Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Faces in Islam.......Hearts looking for Ihsan

[ the last of a series of seven mini thesis ]

Traveling along the way into the 'Muslim inner hinterland' we cannot miss this centuries-old debate and dichotomy between Islamic orthodoxy as represented by the 'fuqaha' of every period and the sufis, those 'unsettled hearts' wanting to get out of the strait jacketing of Islam into a 'series of rules and regimentations' to one of experiential Islam aiming towards Ihsan and 'love of HIM'.

Imam al Ghazali was the most well known of those who tried to unify Islamic orthodoxy with Sufism in the 11th century, well known for this in his late life voluminous writings of the Ihya. He was partially successful, if we were to judge by the perception now in the 21st century when the difference seem to be more distinct.

The truth of the matter, I suspect, most probably must lie somewhere in between:
The Quran, Sunnah Rasullallah and hadith represent mainstream Islam....the progress to Ihsan is about Hearts. This is where the 'fight' is. The sufis , throughout the ages traditionally stake a claim that they are the 'doctors of the hearts'. What blurrs the whole picture were the presence of charlattans and false ulama' on both sides of the divides claiming only they have the monopoly of true knowledge.


Let us have an open view and listen to a scholarly discourse on Sufism by Dr Saleh al Saleh, representing a salafi view on the discourse.

Part 1, click here

Part 2, click here

Part 3, click here

Part 4, click here

Part5, click here

The 'salafis' and the fuquhas contend that for Ihsan you 'just' play the ball game and follow the rules, you will get Ihsan.
The sufis , to my understanding thought otherwise,'one need to be guided', 'one need to belong to a tarikat' so as not to stray.....and stray many did since the path from 'strict regimentation and rules' as in the Syariah, avoiding the 'haram' and sticking to the 'halals' and giving a wide berth to the 'makruh', onwards towards love of observing all these and finally creating love for the DEITY Himself and spiritual pleasure in the Islamic faith, are 'peppered' with many slippery slopes and deep ravine.

The 'salafis' and the 'wahabis' take the simple route : Just follow and you will get there. The sufis thought these are matters of the hearts, not any 'donkey' can reach there without proper guidance, especially if one is in a hurry . Compounding this dichotomy was the incessant political struggle to be near the centre of power of that time, the sultanates and the caliphate. Hallaj was the most famous sufi to be executed for 'crime' against Islam.[ I think he was burned alive, such was the anger between the two groups even then ]
His crime ? "Wahdatul Wujud", for claiming he was one with Allah....whether it was truly that we do not know.

Dr Muhammad Tahir, click here
part 2, click here

Historically the 'salafis' could not shake off the 'sufis' that easily because Islam as it is known in this Nusantara and the Indian subcontinent was not brought here by conquest but rather by sufi traders in the 13th and the 14th century.It is these 'colouring' that have remained to the present day.Things such as 'maulidarasul',' talkin','tahlil',group zikr, specific post prayer awrad, etc and etc are the 'bidaah hasanah' historical leftovers of the sufis, I believe.

In the 20th century the axis of influence in the Muslim world shifted from the Ottomans to the Nedj peninsula helped also by power of the Petrodolar. With the increasing influence of ulama' from the Nedj peninsula specifically from both Medinah and Makkah school of thought, the 'debate goes on', and in the Malaysian scene, it gets hotter.

And yes the debate really goes on, just listen to this young man :
click here

......I wish life is that simple as this young man think!
Thanks Allah though, Islam is The Middle way.......one do not need to belong to any group. Ilm, Ilm Ilm and ilm would, insyallah, lead us on to the Middle way, insyaallah.

It is not enough that one follow a specific teacher. In the 21st century abounds with books and ready available information, one need to study the Quran, read the Tafseer, read the hadith [ may I suggest you start with Imam Nawawi's 2 volume,Riyadis Solihin ].

Enjoy your journey and adventurism my friends and do not allow people to put blinkers over your 'eyes' or force you to put on their 'tinted' glasses.Certainly not the young 'punk' who gave the lecture above, not Ustaz Rasul Dahri. Not even scholars like Shaykh Hamza , Shaykh Muhammad al Yacuobi or Prof TJ Winter aka Abdul Hakim Murad.Do not swallow whole what Ustaz Harun Din or Ustaz Abdullah Yasin say or did not say. It is good practice in this short life of ours to lose our reverence to all these people sometime. You may find this quite liberating.

Set your own course and enjoy the journey. You may even get yourself lost sometime but with a compass based on the Quran and Sunnah, you cannot go very far wrong from the main course.

Faith is a journey. Make that journey a spiritually pleasurable one for you.

Post Script :

Face to face with Hisham Kabbani : Disregard where he come from, or the size or colour of his turban, or what Tarikat or 'ter-ikat' he is affiliated to, just listen to him......

click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQNE-GcHhHU&feature=related

click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84TSSY8sjzk&NR=1

click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFjYlV8YRNY&NR=1

click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERo5Rb_qGBo&NR=1

click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkY4644Tv9Y&NR=1

......and with this ends my mini thesis on 'Faces of Islam' and I hope this has been an illuminating and educational journey for us all across the diversity of what we call peoples of the Muslim faith. As an observer of LIFE itself , I 'officially' do not take any position except that I am a Muslim first and last and the Quran and Sunnah are my compass.

Big turban, small turban, white kopiah, green kopiah, short beard and long beard, professors with long degrees and young 'wahabi' punks with small brains and minds....all of them come with something ,some message that we can benefit from, but if we stick to one only, we are looking to the world with blinkers and through their 'tinted' glasses. It is all right if you love it that way....the other way is to be more open but one need to work harder..it is back to ilm, ilm ilm and ilm.

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