RESEARCH PAPER, ARTICLES, THESIS IDEAS, POSTS

RESEARCH PAPER, ARTICLES, THESIS IDEAS, POSTS

“Why Modern Intellectuals don’t reach the Truth?”, 2009

Published in 4 International Journals:-

 

JRISS, JRSS, Transcendent Philosophy, Suvidya

 

The pendulum of our age swings with the thrust of relativism, the amplitude of uncertainty while hinging on subjectivity. Paradoxes that defy the best brains, stir the calmest hearts and threaten the conviction of most, revolve around Truth. Reality is a supreme puzzle harder to join after the ascent of intellect. Most religions demand leaps of faith too big for inquisitive minds. Science’s relentless pursuit of facts renders it cold for human emotions. Philosophy cannot avoid and instead drowns in the waves of its times. Psychology mocks man’s dignity by deeming him a puppet dancing to an unheard tune. Intuition and imagination in Art and Literature fail to serve the utilitarian ends of materialism. Hedonism is a forbidden tree whose fruits poison man’s soul; so pleasure, too, is not a beacon of guidance. Thus a cry for intellectual unity among all kinds of people seems fruitless. Yet, one definition of truth worthy of highest consent is that it has to pass the deepest scrutiny of reason and stand the longest test of time.

Is there anything that is qualified to be called the Truth? Do we need a Truth to live for? Can there ever be a single Truth which would unite the whole world without any conflicts? Or is Truth the unmatched utopia which will never prevail beyond wishful thinking? Does Truth stand independent of us? Is Truth only an illusion of our psyche? Is it an inevitable epiphenomenon of the natural disposition of our brain? Do we see things as they are or as we are? Is there a visionary who, blessed with the height of wisdom, possesses a magical answer to these unsolved riddles of our times? The History of Western Thought is full of false prophets who claimed to bring man out of darkness.

Once upon a time, man was foolish, naïve, “backwards” and irrational. When he would set his eyes upon the mighty mountains, he would think of a Creator behind them. When he would witness the undisturbed alternation of sun and moon, he would imagine a God moving them. When he would see his body designed with fragility and perfection, he would ascribe the same cause to it. When he would be in need, he would lift his hands for a prayer. When he would be confused about right and wrong, he would open a Holy Book. However, thanks to science, technology, intellect and progress, there is no such idiocy anymore. Now he can explain everything with science and logic. He does not need fairytales to be fascinated with; perhaps he has grown too wise for them. How superstitious was he!

The above is an excerpt from the diary of a modern man as to how he views religion. Is not it wondrous that some of the most educated and intelligent people turn completely stupid when it comes to religion? People who can design highly complex integrated circuits fail to understand a simple teaching of religion. We have already read the modern man’s explanation, but the secret is much deeper than that which, if understood, would not have given birth to so many “isms”.

The body-soul duality has confused some of the most sophisticated minds since ages. Spiritual masters of all traditions claim that the soul, too, has organs. Let us consider what Western Philosophy calls as the mind-body problem. Neuroscientists claim the dualism of mind-brain to be true; the mind is to soul what the brain is to body; the mind is a ‘spiritual’ brain distinct from the biological brain. To understand how they interact, let us consider computer technology as an analogy. Intelligence itself belongs to the software but it cannot perform its function without its information processor i.e. the hardware. Mind is like the software whereas brain is like the hardware. Furthermore, in both cases, the earlier is non-material whereas the later is material.

Perhaps the two most fascinating scientific discoveries in the last few years are as follows. Firstly, the biological heart which has been considered as only a blood-pump since ages is actually a lot more than that i.e it is an intelligent organ. Secondly, there is a dualism of heart as well i.e besides the biological heart, there is a spiritual heart.

Recently, a relatively new medical discipline known as Neurocardiology has uncovered the presence of the neurons in the heart, the same type of cells that are present in the brain. There are as many as 40000 neurons in the heart. The nervous system of the heart is made up of these neurons which are capable of processing information without the help of neurons from the brain. The neurons of the heart obtain information from the rest of the body and make appropriate adjustments and send back this information from the heart to the rest of the body including the brain. In addition to this, these neurons possess a kind of short-term memory which allows them to function independently of the central nervous system.

