Channel: Hamza Yusuf
Foundations of Islam Series: Session 4
So just to continue on a little bit with where we were, I didn't really finish the second part of, if we look at the head deed, in the, in the 40 Hadith, which is really what I've been dealing with all along the Hadith talks about, there's actually four subjects. The first subject is Islam, which we covered. And the second was aemon, which we covered at a very basic level. And the third one is called a son. Now we look at it in terms of dimensionality, the first dimension is
Islam. That's the first dimension, which would relate to like a vertical dimension, or horizontal, rather, the second dimension is a man, which would be the dimension of height, so you have breadth and height. And the third dimension is a son, which would be related to depth. So here's our three dimensionality there in the tradition. Now, the last question in the Hadeeth, is about the end of time. So here we bring in the fourth dimension, which is time. So in this Hadeeth, we're looking at four dimensions within the tradition.
Modern Islam has focused on Islam, and I'm using Islam as a rubric
Islam, being the outward eemaan
being the inward and ehsaan.
Being the transcendent, or the universal aspect, and then finally,
the idea of time and how it translates into the world. So
the reason there's been an incredible focus on Islam in the modern world, has a lot to do with a post colonial condition. Now, if you look, the the Muslims, unlike other traditions, were very successful. If you look at the first 13 years, there was tribulation, there was hardship. But after the first 13 years, you really have a religion that had an extraordinary amount of worldly success. Within 100, some odd years, they had literally reached
the most of the known world. And the although the Battle of tours, which marks the
the start of Islamic Western movement, by Charles Martel, the The fact is that that really was not according to the Muslims, historians was not a significant
defeat. The Muslims weren't particularly interested at that time moving any any more north and they factory went back into Spain, and really kind of Spain was an extraordinary place. Northern Europe was dark it was there was a lot of clouds. These were mostly people that were coming from the middle part of the world. And so they went back into Spain and spent several 100 years there developing extraordinary civilization.
Then there's two major events, one, the fall of Cordova, which really sent repercussions throughout the Muslim world because Cordova became an extraordinary center of learning in the Muslim world. And within 100 years, you've got the fall of Baghdad, at the hands of the moguls, massive impact. This is the heartland that is defeated. And this is the first time that the Muslims really felt defeat in a very, very powerful and traumatic way. Nonetheless, energies are regrouped.
The moguls will, will become Muslims actually reinvigorating the tradition. Spain becomes a thorn in the side lamenting poets To this day, there are Arab poets that write about Spain and the loss of Spain to this day. Spain is very much in the Muslim consciousness to this day. It's I mean, it's odd for us to think about this right? But really, the Muslims do feel a sense of grief and loss, when Andrew C is mentioned Al Andalus.
what you see happen when Napoleon reaches Egypt,
And literally, it's interesting enough, he sends a letter to the Egyptians off the shore telling him he hasn't come to destroy the Quran or the Islamic teachings, but to honor them. And it's kind of odd, but then he, he comes in, he invades
Egypt, and the mem Luke's put up an extraordinary fight, but they were grossly outnumbered in terms of technology.
The you know, the weaponry was much more sophisticated, you're dealing with people that were still fighting with swords and, and things and they were coming up against very serious technological advancement, that when Egypt feels that, right, Napoleon is eventually defeated in Palestine and moves back. But there is a very traumatic experience within the Muslim world idea of Egypt, being attacked, and actually for a period a short period of time succumbs to the colonial power.
And you just start seeing the colonial incursion, increasing increasing. North Africa begins to become defeated different places. Now, the Muslims were looking for a reason to try to understand this, because for centuries in their psyche, this is God's religion. We're the defenders of God's one true religion. Right and now we're actually being defeated.
different responses, some of them said, clearly a sign of the end of time, there's a hadith which is a verifiable sound Hadees from the Prophet Mohammed, there will come a time in which the,
the great nations of the West will attack my own mouth and eat from them. In other words, devour their riches, like people eat from a plate of food, sound heavy. Many Muslims started using this to say, Well, this is fulfillment of prophecy. Other Muslims said this is too defeatist, and began to explain it in terms of technological superiority. What we did is we abandon our tradition,
right of research of trying to investigate the world for the first three, four centuries of Islam there was a lot of scientific development and achievement. In the sixth century, the a theologian named Mohammed Al Azadi wrote a book which was an attack on the philosophers to have a philosopher. The incoherence of the philosophers has a very strong impact in the Muslim world. And that, and the philosophers were not simply just how we view them now, but philosophers of those times were also scientists, there was natural philosophy. The book was a very strong attack on this tradition, saying that in a sense that people were
investigating things that they really had no purpose investigating that there was too much speculation, and that there were also elements involved in philosophy in the study of philosophy that led to, to a type of
will could lead to disbelieve potentially. So this there is a refutation within 100 years by another great philosopher, theologian and jurist like Elvis that he who himself was very well versed in the philosophy of his time. Even rachet, who's called Aveiro ease, and he wrote a book to half at half foot, the incoherence of the incoherence, which was his attack on Mr. malla Zadie. This book is rejected in the Muslim world. He's a very interesting character and the Europeans become there's a there's a very strong school in the Middle Ages, the Aveiro school, of which Thomas Aquinas whose teacher Albertus Magnus is heavily influenced by even Russia Aveiro is, and he actually the
commentaries. Even the Rashid wrote three commentaries on Aristotle, the the the small, the middle, and or the lesser, the middle and the greatest for three levels of understanding and these are translated into Latin and spread quite rapidly in in Europe. So the Europeans began to take the rational model, at the same time that the Muslims are rejecting it is a very interesting phenomenon. So basically, there's there was a group of Muslim particularly 19th century Egypt who begin to say, this is our problem, we abandoned the rationalist model and took this super rationalist or spiritual model, and we forgotten the world.
Whereas the Christians who for centuries abandon the world took this rational model and begin to explore the world to discover the secrets of the world and ultimately gain power and ascendancy in a way that now even the Heartless
of Islam is is threatened and being defeated. And so they created a type of neo rationalists. School. Right.
And within that school
the the the probably the greatest proponent is an Egyptian reformers named Mohammed Abu, who become Shere Khan Azhar in 1900.
He takes the as hottie School, which is really the, you know, this is the Harvard of the Muslim world.
