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Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

islam from inside ☰

Islam from Inside

Contents

Updated July 10, 2013

Islam from the inside out

And Fast Until the Onset of Night

Fasting in the Month of Ramadan

July 10, 2013 (originally October 17, 2006)

We fast from what sustains our existence - we submit our clay form to be unmade, to be kneaded and worked over - we remove ourselves from our material subsistence and turn to spiritual subsistence - we prepare ourselves to be reshaped....

Playing at religion

Wearing ideological blinders

May 07, 2013

While ostensibly upholding and defending religion, a strongly ideological approach tends to undermine the deepest most profound aspects of religion. It binds men to specific ways of filtering and judging reality instead of doing what religion is meant to do - to bind men to God and thus unfold for them a perspicacious and penetrating insight.

The Water of Creation

His Throne upon the Water (Qur'an Sura 11 verse 7)

February 16, 2013

A throne is a symbolic place from which a King's commands issue forth to the kingdom over which he rules. The commands, the Divine Will issues forth from the Throne and the potential that is in the water begins to be realized. Creation in all its forms manifests itself - the perennial foundational substance articulates into infinite varieties of creations.

Be and it is (Kun faya kun)

Creation and Evolution - separating the metaphysics from the mechanics of creation

January 10, 2013

Since God is beyond time and place (being the creator of time and place), His command enters from beyond these limited realms and manifests itself in this world of time, place, and form in the best, most appropriate manner. His creative command takes a shape, a form when it enters this universe we live in. It can enter into this world in multiple places and times (since His presence encompasses it all) as necessary to create what needs to be created....What we witness in time is simply the mechanics of the process of creation (the chains of cause and effect) - what we cannot witness is the invisible command that undergirds it all - the metaphysics behind it.

On Karbala

Muharram Reflections

November 22, 2012

Meditations on Muharram gatherings, on the event of Karbala, the day of Ashura, and the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali....

Sculpt Yourself

Nurture Understanding

October 08, 2012

We become the sculptor rather than the sculpture, the shaper rather than the shaped, creating and modifying our own internal configuration rather than allowing the external world and its ever shifting attitudes and perspectives to impose a configuration on us....

Al-Taqrib

A Journal of Islamic Unity

October 07, 2012

A scholarly journal of meditations on the theme of Islamic Unity....

On A Straight Path

Tafsir (Qur’an Sura 11 verse 56)

October 05, 2012

In their mode of action and intention in this world, does the path that a person takes move them towards the names of wrath and punishment or towards the names of mercy and compassion....

Beyond_Similitudes

Tafsir (Qur’an Sura 13 verse 16)

October 04, 2012

While all the Divine Names point in different ways to His Essence, the name Allah is an all-encompassing pointer. As such, it is rare to use this name (Allah) for anything but God. It is the primary referent we have for the all-encompassing Essence of God....

Differing Orthodoxies

Inherited Beliefs / Experiential Awareness

June 10, 2010

The differing orthodoxies of the various schools are like localized illuminations, beams of light that reveal a useful and beneficial section of reality, not the whole, immeasurable infinitude of the ocean. They provide a template and a guideline which provides shape and form and boundaries so that one is not lost immediately in bewildering depths and diversity. They provide guidance, but they are not ultimate guidance...

The Role of Love in the Qur'anic Worldview

William Chittick on love in the Qur'anic worldview

January 31, 2010

Chittick's lecture centers around a ubiquitously well known verse in the Qur'an, a verse described by Sam'ani as a "body-melting, heart-burning" verse.... You can listen to the lecture here....

Remembrance (Dhikr) & the Path of Mercy

Tafsir (Qur’an Sura 43 verses 36 - 37)

January 10, 2009

When remembrance (dhikr) of Allah is connected with the aspect of His mercy, that quality of mercy begins to manifest within one's own character - it gains a real, living presence and the heart expands with it's growth....

This Israel

This Israel of our era

January 06, 2008

Israel (like the Arab nations that surround it) has only a shadow existence at present - it has the name, a powerfully symbolic name, but little of the reality that underlies that name....

The Fulfillment of Yusuf's Dream

Tafsir (Qur’an Sura 12 verses 99 - 101)

December 29, 2008

Although, in a narrative sense, the sura of Joseph (Yusuf) is one of the most straightforward chapters of the Qur'an...it is simultaneously a narrative whose surface conceals immense depths of meaning....

Dreams in Sura Yusuf

Tafsir (Qur’an Sura 12 verses 36 - 37)

December 28, 2008

Just as dreams require interpretation since all that happens in a dream is clothed in symbolic forms, so also do events and occurrences in this world require interpretation (in relation to deeper levels of reality)....

Words on a Page

A book is one mind crafting an effect upon other minds.

