Spirituality

A Daily Checklist Based on the Prophet’s Ramadan Sermon

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I recently went over some versions of the Prophet’s khutbah welcoming the month of Ramadhan. In it, he (s) mentions various advices and commands for the believers to take note of during this month. However, it is hard to keep track of them, so I’ve compiled them into a numbered checklist. I will be trying, inshaAllah, to review this checklist daily and try to tick off as many boxes as I can so that this month will be as blessed as possible. Please comment below if you will be joining me on this journey so that we can keep each other accountable. If you have not read the full sermon before, please do before viewing the summary below, as the Prophet (s) mentions important details not mentioned here for brevity’s sake. Continue Reading

Bible Verses That Condemn Drinking

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I recently wrote a post about how the medieval church considered drinking to the point of drunkness to fall under the deadly sin of gluttony.

A commenter on a message board I frequent provided some references to Bible passages in which these prohibitions are made more explicit. I’ve provided them below:

Proverbs 20:1New International Version (NIV)

20 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
    whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Proverbs 21:17 New International Version (NIV)

17 Whoever loves pleasure will become poor;
    whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.

Proverbs 23:19-21 New International Version (NIV)

Saying 16

19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
    and set your heart on the right path:
20 Do not join those who drink too much wine
    or gorge themselves on meat,
21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
    and drowsiness clothes them in rags. Continue Reading

Getting Drunk Was Considered a Sin in Medieval Christianity

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

TIL that getting drunk was considered a sin in Medieval Christianity. Alcohol itself was considered permissible, but drinking to the point of inebriation was considered a subset of the deadly sin of gluttony.  The full reddit thread on r/askhistorians can be found below, although I’ll quote the relevant parts:

 

Prevalence of Alcoholism in Middle Ages? from AskHistorians

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Americans today (I understand ideas about alcoholism and its treatment can be quite different) tend to think of alcoholism as an addiction or even a disease. This was not so in the Middle Ages. Inebrietas–inebriety or drunkenness–was normatively a sin, a subset of the Deadly Sin of gluttony or overconsumption.

We must separate the rhetoric of preachers from the daily lives of medieval people (including, presumably, many of those preachers). An evening at a formal or informal tavern was the heart of socializing for a lot of urban people. It’s not for nothing the tavern was derided as the “chapel of the devil”; it was the secular parallel for social life to the Church and religious civic gatherings. As with today, not everyone would get drunk, and even fewer of those would get drunk so often and compulsively as to compare to modern alcoholism. And of course, the role of alcohol in the display of battle prowess and noble/royal power is well known to anyone who read Beowulf in high school….

…But in the background, and increasingly pushed by preachers and didactic authors over the 14th through 16th centuries, was the point that drunkenness inherently represented overconsumption, a focus on the material world and personal pleasure that distracted from God. It was a sin. And in both prescriptive theoretical sources and actual criminal records, medieval people knew and experienced the costs of inebriety.

In theory, drunkenness would lead to other sins. It loosened the tongue and mind, resulting in a rise to wrath. Naturally in women in particular, it heated the body and aroused it to lust. It led the drunk person to forget about others, greed. And so on. Meanwhile, coroners’ rolls from England and court records from French and German cities attest handsomely to the fights, assaults, and murders inside taverns and spilling onto the streets outside.

This is still just alcohol consumption, though. What can we say about the compulsion to drink caused by a pattern of overconsumption? First, in the medieval imagination though not in practice, pattern inebrietas was gendered heavily male. In German popular literature, there were two stock “parents who waste their family’s money” figures. The woman is the haute palate, the one who must always have the richest food, the most expensive clothing while her children go hungry and threadbare. The man, however? The man spends every night at the tavern, drinking away his children’s bread. The latter, at least, had a basis in reality. Women in early modern Germany sometimes petitioned their cities for emergency financial support or for legal living-arrangement separation from their husband, because he was ruining the family financially through drinking every coin. Continue Reading

How To Know God Exists (Existence of God Part 1)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم 

Before we can answer the question “how can I know that God exists?” we must first ask the question “how do I know anything at all.” Or perhaps more appropriately, since God is not a “thing,” we should ask “how do I come to know?”  As we shall see, all knowledge is ultimately grounded in what is unfortunately called “intuition” in English, but which is more appropriately called “immediate knowledge” or “knowledge by presence” in Islamic philosophy.

