THE BELLY OF THE WHALE E-Reminders
Channel: Abdurraheem Green
File Size: 31.36MB
Episode Transcript ©
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So many brothers and sisters, today we're going to be talking about
the belly of the whale. Yes, it's that stage in the hero's journey where there's no turning back,
one's crossed the threshold, and one encounters something
that is so deep, so shocking, so profound, so immersive, so transformative, that even if you were to return, at this stage, you wouldn't be the same. What you see you can't unsee what you experienced can't be undone, it's going to change you in some way, shape, or form. And although the next stage of the hero's journey
is, which we will talk about in coming weeks is about tests and
adventures and help along the way and various other things.
This stage, this stage of the journey is all really ultimately about the transformation. So really, you can you can split, you can split the, you know, this, the hero's journey into into three parts.
Three general broad parts, and one is departure, which he talked about, we talked about that already. So we talked about the you know, the normal world, ordinary life that everybody lives, the call to adventure, the meeting of the mentor and cross crossing the threshold. And this is really so the next stage is initiation. The next stage is when you move into that realm that different, it's almost like a different it is in reality, a different world. And the whole point of all of these experiences, ultimately, although we tell them in stories, and those stories are real stories, I'm sure some of these stories in these myths are real things that actually happened. Of course, we
completely believe the stories of the Quran that there are real things that actually happened. But even in the theology, there are things that may or may not have happened, it doesn't matter, it's actually not that important, what is really important is that they all have something in common. And that is the change that we human beings are going through the trials and difficulties that we go through in life. And what it does to us how it changes us how it hopefully it should make us better, improve us, make us stronger, make us more empathetic, make us more compassionate, make us more caring,
and make us Yeah, I mean, that's it really it's all about that transformation. So ultimately, what we're talking about here, so I this entering the belly of the whale, is in a sense about a deep transformation, what you could call annihilation, it's what in Buddhism is called nirvana. And Nirvana doesn't mean enlightenment, as some people think actually means annihilation. And what it really is about is the annihilation of the ego. It is when this this the I, the belief, or the obsession with yourself ends. And you realize ultimately,
that your self is not really worth that much that you are really part of something much bigger, something much more important, that you are perhaps just a small cog in the whole process of what makes everything work in this world.
So yeah, this is what it's about, ultimately. So obviously, the most famous story, the belly of the whale that we know about is, you know, is about Eunice or, we in English called Jonah, Jonah and the whale, Yunus alayhis, salam, and actually Subhanallah his story is exactly
parallels in this particular case, that part of the monomyth this universal experience that we find across cultures. So what is happening? Well, let's go through a little bit the story of Yunus and let's see how maybe we can reflect upon that and see what that has to do with our own particular, you know, journey in life or journeys because as we said before, it's not necessarily just one journey. It's not just necessarily one experience. We could be going
through many different journeys
in respect to different things, and we could be at different stages all at the same time, actually. But this is for simplicity, we just break it down into these tangible stories that helps us to make sense of what is happening to us, to us in our lives. And sometimes it just really helps us to be able to say, Okay, well, I'm going through this. And then when we see and we know what we hear about other humans who have gone through the same thing. That's why we find it so fascinating. That's why we find these stories endlessly fascinating because they are inspiration, they inspire us, and they move us and they motivate us, and they give us courage, and they help us to understand that if these
people went through all of that we can go through that, as well. So this is the reality of the human experience. So Yunus Alayhis Salam, as we know, he's a messenger of Allah, he is he's, you know, he's an OB, he's Rasool actually. And he sent to the people of Nineveh. Now that is a city, an ancient city, that goes back to a Syrian times. At one time, it was one of the largest cities in the world. And actually, this city existed in different forms up until the, you know, the the late Middle Ages, until it sort of fell into complete decline. And until present day, is just ruins. The only final thing, actually, the only remaining thing of that city, until recently was a shrine that
was supposed to be maybe the graveyard or the grave or some shrine of Yunus Alayhis Salam, and that itself was destroyed by ISIL, or ISIS very recently, as maybe we know. And they also destroyed some of the walls and so on and so forth, and ransacked some of the archaeological artifacts and so on and so forth. But anyway, that's the city that he was sent to, of course, at the time, they were very rebellious against Allah, they were disobedient to Allah and he was inviting them and calling them to Islam. And unfortunately, they did not listen to they did not respond to his call. And Jonas was really like that he was really angry and he was upset. And basically, he he left he left in
anger, he left because he was really upset. They were not listening to him. And he left before Allah gave him the Go ahead, he left before
Allah gave him permission. And I guess maybe he was just really angry. He'd really just given up the idea that these people were ever gonna listen to him. Allah knows best, it doesn't matter. The exact details. The point is that he left before Allah gave him the go ahead and gave him permission, he went on a boat, his idea was to get as far away as possible. And when they were on the sea, there was a storm and the sailors being naturally, you know, superstitious lot, they will actually they considered that there was someone on that ship who had done a terrible, some terrible, terrible deed. So what they did is they decided to draw lots so that this would determine who that person
was, and a lot fell on.