He takes that school and begins to introduce modernist ideas, that Islam needs to be reformed. So you get reformers, and there becomes a secularization of Islam. The Muslims become embarrassed of their spiritual tradition. In the spiritual tradition, there was a lot of
belief in the miracles of the saints, in the idea of sainthood, what's called rely on the Arabic language of a very strong tradition of not becoming too engaged in the world, taking only from the world what you need, and really not being extravagant and things like that, and really seeing this as this as something related to the very core of Islam, and using the Prophet sallallahu Sallam as the example as the model of somebody who was not deeply engaged in the world, although he was a worldly prophet in the sense that he was very concerned with society, with justice in society with establishing a strong social basis for his teaching. Despite that his own personal life was one of
in a sense, a deep abandonment of the luxuries of the world. There's a famous tradition, he slept on a mat on the floor. And they said that the palm fibers used to be shown the traces of it on his face. And once Omar was sitting with him, and he began to weep, and he asked Omar, why are you weeping? And he said, because I've been to Syria and seen how the Roman rulers live in the opulence. And then I look at you the prophet of God, living like this, it makes me sad. And the Prophet smiled at him and said, Don't, aren't you pleased that this, this is for them, they have this world and for us is the next world, this type of within the Islamic tradition was very, very
much the norm until the late 19th century. And so you get a change. And so now what you will find that there's a book I really would recommend, I mean, given that, in a sense, you're becoming now within, certainly in the American
framework experts on Islam, right.
I mean, after you finish this two weeks, you will be considered within your schools and within your environments to have a type of expertise about Islam, that other people don't have, which is that's one very important responsibility, and to a type of absurdity, as we all know,
right? Because none of us I mean, I had, you know, I, I did my degree at the University and comparative religions, and you know, that I, you can't do any one religion. I mean, I haven't even explored Islam to its fullest anywhere near it. You know, Buddhism is just an incredible tradition, massive intellectual tradition, massive spiritual tradition. You know, and I, if I spent my entire life just studying Buddhism, I would not exhaust even probably one of the schools of Buddhism, you know, so this is true of any religion that has any substance to it, you know, and certainly Islam is, you know, it is one of the greatest
of the of the religions of man, if not, certainly the Muslims who would consider it, but even I think many secularist historians would consider it certainly, either the first or the second Christianity will, will be in there, depending on which historian you're looking at. Michael Hart definitely considered it of all the, the Prophet Muhammad has been the most successful religious teacher in the history of human societies the impact that he's had on cultures and civilizations. So the the,
you know, the point of all this, is that
the book that I was going to recommend, yes, it's called the failure of political Islam by Roy Olivia. I think it's a brilliant book. He's not a Muslim. He's a French intellectual who originally did studies in Afghanistan. But he he really studied very seriously the the, the modern political scene in the Muslim world. And I think he gives a brilliant analysis of what's called fundamentalism.
It's called the failure of political Islam by Roy Olivia.
Roy, Olivia, it's French, if you're used to reading French intellectuals, you know, it's kind of it's got a little bit of that in there.
They tend to be abstruse almost purpose purposely.
But but the the basic gist of his argument is that what happened within the Muslim world is that there was a radical secularization within the elite, the intellectual elites of the Muslim world, many of them adopted socialism and communism, as ways of dealing with colonialism. You will see Algeria is a good example of this. Right? Hamad bin Bella, boom at the end, these are, you know, the revolutionaries that free their countries from the yoke of colonialism. Another example is Libya. Right? The Gemma Harry, he's a socialist in his views, jamala Manasa, who's kind of switching back and forth but basically a socialist worldview. The Palestinian Liberation Organization, a communist
organization, right from inception, the idea was definitely the oppressed versus the oppressed within a dialectical this, this Marxist dialectic. Well, with also Iraq, the Baathist party socialist, serious socialist, we forget this, you know that how deeply this Marxist idea moves into the Muslim world? Yemen communist, the communist takeover Yemen,
communism traditionally is has seen religion as an enemy, the opiate of the masses. The this in the Muslim world was a little more difficult because of the you know, the depth of the the the sacred traditions still within those and so the type of communism, the socialism, there's almost, well let's reinterpret our tradition. The Prophet was a communist, right? And this some of the Western,
you know, people said this about Jesus, the original communitarian, the disciples are giving up all their possessions for the poor. So you get and now you have within the Catholic Church, a very strong Marxist tradition, liberation theology, Sandinistas, many of the people within the Sandinista were very devout Ernesto cobden. out was a Jesuit priest, he becomes the Minister of Culture in Nicaragua. So within the Catholic Church, particularly in the so called oppressed lands like Brazil, and these places you find within Christianity, a Marxist
reaction of the of the Christian teaching, and it's very appealing. You mix Marxism and, and and Christianity to, to the masses or Marxism is becomes very appealing. If you're oppressed and suddenly you're oppressing doesn't have to be materialistic, but now you can be oppressed for the sake of God. Right? It's a little easier to bear than purely. So what happens is, is as communism begins to crumble, right,
people what do we what are we going to do? socialism fails, it fails in Algeria, it fails in Egypt, it fails in Iraq, it fails in Syria. Well, Islam, oh, why didn't we see this before? Right. We used to be great. We had the Benny omega, we had the the acids, we had the Ottoman Empire, we were great. We were ruling the world. You know, people looked at us we were the superpower. We were the big guy on the block. You know? And how, why was that? Well, because God's grace was on us. Right? And there's a lot of Americans believe this. Right? I mean, Reagan, was very much in that vein of Manifest Destiny. America has a divine mission. Right? The Americans, God bless America. Right.
There is an idea that when somebody's up at the top, that, you know, God [???]s his grace on us. This is divine grace. I mean, we wouldn't have all this stuff if God wasn't pleased with us, which is alien to the Quranic worldview. By the way, the Quran says, If God gives man, a lot than man says, oh, God's pleased with me. And if he gives him a hard time, man says he's angry at me, he's upset with me. Whereas from the Quranic worldview, the testing is good and evil, you're tested with want and abundance, that they're both tests from God.
So what happens within the Muslim world is, is that suddenly, all these people that were Marxist in the 1970s are becoming radical Islamists of the 1980s. And quite literally, you know, and if you change your you change the vocabulary, because it's very similar political slogans aren't that different. And you can start shouting about freedom in Islam, or you can shout about freedom as a communist and not a whole lot of difference. And so what happens is you get a lot of young people coming into these movements, these political movements.
