[The Compellor]

An Islamic Prophetic tradition (hadith):

“It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri said: ‘We (the believers) said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, will we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?’ He (Prophet Muhammad) said, ‘Do you have any difficulty in seeing the sun and the moon when the sky is clear?’ We said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘So you will have no difficulty in seeing your Lord on that Day, just as you have no difficulty in seeing the sun and the moon (in a clear sky).

 …Then the bridge (sirat) will be laid across Hell.’ We said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! What is the bridge?’ He said, ‘It is a slippery (bridge) on which there are clamps and (hooks like) thorns which are wide at one side and narrow at the other and have bent ends. A plant with such thorns is found in Najd and is called al-Sa’daan. Some of the believers will cross the bridge as quickly as the wink of an eye, some others as quick as lightning, a strong wind, or fast horses or she-camels. So some will be safe without any harm; some will be safe after receiving some scratches, and some will fall down into Hell (Fire). The last person will cross by being dragged (over the bridge). You cannot be more pressing in claiming from me a right that has been clearly proved to be yours than the believers in interceding with Almighty Allaah for their brothers on that Day, when they see themselves safe.  ‘They will say, ‘O Lord, our brothers used to pray with us and fast with us and do good deeds with us.’ Allah will say, ‘Go, and whoever you find with a dinar’s-weight of faith in his heart, bring him forth, and Allah will forbid their bodies to the Fire.’ So they will go, and some of them will be sinking into the Fire up to their feet or shins, and they will bring forth those whom they recognize. Then they will come back, and He will say, ‘Go, and whoever you find with half a dinar’s-weight of faith in his heart, bring him forth.’ So they will go and bring forth those whom they recognize. Then they will come back, and He will say, ‘Go, and whoever you find with an atom’s-weight of faith in his heart, bring him forth.’ So they will go and bring forth those whom they recognize.’ Abu Sa’eed said: ‘If you do not believe me, then read the verse interpretation of the meaning:

Surely, Allah wrongs not even of the weight of an atom (or a small ant), but if there is any good (done), He doubles it, and gives from Him a great reward [Qur’an, 4:40].

[The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:] ‘So the Prophets, the angels and the believers will intercede, and the Compellor (Allah) will say, ‘There remains My intercession.’ Then He will take a handful from the Fire and bring forth some people whose bodies have been burnt and throw them into a river at the entrance to Paradise that is called the Water of Life.
They will grow on its banks, as a seed carried by a flood grows. You have seen how it grows beside a rock or beside a tree, and how the side facing the sun is usually green while the side facing the shade is white. They will come out like pearls, and necklaces will be placed around their necks. Then they will enter Paradise, and the people of Paradise will say, ‘These are the people emancipated by the Most Merciful. He has admitted them into Paradise without them having done any good deeds and without them having sent forth any good (for themselves).’ Then it will be said to them, ‘You will have what you have seen and the equivalent thereof.'”

(Narrated by al-Bukhari in Kitab al-Tawheed (The Book of Unity), no. 7440)

Al-Jabbar (the Compellor)

“He is the repairer of the broken, the completer of the lacking, the one who can enforce His will without any opposition.

Hadrat Ali used to pray, Ya Jabbira kulli kasirum wa ya masahilla kulli ‘asirin—’O Jabbar (the Compellor), who puts together all that is broken and brings ease to every difficulty.’

At the same time al-Jabbar is the one who is able to enforce His will at all times and places without any opposition. This forcefulness makes submission a necessity. His forcefulness is within the destiny of all His creation. The sun cannot say, ‘I will not rise again.’ The wind cannot say, ‘I will not blow again.’ Yet the human being is given a choice. We are also given the wisdom to know what is right and what is wrong. We are given freedom yet the purpose of our creation is to know Allah, to find Allah, and to become the servant of Allah. But this is not enforced on us. Allah has left it to our wish.

We find al-Jabbar by knowing that the only place to go to repair our broken hopes, to find peace in the confusion in which we find ourselves, is to Allah. On those unhappy occasions of disobedience and revolt, if we run to take refuge in Allah’s mercy before the coming of His punishment (from which no force can save us and from which there is nowhere to hide), we will find in this moment the recollection of Allah in His capacity as the Forceful One.”