I will nevertheless sometimes use the word intuition, but it should not be mistaken for the ordinary usage of simply having a “hunch” about something or other, or the vain, amorphous imaginings of artists and poets. From intuition, in its proper sense, descends pure reason, with its capacity to give complete certainty based on deductive proofs. After that descends inductive reason, which allows us to make probabilistic arguments that reach a different kind of certainty. Lastly, we have sense perception, which contrary to popular belief is actually the lowest and least reliable form of knowledge. Ordinary sense perception, quite obviously, cannot on its own lead one to belief in God, since God is not restricted to matter. It must be combined with either reasoning or intuition in order to yield fruit, at least as it pertains to the question of God and meaning. This latter combination of vision and intuition we might call “enlightened sense perception” or “mystical vision”, by which we might see God’s Sacred Names in ordinary sensory objects. But that’s for another time.

Now the question for you, my dear reader, is what are you looking for? Are you looking to know God directly, unmitigated by any long-winded, tedious discourse involving minute reasoning? Are you looking for absolute proof of the existence of God, one that considers all objections and involves very precise reasoning? Would you be satisfied with a very compelling probabilistic argument, based on solid evidence, for the existence of God? Or perhaps, more darkly, you are here simply to “refute” any attempts to show that God is, in fact, Reality. Perhaps you have already made up your mind and are here simply to edify your ego, without the slightest intention to actually listen to what is being said and to make a genuine attempt at understanding.  Perhaps if you were to hear something that might otherwise change your perspective, you would miss it simply because you are subconsciously committed to an uncharitable reading and fault finding rather than sincerity. Of course, I would not presume any of this, but the fact remains that we are all susceptible to such tendencies. If we find this darkness within our own souls, we must realize there is nothing to be gained in this world by proving that “I” am right, other than the momentary satisfaction of having domination over another soul, but everything to be gained through sincerity. 

With that reminder at hand, I shall assume going forwards that you are entirely sincere in seeking to know the truth, whatever it might be, and that you are entirely prepared to hear this humble author’s perspective. As to the previous concern, what will ultimately satisfy all human beings is the direct knowledge of God, which is acquired by intellectual intuition. When a person experiences God, by definition certainty is attained – light fills the heart and one’s phenomenological experience of Being radically alters. It might be wise then, to simply prescribe steps for how one might achieve this meeting with the Divine, so that one might see the Truth for themselves rather than merely hear of it second hand. Indeed within each religion, there is a mystical path that is aimed at precisely that, and if one wishes they are entirely free to embark upon such a path.  

However, a problem arises in that a person who is not already on this path wants to know with certainty that the object of the journey, namely God, does in fact exist and so such efforts would not be in vain. It seems to be asking a little much to tell a person they must completely change their lifestyle, values, and temporarily suspend their established beliefs about the nature of reality simply to experiment and see, perhaps, if God is indeed Real and as Glorious as He is made out to be – a highly dubious supposition to begin with if one is already entrenched in the atheist camp.   

I contend that it is much easier to experience God than people of such persuasion might think. You see, the experience of God is a continuum. To experience God as a devoted mystic might experience Him would require a very high level of commitment, sincerity, and devotion. But to experience God at a very basic level – enough to know that there is something Sacred and mystical about reality that contemporary science entirely ignores is actually not that difficult to achieve. It is, in fact, this initial taste of the Sacred that inspires most religious people to religion. If one becomes more sincere and devoted, the experiences become more intense and sweeter than honey. Consequently, some people become ensnared upon the mystical path until they attain the Divine.

