"And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers."
(Al-Quran 51:55)

Tuesday 19 November 2013

This is Awakening Part One

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

It's hard to describe the feeling. Imagine living your entire life in a cave and believing it was your whole world. Then suddenly you step outside. 

For the first time in your life, you see the sky. You see the trees and the birds and the sun. For the first time in your life, you realize that the world you once knew was false. For the first time, you discover a truer, more beautiful reality.

Imagine the high of the realization. For a moment, you feel you can do anything. Suddenly, nothing from your previous life in the cave matters. You become empowered, fully awake, fully alive, fully aware for the very first time. It is an unexplainable feeling. This is the spiritual high that comes with newly discovered Truth.

This is Awakening.

A convert to Islam knows this feeling. A born Muslim who comes back to the deen knows this feeling. Any human being, who lives their life away from Allah, and returns, knows this feeling. 

This state is what Ibn ul Qayyim (ra) calls yaqatha (awakening) in his book, Stations on the Path to God. He describes this state as the first station on the path to Allah. This is the state sometimes referred to as the "convert zeal". When a person first converts or starts coming back to Allah, they are often full of motivation and energy that others do not have. The reason for this energy is the spiritual high, the characteristic of this state.

What are the characteristics of the station of awakening?

Allah makes worship easier - While in this state, worship becomes much easier. A person is so driven and motivated that they may easily sacrifice everything for the sake of the new reality they have discovered. The strength that you have is not from your own self, but from Allah. 

Some may advise not changing too much, too fast. I don't think fast change is the problem. I think arrogance is. I think hopelessness is. If Allah gives you a gift whereby you are able to do more, use it. But thank Him - not yourself, for that ability. And know, that this heightened state is temporary.

Temporary - Like every state in this life, this state is temporary. Life is never linear. And neither is the path to Allah. Not realizing this can cause despair and hopelessness once it passes.

What are the pitfalls of this state?

The two pitfalls associated with this state correspond to not understanding the characteristics of the state listed above. These two pitfalls are also the two causes of stagnation on the path to Allah: arrogance and hopelessness. The arrogant person already feels they are good enough, so they stop striving. The hopeless person believes that they will never be good enough, so they stop striving. Two opposite maladies, leading to the same result: to stop moving on the path to Allah.

Arrogance - The first pitfall corresponds to not understanding that the increased ability to worship came from Allah, and is a characteristic of the state - not the individual. The one who doesn't understand this, wrongfully attributes the heightened ability to worship to one's own righteousness. This false attribution is very dangerous because it leads to arrogance and self-righteousness. Rather than realizing this heightened 'religious state' is a gift from Allah, the worshipper feels a sense of hidden pride and may look down on others who don't share similar zeal.

Despair and Hopelessness - This pitfall corresponds to not understanding that like all states in life, the spiritual high is temporary. This does NOT mean you have failed nor done something wrong! Most people know what it feels like after the Ramadan high has passed. The instability of the 'high' is a characteristic of life. And that lesson is one even Abu Bakr (ra) had to learn.

One day, Abu Bakr (ra) and Hanzala (ra) came to the Prophet (saw) and said, "Hanzala is a hypocrite, Messenger of Allah!" The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, "Why is that?" I said, "Messenger of Allah, when we are with you, you remind us of Jannah and Jahannam, and it is as if we can see them with our own eyes. When we leave your presence, we attend to our wives, children and estates in a state of great heedlessness". The Prophet (saw) said, "By the One in whose hand my soul is, if you were to remain in the state you are in when you are in my presence and in the dhikr, the angels would shake hands with you on your bed and in the street, but, Hanzala, different times are not the same". He repeated this three times. (Muslim)

(Yasmin Mogahed)


No comments:

Post a Comment