Tag Archive | prayer

A Depleted Spiritual Bank Account

A Depleted Spiritual Bank Account

By Hwaa Irfan

Another day begins, but we wake to it less refreshed, as the day will be a repetition of the previous days, weeks, months, or even years. We switch on the automatic mode in order to get through this new day, which we approach in old ways. Regulated by time, we get through a set of challenges that seem to have increased with greater force.  The only difference is, is that we are not as energetic as we used to be, and it all seems to demand off us much more, but we keep on going until the weekend. The weekend descends upon us, but we find like the evenings of the week days, the energy seems to be only available to get that paid work done, and before you know it, your life is all about work, which keeps on demanding more, and more, and more. The holidays descend, and a week into it, you are able to enjoy it with the family, and just as you really unwind, the palpitations start, the indigestion, the blood pressure rises, and waking exhausted from a full night’s sleep has returned.

Sooner or later, you realized that you just cannot do it anymore. You might not fully understand why, but you do know that your health is on a downward slope, the perpetual feeling of exhaustion is causing your body to ache, and there are days when it is hard to move your legs; and your world has shrunk to exclude all the things that you enjoy. There is always tension in your neck, an your spine is always sore, and so in the process you have learnt to walk with a lot more tension in order to control the pain in your spine, and increasingly your pelvis – you want to rest, but you are fighting gravity!

Well, it is not that you do not like your work, and that you get on with your colleagues quite well, but is the rest of life going to be like that! All your loved ones seem to be barking at you as you share less and less with them – how much more are you going to lose before it is all too late! You give out more and more energy, but nothing seems to be coming back because you have depleted your spiritual bank account!

Energy is all around us, but somehow we do not seem to be tapping into it. It is in all that Allah (SWT) has created. It is in the air we breathe, the birds that sing, the smell of nature, the wooden chair that has been carved inspired by – the food that has been inspired by – the recitation that has been inspired by – the music that has been inspired by The Greatest Love of All. We know all of this, yet, it slipped us by, because we forgot before we have to have energy before we can give energy. Emotions are a form of energy, just as thought is a form of energy, and if we are fragmented emotionally, so too are we fragmented physically, and spiritually.

We thought we had grown accustomed to the noise pollution, and the rude mannerisms, and the almost, no not almost, actual sexual innuendos written to every daily social transactions, and the length of time it takes to get anywhere, or the deteriorating level of service, when one wants to get the washing machine fixed for example, oh! And of course the growing greed that explains the increased prices, and the poor food quality. We thought we had gotten used, and in fact had become quite adept at handling those empty conversations which have become normal conversation.  

Or you did make that all important decision, when you became dissatisfied with your life and you chose to acknowledge your purpose — your gifts. Everything seemed to be going OK, and you have had some quite interesting realizations. However, at some point along your journey, you went beyond what you were ready for, and have found yourself vulnerable to certain risks believing far too much in your skills, and unaware of what you still needed to do.

Or you have been one of those fortunate ones who discovered Eckhart’s “The Power of Now”, missed out on the spiritual context, and the real meaning, and up until now you have been feeling quite liberated from the past, and having no guilt, shame, or responsibilities. Now, you find that certain incidences have happened which have challenged your belief, and that certain things you want to reach out to is evading you.

These are a series of situations, which one might find one’s self in, making one feel quite inadequate, or powerless – the effect of not recognizing what one is experiencing. The mind wanders, drifting off in a manner that one may not be quite aware of. One is easily distracted even in mid-thought. Promises seem hard to fulfill, and decisions seem to be hard to make – one is going through a shift in paradigm. There may be mood swings, or obsessive thought, with extremes in ideas that may seem contradictory, because one has shifted one’s polarity, and may be vaguely aware of something else – the problem is that “something else” has been hanging around for a long while seeking your attention, and you are still not quite aware of it. In a state of limbo, one might have decided to over-ride this “something else” as a matter of survival. You may have over-ridden it for so long, ignoring all the answered questions until your emotional and psychological body could take no more – hence your current state and it is a state that leaves you unable to respond to instantly when the situation demands it, which is usual in cases of pain, illness, mental/emotional/spiritual struggle.

Prophet Muhammed said: “There should be neither harming nor reciprocating of harm” (An-Nawawi #32)

This includes the harming of the self!

You are not who you thought you were, because you left your spirit self out of the equation. The essential “I” has been trying to wake you up from your sleep with warning signs of excess tension, depression, muscles aches/cramps, sleeplessness headaches, frequent indigestion, problems remembering everyday things, and constant tiredness. If you do not wake up now, the symptoms will become worse manifesting as illnesses, and if you have been struggling to work at a higher level, a psychic attack!

All of the above happens because we are not living in harmony with ones’ self i.e. when one is nor living having integrated all parts of one’s self.  Yes, we may have made changes, but those changes in our lives were superficial. One has hurt oneself with lies, self deception, withholding compassion, and as a result one has hurt oneself more with guilt, shame, anger, jealousy, ego, frustration, repression of feelings, unworthiness, greed etc. It is time to take time out/slow down, and to spend time getting to know oneself. One can start with the pains, and symptoms – spending time with them to discover with an open mind and heart what the source of the sleeplessness nights are. What has one not been listening to, practicing (spiritual), seeing, or has there been a situation that has been difficult to digest, and one chose to refute/ignore it! This is where mindfulness is such an important skill, because it teaches you to be open and available to the signs around and within you.

Exercise

One can start by setting the same time each day to do these exercises. They can take place anywhere, but one might find it useful to have a “special place” to do the exercises. The benefit of anywhere is that it teaches you to be prepared in any situation, and as such, personally I prefer to do them after prayer.

#1: Sit in a place that is comfortable to you. Relax. Take in how you sit, what you are sitting on of you, the feel of what you are sitting on, the position of your legs, your back – each part of your body and what each part is in contact with, even if it is the air you feel/breathe!

–          What do you see around you – look at each feature. What impression does it make on you (the colors, the shape, the size etc).

–          What can you taste? Identify the flavors

–          What can you smell? Identify the odors.

This will help to awaken the senses that have gone to sleep!

#2: This can take place anywhere.

–          Listen to all the sounds around you. What can you hear?

–          Separate and identify all the sounds, the rhythm of life – nature. If this is done at night time, or before Fajr (dawn prayer), one may even hear the sound of the earth, and feel the shift of the earth.

This will help one to identify one’s own inner sound, rhythm, and voice – that which is one’s own and not lost in everything else! Those things that truly gives one pleasure – enthuses one are clues to one’s own nature, they are guides along one’s journey in life. They can direct one to one’s true nature, and thus one’s true path, or present a media from which one can learn an important tool to further one’s self development. By practicing them, and in remembrance of where all creation comes from, once can discover what is within one’s own environment a sign as to the changes one needs to make in one’s life in openness. As Prophet Muhammed (SAW) divided his day into one third work, one third others, and one third study, one can discover the balance. Study can be self study, and worship is in everything that one does – it is not a time set aside only for prayer.