Intrigued? You might at this point be wondering what one might do in order to induce such an experience. Simple. Do something good with the hopes of seeing God in the depths of your heart. Sincerity is the key here – you must desire to see God and act out this desire through goodness. Do as much good as you can with this deep sincerity, and you will experience the Sacred sooner rather than later. 

Alternatively, you can exhibit self-restraint in the face of temptation to do something you know to be evil, once again with the hopes of seeing God in the depths of your heart. You might have a particular deed that you are in the habit of doing, which violates your conscience. You might be rude to your parents, or a jerk at work, or hard-hearted in your relationships. You might do something that you know is wrong, and you might do it regularly. Simply stop doing it for the sincere desire to see God, and the Sacred will embrace you. Seeking forgiveness from God, with a deep desire for that forgiveness and to see God will also give you a direct experience of the Divine, though I suspect this would be more difficult for people who do not yet accept the existence of God to try.  

In fact, there are more purely intellectual ways to induce such realization, but I find that it is pointless to try to run before you can walk. If someone sincerely wants to see God, the above are the simplest prescriptions he or she can follow to attain the desired result. Ironically, this same prescription can be applied for those who accept a religion but wish to strengthen their connection to God, and to taste the sweet honey they have yet to experience. The obstacles to knowing God in this direct and intimate manner are not about labels, what one calls oneself, but about the state of one’s heart. Of course, it is easier for the nominal believer to take the steps necessary to humble himself such that God manifests Himself into his heart because the belief system of a believer is conducive to this. It tells him God exists and that to see Him one must be humble, shun evil and do good works with complete sincerity. The nominal disbeliever, on the other hand, must at least be convinced to at least try the proposed experiment. 

Once one directly experiences God, even at a relatively low level compared to the great mystics, the question of a reasoned proof becomes less important (although not entirely). If you were to taste the food at a particular restaurant, would you be interested to read a review in order to know if the restaurant is good? Perhaps in order to compare experiences, but your mind will be made up as to whether you liked the food you just ate, rather than what some other person’s opinion on the matter is. Nothing that other person could say could convince you to either like or dislike the food more than what your own taste buds have told you. Likewise, for he who has tasted the Divine, what difference does it make whether he can prove it to someone else by means of ratiocination? 

It is for this reason that religious people are often accused of dogmatism regarding their religious beliefs. We have tasted the Divine, what does it matter if we can prove our perspective through some rational argument? And, at any rate, understanding a rational argument for the existence of God is not the same as experiencing God; it cannot replace the experience of God because it belongs to a different, lesser order of being. Try describing love or real hatred to someone who has never experienced such emotions; the person may understand it conceptually, but they will not know what the experience truly is. They are different altogether – to know what love is one must experience love; to know what hatred is, one must experience hatred. No amount of conceptual gymnastics in the discursive mind will be equivalent to the experience; thus it is with the Sacred. 

But all this is not entirely true. There are four reasons why a religion must offer rational defenses for its viewpoint. The first and most important reason is that the Glory of God and His Omnipotence demands that He manifest Himself on all the levels of being. Each level of being is limited in its capacity, and so it can only accommodate His Sacred Presence to a limited degree and in a certain modality (or way). Pure intellection, what we have called “intuition”, is the highest modality available to man, but this does not mean that God, and by extension God’s religion, must not appeal to the other faculties of man: rationality, sentimentality, even the body, in as far as lower orders of being can be connected to higher principles. 

If all of this sounded rather convoluted, I hope in time to convey the full meaning of what I have written here. To summarize the point perhaps more succinctly: the fitra, or innate human nature, tends to reject a God who is too weak to prove Himself with foolproof rational arguments. It demands that God, if He indeed exists, establishes compelling proof such that the naysayers have no leg left to stand on, and should they continue to insist in their denial, the reality of their lies, slander, commitment to reject Truth out of hatred, envy and resentment of Being should come to light for those who wish to see. The truth cannot be ambiguous; the hujjah must be established so that none have an excuse to remain ignorant. That is a God that can be worshipped. 