That are basically emphasizing social justice. Very little emphasis on the traditional teaching of Islam, which deals with three dimensions, there is a focus on one dimension with it, which is Islam. And this is why you have a great deal of one dimensional Islam in the Muslim world. The problem with focusing on one dimension and particularly the outward dimension, is religious people are very often unpleasant people to be around. Right? That has been my experience. I'm, you know, my life on this planet, some of the worst people that I've ever been around our religious people and feeling much more comfortable with a secular humanist, although I've been around some very rabid fundamentalist
secular humanists as well, right, because you get both sides. But I think definitely within the, you know, the, the the religious tradition, there, the great danger of religion is religiosity, right, with self righteousness, with being judgemental, with suddenly I'm right, you're all wrong. God's on my side, he's not on your side. This is a real trap for any practitioner of a religious teaching. And it is certainly a trap within the Islamic tradition, just as it is in every other tradition.
It's I don't I don't sense in any way that it was the the spirit of the Prophet Muhammad's teaching, you know, I'll give you an example of one of the tabs in second generation to ask one of the Sahaba he said, we had a woman who died amongst us who died without a Muharram. And should we, in other words, a, she didn't have a relative she was living alone. And he said, So should we wash her and barrier, and the man just said to her, you know, we didn't make things that difficult during the time of the Prophet. So
in other words, bury the poor woman, you know, and give me a break. Right? In other words, what happens is, the spirit of the law gets lost with the letter of the law. And Islam is a tradition that really is trying to unify the idea of the spirit of the law and the letter of the law, that, that you cannot have one without the other. If there's too much justice, you end up with wrath. If there's too much mercy, you end up with a type of social chaos. So the Islamic teaching is trying to join these two. The problem with a modern Islam is there's a massive focus on wrath on anger. And this is what would be termed, in the Nietzschean worldview, as the slave mentality of resentment,
that the oppressed suddenly becomes has a special status within human society, because of the experience of suffering, I am suffering and you are not therefore I am ipso facto better than you.
Right? This is a real trap in the human psyche, you see, because you're not suffering the way I am. I'm better than you. And no moral superiority, no superiority of action, simply by the one fundamental issue of suffering. And this is a trap. And this is what Roy Ollivier says, is the real crisis of the Muslim world as as long as they stay in this framework. As long as they have this mentality, they can't they can't pull themselves up. It's a completely disempowering condition to be in. You see, this is what what is what is within Mohammed WD Muhammad, once said, talking about within this culture for the African American to be demanding reparations to be demanding, you know,
you have you know, I've got 400 years of injustice. And I'm not going to do anything until you rectify the wrongs that have been done to me what WD Muhammad said about that, he said, this is like a man who's literally been mugged. He's left there dying on the ground, and man comes and offers him his hand to pick them up. And he says, No, I'm not getting up until the guy that did this comes back and apologizes. To me, that is a disempowering situation, because the guy that did that is most likely not going to come back and apologize to you, and you will wallow in your self pity, because people are not going to help you up. Right. And this is really in many ways, I think the condition
of the Muslim world. So I've just kind of put this in a context in order to go into the next realm of Islam, which is called ehsaan because it is probably of all the teachings of Islam the most forgotten, and traditionally it went under the category of what is called in the West, Sufism
or in the Muslim world.
the Arabic term literally means to to wear wool. The idea was that some of the early people's wore wool
As a type of declaration of their position in the world, wool is not a very comfortable garment, it's kind of a rough. And so the idea is that there was kind of, I'm going to deal with the world, you know, in a sense of just dealing, but by by really giving it up in a sentence was an idea of Zoo hood, or doing without or giving up. But the fundamental I think aspect of the soul is related to this idea of Sn. Now, in the Hadith,
the prophet peace be upon him is asked by gibreel, tell me about Sn. And he says sn is to worship God as if you see God. And if you do not see God, you know, God sees you. This is seen within the Islamic framework as the highest level
of human possibility, you now are an individual who is in the Divine Presence. Because of that your actions are no longer checked by outward social mechanisms. There is an internal mechanism that is working within the human psyche that is going to prevent you from doing that which will take you to your destruction.
If you want to look at it in materialistic terms, you could see it as
always really interesting. There's a guy here in New Mexico, he was driving with everybody else about 80 miles per hour, they saw one of the New Mexican police and everybody slowed down except this guy. He just kept zooming along at 80 miles per hour. cop turns on his life pulls him down. He said, Why didn't you slow down like everybody else? He said, I don't want to be a hypocrite.
Right? The idea is that, why is it that in the presence of authority, suddenly our actions are checked?
You know, why is that? What's going on in the human psyche? Well, punishment, I don't want a $300 speeding ticket. There's one motivation, reminder, oh, god, I'm speeding. And there's the authority. He reminds me I mean, that's probably a lesser per smaller percentage of individuals. But I'm certain there are some people that you know, wow, I'm really going fast. You know, they see the the police officer and it reminds them of their actions. So there are many things going on. Right?
This idea of being checked from the outside, is related to what anthropologists term shame cultures, right? anthropologists divide cultures into shame and guilt cultures. And they have an idea that guilt cultures are higher, like the Western culture would be seen as a guilt culture, many African cultures would be considered shame cultures. A guilt culture is a culture where there's an internal mechanism going on, I feel bad if I'm doing wrong, a shame. Culture is a culture where, oh my god, so and so seeing me, he's gonna tell so and so. In other words, there's an out external mechanism that's checking my actions. From the Islamic viewpoint. Islam is a shame, religion, but it is not
the society that you want to check your action, it is the fact that you are being watched by God. And this is why a son is related to seeing. In other words, you feel the presence of God and you feel ashamed before God, to be doing an action that would be displeasing to God. This is the idea of shaman, the prophet said, Every tradition has a characteristic and the characteristic of my tradition is shame. But it is not shame before the society it is shame before God. And one of the things is that the Prophet said, feel shame before the angels,
that there are angels, there's an angelic presence that when we do things, and many people, it's interesting, but many people are ashamed. You know, they do things. I had a friend who, who worked in a video store, and he was telling me how people that came in for pornographic film would always use these euphemisms.