Source: Shaykh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti, The Name & the Named: The Attributes of God, pp. 61-2


[yearnings and fragmented communications]

  • One who regards pleasure as the highest good believes that the ultimate goal of existence is reward or punishment.
  • One who regards service as the highest good, thereby seeing beyond the self with a gaze of sacrifice, knows that the purpose of reward and punishment is for the ultimate goal of God.
  • Service is to act freely out of no other desire than that of love for Other.
  • Love is a fire that is noble because of its luminosity. The truthful know the flame by its light. The deceitful are burned by its heat.
  • “There are two kinds of light: the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures.”
  • “Nothing created has ever been able to fill the heart of man. God alone can fill it infinitely.” – St. Thomas Aquinas
  • “Abide in my love.” (John, 15:9)

[Hearts tuned to a dead channel are harder than stones.]

“…the mineral world is viewed as the lowest form of creation. It takes outside force to move or change a stone; we throw one and it remains inert. There are many expressions in our language that reflect this lowly aspect of the stone. We say that someone is stupid, or blind or deaf as a stone. Stone lacks sensation or feeling, and we accuse someone of having a heart of stone. When Medusa, in Greek myth, turns someone into a stone, its psychological meaning is that he or she regresses to a less conscious state. Our worst fear freezes us into stone, robbing us of our ability to act.

We are fascinated by the dense nature of stone that refuses us access. In her poem “Conversations with a Stone,” Wislawa Szymborska writes:

I knock at the stone’s front door.

‘It’s only me, let me come in.’

‘I don’t have a door,’ says the stone.”

Source: The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism, The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images, p. 104

And yet, after all this, your hearts hardened and became like stones, or even harder: for, behold, there are stones from which streams gush forth; and, behold, there are some from which, when they are cleft, water issues; and, behold, there are some that fall down for awe of God. And God is not unmindful of what you do!

The allusion to water in the above Qur’anic verse is noteworthy. Although the significance of water manifests itself differently in different religions and beliefs, water is a universal symbol of purity, renewal, and life. It has a central place in the practices and rituals of many traditions. Not only does water purify one externally and spiritually, but it also prepares one to come into the presence of one’s focus of worship. For the Muslim, for example, ablutions performed correctly and with sincere intention purify the soul from the pollution of sin and it is as if one has been given a new will, a new life.

Because all life comes from water, the ancients regarded water as a symbol of “the universal congress of potentialities, the fons et origo, which precedes all form and all creation. Immersion in water signifies a return to the pre-formal state, with a sense of death and annihilation on the one hand, but of rebirth and regeneration on the other.” In India, water is generally regarded as the “preserver of life, circulating throughout the whole of nature, in the form of rain, sap, milk, and blood.”

In light of the above verse, it behooves us, therefore, to ask ourselves this: Are our hearts better than stones? For from the stone—emblem of rigidity, hardness, and coarseness—we can see “streams gush forth” and “when they are cleft, water issues.” Yet, the water of Truth—that which brings life, restores, and purifies—cannot even penetrate a heart that is as hard as stone. Even harder. That heart is so hard and inaccessible, so cold and unyielding, that it is “unaffected by heavenly things” and “slow to credit the words of God.” The stony heart, “hardened by sin, and confirmed in it; destitute of spiritual life and motion; senseless and stupid, stubborn and inflexible; on which no impressions are made; and which remains hard and impenitent” is, essentially, dead.

Sources: Taken from Qur’an (Surah ‘The Cow’, 2:74); J.E. Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols, pp.364-5; Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible and Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Biblehttp://bible.cc/ezekiel/36-26.htm

[10 guidelines for your journey in this weird corporal world of scattered objects]

10 guidelines for your journey in this weird corporal world of scattered objects:

1. You will encounter fierce resistance from your lower soul to the intellect’s domination. Force it down or it will force you down.