The fitra also demands a God that can appeal to our sentiments, moral and otherwise, but since the rise of Protestantism in the West, religion has become nothing but sentimentality, so I will not delve into this aspect of religion. In fact, I suspect a few of my dear atheist readers have read nothing but “muh feelings” into everything I have said thus far about intellectual intuition and the sense of the Sacred. This conflation between intellectual intuition and sentimentality is unfortunate, but not altogether unexpected. How could we expect those who’ve yet to open their eyes to understand sight, let alone the difference between colours and shapes? 

In as far as we are human beings, each one of us as an intellectual faculty, a rational faculty, a sentimental faculty, a body, and so forth. But among mankind, some tend towards one or another aspect of their being. Thus we have a second reason why the existence of God must appeal to reason: there are some who cannot overcome the tendency for rational understanding prior to action. These people cannot put aside their mind and simply act experimentally, as I have suggested, until they have satisfied the demands of their mind, at least minimally. Once they are satisfied that God either most certainly or at least probably exists, and that a particular religious path will get them the desired experience of the Sacred, only then will they act. To some extent, as I have pointed out, all human beings are like this, but few tend to this way of being so strongly that they require the kind of rigour that philosophy offers. 

There is a third reason we must have proof. The experience of God, as attained through intellectual intuition, can vanish and be replaced by darkness because of the commission of serious sins. In other words, sometimes we turn away from God, and the memory of the Sacred fades along with it, given a lengthy enough period of time. This, of course, is not zero or one hundred, but a matter of degree. Upon the commission of relatively minor sins, we may still retain a faint sense of the Sacred, but upon the commission of a series of persistent major sins over a long enough period of time, we may all but lose the experience of God. When this happens, there is an opening for doubt to creep in, and I suspect this is how many formerly religious people fall prey to atheism and scepticism. 

Fourthly, different religions all claim truth and there is a need to appeal to rationality in order to sort through them since many of them presumably do in fact offer an experience of the Sacred. Are all religions ultimately the same? Is one religion true to the exclusion of all others? Does it really matter? How do we resolve theological differences? The ultimate question here, which reason must answer, is which religion if any, should I follow? Which school of thought, within any one religion, should I follow? 

With that, I leave you – at least for now. It is now up to you to decide whether you want to try to connect to the Sacred through suprarational means, to taste that sweet nectar that will transform your entire experience of being, to find relief from suffering, and to show the glorious potential of life. At any rate, our next installment in the series will explore rational proofs for the existence of God, which will benefit you regardless of whether you choose to take steps from now to connect to the One who yearns for you. What have you got to lose? 


قَالَتِ الْأَعْرَابُ آمَنَّا ۖ قُل لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَٰكِن قُولُوا أَسْلَمْنَا وَلَمَّا يَدْخُلِ الْإِيمَانُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ ۖ وَإِن تُطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ لَا يَلِتْكُم مِّنْ أَعْمَالِكُمْ شَيْئًا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ – 49:14
Continue Reading

“You” Are Not Your Rational Mind

In the name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Especially Compassionate,

Previously, I had explained why the best translation for the Arabic term aql is consciousness. I also detailed the change in the meaning of the Latin term intellectus to its modern English connotation of being solely related to the rational mind. I am assuming you understand this and I will be using the words consciousness, aql, and intellect (in it’s Latin sense) interchangeably throughout all my future posts..

Today the topic I’d like to discuss is the different means through which our consciousness gains knowledge and in doing so, explain exactly what knowledge is. I had slightly touched upon this in my earlier piece, but I would like to delve further. Due to the length of this topic, I have broken it into a series. This can be considered the second, with the post on the aql being considered the first.

The Modalities of Knowing

There are different ways in which your consciousness ascertains knowledge of reality. Generally this happens through the a certain “organ” which God has created for a certain kind of knowledge that we are privy to.  Not all of these methods are equal. For the less important methods, I will just offer just a brief sketch.

The senses

This is pretty obvious, but you gain knowledge of things that you can see, hear, touch, taste, etc. This mode of knowing is sometimes given to error, and must be corrected by the rational mind.