“…Everybody starts his day and is a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin” (An Nawawi #23)

After one greets the day with the Fajr/dawn prayers, instead of hurriedly ending this all-important time with Allah (SWT), and just sit in quietude. Listen to all the sounds you can hear, and as you do so take deep breaths.

In, 2,3,4

Out 2, 3, 4

And then when one is comfortable

In 2, 3, 4, 5

Out 2, 3, 4, 5. 

When one feels the stillness, focus on the aspects of one’s life that one is not at peace with. Ask yourself, (without answering), what you can do to improve upon it, remembering those whose worlds are torn apart around the world. Give thanks for what you have, and make du’aa (supplication) for these people, and let the answer to the problem present itself as one goes about one’s day.

If the problem involves others, we may need to ask ourselves what has been our role in the problem. We might have expressed outwardly the opposite to what we are internally. Have we been communicating with our true self? When we communicate with our true selves, there are fewer contradictions. We communicate with the truth of who we are, we reach out with the truth of who we are without expectations. After all communication is the basis of all relationships so is it not worth it? By communicating with our true selves we honor those we communicate with, and they too will feel more able to communicate with their true selves – speaking without blame, attacking, insults, and the need to manipulate. Listening without reacting — without being defensive – but listen by acknowledging the other, and each other’s space.

After all, it about taking care of one’s self, so that one care take care with what one does!

It seems easy does it not, but try practicing it with an open heart, and with the practice more will be revealed!

Related Links:

The Lesson That Cannot Be Taught!

The Unity of “I”

Fasting in Shawwal 

Distractions of Life vs. God

The Importance of the Creative Principle in Life

Finding the Real You!

Avoiding the Silence!

Self-Love is a Journey

The Echo of Life

From the Symbolic Ascension to the Ascension of Our Lives

The Law of Three: Concealment and Attraction

Climbing the Mountain

No Wonder Women Are Bored!

Prosperity and Abundance Now!

The Flowering Tree

Happiness Doesn’t Grow on Trees!

The Brain Connection: Prayer and Meditation 

"Alot of horrible things have happened to me, some of which actually occurred" - Mark TwainThe Brain Connection: Prayer and Meditation

By Hwaa Irfan

As modern science increasingly explores the unknown within man, to the dismay of some scientists and secularists, the man-made boundaries between faith, spirituality, religion and Western science is disappearing. From quantum physics, to neuroscience, we find revelations that prove aspects of faith.

Allah (SWT) provides for us many signs, which depending on our level of openness and readiness brings us one step further towards the essential “I”. By the very nature of being given at birth the name Yi = One, Yuan = Source, and Tang from Tao = principles in nature and human beings, Dr. Yi – Yuan Tang grew up learning different methods of body-mind training from 20 different teachers. On his path towards becoming professor at the Dalian Medical University, founding director of the Institute of Neuroinformatics and Laboratory of Body and Mind, Center for Social and Organizational Behavior, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the PLA General Hospital in Beijing among others, Tang explored the truths of the body-mind relationship, nature and life, nature and humans working with colleagues from all over the world barriers began to fall between eastern wisdom and western science. On his journey he also sought to improve and enlighten himself.

Findings
Tang has found that short-term meditation induces change in white matter in the anterior cingulate cortex, ACC. The anterior cingulate is a fibrous bundle in the brain that responsible for relaying impulses/signals of the nerves between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Scientists are still discovering what the function of the ACC is, but so far it has been discovered that the ACC is responsible for regulating blood pressure, heart rate, rational cognition (reward, decision-making, empathy, and the emotions. White matter is brain tissue also found in the spinal cord, which allows for the speedy passing of messages within the nervous system. If this is damaged in childhood, the brain circumvents alternative means bypassing the white matter. White matter changes in volume as a result of leaning new motor (physical) skills.

Tang has also found that there are changes in the central and autonomic nervous system as a result of short-term meditation, as well as improvement in attention and the ability to self regulate. As a result of 21 years of experience research and training, Tang developed the Integrative Body Mind Training, IBMT (a form of mindfulness meditation), which in turn he used to train thousands of children and adults to improving their attention span, ability to self-regulate, and performance. His work in IBMT has spawned further research elsewhere including the understanding of brain connectivity.

In the U.S. the National Neurotechnology Initiative has federal support as a $30mn project in 2009 with the aim of mapping the circuitry of the brain in follow-up to the Human Genome Project, the Human Connectome Project. Now researchers and scientists in neuroscience have found the value of emotions, which registers as brain activity, with negative emotions (anxiety, depression etc), and positive emotions (happiness, enthusiasm etc) increasing in activity in the right prefrontal cortex. During meditation the theta waves, which are responsible for enhanced creativity and deep relaxation increase dramatically in the front and middle parts of the brain. This has been revealed through EEG scans. Gamma waves have also been measured. Gamma waves are linked to optimal functioning of the brain, oscillating at 38 Hz – 70 Hz. Gamma waves increase when focusing on compassion and are linked with decreased negative emotions, higher intelligence, better memories, and an increased desire to open up to the world. Magnetic resonance imaging, MRI has been used to detect a thickening in the grey outer layer of the cortex during meditation, associated with sensory input and attention, especially during creative thinking. In general the cerebral cortex is thicker in older people, and for people aged 40 – 50 years who meditate, the cortex has the same thickness as those aged 20 – 30 years.

Psychologist at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, Dr. Michael Posner found that only after 5 days of training Chinese participants half an hour each day, changes occurred in moods, reaction to stress, with a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol. The training was replicated with U.S. students, who improved on their ability to attend the training. Using an unspecified relaxation technique; the aim was to relax, and keeping the mind of the participant in the present state — without wandering around – a precursor to the meditative state. Neuroscientist Richard Davidson observed employees at a high tech company over a two month period of meditation for 1 hour a day. The results showed that there were indeed changes in the brain, and the immunes system as well. Those that meditated had developed more antibodies against a flu virus than those who did not meditate.

Other Approaches
For those who are interested in increasing their own brain connectivity, and have no access to or cannot afford IBMT, then maybe after dawn one should do what Nelson Mandela does, go for a 4-hour long walk before breakfast – nothing good comes easily! Researchers in the U.S. have found that walking for 40 minutes three times a week increases some degree of brain connectivity which leads to increased cognition. Sixty-five sedentary people aged 59 – 80 joined a walking/stretching/toning group for a year.

With practicing Tibetan Buddhist, Michael Baime, when meditating he feels a oneness with the universe and that time slips away. Dr. Andrew Newberg, father of neuroscience, who views meditation and prayer as the kind focused attention that becomes the reality of those who pray/meditate scanned Baime’s brain. Baime’s frontal lobes lit up on the screen, and his parietal lobe went dark. Newberg commented to NPR:

    “This is an area that normally takes our sensory information, tries to create for us a sense of ourselves and orient that self in the world,”

    “When people lose their sense of self, feel a sense of oneness, a blurring of the boundary between self and other, we have found decreases in activity in that area.”

