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May 8, 2004
On Human Understanding - Part II

by Justoju

Bismillah hirrahman nirrahim

“Men who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (With the thought): "Our Lord! Not for naught Hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire.” [Quran- 3:191]

“They said, "Be You glorified! We have no knowledge, except that which You have taught us. You are the Omniscient, Most Wise." [Quran- 2:32]

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RECAP: In Part I of this humble and inadequate attempt to explain the inadequacy of our mental understanding, we established that the entity of Allah, Glorious and Exalted, cannot be grasped by our minds since the human mind is dependent upon certain constructs (i.e. time, space) that do not apply to Allah, Glorious and Exalted, in any way whatsoever. The ‘givens’ with which our mind unfailingly creates its proofs are simply not applicable to Him. It would seem that we have we been constructed by Him to never understand Him. On to Part II…

“Allathee Aallama bial Qalami” (Quran 96:04)

One of our greatest needs as humans is the need to communicate. To express. The “Creation-Concept”-enslaved mind, with its sensory impressions and its ever-changing and faulty logic creates language with which to fulfill this need. Language is something that is innate and is built in to our systems. It is inevitable. But those words, that language, come from an imperfect faculty and cannot be perfect in their scope and their ability to convey. Thankfully, our minds are not our only faculty…

In you and me there is three: Mind, Body, and Qalb (heart). The mind takes in information via mental processes and consistently deceives us. The body takes in information via the senses and consistently deceives us. Have we been destined to never be able to see beyond the scope of the sensory impressions left upon eyes and the reasonings of our feeble human intellect? What of this ‘Qalb’ and why do we have it?

"Lo! Verily, there is in the body a small piece of flesh; if it is good the whole body is good and if it is corrupted the whole body is corrupted; lo! It is the heart." (Sahih Bukhari)

Before we continue, it must be understood that the Qalb that is being spoken of is not the Qalb of flesh and matter that rests within your chest and stops beating once your life ends. It is not something that you lose possession of once you lose possession of your body—it is far more permanent than that. The term ‘Qalb’ has been used by the traditional scholars as a representative of one’s spiritual channels and tools. It is synonymous with the faculty of one’s ruh or soul. But why do we have it? Simple—it is the door.

“Allama al-Insana Ma’lam Ya’Alam” (Quran 96:05)

To know with your mind is one thing. To know with your Qalb, your heart is another. There is a world in which you think. Then there is a world in which you ‘feel’, in which you ‘know’ without being able to fully justify or put that knowledge into words. These are the worlds of the mind and of the Qalb. The world of mind is bridged to the world of the Qalb in that some words can be converted to feeling, and some amount of some feelings can be converted to words; BUT, the bridge is not perfect. There is a lot that cannot crossover. There is much that we cannot articulate. That we cannot find the ‘right’ words to explain and qualify. And there is much that we cannot cause others or ourselves to ‘understand’ via words, that we cannot get ourselves to ‘feel’ with our language.

Our Lord MUST be obeyed. For that He must be loved. For that He must be known. He desires to be known for this purpose, but the channel must be pure and perfect. The body and its imperfect senses, and the mind and its imperfect reasoning and language are not meant to be our primary means and connection to spiritual ‘ilm—The ruh is. You understand the spiritual via the spiritual. He must be known on His terms. You know Him via the Qalb.

Why isn’t the bridge perfect? Why is the vast realm of the Qalb left inaccessible to the eye of both the mind and the body? The answer is simple. Two human beings can convey information to each other via words, but, in the spiritual realm information can only come directly from Allah, Glorious and Exalted, to the slave. There is no other source. And once it descends upon the slave, there is no way for the slave to share it with others—those channels cannot hold or convey it. The 'sirr', or secret, remains between one and one’s Lord. It has no choice.

"Verily, Allah looks not at your bodies nor at your faces but He looks at your hearts." (Muslim and Ibn Majah)

The Qalb is the trans-dimensional door with which we escape the “Creation-Concepts” that bind our mind and reasoning, and are able to be in the Presence of our Lord. It is the part of us that is not bound by any of the restraints that physical creation is bound by. It knows no time or space and defies their limitations. It is the secret meeting place where we meet our Beloved.
The Qalb is what His ‘nadhara’ is upon when He gazes upon us. Allah, Glorious and Exalted, is not concerned with one’s wealth, beauty, or progeny. When He sees one He sees one’s Qalb. If one’s Qalb is diseased and dark then that is what one looks like to Him. The Qalb is the reality of WHO you are to Him; and therefore, who you REALLY are. It is WHAT will be examined by Him on that Day when all of Reality falls upon us in an instant and we realize, as we never realized before, the extent of our ghafla and heedlessness. It is our salvation and our downfall. It is the reality of “I”.

