La sharīka lahu: He has no partner.
This Qur’anic phrase means not only that God has no partner in His sovereignty, but also that God has no partner in His sustaining, governance and creating. Contrast this with a situation where there is one sovereign and many governors. For instance, a human king may have no partner with him on the throne, and can be the one and only sovereign of a country. Yet, in the actual ruling of the kingdom, the king will have partners: governors and employees who are his helpers. These partners will not allow everyone to walk in before the king; instead they will demand that the petitioner speaks to them. In contrast, the Pre-Eternal and Post-Eternal King, God, does not have any partner neither in His sovereignty nor in His governance and sustaining of creation. He is in need of no helper in any context, and nothing can happen or influence anything without His direct command and power. Hence, everything and anyone can directly turn to Him. Since he has no partner or helper, no one can stop anyone from having direct recourse to God; anyone can speak to God at any time.
Thus, this phrase he has no partner, gives the following good news:
A believing human spirit can go before the pre-eternal and post-eternal at any moment and occasion without any obstacle, block or intermediary, at any time and place! The human spirit can directly turn and offer its petition to the Beautiful One with Glory and the Powerful One with Perfection, who owns all the treasures of mercy and happiness. Discovering His mercy and relying on His power, the spirit will find utter relief and joy!
And, [as you have been shown in your vision,] thus will your Sustainer elect you, and will impart unto you some understanding of the inner meaning of happenings…Verily, your Sustainer is all-knowing, wise!
Qur’an, Chapter 12 Yusuf/Joseph, v. 6
Things do not just happen. They also mean. They also signify. Indeed, things do not ever just happen. Rather, they are always brought into existence by the One who is all-knowing and all-wise. They are bridges of meaning, connecting the finite to the Eternal.
Just as Joseph (peace be upon him) was elected and taught to interpret the meaning of events, we can also be. After all, we each have been “dignified” as a child of Adam, before whom angels prostrated. (Q. 17:70) We will all be “elected” as a follower of Abraham, if we surrender and prostrate before the Sovereign of the Universe. (Q. 2:78)
Are you willing to see your vision, like Prophet Joseph? Are you willing to read the profound signs all around you, like Prophet Muhammad who received the call to “read in the name of Thy Sustainer”?
Let us all intend to seek and receive Divine guidance, and see the world anew shining with profound meanings, inshallah!
~ These are some of the gems from the treasure of Qur’anic Joseph story!
O human being! Your Wise Creator [Faṭir al-ḥakīm] has placed a very interesting feature in you. Sometimes, you feel so tight that the earth feels small for you. At other times, you inhabit a tiny space: you get lost in a memory, a moment, or a task. Your heart and mind, which does not fit the vast earth, gets consumed within that tiny thing. You focus with strongest feelings on a tiny memory or a recollection.
At the same time, you are also gifted with such spiritual and emotional faculties that some of them will not be satisfied even if they get the entire universe. And, you have other delicate senses that get burdened by a tiny thing. This spiritual complexity can be understood with the following metaphor from your physical body: your head can carry pounds of weight while your eyeballs will be burdened by tiny bit of hair. Similarly, you have some very delicate feelings that will not bear the weight of a ‘hair’, so to speak. That is, we have such delicate feelings cannot bear the smallest consequences of forgetfulness of God and misguidance. They can even choke and die at those situations.
Since this is so, be careful. Do not get drowned in a bit of pleasure, in an utterance, in a flash of light, in an indication or a kiss. You are made for much more…*
“and when I have formed him [Adam] fully and breathed into him of My spirit…”
[*Excerpted from Said Nursi, Flashes, 17th Flash, 14th point.]
As human beings we all share same fundamental human needs –for love, security, freedom, dignity and so on. And, our life journey consists of seeking a way of fulfilling these needs. While we may often be unaware, our needs and their fulfillment process enables us to encounter our Creator, with variety of His beautiful names, asma al-ḥusna…
A common temptation occurs to all of us repeatedly is to think that our needs are a liability and we are all left to our limited devices to fulfill these profound human needs. As scriptures teach us, this is the same temptation that occurred to our primordial ancestors, to Adam and Eve. They thought at first that they had a need that was “out of God’s plan.” The Quran notes that their need is eternity: they want to live forever and they believe Satan who swears to them that they will get to it if only they would eat from the forbidden fruit!
