Thursday, 22 January 2009

the Start of Faith: Establishing your Beliefs beyond any doubt

in His Name, Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem,

There are many stages on the journey to true faith. This is important to understand for those of us who, perhaps, don't yet have a faith but want to search for truth; for those who have grown up within a religion and now they're older wish to build their faith; or those who have encountered doubts or a low in their lives and need to strengthen their identity and ideology. The following will explain the basic steps which prepare the foundation for faith, then strengthen it.

It should be noted that although this is discussed within the context of religious faith, it is entirely general. Parallels to these steps can be taken to build any belief which plays a dominant role in man's interactions and daily life.

* * *

Stage 1: Ask the Big Question

This is of great importance as a starting point. First, we must clearly describe the belief we wish to develop in its most basic form. For religious belief, this most fundamental question would be, "Does God Exist?"

If we haven't asked ourselves the fundamental question and tried to find facts to give our answer, our beliefs will never be anything more than habits or phrases learnt blindly from our parents. This kind of belief is not sufficient for any adult to count as faith, so everyone must start this journey as he or she starts to grow up in order to develop into a human being, and a Believer. In many places the Quran condemns people who have no reasons for their beliefs, and blindly follow their parents or the habits of their past.

When it is said to them: "Follow what Allah hath revealed:" They say: "Nay! we shall follow the ways of our fathers." What! even though their fathers Were void of wisdom and guidance?
Holy Quran, 2:170

Stage 2: Establish the Facts

Now you have a question to think about, measures need to be taken to establish the facts. Look at the world around you, think deeply about its characteristics and nature, and the rules by which it exists.

In the case of establishing belief in God, you may study the wonders of nature in depth, considering the incredible complexity of even the smallest part of creation; the complete harmony of the laws of nature that govern everything from sunrise to tidal waves to supernovae in the skies and the many forms of distant stars and galaxies in our universe. Think about this deeply, and decide whether it is logical that these things happened by accident, on their own, or just popping out of nothing. Think about the implications of saying the universe just "happened" one day: if a tennis ball flew past your face would you believe it just popped out of nowhere? or would you look to see where it came from, for someone who threw it towards you? If you decide that you would never believe even a simple tennis ball came from nowhere, you must reject the idea that this wonderous universe which is infinitely greater and more complex came from nothing.

This path of looking for proof will be different for each of us. For those of us who are scientists, we may consider the laws of the universe such as E=mc2, which has the consequence that neither energy nor matter can ever be created or destroyed within the laws of the universe - so because of this rule the universe could not have created itself, and therefore needs an external Creator, who would be God. For those who study philosophy, we may consider the chain of cause and effect, and realise that you need one independent Cause to start things off, who is God. An artist may appreciate the symmetry and exquisite beauty of the world and creation, and realise there is no way this could have come randomly but must be a sign of the existence of a Great Artist; a wonderous Intelligence and Creative power who designed the world.

There are an infinite number of different ways to approach this, but the common theme to all of them is to think deeply about the signs of the world which you understand: art for the artist, science for the scientist and so on, collecting the facts until you realise that the world is no accident, and was deliberately created by a supreme Intelligence and Power.

A useful resource to read here is Tawheed al Mufaddal, a discussion between Imam Jafar as Sadiq (as) and one of his famous companions about the wonders of creation, leading each observation through to its logical conclusion about the existence and nature of God.

This is something you need to do in your own way, but do not give up until you have gathered enough evidence to expel your doubts and convince you of the answer. This is not something which will happen in 5 minutes, but is of paramount importance. This is and will always be the backbone of your faith. Establish it properly once, and it will last you all your life.

Stage 3: Explore the Consequences

Now you should be convinced of the basic part of your faith: that as sure as this universe around you exists, God must also exist to have created it. Every time you look around you, you should start to realise that everything you see is proof of God. But so far all we know is that God exists and made the world, we haven't established anything else. The next stage is to look at creation again, this time from the angle that it was created by Someone, an Intellect who did things this way for a reason, then by looking at the way things are created we can start to understand His motivation and aspects of His character.

Now if the artist thinks about the beautiful flower, he realises that God specifically chose to create its beautiful colour and pleasing scent: and that God also deliberately chose to give us senses that would appreciate this beauty - the artist then realises that God loves beauty, and is kind and wishes human beings to experience joy at beholding it.

If the scientist thinks about the wonderous laws of nature, none contradicting each other, working in harmony together being flawless and perfect and orderly to keep the universe running, he realises that God is wise and knowing and intelligent and loves harmony, and wishes all in creation to work together.

If the philosopher thinks about the temporary and dependent existence of everything in the world, he realises that God is eternal and unchanging, is completely Independent of needs and He is the one who satisfies the needs of all others.

