Friday, November 12, 2010

Imam Ghazali's last.......

Imam Ghazali's last....
{ Abu Hamed Muhammad ibn Muhammad Ghazali, 1058- 19th Dec 1111 }

I have counter checked this poetic and lovely piece of Qasidah or whatever. It cannot be authentic Imam Ghazali but still I feel we can still share, feel and learn something from the cadence and poetic beauty of the language used here.

Death is not necessarily an endpoint,or as the purists would arguably and correctly put it, a 'station', to be feared.

For some it is a welcomed respite from a life of continous pain, inequities, depravity imposed by fellow man on man, and grief; for some others, a leveller; and for the rare individuals indeed, for 'lovers' like Imam Ghazali and the likes of people like him, a final return, to The Most Beloved, The Most High.

Imam Ghazali wrote a classic, the voluminous 'Ihya Ilumuddin',[ Revival of Religious Sciences] of which a significant part on issues of the afterlife,was superbly translated by T. J Winters, subtitled," Remembrance Of Death".....'Something something kitab al Maut', in it's original Arabic. Very readable. I had my copy from a small book store near St Mary's Hospital, Praed Street, off Edgeware Road sometime back in 1990. T. J Winters{ Abdul Murad Hakim }, has reverted to Islam and is currently a professor in Oxford U.

'Remembrance of Death'{ published by Thinkers Library } was conceptualised by Al Ghazali in the later part of his life. There were more heavy element of sufism in Al Ghazali's later thoughts and writings. Al Ghazali in the later part of teaching life tried to bridge the gap between the orthodox theologians of his time[ Fuquha ] and the people following the mystic path [ The tassauwf ] but they still went their own way, nonetheless both developed a sense of mutual appreciation which ensured that no sweeping condemnation could be made by one for the practices of the other.

Other well known writing of Al Ghazali was his rebuttal against Western [ namely Greek ] philosophers of earlier times,'Incoherence of Philosophers'. So massive was his contributions and following around his period, even Christian luminaries, such as Thomas Aquinas, were known to throng along to his lectures to 'drink and satiate' their hunger and thirst from this 'sea of wisdom'.

[It is only in the present day advent of 'Wahabism'/Salafism, a movement started in the Nejd in the 18th century, with narrow,blinkered vision, that all forms of sufism are regarded in some strict purist circle as 'heretical'...cannot blame them when one sees the whirling dervishes of Turkey,but then , one can say the 'Wahabis' in general tend to look at the other Muslim world around them in relation to themselves in just two tones of colour,'Black and White', and no shades of 'Gray' are allowed..They are White, the rest Black.

While their predominant preoccupation with the concept of Unity Of God and purity of faith,is highly commendable and understandable given the miliue of ignorance surrounding Islam before and after Prophet and up till now, their downright inability to accomodate, and accept all other previous scholars of Islam, {including people like Imam Ghazali},rubbishing them all into obscurity, except Ibnu Taymimiah,is the central part of the schism between them and the rest of the Muslim world. Their over-simplistic, blinkered vision, almost straight jacketing of Islam into a narrow prism only they can interpret, that is the issue with the rest.

Personally when I am in Saudi Arabia I have high admiration for and respect their fervour, purity and over simplistic, fundamentalist approach to the Din but in my heart of heart I believe Islam is not just for the Saudis and their fervour though it suits them is not 100 % correct for everyone.

Islam is a universal message of God's love, mercy and compassion for everyone and The Way even though is a straight path, has got its 'borders and road shoulders'. Islam is for all people: black, white , brown ,yellow and red and it transcends geographical boundaries and is as applicable to the ignorant desert Arabs of Prophet's time as it is now in the fast moving 21st century....We as an Ummah should not get lost in the lanes and by-ways, and most certainly have no ordained right to 'kafir-menkafir' one another.

It is thru ilm ilm and ilm that should keep us in full sight of the main highway. It is incumbent on all Muslims to arm themselves with ilm. Not just enought to just follow blindly what this or that ulama' say ....Of course that does not mean we should tolerate outright 'kufr' within Islam just because of political correctness.Just my 2 cent worth...Please read Imam Ghazali's " Remembrance of Death "...a great book.

"Say: O Allah! Owner of Sovereignty! Thou givest sovereignty unto whom Thou wilt, and Thou withdrawest sovereignty from whom Thou wilt. Thou exaltest whom Thou wilt, and Thou abasest whom Thou wilt. In Thy hand is the good. Lo! Thou art Able to do all things. Thou causest the night to pass into the day, and Thou causest the day to pass into the night. And Thou bringest forth the living from the dead, and Thou bringest forth the dead from the living. And Thou givest sustenance to whom Thou choosest, without stint. Let not the believers take disbelievers for their friends in preference to believers. Whoso doeth that hath no connection with Allah unless (it be) that ye but guard yourselves against them, taking (as it were) security. Allah biddeth you beware (only) of Himself. Unto Allah is the journeying."
Surah Al Imran, 'The Family of Imran', 3 : 26-28
Translation of The Noble Qur'an by Marmaduke Pickthal.

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