Friday, July 6, 2012

Rays of Faith; Day 1

As a born Muslim, I memorized The Pillar of Faith ever since I was very2 little. I think most people do. And I "think" I know what it means.

After attending Rays of Faith, I realized I knew very little. Almost close to nothing. Rays of Faith: Doctrines of Faith III is a 4 days course spanning over 2 weekend. It explores in details the last five of the six pillars of Islamic faith:

1. Belief in Allah (this is not covered in this course)
2. Belief in Angels
3. Belief in Divine Books
4. Believe in the Messengers
5. Belief in the Day of Judgment
6. Belief in Al-Qadar.

It's my first time attending a course by Al-Maghrib Institute. And the journey to understand matters of the unseen began.
The instructor for the course was Shaykh Waleed Basyouni. He's really great. He's engaging enough to hold my attention for the whole day on such a complex matter of the unseen. I particularly love his style of teaching. There was a very thorough discussion on all the available evidence from the Quran and hadith on each pillars. It make me think critically before accepting and believing. In the era where there is so much information available, especially pertaining to faith and religion, it's very crucial to verify the source of the information.

BTW the shaykh is a licensed scuba diver too. Awesomeness huh?? ;-)
The venue; Faculty of Business & Accounting, University of Malaya.
I have learned so much from this course. So the great stuffs really outweighed the shortcomings. But if I can suggest some improvement to the organizer, one of the things that get on my nerve was probably the venue. No offence to UM people, but this place is soooooo vintage lah weiii!! I know this makes me sound so diva, but seriously...sitting on that bench from 10am-7pm is no joke okay!! :P

Anyway, back to the course. There is no way I can share everything. Especially when I was trying to absorb every single thing Sh.Waleed was teaching. And some of the stuffs were really2 deep to me. By afternoon, my head was throbbing. Info overloaded...hahaha. Nevertheless, it was a very mind blowing session to me. I learned loadsss. Learned new stuffs that challenged my present belief.

So although I am very2 nervous to share, I am writing down my key takeaways here to help me remember better. To keep the momentum going. And to make it easier for me to cascade the knowledge to my children. It's definitely by no means an indication of me knowing lots of stuffs. The truth is probably the contrary. As I am writing strictly from my notes, and am definitely no expert in such matter, please verify the source of the information.

So here we go. Bismillahirrahmaanirrahim.

Day 1 ;
Pillar 2; Belief in the angels.


Angels are created from light. One of the most common misconceptions is angels have no physical attributes. Based on the Quran, they do. And we learned how others view the angels. The views of the philosopher, the pagan Arab, the Christian & the Jews.

One of the interesting thing I discovered is theologically, scholars like Avicenna and Al-Farabi have a very different view on existence of Allah and angels. It caught me by surprise...I was like...say whaaaaatttt??especially when I named my son after him...and I used to think he was a very pious Muslim. Some scholars like Ibn Taimiyyah considered them deviated from Islam due to their views. I tried to read more on Avicenna's metaphysical philosophies. It's just too deep for me. For now, I will just take it as he has a different view, which might not be right. Having said that, despite his theological differences, we cannot deny his vast contribution in the field of knowledge. He is still one of the greatest product of Islamic civilization. And one of the most significant and influential philosopher of the pre-modern era.

So Mr O, we are keeping the young man's name as it is okay?? ;P

Generally, all angels are created to worship Allah. Angels are never tired of their worship. They commit no sin and have no free will. Specifically, each of them have their specific functions. eg; Jibreel reveal the messages of Allah to all the prophets, some of the angels are responsible to get the world going....the rain, the wind, the mountain. There are also angels to protect the human. Every one of us is assigned with 4 angels to protect us. From every harm in this world. We are exposed to dangers in this world 24/7. These angels keep us safe and protect us from harm.

They are of an enormous number. Beyond our comprehension. One hadith quoted that the number of angels descending to earth on Lailatul-Qadr alone is as many as the number of sands on earth.
Pic is from here.

Then Sh Waleed asked us an interesting question; "Considering the enormous number of angels (and other beings) in this world who do nothing besides worshiping Allah, has it ever occur to u how amazing it is that Allah still have space to love and shower us with his mercy & blessings?? Despite our shortcomings? And our insistence to remain a sinner?"

Have u ever thought that way?? Why Allah is so kind to us? If u consider the vast number of the angels and Allah's creatures, we are so unimportant right? Why bother with us? The recalcitrant one?

Because Allah is the most merciful. It's just another proof of the vastness of Allah's mercy. To add on to the blessings that we get from Allah, Allah also created angels to pray for us. Angels love the righteous and pray for them. Angels pray for u for doing simple things like teaching and seeking knowledge, visiting friend for the sake of Allah, act of charity, coming early to the mosque and praying on the first row, consistently going to the mosque, filling the gap in the praying row in the mosque, eating sahur before fajar (dawn) during fasting month, taking wudu' (ablution) & reciting ayatul-Qursi before sleeping, istighfar after prayer...etc etc etc. Simple stuffs really. Only if we know. And bother to do.

And angels pray against the wrongdoers. e.g; Those who badly treated their parents. Disbelievers and hypocrites. Those who curse the companions (prophets). etc etc. We also discussed some hadith pertaining to the angels. I learned that in every house of a believer, there will be angel of "rahmah" whose job is to pray for your blessings and forgiveness. And if u have statues & pictures of human in your house, this particular angel will not enter your house. U can put up the photos, it's not a sin. As long as it's not for worshiping purposes. But the angel will not enter. So u will be deprived of the extra prayers from the angel of rahmah.

We also discussed about jinn and shaytan (satan). Is shaytan an angel or jinn?

