This month and a few to come I would 'insyaallah' walk through some Utube lectures [ and real time lectures if I happned to come across them ] that I think can change and give direction to our lives. I had recently attended one such lecture held in PJ, a short discourse on Ilm, Iman and Amal by Dr Abdullah Yasin.
The lecture remained well imprinted in my mind as a life changing lecture for me as it's content coincide to me with my long held belief that a life examined should really start with our continual striving for 'ilm, ilm, ilm and ilm '.
From there we would be able to graduate to 'Fikr and Dhikr '.
It underlined my previous occasional forays into things religious and philosophical early in my life. Started in late primary with Datuk Yusuf Zaki's philosophical and religious rantings in his very own Pustaka Dian publications; Reader's Digest; Dale Carnegie's writings and even Rev Dr Norman Vincent Peale's motivational writings. I was a voracious reader even those days. In the early 60's, books were rare,and money even rarer !.
I had to walk miles from my Jalan Teliput house to the only library in Kota Bharu near 'Opeh Salbia', as we locals call it, [ local linggo for the State Survey Office right smack in town] , the Carnegie Library, for free reading of even such texts. In my early secondary schooldays, even laid my hands on Dr Herbert W Amstrong's Plain Truth Magazine, weekly posted free to school children my age. A California based missionary work with a capital Z for super-zealous effort to spread the Christian Doctrine.That was in the early 60's, the age of innocence. We grab anything we can. Children in the 60's talk and dream in English !
In my late secondary school life at MCKK, to nurse my pangs of loneliness and homesickness, I immersed myself into the humanists, Schopenhauer and Immanuel Kant, Bertrand Russel and Descarte. Found them all depressing...the same whole circuits of tragicomedy of secular life revolving around the perpetual lust for pleasure and happiness, which finally without fail end up in abject depression with failing health, broken and unfulfilled hopes and aspirations, and failing cognitive faculties.
Life, to these thinkers revolve around only the HERE and NOW.
How hollow and stupid can one be when one think one is too clever !
From there I graduated to al Ghazali's Ihya Ulumiddin, which inevitably lead me on to HAMKA's Tafseer al Azhar in my early 30's. And the rest is history.
Subhanallah, Alhamdullillah, I did not get lost along the way despite being exposed early in my life to Amstrong, Carnegie and Rev Vincent Peale! Perhaps the counter 'normalising' effect of having to attend ToK Guru Haji Nor's [ Kelantan's mufti in the 60's ]weekly lecture at Kampong Panambang kept my young and impressionable soul intact !.
My late mother, Nik Kelthom Nik Daud [ she was unschooled,cannot even read, remembering many surah of The Quran only by heart ] always insisted on this despite we the younger children not having any clue as to what the grand old man was talking about. Every other Friday morning or so we all of the Wan Abdullah clan would be coerced into taking that 7 mile journey to listen to this old man. May his soul be placed amongst the blessed !
Back to IHYA, If I could recall anything, it is that al Ghazali,[ and numerous other traditional scholars of his time ], once stated that the difference in 'barakah' between the prayer of one with Ilm compared to one without is the difference between heaven and earth, or between day and night, or something to that effect.
What a digression, now back to what I recalled of Dr Abdullah Yasin's short but meaningful discourse :
ILM, IMAN and AMAL
He started by saying that at 40, Rasullallah had the experience with Jibrail's 'RECITE, RECITE IN THE NAME OF YOUR LORD !"
That by itself give preeminence to ILM in Muslim theology.
For the initial 13 years during his 23 years of prophetship, the ayats were all coming just to build ILM and IMAN. At the end of year 13th, came the command for MIKRAJ,[ the heavenly accent ], and from the realm of the quintessential border beyond border, 'The Quadratul Muntaha', the command for Solat. Later , on 'terra firma', subsequently the need for Zakat, Ramadan, and finally Hajj.
The essence is, while solat forms the ' beam and pillars' of Iman and Muslim theology, the foundational basis of Islam was and is still back to ilm, ilm and ilm.
That explained the 13 long years before any substantive 'rituals' was included.
