a tonne of bricks.

I started to look critically at my day from BabySalik's perspective. I decided to make some changes.

When my husband came down, I asked him to immediately change the password on my Facebook account and only log me in when requested, once a week max when the kids were asleep. Again, I don't post my every breath on FB as many might. I don't put pictures of my kids up because I don't feel that their pure presence need have a virtual presence. I believe strongly that FB attracts a great deal of 'ayn in people's lives -- google search "Facebook Envy" or "Facebook Depression" and a flurry of articles to back that up will fill your screen and hopefully cause you to think twice about what you post. Salik doesn't even have a FB account so he was thrilled, but I keep mine to "stay in touch" with people though I'm fully aware of the faultiness in even that logic.

I also decided I would not check my email in the presence of my kids. And that I would only respond to text messages first thing in the morning, during nap, or after their bedtime. In essence, I decided to remove the visual of technology from their pure, blessed eyes. And I decided to fill my eyes, with absorbing their childhood and allowing them to purify my tarnished heart.

A week of no FB passed and I realized how much happier I was not to have it "there" all the time. I also realized what a waste of my down-time it was in the evenings and decided, I'd rather read a book, so I picked up CS Lewis' The Screwtape Letters -- a brilliant read. I didn't ask to be logged in for literally weeks. When I did, five minutes was enough. Months later, something brought me to it one day where I wanted to check on some feedback for something I had asked about so I kept checking my FB. As the day progressed, I told my husband I had been feeling so "heavy" all day. And then I realized was FB! The brainless clicking from one page to the next, one link leading to another...emptiness. So I logged off.

And there's that nagging phone. We seem to be obsessed with our phones, and the "smarter" the phone, the more we use it (perhaps in lieu of our own brain).  Look around you and you will see that people are doing one thing or another on their phones while they: walk, drive, "watch" their kids at the park or anywhere for that matter, "talk" to people they're sitting in the same room with, even people at the mosque, or in a majlis of dhikr!  There is no critical thought given to the apps we download, either. Tactile doesn't matter. The sanctity of a mushaf of Quran or the scent of a fine wood misbaha doesn't matter to us anymore -- Quran on screen is fine, as is a "virtual" tasbih...tap, tap, tap your dhikr away! Has anyone ever thought about the fact that this is the first time in history that people read Qur'an from other than a mushaf they are holding in their hands and feeling?

Let us take a look at our lives. Let us limit our distractions. Let us live on earth and be with the people Allah has put directly in our lives (physically present with us!) instead of giving our attention primarily to the virtual world we have created for ourselves.

Read the article. Allah gives wisdom to whomsoever He pleases: 


A Bronx Tale: After the congregants of an Orthodox synagogue could no longer afford their rent, they found help in the local mosque.

Now this is what we need more of in the world. Love and respect...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Houses: A Reflection of the State of our Hearts

Reading old posts to benefit and saw this one, Punjabi Wisdom right from the village...

The other day my mother was telling me something she'd heard on a Punjabi show she was watching with my father. A Punjabi aunty, was reflecting on families in our times, and what came from her is a testament to the absolute wisdom that people traditionally had ... and when it's Punjabi, wisdom is even more profound! :)

"When we had homes made of mud and clay,
our hearts were soft like them, too.
People sacrificed so much for one another
and were always bound to one another in love and service.
Now our homes are made of bricks and cement,
and our hearts are hard like them.
We don't care for one another
and don't care if relationships are sour or torn."

She went on to talk about how our hearts are so diseased that rather than being happy at the good fortune of others, we are envious and think the worst of how they acquired what they have.

Subhan'Allah. As Shaykh Mokhtar said, "Allah puts wisdom on the tongue of whomsoever He wishes".

Recently my friend's mother commenting on how welcomed she felt in our home, said to me that she felt there wasn't a "Canadian bone" in me. She went on to explain that here she finds that people's homes are not open to others -- often not even to their family and friends. You can't just call and show up, let alone just ring their doorbell because you happen to be in the area. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ultimately, Islam is about hearts...

