Ramadan Inspirations 09

The prophet Jonah (Yunus) was cast into the sea and swallowed by a large fish. The sea was stormy, the night was turbulent and dark, and hope was exhausted. But it was while he was in such a situation that his supplication: “There is no god other than You, Glory be unto You! Indeed, I was among the wrongdoers” acted for him as a swift means of salvation. Now we are in a situation many times more awesome and dangerous than that in which Jonah found himself. Our ‘night’ is the future. When we look upon our future with the eye of neglect, it is a hundred times darker and more fearful than his night. Our ‘sea’ is this spinning globe. Each wave of this sea bears on it thousands of corpses, and is thus a thousand times more frightening than Jonah’s sea. Our ‘fish’ is the desires of our soul which strive to shake and destroy the foundation of our eternal life. This ‘fish’ is a thousand times more fearsome and maleficent than his. For his fish could destroy a hundred-year lifespan, whereas ours seeks to destroy a life lasting hundreds of millions of years! Since this is our problem, we should follow Jonah’s example. We should stop trusting in material causes and appeal directly to the Causer of causes, that is, our Sustainer, and say, “There is no god other than You, Glory be unto You. Indeed, I am among the wrongdoers…”

–Said Nursi

Ramadan Inspirations 08

If we consider God and the cosmos as two different realities, the object of human love may be God or something that is ‘other than God’. However, Nursi reminds us constantly that everything in the cosmos is a reflection of God, and therefore it soon becomes clear that even if we think we are loving something ‘other than God’, we are not, for ‘other than God’ actually has nothing in or of itself that is worthy of being loved: it is, after all, only a reflection. And so if we understand that the cosmos is nothing but the manifestation of God’s attributes, we also come to realise that there is nothing that can be loved apart from God. This applies to unbelievers as much as it does to believers. Nothing is actually loved for its own sake except God, for nothing actually points to itself, although naturally it appears to do so when we uproot it from its Divine soil and refuse to acknowledge its connection with the Creator. We may think that it is money or power or fame that we love, but on closer inspection it becomes clear that those things are not loved for themselves but for the qualities, attributes and effects that they represent. And those qualities, attributes and effects are all connected to the attributes of perfection which belong to God.

–Dr. Colin Turner (author of Islam the Basics)

Ramadan Inspirations 07

Clouds are endlessly fascinating, appearing often as if from nowhere, bubbling up into amazing forms and shapes, and then disappearing as quickly as they came. One of God’s names is ‘Munshi al-Sahab’ – He Who brings together, and separates, clouds – which in turn symbolise motion, flux and continuous creation. Motion and flux are everywhere in creation, even in the hardness of the mountain, which often seems impervious to change. But the Quran says that if you look at the mountain, you may believe it to be hard and tough. However, if you were able to see it as it really is, you would find that the mountain is in constant motion and endless flux. In fact, the Quran says that if you were to look closely, you would see that the mountains are moving ‘as though they were clouds’…(27:88). Amazing to think that these creatures are everyday fixtures in our skies, yet we hardly ever stop to look at them and marvel at their creation, 
and their significance.

–Dr. Colin Turner (author of Islam the Basics)

Ramadan Inspirations 06

While God allows evil, He is not ‘pleased’ with it. In this sense He is like a baker who wants people to taste hunger but not to remain hungry, for if they did, they would not want his bread. God wants us to taste hardship and misfortune, to taste earthly life and death, not because He wants those things for their own sake, but because He knows that if we do not suffer the limitation of mortality, we will never realise that we are immortal. We are like fish in water. The only way a fish can realise it is in water is if the fisherman catches it. It wriggles around on the hook, struggling to breathe, tasting the hardship and misfortune of life out of water, until it is thrown back again. Being ‘taken out of the water’ is painful, but it is the only way of realising where we come from.

