Tuesday, December 29, 2009

RIS Canada... (3)


Assalamualaikum wrt..

KNOWLEDGE RETREAT 2009 - Reviving the Prophetic Spirituality in The Last Days.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am right now attending the continuation of RIS program which is the Knowledge Retreat, started yesterday..The program introduced pretty much the same scholars from RIS, only this time we will learn from the scholars in a lecture like environment..

The theme for this year's program is as stated above..being in the event for two days, I could conclude that the topics brought by the scholars are from Tasawwuf branch of knowledge..this is the area of study in which I like the most by far... As far as tasawwuf is concern, it deals a lot with purification of the heart and soul or tazkiyyatunnafs in oneself...within my little knowledge, I believe that correcting one's inner condition; the heart and the soul are always crucial before anything else matters..in Islam, this subject of study is usually connected to Sufism..Not all Sufis are diverged..but it is undeniable that there are many who are..Anyways..

Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah - Spiritually from Quran and Sunnah
Habib Ali AlJifri - Sulook (Wayfarers to God)
Shaykh Hamzah Yusuf - Qawaid Al Tasawuf (Principles of Spirituality) by Sidi Ahmed Zarruq
Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad - Ajaib Al Quloob (Marvels of the Heart) by Imam Al Ghazali
Imam Zaid Shakir - Reflections from the Quran
Shaykh Abdal Hakim Jackson - Taj Al 'Arus - On Refinement of the Heart by Ibn Ata'allah

Those are the instructors and the subjects that are being brought to the class..I would like to share some part from Taj Al 'Arus - On Refinement of the Heart by Ibn Ata'allah, instructed by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Jackson...

Human beings can't escape from doing something wrong, sometime, somewhere in their life. If one is state of disobedience, one can still please Allah by doing TAUBAT.

There is a hadith by Sahih Muslim (might not be accurate..) which states, "...Allah is happy if a person repented from his wrongdoings..Allah's happiness is more than the happiness of a man in a dessert who loses his camel that carries his food and water and finds it back..he lost hope and thought that he's gonna die in the dessert..suddenly when he woke up, his camel was there along with his food and water.."

Imagine Allah is happier than the deserted man whenever His servant do Taubat..Allah loves when we do Taubat..Taubat is basically the beginning of everything..Even the Prophet that we all love SAW repented over 70-100 times in A DAY! That was the prophet who was ma'sum..but how about us as ordinary human beings..? If we can do the 'small' sunnahs of the prophet SAW i.e. doing siwaak, cut nails, shaves..how about a sunnah as big as TAUBAT?

Ibn Ata'allah said that there can't be a refinement of self without taubat..To achieve repentance, rather than being outwardly focus, we also have to focus on our own habits and deeds by heart..we have to ask forgiveness from Allah SWT and stand before Him, for we can fool people by hiding our wrongdoings, but we cannot fool Allah, the All-knower...we also need to be honest to ourselves when we're standing before Allah SWT and repent..we need to rebuke ourselves which undeniably will be painful, but Allah has promised that He will eventually substitute the darkness with light, hardship with ease...

We tend to think that being smart is the only thing we need to live our lives..but rationality alone does not help..we only have the knowledge in mind, but we have no control of our hearts..where is the instruction of the heart? Just look at all the bad decisions that we have made in our lives..Does this happened because our lack of rationality? NO. This happened because we don't know ourselves..as the results, some ended up marrying the wrong person, having the wrong career, moving into a wrong city...and again, this happened when we don't know what we want in this life..We only care about being praised by other people..So, we have to be honest to ourselves, rebuke ourselves before Allah...the benefit of repentance and refining the soul will come to us..it is for US..Allah has nothing to gain when one repents or not, let alone to lose anything..the lost is on the person..

We rebuke ourselves in order to TRAIN ourselves...where the hardest thing to do is to say NO to our desires..Maksiat leaves some effect to us...The more we disobey Allah with wrongdoings, the more difficult it is to leave the act of disobedient, we will lose all the incentives to leave it! When we committed maksiat on top of other maksiat, and on top of other maksiat, we can't, can't and can't get the taubah..it suddenly feels so hard..So, engage to taubat immediately..indeed heart is blackened by all the disobediences, unless we repented...

Disobedience has corrupting effects to a person..Without taubat, we can be corrupted; we tend to lose hope and feels despair, thinking that we are not worth being a good Muslim anymore. DON'T! Muslims never give up, no matter how big our sins are..If we make taubat, it doesn't mean that we're maksum. If we did taubat and did the wrong things again, that doesn't mean that we are hypocrites. This is a normal human behavior..Allah has created us to be like this, so that we will remain being dependent and rely to Allah and Allah alone..Again, Allah loves when His servant asks for His forgiveness and taubat..

Ibn Ata'allah made an analogy; we are like a brand new pot, and flame lit on it at a certain duration..the bottom of the pot will get blackened as time goes by..if we wash it immediately, it can come off..it WILL come off..but if we leave it and does not wash it in instant, the blackening will be crust, and washing it will be of no use anymore..Washing is like doing taubat..So, constantly seek repentance, for the act of it is the sign that we are dependent to Allah..Again, Allah loves those who repents..and He wants us to love Him..