Do this from all angles you can think of, being very careful to scrutinise your reasoning and logic along the way. A good guide is to look at the 99 beautiful Names of Allah, and think about the proofs in creation for each one of those. This should ensure that you haven't come to a false conclusion through flawed logic. Other useful resources are Knowing God and God and His Attributes.

Now we have a better idea of who God is, His supreme kindness, wisdom, power and gentleness; we can come to understand why we should worship and obey Him and nobody else, not even our own desires. This is the basic Islamic belief, La ilaha Il Allah, there is no god except Allah.

Stage 4: Establishing the rest of the fundamental beliefs

Now you have established the most fundamental basic belief of Islam - Monotheism - it is time to find proof and certainty about the other major beliefs of Islam such as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) and the Quran as the book of God. For now lets start with these two, for establishing these without doubt means that anything in the Quran is automatically true, for example heaven, hell and Judgement; and anythinng we can prove was said by the Prophet (pbuh) is also (the truthfulness of the people in the chain of narrators then becomes the only issue when it comes to hadeeth).

In the case of the Quran, the answer is relatively simple. We should first read about the unique characteristics of the Quran, such as its style, consistency, the historical predictions it contains, and other features which characterise the book. Then, as the Quran itself states,

"And if ye are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a chapter like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true."
Holy Quran 2:23

It is a fact that nobody has ever been able to imitate the style and content of the Quran, throughout the whole of history. According to history (which you should research to convince yourself) the great poets and literary masters in Classical Arabic at the time of the Quran's revelation were completely dumbfounded by it, and unable to generate even one comparable verse, even though this was their mother tongue and they were renowned for their eloquence and beautiful poetry.

Follow arguments such as these to convince yourself the Quran is the word of God, and you can then use the Quran as proof for the existence of Angels, heaven, hell, Judgement Day and other important beliefs. This way, you have firm reasons and certainty that these beliefs are true, and come from the Ultimate Truth (al Haqq, one of Allah's Names, see stage 3).

In the case of the Prophet (pbuh), we should think about Allah's creation of the universe and the methods He gives us to know what He would like us to do. He gave us conscience, an internal and instinctive knowledge of good, to guide our actions. He gave us intellect, which allows us to reason and form arguments to know the best thing to do in any given situation. But for some questions, for example, the permissibility of abortion in the case of rape or health problems for the mother, conscience and intellect don't leave us with a clear answer. If we are to be judged as the Quran says, it would be unfair to do so without first telling us the rules which we have to obey (note: remember Allah's name Al-Adl, the Just, from stage 3). Keep thinking along these lines with your own arguments, until you are sure Allah has to send a set of rules to mankind to guide them. Prophets are simply the most trustworthy and honest people to deliver this most important message to the rest of mankind, and be a good example to them to behave in a way which God loves.

Knowing this, read about the life of the Prophet (pbuh). See if he fits the description of a pure, trustworthy and honest guide. See if he ever acted for himself, his own reward, glory or any reason other than delivering Allah's message. And don't forget to read history and understand there is absolutely no doubt that he was the one to bring us the Quran, which we previously established is the word of God and which tells us about the Prophet (pbuh). The Quran contains a chapter by the name of Muhammad (pbuh), and repeatedly refers to him in affectionate and supportive terms. The Quran actually states within it that the Prophet (pbuh) does not speak out of his own desire, but he only speaks that which is revealed to him; and that he has a most exalted character.

A useful resource in this stage is the book, The Seal of the Prophets and his Message, and the biography of the Prophet (pbuh), The Message.

Once you read about the life of this great and wonderful, selfless and noble, kind and loving guide you will understand that if ever God sent a messenger and example to mankind, it would most definitely be him. Now we have firm faith in the second part of the testament of faith, Muhammadun Rasool Allah (Muhammad is the Messenger of God), and the Quran as the book of God and all it teaches about Angels, Heaven, Hell, Judgement, past Messengers, Justice, Love, Forgiveness and much more.

* * *

In the following post, inshaAllah we will discuss strengthening and developing these beliefs, until they become a part of you and your identity.

* * *
its been a long time coming
Footsteps: May '07
and even before

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

ready your swordz

I know u.
For what I saw in your words mirroring me
I know
U wait for him too.
so as 1 to the same and another of another form, I ask u
in the name
of this son of Zahra for who
I know you can't
Refuse 2 use what
He gave u.


* * *

Monday, 24 November 2008


Saturday 26th July
In the haram of Imam Reza (as), at zohr.

This time, I had been able to enter the haram as I wished, to get pulled into the melee and drunk on the same crazed spirit that makes normal, civillised people behave like lunatics to get to and cling to the zarih. Other times, this choice had been made for me. You would think that I would have learnt the lesson better by this stage.

