Living in the Moment and Our Duty to Serve Creation
Living in the Moment and Our Duty to Serve Creation
Akhenaten Must be Turning in his Grave*
Akhenaten is one of the most famous rulers in the Land of Pharaohs and he still remains a unique and controversial figure in history of his country.
He ruled over Egypt for seventeen years during the 14th Dynasty.
Akhenaten born as Amenhotep IV, was the son of Amenhotep III, the Magnificent, the ninth ruler of the Eighteenth Dynasty and Queen Tiye who was of non-royal origin and Amenhotep III’s Great Royal Wife.
Akhenaten’s father ruled for about forty years and his rule is believed to have been successful.
At the height of the 18th Dynasty, the eldest son of King Amenhotep III, Crown Prince Tuthmosis died unpredictably, making his younger brother Akhenaten – who at the time still had his original name, Amenhotep IV – next in line for the throne.
Pharaoh Akhenaten’s Early Years of Reign
Not much is known about the young Akhenaten, only that he spent much time in Memphis or in his father’s palace city Malkata, near Medinet-Habu, on the west bank of Luxor. When he became king he was already married to Nefertiti, his beautiful life-companion, advisor and co-ruler. Most probably he was already the father of a daughter Meritaten “Beloved of Aten” and the choice of his daughter’s name makes us wonder.
At what age did he become fascinated with the new god?
Akhenaten’s Dream and a Sudden Dramatic Change In Ancient Egypt
At the beginning of his kingship, Akhenaten still used his name Amenhotep IV. There is some evidence that he initially paid tribute to both aspects of the sun god: Aten and Amun-Re. In his early years as king, portrayed on one of the pylons in the temple of Karnak, his new god Aten, was identified with Re-Horakte, depicted as a falcon with a sun-disc on his head.
Interestingly, in the Nubian town of Sesebi, where Akhenaten established a temple, the god Aten in falcon form is depicted in the company of all traditional Egyptian gods.
His image as pharaoh was the image of the king with all his human weaknesses; he did not hide imperfections of his body, elongated face and slanting eyes, on the contrary, he rather glorified and exaggerated them.
In his 4th or 5th year of rule, the young pharaoh began the great passion of his life. He changed his name from Amenhotep (“peace of Amon”) to Akhenaten and announced that Aten appeared to him in a dream and told that he was the supreme and only god. From this moment, Akhenaten openly began to express his dissatisfaction with every old Egyptian tradition.
Was it only a dream he had or did he have another, special motif to replace more than 2,000 deities of Egyptian pantheon?
Why was Akhenaten determined to limit the priests’ role and power in ancient Egypt?
Did he have an unknown agenda that he only revealed to his closest advisers?
Belief in One Supreme God – One And Only
As a result, he began methodical eradication of all signs related to Amun-Re cult. He withdrew funding from all temples of “false gods”. Taking money and power away from what was, at the time, a very powerful and wealthy priestly class, created chaos, discontent and protests.
Akhenaten – The Founder of the City Of Amarna
In his 6th year of reign, the pharaoh found a perfect place for his new capital. This piece of land, located on the east bank of the Nile River, belonged to no-one and referred to no god.
Examples of “The Amarna Letters”, discovered in 1887. There are 382 known clay cuneiform tablets, whose contents shed light on Egyptian relations with Babylonia, Assyria, the Mitanni, the Hittites, Syria, Palestine and Cyprus. They are important for establishing both the history and chronology of the period.
He called it – Akhetaten (“The Horizon of the Aten”) and established the city devoted to the god, whose depiction showed an image of the sun with rays radiating from it. Aten was regarded by Akhenaten as being the creative force of the universe that was manifested by the sun.
Clearly, the god itself – had no image.
The traditional capital of Thebes was replaced by city of Akhetaten (now referred to as Amarna or Tell el-Amarna), with the king’s palace and the Great Temple of the Aten.
Rock-cut tombs were built in the neighbouring cliffs to the south and north and several roofless temples, so that rays of the sun would directly fall on the worshipers. Akhenaten moved with his family and other prominent and trustworthy citizens to the city.
The City Was Abandoned Shortly after Akhenaten’s Death
The city of the god Aten was abandoned shortly after his death. Archaeologists have gathered a lot of evidence that the place was intentionally destroyed. After his death, the traditional pantheon of gods was quickly readopted.