The Body

Ever have a gut feeling? The body allows us to gain knowledge not just of other people, but also of ourselves. The body allows us to feel lust, physical pain, and various other emotions. These emotions are themselves a kind of direct knowledge of the self that intrudes into our consciousness (i.e. that I am in pain, or that I desire so and so), but also gives us knowledge about the world by inference (i.e. that this object is dangerous, or that that person is attractive.)

You may notice that there are Buddhist, Hindu, and Taoist meditative techniques which allow one to get in touch with their body. These consist of things like breathing techniques, techniques allow one to relax certain body parts, to move energy (chi) around the body, and more. To my knowledge, not much emphasis has been placed on this in Islam, probably because it is extrinsic to true happiness and spirituality. Once one is able to focus the Divine Reality within the heart, things like “breathing meditation” become superfluous because inner peace has been found.

The Rational Mind

Our General Experience of It

Most people tend to think of their rational mind as themselves, rather than as an organ that their consciousness uses. This is because the rational mind by its nature produces a torrent of thoughts that directly affect our consciousness on a nonstop basis and to which we are constantly focused on. It is not unlike the shadows in the Plato’s cave – our consciousness is so focused on our own thoughts that we often forget that our conscious experience consists of more than just thoughts. The solution is to learn how to separate our deeper selves from the torrent of thoughts intruding into our consciousness.

The previous organ explored, namely the body, should at least help this make sense, albeit only partially. Even if you are not in touch with your heart yet (which is when you’ll really be able to dissociate from the mind), you’ve no doubt experienced moments where your consciousness was so totally focused on your body, that your mind – for a moment at least – fell silent. This kind of “meta” experience should help you realize that your consciousness is deeper than the constant and random thoughts which occur in your mind.

Another reason we attach ourselves to the rational mind is not only because are focused on it, but also because it has been chattering for as long as we can remember. An example I can give to help illustrate this is; suppose throughout your entire life you felt a numb pain. Chances are, you wouldn’t even realize that you’re not supposed to be feeling that – you would just assume that this is a normal part of conscious experience. Likewise, if all your life the sun never went down, you would not know darkness. Because the rational mind is always speaking, we think that it is us, when it is only an organ like our eyes, ears, or heart. You see through your eyes, but “you” are not your eyes. Likewise, you think through your rational mind, but you are not your rational mind. Your rational mind is on the surface of your being, “you” are actually deeper than that.

I will detail in future posts exactly how this (mis)identification with the rational mind damages your happiness level, inshaAllah. For now, however, suffice it to say that the rational mind is able to connect to a concept of God, but unable to connect to the reality of God; He who is closer to us than our jugular veins and Who’s Mercy encompasses all things. The reality of God can only be seen with the heart. God being the source of all good, joy, being, beauty, truth, and happiness directly emanates these things into the whole of our beings, through our hearts, once our hearts remember Him. This is known as dhikr, and it is the most important aspect of all of Islamic spirituality.

Here is a diagram to illustrate the basic idea I have detailed here. The heart is faded out because it will be discussed in a future post.

 

Here are some verses and hadith to back up the claims I’ve made here:

Know thyself

من عرف نفسه فقد عرف ربه

 The Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said: “Whoever knows himself [alt. his self] knows his Lord.”

Everyone knows their rational mind, therefore the deeper self must not be the mind only otherwise this hadith would be banal; yet it is regarded as one of the most important hadiths in the entire Islamic canon.

Furthermore, there have been many great atheist philosophers who knew the human mind better than 99.99% of believers (just see David Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding). Yet these atheistic philosophers had no understanding of their Lord precisely because they lacked knowledge of the self, the heart, and consciousness as a whole as understood apart from the rational mind. If the self was the rational mind only, then these atheistic philosophers would have recognized their Lord. Because they knew the rational mind, but not their Lord, we can conclude that the rational mind is not the meaning of “self” being referred to in this hadith.