On the first day, with great anticipation, hope and desire to perform ziara on behalf of all, I had entered the throng, and basked in the Imam's proximity. The second day, I had not prepared myself sufficiently, and all of a sudden found myself at the haram door with my thoughts scattering. Reading the permission to enter proved it; even after the small rise of emotion on asking the imam (as) as the son of Fatimatul Zahra, by the right of Fatimatul Zahra (as), it was very evident the invitation was a grace from the imam and I had limited my own experience and connection.

This was the third time we were to enter the haram.

I was intent upon not repeating the mistake of the second time, in an attempt to recapture a little of the spirit of the first. I made my way towards the soaring golden arch, with the white-hot morning sun resplendent, high above it. Just before entering a spot caught my eye – an area to sit within the row of worshipers, on the right hand side, a short distance from the door. The feeling came to me that I should sit in it, but I couldn't reconcile this with not yet having done ziarah. I pushed it aside and entered the door, into the mad crowds. I found spaces and pauses in the crushing in which to read my ziarah, but neither relaxed, nor truly comfortably, nor personally. Throughout I couldn't shake the feeling that I should be outside. Eventually this feeling overcame me, and I moved outside after the core ziarah, to read the final salutations.

My place was still empty, waiting for me, welcoming me. I sat in it and completed the ziarah and prayer more peacefully and calmly. By this time it was almost noon, with the beaming, burning sun hanging high above our heads, as I sat amongst the pilgrims in the shade of the golden archway, at its edge: in the cool breezed shade, inches away from the cloven half of sunlight.

Looking up at the sun in its zenith, glinting off the soaring gold, I had a vision; of the insanity of crowds, crushing each other in the race towards the grave, clamouring to have their many requests heard and granted, thinking of the fulfilment of their own needs, then to go home and think of little more; as an outsider to it – for a second seeing the difference in behaviour for the real servant of the Imam (as), one who was truly there to do as commanded and await his call, who would pull away from the crush to reach the physical grave, and hang back for just that, not breathing a word for his own sake: knowing that the Imam (as) saw him where he stood, knew his state fully, knew he was ready to serve, and if needed, knew he would call for him.

All these people had come for the Imam (as), mistaking his grave for his presence... all these mad crowds directed one way; between them those with vision would pull aside and wait, distant from the drunken madness and seeing it for what it was; behaving like a human being and faithful servant; patiently, politely, waiting for contact and a command from the Imam (as).

I saw the difference between serving yourself in the Imam's presence and serving him, and realised to truly be his follower you could not follow the crowd and ask only for your own desires, but instead must always be thinking,

“How can I serve my Imam?”

“What can I do to serve you, O Imam?”

“I am ready, and waiting for your command.”

* * *

On Sunday, for the first time ever, I chose not to enter the haram building, although I could, and performed ziara outside; again in the shade of the golden arch, and the glorious presence of the Imam (as).

* * *

July 2008

to the only believer in the world...

... and all who have ever felt, "it is I"

these words are all dedicated to you

they have always been.

These pages are here in the hope that one day,
should you need it,
you might look at them
and see

you are not so alone.

* * *

Satan likes to make us feel we are completely alone and outnumbered. He likes to have us think we are engaged in an impossible struggle, and there is nobody else on the face of the earth who sees it, who knows what we're going through, nobody who is fighting for the same goal. This is the biggest lie. There are hundreds of others, all around us, unknown to us, feeling the same way; struggling alone. This is the secret face of ourselves we do not show to the outside world, all of us. Satan makes us feel there is nobody who would understand, nobody we can open up to who would not stare blankly or dismiss what we say. Another lie. It is quite likely we know someone else who feels like us, especially those who have traveled with us, shared great experiences, or thinks along the same lines. If you know another, keep in contact and support each other. If you do not, know that there are hundreds just like you, all over the face of the earth, in its hills and plains, in the easts and wests, lands and seas, all of you struggling towards the same goal. By the verse 3:68 and the chapter Al Kawthar, the earth is full of true followers of Muhammad (saw).

* * *

"O Allah send our master the leader, the guide, the guided, the upriser with Your command. Blessings of Allah be on him and his pure forefathers from all the believing men and believing women. In the easts of the earth and it's wests, in its plains and its mountains, its lands and its seas, from me and my parents. Blessings,which are the weight of Allah's throne and ink of His words, and whatever His knowledge enumerates and His book encompases."-- Dua Ahd

* * *

Nov '08

Sunday, 28 September 2008


otherwise known as, the Macbeth effect

* * *

(07:40:58 PM) blissful: have u read Macbeth?
(07:41:18 PM) blissful:
all the witches do at the start is put a wild idea into his head (...“you could be king”...)
(07:41:22 PM) blissful:
and thats it
(07:41:33 PM) blissful:
he takes it, and the rest follows
(07:41:40 PM) blissful:
this is just like Satan's work, how he traps us
(07:41:48 PM) blissful:
it is his suggestion
(07:41:55 PM) blissful:
and our ego which accepts it, and acts upon it
(07:42:13 PM) blissful:
and thats all it takes to make a nobleman with wife and loyal battle hero
(07:42:27 PM) blissful:
into a treacherous murdering animal
(07:42:47 PM) blissful:
on his own at the end
(07:43:07 PM) blissful:
if he'd just ignored them there would have been nothin -he would have been happy, as he was at first

(07:43:12 PM) blissful: u see what I'm sayin?