    “There is no Christian, there is no Jewish, there is no Muslim, it’s just all one,” said Newberg.

The Effect of Prayer
Harvard scientist, Herbert Benson explains that prayer involves the repetition of sound and words that precipitate some form of healing, and that every single religion has its own way. The sound and words focused upon lead to a deeper state of concentration, increasing activity in the parietal lobe of the brain. The parietal lobe is responsible for one’s orientation in space. A quietude envelops the brain, and the frontal and temporal lobes, responsible for time, and self awareness becomes disengaged, and the mind-body relationship dissolves said Benson. This brings about a sense of oneness with all that is, trust in Him, and trust in one’s self. When we view our selves in a limited context, using only the five senses, we become limited in our perception of ourselves, others, and remove what is possible. Instead of schools discouraging Muslim children from praying, they should be making it possible for all to pray, for with concentrated prayer comes greater connection, and cognition which aids and abets team work, and learning.

Let us pray that the human potential is not reduced to the brain though, as our souls and well being is not all located in the brain!

Sources:
Davis, J. “Can Prayer Heal”. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=50874
Flatlow, I. “Meditation for a Stronger Brain”. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129324779
Hagerty, B. “Prayer May Reshape Your Brain … And Your Reality” http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104310443
Lynch, Z. “ Human Connectome Project Launched to Reveal Brain Connectivity” http://brainwaves.corante.com/archives/2009/07/24/
human_connectome_project_launched_to_reveal_brain_connectivity.php
Yates, D. Attention, “Couch Potatoes! Walking Boosts Brain Connectivity, Function”. http://www.usnews.com/science/articles/2010/08/30/attention-couch-potatoes-walking-boosts-brain-connectivity-function.html
Tang, Y. “Integrative Body-Mid Training”. http://www.yi-yuan.net/english/tyy.asp

Related Topics:
Happiness Doesn’t Grow on Trees!
Night Prayer and the Human Body Clock
The Healing Sounds of Life
From the Symbolic Ascension to the Ascension of Our Lives
Can You Just Change Your Mind Just Like That!

Fajr and Shaytan

Fajr and Shaytan

Author Unknown

A man woke up early in order to pray the Fajr (dawn) prayer in the masjid (mosque). He got dressed, made his ablution and made his way to the masjid.

On his way to the masjid, the man fell and his clothes got dirty. He got up, brushed himself off, and headed home.

At home, he changed his clothes, made his ablution, and was, again, on his way to the masjid. On his way to the masjid, he fell again and at the same spot!

He, again, got up, brushed himself off and headed home. At home he, once again, changed his clothes, made his ablution and was on his way to the masjid.

On his way to the masjid, he met a man holding a lamp. He asked the man of his identity and the man replied:

    “I saw you fall twice on your way to the masjid, so I brought a lamp so I can light your way.”

The first man thanked him profusely and the two made their way to the masjid.

Once at the masjid, the first man asked the man with the lamp to come in and pray Fajr with him. The second man refused. The first man asked him a couple more times and, again, the answer was the same.

The first man asked him why he did not wish to come in and pray.

The man replied:

    “I am shaytan”.

The man was shocked at this reply. Shaytan went on to explain:

    “I saw you on your way to the masjid and it was I who made you fall. When you went home, cleaned yourself and went back on your way to the masjid, Allah forgave all of your sins.

    “I made you fall a second time, and even that did not encourage you to stay home, but rather, you went back on your way to the masjid. Because of that, Allah forgave all the sins of the people of your household.

    “I was afraid if I made you fall one more time, then Allah will forgive the sins of the people of your village, so I made sure that you reached the masjid safely.”

More Stories for Adults
How Not to Master a Skill!
The Sieve
Climbing the Mountain
The Gift of Sharing
Love and Time
All Things Are Linked!
The House of Three Rooms
The Emperor’s New Clothes
The Flowering Tree
When the Waters Were Changed

Islam is Not a Religion

The imagination can be a dangerous thing when left to the corruption of poisonous tongues. So much misperception, so much misunderstanding, and so much is killed to prove a point. All that is common is annihilated, because one fears to breathe. Instead we use words in a way that distorts the truth, and what is beautiful, what is full of life and giving is made barren. At all levels this pattern is repeated from the public to the personal…

The Ramadhan Reminder: Taking Time Out With God

The Ramadhan Reminder: Taking Time Out With God

By Hwaa Irfan

Ramadhan is approaching and we may be fearing it in trepidation, because we know we have not been doing so well since last Ramadhan.

It used to be a lot easier, but somehow the weight of the daily grind has been eroding away our relationship with ourselves. With global crises in every corner, we may have lost sight of trusting in Him. It is funny how we give into the demands of work, of people, or a set way of seeing life, but it does – and it is only when Ramadhan comes around again that we are faintly aware, that we have strayed away from ourselves, what really matters, and our relationship with our Creator. Ramadhan tends to have that effect, al hamdu Lillah because taking time out with Him, our Creator is like taking time out with ourselves.

We do not want to remind ourselves of what we have not done. We do not want to recognize the lies we have told ourselves – besides our relationship with Allah (SWT) was not healthy anyway, because if it was we would not give up or give in. We have turned Islam into a series of “do’s” and “don’ts – we have stripped away the oft repeated saying in the Hadiths (traditions of Prophet Muhammed (SAW), that His Mercy prevails over His anger.

So here we are, approaching Ramadhan again, and probably feeling less like a Muslim than the same time last year. Because we have dehumanized the Islamic experience, we have made it pretty difficult to do what we have come here to do, which is jihad an nafs – raise our lives to a higher vibration of existence. We are supposed to struggle with the self, we are supposed to make mistakes, but equally we are supposed to learn from those mistakes. Yet, the little shayateen inside of us tells us “But if we are not allowed to make them in the first place, what is the big deal!” – “I’ve done it, and I’m still alive”. But are we, and if so in what way?

Anyone can pretend to be good, but the real trick is to rise to the higher self. Hmm! Secularism entrains us to believe that we have no higher self, and becuase it is so subliminal, we really do believe it, and then we go to the other extreme and make it impossible for ourselves and others to be. He gave us the freedom to choose, so that it is by our will that we move towards a higher level of being. With that gift of choice, a gift that no other creation in His kingdom possesses, we also have to choose to understand the right way to live, and the right way to be, and the right way to love, and be loved. In the process of learning, the lessons we learn become a fixed part of our reality, and we are one or more notch up away from the soul that is enslaved to the nafs, ego.

{So when harm afflicts a man he calls upon Us; then, when We give him a favor from Us, he says: I have been given it only by means of knowledge. Nay, it is a trial, but most of them do not know } ( Az Zumar 39: 49).

We were designed to be weak, so that we would learn to be strong in the real sense of the word, and not the dunya , worldly sense of the word, and for this the simple act of prayer was given to us as a duty, and a reminder.