These findings prompted the nervous system of the heart being mentioned as the “brain in the heart”. The heart possesses its own little brain, capable of complex computational analysis on its own. Data clearly indicate that the intrinsic cardiac nervous system acts as much more than a simple relay station for the extrinsic autonomic projections to the heart. An understanding of the complex anatomy and function of the heart’s nervous system contributes an additional dimension to the newly emerging view of the heart as a sophisticated information processing centre, functioning not only in concert with the brain but also independent of it.

The heart communicates with the brain in 4 different ways. Firstly, its nerve cells or neurons transmit information to the brain. It is called neural traffic and research has shown that the heart sends more neural traffic to the brain than the other way round. Secondly, the heart has been found to secrete a very powerful hormone called Atrial Natriuretic factor (ANF) that has a profound effect on many parts of the body including those portions of the brain that are involved in memory, learning and emotions. Thirdly, with every heartbeat, pressure waves are generated and when these travel through the arteries to the brain, there are recordable changes in the electrical activity of the brain. Finally, the heart has an electromagnetic energy field 5000 times greater than that of the brain. Since the heart’s energy field is greater than that of the brain, it has a profound effect on the brain’s functions.

Even though the timing of the heartbelt can be influenced by the brain (through the autonomic nervous system), the source of the heartbeat is present within the heart. There appears to be no need for nerve connections between the heart and the brain. That is why, when a person has a heart transplant, all the nerve connections between the heart and brain are cut but that doesn’t stop the heart from working when it is placed in the new person’s chest.

It is common knowledge now that the heart of the unborn child develops and starts pumping long before the brain comes into existence. Even though the actual event which triggers the beating of the heart cells of a baby is not known, it is suspected that the mother’s heart energy conveyed in primal sound waves contains the information that is the code that jump-starts our life. Once the heart begins to beat, it continues to beat throughout a lifetime (auto rhythmic beating function) even when the brain stops working in cases like ‘brain death’. Brain death is described as a condition when brain activity has stopped forever. Hence even when the brain dies, the heart can still live. But when the heart dies (unless we find a replacement for the heart), the brain cannot live. Thus, the brain needs the heart for its survival more than the other way around.

Joseph Pearce, in “Evolution’s End”, claims that the biological heart is governed by another higher unseen order of energy. The behaviors of people after heart-transplants reflect that of the late donors. Experiments were done on two cells taken from the heart and observed through a microscope. In the first experiment in which they are isolated from one another they simply fibrillate until they die but when similar cells are brought near to each other, they synchronize and beat in unison. They don’t have to touch they communicate across a spatial barrier. Our heart made up of many billions of such cells operating in unison is under the guidance of a higher, non localized intelligence so we have both a physical heart and a higher universal heart and our access to the latter is dramatically contingent on the former.

Intelligence used to be defined as only rationality expressed by the brain and measured by IQ tests. In 1983, Howard Gardner of Harvard revolutionized the whole concept of intelligence. He showed 7 distinct kinds of intelligence – logical/mathematical, linguistic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, spatial & bodily/kinesthetic. He claimed that IQ-tests measure only the first two types. In 1996, Daniel Goleman, in his famous book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ showed that life depends far higher on the ability to manage emotions rather than mental abilities alone. Emotional intelligence is of a humanistic type whereas logical intelligence is of a selfish type. Thus intelligence devoid of heart turns man cunning and insensitive. Some deem emotions as only the by-product of brain but it has been shown that emotions are much faster than the thought process and surpass the linear-reasoning of the brain. J. Andrew Armour proved in his book “Neurocardiology” that amygdala, the portion of brain dealing with emotional memory processing, is influenced by the heart.

On a less scientific and much simpler, philosophical and experiential level, we can understand the heart-brain interaction by reflecting on how we reason in our everyday lives. An emotion or feeling gives birth to a thought process. The sequence of the reasoning progresses in the direction as governed by the emotion behind it. The final conclusion which we label as rationale is nothing but the super-imposition of the initial emotion. Man, as we all know, is primarily governed by passion. There are very few instances in which his rationality is unaltered by his emotions. His heart and mind are fully interconnected. Feelings arouse thoughts and thoughts stir feelings and this vicious cycle goes on.