November 19, 2008

The Qur’an is not just words on a page - the Qur’an is not the Qur’an until its verses take shape in the mind, connect and confirm one another, and its unfolding contents settle into the heart - only then does it begin to speak its magic within us....

A Guard and a Guide

Sura 10 verse 31

February 18, 2008

Through revelation He lifts our perspective to a higher level, to a viewpoint above the physical world - to one where we can begin to develop some minute awareness of the infinitude of intersecting and interacting complex systems that operate within our world....

We have Adorned for Each Society their Acts

Tafsir (Qur’an Sura 6 verse 108)

February 18, 2008

Societies have a life and death and an existence for a given span and will be called to an accounting (to their book)....

Six Days of Creation

Tafsir (Qur’an Sura 6 verse 108)

February 17, 2008

Time is not an independent realm so that is has a separate existence and temporal things are contained in it. Rather, it (time) is an essential and internal characteristic, and every phenomena, will possess a specific time for itself....

Messages from the Unseen

Tafsir (Sura 11 verses 49-50)

November 25, 2007

For the Prophet, the Qur'an is a living reality inhabiting his heart (continually unfolding there) and connecting his awareness and consciousness to unseen worlds where existence is more intense, more concentrated, and understanding is keen....

Paradox for a modern age

A god-eat-god world - no metaphysics required

May 03, 2007

Once a society has broken its bond with higher principles - once it has...shown its back to God, it has embraced spiritual death. It has unleashed from within its own guts all manner of activities that were once held at bay....

The Ascending Pathways

And He has given you in the mountains places of retreat (Qur'an 16: 81)

May 03, 2007

Like the mystical alchemists who used chemical transmutations of the elements as a symbolic representation of an inner transmutation of their heart, the ascent of a mountain is representative of a parallel ascent of the nafs (the soul)....

Transparency before God

Tafsir (Sura 11 verse 5) Surely He knows what is in the hearts

May 03, 2007

God has drawn many veils over his creation and some of these veils are veils of privacy placed as a mercy and as a token of dignity and respect between people. These are veils which it is an injustice and a violation to remove....

What is truth?

Pilate then said unto Jesus, What is truth?

December 21, 2006

In a world dominated by pragmatic realities, ideological loyalties, and political manipulation what, indeed, is truth?....

And that you Fast is Better for You

Fasting in the Month of Ramadan

October 18, 2006

The fast teaches that there is a self that stands beyond and above the conglomeration of attributes that comprise a person - that is the self capable of truly bowing before God - and that is the centre around which the other attributes should circumambulate....

And Fast Until the Onset of Night

Fasting in the Month of Ramadan

October 17, 2006

We fast from what sustains our existence - we submit our clay form to be unmade, to be kneaded and worked over - we remove ourselves from our material subsistence and turn to spiritual subsistence - we prepare ourselves to be reshaped....

The Hermeneutics of Takfir

Legalizing the Shedding of Blood

August 26, 2006

They go out with concealed explosives to the marketplaces and the masjids. And when the innocent Muslims gather together unaware, they set off their charges killing anybody who happens to be near. The people live in fear of them....

Rules of Political Misdirection

A World of Political Illusions

August 11, 2006

These magicians are not working a benign entertainment but applying deceit and duplicity with devastating mendacity. It's worthwhile then to speculate about some of the procedures of ‘legerdemain’ (sleight-of-hand) adhered to by the political magicians of our time - what set of practices allow them success in managing their audience while they unswervingly pursue their strategic goals....

To Die/To Sleep

Tafsir (Sura 39 verse 42)

April 15, 2006

The nafs (soul or essential self) may be said to have extension into different levels of reality than the one of which we are consciously aware. It has a simultaneous existence and presence in this world and others (in this level of reality and others)....

On Repentance

Tafsir (Sura 9 verses 102-106)

February 16, 2006

Often a person can make a mental determination, and then let the actual effect of that determination, that repentance slip away by not actualizing it through word, action, or deed....

Danish Cartoons and the Sacred

Symbols, Texts, and Iconic Personages viewed as Religious Architecture

February 02, 2006

The modern process of desacralization and debasement of religious iconography is likely to strengthen and increase in frequency and is an unfortunate and unsavory aspect of a much broader, far reaching, long term philosophical shift....

Raising Children

Interpreting Biblical Verses on Raising Children from an Islamic Perspective

January 31, 2006

Unlike the scribes and pharisees we have to reach deeper into scripture to gain any real lasting benefit from it. Sometimes this necessitates throwing off the many filters and blinders we wear. We need to contemplate, not superficially, but deeply....

Prosperity and Humility

Tafsir (Sura 7 verses 94-96)

January 27, 2006

Human wrongdoing and neglect build up invisible fractures and pressures slowly over time until social, political, economic, military, or other types of institutional and societal disasters begin to manifest....