With respect to ILMU, there are 2 substantive 'Books', The Quran from HIM, and Book of nature ie men's study and observation of his universe. That constitute ILMU, the former has preeminence over the later but both important.[ very nice to hear this from Ustaz Dr Abdullah Yasin, given his leaning ]
Iblis, according to one hadith, according to him, is more happy if one chap with ILMU dies, over a few hundreds with just AMAL without much ilmu. Quality over Quantity .
Then he went on to discuss LIFE.:-
LIFE, according to all ulama muktabar, is PERMANENT !
One cannot opt out of this life. One can opt out of this 'duniya' by killing oneself but LIFE is essentially PERMANENT. This 'duniya' is just a small beginning stage in four stages of LIFE.
9 mths or so in the FOETAL stage, 60 to 70 years in the DUNIYA stage for the average, then an X number of milleniums in the ALAM BARZAKH stage, and finally an eternity in the ALAM AKHIRAT. There are only 2 stations in the Alam Akhirat needless to say....Heaven and Hell.
2. YOu reap your 'rewards' continuosly while you are alive and when you are in the Alam Barzak as well. If you teaches, preach or write books read by others, or build masjid , orphanage, or establish 'bridges' figuratively and literally etc and etc you continue to reap its reward in the Alam Barzak. Death is just a transitional station, it is not even a stop. When one dies, the veil is suddenly opened and one start the actual LIFE. Mashaalah , Ustaz Abdullah is talking like a sufi ! How true.
Conversely speaking if you do' ' tyranical things and establish satanic practice or wrong ilmu followed by others,encourage kufr practice in your lifetime and has your followers, you also reap the collective'negative' rewards.
For example, when one, inundated with much ill gotten wealth from corruption or 'illegal hoarding until you can see practically dollars and ringgit coming out from his every orifices, send his young children for example to 'public schools' in the UK for study, he came back after some 20 years of secularization,fully corrupted in his lifestlye... one continue to reap one's rewards in one's grave. Do not expect 20 years of secularization to produce a son that continually doa you to have compassion from your Rabb when you are lying in the Alam Barzakh.[ for that matter, do not expect your young and pretty trophy 3rd wife to do likewise. She would be too busy doing things with your ex-driver with the ill ogtten millions you left her. That is about 'barakah'...sorry,this is my addition, not from Ustaz...but to stress yet again, you reap the negative effect ]
3.Then he touched on the Quran. It is back to ILMU, ILMU ILMU and ILMU.....that is refreshing to hear from Ustaz Dr Abdullah Yasin.
Your Quran need to be READ and RECITED, if possible with Tajweed
It need to be understood
Its injunctions need to be AMAL and its prohibitions need to be avoided. Out of 6600 plus ayat in the Quran only around 80 are said to be 'consisted of 'rules and regulations'.
The message of The Quran above all need to be spread....minimum to your immediate family.
There again it is back to ilm ,ilm, ilm and ilm.
Now let us leave Dr Abdullah Yasin and move on to the dry, cold and analytical ambience of Cambridge University, the world most premier university, and peep into the world of Dr T J Winter aka Abdal Hakim Murad [ best remembered as translator of al Ghyazali's ' Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife '. A bloody good read indeed ! ]. He was giving a long academic lecture/discouse on 'Muslim Theology and Islamic Mysticism ' to a small group of post doctoral students in comparative religions.
In Cambridge, all things, profane and secular, sublime and religious, undergo scrutiny,' microscopically' examined and defined by 'dull profesors in grey suits and white coats'.Let us now peep into this world of academia. If we can come out with something substantive and life changing, alhamdullillah. If not , that is just around 2 hours of our earthly life wasted!
"And if all the trees on the earth were pens and the sea
added to seven seas (were ink in the writing), (yet) would
not the Words of Allah be exhausted; Verily Allah is the
Mighty, the Wise."
Muhammad Asad aka Leopold Weiss in his 'Message of The Quran' ,
wrote these 4 important words :
" FOR THOSE WHO THINK "
Those of us who have stopped reading the Quran and derive lessons from it, we are the heedless.
Those who have not even read the Quran yet, they are afraid of thinking !