Ultimately, Islam is about hearts. So the buildings..., the shops that you go to, the bank that you go to are about the hearts that are there...  Madinah is a city of tanwin, which is a connection that is felt more here than anywhere else, more than the haram in Makkah or the haram in Jerusalem, it's about a connection to a perfected human being because we discover more about ourselves when we are with others than we do when we are in situations of solitude or situations in which we are with people that don't really matter because they're on the same railway platform, etc. Islam is a religion of mu'amalah, of interaction, of engaging with others. It's not really a religion for solitarists -- fine you can read books that tell you that on Mount Uhud a thousand years ago there were people who went up to live and to worship for months and then came down to pick up some dates...but that's a particular maqam for a small group of people. Likewise deep under the haram there are these caves that people used in ages past to go in to worship for six months before hajj and found places to do that on their own. That's exceptional and there is a place for it, and of course the precedent for it in the Prophet's going to Mount Hira (Allah bless him and give him peace), but generally, the way of spiritual progress in Islam is through the anjaman, through the company of others. That's why in the city of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) there is so much emphasis on engagement and good character. We are really influenced by the people around us and our engagement with them is the basis for everything else and that's why akhlaq and adab are fundamental.
- paraphrased excerpt from CD 1 of Shaykh Murad's CD set on Prophetic amazing set, masha'Allah.


Sufism: Being weary of how we make others feel.

Babies and Awliya: Lessons for All

*This was written two years ago, but being published now*


On a blessed, sunny Saturday some weeks ago, our beloved guide, Shaykh Abdallah arrived in Montreal having travelled from Fez to visit the fuqara here. We drove out to welcome him at the airport and took BabySalik with us so that he could meet our noble teacher. Seeing BabySalik in Shaykh's arms, I beheld the vision of two of the most beloved men in my life and I began to reflect on their purity.

Babies and awliya have much in common.

There is an old sufi saying, "the Sufi is the son of his moment" (as-Sufi ibnu waqtihi). That is, in one meaning at least, that the Sufi is attached neither to past nor to the future, but rather is present in the moment because of his presence with the Divine. The Sufi lives in the moment. If one observes a baby, it will become clear to them that the baby, too, lives in the moment, for babies are not concerned about what transpired even a moment ago nor at all thinking about what is to come. Rather, they are concerned only with what is taking place at that moment. And so we can learn quite a bit from babies about how to live without attachment so that as we age, we can become like the awliya, insha'Allah.

Another quality of the awliya is that people are drawn to them. We all flock to them because we recognize the innate beauty in them, we love that beauty, and we wish to behold it. Likewise, when a baby comes into the world, everyone is joyous at the news and excited to hear all of the details. Family, friends, and neighbours are all anxious to meet the little one and come baring gifts. Thus both do the good of bringing people together -- something all the more needed in our current culture of individuality and isolation.

Of course, the purity that is found in babies and awliya is clear to any observer -- this magnetic force attracts us to them. To be pure is to be untainted by that which is inferior or base -- to be untouched by the dunya. Another Sufi saying teaches us that "the Sufi is in the world, but not of it". Babies because they have just come from the Divine Presence are pure of the filth of this world and of any personal ego or desire. The awliya having struggled through the various stages of the Spiritual Path, have left their egos and desires and risen above the lowliness of this world, and, having died to themselves, have returned to God (without having actually passed away). This purity of soul is why babies can see much of the unseen world that we cannot, and why the awliya are often granted the same vision.

So we see ourselves as knowing so much more than babies, and yet they have so much to teach us. They live in the moment, bring people together, and are pure of heart. They love without prejudice, pride, or pretension. They are sincere, honest, and true. They are whole and thus closer than we are to the Holy. Sidi Hakim was the first to draw my attention to the hikmah of children many years ago when he taught me observe them if I wanted to know how we are meant to do such "simple" things as sit and breathe properly...and there is so much more we learn in observing these sweet creatures sent to us from above. When I shared these insights with him, he commented that indeed, when we do the tahnik for a baby, the child purifies us.


Bismillah. Salams,

It's been three years since the last post. Insha'Allah, intention to revive this blog.

May Allah give us sincerity in all that we do. Ameen.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010


"Life is like a river. The waters that have passed, you shall never touch again."
- Sh. Muhammad Sadiq.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Physical and spiritual well-being...a sign of the times...

"Nice to meet you...due to the H1N1, we won't shake hands...I'm trying to make a point of that".

Sound like a Muslim? Actually, that came from our school public health nurse, who isn't Muslim.

More and more, I hear non-Muslims talking about feeling uncomfortable shaking hands because they are worried about catching the swine flu. So they decline shaking hands, and nobody really flinches -- in fact, they likely feel relieved.