Where man becomes rational in a neutral manner, that is, without favoring his emotions, is mostly the scientific domain. Conclusions of scientific investigations and experiments are more often than not free from adulterations and biases. Why is that so? Why is a scientist more often than not honest in scientific truths? It is because the conclusions have nothing to do with the fulfillment or negation of his desires; but the same scientist will never be that honest in concluding religious truths because, he knows it will directly interfere with his desires. Even in scientific matters like evolution and creation, scientists who are inwardly anti-religious lose their honesty. Atheist Richard Dawkins, who can be called a “fundamentalist Scientist”, despite claiming to be a pure rationalist, rejects a refutation of Darwinism which is more rational than its defense. Scientists, too, are humans like us.

Is intuition a source of intelligence?  How can people create art or become great artists with neither learning or studying art nor having an arts degree?  They call it artistic sense. But what is artistic sense? Artistic sense is nothing but intuitive intellect invested for art.  The rationalists recognize it in the domain of Arts but shun it when it comes to religion. It is their intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy. Without intuition no one can compose music or write poetry. ‘Gut feeling’ and ‘6th sense’, too, are human experiences that cannot be denied. Why does someone in love possess such a strong and accurate sixth sense regarding his beloved? Heart is way above being just a romantic-sounding word.

Knowledge itself is neither Western nor Eastern. Science is neither materialistic nor spiritual in its scope and purpose; it is concerned with the observation, collection and definition of facts and the derivation from them of general rules. But the inductive conclusions derived from them are not based on facts and observations alone but are influenced, to a very large extent, by the intuitive attitude towards life and its problems.  The great German philosopher, Kant, said: “It seems surprising at first, but is none the less certain, that our reason does not draw its conclusions from things, but ascribes them to it” . This ascription cannot be free from intuition coming from the heart.

“If you are not deceived by the mirage, be not proud of your understanding.               Your freedom from this optical illusion is due to your imperfect thirst” – Urfi

One seldom comes across a more beautiful explanation of the phenomena of perception than the above words of the Persian poet. With a vehement desire to drink, the sands of the desert would give the impression of a lake but due to the absence of a keen desire for water, one cannot perceive it. A person with hatred for someone will see faults in him that do not even exist, whereas, a person in love with someone finds gems in him out of no where. Human knowledge is only a perception of the reality, not the reality itself. In quantum physics, even the distinction between subject and object has ceased to exist. We see things as we are not as they are. Perception, too, is the work of heart.

Till now we have discussed heart in the light of modern science and simple philosophy. Although it has certainly shed new lights on many things but we have not yet answered the question raised at the start. It is said that where all human intellect ceases, the sagacity of revelation starts. Similarly, where scientists and philosophers have nothing to say further, a deeply spiritual or religious man will have a lot to offer. The role of biological heart and the existence of spiritual heart that Science has discovered now were revealed in the Quran, in more than 100 verses, 15 centuries earlier. But Islam did not just settle there and took the concept to another level altogether. It further explained the role of spiritual heart (qalb) as well which would, in turn, create all the difference.

A mirror reveals the true picture only when it is itself clear and clean. When an impurity mars it, the image is dimmed and if it becomes covered with dirt, it cannot reveal a true reflection. The qalb is a mirror. When it is freed from vices, it is spotless and speaks only the truth. When a vice takes place, a black spot appears on it and if the vices go on persisting, the black spot grows bigger till the heart becomes completely blind to the truth. Just as the brain has an IQ level reflecting capability to understand many things, the heart has a purification level which indicates its capacity to comprehend the Ultimate Truth.

Truth is infinite and cannot reside in a finite container. Human senses have limitations with mortality written all over them. Although the human brain is amazing to reach beyond the stars or inside a micro particle but it, too, would fail to give the right output in some of the fundamental questions of life if it receives input from a corrupt master (qalb). Qalb is the only organ which has the potential to grasp the infinite despite human limitations. Quran says that God neither exists in the heavens nor on the earth but only in the qalb of His true followers. The qalb is His home but He enters it only when it is clean enough for Him.

The modern man, in his sheer ignorance, thinks that religion doesn’t appeal to him because, unlike the older times when man hadn’t developed logical competence, now he has intellectually progressed too much to even need religion. In truth, his heart has been darkened so much due to sins that he has lost the ability to see the reality. God describes such people as deaf, dumb and blind who can neither see the truth nor hear the truth nor speak the truth. When Muhammad (pbuh) said that our heart is the organ which governs our body, his words were spoken from a spiritual point of view because from the physical perspective, even a school-kid knows it. The indifference to religion in the modern age is not because of intellectual superiority but due to spiritual inferiority.