If praying is something that one just tries to fit in with daily activities, then of course no benefit can be gained. Prayer then becomes just an activity that you might be feeling you can do without.

Prayer is the one thing that is done on a daily basis which does not involve everybody else – it is just you and your Creator. If those around you try to draw you into chatter, just focus on your preparation. After a while, they will soon accept that you mind is on getting ready to pray. It is a special time whereby beforehand, when you know it is soon time to pray, you slow down from what you are doing, stop the clock, and begin mental preparations, niyyat (intentions) which helps to prepare the mind as well as the body for taking time out for Allah (SWT). It is the only time whereby you do not feel compelled to prove yourself to the world, besides when you go to sleep. As you mentally prepare yourself, you move towards physically preparing yourself through w’udhu (ablutions). You are made of water (70%), and with water you refresh the parts of your body most exposed to the outside world. As the water touches your skin, as long as you do not dry your skin afterwards, your skin absorbs some of the moisture from which you are made by Him, and so we are reminded that from Him we have come, and to Him we will return. Now you are ready to present yourself in front of Him in a state of Islam, i.e. in submission.

As your body moves in prayer to Him, the movements of prayer in Islam is but a charity to us, because it offers subtle exercise by:

Takbir – the raising of our hands and shoulders increases the flow of blood to the upper part of our body

Sujud – when our heads touch the ground we stretch our spine, our neck, our hips, and our ankles, and by doing so increase the flow of blood to our brain

All in all, we increase the transmission of nutrients to the cartilage between our joints which can only be done through the kind of physical movement that increases movement in our joints. The whole body and mind is put into a state of relaxation, releasing the tensions picked throughout the course of the day. In this way, you bring your mind and body back into balance, and are more able to resume the rest of the day until next prayer time more refreshed than before, and more able to make better choices. Of course, if your mind does not let go of the external demands on your person, you will not feel the benefit, and prayer time will be just another activity which you as a whole person will not benefit from.

Done with the heart, prayer can genuinely be the time out that you need from the monkey chatter. Prayer time allows one to slow down, to breathe, if not remind one’s self how to breathe. To say “Stop” to the way in which the day seems to be gnawing away at you. I have attended congregational prayer in pain and great difficulty in walking (sciatica), and have left the mosque standing upright and free from pain – that is how powerful prayer can be in our lives.

That time out you take, can stop you from making a bad mistake, or from changing your perception of whatever happened to a more balanced one, so do not fear what Ramadhan has to offer spiritually to only end up depriving yourself. Know that your anger, and frustration is yours alone, not of Allah (SWT), so give yourself the chance to learn from your mistakes, and in that way you are more likely to keep your humanity intact! As for those who do not want you to kep your humanity in tact, leave them to learn the lessons they need to learn.

So if you live in an area where the adhan (call to prayer) is a part of daily life, give thanks that you are being helped in your dhikr (remembrance). However, if you live in an area where there is no adhan to remind you to pray, most newspapers record sunrise and sundown. Let this be your guide until you register nature’s clock. After a while, you will be able to tell when it is time to pray, and to adjust your life so that it is compatible with prayer insha-Allah, God-Willing! By learning to feel the rhythm of nature in this way, also helps you to get in touch with your own rhythm,

{And let not the ones endowed with the Grace (of Allah) and affluence swear off bringing (charity) to near of kin (Literally: endowed with kinship) and the indigent and to the ones emigrating in the way of Allah; and let them be clement and let them pardon. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Merciful.} (An Nur 24:22)

Related Topics:
From the Symbolic Ascension to the Ascension of Our Lives
A Season for Forgiveness
Developing the Muslim Self Through Martial Arts

From the Symbolic Ascension to the Ascension of Our Lives

From the Symbolic Ascension to the Ascension of Our Lives

By Hwaa Irfan

In the turbulent times that we find ourselves in, imbedded in the month of voluntary fasting, seeking forgiveness, and giving charity, is The Night of Ascension/The Night Journey, Al Isra and Al-Mi’raj الإسراء والمعراج‎ , the two-fold journey of the last prophet of Divine Revelation, Prophet Muhammed (SAW). The 27th of Rajab this year falls on July 08th 2010. A journey of spiritual heights has left a symbolic remembrance on all generations of Muslims to come every year like a renewal, to explore the meaning in our own lives.

Al- Isra The Night Journey

The archangel Jibreel/Gabriel, messenger of Divine Mercy, made a visitation to Prophet Muhammed (SAW), presenting him with the blessed winged white horse Al-Buraq – the horse of the prophets. To the farthest mosque, Bait Maqdis in Jerusalem, Prophet Muhammed (SAW) flew, where he tethered Al-Buraq and prayed two rakats (round of prayers). After Prophet Muhammed (SAW) prayed archangel Jibreel brought Prophet Muhammed (SAW) two vessels of which Prophet Muhammed (SAW) took the vessel of milk, the other being of wine of which archangel Jibreel told Prophet Muhammed (SAW)

    “”Praise be to Allah Who guided you to Al-Fitra (the right path); if you had taken (the cup of) wine, your nation would have gone astray.”

Al-Miraj The Ascension

On Ibrahimic/Abrahamic ascent archangel Jibreel took Prophet Muhammed (SAW) to the gate of heaven at which the following conversation ensued:

    “…Then he took me to heaven. Gabriel then asked the (gate of heaven) to be opened and he was asked who he was. He replied: Gabriel. He was again asked: Who is with you? He (Gabriel) said: Muhammad. It was said: Has he been sent for? Gabriel replied: He has indeed been sent for. And (the door of the heaven) was opened for us and lo! we saw Adam. He welcomed me and prayed for my good” (Muslim 1 #0309).

And so the above questions and answers were repeated for the 2nd – 7th heavens. At the 2nd heaven Prophet Muhammed (SAW) was met by Maryam and Yahya bin Zakariya, his maternal cousins, at the 3rd heaven he was met by Prophet Yusuf/Joseph who prayed for the well-being of Prophet Muhammed (SAW). At the 4th heaven he was met by Prophet Idris/Enoch who also prayed for Prophet Muhammed (SAW) well-being and ascended with Prophet Muhammed (SAW) and archangel Jibreel to the 5th heaven to be met by Prophet Harun/Aaron who also prayed for the well-being of Prophet Muhammed (SAW). At the 6th heaven Prophet Muhammed (SAW) was met by Prophet Musa/Moses who also prayed for the well-being of Prophet Muhammed (SAW). At the 7th heaven they were met by Prophet Ibrahim/ Abraham in the presence of 70,000 visiting angels. After seeing the beauty of the Lote Tree, which revealed many signs:

    Then Allah revealed to me a revelation and He made obligatory for me fifty prayers every day and night. Then I went down to Moses (peace be upon him) and he said: What has your Lord enjoined upon your Ummah? I said: Fifty prayers. He said: Return to thy Lord and beg for reduction (in the number of prayers), for your community shallnot be able to bear this burden. as I have put to test the children of Isra’il and tried them (and found them too weak to bear such a heavy burden). He (the Holy Prophet) said: I went back to my Lord and said: My Lord, make things lighter for my Ummah. (The Lord) reduced five prayers for me. I went down to Moses and said. (The Lord) reduced five (prayers) for me, He said: Verily thy Ummah shall not be able to bear this burden; return to thy Lord and ask Him to make things lighter. I then kept going back and forth between my Lord Blessed and Exalted and Moses, till He said: There are five prayers every day and night. O Muhammad, each being credited as ten, so that makes fifty prayers. He who intends to do a good deed and does not do it will have a good deed recorded for him; and if he does it, it will be recorded for him as ten; whereas he who intends to do an evil deed and does not do, it will not be recorded for him; and if he does it, only one evil deed will be recorded. I then came down and when I came to Moses and informed him, he said: Go back to thy Lord and ask Him to make things lighter. Upon this the Messenger of Allah remarked: I returned to my Lord until I felt ashamed before Him”. (Muslim 1 #0309).

