Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Al-Ikhlas [ Purity of Faith ] : Prof Shaykh Muhammad al- Ghazali

If I am marooned on an isolated South Pacific island I would have loved to have 4 'companions' with me:
Hamka's voluminous 10 volume Tafsir al-Azhar, with all the relevant hadiths and 'contemporary' political world history coming with it.
Ibn Arabi's short treatise on 'What The Seeker Seeks'.
Muchtar Holland's translation of Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani's 'Sublime Revelations',
and lastly but by no mean the least, Muhammad al-Ghazali's 'A Thermatic Commentary On the Quran'.

In current Najib's Malaysia, please friends , for God's sake, do not bother to rescue me. I have been feeling 'pregnant' ever since! I think my nausuous feeling will improve being marooned on that island . But back to the more important issue about Muhammad al- Ghazali, Egyptian by birth [1917-March 1996 ], eminent scholar by profession, prolific author of more than 60 books, and finally Chairman of Institute of International Islamic Thought in Cairo before his death. Let me show how al-Ghazali dealt with Surah al-Ikhlas, as a thematic commentary and judge for yourself whether he is worth to be your lifelong companion on that 'lonely island' of yours:

Al-Ikhlas [ Purity of Faith ]

GOD IS ONE: He is neither two nor three. He has no spouse nor offspring. He is Supreme and Omnipotent. The Quran tells us:
"God says, 'Do not take two gods; He is the One God, so fear Me" [ al- Nahl: 51 ].
Elsewhere in the Quran, we read:
"Do not say, 'Three gods.' Refrain from saying so for your own good. God is but One God; far too highly glorified is Heto have a son" [ al- Nisa: 171 ]

The principle of tauhid is the very soul of Islam. In comparision to God, as we come to know Him through the Quran, everything and everyone else is utterly powerless and helpless. The Quran abounds with strong arguments supporting this principle:

"Never has God begotten a son, nor has there been any other god besides Him. Were the opposite to be true, each god would govern his own creation, and some would have overwhelmed others. Exalted be God above their falsehood. He knows the unknown as well as the manifest." [ al- Mu'minun: 91-92 ]

"Were there other gods in the heavens or earth besides God, both heavens and earth would have been ruined. None shall question Him regarding His works, but all else shall be questioned." [ al- Anbiya: 22-23 ]

Advocates of the doctrine of the Trinity believe in three coequal partners in the Godhead, who are in fact one: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, existing in total harmony.

They also believe in the crucifixion of Jesus, which raises the question: who was actually crucified: one of the three or all the three? If the three are one, and the 'one' was crucified, does that mean that God was out of existence for a time before He came back to the world? But, if the Son only was crucified, how could he be 'God'?

People are, of course, free to believe what they wish to believe, and this surah, which is said to be equivalent to 'one third' 0f the Quran, gives a most concise definition of the essence of Islamic belief. " Say, God is one, the Eternal God. He begot none, nor was he begotten. None is equal to Him" [al- Ikhlas, 112 : 1-4 ].

God is unique, and there is nothing that can be equal to Him. He could , therefore, have neither been a father nor a son. He is the Eternal to whom all creation refers and will return.

The very nature of the cosmic structure does not allow for multiple gods. It is nonsensical to believe that there is an independent god for the sun and another for earth, or one for the animal kingdom and another for the plants, or one for the African continent and another for Europe. The cosmic order is an integrated whole, set up, designed, run, and controlled by a single self sufficient power. This power regulates the operation of the human digestive system and the orbiting planets and stars in the infinite universe. The plants grow out of the ground, the dawn breaks every day, the sun and the moon move in their charted courses in accordance with His will.

Rational and sensible contemplation of these issues could only lead us to believe that there is only the one God, without a partner, the Sovereign, to Whom belongs all praise, the All-Powerful and Omnipotent.

Muhammad al- Ghazali

When people like al- Ghazali passed away from this realm to join his' Lover' in the next, we in the Muslim world lost a very bright beacon but not many felt this loss because the world we live in has changed it's values so much due to crass materialism in part and plain stupidity to a big extent. We let the meek and the clowns, through clever manipulation of the democratic process and an 'insipid' press and media in part and our very own intellectual malaise and the famous  Malaysian brand 'tidakapathy', govern our lives and aspirations. I am not a sociologist expert but my 2 cent worth is that our collective malaise has to do with our long feudal history and we have  clouded and allowed ourselves to respect our 'half part six' leaders, political and in the administrative domain, in the past who transgressed beyond imagination,  like as if they were hereditary rulers!
That was how the meek and the clowns got empowered. The main political party ,UMNO for example is very feudal in its content and philosophy.JMHO

That was a digression but coming back to our 'limited' number of original thinkers like Prof S. Naguib and  a couple of some others, they are treated like as if people of their calibre 'grow on trees' by these  small minded, administrators and politicians  that we elect, who rather care the' issues of the stomach' over that of the mind. [ We have no reservation in treating our 'ulamaks' with disdain ]. At the end of the day, we  as an ummah, deserve the 'shit' we deserve! Please pardon my expression.[ How can I use another word when that smug, smiling, shining face of KT when questioned over the 'Balqis' affair, played and continue to replay in my mind. Or that 'someone''s son who escaped with murder several years back due to massive manipulation of the judiciary and police. That 'lembu' soft loan that has gone awry. The AP kings issue. Far too many to list down here.]