Interesting that when it pertains to our physical well-being, nobody seems to mind, but when it has a spiritual basis, people are "offended". So it isn't really the refusal to shake hands that offends people, it's the impetus. All of this bespeaks the times we live in -- people are ever so concerned that their bodies, their external be healthy and well, but they criticize and ridicule those who have such concerns about their spiritual, or internal health.

How open-minded are we as a society -- really?

Food for thought.

Monday, October 05, 2009


Love what you love, but know that you will part it.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Ways: Abu Hasan al-Shadhili

Imām Abū al-Hasan ash-Shādhilī, may Allah preserve his secret, said,
"Of all the Ways there are two:
the Way of Travelling (Sulūk) and the Way of... Attraction (Jadhb).
Our Way is the Way of Jadhb.
Our beginning is their end. Their beginning is ...our end."

Shaykh Abū’l-’Abbās Ahmad Zarrūq, commenting on this, said,
"The variety in a branch is due to the variety of its origin.
The origin of Tasawwuf is in the station of Ihsān
and it splits into two kinds:
‘to worship Allāh as if you see Him'
and ‘if you see Him not, He nevertheless sees you.’
The first is the degree of the Knower ('Ārif);
the latter is the degree of the Seeker (Sālik).
The Folk of ash-Shādhilī revolve around the first
and the Folk of al-Ghazālī revolve around the other."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Unrequited Love and Shifa…(Kuhlsnotes)

Unrequited Love and Shifa…(Kuhlsnotes)

Shaykh Hamza told one of the most beautiful stories on love and unrequited love during the RIS Knowledge Retreat last winter in Toronto, Canada:

“… she also was very generous – Bareerah was a woman that she purchased and then set free, and the famous story about Bareerah was that she was married to someone named Mugheeth. If two slaves were married and then the woman get freed, then she can leave/divorce her husband if she wants to because now she’s free and the husband is not, so there is no parity.

So Bareerah wanted to leave Mugheeth, but Mugheeth loved her. He went into total distress,
and he literally was walking behind her around Madina begging her (to take him back).

Abbas (Rd.) was with the Prophet (saw) one day and the Prophet (saw) saw Bareerah and he said: “Isn’t it strange how much Mugheeth loves Bareerah and how much Bareerah dislikes Mugheeth?”

And the Ulema say when the Prophet (saw) said “Isn’t it strange”, the Arabs use the word “strange” only when the means/cause (sabaab, lit. ‘door’) of/to something is unknown, and that there is no need for something to be called “strange” if the cause is known.

So the Prophet (saw) was calling him to the point the strangeness of love. Love is very strange.

Why do people fall in love?

Why our hearts are attracted to some people and not other people?

Why love is sometime unrequited (returned)?

Because the worst type of love is unrequited love: when you love somebody and they don’t love you – there is nothing worst than that in the world. And obviously the worst type of unrequited love is with God. That’s why Abu Hasan as-Shadali (teacher of Ibn Ata Askandari) use to say:

“Oh God, make my wrong actions, the wrong actions of people whom You Love,
and don’t make my good actions, the good actions of people whom You do not Love.”

In other words – I would rather have wrong actions and be someone who You Love, than have good actions and be someone who You don’t Love.

So the Prophet (saw) went to Bareerah, who was the free slave of ‘Aisha, and he said: “Won’t you reconsider Mugheeth?” And she said: “are you telling me to do this, because if you tell me, then i have to do it.” He (saw) replied: “I am only interceding on his behalf”

And that’s his Shifa, he finds it difficult things you find difficult. The Prophet (saw) saw M suffering and he wanted to help him. That shows you his ’shafiqa’, even in love he wanted to help this poor man who was suffering from the loss of his love.

So when the Prophet (saw) replied that he was only interceding, Bareerah replied: “I don’t have any need for him”. So there was something arrogant in her answer, as she was free and he was still a slave – there was something there from her nafs.

Now when Mugheeth saw that Bareerah rejected intercession from the one that even God had given intercession, Mugheeth lost all desire for her – just taken out of his heart. And at that point when he lost all desire for Bareerah, suddenly she fell madly in love with him – like a punishment for rejecting the intercession of the Prophet (saw) – he did not want anything to do with her, yet she was now begging him to take her back now!… “

Sunday, August 02, 2009

If the veils were lifted...