–Dr. Colin Turner (author of Islam the Basics)

Ramadan Inspirations 05

O wretched people of misguidance and dissipation! What accomplishment of yours, what art, what perfection, what civilization, what progress, can confront this awesome silence of the grave, this crushing despair? Where can you find that true consolation that is the most urgent need of the human spirit?

What nature, what causality, what partner ascribed by you to God, what discovery, what nationality, what false object of worship, in each of which you place so much trust and to which you attribute God’s works and His sustaining bounties – which of them can deliver you from the darkness of death that you imagine to be eternal annihilation? Which of them can enable you to cross the frontiers of the grave, the boundaries of the intermediate realm, the marches of the plain of resurrection, the Bridge of Sirat? Which of them can bring about your eternal happiness?

–Said Nursi

Ramadan Inspirations 04

WE HEAR MANY PEOPLE who neglect the five daily prayers ask, “What need does God have of our worship that He should threaten those who give up worship with the fearsome punishments of Hell?” Well, the answer to this is simple: God Almighty has no need of your worship; nor, indeed, has He need of anything else. No, it is YOU who needs to worship, for in truth you are sick. As we have proved in many parts of the Risale-i Nur, worship is a sort of remedy for your spiritual illnesses and wounds. Now, if a sick person advised by his doctor to take medication regularly were to ask the doctor, “Why do you need me to take my medicine?”, you can understand how absurd he would sound!

–Said Nursi

Ramadan Inspirations 03

By God, as Muslims our enemy is not the West; our enemy is not the USA or Europe or Russia or China; as Muslims our enemy is not capitalism or poverty or the questionable morals of modernity. By God, as Muslims our misfortunes are not caused by this or that external force, or this or that external cause. Our problems are not the result of colonialism and imperialism, of failed ideologies such as socialism and communism. By God, our enemy is none of these. As Muslims, we should not look outside our own community and experience for scapegoats, because by God it is a digression. We Muslims are our own worst enemies. We are beset by ignorance, by spiritual detachment from God, by a chronic aversion to critical thinking. We are beset by religious externalism, by dry, hide-bound legalism and jurisprudential superficiality. We are beset by sectarian hatred, by racism and sexism, by an inability to engage with each other without judging, condemning and alienating. We are plagued by insincerity and lack of etiquette in social relations. We are plagued by insecurities, by a collective inferiority complex, by a fundamental self-loathing. Our intellectual and emotional growth is stunted; we are in fact emotional cripples who come alive only when we are criticising and castigating others, or when we use the club of takfir to beat about the head those who happen to disagree with us. We are plagued by the inability to realise that we do not have a monopoly on the truth, and that while we may say ‘my way is best’, we have no right to say that ‘my way is the only way’. We are enemies to ourselves, and the most dangerous enemies in our midst are the would-be scholars, the wannabe muftis, mullahs and mujtahids who read a book or two and play at being Plato. We Muslims are our own worst enemies, and the worst of the worst are the faux-scholars, the fake ustads, the pretend philosophers, the self-aggrandizing appropriators and regurgitators of knowledge who neither benefit anyone with their half-understood and badly digested doctrines, nor take benefit from them themselves. Ignorance, misplaced zeal, lack of humility, pretensions of scholarship, delusions of intellectual grandeur – these are slings and arrows that are being launched day-in, day-out by our celebrity sheikhs, our Internet Islamevangelists, our DIY muftis and self-styled experts in ‘the Deen’. So let’s not pretend that we have identified our enemy and now all we need to do is ‘throw off the yoke of capitalism’ or ‘fight jihad against the occupiers of Muslim lands’ or ‘re-establish the Caliphate’ so that all our problems will somehow disappear. Because even if we defeat capitalism, throw the Zionists out of Palestine, take back ‘our’ Muslim lands from the hands of the oppressors and unite the Muslim world under a single ruler, tragically the problem will remain. Because we will still be us. We will still be who we are today, with the problems that we project onto causes other than ourselves, with all of the negatives that we choose not to see because it hurts, because it clashes with the over-hyped vision we have of ourselves as the ‘chosen’ ummah, the middle ummah, the blessed ummah. By God, the enemy is not at the gate; the enemy is inside the house, looking out. And it’s later than we think.