In other words, instead of embracing such needs and utilizing those needs for a deeper connection with their Creator, Adam and Eve were tempted to think that such need is ‘somehow illegitimate before their Creator.’ They mistakenly thought that their wish to live eternally, must be fulfilled outside of their connection with God. And since there is nothing ‘outside’ of God’s mercy, such attempt only revealed their complete ‘nakedness’ to them. Their first response was to reach out for leaves to cover themselves up. Don’t we also have our “leaf-stitching” attempts in our lives to cover up our intense neediness as human beings? Adam and Eve’s breakthrough came when they realized the real source of all support and power is God, and turned to their Sustainer in honesty and surrender…
Eid Mubarak! May your Eid be full of the joy of remembrance!
Ramadan was a window, opening us up to awareness of our reality, and to thereby feel the incredible presence of our Sustainer. May Eid be a climax of this awareness in joy, inshallah!
Let us intend in this Eid to remember the Merciful Giver of blessings, from air to water, to food to friendship, as we celebrate! Let us praise and glorify the One who sustains our weak existence, which became clearer to us during Ramadan! Let us be soaked in the beauty of gratitude to our Maker. Let us feel the special compliment to each of us, present in our every moment: our existence is a gift! It is a specially intended result by our Maker; each of us are unique guests of the Generous Host!
Each of us are intentional guests sustained each moment? Yes! That is billions and billions of people, currently and throughout the ages! What kind of a Creator is this, giving life to so many people, plants, animals, and sustaining each at every second? Blows your mind? Well, say allahu akbar! That is why allahu akbar “God is great” is a common invocation during Eid! Open up your heart & mind, and enjoy glorifying your Maker!
May this Eid be full of remembrance, gratitude and praise! May we all feel the joy of being created, being addressed and cared by the Merciful and Powerful One! May this joy spread to the rest of the year inshallah!
Receiving Nur Team
And I have not created the jinns and human beings to any end other than that they may [know and] worship Me. (Qur’an, 51:56)
Why are we here on earth? To worship God, says the Qur’an.
This is a profound response that is worthy of exploring.
What is meant by worship? Are we supposed to live in the mosque, or a monastery?
Who is God really?
And how come my purpose and fulfillment is tied to worshipping and adoring God?
What if I decline this purpose, what are the consequences?
Read more @ Journey to the Divine
The Eid of Sacrifice is drawing closer…May we all have a blessed eid full of peaceful surrender like Abraham and Ishmael!
Here is an insightful piece on Abraham’s sacrifice and its implications for our spiritual journeys:
WELCOMING EID WITH ABRAHAM (AS)
Laying Down Illusions Under the Knife of Mercy: Following Prophet Abraham and Ishmael
The story of Prophet Abraham attempting to sacrifice narrated in the Quran is worth reflecting on especially during this season of pilgrimage and Eid of Sacrifice.
Prophet Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son is narrated in Sura 37 right after the brief mention of how Abraham (peace be on him) challenged idol worship among his people, and his angry interlocutors decided to throw him into a blazing fire (Q. 37:83-98). The text alludes to his being saved from the fire, his migration for God and then moves right onto the sacrifice story….
Read more at Welcoming Eid with Abraham
Belief is both light and power. Indeed, a person who has attained to genuine belief can even challenge the entire universe and be saved from the pressures of world events and vicissitudes, in accordance with the degree of his faith. Saying, “I placed my trust in God,” he journeys with perfect ease and peace in the ship of life, sailing amidst the immense waves of events. He places all his burdens onto the powerful hand of the Absolute Powerful One and passes with ease from the world and rests in the Intermediate World (barzakh). Then, he flies into paradise to enjoy unending happiness. In contrast, if he does not trust in God, instead of flying, he gravitates down to the lowest of the low with the burdens of the world.