When they would ask where the session they couldn't find it, or do you have these things? Right? And he said that he could see that a lot of times they would walk around, and they wouldn't they be embarrassed to come up and just say to them, because there's a sense of shame. There's still within our culture, certain mechanisms in the culture, that people feel shame about certain things. And one of them would be that I mean, there are many examples of that. And we're a culture also that in many ways, is throwing off the, you know, the garments of shame. I mean, we're losing that that sense to as the Christian influence in this culture that Judeo Christian influence in this culture
If you look at the root of this word here, it says, It is literally to make beautiful
to make something beautiful, and it's interesting about the three words of Islam, MN and Sn. They're all on the same form in the Arabic language. I told you there were 15 verbal forms there on the fourth form, which is a doing making something happen. So Islam is making submission happen. You are making it happen. ie man is making faith happen. You are making it happen. Sn is making beauty happen. Now, here's an idea. There's a there's an ethicist, an American ethicist Chisholm,
who had his his ethical theory was that ethics is nothing other than aesthetics, that ethics is really a branch of aesthetics. In other words, that an ethical Act is a beautiful act. And this is why people recognize it. You know, what a wonderful thing that person did. That was a beautiful thing to do. Right?
There's an idea there's a recognition in the human being when they see an act of an ethical act done, that It impresses them, there's something can grow us about it. Right, the person that brings the money back, there was too much money given in the chain. That's something that, you know, it surprises people nowadays. Hey, thank you, you know, like that it's a shock. Well, there's an idea there, that there's a harmony that something's in congruence, there's an in there's there, there's something that is not harmonious that occurs in an unethical act. And that, that what an ethical Act does is it is it returns that harmony to the, to the to the act itself. Now the word is Hasson comes
from Hasson Now the interesting thing there are many ways to say beautiful in Arabic, and one of them is Gemma, and we talked about that Jamal and joab. The German German now does anybody know the Arabic word for camel?
Gemma, right? camel is from Yemen. Because the Egyptian say gamma.
they pronounce the gene gamma. So when the Europeans first heard it, they heard gamma camera. Right? So camel is from Gemma jemen. In the Arabic language when you say he had yamina tune, she's beautiful. What you're saying is her nose is beautiful. Because the arrows if you look at a camera, it's got a very beautiful nose. Right? So for the Arabs, the beauty of the camel is the nose right?
hasn't released to the eye.
When you call somebody has an old hair, they have beauty, it relates to the eye. husana is beauty in the eye. You see, there are many many words that they're very specific language, right?
There's a word for a table that has food on it called Merida doesn't have food. It's called hawan. So they get very specific. So Hanson relates to the eye. Now it's interesting that the idea of sn is seeing
there is an idea that the human being recognizes beauty, that we are beauty recognizers, that there's something within our
our neurological or spiritual or psychosocial character that recognizes beauty. But it is not enough according to the assumption to recognize beauty, you must also be a beauty producer, you must be contributing yourself. This can only occur with spiritual development.
Now, the Muslims would say some people are born with pure hearts. What the traditional Muslim scholars say there are some people that are born with good hearts. They don't need a lot of work on their hearts. They have a type of selfless nature. They will prefer they will give they will do these things. Now, a materialist might look at these things very cynically, right? In fact, there's a principle in philosophy called the hedonistic principle, which is that people really only do good things because they it makes them feel good. So there's a type of pleasure that one derives out of doing good things. And this is the way many people will interpret a good act, that they're really
doing it for themselves. Right? From the Muslim point of view that that's not really, you know, it's it's almost irrelevant, that in other words, that the idea of doing good that if you do feel good, that that is something that God that is another divine mechanism that would encourage one to do this. And the Muslims would say that really in a sense that a person will not be fulfilled in life until they become somebody who has a lesson. If you look throughout the Quran, again and again you will come to this idea of Allah loves the beauty makers, Allah loves the masini allies with them icynene
Many, many verses that deal with this idea of sn, if you look at the Muslim world traditionally, and I think also many aspects of the Christian world of the of the Chinese world, you will see a desire to embellish a desire to make something beautiful, from the Muslim point of view that is a spiritual organ in the human being, which is manifesting in the world. And so the idea of building a mosque that is not simply a place of worship, but also there is something aesthetic when when the individual enters into the sacred space, they recognize something beautiful about that, and it can be in simplicity, it doesn't have to be this massive ornamentation. No, it can be quite simple. One
of the really interesting things about the modern Muslim world is that you will notice that there is almost an absence. In much of the modern Muslim world of this type of of beauty. It's quite sad.
you know, these plastic wall things to hang on your wall that have poron on them.
In where a CD of dollar comes from this Mauritanian man, they drink out of wooden bowls, but they always carve designs on the wooden bowl, not simply a bowl, you don't just make it a bowl, it's a drinking bowl. So they put things that are pleasurable to the eye, they have pillows there. And these are very primitive in terms of how they're living. They put they have these pillows that are made out of leather, but the women design is really incredibly beautiful patterns on the pillow. So the pillow is not just functional, right? The bow housing type of just functionality, right, that has something essentially ugly. In its nature, it's more than functional. It is also life enhancing
it embellishes one's life on Earth. Now what you will notice in, in, in, in the modern world is the absence of that often plastic, the idea of, you know, tea, traditionally, Japanese tea ceremony, part of the experience was the the awesome aesthetic qualities to it. Right? The pot itself, the way the pot is turned, the way the cups are, the way they're offered to the person. These are all aesthetic aspects of the culture, that when it's just, you know, you put in your quarter push the button, you know, it comes out and then you know, and then you got this paper sugar poured in there, swish it around, you know, I've satisfied my caffeine crave for the moment, right? There's a loss of
aesthetic experience in that, right completely, it becomes reduced to simply a be steel need being fulfilled. Right, in other words, the human content there, which is deeply related to an aesthetic experience of life. It's something that makes us human, it's something that transcends our beastial or our worldly qualities and, and places us in the otherworldly realm.
we transcend. Right, and this is something we recognize. I had my two boys, we were out by I was with Hakeem, we were out incredible place in Yosemite Valley, right? It's just so beautiful. And they were playing in the, the, the creek, and they both, you know, five and three years old, but they both have these ninja turtle underwear on. And I said that underwear, like sewing congruence.
It just was aesthetically it was ugly, wasn't it? You were there with me I gave. So I went and I took their underpants off. And I let them play around naked and it was beautiful. Right? The In other words, it was very interesting. You know, why is that? What does the What is it? What is it in ourselves that we recognize that when we see it, you know you're walking along, it's a beautiful view and sudden you see a coat can and it kind of crushes the heart. You know, it's ugly, not only the can but the act that put it there. There's something in congruence there. There's something that really stirs us up. What is that, from the Muslim perspective, it is our desire for it.
