99 Names – 99 Deities #2

– Communal harmony in present day India is under threat with a series of lynchings carried out by so called Hindu Cow vigilantes on innocent Muslims and Hindu Dalits. By the grace of the divine we can draw parallels between Islamic and Hindu thought in order to bring both communities closer together and end the violence. This will be the purpose of this blog series – 

For basic understanding of the title “99 names 99 deities” I will share this information snippet.

Hindus recognize one God, Brahman. Brahman is the ultimate reality and the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. The deities of the Hindu faith represent different expressions and manifestations of Brahman.

Similarly, Muslims recognize one God, Allah. Allah also is the ultimate reality and the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. Allah has 99 names which represent his different attributes and qualities.


2. Lakshmi and al-Wahhab

 

 

Introduction

Spiritual and Material Prosperity and wealth is something that all of us seek and wish to have in life. It is this aspect of the divine that we turn to when we feel that we are in need and wish to receive these two precious gifts.

Etymologi

Lakshmi is the Hindu Goddess of spiritual and material wealth. Her name is derived from the Sanskrit root words Laks and Laksa. Laks means :

“to perceive, observe, know, understand” and Laksa means “goal, aim, objective.”

Thus, Lakshmi represents the goal of life. Know your objective, understand your goal. These are the ideals that Lakshmi stands for.

Al-Wahhab is the most liberal bestower, the great giver, the giver of gifts. His name is derived from the Arabic root word “Waw-ha-ba” meaning :

“to give/grant/bestow, dedicate, offer as a present/gift.”

The arabic word Hiba means gift. Hiba and Wahhab are related words.

Textual Analysis

In Chapter 67 verse 19 of the Holy Qur’an, Allah says :

“Do they not observe the birds above them spreading their wings and folding them? None could hold them except the Compassionate (Allah), surely it is He Who watches over all things.”

The word Arabic word for observe comes from the root word “Ra-Alif-Ya” meaning :

“to see/think/hold, in opinion of, perceive, judge, consider, know.”

Seeing a bird is only half the story. Understanding that the bird is part of God’s creation and that it is God who is holding up the bird is the entire story. Thus, this seeing that the Qur’an talks about is a seeing that perceives not only the material world but also the spiritual world i.e seeing the bird and the force that is behind it, God.

This simple message that the Qur’an is conveying is exactly what Lakshmi symbolizes, that the goal of life is not only to have material wealth (having two physical eyes with which one can see the physical world) but to combine this material wealth with spiritual wealth (seeing the physical world with ones eyes but understanding that there lies a spiritual realm behind it.)

Symbolism

Lakshmi’s image is laden with deep symbolism. She is omnipresent and this is symbolized by her four arms which represent the four cardinal directions present in the universe. Her sari, colored red, denotes activity and action. The embroidered golden lining which graces her red sari symbolizes prosperity.
The message that is meant to be conveyed here is that Lakshmi is everywhere, never resting but always deep in the throes of activity and action, her activity and action being the giving of the gifts of wealth and prosperity to her devotees.

Similarly, the also omnipresent al-Wahhab is always busy with the task of bestowing gifts upon his devotees.

Ritual

It is believed that the one who recites this name of Allah (swt) 100 times after two rakaats (cycles) of Namaaz (prayer) will get all of his/her needs fulfilled.

Hindus wishing to obtain the blessings of Lakshmi chant her name 100 or a 1000 times during their ritual worship of the Goddess.

Invocation for communal harmony

We ask Lakshmi and al-Wahhab to bestow upon us the gift of peace within our communities and mutual understanding towards one another ❤

99 names – 99 Deities

Communal harmony in present day India is under threat with a series of lynchings carried out by so called Hindu Cow vigilantes on innocent Muslims and Hindu Dalits. By the grace of the divine we can draw parallels between Islamic and Hindu thought in order to bring both communities closer together and end the violence. This will be the purpose of this blog series.

For basic understanding of the title “99 names 99 deities” I will share this information snippet.

Hindus recognize one God, Brahman. Brahman is the ultimate reality and the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. The deities of the Hindu faith represent different expressions and manifestations of Brahman.