From Prophet Muhammed (SAW) ascension we were given the means to our own; to rise above the limitations we set on ourselves from the ego/nafs and to rise to meaning and potential of the soul. Through means of remembrance/dhikr, and training of the soul through prayer and jihad an nafs (the personal struggle of the soul).

    And We granted the vision (Ascension to the heavens “miraj”) which We showed you (O Muhammad as an actual eye witness) but as a trial for mankind.’ (17.60) (Al-Bukhari 77 #610)

The human mind is a limited entity that draws upon the space-time continuum, and can only draw from comparative reasoning. Just as now there are those who confine themselves to the limitations of their minds, when Prophet Muhammed (SAW) returned from Al-Miraj, many disbelieved his recount because they were too enslaved by the limitation of their minds.

    “Look at what your companion is saying. He says he went to Jerusalem and came back in one night.” Abu Bakr replied, “If he said that, then he is truthful. I believe him concerning the news of the heavens—that an angel descends to him from the heavens. How could I not believe he went to Jerusalem and came back in a short period of time—when these are on earth?”

Yet, there were those whose souls were ready and submitted to the state of Islam.

I have been confronted with many questions from those of us who feel no benefit in the tool of our miraj/prayer due to the many features of secular life, and the materialistic imposition that certain communities place on individuals in the name of Islam, that causes a rift of the body from the nature of man, the nature upon which we have come into this existence. The secular demands are so pervasive that the mind is unable to connect with the rest of ones being. This kind of rift is what leads to mental disorders, and identity crises reducing Islam down to a series of ritual, as we lose sight of the sacred in our lives. Tensions seep in as a part of our relationship with ourselves, and the relationship with others and the environment, leaving the consequential problems that ensue which finds us asking “Why is this happening to me”. Yet, even up until the gate to the first heave Prophet Muhammed (SAW) was tested when archangel Jibreel gave him the choice between wine and milk.

When we find our prayers lacking meaning, when we find the sense of rejuvenation lacking after prayer, we must seize the opportunity and ask inwardly without answering “Why?” The importance of prayer and how we pray cannot be understated, which underlies the way in which we were given prayer as an act of worship.

    “Yet, the meaning of the prayers are not to be understood solely through the study of their external form or their impact upon Islamic society, as fundamental as those may be. By virtue of the degree of man’s ihsan, and also by virtue of the grace (barakah) contained within the sacred forms of the prayers, man is able to attain inwardness through the very external forms of the prayers. He is able to return, thanks to the words and movements which are themselves the echoes of the inner states of the Holy Prophet, back to the state of perfect servitude (ubudiyyah) and nearness to the Divine (qurb) which characterize the inner journey of the Holy Prophet as the Universal Man (al-insan al-kamil) to the Divine Presence on that nocturnal ascent (al-miraj), which is at once the inner reality of the prayers and the prototype of spiritual realization in Islam”. – Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

Prayer is a process of neglecting the very heart of us, by living only the external. It is a process of “interiorization” as Nasr describes it, and in that interiorization is the means by which we stay connected to our inner selves, our subconscious enough to wake up to a greater reality that encompasses all that has been created by Him, including the landscape of our inner lives. By praying 5 times a day, we offer ourselves the chance to take time out from the pressures around us, to connect with Him who created us, to reflect ad to return to the rest of the day in a state of greater inner balance above the mundane material world.

‘Amr Khaled reminds us yet again of a much neglected aspect of Al-Miraj and that is:

    All the prophets stood aligned to pray. They were waiting for what Jibril had to say. Jibril told Muhammad (SAWS) to lead the prayer and they all prayed two rakats. As much as this incident came to honor Muhammad (SAWS), it was also a commandment. The prophets came to handover to him the leadership banner of mankind. Accordingly, prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was now responsible for the earth and so are we now. Do you feel that you are responsible? We represent 20% of the world population, yet we still get all our theories, sciences, and studies from the other 80%. We stopped giving and adding to humanity 200 years ago”.

And I ask do we feel responsible in these turbulent times to be true to ourselves, our families, each other , the environment and the rest of humankind, because it is not Islam that denies the rest of humankind. Humankind has reached the limitation of its collective mind, to find that it is not capable of creating alternatives. If we as Muslims treat Islam in the same manner then the mercy that is mankinds falls short not becuase it is short, but becuase we are short of our becoming. So here we are on one earth, living demarcations of the mind that is causing us much suffering and pain. These turbulent times is an offering, an offering to let go of what is not good for us, making way for the change we need to become so that we can transform our lives for the better. Ask ourselves:

• Why is this happening?

• What is it I am being asked to learn from it?

• How am I going to be changed by it?

• How am I resisting the change that wants to come?

• What is the change that wants to come?

• Then wait for the answers to come, because you will only be asking with a mind that will only compare on what has already been lived!

“And similarly, when God moves (any) servant through his (inner spiritual) states in order also to cause him to see His Signs, He moves him through His states. ” – Muslim philosopher Ibn Arabi (1165 – 1240)

Sources:
Khaled, A. On the Path of the Beloved. http://amrkhaled.net/articles/articles1113.html

Nasr, S H. The Interior Life in Islam Vol. III, Nos. 2 & 3. http://www.al-islam.org/al-serat/interior-nasr.htm

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A Sacred Place
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Muslim Cordoba Going for a Song 

Muslim Cordoba Going for a Song

By Hwaa Irfan

It is more out of an attraction for the out of the ordinary that I find myself bemused by the auctioneer’s skill to sell lumber. Even more curious, when Christies of London, (the auctioneer house) aimed to sell these five 10th century wooden beams from the Great Mosque of Cordoba (The Mezquita) in Spain.

As someone who struggles with the onslaught of materialism and technology, the question that immediately comes to mind is who would sell (let alone keep) a set of wooden beams that are 11 centuries old for US$1.75 million (UPI), let alone something from a religion that seems a little too inconvenient to some. Then to add to it all, the sale was stopped by the Spanish authorities and the lawyer of the Cathedral of Cordoba. What is so important about those wooden beams to attract such attention?