Power and Hegemony

The Temptation of Jesus as a Paradigm for Human History

November 30, 2005

Technology is a vast and immensely powerful lever that extends and strengthens potential human reach and brings the possibility of control, surveillance, and dominion into jurisdictions that were previously free of interference....

Shards of Knowledge

Limits and Potentials

November 15, 2005

God created Adam in a very high station - so elevated that the Angels prostrated before Adam - then he sent man down to a low station “Then We sent him to the lowest of the low” (Qur'an 95:5) The sending down was a veil, a concealment of potential....

The living from the Dead

Tafsir (Sura 7 verses 94-96)

November 09, 2005

It is as if an inexorable and unfathomable Divine process pushes forms upwards to complexity, or, as if Divine attractors pull forms through successive shapes and levels of complexity until they arrive at a level of interworking and balance capable of giving rise to life....

Fall of Adam

The Ease of Spirits in Explaining the Names of the All-Conquering King

September 15, 2005

Chittick's lecture centers around God's Mercy as elucidated through a beautifully detailed and nuanced exposition of Sam'ani's commentary on the fall of Adam..... You can listen to it here....

What do we know?

We are creatures wrapped in mantles of limitation and boundary

September 07, 2005

Creation only experiences a limited light – it is a night in which created beings stumble about in the darkness of their own boundaries and their own finite knowledge....

On the Barzakh

Experiencing the contents of our our own nafs (soul/self)

August 30, 2005

The nafs will dwell in a universe that is nothing but a representation, a living image of it's own internal architecture, a reflection, a mirror of its true stature....

On Being Hanif

Tafsir (Sura 10 verse 105)

August 29, 2005

He is hungry for true religion, and so seeks out the reality which casts the shadow, and beyond that, the Light before which all things are insubstantial shadows....

Honoring the Prophet

Tafsir (Sura 10 verse 104)

May 16, 2005

Though all of mankind are watered with the same water - the water of the Spirit - yet some are ranked higher in excellence than others. In this verse God is commanding the Prophet to display a subtle hint of his unique excellence....

False Religion

The Golden Calf

March 15, 2005

While a powerful descent of Divine knowledge occurred on the heights of Sinai, at the base of the mountain a caricature, a parody of this Divine process was unfolding... This forgery emerged when the nascent belief of the Israelites was still taking shape....

A Children's Story

The Story of Us

February 09, 2005

There was once a King with a vast kingdom. He was a very great King, good, fair, just, merciful, loved deeply by all his subjects, by all the creatures in His kingdom. His was not an ordinary kingdom....

History and Perception

Illuminating the Present

December 23, 2004

At its best, our era is not graced with serenity. These are event driven times, full of motion, movement, turmoil - an antithesis to contemplation and careful consideration. For us, for our time, the future rarely extends its horizon beyond the next month, or week, or day. And so we tend to hang on every oscillation in stock prices, anticipate the turn of fortune that the next market update may herald, and, in troubled times, diligently follow the ever-shifting state of the world....

Man and Ecology

Trustees or Tyrants

October 20, 2004

The end result of tyranny is nothing but a revolt against the tyrant. This is precisely what is happening between man the tyrant and nature the tyrannized. Tyranny is effective only in the short term....

Battle of Badr

Tafsir (Sura 8 verses 11-18)

September 30, 2004

By the time the Meccans lined up for battle, uncertainty and fear gnawed at them. And with the rise of uncertainty and fear their strategies became weak and their superiority in weapons was nullified. As the verse says, their heads (strategies) were cut off and their fingertips (weapons and manoeuvres) were nullified....

Prisoners of thought

Tafsir (Sura 33 verse 67)

May 19, 2004

To the extent that our minds are full of ambition, conflict, fragmentation, aggression, ego, thoughtlessness, self-interest, desire for gain, fear, paranoia, so also the world is full of such things. To the extent that they are full of compassion, concern, intelligence, wisdom, equity, justice, thoughtfulness, inclusiveness, the world has such qualities....

On Seeing Beyond Forms

Tafsir (Sura 6 verses 74-79)

March 23, 2004

These verses describe the spiritual vision and state of certainty granted to Abraham as a gift from Allah. In a series of revelatory or intellectual unveilings, the Reality behind existence - it's true nature - was manifested....

On the Blowing of the Trumpet

Tafsir (Sura 6 verse 73)

March 17, 2004

By use of our intellect we are able to penetrate to some extent beyond the forms of the material world. But our understanding of these matters is shadowy, vague, theoretical, speculative, filled with mystery. It is not a clear direct perception but a fuzzy, shadowy perception....

Parents

The Locus of Descent

January 15, 2004

The parents are the conduit, the means through which a human soul descends from that other plane of existence to this world. So the parents are the means by which tanzil (descent) occurs....

