Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Veils and Keys : John Herlichy

In Veils and Keys , the author reflects on the issues of faith or lack of it in this modern world, whether sprituality is still possible during these tumultuous times of heighthened secularism and the ugly face of materialism, as he explores the possibilities of an Islamic spirituality still available during this times.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1945, John Herlichy received his B. A in English from Boston University in 1967 and worked for a number of years in Europe.Obtained his Master's degree in 1974 from Columbia University and soon after journeyed to Kuwait to teach English.That soul searching journey turned out to be a prolonged spiritual journey into Islam having had earlier 'experimented' with a number of other spiritual traditions.

Let us now take a very short 'peep' at how John looks at the spiritual practice of Quranic recitation:

"At the dawn prayer[salat al fajr], the shadowy rays of the waning moon still lay across the window sill. In the pre-dawn darkness, the stars twinkle their message of the eternity of time, while the panorama of the night sky makes its final statement of the infinitude of form, just before the coming dawn. There is a hint of incense and musk in the air which capture an inner meaning that is capable of subtly influencing the mind and spirit. Heavenly scents accompany the two angels who descend to witness the Quranic recitation that occurs in one place or another every morning across the far crescent of the Islamic world.

Having performed the ritual ablution and prayer, the Muslim sits cross-legged on his prayer carpet and reaches for the Noble Quran,the Illuminated Book, a document that is 'on a tablet well preserved in heaven', as well as available in his hand. He kisses it, places it on his lips,forehead, and heart and commences to recite the letters, words and sounds of the Holy Book.'Alif, Lam, Mim', he chants sonorously as he intones and elongates the sacred sounds,'This is the Book, of which there is no doubt, and guidance for those who fear God'[ 2 : 1 ]

When he enters this world within a world as a Muslim, he brings his own world with him as a man. As a Muslim, he becomes once again primordial man and traditional man, in remembrance of the Adamic man who also received verses from his Lord and undoubtedly recited them. As simply man, he finally takes leave of his Quranic recitation and worship in order to take up once again the duties and routine of his day, but his world is no longer the same, since he takes the esssence of that inner world back out with him into this world-his existential world-in order to make the words and phrases, the knowledge and the wisdom, the advice and the warnings, an integral part of himself and his life. In return, the afterglow of the Illuminated Book lingers on as a mercy, a cure and a light, to guide him on the part and to advance with him through time on a journey of return that is identified and known"

Masahallah. Such beauty: pristine, clear and precise.....happy reading!

Dr Nik Howk

1 comment:

RahmatHarounHashim said...

Dear Nik,
I enjoyed reading it. Trying hard typing the key board with one hand, my left. Scheduled for angioplasty cum stenting on 26/5/2010 by Dato M Amin of KMC. i'm currently on 2 months mc.