Indeed, genuine belief requires belief in the One, (tawḥid), which necessitates surrender (islam), and surrender requires trust (tawakkul), and trust, in turn, yields happiness in this world and in the next. Now, do not misunderstand putting trust in God. Trusting God does not mean giving up recourse to apparent causes. Rather, it means that you do work with apparent causes with the understanding that these causes are merely veils to God’s power. In other words, entrusting your affairs to God means that you have recourse to apparent causes as a form of prayer through action (du‘a fi‘liyya). As a result, you expect and acknowledge the results as coming from God only, and offer thanks to Him alone.
Let us offer a parable to clarify the difference between the one who puts his trust in God and the one who does not. Once upon a time, two men with heavy loads on their back purchased their tickets and got on a big ship. One of them released all his burdens on the deck as soon as he entered the ship, and sat on top of them to look after them. The other man, who was both foolish and arrogant, kept his loads on his back, and on his head, and refused to put them on the floor. People said to him, “Just put your heavy burden down, and be at ease.” He replied, “No way! I will not put it down! It may get damaged. I am strong; I will keep my belongings on me.” People said again: “Listen, this strong ship is carrying all of us and our loads, including you and your luggage. The ship is much stronger than you are, and can preserve your load. If you keep your burdens on, you will get tired and weak, and perhaps you will even get dizzy and fall into the sea. Your back is bending, and your head is getting heavy; you will not be able to continue with your burdens on you for long; you will collapse. And if the captain of the ship sees you, he will either think you are insane and disqualify you from being on the ship, or he will think you are viciously belittling the ship, and he will order punishment for you. And see how ridiculous you look in front of everyone. After all, any careful person can see the weakness within your pretension of strength, your neediness within your arrogance…Everyone can see it. Look, everyone is laughing at you…” When he heard all this, the man came to his senses. He put down his load, and said “Thank you so much! I am saved from all the trouble, as well as punishment and ridicule!”
O human being who does not put his trust in God! Come to your senses like this man in the story, and trust God! And, you will be saved from begging before the entire universe, trembling with fear before all events and challenges, and from conceitedness. You will be saved from ridicule, from the pressures of a constrained life in the world and from the pains of afterlife!
When blessings come to you through “apparent causes,” do not receive them in the name of those apparent causes, rather be aware of the Real Cause of that blessing…
If the apparent cause associated with that blessing does not have free will, like a tree giving fruit or a bee offering honey, it directly gives in God’s name anyway. For, it says bismillah, “in God’s name” through its very actions… Hence, you also take it in God’s name, saying bismillah.
Now, if a blessing comes to you and the apparent cause of it is a conscious being with free will, then take it only if the person says or acts with bismillah, or in God’s name. That is, you should only receive the benefit of a blessing in God’s name, which means that you attribute the blessing to God. If the person who is associated with giving you the blessing is not giving in God’s name, then do not take it. For, the Quran states, “and, do not eat of that over which God’s name has not been pronounced,” (Quran, 6:121) which implies that one should not accept a gift that does not remind one of the Real Giver, and is not given in His name.
In sum, both the one who gives a gift and the one who takes should invoke God’s name. If a person is not giving in God’s name and yet you are in need of what he is offering, then at very least you take in God’s name. Say, bismillah, and recognize the mercy of God as the real giver above that person, and take the blessing with gratitude to God. That is, take a moment to acknowledge the kindness [in‘am] present within that gift. As you notice acts of kindness and giving, be aware of the Real Giver who is the real agent behind them. [Mun’im al- Haqiqi] Such awareness itself is a kind of gratitude to the Giver. Then, pray for the person who was the means through which God’s gift reached you…
~Said Nursi, Flashes, 17th Flash.
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
God is the ally of those who believe, He brings them out of depths of darkness into light. (Q. 2:257)
Just as belief is a light that falls on the human being and reveals the beautiful messages from the Besought One [Samad] inscribed on him, it also enlightens the universe. Belief saves the past and future from darkness. The following Qur’anic verse guides us toward this meaning: God is the ally of those who believe, He brings them out of depths of darkness into light. (Q. 2:257). Through a parable, let us explain some of the profound wisdom contained in this verse and let us show how belief (iman) indeed takes us from a dark universe into one filled with light.