2. Refrain from argumentation with men and animals. Silence is closer to truth.

3. Consider the breathing rocks. In them are lessons for you, if you indeed have a heart!

4. Lose yourself in the desert for a length of years. God’s Book is your map, remembrance your compass.

5. At night, there is much in the stars that can be overheard. In the day, dig for gold in the sky.

6. Occupy a laboratory. Make it your home for the duration of your stay in this world.

7.  Know that the world is a dead weight only He can lift. Every glimpse of pain is expiation. Every thought will direct you to its source.

8. Believe and then do more than believe. You will penetrate into the secret name.

9. Love does not expect hopelessly. There is no despair in prayer.

10. Death is your project.

[How to Read Mevlana]

Rumi’s poetry is widely considered one of the great masterpieces of Islamic literatures, and Rumi is now the best-selling poet in America. This talk will serve as a deep introduction to Rumi’s masterpiece, by taking the audience inside the main teachings and structure of the Masnavi. No background or language is necessary.

Dr. Omid Safi is a leading public Muslim intellectual in America. He is a Professor of Islamic Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in contemporary Islamic thought and classical Islam. He is the past Chair for the Study of Islam and the current Chair for the Islamic Mysticism Group at the American Academy of Religion, the largest international organization devoted to the academic study of religion.

Omid is an award-winning teacher and speaker, and was nominated six times at Colgate University for the “Professor of the Year” award, and before that twice at Duke University for the Distinguished Lecturer award. At the University of North Carolina, he received the award for mentoring minority students in 2009, and the Sitterson Teaching Award for Professor of the Year in April of 2010.

He is the editor of the volume Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2003). His work Politics of Knowledge in Premodern Islam, dealing with medieval Islamic history and politics, was published by UNC Press in 2006. His Voices of Islam: Voices of Change, was published by Praeger in 2006. His last book was published by HarperCollins, titled Memories of Muhammad, and deals with the biography and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad. He has a forthcoming volume from Princeton University Press on the famed mystic Rumi. The Carnegie Foundation recognized Omid as a leading Scholar of Islam in 2007-2008 for studying contemporary Islamic debates in Iran. That topic will be the topic of his next book from Harvard University Press. His volume on American Islam is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.


“Mirror is a reflective container whose source of power is light. Our English word ‘mirror’ comes from the Latin mirari, to wonder or marvel at. The wonderous nature of the mirror is how it draws our imagination into its seeming depths, the sense that beyond the mirror image of our immediate reality might be seen something entirely different. In Lewis Carroll’s famous story, the world of dreams lies ‘through the Looking-glass.’ Personifying the unconscious and its compelling capacity to reflect the unknown and potential, alchemy attributed to its figure Sulfur, the possession of ‘a mirror in which the whole world is to be seen. Whosoever looks into this mirror, can see and learn therein the parts of the wisdom of the whole World…’ (CW 14:137, n 108). At the same time, the more destructive aspects of the unconscious, like consuming appetites and ‘lunatic’ tendencies, were projected on the changeable and cyclically dark Luna, ‘the great poisonous mirror of nature.’ Yet as the illuminating speculum or ‘looking-glass,’ Luna could also mediate self-knowledge and the face she showed was affected by the receptiveness or resistance of the adept to the insights she offered.

What do we see when we look in a mirror? To ‘reflect’ means to bend back or around, suggesting a linking. Attuned mirroring of the infant and young child contributes to the bringing of their substance into being. Derangements in mirroring have been associated with pathological narcissism, borderline states and chronic depression. In the Greek legend of Narcissus, the youth, divinely spellbound by his own reflection, wastes away. Two twentieth-century women, Virginia Woolf and Freud’s patient, Anna O, testified to the traumatic experience of seeing a beast or monster in their looking glass—projections, perhaps, of the distorting effects of mental illness. Everyday, we confront mirrors in the reactions of others to our behavior. Saint Paul saw the mirror as an analogue to our experience of the divine here and now as opposed to the afterlife: ‘For now we see in a glass darkly, but then face to face’ (1 Cor. 13:12). Schopenhauer, however, compared the human intellect to a mirror. In its magical aspect, the mirror is a trickster’s tool, an implement of illusion, often making us appear as more, or less, than we are. But the mirror as an emblem of our capacity to reflect is also an instrument of salvation. In the myth of Perseus, it is only by looking at the reflected image of what is too dangerous to absorb directly, that the hero is able to slay the snake-headed Medusa.”