Many historians claim that Akhenaten was a careless, incompetent and unsuccessful ruler. Their claims are most probably based on evidence in form of the Amarna Tablets, which contain governmental documents and correspondence confirming his incompetence.
Qur’an is Wise to Ancient Satanic Conspiracy*
David Livingstone reveals that Kabbalists are singled out in the Qu’ran as instruments of an ancient occult conspiracy.
The Qu’ran dates from the Seventh Century, indicating mankind has suffered from this plot for millennia.
Today the Satanists are pitting Christians against Muslims, using migration and false flag terror, eliminating two birds with one stone.
Most Christians are too credulous to even recognize that their real adversary is the Illuminati, a Masonic (Kabbalist) Jewish cult which controls government, business and culture.
Muslims & Conspiracy Theory
By David Livingstone
Despite the Muslims’ tendency to dismiss the substantial role played by the occult and secret societies as paranoid, it is from the Qur’an that we are provided with the crucial clue which helps us identify the Luciferian origin of the Kabbalah, when it is mentioned:
When a messenger was sent to them [the Jews] by God confirming the revelations they had already received, some of them turned their backs as if they had no knowledge of it. They followed what the demons attributed to the reign of Solomon. But Solomon did not blaspheme, it was the satans who blasphemed, teaching men magic and such things as were revealed at Babylon to the angels Harut and Marut. …They learned from them the means to sow discord between man and wife [love magic, feminism]. But they could not harm anyone except by God’ s permission. And they learned what harmed them, not what benefited them. And they knew that the purchasers [of magic] would have no share in the happiness of the hereafter. And vile was the price for which they sold their souls, if they but knew. [2:102]
Essentially, the message of the Qur’an is clear and repeated. Starting with the sixtieth verse of Surat Al-Muddathir, one of the earliest chapters of the Quran to be revealed:
Nay! For lo! He [man] has been stubborn to Our revelations. On him I shall impose a fearful doom. (Self-)destroyed is he, how he planned! Again (self-)destroyed is he, how he planned! [74:16-20]
Behold this is the Word that distinguishes (Good from Evil): It is not a thing for amusement. As for them, they are but plotting a scheme, And I am planning a scheme. [86:13-16]
And thus have We [God] made in every city the elite to be its guilty ones, that they may plan therein; and they do not plan but against their own souls, and they do not perceive. [6:123]
But you have to fight fire with water. We should not combat the conspirators out of vengeance for being wronged. According to the Quran:
“The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and you there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend.” [41:34]
God will judge the conspirators. As for us, we should forgive them in our hearts while opposing their actions. Like Jesus said, “God forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Only love can conquer hate. That is the true message of God’s message as it has been revealed through the centuries.
As the Quran says, on the Day of Judgment, the masses will blame the elite for having been misled by the “conspiracy” carried out against them. But they will be responsible for their own wrongs:
Those who were oppressed will say to those who were arrogant, “Rather, [it was your] conspiracy by night and day when you were ordering us to disbelieve in God and attribute to Him equals.” But they will [all] confide regret when they see the punishment; and We will put shackles on the necks of those who disbelieved. Will they be recompensed except for what they used to do? [34:33]
And following are numerous examples from the Quran emphasizing the central fact of a conspiracy hatched by God’s enemies, usually using a word translated into English as “plot” or “plan”: Nay! For lo! he hath been stubborn to Our revelations. On him I shall impose a fearful doom. (Self-)destroyed is he, how he planned! Again (self-)destroyed is he, how he planned! [74:16-20]
And they (disbelievers) plotted [to kill ‘Iesa (Jesus) ], and God planned too. And God is the Best of the planners. (3:54)
If good touches you, it distresses them; but if harm strikes you, they rejoice at it. And if you are patient and fear God , their plot will not harm you at all. Indeed, God is encompassing of what they do. [3:120]
Those who believe fight in the cause of God , and those who disbelieve fight in the cause of idolatry. So fight against the allies of Satan. Indeed, the plot of Satan has ever been weak. [4:76]
And they say: (It is) obedience; but when they have gone forth from thee a party of them spend the night in planning other than what thou sayest. God recordeth what they plan by night. So oppose them and put thy trust in God. God is sufficient as Trustee. [4:81]
They may hide (their crimes) from men, but they cannot hide (them) from God, for He is with them (by His Knowledge), when they plot by night in words that He does not approve, And God ever encompasses what they do. [4:108]
And were it not for God’s grace upon you and His mercy a party of them had certainly designed to bring you to perdition and they do not bring (aught) to perdition but their own souls, and they shall not harm you in any way, and God has revealed to you the Book and the wisdom, and He has taught you what you did not know, and God’s grace on you is very great. [4:113]
O you who believe! Remember the Favour of God unto you when some people desired (made a plan) to stretch out their hands against you, but (God) withheld their hands from you. So fear God. And in God let believers put their trust. [5:11]
Satan’s plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of God, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain? [5:91]
When a Prayer is Answered with a Test*
By Anisa Abeytia
Studies say that no matter where you were born, after living an average of five years in another country, you are susceptible to the same diseases as the native population. I lived in the Middle East for five years and in the Muslim American community for fourteen. I was not raised a Muslim and I’m not an Arab, but after nineteen years, I picked up some interesting habits.