On unis. Alayhis Salam. So either units threw himself out of the ship, and as far as I know, this happened three times he drew the lot. So they considered this this was it, he is definitely the guy and this is not coincidence anymore. So I think he threw himself off the boat in the storm, and he was swallowed by a whale. That is, this is all useful, swallowed by a fish or a whale. Allah knows what it is. I was reading some interesting discussions about what sort of a creature it may have been apparently, the only really likely candidate is a blue whale whale, which actually could swallow who human and apparently the blue whale has three stomachs like a kind of thing and a cow
has seven stomachs but it has various stomachs and
but, you know, anyway, normal a human being couldn't normally survive in the whale of a stomach. But then nor could human beings survive in a fire and Allah subhanaw taala caused Ibrahim alayhi salam to survive the massive fire that he was thrown into the point being anyway this is a type of you know, this is something that Allah subhanaw taala sent
by way of a trial and by way of a test as we know unis when he found himself in this situation, he and the Allah said he would have left him there. As you know, he would have left him there but that Yunus was making dua, and he was making Tober in his making this beautiful Dada that he was making.
seeking forgiveness from Allah making Toba to Allah. And so after three days that the whales threw threw us out onto the shore, and then Allah subhanaw taala caused the
You know, like a plant to grow over him and a goat to appear to give him milk and, And subhanAllah Hamdulillah he got better returned to his people and Alhamdulillah his, his people reformed and his people changed. So it's it's a beautiful story, in many ways has so many benefits for us. But that, you know, which we're not going to go into today. But the main point being is that it's the bet the it's the transformation. It's what happens to unis Alayhis Salam in the belly of the whale. And what happens to him ultimately is this, it is that emulation is that complete self annihilation, that realisation there and this is the main point, that there is no resource there is no refuge there is
from Allah subhanaw taala that there is nothing except complete, and total submission and surrender to the will of Allah subhanaw taala. And one is not accusing
us here of some major sin. But we have to remember that what Allah expects from his messengers is not what he expects from you and me. In the same way we could say that, you know, we expect higher standards from certain human beings, we don't expect everybody to behave in the same way. And we would look for example, as the transgression of a politician, for example, in office, who abuses their power, you know, not not to be on the same level as a dustman, or I don't know, an illiterate peasant, I mean, what one expects higher standards, from a doctor, for example, we don't expect doctors to betray their trusts and to inflict harm knowingly upon their patients, we expect certain
standards and so therefore the standards that is expected of the prophets is very, very great. And that something that may be for us totally understandable that Allah subhanaw taala would not even, you know, even Subhan Allah consider it something but for the for the prophets, the standard or the level that Allah expects from them as much higher. So So the point being here is that remember, Yunus has left giving dower to his people without a lot giving him permission. And so it's in this and so this is the now he is in the belly of the whale, the belly of the whale is this, it doesn't matter. It doesn't have to be the belly of a whale, it could be anything, it is a place where your
soul turrets totally immersed
in that environment, that there the transformation is inevitable. So for us in this situation, it is his realization that he is totally trapped, there is no way out for him, there is no resource, there is nothing for him except to totally do what Allah subhanaw taala.