"As it's said, if the veils were lifted
you wouldn't choose for yourself other than what God has chosen."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Falls and the Spiritual Path


We went on the Maid of the Mist at Niagara yesterday -- my first time. Subhan'Allah, the Falls are such a majestic Sign of the Creator and a metaphor for the Spiritual Path.

The Falls look stunning from a distance -- one longs to go closer and is certain they can endure that proximity.

As one approaches, the waters get rougher, the ferry begins to shake, one can hardly bare the brightness and the rain upon one and yet there's such a sweetness and desire to go even closer.

And even far off in the distance, the mist touches one. Just as Allah's Mercy does.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Deafness and Blindness on the Path

Last Friday I was fortunate enough to sit in one of the best Jummu'a khutbas that I've heard in a long time. One of the things that made it so wonderful was that the entire talk was about Mercy...Allah's Mercy, the Messenger's mercy (peace and blessings be upon him), and the mercy that we should all have for one another and for all of creation. And our teacher reminded us of something another one of our teachers once said to him,

"He who does not have a little deafness in his ear and a little blindness in his eye, cannot travel with us on this Path".


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Houses: A Reflection of the State of our Hearts

The other day my mother was telling me something she'd heard on a Punjabi show she was watching with my father. A Punjabi aunty (Sikh), was reflecting on families in our times, and what came from her is a testament to the absolute wisdom that people traditionally had ... and when it's Punjabi, wisdom is even more profound! :)

"When we had homes made of mud and clay,
our hearts were soft like them, too.
People sacrificed so much for one another
and were always bound to one another in love and service.
Now our homes are made of bricks and cement,
and our hearts are hard like them.
We don't care for one another
and don't care if relationships are sour or torn."

She went on to talk about how our hearts are so diseased that rather than being happy at the good fortune of others, we are envious and think the worst of how they acquired what they have.

Subhan'Allah. As Shaykh Mokhtar said, "Allah puts wisdom on the tongue of whomsoever He wishes".

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On the "Why" of Sufis: A Reflection

The only real friends, companions, intimates (other than one's family) are the people of Allah. They look upon one with the eye of mercy, not that of blame; they have no self interest, since they're Self-interested; they have no time for the distractions in this world, and, as a result, do not bring one down--they only bring one up, and this is because they aspire to be 'up'; they remember when everyone else forgets--that is, they remember God when everyone else forgets Him, and they remember themselves when everyone forgets themselves; at the same time, the Sufis forget when everyone else remembers--Shaykh Nuh explains that "with every remembrance there is a forgetting"--so when the Sufis remember God, they forget the world and all its illusions, while when the common folk forget God, they remember the world and its illusions. In short, the people of Allah are the real people; their way is the best way, and their striving the purest striving; they don't care about anything but Him, and, by virtue of loving and knowing the Source of the all, they know the all, and can thus care for the all.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Subtle Nafs...

A dear teacher of mine was recently talking to us about repentance, and the subtle nature of the nafs that prides itself even in a state of tawbah... "how could I do this?...I'm better than that!" not just sheer regret out of having disobeyed Allah.

Allahu Akbar.

Monday, May 04, 2009

We are in one of two states...

...we're either in ghafla or we're in dhikr.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Seven Questions - Shams-i Tabrizi

"You must bind yourself to knowing this: 'Who am I? What substance am I? Why have I come? Where am I going? Whence is my root? At this time what am I doing? Toward what have I turned my face?'"

- From Me & Rumi: The Autobiography of Shams-i Tabrizi. Trans. W. C. Chittick (Louisville: Fons Vitae, 2004), 51.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Lost Generation & the Obama Song

A brilliant composition -- notice your mood at first and in the end.
...and another video, The Obama Song
done as a joint project by students and teachers is also worth watching.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thoughts on the solar anniversary of my entry into this world...

Alhamdulillah 'ala kulli haal.

How many a blessing that Merciful Lord has bestowed on this unworthy servant? How many a second chance has He provided? How much Love has He poured forth out of nothing, but His Pure Bounty and Largess?


The other day I spoke to my beloved sister on the Path of God and she mentioned that her family celebrates birthdays by getting together and reciting surah waqiyah and singing anasheeds. How mubarak a way of showing gratitude for life! May we all implement this blessed way, and on our birthdays, recite in praise of the Merciful Lord Who has bestowed us with life so that we may draw closer to Him.

Allahu Akbar!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Alhamdulillah, it's almost here...!

Date: Sun. March 8, 2009
Admission: Free

Risalah Foundation -