We desire to make beautiful, the highest act of making beautiful is to be in the Divine Presence. That is the highest act that when you enter into the sacred space, when you are aware of the Divine in the world, it becomes difficult to rape and pillage the world you live in. It becomes difficult to turn a creek into a polluted foul smelling entity it becomes difficult to mass produce things that will end up in a few weeks in the garbage can or a few years. You see and the ancients really had a
sense of this. And this is why the things they made last To this day, we have them in our museums. Right? And we go and we look at that, what is that in them that that wanted to create that? That is this desire to make beautiful. And the Heidi says God is beautiful, and he loves beauty. And this is why God loves the beauty makers, because they are being godlike. They are taking on divine qualities. So, how does one do this? Because we're stuck with the self. Right? Wherever you go, there you are, and where are you? And this is the human predicament. I want to quickly go through the most basic text on this science that was taught in North Africa, in particular in West Africa.
And it was the text that I taught was taught by my teacher. And it is a text on a son. How do we get to that stage, he begins by repentance.
The idea of recognizing that I'm doing something wrong.
You see, because the word for a bad act in Arabic, a sin, if you want to use a Christian terminology is an ugly act. And the word for a good Act is a beautiful Act has an ad and say at the private parts in Arabic, the anus, and the genitals either male or female are called so attorney, the two ugly things. And the word for a wrong action is related to the same word say it's ugly, an act is ugly, it's not something you want to look at. When you see a wrong act. You get
you should if you're healthy. I mean, there's people out there now that are so distorted, that, you know they enjoy making ugly things. Right? A lot of modern artists make a lot of money out of it. But
that's personal opinion. They're Sorry, I had to throw that in there.
The the idea of repentance from every deed is done is necessarily is necessary immediately and absolutely. In other words, one must do it immediately. If you do a wrong action you have to do to turn away from it immediately and absolutely meaning you don't have the intention to return to it. The repentance in Islam is based on first remorse, a sense of remorse, one has to feel a sense of remorse. And its soundness is contingent upon abandoning it even at the time. So if somebody's drinking, for a Muslim who's drinking a glass of alcohol, they can't just say, you know, stuff that Allah May god forgive me and keep drinking it there has to be a move away from it at the time. And
then a desire never to continue it never to return to it, and rectifying what it what one is able, if others are involved in the deed. So if you're wrong action was somebody else was the victim of it. Then part of making a true repentance to God in the Muslim worldview is that you rectify the wrongs done to that person. If you were backbiting then you go and ask for their apology. If you stole money, you have to return what you stole. There is a rectification and within limits because they say if by doing that, it will lead to a greater problem, then you don't For instance, if somebody did commit adultery, that they should not go and tell a person that I committed adultery
with your husband or with your wife, you're actually not supposed to do that. You should just ask forgiveness.
The gist of taqwa which is God wearing us God consciousness is fulfillment of the commandments and the avoidance of the prohibitions, both inwardly and outwardly. In other words, that fulfilling injunctions has to be an inward experience as well, I'm not just doing it because of Islam. I'm now doing it also because of Amen. And what happens in, in, in many religious cultures. And there's certainly one that most people are very familiar with, in the Middle East, where outwardly things look like they're running according to Islam, but inwardly there's a very different story. And this happens when you impose an exoteric Islam without concerns for people's internal states. And so you
have a religious police that make people pray.
Right, and and this is very alien to to the Islamic tradition, but unfortunately, part of the modern Islamic tradition.
And then he says that its aspects are for a number, inward and outward, obeying and avoiding and then he says, and this for the salic. Now the Sadek tradition in the specific terminology was somebody who set up set out on the path of self purification. And then he says, Now how do you really do this lower the gaze from what is forbidden? The eye the Quran says in this summer our bas are owed for adequate will Erica can Masuda the eye, the ears and the heart. The human being is responsible for
them, that, that we've been given these gifts, and we're responsible to guard them and protect them from things that are one
things that they should not be involved in. And two things that will harm the heart, the eyes and the ears are considered the inroads to the heart. And the heart. Of course, the Muslims is like a city, and is protected by the boundaries of the seven limbs, the feet, the hands, the mouth, the ears, the eyes, the stomach, the genitals, that these are the inroads to the corruption of the city, and the city, in its essence is pure. And that if we do wrong actions, we begin to corrupt the heart. And the Prophet said that there is a black spot on the heart. And some would say this is, you know, similar to the religious, the Christian religious idea of original sin. There is an idea in
the Islamic tradition that there is, within the human being potential for darkness, that there is a black spot on the heart. If one does wrong actions, it begins to grow. Right, metaphorically, until the entire spiritual heart becomes black. So there is an idea that the heart does can grow black, and this is what you call it. Now, in our traditional black hearted, hard hearted person, somebody who's just done so much wrong, that there's no the heart has become
opaque that light does not penetrate that type of heart. Many, many people like that in this world, unfortunately,
and then prevents his ears from hearing offensive speech such as backbiting, malicious slander, false testimony and lying. That you the problem. Muhammad said, If you listen to backbiting, then you're partaking in it, because you've become the vesicle for the you've become the the vessel for the actual poison. You You, you take in that poison. And so if somebody back bites, the Muslim is encouraged to say, I don't want to hear this. You know, I can't I don't want to hear this, or should we really be talking about this? And the Prophet was asked what was backbiting? He said backbiting is to mention your brother or sister in a way that had they been in your presence, they would have
detested it. And some one of his companions said, What if it was true? And he said, No, that's only if it was true, if it was false, that's calumny. Right. So backbiting, is saying true things about people that are unpleasant. And we know the insidious effects that it has within our workspaces. And within our right, and one of the Muslim Sufi is once said, whenever you hear somebody backbiting to you about somebody else, be sure that he's going to be backbiting about you to somebody else. Right?
Because it's its nature, right? There's a nature there, that that's emerging that's showing up.