You know, once, what Allah loves what Allah subhanaw taala expects, there's no other path for him to take. And so, but that, of course, for most of us that this transformation can happen in many things, it doesn't necessarily have to be a spiritual transformation. I was reading when I was reading about this subject, for example, one of the one of the people writing about it was talking about the Beatles, and how they spent I don't, I can't remember, you know, two years,
playing in these caverns, you know, in Hamburg, and it was like, hours and hours, eight 910 hours, every night they were playing. And you know, it was it was this totally immersive,
nonstop type of experience and it transformed them. Similarly, the way that people who want to learn a language, they go and they live in the land where people speak out that language and totally immerse themselves in that culture, it could be anything, anything that you want to do, that you are so totally immersed and so totally focused
in that realm, that it's going to change you it can't help except Except change you. And part of it is that almost losing yourself that annihilation, that the fact that you lose yourself in the depth and the density of that activity in which you are taking place. I think in a sense, we can see in the life of the prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, this also happens but in perhaps a very different way. And the transformation that is happening to Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam is a little bit different. And that is the time when, after the Prophet sallallahu ala use
got the first revelations, then there was a break. And you know, the scholars differ about how long this break in the revelation was, but you have to now imagine you have to think about the Prophet salAllahu alayhi wasallam, the first revelation that he gets in the cave of Hira. And maybe one could think of the cave itself as the equivalent in the modern myth of the belly, the belly of the whale, that place of transformation.
But, but maybe not in this in the life of the prophet Sallallahu some, I don't think so. I think it comes later, when the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam actually when the revelation doesn't come to him anymore, and you know, in a sense, he begins to sort of doubt himself, he begins to Innocence doubt that experience, even according to some, some books of Syrah and some scholars, the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, you know, he even contemplated even I had a thought of killing himself because he was so
upset and frustrated. And so you have to imagine that Subhanallah you see Gibreel, filling the horizon, you get this revelation, this Subhanallah that is unlike anything, the words are so powerful, and we know that how the Quran, the power of the Quran, transformed the Arabs, when they used to hear it, they would be dumbstruck they would people would become Muslim, just listening to the Quran. So and so the prophets, Allah awesome is receiving this revelation, this wait, he's experiencing all of these things, and then nothing, nothing's happening. And this, in a sense, is the same. This
in a very, very deep, spiritual, psychological way. This in a sense is it was the is the equivalent of the belly of the whale, because now the prophets awesome here, has crossed the threshold, he's gone into this, this whole different world is the same world, right? But spiritually and psychologically, it's different, you understand as the main point. And he this is the stage of initiation, where the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam is now really being initiated by a las amatola into what it means to be a prophet, the responsibility of being a messenger, the responsibility of being a Rasool, and all that comes with it. And so this, but Allah is doing this,
as the scholars explained, to create this yearning in the heart of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam, this yearning for this connection with Allah, this yearning to receive the revelation. And it's that yearning in the Prophet salallahu alayhi salam, that is the transformation that is that this ultra there really that the deep transformation, in a sense that that may be one of the most difficult things the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam was going through, although he did mention, you know, for example, when his journey to tie Eve, similarly, as and this will be another example, it's just another example, that how in your journey of life, there are not only maybe one of these
moments, there can be several of these moments. And I suppose that when the Prophet sallallahu, when he was saying, he goes to time to give dower to the people there, this is another similar moment.
But But I think, if I'm looking for one thing in the life of the prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam that really reflects this stage of, you know, this, the journey of the true hero, and as we said before, it's the greatest hero of the prophets of Allah while he was that, really, and it doesn't need to be that not every journey of every hero is going to go through every single one of these stages anyway, it's not, you know, it's not the case. But, but I think we find the Prophet sallallahu alayhi salam, really, you know, amazingly, this is what is so one of the things that is so powerful about the life that prophets of Allah believes, is that it brings together so many
elements of what we human beings consider to be
admirable, and best and noble in human being. And we find that in the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam. It's truly why, you know, his son in law who lives his life is truly remarkable and an inspiration and a motivation for all of us. So, this is you know, this is the belly of the whale. The point being here again is that two things are happening number one is the annihilation of your ego. It is this place where you are feeling totally helpless in a way you are totally immersed in the experience of what is going on. It is
The first step that is transformational, and that there's no going back, once you've entered the belly of the whale, once you've gone into that place, it doesn't matter what happens to you afterwards, in the sense that you'll never be the same. You can't unsee what you've seen, you can't experience what you experienced.