–Dr. Colin Turner (author of Islam the Basics)


Ramadan Inspirations 02

Love is an inescapable part of being human, but whether it leads to salvation or perdition, however, depends on the direction in which it is oriented and the object upon which it is focused. The only real Beloved is God, and therefore the love which we feel towards that which is other than God must, if its true Source is acknowledged sincerely, be directed towards Him. The key is reorientation: to learn to love others not for their own sake but for the sake of God. The key is to see others as mirrors reflecting the attributes of the true Beloved and to love them on account of that which is manifest in them. The key, in short, is not to ‘see double’. In loving one’s self or one’s spouse, one’s child or one’s friend, one is loving nothing but the attributes of God which one finds manifest in those entities who are ‘other than God’ in form yet nothing but God in meaning.

–Dr. Colin Turner (author of Islam the Basics)

Ramadan Inspirations 01

In this world everyone is preoccupied with a separate affair. One is in love with women, one is in love with wealth, another is engaged in acquiring possessions, another in acquiring knowledge. Everyone believes that their cure, their joy, their pleasure and comfort can be found in that one thing. And that is a Divine mercy, because when they search they cannot find, and so they return. After they have waited a while, they say again, “That joy and pleasure must be looked for. Perhaps I didn’t try hard enough. I will search again.” Then they look again, but still they cannot find their desire. So they continue, until that time when Truth removes Its veil. Then they know.

–Dr. Colin Turner (author of Islam the Basics)

Inner Meanings of Hajj and Eid al-Adha

In the footsteps of Prophet Abraham, we will learn the language of the heart. This is important to reflect on, especially during the season of the pilgrimage and feast of the sacrifice. All of these activities are related to the prophet Abraham, and we will analyze his relationship to the Creator.


Islam was a revival of Abraham’s way of thinking, his approach to worshipping God. He is called the father of unity and Khalilullah, which means the intimate friend of God. The direct translation of Khalil means an intimate friendship in solitude. Abraham is the symbol of the “natural” way (fitrah), meaning the awakening or the innate way we were created


He showed us that surrendering to the Loving Creator is the most basic and human disposition.  Not surrendering is going against our nature. All revelations are sent as a reminder. The Quran defines itself as a victor, an indicator of reality. Coming closer to God is a process of rediscovery.


Through our motives, we realize there is a never-ending well of inspiration. If we can awaken this place within our heart, we tap into a never-ending source of peace. Everything should be a window to The One.


The prophet Abraham is also known for shattering false gods. Shattering the external idols is an easy pursuit when compared to shattering the false gods in your heart. The bigger struggle is against your false self.


When I am away from the real me, I am distant from my fitrah. There is tension within me. How you perceive and define the world around needs revision. When examining the world externally, I bring tension and emptiness to my heart.


Through shattering all the false gods, Abraham discovered that he is only attached to the Loving One. This was accomplished through contemplation. He received graceful news by trying to understand with his heart. He said:


“I love not those that set” (Quran 6:77)


What we love is what we adore and worship. The definition of worship is to give all of yourself. It means: I am ready to function as you wish.


What is love really? What are we doing when we love something? There is only one kind of love. At our deepest level, our hearts speak to The One. The hearts of human beings innately love the divine.


However, our imagination can skew this reality. We reinterpret love and add a new definition. We built up false facades by imagination and projections. The results of this can hellish states, which refer to psychological inner turmoil that produces feelings of disconnection and unworthiness. We do not listen to the language of the heart that Abraham teaches: to live from the deepest part of ourselves, the heart, not from our mind or bodies.


When looking at a baby, we can respond to its innocence and purity in a positive light, or we can reject those attributes. We choose to intentionally ignore the beauty before our eyes. We refuse to interact, feeling it may hurt to love because what you love may disappear. This is proof that we in fact love the child, but choose to deny our emotions intentionally.