Jonathan Wheeler, a lawyer, told Agence France Presse that the beams held “great cultural and religious importance” for Spain. Curious and more curious, considering it was in 2004, when a request to the Vatican by Spanish Muslims to pray in the cathedral was not open to dialogue on the idea. Muslims are not a part of the equation here, at least not on the surface, so what is all the fuss?

The Invasion

The wooden beams must have been some kind of structural support for what stands as the only monument left of the Muslim medieval past in Cordoba. Today’s Islamophobes would have us look at our past as an invasion into Europe territory, ignoring that there were dark-age “crusades” previous to the dawn of Islam in Europe. But when the Umayyad Emir Abd Al-Rahman was fleeing from Abbasid rule in Baghdad in the 8th century CE, there was no Muslim invasion on Spanish soil.

Emir Abd Al-Rahman was the only surviving member of his family. Being half Syrian and half Berber-Andalusian, the prince fled to live in exile in his mother’s country. Like all men before and since, Muslim outlanders and frontiersmen sought their equivalent of the “Wild West” in Spain since 711 CE (the historical date given for the invasion of Muslims) in seclusion. If there was an invasion in our sense of the word, how come it took 800 years for Europe to muster up an army? And how come such beautiful art was created and not destroyed as we see in Iraq under the American banners of “liberation”?

The Mezquita

It was not until 756 CE when Abd al-Rahman moved to Cordoba. Against the wishes of Baghdad, ‘Abd-ar Rahman sought to reestablish the Umayyad legacy with the building of the Great Mosque of Cordoba in 785 CE and much more. The original great Mosque of Cordoba was built on the strong geometrical principles of the square-circle on top of the place where the pagan Roman temple of Janus and the Christian Visigoth church of St. Vincent once stood.

To build the original mosque, it was not only finances that had to be mobilized, but also technical skills and craftsmanship. Even the Roman Emperor Constantine was solicited for a cargo of colored glass cubes and a master mosaicist. Old Roman columns (previously razed by the Visigoths) were reused in the building of the mosque. Having been improved and expanded upon five times, the eventual 23,400 square meter prayer hall and 500 columns are reflective of the size of the mosque, its place in the western Islamic empire and the growing Muslim ‘Ummah.

The forest of columns allowed sunlight through the hall, which had since been filled in by the builders of the cathedral inside the Mosque. With four entrances, the Gate of the Viziers (Bab Al-Wuzara), now called the Stephen Gate, stands as a memory to the important officials who would arrive in response to the call for prayer through this gate. In the Patio de los Naranjos (courtyard of the orange trees), which has survived to this day, Muslims would carry out their ablutions before entering the mosque.

For 300 hundred years, the great mosque had Christian worshippers; it was consecrated by King Ferdinand III when he conquered Cordoba. It wasn’t until the 16th century when the bishop of the cathedral decided to demolish the mosque in order to build a church on top of it. Sixty-three pillars were removed from the center of the mosque to allow for the cathedral’s structure.

Whereas the original mosque was built within the lifetime of ‘Abd-ar Rahman II (833-52 CE), it took over three centuries to complete the cathedral. Workers often dropped down their tools, not because they weren’t being paid, but because of frequent disputes that took place regarding building works spurred by a local attachment to the beauty of the mosque.

It was not until Roman Emperor Charles V gave a clear mandate in 16th century, when work on the cathedral progressed by consecrating the mosque as a Christian place of worship. When the emperor finally visited Cordoba, it was documented that he said, “Had I known what was here, I would never have dared touch the old structure. You have destroyed something that was unique in the world and added something one can see anywhere.”

In 1931, Allama Muhammad Iqbal prayed in the Great Mosque of Cordoba. In I980, Muslims were able to get permission to pray `Eid Al-Adha in the mosque from a local priest. In 2004, the Islamic Council of Spain made a formal request to the Vatican to pray in the mosque, but this was denied according to Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The Legacy of Cordoba

The Great Mosque of Cordoba stands as a symbolic testament of Muslim Cordoba (or Qurtuba in Arabic) which once contained 250,000 buildings and 3,000 mosques, palaces, and baths. Cordoba was the birthplace of the Roman stoic Seneca, the Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes), and the Jewish physician and philosopher Maimonides (Abu ‘Imran Musa ibn Maymun ibn ‘Ubayd Allah).

Andalusia gave birth to others like Ibn Sina (Avicenna). Gerbert of Aurillac (955–1003 CE), who later became Pope Sylvester II, was sent to Catalunya to study mathematics, he benefited from close contact with Cordoba’s fountain of knowledge that contained over 400,000 books. In Europe, books were mainly kept in private collections and the Church had forbidden any investigation that was deemed to go against the Bible.
Cordoba’s fame for its knowledge of the sciences, arts, and commerce led to communication and dialogue between the Catholic Church and Muslim Cordoba. All the works of Aristotle, Archimedes, Apollonius, Euclid, Hippocrates, and Galen survived through Arabic translation into Latin to become valuable tools that led to the reanimation of civilization in Europe through the Renaissance. Through the medium of the Arabic language, Europe was reintroduced to part of its heritage.

Cordoba’s prosperity between the 9th and 10th centuries was nurtured by the introduction of irrigation systems designs brought from Damascus which assigned water to each cultivator in proportion to land size and Yemeni irrigation techniques were employed in the distribution of water over a fixed time period. The sahib al-saqiya (the person who was responsible for irrigation) managed the distribution of water that led to a cultivation of cherries, apples, pears, almonds, pomegranates, figs, dates, sugarcane, bananas, cotton, flax, and much more. Providing what seemed like exotic fruits and finery to Europe, economic reform was aided and abetted by access to international trade.

Spanish poetry, albeit originally based on Arabic models, evolved into a new form, its rhythm and rhyme came under the influence of Romanesque poetry. Under the patronage of the caliphate, literature flourished with scholars from the east emigrating to Spain. Grammar and philology came from Iraq, Aristotle’s philosophy was introduced and the medical standard was set by Galen’s books.

It was under the dictatorship of Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Amir when Cordoba fell, splintering into smaller states, namely Seville, Badajoz, Toledo, Saragossa, Albarrac’n, Valencia, Almer’a, and Granada which all bickered among themselves. Their disputes left them weak, vulnerable, and ripe for attack by ensuing armies from the Christian north and the impending Crusades.

A Symbol of Prosperity, Diversity, and Tolerance

On Cordoba, Earl Bertrand Russell, a philosopher and a recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature (1872-1970) wrote the following:

    “Throughout the Middle Ages, Jews had no part in the culture of Christian countries, and were too severely persecuted to be able to make contributions to civilization, beyond supplying capital for the building of cathedrals and such enterprises. It was only among the Mohammedans, at that period, that Jews were treated humanely, and were able to pursue philosophy and enlightened speculation. The Mohammedans were more civilized and more humane than the Christians. Christians persecuted Jews, especially at times of religious excitement; the Crusades were associated with appalling pogroms. In Mohammedan countries, on the contrary, Jews at most times were not in any way ill-treated. Especially in Moorish Spain they contributed to learning; Maimonides, who was born in Cordoba, is recorded by some as the source of much of Spinoza’s philosophy”.