However hard you try, however hard you try. It's always there.
So this is this is very important. It's a very, very important step. And of course, it may not be so dramatic for everybody. And again, it's not necessarily a literal, physical experience. The key to all of this is understanding that these experiences are spiritual, and they are mental. And of course, of course, they can be physical as well, of course they can be. So brothers and sisters, I wonder in your life, in your journey, have you experienced something like that? Have you experienced a mold? I mean, I can think if I think about myself, possibly, you know, what was my moment that I could, you know, look, look at as being similar to that. I don't know a lot, Adam, the only thing
that I can think of, I mean, there are some things that I can think of.
There's one experience I had probably, which I'm not, you know, I don't really talk about it. But I had a very, very,
very deep, very shocking, very scary,
sort of spiritual experience that shook me up really badly.
And, yeah, similarly, that feeling of just totally being unable to escape Allah subhanaw taala. But certainly, in terms of, I guess, maybe this may come later on in the journey of the, you know, in the hero's journey, and we're all on the hero's journey, by the way, I'm not saying I mean hero, but we're all on that journey we should all be anyway, right? Because we all hopefully want to be heroic in some way truly heroic, really, in the sense that we are people of compassion, who are compelled to transform ourselves and make ourselves better and to transform the lives of others and make their lives better. That's what it's all about brothers and sisters, please, this is what it is really
about. Remember, it's not about the ego. It's almost exactly the opposite. It is about learning to be more selfless learning to be more compassionate, learning to care and give and sacrifice for the sake of your fellow human beings. I think for me, one of the, you know, really massive transformative moments for me. And something that really sticks out in my mind until today was when I was making when I was making when I was making hajj when I made hajj for the first time the first time I went to Mecca.
And in a way I suppose it's almost very different because I instead of going to a place of darkness, like the belly of the whale of a cave, it's often a very scary, you know, the in the monomyth it's often a very scary, traumatic place. But for me, it was almost exactly the opposite. But hear me out. Hear me out. And this is to show how you you have to think about this and how different everybody's experiences could be right.
So for me when I made Hajj I remember when I first got to Mecca I when I got to Masjid Al haram when I went to into the masjid, and I was walking through the masjid going towards the Kaaba.
And I remember it was at night. So the Cabo was all lit up with floodlights, and honestly, it looked totally surreal. It just seemed as if the Kaaba was on a movie screen. It didn't look real to me, it looked really surreal. It just looked like almost like it was a picture there. And I feel I didn't feel really connected to it. So but what happened it was this moment when I stepped down from being in the masjid into
that that wide open space that is around the Kaaba. And then of course, there were all those 1000s and 1000s of people making Tawaf right. So this is it, it's me stepping into this massive whirlpool of, you know, this throng of humanity. Now, so hear me out. Why would this be, you know, an equivalent? Why would this be so because this for me was very challenging. You have to understand, right? As someone who's coming from the west and you have to think therefore of their
Pretty much a person who is imbibed with the ideas of individuality of individual heroism, very, you know, these very individualistic ideas and very, I suppose, self centered ideas about yourself almost being the center of everything. And really that's in a sense that it's something that permeates Western culture very, very strongly.
And, and so, and then the idea of individuality, the idea of exclusivity, you know, that something is also very often.
How can I say, imbibed in the ideas of particularly white people is this idea of superiority, civilizational, social, maybe even mental superiority, feeling somehow better than people because, you know, maybe you're European, and you're, you're British, or whatever. So all of these things, so you have to remember, this is my baggage that I'm carrying. And so I'm stepping down into this throng of people. Now, why is this transfer transformative, because it's that moment, when I am dressed in these two garments, right? This cloth, these two pieces of cloth,
don't have any exceptional clothing. There's nothing exceptional about what I'm wearing nothing exceptional about a book, because we're all dressed the same way. And then you are in I just
stepped into this throng of human beings. And everyone was making Tawaf. And it was at that moment that there was this realization, that's where that's where there was this annihilation for me. This annihilation of my ego, you know, in the sense that I realized that who was I, I wasn't really anything, I just it was this, this realization of how actually insignificant I was. And that amongst all of these people, all of them, they're all of them, worshipping Allah, all of them would make this great journey, disgrace, great sacrifice to come on Hajj to come to the house of our last one. So many of them obviously sacrifice way, way more, way more than I had more than I can even imagine.