"A day when wealth will not avail, nor sons, but only him who brings Allah a sound heart" (Quran 26:88).

Of our three faculties, the Qalb is the most discrete and yet is the most powerful. Our shuyukh describe the worlds of the sensory and mental as not being a single drop in the deep ocean of the Qalb. There is an undeniable interaction between the Qalb, the mind and the body. There are three parts to your establishing complete sincerity to Allah, Glorious and Exalted:
1. Ilm or "Sacred Knowledge". This is what you learn and possess with your mind.
2. Amal or "applying what one knows". This is what you do with your body.
3. Hal or "praiseworthy spiritual state". This is the effect of the above two upon one’s ruh.

Whatever one does with ones body or believes with ones mind leaves a mark upon ones Qalb. EVERYTHING leaves an imprint. Every thought, glance, smile, snicker, judgment, sigh, step, and word. This is the effect of the mind and the body upon the Qalb. The darker one’s actions and beliefs the darker one’s Qalb will be. But the interaction is not unilateral. A strong and pure (sound) Qalb calls one to perform praiseworthy actions with ones body and to align ones beliefs with Reality, while a diseased or blackened Qalb calls one to disobedience and heedlessness in ones mind and body. The Qalb is what the battles are fought for and what is at stake.

They satisfy you with their mouths the while their hearts refuse. And most of them are wrongdoers. (Quran 9:8)

There are some things that you cannot understand with words or reasoning, but that enter your understanding via the ruh. The stronger and purer your Qalb, the less ‘traffic’ there is and the more access you have to the spiritual world. This is why it has been the belief of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa’ that the stronger one becomes in one’s Ihsan, in one’s sincerity and obedience to Allah, Glorious and Exalted, the more one’s spiritual knowledge and awareness grows. The awliyah are those chosen and select friends of Allah, Glorious and Exalted, who have strengthened their Qalb’s to the point where they can understand that which the human mind cannot. The Destiny/Free Will issue is hardly an issue for them and their understanding of our Lord is more focused and acute than that of the common man. They used the faculty that Allah, Glorious and Exalted, gave them to do what He wanted them to do with it—to know Him, love Him, and obey Him.

“Ilm isn’t Qal. Its Hal” - Sheikh Husain Abdul Sattar

If one is still sinning and not following the Sunnah then one has not been transformed by one’s knowledge. The reason we must learn from someone who is realized in their ‘ilm and whose words mirror his humility and sincerity to His Master (as opposed to our just learning from a book or learning from a very ‘knowledgeable’ person), is because you don’t want JUST the ‘ilm—you also want the transformation that results from your having taken it from one who himself had been transformed by it. We want the hal. In the end it is never your words that change people or bring you closer to your Rabb—it is the luminance of your Qalb.

The Prophet Muhammad (upon him be blessings and peace) said,
“The hearts are in the fingers of the Merciful One, He turns them as He wishes.”
(Muslim and Ahmad)

“Ya Muqallib al-Quloob, thabbit quloobanaa ‘alaa deenik"
"O Controller of the hearts, make our hearts steadfast upon Your religion"


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I seek forgiveness of Allah, Glorious and Exalted, for my presumptiveness and hypocrisy and seek His Refuge. All good is from Him.
All errors are a result of my own weaknesses.
My own stupidity.
My own insincerity.
My own arrogance.
My own nafs.

“Astaghfirul lahal adheema lladhee la ilaha illa huwa al-Hayyal Qayooma wa atubo ilayh”

“Allahumma innaka Afoowun Kareemun tuhibul afwa fa’foanni ya Ghaffur.”


of and relating to...
Gillette said

If only your comments were as useful.

on May 8, 2004 9:18 AM
Justoju said

you are much too generous in your estimation of the usefulness of my columns.

on May 8, 2004 3:08 PM
Rami said


Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatu


Bro, That was a little harsh was it not...I believe you owe the sister an apology.


Sister, there are many scholars that say that Qu'ran should not be written in phonetical form as there is no way it can be

pronounced properly. I'm not Fatwafying this, but I'm pretty sure it would be safer to remove them and use translated meanings instead.