Last summer, my children’s school received extra funding for tutors over the summer break. The kids weren’t thrilled, but I was. The perspective tutor called and we chatted about the children’s needs. She told me her brother’s names is Yousuf, just like my son. She had an accent, but I couldn’t place it and I didn’t want to ask her where she was from. It’s wasn’t important. I figured she was from a Muslim country and I’d find out when she came to my house.
The children waited for her and we watched as she parked and walked down the street to our house. She was a thin woman, wearing a scarf on her head, tied behind her head like a Russian peasant. I tried to place her look and I thought, maybe she’s Bosnian.
We sat and chatted for a few minutes and she again told me joyfully that her brother’s name is Yousuf. So I asked her where she was from.
“I was born in Israel,” she replied.
My heart sank. I looked at her scarf, the way she wore it and then back at her face. She must be an Orthodox Jew. I could feel my face rearrange itself into a frown and the colour drained from my face. I was embarrassed by the thought that she might notice the physical change, but her demeanour didn’t change at all. I tried to force a smile, but figured it would contort my face into an even more bizarre expression, so I just gave up.
My son entered the room before I was able to recover and she hugged him. My eyes opened wide, and I half expected her to harm him. Images of bleeding Palestinian children and angry Israeli settlers filled my head. My eyes darted back and forth, looking for an escape and to see if my mother had any of the Palestinian flags out.
I wondered, would she hurt him? I didn’t want to leave them alone, but I slowly turned to walk up the stairs. Why was I thinking this way? As I took each step, I tried to talk sense to myself.
I don’t even know her and I’m judging her. Step.
Don’t jump to conclusions. Step.
Women in Black are Israeli. Step.
This continued until I reached the top of the stairs, at which point I spent two hours debating with myself. Am I supporting the occupation? Am I doing a bad thing? Should I go downstairs and ask her to leave? How do I justify that? I have to dig deeper than that for an answer to how I should behave. I look out the window and take in a deep breath, close my eyes, exhaling slowly.
What does Islam say?
I open my eyes. The answer is easy, don’t judge. Don’t be suspicious and always treat people in the best possible way. She is a guest in my house and my child’s teacher. Am I a Muslim? Do I follow my religion only when it’s convenient?
I’m calm now and just in time, the tutoring session is over.
I make my way down the stairs and my mother walks into the room. The tutor says she loves all the art on the walls and asks who the collector is. My mother starts to tell her about a Syrian Artist, Akram Abu Al Foz that I told her about.
“Anisa, show her his work. It’s absolutely stunning.”
I take out my phone and start to explain. She loves it, so I tell her about my trips to Turkey and my work with the Syrians. She asks me many questions and I answer. A few days later I receive a phone call from her. She tells me she was so inspired by the work I’m doing and would like to help. Would I mind meeting with her daughter who works at a local radio station?
I’m a bit taken aback. She wants to help me? I can barely get Arabs, Muslims or Syrians to help me and she is this Jewish-Israeli woman asking me if she can help? Then she tells me,
“My parents are Syrian. We are Syrian Jews.”