People can be brilliant in their professions with impure hearts because most require only good brains. Religious knowledge, however, is quite different from secular knowledge. If Ghazali, Rumi or Ibn-al-Arabi used logic to the fullest for their brilliant philosophies, it is because with a heart similar to theirs, reason will always reach the truth. The problem with the modern man is that he uses logic as much as them but has a heart not even worth comparing to them. As much as intellect guides man, it leads him astray – the criteria being state of the heart. Modern man’s intellectual discourse is mostly a rational expression or rather justification of the call of lower-self (nafs).

It is noteworthy to compare the ancient and modern concepts of Philosophy. In Greek tradition, it was considered hikmah (wisdom). For Muslims, philosophy was nothing but an honest search for the truth. In today’s academics, the discipline of philosophy comes under Arts because now it has been robbed of its serious nature and is more just a creative ability to think without any profound veracity, with more emphasis on originality rather than depth. Iqbal must have seen the highly obscured vision of Russel, Nietzsche, Freud, Marx and Rousseau, when he said that, “man’s reason aims at the conquest of the world of matter; his love makes conquest of the infinite. Knowledge devoid of love is nothing but juggling with ideas” . Quran rightly described pseudo-intellectualism as nothing but mental conjectures devoid of reality.

Rumi saw the heart, being a special inner insight, bringing us into contact with aspects of reality other than those open to sense-perception and intellect. Intellect, according to him, only restrains the living heart of man and robs it of the invisible wealth that lies within. While admitting the superiority of intuitive intellect over rational, Iqbal said that “where thought grasps Reality piecemeal, intuition grasps it in its wholeness. One fixes its gaze on the temporal aspect of Reality; the other on the eternal. One slowly traverses, specifies and closes up the various regions of the whole for exclusive observation; the other is present enjoyment of the whole of Reality” .

The issue with the modern man is that he is so in love with this illusionary world that his rationality is bound to suit only his emotions which are non-religious and non-spiritual in nature. That is why even when he opens a Holy Book, his interpretation deprives him of the truth and the celestial verses fail to penetrate into his dark heart. On the other hand, the same man, amazingly, shed tears on a mere song or a movie or a novel despite knowing it is only art not the truth! The issue with religion is that it is too deep to be grasped without a receptive heart, and certainly not for the shallowness and superficiality of the modern age. Thus Islamization of knowledge is Islamization of man which in turn is Islamization of hearts.

A Sufi once said that no real understanding of the Holy Book is possible until it is actually revealed to the believer just as it was revealed to the Prophet. Sufis of the past were able to derive many hidden meanings behind seemingly simple Quranic verses. Hazrat Ali gave a lecture from isha till fajr on only the first letter of Bismillah. These people had hearts of gold; we only wear gold on our skins. The spiritual heart (qalb) is the organ of higher knowledge when pure. The holy book is not another collection of papers, letters and ink. It is an infinite ocean of knowledge, but only for the thirsty – not for the heedless, arrogant, “civilized” and “refined gentlemen” of the 21st century! The reason why most cannot perceive God in anything in life is because they have too much of everything else, instead, to long for. A Sufi once said that this universe is His book to take lessons from it.

The modern age speaks too much of enlightenment of the mind, whereas, with a darkened heart, the mind will only give birth to an inverted reality. No wonder arrogance is known as dignity; indifference is known as tolerance; humbleness is known as weakness; material greed is known as ambitiousness; vulgarity is known as freedom; lust is known as love; insensitivity is known as rationality; conscience is known as confusion; short-sightedness is known as practicality; conviction is known as fundamentalism; higher conviction is known as extremism; denial of human limitations is known as genius. The best illustration of inverted reality is human prosperity, a term we hear earlier than we learn how to crawl.  By devoting himself solely to increase the quantity and quality of ghair-ullah (non-God), man is now inevitably fascinated with all but God whereas the essence of religion was none but God.

What appears as the decay of religion and the rise of intelligence is in reality nothing but the death and emptiness of hearts turned idle, unable to hear that eternal inner voice.  Nietzsche said God is dead. I say conscience is dead. The pinnacle of delusion is that modern man has assumed his superiority amongst creations as an unconditional state whereas it solely relies on his acts – man can even be lower than the beasts. Man is great only because he has will and yet doesn’t sin, not because he sins and can rationally justify it as well. The latter case represents that of the modern man and he is so proud of it. He defies the truth using an instrument which alone cannot even measure it.

