Struggle with Islamic faith and Sufism.
Struggle with Islamic faith and sufism.
It’s not that there’s no God
It’s that there’s only God
12th March 2009. 07.45. Hrs. Abbotts Wootton Cottage. Dorset.
Yah ... mmm ... it’s about wether one believes in the Prophet or not .. I suppose some people .. earlier people .. the sahaba and so on for instance, came to belief in God through the Prophet Muhammad .. I don’t know how I came to belief in God or when the concept first would have entered my brain/psyche/heart .. but, presumably, at a very early age ... after 4 or 5 ? .. At school ? Don’t know .. my parents were certainly anti ... (shame).Anyway, all I can say is, despite the negative attitude at home, I believed in God .. and some of His message must have come through via the Christian thing, no matter how distorted, weak or vague ..Somehow, whatever happens, I always end up believing in God .. a living God .. not just a non-dual abstract concept or Absolute .. (which could or would leave me dangerously close to a “do what you like, it’s all one” attitude).No, He’s living and alive and an entity, despite being beyond anything one can imagine .. He also has qualities and names .. He is.. or has become in my mind and belief over the years, very much an Islamic God .. Allah.There’s a whole load of stuff I don’t like about Islam, though I’ll be the first to admit that that is probably mainly due to the dictates of my ego.Anyway .. the point is .. First it is about belief in God (“ash hadu an la ilaha ila’llah ...”).. then it is about belief in the Prophet Muhammad ... (“wa ashadu anna Muhammadan rasul’allah”) ...The second bit is where all the problem lies with real sufism and becoming Muslim .. and .. without going into all the stuff we don’t like .. and discussing the “whys and wherefores” .. really, the only thing to say is, either you believe in the Prophet (saws) or you don’t.If one tries to discuss everything all the way down the line ... about Islam .. what you like, what you don’t and why .. it’s never ending .. Either you accept and follow .. or you don’t ...Or else you accept and follow what you can ... which one could say is never fully satisfactory but, from a sufi (i.e. wise, loving and understanding) Islamic point of view .. better than nothing.So .. yes, I believe in God .. which, when analysed, becomes mainly, or very like, Allah .. and my learned understanding of our creation and the reasons for it 1): that “ Allah was a hidden secret and wanted to be known.” and 2): that He did not create man and djinn for anything but to worship Him .. comes from Islam.So my faith is mainly Islamic in nature and of course that message came from Prophet Muhammad.My difficulty is that my faith in Prophet Muhammad is not so strong .. my understanding or knowledge of him is not so intimate and my image of him is not so clear .. en fin .. my love of him is therefore not so great not only because he was not part of my culture and upbringing from an early age but because neither was Jesus .. i.e. I never had a strong image of or love of a prophet of God, inculcated or otherwise .. which I have observed in Catholics in general and Mediterranean people specifically as well as Arabs, and which, in the case of conversion from Christianity, it is easy to transfer to Muhammad, pbuh.Until a few years back I had the Sheikh to love and follow .. he was my living representative of the Prophet, an immensely powerful and magnetic figure .. We had fun with him as well as suffering terribly sometimes .. but something happened there .. which .. if I am going to publish this document on the web I do not really want to open up in public .. nor even to myself much, all over again ... I accept too that it all may have been “looking in the mirror” etc .. but anyway .. it started around women and carried on around general lack of clarity on many issues concerning his khalifa for America and properties and money .. and finally I just drifted away and lost the strong happy healthy living link with him and through him to the Prophet and Allah.I think it is a fact that my link to the Prophet was never that strong ..the Sheikh was the central figure in the whole journey (and rightly so if he was the living representative in whom one would have annihilation or fana before passing on to the same thing in the prophet saws) and even my image of Allah may have been more like Brahman or an unnameable absolute with some patriarchal Christian overtones, so .. now that my connection to the Sheikh is so debilitated as to be nearly non-existent (at least from my side and therefore non-usable or serviceable by me) it is really necessary to make that link to, or have more faith in .. the Prophet .. unless of course I could find another sufi sheikh .. which I find pretty unlikely .. apart from Sheikh Nazim’s true successor ..Sheikh Adnan who is already an extraordinary phenomenon and will be, I think, absolutely amazing when the Sheikh finally goes ... but who knows when that will be ?Also I expect a great deal of trouble around his passing from wild and unfounded claims from Sheikh Hisham and his numerous followers. So ...What I am trying to say is that I still have a link which seems real, alive and necessary, to Islam, but.. not a strong faith in or love for, the Prophet, which circumstance allows for too much questioning and prevarication when it comes to Islamic forms of worship and shariat and the Koran and ultimately the belief that Allah is the one true God .. (rather than another name for, and a particularly Arab version of, the one true God, whom all people worship, either outwardly or ultimately in their hearts wether they know it or not. )The one thing that I do find extraordinary about the Prophet and perhaps indicative of some of the things that are believed about him, is that apparently he had no shadow .. That is pretty far out and would suggest that he was “made of light” or so pure that he became light .. or something like that. It would also make it easier to believe that he was the best man that ever lived and that all creation was created for him, that he was created before Adam was in clay and that his message is the last and complete message from God to man.What I am trying to do is find a faith in the man that enables me to accept or swallow all of his message .. including all the parts connected with war and killing which are so distasteful in this day and age and have become the greatest bugbear in the public image of Islam