Similarly, Muslims recognize one God, Allah. Allah also is the ultimate reality and the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. Allah has 99 names which represent his different attributes and qualities.

1. Al Musawwir and Vishwakarma

 

 

The worlds highest minaret, the Qutb Minar in New Delhi, built around 1192, not only has Arabic script invoking Allah (swt) but also Devanagari script invoking Lord Vishwakarma, the lord of craftsmanship.

So here we can use the Qutb minar in order to bridge Islamic and Hindu philosophy and thought. Vishwakarma, known as the “architect of the whole universe”, equates to Al-Musawwir, the name of Allah which means “The fashioner, the bestower of forms, the shaper.”

May the architect of the whole universe build peace within our world. May the shaper shape understanding for one another within our hearts.

Ramadan In The Light Of The Qur’an

Salaam Aleykum to all of you 🙂 I wish you all a Ramadan full of happiness, love, and more love 🙂

Yesterday I spent my time reflecting upon one of the few verses that have to do with Ramadan, and then I wrote my own thoughts regarding the verse. Now I will share them with you…….

Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to humanity, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you through difficulties, and he desires that you should complete the prescribed period and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks (2:185)

So let us break down the verse here.

The verse starts by saying that “Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an.”

Anything special to note here? Indeed, yes. Knowing that we are currently living in the month during which the Qur’an was sent down gives a very mystical aura to our present state. The book is letting us know when the book was revealed, and I think the reason that it does this is to, once again, make us aware of just how spiritual Ramadan is supposed to be.

“As a guide to humanity” – Here, we learn the purpose of the Qur’an, and its purpose is simple : It is to serve as a guide to all human beings. What can we learn from these five words? There are many things to ponder and reflect upon here. Personally, it is the final word of this short phrase that gets to me. Humanity. The Qur’an itself, our very own holy book, was not intended for us muslims. Rather, it is for all of humanity, seeking to “guide” humanity into the path of “Islam”, peace.
From this, I draw the conclusion that the blessed month of Ramadan is a blessed month for the entire planet earth, and from this conclusion, I say that as Muslims we must guide our fellow human beings during this month, regardless of faith, color, caste, creed, gender, regardless of all barriers. We must guide them to peace, both inner and outer. Reinforce the peace that already exists wherever it is found, and create peace wherever it is not found.

“Also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong)” – Here, we learn that the Qur’an contains signs that are there in order to guide us, and that it also contains the keys that will help us to separate the right from the wrong. Thus, it is up to us to search for these signs and keys. This means that we should make sure to read and try to understand our holy book as much as possible, especially during this month.

“So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting” – Here, the Qur’an tells us that if we are at home during this month, we should spend it in fasting. Pretty straight forward and clear here.

“But if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later” – Here, we get a special set of circumstances. If we are Ill, then we are not required to fast. I believe that this makes sense because it for sure must be quite hard to fast when one is sick. The same goes for travel. If we are on a journey, we are not required to fast either. However, we must make up our fast at a later time, when we have found our health again, and when our journey is over.

“Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you through difficulties” – Here, God says he wants to make things easy for us, and that he does not want to put us through difficulties. This is a manifestation of the mercy of the most merciful. His intention for us is ease, not hardship. When times get hard during your fast, just remember these words in your heart. They will help you make it through.

“And he desires that you should complete the prescribed period” – God’s wish for us is that we complete the fast. The least we can do to please our creator is to hold on, have patience, and make it through all 30 days of our fast? These words tell me that by fasting, we are pleasing Allah.

“And that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you” – Here, we are told why we should praise our creator’s greatness. We should praise his greatness because he has guided us. It exemplifies a give and take relationship. Allah has given us guidance, and in return, we should exalt his greatness. This means, whenever we say “Allaho Akbar” (God is great) during Ramadan, we should really mean it, from the depth of our hearts. Why should we mean it? Because of the guidance we have been so fortunate to receive from our maker. We are striving to become better people everyday, and striving to be good human beings that serve others. This is the guidance that we have received, the guidance that leads to peace. God is great, indeed.