Some of them I know that.
And then what was it amongst all of those people? What did it mean to be white, or to be British or to have a British passport or any other of the number of things that we think are so important, I just realized it. It was that moment, I realized it was all nothing. It just didn't mean anything. The only thing that was really important, was my heart. Was my heart pure.
Did I really love Allah? Did Allah love me?
Was I really worshiping and in awe and in reverence of Allah subhanaw taala that I realized, was the only thing that's really important. Nothing else matters. Nothing else matters.
That was it for me. And, yeah, hedge was a challenge. There's no doubt it was challenging.
And it wasn't some. I mean, I definitely didn't have the hardest time, I saw people sleeping on bits of cardboard by the
side of the road.
And some things I'd never wanted to forget those things. And I didn't, I didn't want to forget them. Because I thought, I always want to remember how much people sacrifice for their love of Allah. And they're just that desire to fulfill this pillar of Islam, even though maybe they didn't even have to.
Maybe they didn't have to, they just wanted to, because you can't imagine that some of these people actually had enough money they must have they saved everything they had maybe just to be able to make this journey. For me, I made it because I happen to have the money and I had to as far as I was concerned, you know, if I had the money out to make it.
So yeah, hedge for me was in a sense, definitely that part of that moment.
And yeah, no turning back from that. No, unseeing what you've seen.
No, no way to disentangle yourself from that extreme. Not that you'd want to, maybe some people would want to.
Unfortunately, they do. People backslide and go so far, and they backslide so far that it's almost like they hide and lie to themselves, but you can't and that's the point brothers and sisters. That's the point about this journey. Of course you can fail.
Otherwise it wouldn't be
heroic. If everyone made it, we wouldn't look at it as something amazing. And we wouldn't be fascinated by these stories. Because we're not fascinated by what's common. We're not fascinated by what's normal. We're fascinated by what is extraordinary. We're fascinated by what is different. We're fascinated by people who have gone beyond what the rest of us can do of push themselves, who have,
they push themselves and they've reached a different plane, they've reached a different level, they've reached a different stage.
And but we can all do it in some way, shape, or form, believe me, almost everybody can do something that some people
will look at and consider. That's amazing.
That's what it's about brothers and sisters, be the hero of your own journey be a true hero, of course, in the light of Islam. That's what we want to understand what this journey is really about. And we'll be exploring more of it in weeks to come in sha Allah. But yes, that's the belly of the whale brothers and sisters. So until next week, in sha Allah, maybe you can share with me on some of the comments about your experiences, do you think you've gone into the belly of the whale? Have you immersed yourself in something so completely? That it's changed you and transformed you?
It could be many things. It doesn't need to necessarily be a religious thing, or a spiritual thing. It could be a physical thing it could be you became really good at some skill through, I don't know, five years of non stop working at it. How do these guys who are intrapreneurs? I guess, again, like, it's not that we are so fascinated by entrepreneurs because they're rich? You know, that's not that's really not like, why why do people find Elon Musk, for example, so fast? And it isn't? Because He's the richest man in the world? I don't think so. Because there's plenty of people who are rich. Are we fascinated by the Sultan of Brunei? Or, you know, you know, Mohammed bin Salman?
What any of these people who basically inherited their wealth, is there anything fascinating really about them? Not really. Yeah. And maybe for some unsavory reasons, or, you know, but not really, because we know, they just
got it passed on from them, you know, their parents, like, you know, wow, yeah, big deal. But someone who
really worked and worked and you know, like legendarily, Elon Musk slept in, you know, he says, he slept in the factory, and he just didn't even go to bed. He just slept on the couch on the factory was working so hard, non stop. It's that type of thing. That's what fascinates us. That's what gets us. When a person pushes themselves so far and so hard. And then they come out on the other side, and they change and they're transformed, and they do something to change and transform our world. But it doesn't need to be something so huge and big. Maybe you've just done that in your local community, in your family, maybe something that you've done for yourself, that no one knows about.
Just you and Allah and the angels writing your deeds. That's what's important at the end of the day, until next time, brothers and sisters thank you for joining me May Allah bless you just talking to her. May Allah keep you safe. And may Allah help you on your journey personality