If man flies to the highest sky of reason, he would nothing but the clouds of Truth, only if the wings of faith take him that far!

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Mushtaq, Gohar (1987). The Intelligent Heart, the Pure Heart: an insight into the heart based on Quran, Sunnah and Modern Science. London: Ta-Ha Publishers

Muhammad, Riaz (1998). Sayings of the Mystics of Islam. Karachi: Dawah Academy

Herlihy, John (1990). In Search of the Truth. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Pustaka Islam

Iqbal, Muhammad. (1982). Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. Lahore: Javid Iqbal.

UNPUBLISHED WORKS (NOT EDITED):-

Philosophy of Tragedy & Suffering in Life

1) virtue and suffering are to some extent inseparable. All Prophets, great Sahaba, Awlia, momineen, Sufis and some great Islamic scholars throughout history mostly had tragic lives with very few exceptions. Most people who live easy comfortable lives actually compromise on virtue to do it although they will never admit it.

2) When a genuinely good person goes through hell, the natural response is God doesn’t care. But the reality is that God considers him worthy of being pushed to that extent which a normal person can’t take at all. It is that genuine person’s capacity to take blows much more than a normal person that actually proves how elevated he is in front of Allah. Thus Allah has a special place for this victim in His kingdom.

3) Holy prophet said, “people are asleep. When they die they wake up”. In another instance, he said that if this world would have been even as worthy as a wing of a mosquito, Allah would not have given a single sip of water to disbelievers. However we see that disbelievers are enjoying bounties of the world like Kings and queens. Why? Because Allah doesn’t give any worth to this world at all. Most of our pain misery agony is a consequence of considering this world as the place of results and when we see injustice all around, we can’t make sense of a God who loves us. It is only the correct deep conceptual understanding of life itself with the Spiritual perspective and Spiritual lenses that this world is only a place of temporary tests and the results are to appear in an eternal heaven. This perception of heart mind and soul makes life not just bearable but beautiful in the face of crisis and cruelty.

4) American Sufi scholar Shaykh Hamza Yusuf says “this world was designed to break your heart”. The truth is that there are veils between man and Ultimate Reality. These veils in most cases are not lifted when everything is going exactly as you wanted to. When all your desires are fulfilled, you have not paid any price for lifting the veil. It is only when your heart breaks into pieces that you see things in a different way and you realize that your most treasured and most loved things were actually not a source of being close to God but a major distraction away from God. You were living a life of merry and bliss and you thought how lucky am I whereas in truth how unfortunate u were then to be deceived by this world and how fortunate you are now to know it is a mirage, a fleeting shadow, a mere illusion.

5) whatever situation one is in, it will always be a combination of good and bad. It’s not black or white. It’s actually a grey area. If we focus only on what we don’t have, we will become either suicidal or bitter or anti God. If we focus on what we do have, we will remain sane, happy and grateful to God. At the end of the day, it is we who decide which way to look at the picture. Positive thinking is something we hear about everywhere but not many people practically implement it in their lives. It’s very easy to stay positive when your dreams are fulfilled. If Atif Aslam can stay positive there’s nothing special about it at all. It is actually if you stay positive when your dreams hopes aspirations are shattered that makes you a real hero, a real gem, a real diamond a real fighter a real man a real survivor and the real deal in the eyes of God.

Why God must be loved unconditionally!

A normal believer loves Allah when things are going well but if we read lives of Prophets Sahaba Sufis Islamic scholars, their love was unconditional without any concern or relevance to what was happening in their lives. Why?

Because the Quran calls man as Abad (slave of Allah). A slave has no will no preference no choice no ego no identity of his own. The master can do whatever he wants to do with him and doesn’t need to explain justify defend it either.

Whatever we have be it respect in society, love from family, wealth, health, food, sustenance, talent ability skill knowledge intellect, Taqwa (piety), avoiding sins, spirituality, righteousness, values, morals ethics faith conviction iman (strong belief) academic credentials professional success worldly achievements accomplishments, source of entertainment recreation joy and above all sanity normality sound mental condition- anything and everything that we have is in truth and reality Allah’s FAZAL i.e. huge favor blessing bounties gifts that we do not deserve at all. We did not earn it. We have no right to have it. It’s not our possession at all. It’s only and solely His Special grace Mercy compassion generosity wisdom that He granted us all these without our entitlement without an iota of our own greatness involved in it.