* * *


Thursday, 28 August 2008

Ego revisited

Most major sins and conflicts which may appear in daily life are rooted in the ego, and based upon the fact that man is inwardly focussed and deeply absorbed in himself, at the expense of his appreciation of the outer realities and outside world.

In relations with God, particularly prayer, being self-focussed self-aware results in man being absorbed in his own thoughts and not paying attention to his words and acts. There is no communion with God in such prayers, as man has turned his attention inwards and made his own ego the focus of the time spent in the actions of worship. Those self focussed will be automatically inclined to please themselves in any given situation. For such people there is no pressing deterrent to committing sin if the immediate gains of the act are pleasing; as they have lost sight of God and do not act to please Him. The self-absorbed may dwell in a state of delusion about their sins, redefining what is good and evil according to their self-limited awareness and understanding, and begin to commit even great sins openly and without shame or realising how they are humiliating themselves. They may try to argue their stance to others as a form of self-justification, using superficial and subjective reasoning.

In the extreme, the self-absorbed person may commit terrible sins against God and his own soul openly, without shame, repentance or acknowledging his wrong.

Man in this state has taken his lower self as an idol before God, in a state diametrically opposed to the religious ideal of servitude and worship; humility and being God-focussed and God-aware.

This paragraph is a proof upon every soul, for the mirror it holds up for us. Who amongst us is free of this -- when on the other side are only
the 14 and His, who gave their selves up
for His sake

* * *
See yourself in it
Know Yourself
the Potential,
the reality.
. . .

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Know Your Enemy

* * *

And the Shaitan shall say after the affair is decided: Surely Allah promised you the promise of truth, and I gave you promises, then failed to keep them to you, and I had no authority over you, except that I called you and you obeyed me, therefore do not blame me but blame yourselves: I cannot be your aider (now) nor can you be my aiders; surely I disbelieved in your associating me with Allah before; surely it is the unjust that shall have the painful punishment.

Holy Quran, 14:22

* * *

(1) And when your Lord said to the angels: Surely I am going to create a mortal of the essence of black mud fashioned in shape.
So when I have made him complete and breathed into him of My spirit, fall down making obeisance to him.
So the angels made obeisance, all of them together,
(2) But Iblis (did it not); he refused to be with those who made obeisance.

He said: O Iblis! what excuse have you that you are not with those who make obeisance?

(3) He said: I am not such that I should make obeisance to a mortal whom Thou hast created of the essence of black mud fashioned in shape.

He said: Then get out of it, for surely you are driven away:

(4) And surely on you is curse until the day of judgment.

(5) He said: My Lord! then respite me till the time when they are raised.

He said: So surely you are of the respited ones

Till the period of the time made known.

(6) He said: My Lord! because Thou hast made life evil to me, I will certainly make (evil) fair-seeming to them on earth, and I will certainly cause them all to deviate
(7) Except Thy servants from among them, the devoted ones.

(8) He said: This is a right way with Me:
Surely. as regards My servants, you have no authority over them except those who follow you of the deviators.

And surely Hell is the promised place of them all:
It has seven gates; for every gate there shall be a separate party of them.
Surely those who guard (against evil) shall be in the midst of gardens and fountains:
Enter them in peace, secure.
And We will root out whatever of rancor is in their breasts-- (they shall be) as brethren, on raised couches, face to face.
Toil shall not afflict them in it, nor shall they be ever ejected from it.

Inform My servants that I am the Forgiving, the Merciful,

And that My punishment-- that is the painful punishment.

Holy Quran, 15:28-50

* * *

(1) History - past background
(2) disobedience, opposition to God & angels
(3) racism & arrogance -- Ego
(4) such is cursed and rejected
(5) the plot unfolds
(6) supreme disbelief: blaming Allah for his own sins
the promise to mislead mankind.
The manner of tricking us to sin: he makes evil appear good.
Know Your Enemy.
(7) the limits of his power -- you can be free
(8) the promise & the threat
Allah will help and protect the good
and He will punish the bad

and this is the setting for our lives.

* * *

lessons from daily 50,