The Lies we tell ourselves

بَلِ الْإِنسَانُ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ بَصِيرَةٌ وَلَوْ أَلْقَىٰ مَعَاذِيرَهُ  Continue Reading

Sunnah of the Week #1: Dua Before Sleeping

In the name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Especially Compassionate

This week we will begin to implement the sunnan of the blessed Messenger, inshaAllah. Each week, we will add another sunnah to our daily routines. You can see the full story behind this idea in the post A Sunnah a Day Keeps the Devil Away.

Here is a simple dua to

recite before you go to sleep, while you are lying in bed Continue Reading

The Weekly Sunnahs Will Be Delayed For One More Week

In the name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Especially Compassionate

If you’ve been following me, then you know today we were supposed to start the weekly sunnan today, as outlined in my post A Sunnah A Day Keeps the Devil Away. Unfortunately due to some technical difficulties I was unable to get the weekly newsletter set up on time, which is integral for this project. Bare with me, inshaAllah by next week everything should be set up correctly. My apologies for the delay.

The Aql Is Not Reason – It’s Consciousness

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

One of the greatest tragedies befalling the mimbar today is an egregious mistranslation of the Arabic term العقل (al-aql). It is usually translated as “reason,” the devastating ramifications of which cannot be overstated. This (mis)translation is literally undercutting the foundation of all Islamic spirituality.

What is the Aql?

Aql literally means that which binds. However, the best and most direct translation for this term is the Latin term intellectus, which in English is “the intellect.” Unfortunately the modern English rendition of this term no longer carries the historical meaning which can still be found in scholastic Latin.

In Latin, the term intellectus was descriptive of the entirety of conscious experience; that which could be understood by the subject (in this case, you). One way in which you understand things is through rationality, which can range from mathematical truths like 2 + 2 = 4, to the conclusion of a reasoned argument as to the best foreign policy. You also have the ability to make empirical observations or inferences about the world, for example that there are two trees in your front yard or that the earth is round. But does that describe the entirety of your conscious experience? Of course not. Yet in the modern world, being rational and scientifically informed is what it means to be an “intellectual.”

Your conscious experience includes a whole range of important states of being that are not included in the above. For example, you may feel love, hate, jealousy, admiration, humility, arrogance, etc. There are also transcendent values that we hold including justice, goodness, selflessness, mercy, and more. Furthermore, there are many truths that you intuit, that you simply know to be true before the application of any rational or empirical argument; for example, a contradiction cannot be true. In fact, the most important aspects of our conscious experience tend to not be rational or empirical in nature.

In modern times, this side of our consciousness has been clumped together and pejoratively termed “emotional.” It is looked at with disdain. What is held to be supreme is to be “rational” and to believe in Science. This “emotional” side of our consciousness is viewed as entirely obstructive to the attainment of knowledge (which is thought to be purely rational or empirical in nature). Emotions are something to be overcome in order to attain knowledge, not a source of knowledge in and of themselves. I think the irony is lost on most atheists that the foundation of their so-called “rational” worldview is based on metaphysical knowledge that cannot be proven rationally (for example the law of non-contradiction).

The modern view of the intellect is in stark contrast to the traditional Christian view (which all other religious traditions hold in common.) All of the world’s religious traditions, while they acknowledged and made use of rational and empirical truths, did not view them as the end goal. Rather, religions viewed consciousness as having vertical levels such that one could become conscious of more of reality (which exists on higher planes) through spiritual and ethical practice. The rational and empirical levels were viewed as among the lowest levels of consciousness for human beings, such that it was common between almost everyone.

The entire religious project was to climb the rungs of consciousness such that one acquires greater and greater knowledge of Reality, whom we call God. What are called “emotions” today were divided and classified in different ways. I will explore this in detail in later posts.

The Heart as a Modality of Consciousness

Have you ever felt broken hearted? Has your heart ever yearned for someone or something? Has your heart ever burned when you failed to get what you desired? Has it ever recoiled in disappointment, hatred, or vindictiveness? Have you ever felt awe and wonder in the depths of your heart? Have you ever felt The Transcendent in your heart? Have you ever met someone who was good-hearted? What about a person so cruel you could only describe them as hard-hearted? The origin of these terms are not coincidental.