Source: The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism, The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images, pp.590, 592

World and Heart as Mirror

“The attributes of the complete human being are the attributes of God appropriately reflected in human nature. God has innumerable qualities, ninety-nine of which are mentioned in the Qur’an. Some of these are the everyday attributes of a human being: seeing, hearing, speech, will, life, awareness. The Sufi recognizes that these qualities are reflected through the human being from the Absolute Being. Becoming completely human is being able to reflect more and more of the divine qualities in everyday life.

The world is viewed as the mirror of divine qualities, the site of their manifestation. The human heart is even more so a site of their manifestation.”

Source: Kabir Helminski, The Knowing Heart: A Sufi Path of Transformation, p.22

“…in the process of purification that culminates in illumination, both St John and the Sufis polish the mirror of their soul to the point where it is so burnished that it can reflect the light of God: ‘the mirror [of the] heart has been so polished with divers classes of mortification. . . whose effect is the polishing that must be accomplished so that the forms of mystical realities can manifest themselves with all their brightness in the heart.’ These words are from Abu al-Mawahib al-Shadhali…but the image is repeated over and over by Rumi, Ibn ‘Ata’Allah, Ibn Arabi, Al-Ghazzali, and even the ancient Bistami (d. 874), Hakim Tirmidhi (d. 898), and Hasan Basri (d. 728). St John sounds like them all, and his soul, ‘through the brightness that comes supernaturally,’ becomes a ‘bright mirror’ (N II: 24:4; VO 459).”

Source: http://www.allamaiqbal.com/publications/journals/review/apr98/3.htm


Ibn Arabi on Man as mirror of God, God as Mirror of the World:

“…the most important metaphor used by Ibn Arabi to depict the relation between God, the world and man in particular, remains that of the mirror. Ibn Arabi did not invent the symbol of the mirror, but he resorted to it to clarify the nature of the relation between God and His creatures. A real mirror reflects the image of the person looking at it. In the same way, symbolically, a mirror reflects ideas. When we say, figuratively, that a poet is the mirror of his age, or that one person is the mirror of another, we mean by that, that the poet or the person has been able to capture the characteristic image of his age or of the other person, and show it to people. Perhaps if Ibn Arabi had lived in our time, he would have made use of the screen, and used it as a symbol. For the screen has an amazing ability to receive and transmit images. Within this framework, we may say [that]:

(i) Man is a double mirror, being the isthmus between God and the world. One face is the mirror of the Divine Names, while the other is the mirror of the cosmic names. [or, on the one side stands the Absolute and on the other side, creation. The latter is like a mirror, sign, signifier, or image, but in all cases but a reflection or shadow of the Real.]

(ii) Man is the mirror of God, and God is the mirror of man. They are two mirrors, each reflecting the other. God is the mirror of man, with man seeing himself in the Divine mirror. And man is the mirror of God because he reflects His Names back to Him.

The following are some of Ibn Arabi’s texts which describe these two mirrors.

(a) Man as mirror of God

The texts of Ibn Arabi successively describe the world as a mirror, and the mirror means the place which accepts the image of a thing and not the thing itself. Thus, the mirror is at the same time a deception, for the image of a person in a mirror is the person himself, while being quite other. In the same way, there is in the mirror nothing of the reflected person. He says: ‘The world […] is the mirror of God. The people of Knowledge (‘arifun) see there only the image of God.’

(b) God as Mirror of the World

The traveller exerts himself that his Lord may be unveiled to him, but at the end of his spiritual retreat, what is unveiled to him is his own truth, and he sees his own image in the mirror of God. This is reminiscent of the final arrival of Fariduddin Attar’s birds and their vision of the Simurgh. Regarding the fact that God is the mirror of the world, Ibn Arabi says: ‘God is the mirror of the world. They [the creatures] see in this mirror only their own images.'”

Source: http://www.ibnarabisociety.org/articles/unityofbeing.html