I am so happy I start laughing and I tell her how frustrated I’ve been, that I had decided to stop the work I was doing because I just wasn’t getting support and that I prayed a week ago and said,
“Oh Allah, if this is the path you want me to continue on, you will need to send the help to my door because I will not make one more effort.”
I was so depressed and ready to give up and my prayer was answered with a test. If I had given into the common Arab/Muslim mentality that all Jews are bad, I would have lost this opportunity. She opened doors for me that I didn’t even know existed. However, the greatest gift she gave me was a renewed sense of hope and the knowledge that I was not alone. I only need to ask, with an open heart and mind, and help would be sent.
Immigrant Designer Goes From Homeless to Wealthy, Then Sells Everything to Help Others*
What happens when you really believe in God….
By Brianna Acuesta
Vascon grew up in Raposos, a poverty-stricken small town in Brazil, where he never attended school and started working from a young age to support his family because his father was an alcoholic. When he was older, he moved to Rio de Janeiro, where his situation actually worsened. Though he secured a job washing cars to survive, he said that he was starving for several months and lived on benches.
Once he saved enough money to move to New York City, it seemed that he had finally caught a break and would be able to achieve the American dream by arriving in one of the most prosperous cities in the world. However, to Vascon’s dismay, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“In Brazil, I had to deal with the same level of poverty I dealt with in NYC – but in America, it is a lot colder and it snows so my situation got substantially worse,” says Roberto in a Portuguese interview. “I was hungry, tired, homesick, freezing, and I asked God to take me back to Brazil. I told God if he helped me to survive, I would help a lot of people.”
On the same night that he made this promise to God, he said he had a strange dream that changed his life dramatically. In the dream, thousands of birds were landing in trees and dropping purses to the ground. Though most would take this at face value and simply deem it an odd dream, Vascon took this as a sign and ran with it. With a newfound purpose, he spent the next day collecting cans, turning them in for $80, purchasing sewing supplies and leather, and making 12 purses. The purses were the same design he had seen in the dream.
By fate or coincidence, a woman approached him while he was selling the purses in Central Park. That woman ended up being Nancy H., the fashion editor from the New York Times. When Nancy heard his story, she swiftly bought all 12 purses and insisted Vascon spend more time with her so she could write a piece on him and his purses.
Vascon became a success overnight. He earned enough money to start seven stores in America and return to Brazil to buy a house for his mother. The millionaire was living well until his birthday arrived and no one called him to wish a happy birthday. This caused Vascon to question everything yet again, and he turned to God once more.
He said in prayer, “Remember that night I told you I would return everything? I guess now is the time.”
He took this endeavor to heart and wound up selling everything he owned, including his stores and business, to travel the world—128 countries, to be exact—and learn about a variety of cultures and help people. He would help in any way he could, by feeding the poor and homeless and paying for a student’s college tuition.
After he sold his last possession, he returned to the United States and found himself sleeping on benches in NYC once again. As luck would have it, a few days later another journalist approached him when she realized who he was. She wrote a piece about him and two days later he received an offer from a store wishing to partner with him. He has now rebuilt his business, still makes beautiful purses from exotic materials, and helps others anonymously as a way of giving back to the community that built him up twice.
Our Conception of God isn’t Big Enough*
By Kevin Barrett
“Allahu akbar” pretty much says it all…
According to Aldous Huxley, the brain’s main function is not to create consciousness, but to reduce it.
That would explain why primates with very big brains start wars, excrete in drinking water, vote for major party candidates in national elections, and otherwise exhibit a level of consciousness far below that of your average self-respecting rock.
Here is the Huxley quote in full:
“To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funnelled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system.”
Huxley’s point, a good one, is that our conception of mind, consciousness, or whatever-you-want-to-call-it just isn’t big enough.
The same is true for our conception of God.
In a few days, Christians all over the world will be celebrating a certain conception of God. Here in the USA, they have been preparing for the big event by chopping down small trees and sticking them in living room corners; frantically fighting traffic jams while rushing from store to store buying stuff; blasting a certain canon of music from every audio apparatus in the land, drowning all eardrums beneath a warm-and-syrupy tidal wave of simple melodies you hardly ever have to touch any black keys to play; imbibing large quantities of sugar (and sugar’s even more pernicious cousin, alcohol) in vain hopes that the ensuing rush will overwhelm seasonal affective disorder and other symptoms of vitamin D deficiency; and in other small ways demonstrating their awed gratitude to the Lord of the Worlds, the All-Merciful All-Compassionate Source of All Being.