Basic Commandments and the Straight Path

Tafsir (Sura 6 verses 151-153)

January 14, 2004

This series of verses begins by informing us that what will be recited to us will raise our level, if we pay attention to it and practise it....

On Jesus the Son of Mary

Tafsir (Sura 5 verses 116-120)

December 27, 2003

The Qur'an's use of “son of Mary” as a title accomplishes several goals in a single phrase. It establishes Jesus' humanity and counters the notion of his divinity at the same time that it reasserts, in a turn of phrase, the unique manner of his birth....

Jesus - A Word of God

A “Word Made Flesh”

December 26, 2003

Universes of knowledge exist within each person. The doors to these worlds are opened to only a few. Jesus was one who was taught by God - God Himself unfolded Jesus' potential....

Jesus (An Islamic Perspective)

A Spirit of God

December 25, 2003

The Islamic position on Jesus can never be understood through attempts to disprove the Christian claims concerning Jesus - this method will only give one a picture of what Jesus is not. Only by placing him within the theological, ontological, and spiritual context of Islam is it possible to gain some insight into the place of Jesus in Islam....

Tauhid

Oneness of God

December 23, 2003

It is the fabric, the substratum from which every principle of the religion arises and which guides every aspect of the faith as it is propounded in the Qur'an....

Intellect in Islam

Microcosm and Macrocosm

December 01, 2003

Imagine that the computer screen and all activity on the screen represents the world of material existence. The screen is considered as the horizontal dimension of the computer. A program is running that simulates a small universe complete with simulated beings (with senses that let them interact with other objects on the screen) and simulated laws (much like some computer games) - the attempts of these beings to understand the environment (on the screen) represents science and all its branches....

On the Nature of the Soul

Tafsir (Sura 4 verse 1)

November 18, 2003

The soul becomes the mediator, the meeting point, between the Spirit and the body. It is the junction of the two seas. The sea of the spirit and the sea of the material world....

On Justice

Tafsir (Sura 4 verses 135-136)

October 24, 2003

There is a strong possibility of a very easy slippage into tyranny, since a skewed judgement or a biased judgement is nothing other than a type of tyranny. Any favoritism, any partiality, any egotism is a destroyer of justice and spells the beginning of tyranny. So judgement and justice is a tremendous affair, requiring impartiality and a deep knowledge....

On Belief

Tafsir (Sura 2 verses 1-5)

October 14, 2003

Iman (faith) is not then an existentialist fact (since it had not yet entered the hearts of most Muslims) but a potential waiting to unfold. What does this mean? It means that it has no reality until it is brought into being through a.combination of forces. One force is within the human being - this is the process through which an individual shapes his being....

9/11

Collapse

September 11, 2003

Then the twin towers collapsed, one after another, subsiding slowly into dust and rubble like a colossus fallen in battle, buckling under dreadful wounds. At that moment the known world faded from view and an alternate universe of terrible possibility emerged....

Knowing Ali

The Straight Path

September 10, 2003

There is a group of people that has reached a stage where all personal movement is renounced. Their selves (their nafs or souls) are free of the distractions, cravings and desires of one who is bound and attached to this world and its endless attractions...movements of their ego vanish....

Time in the Qur'an

History as Memory

September 10, 2003

The Qur'an asks us to extend our memory beyond our individual selves and so unites our separate histories with the total history of humanity with the aim of giving substance to our ephemeral, fleeting lives and uniting us with the common thread of truth that weaves its way across the centuries....

Seeking Patterns and Principles

History as Pattern

Added August 15, 2003

Why dwell on the past?... Why put time and energy into remembering events that happened centuries ago?...Why not let the past be past and put it behind us once and for all?... Why does the Qur'an admonish us constantly to remember?....

Marriage in Islam

Making Hearts Familiar

August 10, 2003

The term nikkah which is used for marriage is also used figuratively to describe the coming together of various aspects of creation. For example it says, in the Qur'an, that “the rain married the soil” and then it describes how, from this intimate mingling, something new springs forth - that the earth brings forth flowers and herbage, it opens to new creations, new life, new potentials....

A Most Dangerous Game

Power Plays

August 09, 2003

Some play this world like a vast, infinitely intricate strategy game. We are all resources in this game. Depending on our individual stances, we are utilized, mobilized, managed, positioned, deployed, manipulated, ignored, silenced, or removed....

Going Around the Kaaba

Experiencing the Tawaf

August 01, 2003

Like a waking dream it (the Kaaba) shimmered in the heat of the day, appearing to slowly pulse like a heartbeat as the dense heat induced the air to vibrate and rise in invisible currents. Surrounding it was an effortlessly turning human wheel - the endless circumambulation (tawaf) of the Kaaba by the pilgrims....

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