What I mean when I say that the heart is a modality of consciousness is that it is a mode, or a way, in which we can be conscious of reality. Other examples of modalities of consciousness are sight and hearing. Through your ability to see, you literally have a way of being conscious of reality in a way that a blind person does not. It is a faculty or ability that is inherent within you. You can never explain to a blind person what it is like to see, because it is entirely subjective. Likewise, hearing is a mode or a way in which you are conscious, to which the deaf are not privy. What Islam came to tell us is one of the most important facts of human existence: your heart is like your eyes and your ears, you can use it to gain awareness of reality. But not just any reality. You can use your heart to gain consciousness of the highest levels of reality that will fill your entire being with everlasting joy, knowledge, and Being.

One of the most important recurring themes in the Quran is that of awakening the heart. It talks in depth about “intellecting” with the heart (yes, that used to be a verb in Latin, to intellect. Certain traditionalists are trying to revive its use.) To intellect basically means to direct one’s consciousness through a particular modality such that you discover or realize truth. We are familiar with this process when it comes to rational thought (another modality of consciousness), but it seems alien when it comes to the heart. Just think of it like “thinking” with your heart such that you become conscious of new realities through your heart. Another way to understand it, is that it is like squinting with your eyes to see something, or like physically moving closer to an object in order to see it properly. Here are some ayaat to back up the claims I have made:

The Heart is like your eyes and ears

أَفَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَتَكُونَ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ يَعْقِلُونَ بِهَا أَوْ آذَانٌ يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا ۖ فَإِنَّهَا لَا تَعْمَى الْأَبْصَارُ وَلَٰكِن تَعْمَى الْقُلُوبُ الَّتِي فِي الصُّدُورِ Continue Reading

A Sunnah A Day Keeps the Devil Away

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

One of the important realizations of my life in recent times is that true knowledge has almost nothing to do with conceptual knowledge. Even the affirmation of the kalimah with words is ultimately of secondary importance; what is important is that the recognition of Allah in the heart.

يَوْمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ Continue Reading

How to Escape Being Buried in Your Sins

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Most of you reading this do not realize something of fundamental importance: your heart is buried beneath your sins. Some of you do realize this, and have come in hopes of escaping the grave which you have dug yourself into.

I will explain what I mean by the first part later, for now I’d like to address readers who feel that familiar feeling of crushing guilt and overwhelming anxiety about your hereafter; some of whom have all but lost hope in God. I will start with some basic advice which you have probably heard before (but, as the Quran says: فَذَكِّرْ إِن نَّفَعَتِ الذِّكْرَىٰ / so remind, if the reminder should benefit [87:9] ), and then I will give you a golden tip which will work 100% of the time.

If you’re familiar with the process of tawbah, then I suggest you browse through the Preliminaries for anything that catches your eye – otherwise you can more or less proceed to The Golden Tip. For those new Muslims unfamiliar with the process of tawbah, I suggest a more careful read.

Preliminaries

I will mention a few preliminaries to get you in the right state of mind – and hopefully the right state of heart.

1. Realize you are not alone

Most people, at one point or another have felt the crushing guilt that you are currently experiencing. Most people have done something bad and felt so terrible about it, that they felt unsure whether or not Allah would forgive them. Most people have done something bad a thousand times over, and wish they would stop. You are not alone. Realize that Allah has forgiven people much worse than you. We read in Imam Zainul Abideen’s Whispered Prayer of the Repenters:

إِلـٰهِي ما أَنَا بِأَوَّلِ مَنْ عَصاكَ، فَتُبْتَ عَلَيْهِ، وَتَعَرَّضَ بِمَعْرُوفِكَ، فَجُدْتَ عَلَيْهِ، يا مُجِيبَ الْمُضْطَرِّ Continue Reading