Shaytan is a jinn who disbelieve. Allah created jinn from fire. Like human, the jinn is created to worship Allah. And just like human, the jinn have free will. Means they make choices. Hence, there are believers and disbelievers among jinn. The good jinn and the bad jinn.

Every human has a qareen from the jinn--i.e shaytan, the intimate companion.

"If anyone withdraws himself from remembrance of (Allah) the most merciful, We appoint for him a Shaytan, to be an intimate companion to him" (43;36).

The best weapon to ward off qareen (shaytan) is zikrullah.

Iblees, is the father of jinn. Who refused to bow to the father of man, Adam. And is doomed to hell.
And (remember) when We said to the angels: "Prostrate yourselves before Adam." And they prostrated except Iblis (Satan), he refused and was proud and was one of the disbelievers (disobedient to Allah).(2:34)

Have u ever wondered, isn't it a bit too much for shaytan to be punished with the worst punishment in hell fire for refusing to bow to Adam? He was very pious in worshiping Allah to the point that Allah actually raised his level similar to angel. After all the goodness he has done, he is doomed to hell fire just because of one sin? Is it fair?

Sh Waleed answered; It's not just one sin. It started with one sin i.e arrogance--> refusal to bow--> challenging Allah he will deviate as many human beings as possible--> and eventually the refusal to repent (remember shaytan has the free will, the choice to repent). Each sin leads to a bigger sin. Hence, never under estimates little2 sin. It will only lead to bigger sins.

We also discussed about evil eye and jinn possessing human through magic and revenge. What are they, the difference between them, how to deal with them etc etc etc. The best way to deal with these is the Quran.

Al-Fatihah, An-Nas and Al-Falaq are the most powerful surahs to ward off the jinn and evil eye. Other surah/verse include Ayatul Qursi, Al-Baqarah, Suratul Jinn and As Saffat; 1-15.

Pillar 3; Belief in the book

As a Muslim, we believe in all Allah's books. This include the scriptures of Ibrahim, the Zaboor, the Torah, the Injeel and the Quran. And we believe the Quran is Allah's LAST revelation and the BEST of His speech. Quran is the greatest miracle of Muhammad (peace be upon him).


 
Quran is a miracle in many ways. Interestingly, all the miracles bestowed upon the prophets were relevant to their time. To prove the divinity of Allah. At time of Muhammad (peace be upon him), it's the literature. Being an illiterate, it's impossible for the book to be written by the prophet. Language wise, the structure of sentence and choice of words are of the highest standard. U can definitely tell the difference between verses from the Quran and poetry. The Quran can touch your soul even if u don't understand Arabic. And after listening to the beautiful recitation of Quran by the syakh, I can vouch for that. The syakh shared with us, from his experience in the US, the top reason non Muslim convert to Islam is reading the Quran. One of the example of our time was the conversion of Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens).

There are also precise descriptions of unknown stuffs. eg. scientific stuffs which were discovered only in this millenium.


For example; The 2 ocean that don't mix.

Verses from the holy Quran;
(55:19) He has set flowing two seas that appear to meet.

(55:20) Whereas there is a barrier between them so they cannot encroach upon one another.

(25 : 53) And He is the One Who joined two rivers, this (one) very sweet and freshening and that (other one) very salty and bitter. And He set a barrier and a strong partition between them.

Pic is from here.
These phenomenon can be observed in few places on earth. U can google it up. This particular merger is in the Gulf of Alaska. The phenomenon is due to the different densities of the melting glaciers being composed of fresh water and the ocean which has a higher percentage of salt. Hence, causing it more difficult for the 2 bodies of water to mix.

Then, there is also the detailed description of the fetal development in the Quran.
Man, We did create from a quintessence (of clay). Then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest firmly fixed. Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then We made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature: so blessed be Allah, the Best to create!
(23;12-14)

Pic is from here.
How could Muhammad (peace be upon him) have possibly known all this 1,400 years ago when scientists have only recently discovered this using advanced equipment and powerful microscopes which did not exist at that time?

Anyway, the shaykh stressed that it's important not to get carried away with the scientific miracles of the Quran. Quran is a guidance to the soul. Not a science text book. Or Maths textbook. All the interesting discoveries in the Quran is just to prove one point. That the book come to Muhammad from Allah, because almost all of this knowledge was not discovered until many centuries later. And this proves that Muhammad must have been the messenger of Allah.

Towards the end of Day 1, Shaykh Waleed announced that a non Muslim sister wished to say her shahadah. Masyaallah, this was my first time witnessing this kinda thing.
Pretty surreal. Pretty emotional too ;') What a way to finish the day. May Allah bless u sister.
 
"I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, the One, without any partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger."



2 comments:

  1. MasyaAllah, i cried reading this post. thanks for sharing n keep them coming, sis melly..

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  2. As Salaamu'alaikum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuh,

    Dear mellymilly,

    This is Amar Razali, Ameer of Qabeelat Ihsaan and Asia Operations Manager from AlMaghrib Institute.

    Thank you for the notes and constructive feedbacks regarding Rays of Faith seminar. Noted on your comments about the venue. Yes, I understand the concern about the seats and the entire faculty in general - it was not the best venue at all we can offer compared to the previous 5 seminars that we had in Malaysia.

    Insha'Allah for the upcoming Divine Link seminar, we will be looking for other opportunities. On our side, it is not just about renting 1 seminar hall, but it involves with mother's room and kids play activity area which make things quite tricky ;)

    Nonetheless it has been truly an honor to host you for the past 2 weekends and we hope to see you again during the seminar in November.

    If there's anything that we can be of your assistance, feel free to email us at malaysia@almaghrib.org or call 013.399.8837.

    May Allah (swt) bless you and your family and put barakah in all your endeavors.

    Was Salaam,

    Amar Razali

    ReplyDelete