And then he says, it is more obvious that the tongue should abandon what was mentioned. In other words, if it's prohibited to listen to these things, how much greater is it to be the one who's perpetrating or speaking about? Now, obviously, there are circumstances in the assumption where you can say things about people like bearing witness against them in a court of law, asking a position if somebody asks you if you have business transaction with somebody who has cheated you and somebody says, Listen, I'm thinking about going into business with so and so how was your experience with them, you're obligated to tell them, I had a bad experience with them with the condition that you
don't embellish it and by the way he drinks too.
he must protect his stomach from the Haram. In other words, one has to guard one's stomach from what was prohibited for the Muslim This is part of and it's interesting, the idea of you are what you eat is actually quite classic. In the book on the medicines profit by even famous yo Xia, which is a medieval text on prophetic medicine. He said, one of the reasons why vicious animals their meat was prohibited is because you don't want to take on the qualities of that animal, right, like a lion, or a tiger. And so the idea of guarding one's stomach. Now, obviously, pig and alcohol are absolutely prohibited for the Muslim but this also involves food that was acquired through prohibited means,
and really strong in the Islamic tradition to avoid buying food with money that was not because that would make the food prohibited as well.
And, and there is a tradition that you know, that you that the Prophet Muhammad said, Whoever eats the hot on then the his body that grows from that the fire is more worthy of it. In other words, that what you eat is very important the early Muslims Imam and cliched he said they were more concerned about what they put into their stomach than about any other single
practice that they were doing other than the obligatory prayer and things like that, that they were very, very wary about just guarding what they ate.
There's a wonderful book for people who like books called new diet, new diet for New America by john Robbins. Now, one of the things that he says in there that I think is really interesting, is he says the fact that the animals in this country have just, they are literally terrorized. He called it animal Auschwitz, it's right, where they live in terror constantly. And he said that there's a reality to that, you know, this animal has a psyche, it has feelings, animals do have emotion. And there's a reality to putting that out into the meat, you know that you're consuming an animal who has lived in terror all its life, like veal, you know, they're short, terrified lives. And he felt
that there is something that that that does affect us. And he thought a lot of the anxiety of the American people, and a lot of the fears within our culture are related to the fact that we're eating this stuff. It's really interesting book. It's not it's not a crazy book, I don't think at all. It's very thoughtful, and interesting book for people.
diet for a new America by john Robbins. He was the Baskin and Robbins. He was one of the heirs to that Empire. And he kind of gave it up, he went on a real tirade against the meat and dairy industry. And it's interesting how powerful that industry is right in this country. Because a lot of you probably know, being teachers, that, you know, we were indoctrinated children, you had the four food groups, totally unscientific. Everybody knew it was but that's what we were told for food goes, Well, the National Academy for health decided to, you know, upgrade it make it more scientific. Well, they did their food pyramid which had meat and dairy, this tiny little thing up there and the
meat and dairy lobby getting infuriated by this, lobbied heavily and actually changed the pyramid. So now we're looking at a pyramid that has a bigger chunk of meat and dairy, not based on any scientific ground, but purely based on the power of one group to lobby in Washington. Very interesting.
He stops all matters until he is ascertained the judgment Allah has decreed concerning them. This is the idea of taqwa of weariness, to find out, what is the hook on what is the judgment in this thing, if I'm going to buy and sell because in Islam, there's things that you can't sell or buy, like things that don't benefit people. Right? So there goes through two thirds of American industry, right?
Walmart's down the drain right?
He purifies his heart from showing off.
Big problem, what's called the Ria, which is doing something to be seen by others. And it's only related to religious matters, spiritual matters. In other words, if somebody's showing off of their athletic ability, that in Islam is it's it's an encouragement, it's not prohibited. It's it's just seen as kind of a it's not prohibited. What is prohibited is doing it when it relates to worship, that is absolutely prohibited. And according to the Islamic tradition, God will have nothing to do with that action, if it's done for the sake of others.
And then envy has said, The Prophet Muhammad said envy eats good actions, like fire eats firewood, envy, there's a really interesting book called envy towards the social theory, which German philosopher he's saying that envy is, is the single most destructive
element in human societies. And one of the interesting things he points out is that primitive cultures are envy based cultures, which he feels is one of the reasons because they've been unable to sublimate envy, that they're left in a primitive
condition that civilization according to this man is based on individuales sublimating envy, that you cannot create anything. And one of the interesting if you look at Steve Covey, who, you know, I've read his book, I don't know if people probably a lot of people have read them seven habits and principle centered leadership. One of the things very clearly is what he's doing is he's taking religious principles, and he's secularizing them and he's introducing them into the workspace because Japanese work together.
big egos in American corporations have a very hard time working together. So what he's trying to create is what he calls the win win situation. In other words, you can maintain your big egos, but you have to sublimate a little bit for the greater good, which is the quarterly profits. Right? And this is the type of idea of really recognizing that you can't always be competing there.
time when you kind of have to just say, No, we got to work together. So envy is is a very serious problem in human societies. And I know teachers are affected by this.
ap teachers, somebody was telling me the other day, right? Also teachers that get awards for being good teachers, because there's other teachers that are suddenly saying, What's he doing that I'm not doing? Right?
teachers that students want electives? That's a really good teacher. There's real problems with that, you know, I mean, I know a lot of you felt the brunt of that, because I, you know, I have
in my own life, I've seen that people just people get really
something that from the Muslim point of view is just it's a gift, you know, you're sharing a gift, right? It's not something, you know, oh, look at me how wonderful No, if somebody has a talent, it's a it's a gift from God. And what you do is you share it with others. And if you can see it that way, this is something God has given that person, you know, this is a gift. And once you see that the God is the giver of gifts. Right? Then you recognize, well, I'm happy for that person, and you have your own gifts, because each person has their own areas of
possibility. And envy really destroys you can't ever become, you can't overcome that you can't become because what happens with the NVR is they're unable to achieve what that person who is the victim of their envy has achieved. they're unable to it literally will prevent them from doing it.
So learning first, that we all have envy, and we suffer from it, and one how to rid ourselves purify, and then Vanity, vanity, according to the people of this science, is when you see the gift, but you don't see the giver of gifts.
Right? In other words, you can see that you're beautiful, right? For a woman or a man who has been given physical beauty, they see the beauty, but they forget who gave you that? It's always interesting, you know, somebody said, Oh, you're so beautiful. Thank you as if you had anything to do with it, you know?
Unless, right, they paid a plastic surgeon a lot of money. And then they might, which I've never seen somebody look good like that, you know, he's always got these stretch back.