“And that you may give thanks” – Here, we learn that we should be thankful to God. Thankful for what? This is up to you to decide. The things that we as people can be thankful for are endless. Just start by being thankful for life, because life, is the biggest blessing of all, and without Allah, life simply would not be.

A Beautiful Encounter

Dear friends,

Earlier this evening I attended a story telling workshop in the Swedish city of Göteborg, and the workshop itself turned out to be a wonderful and inspiring experience. It was led by two young men who tour the world with their workshops called Rafael and Sahand.

So, the moment that hit me deepest and that I just have to share with you all is the moment when one of the participants was asked how he was able to overcome his alcohol and drug addiction. The question came after the workshop was over, and it was my friend who asked. Important to note here that he gave his answer to me and my two friends, so in other words, to three Muslims. During the workshop he had told his story about how he had been hooked for 20 years, and how he had just now been drug and alcohol free for just about 600 days. Just hearing that was special, because when you have someone in front of you who openly declares something of this magnitude, it is almost like hearing, “I came back from the dead.” Just heavy, heavy stuff.

He went on to tell his story, which was very inspiring also, but one that I wont tell here. It had to do with the temptations of falling back into addiction.

So, here was his answer to my friend’s question. He said “I fell back on my spiritual weapons. The weapons that everyone has but that they are not all aware of. These weapons are patience and humility. The next step was to kill my ego. Once I did these things, I was able to get back on my feet.” I was shocked. I never expected to hear such an answer. It was almost as if he was giving Dawah (Inviting others to Islam), except that he had absolutely nothing to do with Islam.

And I said to myself, “Wow, this guy is talking about Islam, but he has no idea that he is talking about Islam.” Here is a man who spoke of how spiritual weapons saved his life, who spoke about how he had to kill his ego in order to get rid of a deep addiction. These words from this man come to me during a period where I am constantly breaking down the Koranic message to find out what words are attached to belief. So lets break it down together.

The servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth in humility (25:63)

As I noted in my last post, humility is such an essential part of faith that God describes his servants as those who walk upon the earth in humility. Yet without ever opening the Koran, he found this “weapon” within himself.

No one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune. (41:35)

Patience is mentioned in the Koran no less than 90 times. It is also said that those who are patient get the highest reward (Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account 39:10). This reward is described here by the words of Sulayman ibn Qasim, who said, “the reward of every deed is known, except for the reward of patience which will be like heavy rain.”

Did not this mans reward fall down like heavy rain? His life was saved due to his patience. The heavy rain that came down was his new life.

Moving on, one of gods names is As-Sabur (The Patient One), and the word itself carries a very deep meaning.

The name is connected to the root s-b-r which has the following classical Arabic connotations :

to be patient, to be enduring
to endure trial or affliction with good manner
to be contented in trial or affliction without show of complaint
to make no distinction between comfort and affliction
to bear calmly, to persevere cheerfully
to be steadfast, constant
to restrain, confine, restrain, withhold from something

Patience is so essential to Islam that Sheikh Tosun Bayrak has this to say about Sabûr :

The meaning of Islam is submission; to forego one’s appetites, desires and will in the favor of the will of Allâh. To be able to submit, one has to be patient. In Islam, patience is a sign of faith…

Just beautiful that this man was able to find his inner strength and change himself for the better.

I finish here by saying that Allah, The Koran, and Islam are not only for Muslim but they are for all of mankind. Indeed, the Prophet (pbuh) was sent as a mercy to all the worlds, and Allah is the “Lord of all the worlds.”
Islam is not named after a founder, a person, or even God. No, it is named after an attitude, a feeling, an essence, and that essence is “Peace obtained by voluntarily submitting oneself to the will of God”, and in other words, killing your ego.
Islam is not a Muslim monopoly, it is a human monopoly, and it is to be found in every human being. This man is a clear proof of this. “The spiritual weapons that everyone has but are not all aware of.” These are his words, no? Do we not all say that everyone is born a Muslim, and that actually Muslim converts should be called reverts, because they are reverting to their true human nature? If this man ever heard about the real teachings of Islam, and “converted”, he would be the ultimate revert, because it was the Islamic essence, and thus his true human nature, that saved his life.