The Christian Visigoths who ruled Spain prior to Muslim’s took control of Andalusia, made the following dictates on Jews in their code (constitution) as follows:

• Jews shall not celebrate the Passover according to their Custom.

• Jews shall not contract marriage according to their custom.

• Jews shall not perform the rite of circumcision.

• Jews shall not divide their food into clean and unclean according to their custom.

• No Jew shall subject a Christian to torture.

• No Jew shall testify against a Christian.

• The descendants of Jews may testify.

• No Jew shall circumcise a Christian slave

• Under no circumstances shall Christian slaves attach themselves to Jews, or be admitted into their sect.
• All Christians are forbidden to defend or protect a Jew, by either force or favor.

And much more…

Spain and Palestine had become the centers of Judaic literature development during a period that Jews referred to as “The Golden Age.” Even the Jewish Virtual Library acknowledges that Cordoba
was “the seat of Jewish learning, scholarship, and culture, gradually eclipsing the Babylonian academies of Sura and Pumbeditha.” Albeit, they attribute these facts to a Cordoban Jew. Jews were not second-class citizens, nor were they maltreated, rather, they participated in all levels of Cordoban society.
Not everyone accepts the “either/or” paradigm of history. One such person is Maria Rosa Menocal, philologist, professor of Spanish and Portuguese, and director of the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale University. Echoing Betrand Russell, Menocal illustrated:

    “Throughout medieval Europe, Arabic had a far more powerful impact on the transformation and shaping of culture than most narratives of our history reveal.”

In response to someone’s desire to live in a place “where the religions of the children of Abraham all tolerate each other and where, in the peace of that tolerance, and in the shade and fragrance of orange trees,” Menocal stated that such a place did exist and pointed out the following facts:

• The first generation of Muslims were immigrant Berbers from North Africa. Within a few generations, the majority of the Muslims, in part or in whole, were ethnically no different from those who remained Christian, such as the Celto-Iberians, Romans, and Visigoths.

• The unconverted Christians and Jews, called the dhimmis, of al-Andalus, were not very ethnically different from their brothers and neighbors who did convert; and soon enough they were not very different in other crucial ways, since Christians and Jews took to Arab culture. A ninth-century churchman of Cordoba once complained that young Christian men could barely write decent letters in Latin, yet they were so in love with Arabic poetry that they could recite it better than the Muslims themselves.

• Ibn Khaldun, a descendant of an old Andalusian family, was offered the restoration of his ancestral lands by Peter the Venerable if he would stay on as his vizier.

• In 1360, Samuel Halevi Abulafia had built for himself and his community a synagogue in the extravagant new Nasrid style. Writings on the wall were in Hebrew and Arabic (with verses from the Qur’an).

• Arabic poetry was central to the lives of all educated men in Andalus. This meant that the educated Jewish community came to know it, write it, and covet it. For hundreds of years, Hebrew was used only for liturgy. Pious Muslims could recite the Qur’an in God’s own sacred language, but for the Muslims, God did not hoard His language or keep it locked up in His temples, and so those same Muslims could also do a thousand different things in Arabic.

• New Hebrew poetry was born not out of “translation” in any conventional way, but out of that intimate understanding, gleaned directly from the use of Arabic as a religious and a secular poetic language, and born not in the comfort of Jewish society of Umayyad caliphate but rather in the exile of theTaifas.

• Maimonides, a Jew and a “Greek,” wrote “The Guide for the Perplexed in Arabic’.

• The translation movement from Arabic to Latin led to the translations of so much of the imperial culture of adab (the vast genre in Arabic traditionally translated as “belles lettres” but perhaps better understood as “humanistic study”) into the Castilian language at the end of the 13th century CE.

• The Abbot of Cluny was responsible for the translation of al-Khawarizmi’s great work on algebra (al-jabr). He was a key player in the introduction of the number system that would revolutionize computation in the west and make all modern calculations possible, using what we call Arabic numerals in English.

• In the courts of Languedoc, the jewelry boxes of the women who could afford them were engraved in Arabic. The style was introduced to Europe a form of luxury. Thus the first great songs of the vernaculars of Europe, those songs which Nietzsche composed defined the very essence of our culture, were sung in courts also graced with exquisitely carved ivory boxes, perfectly executed and engraved astrolabes, and of course new musical instruments upon which love songs were sung. And they were all part of a very Arabic world.

It shouldn’t be ironic that a seminar entitled Peace and Human Rights in Europe and the Middle East should take place in Cordoba. In Ken Coates’ summary of the goals of the seminar he wrote:

    “All the known works of Aristotle had survived in the Arabic language, but not in Europe, so that Cordoba could be said to have provided a vital link not only between the monotheistic faiths, but also between the ancient world and the dawning of modern times.”

The Beginning or the End?

I may not have found out who kept the five wooden beams in their barn or why; what the importance of the five wooden beams that led Christies of London to believe that they could be sold for US$1.75 million; or why the Catholic Church of Cordoba deemed them to be of such importance that they should not be sold, but a least, here, the beams served to remind us that Islam was brought to mankind as a mercy and that we as Muslims have helped to shape this world. For those of us who want a more harmonious life, this cannot be done in seclusion, with intolerance, or by being passive or blind to the 360 degrees that is Islam.

Cordoba

Shrine of the lovers of art! Visible power of the Faith!
Sacred as Mecca you made, once, Andalusia’s soil.
If there is under these skies loveliness equal to yours,
Only in Muslim hearts, nowhere else can it be.
Ah, those proud cavaliers, champions Arabia sent forth
Pledged to the splendid Way, knights of the truth and the creed!
Through their empire a strange secret was understood:
Friends of mankind hold sway not to command but to serve.
Europe and Asia from them gathered instruction: the West
Lay in darkness, and their wisdom discovered the path.
Even to-day in its breeze fragrance of Yemen still floats,
Even to-day in its songs echoes live on of Hejaz.

(from Menocal. M. R. ” The Literature of Al-Andalus.”)

Sources:
AFP. ” Controversial London Sale of Spanish Mosque Beams Withdrawn ‘

Coates, Ken. ” The Cordoba Seminar on Peace and Human Rights in Europe and the Middle East”

Gedal, Najib. ” The Great Mosque of Cordoba: A Geometrical Analysis.”

Guichard,P. ” Cordoba the Magnificent.”

Kubisch,N. ” The Great Mosque of Cordoba.”

Menocal. M. R. ” Culture in the Time of Tolerance.”

Menocal. M. R. ” The Culture of Translation.”

Menocal. M. R. ” The Literature of Al-Andalus.”

Phyun5. ” The Middle Ages.”