I imagine two high mountains standing across from one another and that there is an astonishing bridge connecting the two, with an incredibly deep river running underneath the bridge. I am standing on that bridge, and the entire world around me is shrouded in darkness. I look to my right, and it seems as if I see an enormous cemetery within the depths of darkness. And then I look to my left, and it seems that huge storms, hurricanes and troubles are building up within the darkness. I look below the bridge, and it looks like there is a huge abyss underneath. In the midst of all this scary darkness, all I have is a flashlight. When I turn it on and look around, the situation becomes even worse: I now see terrible monsters, lions, and dragons all around the bridge. I exclaim,, “I wish I did not have this torch and did not see all this terrifying stuff!” Wherever I direct my flashlight, I see more horrors. I say to myself, “this flashlight is trouble!”
I become so angry at the torch that I smash it on the ground. As soon as I break it, it is as if I turned on a light switch for the entire world: all the darkness disappears. Everything fills up with light, which reveals the truth of everything around me. I realize that what seemed to be a bridge over an abyss was actually a smooth road on a valley. What I thought was a huge cemetery on my right side turns out to be a beautiful green garden in which meaningful and happy gatherings of worship and service are held under the leadership of wonderful people. On my left, what I thought to be stormy and scary abysses and heights turn out to be incredible banquets and beautiful scenery vaguely visible behind lovely and impressive mountains. And, I realize that what seemed to be terrifying monsters around the bridge are actually domesticated familiar animals such as cows, sheep, goats, and so on. I say, “thanks and praise is due to God for the light of belief.” I recite the Quranic passage God is the ally of those who believe: He brings them out of the depths of darkness and into the light (Q. 2:257) and wake up from this vision.
Now, the two mountains in the vision symbolize the start and the end of life, one being the entrance to this world and the other being the entrance into the intermediate realm (barzakh). The right side in the parable is the past, and the left side corresponds to the future. The flashlight symbolizes the arrogant human ego, which rejects the heavenly message and pretends to know the truth on its own. And, what seemed to be monsters in the vision are the events and strange creatures of the world. The person who puts his trust in his ego and falls into the darkness of heedlessness and misguidance is represented by my first situation in the vision. The flashlight represents his lacking information tainted with his misguided approach, which shows the past as a big cemetery plunged in the darkness of non-existence. It is this flashlight that shows the future as tumultuous and scary, as subject to tortures of blind chance. Moreover, it depicts the events and beings that are under the direction of a Merciful and Wise One as harmful monsters. Hence, the person experiences the situation noted in the verse: as for the disbelievers, their allies are false gods who take them from light to the depths of darkness. (Q. 2:257)
When God’s guidance comes and belief enters into the heart, the arrogance of the soul is broken, and we heed the book of God. Then, my second state in the above vision comes about. The entire universe lights up, being filled with the light of God. The world recites the Qur’anic passage, God is the light of the heavens and the earth (Quran, 24:35). This light reveals that the past is not a huge cemetery plunged in non-existence. Rather, the heart now perceives that the past is where pure spirits of all eras are each gathered under the guidance of a prophet or a friend of God, having completed their life mission. They then ascend into high stations and pass onto the future, glorifying God. When the person looks to the left, he sees with the light of belief from afar that beyond the major transformations of the grave and the afterlife there are wonderful feasts of the Compassionate set up in palaces of joy. The person knows that everything, including events such as storms, earthquakes, and disease, is subservient to God’s wisdom.. It becomes evident that many events outwardly harsh are actually inwardly full of subtle wisdom. The person even realizes that death is good; death is the beginning of an eternal life and the grave is the gate to eternal happiness. (You decipher the remaining symbols from the parable and apply it to reality).