Theoretically, all of these activities are supposed to be celebrating the birth of Jesus. According to majoritarian Christian dogma, Yeshua was the “son of God,” whatever that may mean. So what do small coniferous trees in living room corners, frantic shopping and gift-exchanging, mythical big fat white-bearded guys in silly red suits, boozy egg nog and kisses under the mistletoe, etcetera etcetera have to do with the birth of God’s alleged son? The long answer comes from folklorists and historians. The short answer is: “Not a whole lot.”
Our reducing valve of consciousness has reduced the whole “birth of the son of God” concept into something (or a whole lot of little somethings) much, much smaller. But that’s OK, because celebrating the “birth” was already a reduction of the “son of God” concept, which was itself a reduction of the “God” concept, which was itself a reduction of supreme ineffable Reality to which the G-word refers, which…well, let me back up and start at the beginning.
As every “primitive” society on earth knows, everything is conscious. Among pretentious, educated folk, the philosophical name for that position is panpsychism, also known as panexperientialism. In his recent book God Exists But Gawd Does Not, David Ray Griffin argues that the evidence for a conscious universe, in which everything all the way down to sub-atomic quanta has its own “experience” or “consciousness” or “point of view,” refutes claims that only an omnipotent creator God (pejoratively termed “Gawd” by Griffin) could have created the miracle of consciousness.
Quantum physics clearly shows that physical reality cannot be separated from consciousness. The observed and observer are two sides of the same reality-coin; remove one, and you’ve removed the whole thing. In other words, science has definitively answered the question “Does a tree fall in the forest if there’s nobody there to hear it?” with a resounding “no.” There is no tree without someone being aware of it. But that “someone” doesn’t necessarily have to be human. The universe (including the illusion of linear unidirectional time) is created by the perceptive acts of conscious biological organisms of all kinds according to Robert Lanza’s Biocentrism. Panexperientialists say these biological universe-creators are actually agglomerations of much smaller conscious entities, all the way down to quarks and quanta.
So what does that have to do with our conception of God not being big enough?
Well, for one thing, God has to be big enough to embrace an outrageous number of perspectives on reality: Not just the reality-perspectives of every one of the world’s more than seven billion people, but also all the animals and plants and their component cells and the building blocks of those cells down to the tiniest sub-atomic building blocks, plus all non-organic matter as well, and the space and time and energy in and in between it.
We might say that God is the very real unity underlying all of that apparent diversity. (Physicists have indeed found traces of a primordial connection linking everything to everything else – faint footprints of the Unity from which multiplicity emerges.)
That is a very big God for small-minded people to constrict.
If there were a last word on God, which there isn’t, it might be:
Which means, “God is greater!” Greater than what? Greater than everything, including all words and conceptions we might try to apply to Him/Her/It.
The natural and correct human response to such Greatness is awed humility and absolute submission: in a word, Islam.
People can be in that state – the state of awed submission to the divine – without being nominal Muslims. Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Taoists, Native Americans, gnostics, maybe even agnostics can theoretically be muslims with a small m.
But without a traditional scaffolding of wisdom teachings, symbols, rituals, sacred utterances, and a grounding in daily practice, it’s hard to get very deep into that state and stay there. Without that scaffolding, the petty false gods of ones own ego and selfish interests tend to take over.
The history of monotheism is an endless cycle of discoveries of how big God really is, followed by panicked retreats into egotisms and bureaucracies designed to keep Him small. The Hebrew prophets caught glimpses of the divine greatness; then Yahwist priests and scribes conspired to reduce Him to manageable size, and used the resulting misconception to grab wealth and power. Today, the already-massively-reduced figure of Yahweh has been shrunken to almost microscopic size by “modern, liberal, humanist” Jews, who have replaced the whole notion of God with an idolatrous vision of the deified “Jewish people,” whose suffering in the Holocaust amounts to a kind of neo-crucifixion.
Christians, for their part, shrunk Yahweh down by imagining Him as a “father” (and a “son” and a “holy ghost”) while simultaneously enlarging Him from tribal shibboleth to universal creator and caretaker.