It's it's very sad that we've done that to women, particularly, but even now men are becoming fallen into that, but women just very sad, just the inability to age what was traditionally called aging gracefully, right? That there's a beauty and age, you know, that it's not ugly. And it what I've noticed is that people that accept their age, that they that it is beautiful, and people that don't, you know, you can see it's there's, there's something you know, you can see a type of darkness there just as a result of their fears and their own insecurities. And then we live in a, you know, a country whose according to Oscar Wilde, their oldest tradition is youth. You know, we're, we're in a
country that really worships you know, youth, it's it goes back to our Greek roots as well. But there certainly and but I also think it's part of the, you know, the movement because our Christian tradition was very down on the body. As we've kind of now uprooting our Christian roots, there's a celebration of the body, and the body is certainly much more attractive in youth than it is in later age. Right? But it's very sad. There's a
what's the book about a philia?
reviving Ophelia tragic, tragic. You know, these young girls, just tragic. You know, having to have as models role models, these anorexic models that suffer right to maintain those physiques and to maintain that, and this is what's being put out, as this is what you have to look like if you're going to be attractive and accepted in this community.
Now, very interesting.
And other diseases of the heart, the Muslims have identified about 33 diseases of the heart. One of the fascinating things about the spiritual diseases of the heart is like the physical diseases. We oftentimes are unaware of them. Ask any cardiologist that's what I worked in as a cardiac unit. People are amazed when they suddenly have a heart attack. They weren't even aware they had heart disease. And the spiritual heart is very much like that. There are many people that don't know that they're arrogant. And this is why there is a tradition that says arrogance, in in the presence of an arrogant person is worship.
In other words, let them know what it feels like. You know that there's a there's a type of blessing in that to an arrogant person to let them know let them feel the brunt of arrogance. Right, because many arrogant people are competing.
pletely unaware of their arrogance,
about what would you just said about an arrogant person? In other words, if somebody's being arrogant with you that you want up them one of the Arab poet said li li and Helen Hayden arena financial of Hokkaido, hallelujah Halina. If anybody's going to be arrogant with me, I'm going to show him an arrogance he'll never forget.
And the idea is, it's like a medicine, you know, you're just giving them a little taste, you know, how did you like it? You know, you because a lot of people are very unaware of that state. And it's, it's a it's a very unfortunate
ailment of the heart, and it can be cured. All these diseases, according to Muslims are curable.
The Fountainhead and then he says, I know that the source of all these affirm infirmities, now he's gonna, instead of going into the 33, he's going to tell you what is the root cause. So if you can work on the root, you don't have to worry about the branches, you can uproot it all you get the weed by the roots, the weed dies, the fountainhead of all misdeeds, here, the know that the source of all these affinities love of leadership, and procrastination.
The idea his love of leadership is me. I want to be in charge, I want to be the one ahead, I want to be the one. And this is more subtle than wanting to be the president or wanting to be Edo. It's, it's it's about wanting a position. In the eyes of others, it's about wanting to have a position. Yeah, what
the prophet said, Love of wealth and love of position amongst people is more dangerous to the religion of an individual than to hungry wolves in the midst of sheep.
And procrastination is related to according to the Islamic tradition, the ultimate procrastination, which is the next world with death, putting off the idea of death, I'm not going to think about it, let's not talk about it. The there is a very important spiritual practice, in the Islamic tradition and in other traditions,
of contemplating death, reflecting about death every day, taking some time and thinking about going into non existence, right.
And the idea is that it it's a, it's a waking up, it's a pattern break, because life, we you know, we get this idea that we're going on forever, right. And even as the body begins to wane, we still you know, it's just hard to keep that in focus that we do die. And the idea is that if you can become aware of your death, then experiences with people become more important. The moments that we live, the moments that we share with our family are more important, the idea that that death is something that can take us at any time that can seize us at any time. It's not a morbid type of, you know, you start wearing black and no, the idea is literally of becoming really aware of one's
mortality in a way that enables one to live in the world and be free. And really, this is the idea that through acceptance of death is the ultimate freedom. As long as you're afraid of death, everything will cause fear, fear of provision, fear of insecurity, all these things, that if you can accept one's death, then you can accept anything. So the idea of really becoming aware, and then what when you begin to think about death, there's a tradition that says, work for this world, as if you would live forever, but work for the next world, as if you would die tomorrow.
So the idea is that you begin to prepare for that, that this is a type of it is it is a Rumi has a wonderful poem, where he says that on the Day of Resurrection, God says, you know, tell me what you did. And and and he says that the man just falls down to his knees, nothing. And he looks over to the prophets and the prophets say, Don't look at us.
You left the plow in the middle of the field.
And now is the day of harvest. In other words, the idea that this world is a world for literally plowing for preparing for the next world, and that you reap the fruits of the next world so that that is part of it. And then he says the fountainhead of all misdeeds is love of this world, right. In Buddhism, you have the Four Noble Truths, the first truth, the world is suffering. The second truth, suffering is a result of attachment. The more we love the world, the greater our suffering. There's an Islamic tradition that Jesus said
that to the degree of your attachment to this world is the degree of your suffering when tribulation befalls you.
The idea then is that too, if one can relinquish one's love of the world, and this again is love when I talked about in the earlier talk of the absence of the Divine in the world, right, because when when will the world is imbued with the Divine Presence, then the love that one shows is because of the Divine Presence, it's not for the thing itself, it's not for stuff. It's not for the more I have, the happier I'm going to be, this is not what what what it's about, it is about relinquishing one's attachment. So one becomes free, and then one can be in the world in a way that is, is
beauty making, right one can truly contribute to the to the human condition in the process of living in the world. The Prophet Muhammad said smiling in the face of another person is charity.
Right, just to give a person a smile is charity. Right? That and that idea of becoming aware that that is something that you will be rewarded for in the next world. So making beauty and then he says
the fountainhead of all misdeeds is love of this world, there is no cure, but to turn to God, out of absolute necessity. So this is in the Buddhist tradition, that there is a way out of suffering, which is the noble path. Well, the Muslims would say the same thing, the way out of suffering would be the sacred law. And the sacred law in Arabic means the past to water.
Right. But that that's literally what it means the sacred law is the path to water to being nourished spiritually, having one's thirst, truly quenched, not the mirages in the desert, the false water. And then he says he accompanies a mentor who knows intimately the courses of action. So part of becoming purified is being in the company of people that have already done this. And this is the big problem, because most of the books say, they don't exist anymore.