We have to deal with our own 'demons'..only we know what's inside ourselves..In order to do that, it requires a lot of COURAGE and HONESTY..we have to have both in order to face the disease of our heart..By knowing the disease well, then we will know the perfect 'medicine' to cure the sickness...

Taubat could be the link between us and Allah..Allah said whoever doesn't repent, he IS indeed the wrongdoers..Many of us understand the values of obeying Allah SWT. However, if we do not undertand, do we lose the values? NO. By making taubat IS actually the value..So there is nothing to lose when you make taubat. The prophet said, "...if you take one step closer to Allah, Allah will be 1000 steps closer to you..".

Syeikh Abdal Hakim Jackson then asked us...."we know that Allah does exists..but does he forgive?.." Definitely.. sure.. of course.. right? But do we say that only intellectually, or by heart? In other words, do we say it from the mind, a cliche? or we meant it by heart? He gave us a good example..Bill Gates donated 30 billion USD to a charity..This made him a generous man generally. Now let's say we're broke, will we ask Bill Gate for some money knowing that he is a generous man from earlier story? Yes? No? Maybe? The logical answer would be NO. This is essentially because we don't have any relationship whatsoever with Bill Gates. Now apply this concept to our discussion..we are from azali has the servant-God relationship with Allah...but do we constantly ask forgiveness from Allah? Do we ever do taubat after sinning?

The Syeikh gave his two cents on this matter.. he said that the lack of this kind of relationship between us and Allah is due to the definition of power in the world that we lived in..Most of us came from an autocratic relationship of 'master-slave' since we were small..we got punished when we did something wrong, and therefore we tend to hide or run when we did anything wrong, instead facing 'the master' and come clean..a simple example for this concept would be the relationship between student-teacher especially in Malaysia..have you ever got spanked for something that is not worth of spanking?..do we have the guts to face the cikgu if we did the wrong things again? Not a chance!=p

Taubat is not only for major sins..Minor sins could be more dangerous..the pot CAN be blackened even with slow flame..Minor sins are eating us alive..It seems like something that is negligible, but if persistently done, it WILL become major sins. Minor sins are like a spark of fire. Even a small single spark can still destroy a whole city. A realistic example would be like 2 imaams who have grudge between each other.. which can destroy the relationship between 2 communities...

Repentance is not easy, but it is not impossible...We have to be sincere in our repentance..Insincere happened when the intention is not to turn to Allah and if there is no commitment to overcome from doing the sins. Then, there will be no effect of wiping off the disobedience..Sincerity is between us and Allah SWT..It's a hard, private work. However, sincerity can be seen through our behavior for example solat...

Repentance is difficult before own self is powerful. Repentance is not a sweet medicine for the disease of the heart. We have to force ourselves to repent and repel from the sweetness of the disobedience. It is good to know that, good deeds are heavier than bad deeds. When we do one good deed, Allah will reward us 10 times the size of the deed. If we do one bad deed, the accountability will be only one.

It is undeniably hard to leave the passion and desires of doing something bad, but this does not forbid or prevent us from doing taubat. For example, one who cannot stop talking about other people, he/she can repent each and everytime..even Rasul SAW repented 70-100 times each day...

HOWEVER, it is important to note that we cannot play around with repentance. Ibn Ata'allah said that, "..one who repents and do sins repeatedly is like drinking poison and the antidote over repeatedly.." They are not trying to help themselves, in fact they are abusing themselves..Imagine one day when they might not be able to take that antidote before the time comes....?? So, do not play with taubat. It is a gift from Allah SWT. Everytime we did wrong and do taubat, Allah will help us and make us less likely to do it again. Don't reject this gift, and don't play around with it. It is not easy to restrain ourselves not to do it again but we have to be PATIENT. That is the key..

There is a saying, "..he who repents has win, he who don't loses..". It's like when there is sickness, there is still still chance and hope of getting better as long as there's life...or it's like an archer who has to make effort to shoot..if he doesn't get anything today, it could be tomorrow...It's like sinning...do not ever give up on self... DO TAUBAT. we are always worth it.

It is important to gain support from a righteous community. We could gain inspiration and motivation from such community. It is natural that when we're in an Islamic environment or knowledge retreat as such, that we will be inspired and our imaan feels like it increases to a high level. We feel energized..But like everything else in this world, the feeling will be eventually perished..However, don't ever let the facing away inspiration despairs us..we're not hypocrites if this happened, which it always do...

In maintaining ourselves, we have to pace ourselves. We cannot expect things to happen just like that..it has to be one at a time..it's a process, so it will take some time..We have to be honest and patient, verily Allah is forgiving..He rewards His servants by their EFFORTS to please him..not the end result.

The Syeikh said that we cannot questioned, "..what good does it bring to me to attend an Islamic class or conference or halaqah as such..". Events like this gives you an opportunity to strengthen yourself, so why not giving yourself a chance? It is not necessary to be a righteous and pious Muslim immediately after attending such program..At least it inspired you in a way if not many...

So..Why not give yourself a chance? =)


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