In this man I found the true Islamic spirit, and yet he had nothing to do with Islam. However is that really so? By name and affiliation he had no connection with it, but he for sure had the essence of it, and in the end, the essence is all that matters.
For if we really are to believe that God created all human beings, then we must also believe that all human beings are capable of responding to spiritual laws, and so us who are “believers” must never put down other people in any way, because belief is not about a name, or a title, its about the essence. We must simply be the guides and companions of all of humankind.

Heaven for this man was the start of his new life. May God bless him and continue to guide him. Ameen.

Reflections On The Koran’s 29th Chapter (The Spider)

I find this chapter to be very beautiful and thought provoking. It is full of powerful warnings that really get deep inside of you and move you to the point that you would never dare let yourself go down the path of wrongdoing.

It is also full of reminders of how God wants you to be on this earth as a human being. The chapter never fails to conflate belief with good deeds and disbelief with bad deeds, to the point where you realize that belief alone is not enough in the eyes of the creator just as disbelief alone is not disbelief if it is not accompanied by wrong deeds.

Belief and good deeds go in hand in hand, just as disbelief and bad deeds go hand in hand.

This chapter carries much of the Koranic essence, that is to say, the essence of the Koran that carries with it the message that you are responsible for your own actions and that you will ultimately be judged by them, that your ultimate judgement only stems from what you did. This chapter truly brings to life the old saying, “you reap what you sow.”

Let us take for example, the verse that speaks about Pharaoh and the punishment that he received :

“And Allah would not have wronged them, but it was they who were wronging themselves” (29:40)

A clear example of being held responsible for ones own actions. In the case of Pharaoh, we know what his actions were, and they were the actions of a tyrant. Pharaoh was a man who held an entire people in slavery, among many other things.

For us, the reminder is good one. If you need a reminder of Koranic Karma, then look no further than the chapter of the spider. This verse explains it in chilling detail :

“Or do those who do evil deeds think they can outrun Us? Evil is what they judge” (29:4)

Now, we will examine the words of this chapter in detail.

“Arrogance, evil, hypocrisy, corruption, immorality, falsehood.”

These are the words that this chapter uses along with disbelief. So clearly, disbelief is deeply connected to arrogance, lying, evil, hypocrisy, corruption, immorality, and falsehood. In the case of Pharaoh, he stretched these words to the extreme.

We can ask ourselves the question also. To what degree are we stretching these words in our own lives?

But allow us to take it a step further. Can one truly be a believer if one is arrogant? No, one cannot be. Why? One answer could be because God does not ask for arrogance from us. However, this answer alone is insufficient.

So, why is it that you cannot truly be a believer if you are arrogant? Because if you are arrogant, you are ascribing a partner to Allah. And what is this partner that you are ascribing called? It is simply called arrogance.

With this in mind, it becomes clear why arrogance, evil, hypocrisy, corruption, immorality, and falsehood go hand in hand with disbelief and thus we then know why disbelief is in fact, disbelief, because disbelief means ascribing partners to Allah.

The definition of the partner called arrogance is “having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.”

By contrast, the Koran asks for humility. Since God asks for humility, humility is not a partner and is in fact one of the qualities that is necessary for belief in God. You can see arrogance as the partner that gets in the way of belief, and humility as the quality that is essential to belief.

The definition of this quality is “a modest or low view of one’s own importance.”

Moving on, take a look at the world today. War, poverty, pollution. Are these not the results of men who are arrogant, hypocritical, immoral?

What runs the world today? Money. Money equals power. These men worship money, and they are blinded by their own greed. The worlds number one industry is the weapon industry. What does the weapon industry need to exist? It needs war. All this leads to the deaths of millions of people. But you see, when you worship money, you will do anything to keep on making it, even at the cost of so many human lives.

These partners that live inside of us can really lead us astray, and cause immeasurable suffering, both on ourselves and on others. They lead to the fire, the fire that the Koran so repeatedly makes reference to. The fire that burns on the inside, and the fire that burns on the outside. The fires that consume this world, because of the fires that are burning inside of men. This is why the Koran so heavily warns us against worshiping anything else besides Allah.