So we're all in trouble. But the idea of being with somebody who, who has worked on themselves and keeping good company,
protecting that person from the destructive places on the path, that is the person who reminds one of God, whenever he sees him, and he takes the servant to his master, he takes himself to account for each breath. There's in the Islamic tradition, there's a tradition that Moses asked God, what is the most hidden of all your blessings, and he said, the breath,
breath, human breath. And this is why in traditional Buddhism, the first practice that you learn is to become aware of your breath, right? Just the fact that you're actually breathing in and out. And then he said, he preserves well, that he waves his suggestive thoughts in the scale of sacred law. This is the idea of learning to control thoughts, which is a very high position in Islam, the idea that we can have pure thoughts and that our impure thoughts can be mastered. And that we can get beyond this thrust of, of negativity that we can actually change the way we think. And we can become positive. There's a beautiful tradition that says, The Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said that,
that I am in that God says, I am in the good opinion of my servant. If he thinks good of me, he finds good. And if he thinks bad of me, he finds bad, which means literally, that we are creating our realities that we are creating that the paradigms that reside in our understanding, are confirmed by our experience. And as we change those paradigms, then the experience of the world changes qualitatively.
And then he says, He preserves Well, the obligatory which is his capital, and extra acts are his profit, and it is through them that he enters into divine protection, the idea of doing extra x that you do what's obligatory, but then you do extra x, so you pay your Zakat, but you give also charity you give, above and beyond, and constantly remembering God with an unperturbed heart, a pure heart, and all of this, there is assistance from your Lord. In other words, if you set out on this path, there will be assistance for it. And then he struggles against the self for the sake of the lord of sentient beings. And through this he adorns himself with the station's of certainty. So this is
called mcgaha, which is jihad, strolling against the lower impulses of the self that it is a conscious struggle that one has to do, so we do backbite but we have to struggle against it. I'm doing it again. Entering into a state of remembrance entering into a state of mind fullness.
Is that we become mindful of our actions right action, right thought, we begin to enter into a state where, yes, I know I can do it, I can change, I can do this. And each time one stops it, one becomes stronger in this struggle until it's finally conquered. And then he says, and these stations are our fear, which is a fear, not like a fear of a tyrant, but it is a fear of being displeasing. There's a fear of being displeasing, like the fear that one has of upsetting one's parents. I don't want to upset my father, I don't want to upset my mother. That's the fear that it's talking about. Hope that there's a hope, gratitude, patience, in perseverance in struggle, patience, repentance, turning back
recognizing I will fall short, I was telling something, somebody asked me the other day
about how somebody was doing and I said, you know, they hit the bottom of the mountain, but they started back up again, you know, like I was saying was a good thing. And they said, sounds like the myth of Sisyphus, which is pessimistic, right, a lot of pessimistic people in the world. And I said to him, you know, I was once told a story in Mauritania. When I was studying, and I was finding something difficult. A man told me a story about one of the students there, who had studied one book nine times, and he couldn't get it. And this book takes about at least a year to study, he couldn't get it foundational book in Islamic law is a very difficult book. And he decided to give it up, he
was just forget it, I can't do this. He said, he went to this place, he was sitting under a tree and there was an ant hill, and he watched an ant taking a crumb up the hill. And every time right before it got to the top, the crumb would drop and roll back to the bottom of the hill. And this aunt did it nine times. And on the 10th time, it made it over.
he said, the man said, I'm not going to have the aspiration of an ant be greater than mine. So he decided to do it one last time. And he and he had his opening. So the idea is that no, it's not Sisyphus that yes, the rock does fall down. And we do start up. But there is a possibility of getting to the top of achieving what we what we want our spiritual aspirations. And then abandoning wants.
Most of what we have in our lives, we don't need their wants, learning how to conquer want. I mean, this is something we as a people particularly have to do, because our wants are having such a massive impact on the rest of the world's needs. You know, I was in a talk for the Commonwealth club in San Francisco. And one woman said, Well, the problem is, is all the Muslims have too many babies. Right? And I said, the problem is we're consuming 60% of the world's resource, and we're only 5% of the population. You know, so before we start pointing the finger at you know, overpopulated countries, we better think about really how we're using our resources. Right, that there's there are
gross imbalances. And we're not, you know, the Muslims are not communists, there is an idea of property, there is an idea that there are wealthy people that are poor people, the Quran says that, that there's reasons there's a wisdom behind that, you know, if everybody was the same, who's going to take out the garbage? You know, really, who's gonna, who's gonna watch Why, why am I going to do the low jobs and what, but the idea is to recognize that this hierarchy is part of the world, but then to recognize the responsibilities that go along with all of that. And then he says, His actions are done, trust in God, contentment, and the final is contentment, being content,
really feeling content with what you have, that these are achievable. In other words, we have to struggle to get them but they are things that can be achieved by the human being. And the final one is love, which is the highest station is to love God with all one's heart, right? The Christian ideal existed in the Islamic tradition as well. His actions are done sincerely for the one witnessing them. In other words, God alone, that we should do our actions, not for anybody else, but for God alone. And he is content with whatever the divine has a portion for him, through that he becomes a knower of his Lord, truly free, and otherness has left his heart. Now in the Islamic
tradition, there is an idea of two types of freedom, freedom from and freedom to. So if you're free from want, then you're free to live. As long as you have all of these wants, right? You will never be satiated when you become free of those wants, then you're free to really be alive. So this is very strong in the tradition of becoming free. And the interesting thing the word for a freed slave in Arabic is also the word for a master and the idea there Mola, what's called an MOA is that if you become a master of your lower self, you are truly free. Right? If the, if you're a slave of yourself, you can never be free. So
Overcoming one's desires. Through that he becomes a know of his Lord for this he is loved by God. So all of this work one enters into a divine love, and is chosen for the Divine Presence, which is the mahkamah s and the station of sn, that that is the result of all this struggle that you begin to experience the Divine Presence. And that that's the end of it so that I gave you, you know, a very traditional approach to this science instead of just lecturing like a kind of academic lecture, I just really gave you a taste of what I was taught as a student in West Africa, and
taught by my teacher, so there's a type of transmission we say there's a blessing in transmission when you get something because this goes all the way back to the Prophet. So I think what we'll do is take a break, right? That sounds good. And then
and then we'll come back and I'll finish with the the signs of the last days. Okay, so thank you.