I also like your article. For some good contemplation reread surat Al-baqarah verse 260 about Sayidna Ibrahim -Alayhi salaam- and his pondering about how Allah gives life after taking it. Actually, Sheikh Sharaawi when he gave tafsir about it made a very interesting point. He says the word used is "Kayf" or "how do you give life...?" rather than "Do you give life...?". How does this tie in? The point is that Sayidna Ibrahim -alayhi salaam- KNOWS hat Allah subhanna wa taala gives life and takes it...which takes care of the ilm part. But the mind has it constraints and so he cannot contemplate HOW Allah subhanna wa taala takes life and gives it. His heart was not in equillibrium with his mind so to speak...which is why when Allah subhanna wa taala showed it to him and he witnessed the miralce right before his eyes his heart became at peace and his belief grew ever stronger.

So the point is when you need an answer ask Allah subhanna wa taala...the only sorce of knowledge there is.


Wasalaam Warahmatullah Wabarakatu.

on May 8, 2004 4:13 PM
Justoju said

AssalamuAlaikum

Thanks bro. Rami, but there is no need for an apology. I am not so easily offended and pretty much agree with bro. Gillette. He spoke the truth.

SubhanAllah. Excellent point regarding the ayat Brother Rami. It brings something else to mind. At the NYU retreat that just passed, sister Sobia, the wife of Sheikh Kamal, gave us two Quranic examples of how one's intellect can go contrary to the knowledge of one's qalb:

- Musa (peace be upon him) and Pharoah's magicians- If you see snakes all around you, your intellect would tell you to use the only weapon you have, your staff, to fight them off. But Musa, (peace be upon him) was commanded to do the opposite and was ordered to throw his staff to the ground. This is faith.

- Musa (peace be upon him)and the parting of Bahr- If you are surrounded by the enemy and have your back to the water and have no where to go, the LAST thing your intellect will advise you is to throw your only weapon into the water. It will instantly scream for you to use your weapon to fight. But again, he was commanded to throw his staff into the water.

Another example that comes to my mind- In the story of Musa (peace be upon him) and the Khidr (mercy be on him) that is mentioned in the Quran, EVERYTHING the Khidr did went contrary to Musa's intellect. But his actions reflected a deeper understanding that transcended human intellect.

(I am going to save the rest of my comments on this for the third installment of Human Understanding inshaAllah :)...though, due to how exciting this stuff is, its hard to resist gushing it all out here)

WasalaamuAlaikum

on May 8, 2004 4:55 PM
Jannah said

Those examples are amazing in the context that you used them and can probably be used as effective dawah points when speaking to People of the Book.

Your article was also excellent Mash'Allah. I felt like I was in a lecture w/ Imam Moukthar Maghroui (sp?) 'cept I didn't fall asleep! Points for you.

This is my favorite part:
"The Qalb is the reality of WHO you are to Him; and therefore, who you REALLY are. It is WHAT will be examined by Him on that Day when all of Reality falls upon us in an instant and we realize, as we never realized before, the extent of our ghafla and heedlessness. It is our salvation and our downfall. It is the reality of “I”. "

DEEP.

Can you go explain this a little further:
"The Destiny/Free Will issue is hardly an issue for them and their understanding of our Lord is more focused and acute than that of the common man."

For that matter, anyone else care to comment on the Free Will aspect..

on May 8, 2004 8:48 PM
Nadia said

Assalam u alaikum Sr.Justoju,
Br.Rami is right. Bro.Gillette was a little harsh. Anyways, I love your article Mashallah.It really looked like one is listening to a sheikh. Keep it up Inshallah.

on May 8, 2004 10:30 PM
Gillette said

hypersensitive sisters :)

on May 8, 2004 11:37 PM
Talal said

MashaAllah.

What I find most impressive about these pieces is that you're treading topics that lead most to conclusions that contradict the Islamic Aqeedah, but the manner in which you've handled them is absolutely commendable, and even qualifies as being academic.

Jazaakillah khair for this.
Favourite phrase:
"In you and me there is three"

on May 9, 2004 1:17 AM
Saima said

Sr Justoju Masha'Allah :)

I have an off the topic kind of question maybe you can give your input towards it... Allah subhanawataala says in a particular verse... and i'm paraphrasing.. that on that day the veil will be lifted and they (believers) will see their Lord...

so my friend and I were discussing this, and we were contemplating if there is something within us now... within the way that we are created as humans.. that is a natural embedded hijaab of creation from Allah.

just a thought :)

on May 9, 2004 7:17 PM
Justoju said

AssalamuAlaikum,

That, my dear, is my favorite topic in the world :). But I warn you and myself, I only talk. I dont have any 'Hal' to back anything up and have yet to see the time when I can spend a single day believing what I know and acting upon what I believe.