Scott, S.P. “The Visigoth Code”

Sills, Ben. ” Cathedral May See Return of Muslims .” Apr. 19, 2004.

United Press International (UPI). ” Rare Mosque Beams Pulled from Auction .” Apr. 4, 2006.

Wikipedia ” Cordoba, Spain ”

Wikipedia ” Mezquita”
http://mdarik.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1158658413798&pagename=Zone-English-ArtCulture%2FACELayout

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A Sacred Place

A Sacred Place

By Hwaa Irfan

Of those who have struggled to obtain greater insight into God’s law, they have been blessed with a greater responsibility, to teach and guide the rest of us. As we tend to believe what is visible, importance is placed on the physical. When we seek refuge we run to a physical place. Rather than make the environment in which we live in a place of worship and remembrance we separate worship as something that can only be done in the domain of a building that has been designed specifically for that purpose.

A fundamental aspect to the design of some sacred places is geodesy meaning earthlike or spheroidal. Abu Raihan Muhammed ibn Ahmad Al-Biruni (362 A.H/973 B.C.) as a naturalist, geographer, astronomer, and astrologer, geodesy was classified as natural philosophy involving matter + form, and time + space, whereas it was classified as a mathematical science under ibn Sina. In the reductive times in which we live, geodesy has fallen under the physical domain, as a branch of mathematics that focuses on the size and shape of the earth. Regardless, it still involved geometry which is rooted in the religious sciences as sacred geometry.
Islamic religious architectural design is based on sacred geometry. One can find geometry in the design of all life forms from the cells of our bodies, plant forms, water, and geological structures hence the expression “geometry is God manifest”. As much as we try to move away from God, His presence is wherever we are. Water molecules, carbon atoms, proteins, cells, bodily tissues etc, are able to facilitate their purpose in the cycle of life because of their geometrical design. The ability of organisms to stabilize mechanically is due to their connectedness to a frame of triangles, pentagons, and hexagons etc.

Rahul Singhvi and others believed that by changing the shape of cells, they could switch God’s genetic programming. They tried to force living cells to take on other geometrical shapes, but their knowledge achieved little. Instead the cells became flat away from their geodesic dome shapes and developed a propensity to divide and activate apoptosis – death program. This is man dabbling with the laws of His nature.

Following through, an analogy can be drawn with man who forces others to be the same – we are not all squares or rectangles. Man is splitting and dividing the world, against the laws of nature, triggering a death wish can be witnessed by the extent of the violence that is occurring today at all levels of society.

The problem for man’s ego is, that geodesic forms existed in inorganic forms long before DNA existed even water molecules are structurally geodesic for all matter is subject to the same spatial parameters regardless of scale or position. This confirms that The Plan was set from the very beginning of creation.

Everything as a purpose and a purpose for everything, even art once served a greater purpose as objective art. George Gurdjieff, a philosopher who traveled much in the Islamic and pre-Islamic world described objective art as follows:

    “Among works of art, especially ancient works of art, you meet with many things you cannot explain, and which contains a certain something you do not feel in modern works of art.

    “Objective art requires at least flashes of objective consciousness; in order to understand these flashes properly and to make proper use of them a great inner unity is necessary and a great control of one’s self”

Both geodesy and objective art reflect fundamentals of Islamic architecture. Mechanically domes are power enhancers. A whisper on one side of a sound-reflecting dome building is easily heard because the sound becomes focused towards the center of the spherical shape. This principle applies to all forms of energy under a dome: a concave lens, dish antennae’s and electromagnetic waves.

Arab and Muslim builders who adopted the dome from traditions prior to Islam, introduced other concepts, and applied this knowledge into Islamic architecture. They have made the non-physical physical, through centuries of experience, knowledge, craftsmanship and artistry using local materials. From these contributions the attempt at environmental harmony as a reflection of the divine concept of humanity was made.

An Example in Time

It is this transcendence of objective art that the Dome of the Rock – El-Qubbet El-Sakhrah speaks of. In ancient Semetic tradition, this site was the intersection of the underworld and upperworld (which brings to mind the Hermetic axiom “As above, so below”). It was where Prophet Ibrahim/Abraham built an alter to sacrifice his son Ishmael, it was where God through Prophet Nathaniel rejected David’s wish to build a temple because he had shed blood (Bible: Samuel II 7:12 -13), it was where the Hellenic and Greek god Apollo was worshipped in the belief that this is the intersection of both worlds. It was there that Prophet Muhammed (SAW) ascended to his “Night Journey” leading prophet Abraham/Ibrahim, Musa/Moses, Issa/Jesus, and others in prayer. Today, Muslims do not pray inside the Dome, for it is forbidden for anyone to pray inside what is seen as the gateway between two worlds. Even the “halakhah” in rabbinical text does not permit entry into this site. Mustafa Mould, a convert to Islam from Judaism recounted:

“Standing at the wall of Solomon’s Temple, the Dome of the Rock, and El-Aqsa gave me an intense feeling I could not describe at the time. I can describe it now: I was sensing a feeling of holiness; it’s no wonder the Islamic name is El-Quds.”

Yitzhak Hayat-Ma’n describes the design of the Dome as one that creates movement in physical space causing the pilgrim to move in comprehension. This sense of circumambulation is reflect in the sensation of spiraling upwards as in the Sufi dance, the centrifugal force and the double helix of DNA.

Brian Wingate who loves to visit sites of Islamic architecture pondered on the Dome and said:

    “The designs are so intricate and geometric that they seem to turn in endlessly upon themselves, inviting your own mind to do the same”.

This is the difference between objective art, and modern art, as modern art has a different effect on each onlooker, whereas with objective art the effect is the same on all onlookers calling on the unification of man.

This was first written in 2002.

Sources:
‘Abu-Sway, M. “Towards an Islamic Jurisprudence of the Environment” http://www.muslimonline.com/bicnews.Articles/environment.htm 1998.

Fathy, H. “Architecture and the Environment”. Arid Land Newsletter. 36 (1994) Arizona.edu.

Hayat-Ma’n,Y. “Investigation of the Dome of the Rock” Academy of Jerusalem”
http://www.thehope.org/domeinvs.htm

Ingber, D. “The Architecture of Life” http://www.sciam.com/1998/0198issue/0198ingber.html 1998.

Integraton.com. “The Virtues of the Dome”. http://www.integraton.com/5sacredGeometry/SacredGeometry.html 2001

Lapidus, I. “A History of Islamic Societies”. Britain: Cambridge University Press. 1995.

Mould, M. “Odyssey to Islam”. http://jews-for-allah/Jewish-Converts-to-islam/odyssey_to_islam.htm 2001.

Nasr, S. “Islamic Cosmological Doctrines” Britain: Thames & Hudson. 1978.

Ouspensky, P. “In Search of the Miraculous” Britain: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1983.

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Sakkal, M. “(Computational) Geometry in Islam Architecture”. University of Washington. http://www.kalam.org/abst.htm 2002

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