Saturday, 9 January 2010

Love notes to Allah (SWT)

This is a really beautiful article which I stumbled upon via an Email list. Some of the points the brother raises were things I touched on during my muherram programmes on TV (namely spiritual and physical preparations for muherram and cultivating closeness to Allah (SWT) and his Ahlulbayt (A.S). But although I touched on them, I certainly didn’t achieve the passion, depth and wisdom displayed by the brother in this article. Judging by some of the references he makes, it appears the brother was a Christian minister, and is now a revert to the path of Ahlulbayt (A.S). I don’t have any more information about him other than that, and certainly hope he doesn’t mind me doing a copy and paste job on his words! But this one was too profound, practical and beautiful to ignore: enjoy!

***** Love notes to Allah (SWT).

The most important thing we as Muslims can do to promote our faith to the world is to live it. This is especially important in light of the attention being
give these days to the fanatics by the news media. The radical element in Islam has defined what it means to be a Muslim in the minds of many in the West
-- and unfortunately for many Muslims also. When we see doctors and bankers' sons radicalized, then something really does seem to have gone wrong with
our faith.

It does little good on our part to condemn the latest terrorist attack when many of us have anti-West attitudes and demeanors. It does little good to condemn
terrorists when our spiritual lives are little more than a rote exercise of prayers with perhaps a dua thrown in and some mosque attendance. The fanatics
are willing to die for their beliefs -- there is nothing rote about their faith.

Ashura has passed and most of us are probably settled back into our routines, promises and resolutions already beginning to fade. Unfortunately our response
to ritualized tragedy is often the same as to what we see on the TV. Ashura is a solemn occasion. We shed our tears and then drink tea, eat cookies, and
laugh. It is all so ho-hum.

Ever since my days when I stood every Sunday in the pulpit (some 30 plus years ago), I have pondered how to make my faith alive -- how to take it out of
the realm of intellect and ritualism and put it into my heart, a fire of love. I can't say I have all the answers. Not sure I even have much of an answer.
But I think I may be on to the answer.

Last night I listened to lecture five from Abbas Virjee's wonderful Muharram series in Toronto. The subject was contemplation. Virjee presented an array
of Quran texts and traditions from the Prophet and the Imams, which command us to the act of contemplation. He went even further and showed how the Prophet
and the Imams even advocated a certain amount of asceticism in our lives. I found this all quite interesting for I found the same being advocated in Christian
circles.

His words set me to thinking. If I am to eat less (a mild form of asceticism), for example, how do I make this a personal spiritual act as opposed to just
doing it because the Prophet or an Imam said to do it? Intellectually, I know if I eat a lot at each meal I become sluggish physically and mentally. But
how do I move this information from my head to my heart? In Ramadan, how do I focus on the blessing of fasting instead of what time is iftar?

I think the answer is deceptively simple: love God. Virjee encourages us to take a time out each day to reflect. To think about where we are at, what we
are doing, and where we are going. I would add to this we should take a few minutes each day to love God.

Think about when you were in love. In the fever pitch of new love, that is. Your lover was ever on your mind. And you took every opportunity to talk or
write: phone, letters, email, text message, you name it. You cherished tiny details of your lover. Your vocabulary was rich with words of endearment. I'm
proposing you do the same with God.

I think we put too much distance between God and us. He becomes so other we can no longer relate to Him. I propose we write love notes to God. Doesn't matter
if you use the computer, a typewriter, email, a journal, loose-leaf paper, a fountain pen, or a crayon. The point is to take out 10 minutes each day and
tell God you love Him and why -- just like you did (or are doing) to your lover.

Writing is a tactile and visual process. Writing puts our thoughts into a form we can see and feel, which reinforces those thoughts in our minds. And as
we pour out our emotions, our feelings of love for God, the flames in our hearts will grow very bright and will consume all of those unloving things we
do, think, say, and feel. We will become lovers of God. Truly.

The concept comes from my years of reading devotional material, the writings of mystics, the works of those advocating heart-centeredness in prayer, works
on meditation, and theological tomes. Yet this simple practice eluded me. I've tried all manner of methods and none have worked other than short-term.
But this one is simple, easy, and combines aspects of psychology which can change outlook and behavior.

Since I journal every day, I am going to incorporate my own Love Notes to God into my journal. You should find what works for you. God willing, we can all
become lovers of our Beloved and move the world. The fanatics, who scream "Allahu Akbar!" and then blow up themselves and whoever else they can, have a
faith they are willing to die for. What I'm proposing is a spiritual fire which brings a message of life.

Chris

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