Giving commentary on an ayat is a scary thing since its one of those things that untrained lay-people (like me) are warned against doing. BUT, I CAN do what I have been doing all along--mindlessly parroting what I have heard and synthesized from shuyukh :). Nothing worthwhile is from me and all the mistakes are mine alone.

Since this is a really really really REALLY LONG topic and the two of us could go on for years about it (Though it really merits a lifetime), I will just say the following:

A hijab protects something beautiful from being enjoyed or viewed by the unworthy. It is the natural order of things. Allah, Glorious and Exalted, is in hijaab as are all the beautiful things of Creation. The most pleasurable thing for the Muslim/Muimin/Muhsin is viewing His Countenance and being in His presence. But this kind of 'viewing' is the result of complete 100% focus, dedication, and surrender of self. It demands ALL of your attention. It is not for the unworthy.

We have the tool we need to have access to Him--the Qalb. We increase the strength and purity of the Qalb by firmly grasping the shari'ah and having correct aqeedah. The greatest veil that exists between a Believer and His Lord is the veil of existence. Let me explain.

Creation distracts one from the Creator. Complete surrender is such that you not only cease to allow petty Creation to distract you--but you also recognize yourself to be part of that Creation and do not let your OWN existence distract you from your focus either. You stop being focused on yourself and start being focused on Him alone. So really, our own consciousness of 'self' is the greatest veil.

And yes, it is innate. People have escaped it, but after much mujahida, tazkiya, and ishq for the Divine. They were Chosen and hand-picked by Him. Anyone who has a desire for Qurb with His Lord should understand that that desire is a divine invitation not to be taken lightly. He created that desire in you for a reason. And of course, our liegelord the Rasool (may Allah bless him and give him peace) was the greatest Witness, Gnostic, and Lover of Allah, Glorious and Exalted. His Sunnah or Way is the BEST way and all that 'contradicts' it or takes something out of it is inferior.

Our Lord is described as being like a mirror. 'Why' will be the focus of a future poem inshaAlalh. Till then I would love to hear your thoughts on it..

Saima, you and I should talk. InshaAllah, maybe we might be fortunate enough to have IM conversations as beneficial as the Shajeeah and Kunza interchanges :)...only inshaAllah we wont experience the trials that they did and will be handed ikhlaas on a silver platter inshaAllah:)...and also I use EZ pass and prefer GSP...

...and again, all mistakes are mine...
WaAlaikumuSalaam

on May 9, 2004 9:04 PM
Saima said

"And yes, it is innate. People have escaped it, but after much mujahida, tazkiya, and ishq for the Divine. They were Chosen and hand-picked by Him. "

but isnt that only in this physical world that they have escaped it? like.. would there be a "perfect" or "absolute" form.

and how would the difference in physical creation of Adam alay salaam and Hawa AFTER they were put on the earth play into the innate "hijaab" of mankind ? in other words.. would we return to a "perfect" human state after the "veil" is lifted ?

on May 9, 2004 9:23 PM
Saima said

and i love the mirror description :) i can't wait.

Insha'Allah, until tomorrow..

on May 9, 2004 9:29 PM
Justoju said

As for the Destiny/Free Will paragraph-- I would like to see what others have to say about that before I explain what I was intending.

(and by now I am sure you realize that the concept of brevity is absolutely alien to my writing. So it would be better if I didnt have to explain :) )

on May 9, 2004 9:36 PM
Justoju said

You ask amazing questions mashaAllah:). Gives much food for thought and recall...

The people who escape the innate distraction in this world are the closest to Him in the next.

The 'perfect' or 'absolute' human state is complete and utter slavehood. This is our fitra. Its the point where we glorify Him with as much consistency and meaning as does the rest of Creation.

In this world we can attempt to do this and come as close as He wills us to achieving it. And He is the Controller of Hearts.

Our Aqeedah teaches us that we will have physical bodies, pain and pleasure in the next phase of existence. This is perfectly realistic, if we have it now then why cant we have it then too?
In the next world, if we are blessed to be in Jannah, then we shall glorify him much like we breathe in this world. It will be automatic and will be a return to our fitra. Every moment will be of intense pleasure and no Jannah-Creation that one enjoys (as opposed to Duniya-Creation) will distract one from glorifying Him and Remembrance.