The Christian confusion of Jesus the human being, prophet and teacher with God – the koan at the heart of Christianity “how can a man be God?” – was cleared up by Islam. As were many other things.
Yet ironically, Muslims today, despite the clear teachings that have come down to them, suffer from small-minded views of God right alongside the Christians and Jews. Those who are termed “fundamentalists” (who might be better termed obscurantists) imagine that God’s main concern is that they follow a long list of very detailed rules governing trivial activities of daily life. Some of these folks are fanatical sectarians who think that everyone who doesn’t agree with them is a lesser being at best, deserving of capital punishment at worst. These boneheaded takfiris seem blind to the almost infinitely varied perspectives that the real God must be able to embrace!
So this Christmas, or at Friday salaat al-jumuah, or wherever and whenever you have an opportunity to pray, please consider making the following supplication:
“Ya Allah, O God, please save us from people whose conception of You is too small; and help our own conceptions grow ever-larger, even though we know they will never fully embrace your Reality.
“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 will be using the words consciousness, aql, and intellect (in it’s Latin sense) interchangeably throughout all my future posts..
Moving on, 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 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.
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.
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.
Our General Experience of the Rational Mind
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.
The relationship between your consciousness and the different “organs” through which we come to know. The two lines indicate a direct and immediate connection between your consciousness and these organs, such that when your consciousness is directed to that organ, the organ gets “pulled in” to your consciousness. This “pulling in” has been illustrated in the case of the heart, although it applies to the other organs as well. This will be explained further later on.
Here are some verses and hadith to back up the claims I’ve made here:
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
Rather, man, against himself, will be a witness, Even if he casts forth his excuses. (75:14-15)
This shows that the rational mind can put forward excuses, and yet there is something deeper in the human being which recognizes “the lies that we tell ourselves.” If the rational mind is producing a lie, who/what is it producing a lie to? What is it that is recognizing it as a lie/excuse? If you can experientially realize what it is that is understanding that we are telling ourselves a lie, you are 90% of the way there. In fact, this general principle applies beyond just lies that we tell ourselves. It applies to everything that the human mind produces. Every single random thought that occurs is not you thinking, but rather a thought being presenting to you. “You” experience the thought.
The Emphasis of the Quran on the Heart
If we were just our rational minds, then as soon as someone assents to the propositions that there is only One God and that Muhammad is His Messenger, one should have attained full faith. At most, what could be required is studying a few more theology books to gain a deeper mental understanding of what tawhid means and the wide-ranging debates between the various theological schools. After all, on this view we are just what we think, right? So once someone has the “right” set of mental propositions about what tawhid means, one should have attained full faith. Unsurprisingly, this is implicitly the view of the Wahhabis who argue excessively about aqeeda for precisely this reason. I will elaborate on this further in future posts
Yet, the Quran explicitly negates this point of view, which means that there must be more to ourselves than just what we think. In fact the propositions we assent to are only meaningful insofar as they inform our hearts. I have already given an abundance of proof for this in my previous post on the aql, without even scratching the surface. Here’s a reiteration of the most relevant verse:
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
The bedouins say, “We have believed.” Say, “You have not [yet] believed; but say [instead], ‘We have submitted,’ for faith has not yet entered your hearts. And if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not deprive you from your deeds of anything. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (49:14)
Here is another ayah which affirms that the propositions which the mind assents to (including the shahadah which one may say only with their lips) are meaningless on the Day of Judgment. All that matters are the propositions which the heart has assented to.
إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ
Except he who comes to Allah with [alt. by] a sound heart.
There are also countless verses on nifaaq to this effect, but for the sake of brevity I have not included them.
You are not your rational mind. You are deeper than that, and can be more closely identified with your heart. The rational mind plays an important role which will be explored in future posts.
In the next post, we will cover the heart in itself, as well as the relationship between the other organs and the heart. After that, we will explore the effects of believing that you are the rational mind, and consequently neglecting the heart, upon your happiness level and the way in which the rational mind compensates for this. Thereafter, we will survey the history of Western thought so as to help us identify what exactly went so wrong in Western civilization, the social ramifications of this and the consequence it has had on us. Somewhere along the way, I hope to share a few techniques on how to awaken the heart and the consequences it will have on your life, inshaAllah. I pray that the Generous Lord give me the tawfeeq to participate in this noble work, and to Him belongs all Glory.