Abraham answers to this fear, saying this hurt will go away. When understanding the meaning of love, an awakening occurs inside you. When seeing a child, it is an innate disposition to smile, and we want to connect with God on this level. This response comes from the center of being and naturally from our heart.


What part of us loves the baby? Do we think about love in our mind? When your heart was drawn to the baby’s qualities, did you feel any limits to these attributes? The moment I see the baby, my feelings do not have any limitations. We just feel love; it does not have a beginning or an end. If that love had an end, it would be a tragedy. The purity and innocence in this child attracts us. We are attracted to the compassion and love that the baby makes us feel.


Similarly, the language of the heart does not accept limitations. Our hearts are always attached to these attributes. In Islamic spirituality it is said: “the heart is the mirror of the One.”


Our hearts are in fact only attached to these limitless attributes. This is what our hearts are after. When dreaming, there is always a feeling of a limitless attribute. These feelings you are attracted to quench the thirst of your heart. The language of the heart is always looking for limitless peace. Material things do not provide satisfaction. For example, when eating, you are not attracted specifically to food, but the nourishing ability that food possesses.

“To God belongs the All-beautiful attributes” (Quran 7:180)


Our hearts love the One. The problem is we are unaware of his love. When Abraham says he steers away from what is temporary, he stresses looking into your heart.


If reflecting throughout imagined reality, the truth is clouded. We build up projections that invoke feelings of sadness, isolation, and depression. We put barriers, curtains that veil us from the divine. These barriers cloak the message. Our hearts do not witness these attributes.


When choosing to live from out hearts, the infinite brings us more joy. Through revelation, God is calling us to heaven. He wants us to recognize these attributes.


If we do these projections, we suffer. We are unsatisfied, because our hearts are only attracted to limitless attributes. My wrong beliefs force this imagination. The cries of my soul are the sacred message from my heart, telling me to see the boundless reality. Prophet Abraham says go back to you fitrah, your heart, and all of these false gods will be shattered. With Abraham, the intimate friend of god, nothing is left in his heart than love for the divine.


False gods can take the form of false expectations from the child. I can build my reality according to that belief, preventing myself from surrendering to love. There is tension between your expectations and the expectations of your heart, imagination versus reality.


These attachments can be influenced through fears, influence, and anxieties. To rectify the source of my hell, prayer and recognition act as inner surgery. In return, The One shatters these false gods and transforms me in the process.


These idols are built by limiting the message of the heart and skewing its meaning. This is the source of my hell. They are only constraining the limitless attributes. To correct this, we must pray to the light of the universe to penetrate through it.


Once I surrender to the truth, I live a life from my heart. The language of the heart is a matter of allowing God into your life.


From the heart, we live not with pretence, but with authenticity. We possess one identity as a servant of God, a message bearer of the Compassionate. With this reality, we live in the presence of the Loving One. We reflect on the divine attributes. We love every creature in the name of its creator.


This is the real feast. We celebrate life as a grace from God, mirroring the attributes of the loving one. We praise The One who is making himself known and loved by our hearts every moment. For this, we want to feast in infinite gratitude.


Like Abraham breaking the idols, we need to break the idols around our hearts. Through opening ourselves to the limitless light, we are surrendering. Hajj and the feast of sacrifice symbolize this act.


Abraham saw in his dream that he was to sacrifice his “son.” He viewed his “son” as an independent entity. The moment he sacrificed his false attachments to his “son,” he received his “son” in the name of the loving one. God taught Abraham that the solution was not to kill his “son,” but to love him from his heart in the name of his creator.


We recognize the world is not an obstacle to our relationship with God. On the contrary, everything in the world is a form of speech. In the language of the heart, God’s divine attributes are explained, and he is making himself know to us.


Now during the time of the feast, everything becomes meaningful through my heart’s language. Everything becomes full with the Presence of the Loving One. It is time to glorify, praise and thank the Loving One with limitless gratitude.