The reason the mark of Hellfire ('AoodhoBillah) is excruciating PAIN (aside from it being a pretty effective deterrant) is because it is the one thing that makes it impossible for one to focus on Allah, Glorious and Exalted. The sensory systems of our bodies do not permit it. The mark of Hellfire is complete self-centered emotion. It is as far from fitra and 'peace' as is possible. We do not have pain like this in this world (ALHAMDULILLAH!), and are blessed to not experience such pain that makes it impossible for us to have sabr or tawakkul or to cry out to our Lord. We are so blessed.

So would we return to a perfect human state? Depends on what we do here and consequently where we go. We could dwell amongst the epitomes of Allah-centered servants, the angels, or we could dwell amongst the the epitomes of self-centered disobedience, Iblis and the shayateen..

wAllahuAlim and all mistakes are mine.

on May 9, 2004 10:02 PM
Saima said

SubhanAllah.. that's so amazing.. the reality of perceptions and sensory systems that Allah warns us to be aware of are the same "type" of systems that will cause pain from burning in the hellfire.

medically speaking.. when someone has a 2nd or 3rd degree burn.. it is the level of skin which holds pain receptors that is burned off.. and it is that same skin that is grown back again (alleviating pain).

here's another off the track question... i was talking to another friend of mine.. few years back.. where we were discussing different forms of light. our human visual spectrum is very limited and scientifically there is more types of light than we can see (infrared, ultraviolet, etc). so, being that we see things that are reflected off of white light (a form of energy).. there are probably other "types" of light that we can't see .. that is.. angels... and of course Allah subahanawataalaa being of Nur.. which is inconceivable in physical explanation.

so so lets see... scientifically.. an electron can not be in 2 places at the same time (this is knowledge via the tools that we use today, it could change Allahu alim). so, imagine a cell.. composed of amino acids, peptides, etc.. and imagine each of them made out of specific atoms .. carbon, hydrogen, etc...in specific arrangements and each atom has a certain number of electrons that circle around each other in specific orbitals such as s, p, and d and f (sorry organic chem students.. i know u dont want to hear this again).. so IF an electron can't be in 2 places at the same time,, and IF scientifically we cannot determine WHERE an electron is at a specific time.. then SubhanAllah, this is just another sign of Allah and His ultimate will and Supreme power over all things. scientists can't even freakin create a cell.. where all other cells come from ... and they wow themselves over cloning...

so back to the point.. since electrons are basically energy particles... is energy like light ? being that light that is created by Allah is not of Him because He is the First and the Last and there is none comparable to Him.

on May 10, 2004 10:36 PM
Saima said

when i say "energy like light" i mean a different from of light.

on May 10, 2004 10:38 PM
Saima said

form. sorry.

on May 10, 2004 10:38 PM
Justoju said

Is energy like a different form of light?

wAllahuAlim :)

But I think one thing that is very interesting (from what I recall from my chem days) is the whole issue of light and matter being two sides of the same coin. All of matter can be defined in terms of light and all of light can be defined in terms of matter...

nifty stuff

on May 11, 2004 3:39 AM
Saima said

yeah its pretty nifty...

like einstein's theory. e=mc^2.. where E is energy and m is mass and c is the speed of light.. so as mass decreases, we approach the speed of light.

but the question lies.. is that just pertaining to physical mass and/or does the ruh constitute a type of mass as well ?(Allahu alim) and if it does, is it small enough to travel at the speed of light ?

on May 11, 2004 11:58 AM
Saima said

any science (chem, physics, etc) majors on here ?

on May 11, 2004 11:32 PM
Justoju said

Hmm, one thing about the ruh and the spiritual realm: NONE of the rules of physics/chem/bio that we know apply to them.

Imagine your mind being constructed like a box with all these laws, rules, and understandings conveniently fitting within. The box is constructed to conform to the basic concepts of time and space. All of these laws follow from these fundamental conceptual building blocks. But these human-mind foundational 'givens' do not apply to the spiritual world. Therefore, the laws and sciences that arise from them do not apply either.

The spiritual lies outside of these 'creature concepts'. The spiritual is not bound or related to any laws that bind duniya. The is no in or out, mass or weight, speed or velocity. There is no e=mc^2 or f=ma. It is everything our 'mind' cannot grasp...which is why we need our qalb:)

Its really mind-blowing...subhanAllah...

on May 11, 2004 11:39 PM
Justoju said

ummm...
bio-phil-psych

on May 11, 2004 11:42 PM
Saima said

hmm.. maybe b/c there is no mass.. no rules apply ? Allah knows best :)

on May 13, 2004 7:39 PM
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