and the Muslims due to the terrorist movements and the(resulting or convenient) American anti-propaganda program, perhaps intimately linked to and stoked by the Jewish lobby., and which find their source ultimately and mainly in a twisted and inflexible version of Islam known as Wahabism (from Ibn al Wahab) and warned of by the prophet saws.Yes, it’s very tough to be a muslim and one can’t be a real sufi without being one.The only way to be non-dualistic as a real muslim sufi is to completely abandon all questioning .. as was the case with abu Bakr and which is why he is held in such high esteem especially by Naqshbandi followers .. because it is not just a connection to the mystical understanding which Ali was so famous for and why all the other tariqats ultimately lead back to him .. but a connection to and unshakeable 100% faith in .. the nearest man to Allah ever to have lived .. (i.e. the Prophet saws) which obviously implies and includes all that Ali or anyone else could ever have in the way of mystical and esoteric knowledge and .. probably .. the right balance of that knowledge in proportion to worldly affairs and human life on earth which would include such high respect for the Divine Plan as never to use it unless completely and surely inspired by Allah to do so .. it coming through a completely egoless channel rather than from any human level ideas, and an adherence, as much as possible to every known practice and nuance of the prophet’s sunna or example in all things because, if he is who he is believed to be then everything he did must be the best possible example for man to follow.Therefore it has to be believed that this was the level and the situation for all that Muhammad did and said .. including obviously, all the stuff we don’t like or have been taught or persauded is wrong or definitely not P.C. !It means, as I say, that faith in the Prophet saws is paramount and from then on .. all Islamic duties and forms have to be accepted without question because although dualistic in nature they came from the only One True unitarian source Who created and brought into being all dualistic forms, especially man and all that is considered right and good and proper for his behaviour here on earth as exemplified by the Prophet saws in his sunnah and taught in his hadith and through the Koran ...i.e. it is all about faith !There is nothing else and no other way ... very difficult without a living example .. but that level known as “Ihsan” in Islam is what one is aiming for and necessary really .. especially for modern thinking people brought up in a democratic and liberal society, if one is to take on the whole thing.Ihsan was described in a famous hadith as worshipping .. “ Allah as though you see Him because, even if you do not see Him, He sees you.” !Now, on the other hand, I will tell this little story from my own experience.When I came to Sheikh Nazim at Christmas in 1984 in England I finally took his hand after about three days of being in his company and listening to his teachings, and seeing and feeling his way of being. We were in Redhill, which he was insisting on calling Greenhill .. and he gave a talk in which there was a hiatus when he paused for a moment and said,“New news, just coming from the Prophet. If you make two rakats a day and keep yourself clean, you will not go to the fire.” Then his head went over on one side and he looked into his beard a little and said,“If you don’t keep yourself clean I don’t know what may happen.”Well, in that talk I already had the feeling that he was talking directly to me and was rather embarassed in front of about 150 people who were there .. However, it is one of the qualities of enlightened people that many people hear and see specific & personal messages for themselves in their talks and actions .. so that may not be so significant, except that I had just taken his hand and often we have noted that his talks are as if inspired more by one person’s salient needs within the audience. He in fact says that his talks are drawn out of him by the needs of the audience and therefore greater “himma” in his audience will draw higher level or more powerful or deep talks.All I am really saying is, given that I am a very rebellious and contrary and difficult person, that particular talk and dispensation for the time we live in was highly significant and useful for me .. and still serves, or has served and could serve again, as the thread that keeps me connected and also of course, to me is living proof of the wisdom love and understanding of a real sufi sheikh and the path of sufism as opposed to fundamentalist square headed (perhaps Wahabi) attempts to deal with occidental interest and/or new followers of Islam and the prophetic message.However, one still realises that the real deal is unquestioning and unswerving obedience based on unshakeable faith in Allah and His Prophet.Just one more little story before I end and “publish & be damned” ..After the three days with the Sheikh going around London and visiting mureeds etc he was sitting in an armchair one day with me at his feet and said,“Now you may ask any question you like.”Well, I had been with a so called sufi group for two & a half years before leaving them and six months later finding Sheikh Nazim. They had a self-styled sheikh with a very dubious pedigree and very erratic behaviour of whom and of which Sheikh Nazim was well aware. Having seen some of the appalling things perpetrated by him using the justification of unquestioning obedience to the sheikh I said to Sheikh Nazim,“I would like to take your hand” (an outward ritual symbolising an inward pact of following and unquestioning obedience to the Sheikh) “ but I am concerned that you may tell me to do something by Haqiqat (the inward reality) that is against Shariat (the outward law).The Sheikh paused for a moment and then, running his fingers backwards and forwards on the arm of the chair said,“This is like a little mouse, who wants the cheese (running his fingers forward) but does not want to get shut in the cage (running his fingers back) but he wants the cheese (running his fingers forward) .. but (running his fingers back) ..."Although my mind was saying at this moment that he hadn’t really understood the basis for what I was concerned about, something more immediate and at a deeper level knew that I had accepted him as my Sheikh and, as it turns out, he probably foresaw the situation which I have been writing about in the above.