(Let us also remind ourselves that since the Koran dealt with the most serious issues of it’s time, it is only right that we use it to deal with the most serious issues of our time, if we wish to bring about true justice).

“Then in falsehood do they believe, and in the favor of Allah they disbelieve?” (29:67)

Indeed, in falsehood do these people believe.

So as we can see, interestingly enough, disbelief is actually a belief, but it is a belief in falsehood, arrogance, evil, immorality, corruption, and hypocrisy. It is so much deeper than simply saying, “I disbelieve.”

Disbelief, according to the Koran, is only evident by your actions. Just ask Pharaoh.

The same goes with belief.

Truth, hope, righteousness, goodness, gratefulness, consciousness, observation, reason, knowledge, remembrance, prayer, argumentation, work, patience, reliance, jihad (to struggle, to strive).

These are the words that this chapter uses along with belief. Just as disbelief is deeply connected to a state of being and to actions, so is belief connected to a state of being and to actions.
So take a step back and reflect on the words that are interconnected with belief. They are indeed beautiful words, and they are what is needed in order for us to be true believers. They are what is needed, because, just like disbelief, belief, according to the Koran, is only evident by your actions and what you put into your life. Belief alone is not enough, because belief alone carries no weight, and is meaningless. Words alone mean nothing if they are not followed up by actions.

Just like the old saying goes, “If your gonna talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk.”

This chapter has something very heavy to say about the fact that belief alone is not enough. This is the second verse of the chapter, and it really sets the tone for the rest that is to come :

Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried? (29:2)

There it is! The words explicitly tell us that we cannot just sit on our behinds and proclaim that we believe.

Because in the midst life, life that is trying, life that is intense, and life that is all and everything that we have ever known, belief is to strive, to struggle, to observe, to use our reason, to seek knowledge, to work, to be truthful and to have hope, to hold fast to righteousness and goodness, to rely on god and to be grateful to god, to be conscious of god and to remember god in prayer, to argue in a way that is best (29:46), and to have patience.

Moving on, why are these words so interconnected with and so essential to our belief, our belief of “La illaha ilallah?” And why is our belief of “No God but God” the most important part of our faith?

I will say it simply. Truth is belief, because God asks for it from us and it thus becomes a quality of God, and not a partner that one can worship besides God. How can one worship truth besides God, when God is truth?

Hope is belief, because God asks for it from us and it thus becomes a quality of God, and not something that we can worship besides God. How can one worship hope besides God, when God is hope?

Goodness is belief, because God asks for it from us and it thus becomes a quality of God, and not a partner that one can worship besides God. How can one worship goodness besides God, when God is goodness?

This is why we repeat this line in our prayers at least 17 times a day : “You alone do we worship.” (1:5)

Know this, and take it with you, for surely :

“Prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing” (29:45)

This is why we pray, and this why we worship! To stay away from all of the partners that are mentioned in this chapter, and to become one with the qualities of God, the qualities that can never lead us astray.

What happens when you worship truth, hope, and goodness? What happens is that you worship no God but God. What happens when you worship no God but God? Falsehood, arrogance, and evil cannot be worshiped alongside God, and thus, they are left to wither away in the dust. What is left standing, is all that is good, and when all that is good is left standing, then, peace starts to appear.

When peace starts to appear, paradise also starts to appear, and when paradise starts to appear inside of your heart, that paradise is then reflected outwards into the world, and thus, the world becomes a better place, and when the world starts to become a better place, only then will you have fulfilled your role as a true believer of the one and only lord of all the worlds, Allah.

“And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our paths. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good” (29:69)

It is all there, in the sacred words of this verse, the final verse of the chapter of the spider. No matter who you are or what your faith is, know that God is with those who do good, and if you struggle for a righteous cause, then God will surely guide you to one of his many paths. For in the end, all rivers end up in the same ocean.

To conclude, it is not only by knowing what you should do that you truly know what you should do. It is also by knowing what you shouldn’t do that you know what you should do, and this chapter gracefully lays out for us all of these examples so that we may understand.

Thank you for reading, dear friends 🙂 And do not forget to go and read the chapter for yourselves!

God bless, and stay free