Heightened Senses

Hello. I'm Imraan. This is the only thing I own outright; I write from time to time, in the hopes that free-association might save a trip to a sanatorium.

Tag: Mercy

A Humbling Prayer

Friends; apologies for my absence. I’ve been battling something of a relapse of late (tremendous fun, don’t you think?), but have been managing to read a little for the last three…so I thought I’d share:
Here’s a short part of a prayer, as narrated by a Saint from the Islamic tradition, Ali ibn Husayn (the great-grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, may God’s Peace descend upon him always), and one of the Imams of the Shi’a tradition; it describes to me something very profound – the concept of Mercy. I prefer this to ‘Grace’, because the former suggests a much greater need for Him in the relationship between man and his Lord.

The fact is, truly, that millennia of human civilisation have shown that we are incredibly fickle, and lack spiritual strength, often lost in a world of choice because our ethics change according to the era we find ourselves in. Time and again we have created and done things that have been to our immense detriment; though some of these have enriched the human experience and affected our collective memory, it is so tragic that, for example, the last century has wrought such incomprehensible chaos and human calamity that we ought to have avoided. My theory has been this  – that if only we had humbled ourselves… David Berlinski once remarked, and I happen to agree, is that the catastrophe inflicted upon our brothers – Jews as well as others –  in what became (and I use the lower-case on purpose as it is more-encompassing of all) known as the holocaust, could take place because they saw that there was no Power greater than their own.

I think it applies to all cases of man’s inhumanity. We fail to realise that our Higher attributes cannot come from other than him; namely, they do not originate in us…because we originate in Him.

O Lord, do not allow our souls to choose as they like, for, verily, they will choose what is evil, unless you show pity. They will choose what is bad unless you show Mercy.

(From His Supplication in Yearning to Ask Forgiveness from God, as found in: Wilayat in Qur’an, Sayyid Athar Husain Rizvi (trans.), Ayatullah Jawadi Amuli)

With love,

Imraan

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On Prayer (Salah)

Here’s a truly beautiful exposition of what it means to pray, both in a symbolic sense, as well as looking more deeply into the point of the spiritual practice in itself. Whether you’re a Muslim or not, whether you’re more ‘spiritual’ than religious, there is something profound to be said about a ritual that you dedicate a portion of your life to in perfecting. So watch this, please.

The connection with God is a longstanding commitment – it doesn’t, as far as I’m concerned, generally happen overnight  – in the sense that if we wish to reap the benefit of a relationship with the the Essence, there is work to be done on our part.

I often find that life can be overwhelming – this isn’t a phenomenon located in me only. Think about it – living as we do, we are constantly seeking ‘something’, something that is in fact external to us. Whether it is that we seek to clear up our time, and hastily complete our chores…or seek wealth, and rush to work in pursuit of the sustenance that we feel we ‘ought’ to have…or in pursuit of another – whatever it is we seek…have you noticed yet how empty your life feels sometimes? When you are left alone in that silence – when you suddenly, quite rarely perhaps, find yourself awake in the dead of night unable to sleep yet are unable to do much else? Or when you find yourself all alone at home with your chores completed for the day, and there’s nothing good on TV? What is it about our condition that necessitates us being so ‘busy’ all the time?

Shaikh Hamza Yusuf here speaks about the cornerstone, the ‘marrow’, the essence of Islam – the Prayer . But he expresses not in ritualistic terms:  it as a profoundly spiritual practice if its disciplines are observed. When the emptiness of life is swept aside in the face of the fullness of the Divine presence. Perhaps the most beautiful point of this talk is when (around minute 18) Shaikh Hamza speaks about prayer as the ‘falah’ – the ‘harvest’. This is a term that is called during the ritual call to prayer  – it is often translated as ‘success’ – but it actually means the ‘harvest’ – if you miss this blessed event is to miss the fulfilment of your life. I think that that is beyond profound, and worth thinking about regardless of what faith you belong to.

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