Thinkers as monumental as Iqbal only come once in a few generation. Clowns, hangers-on, court jesters, greedy' corporate people' and crooked, self serving politicians are born every day! Is there an Iqbal in our midst? The rest of the world, including the atheistic Russians thought so. But people like Sanusi Junid [ of the padi planting on roof fame ] thinks he is a greater thinker! Otherwise he would not undo what good has been been done with our very own Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation [ ISTAC ]. Now it is a mere shadow of what it once was: Big , huge buildings and architecture devoid of soul and character!

As a people and a generation, If we care only about matters of the 'stomach' what you get in return is 'what comes out of it'! The proper 'adab' is to place knowledge and the 'knowledgeables' in the proper place.


Anonymous said...

You're now my Tok Guru. A spiritual teacher as I'm lacking VMAT2 expression.

ciKBat said...

dr nik, love ur blog.. i'm a fan.. i'm currently reading al-ghazali's sirah nabawiyyah (in arabic), one of the greatest writings on Prophet Muhammad's history.. don't know whether anyone has translated it yet.. May Allah provide you with the strength to go on writing and enlighten people

Shamsul said...

How are you Doc? Hope you and yours are in the best of health always. Great thoughts over the works of these Great Masters of Islamic thoughts.
Ever checked out Ahmed Hulusi? let me know what you think of this thinker from Turki please.
The Sublime Revelations is my present companion in Dubai left my Ibni Arabi's 'What the Seeker Needs in Manjung, normally they travel with me together.
Had a very in depth questions and answers session with an Emerati Tour operator on the subject of why the bif problem with the Mazhabs... sectarian Muslims all over the world, a sad issue. Does Allah belong to any sect? (humor).

" One Spirit Beyond
Moves within the Creation
Continually Creating...

(the essence)
of this Spirit
Within me
Is my ture identity.

It Does All
And causes All
To be Done...

The End of Karma
The Teachings of Guru Nanak.

From a book I found at the Emerates Mall while browsing for some DVDs at the Virgins Store.

Allah sends His words through sources beyond what we expect sometimes and it is only for us to leave our spirit and minds open enough for them to be revealed. These are just but grist for our spiritual seeking minds.
I salute you my brother for your dedication towards spirituality and the balance act you are performing in your life between religion and politics. It is a tough act to follow.

Pearls & Gem said...

Thanks Anon, Cik Bat and Shamsul. I am just like Tom Sawyer climbing up the fence and 'peeping' into the 'ole master's garden, telling his friend, Huckleberry Finn, how juicy the apples and pears and flower were on the other side. Not my place to judge Ahmad Hulusi et al.

Just the other day had a fairly 'warm' argument with a friend over Imam Ghazali [ Abdul Hamid al Ghazali, circa 1105? ].His 'ustaz' say Imam Ghazali was heretical because he used a lot of 'obscure' hadiths in his daily discourse. To me this is just like a BA[general degree] chap saying his PHD tutor must go back to school.

We are all looking at the proverbial 'elephant'.If you are 10 feet away and looking at the head end, you are better off than one looking 2 inches away from the tail end .At that'tail' vantage point if you think the elephant smell like 'shit' and fart every 2 minutes, you are still right,but to insist that everyone think your way, is a wee bit too much.

We Muslims are already divided on too many 'fault lines', some historical, some on matters of practice and leaning, while some on?aqidah itself.The Wahabbis thought only they are right, the rest nonsense.Some clowns thought we must re-brand Islam so that it is more acceptable to people like Bush and Blair and name it Hadhari. This is not new. The Moghuls centuries back thought the same and came up with Nur Islam or something like that.Guru Nanak, the 'lost sheep' did one better and founded a 'new religion'.

Me, I am just an old simple bloke who enjoys his old Z3 and his Hilux, and his arabian, trying hard to keep up with his zakat and always playing catch up with the IRS, has difficulty even keeping up with the obligatory 5 a day.

Writing the way I do has its disadvantages though Cik Bat. Familiar friends avoid you like the plague and you dont get invited to garden perties etc etc. You step on too many toes !

But let us drown ourselves with Rumi instead........