[Excerpted from Said Nursi on Belief and Human Nature, from Words, “23rd Word,” 2nd Point]
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Indeed, We have created the human being in the most excellent of patterns, * Then sent him down to the lowest of the low, * Except those who believe and do good deeds.
Quran, 95: 4-6.
This verse presents belief as marking the distinction between the highest and lowest stations of human existence, between the most excellent pattern and the lowest of the low. Let us explore how the above Qur’anic verse is not an exaggeration but a truthful exposition of how belief elevates human being and how disbelief disgraces him.
With the light of belief, the human being ascends to the highest of the high and acquires a value that makes him worthy of Paradise. In contrast, with the darkness of unbelief, he falls down to the lowest of the low, to a Hell-like state. For, belief is connection: belief connects the human being to his Glorious Maker. Indeed, the human being is a work of art that is full of inscriptions of the Beautiful Names of God. Through belief, all this divine artistry on him becomes visible. As a result, human being acquires great value in relation to that great art.
In contrast, disbelief severs such a connection to the Glorious Maker, and the Divine artistry in the human being becomes hidden. As a result, the value of the human being is reduced to the value of his physical being or flesh. As is well-known, in regards to physicality, it consists merely of animal life, which is passing, vanishing and temporary. Hence, the value of the human being is reduced to nothing of lasting value.
Let us clarify this subtle point, i.e. how belief contributes to the worth of a human being, with a metaphor from everyday life. Let us take the case of a work of art, say a painting, and think about the value of the material used for the art and how much the art itself is worth. Sometimes they are of the same value, sometimes the material used in the art is more valuable than the artistry itself, and sometimes a very cheap material worth five cents carries incredible art worth thousands of dollars. Indeed, it happens that sometimes an antique work that is worth a million dollars is made from a material that is not even worth five cents. Now think of such an antique work of art: if it is taken to a high antique market and its relationship to a wonderful famous classical artist is disclosed, the item will be appraised for a very high price. On the other hand, if you took the very same antique work to scrap-dealers, it would be sold only for couple of cents for the material it is made from.
Now, the human being is such an antique work of art of Almighty God. Indeed, the human being is a subtle and fine miracle of Divine power because he or she has been created as a recipient of all of the manifestations of God’s various Beautiful Names. Indeed, the human being has been adorned with all the inscriptions pointing to God’s beautiful attributes; he has been created as a micro sample of the entire universe.
When the light of belief enters into the human being, then all the meaningful inscriptions of the Beautiful Names inscribed on him become eligible with that light. As a believer, he will read them himself consciously, and through the connection of belief, he will allow others to read these inscriptions on him pointing to the Beautiful Names of God. That is, for instance, he shall convey meanings such as “I am the art and creature of the Glorious Artist…I am showered with His mercy and generosity…” Thus, all the artistic touches on him will become revealed through the connection of belief. Given such art of the Sustainer and given that he is a mirror to the One Besought [Samad], the value of the human being will be extremely high. Thus, with this connection, an insignificant human being acquires a value above all creatures, and becomes an honored addressee of God and a guest of the Sustainer on earth. He attains a Paradise-like state.
On the other hand, if disbelief, which disconnects and cuts off such relation, enters into human being, then all the meaningful inscriptions and adornments of the Beautiful Names of God fall into darkness and become invisible. For, if you forget the Artist, then the spiritual aspects disclosing the Artist become incomprehensible. Most of the elevated artistry and meaningful fine artwork becomes hidden. The remaining artistry that is less subtle and that pertains to the flesh also dissipates because it is explained away by referring to lowly apparent causes, to nature, and blind chance. While each adornment is like a diamond, each becomes reduced to dull pieces of glass. The value of the human being is thus reduced to his animal “material”, i.e. flesh. This yields only a limited and passing life of the most wretched, most vulnerable and most miserable animal, after which human being passes away and decays . See how disbelief destroys human nature and transforms it from diamonds into coal. See how the above Qur’anic verse is not an exaggeration but a truthful exposition of how belief elevates human being and how disbelief disgraces him.
[Excerpted from Said Nursi on Belief and Human Nature, from Words, “23rd Word.”]