This psychology thinking mindset understanding comprehension perception of life, existence and our own self inculcates reverence for Allah without ever feeling that we have done something amazing for Him. We realize that actually we have not done anything for Him at all. He has done everything for us. Thus the inevitable logical conclusion is that Allah must be loved unconditionally otherwise it is not ISHQ (love) at all but only tijarat (trade) in which we give something and in return get something. Our relationship with Allah must be unconditional obedience and devotion because behind the curtains veils illusions mirage of asbab (worldly means), only He is there for us, with us, by us, in us, around us always and forever waiting for us to seek explore find discover  realize and see Him ONLY with the lenses of our heart, not with the eyes or the restricted limited rational mind which can solely operate in the framework of Time and Space but can never go beyond it to experience horizons further and above it to reach heights of wisdom unattainable otherwise.

When the great German Philosopher Nietzsche said “God is dead”, what did he actually mean? People don’t read the entire paragraph at all to see its actual context and interpretation. He, as a genius man with vision, was talking about the horrific and Terrible consequences of atheism that will occur in the future. This is exactly what happened with 2 world wars after that. Thus, even without being a believer himself, he was smart and wise enough to acknowledge, appreciate, admit and confess the immense role of religion in making people’s lives much better.

If an atheist like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris Christopher Hitchens, Noam Chomsky, Stephen Hawkins asks me what is the use benefit advantage practical utility of religion in this life in this world in this age? My answer will be very simple and to the point:

Throughout history and till today, the factual tale of man, the biography of this planet Earth has been and is still full of injustices cruelties oppression horror deception betrayal crime and evil. Which is that one and only single unique rare thing which gives Sahara (uplift) hope optimism positivity smiles inner peace and raises the morale of millions of victims, millions of those who are wronged, millions of people inflicted with diseases, millions of people with broken hearts, millions of people with sad tragic stories – Tell me one thing besides religion which not only fully compensates in the hereafter but really truly undoubtedly makes, in this world in this life, the suffering bearable, the wound healed, the tears wiped out and the bitterness or anguish be replaced by virtue and tranquility. This is the beauty of religion which no agnostic skeptic can deny at all.

Thus, in 2019, we should love Allah and His creation not just because we want heaven/paradise after death but because we want to make an otherwise ugly world run by Zionists on Satanic principles look beautiful not just bearable, seem based on justice not only compromise, appear to be worthy of being lived in as a virtuous noble good man not out of any cowardice or peer pressure or fear or law but out of a genuine intrinsic inner love for goodness itself as a matter of principle after full choice and maximum freedom because the greatest GIANT of all time, Muhammad SAW asked his companions: what is the Hallmark of Islam? Someone said Salat (5 times prayers). Someone said Jihad (holy war). Someone said pilgrimage. Someone said some other good deed (Naik amal). But Holy Prophet SAW said, NO.

“Beware, the Hallmark of Islam is love, love, love”.

IQBAL’S KHUDI (SELF) – MOST MISUNDERSTOOD TOPIC

Allama Iqbal said (in Urdu), “Khudi ko kar buland itna ke har taqdeer se pehle

Khuda bande se khud pooche bata teri raza kya hai”

The most common translation in English with which I do not agree at all is:

Raise your self so that before every decree

God will ascertain from you: “What is your wish?”

The entire misuderstanding arose due to this false translation. Many people did not get what Iqbal meant. Secular people saw link between this & self-actualization of Western thinkers. Some religious people saw conflict between Khudi (self) and Sufism’s self-annihilation / self-negation (khud ko mitana / khud ki nafi). Both parties are wrong.

  1. Self-actualization as understood in the West means to unleash one’s maximum potential as far as abilities/skills/talents are concerned. The sole focus is on brilliance (qabliat). It has nothing to do with spirituality (rohaniat). Steve Jobs, Wasim Akram & Michael Jackson were self-actualized individuals because they attained genius in their fields irrespective of whether they were spiritual or not. Spirituality is not the criterion here at all.

  1. Iqbal was a spiritual thinker. His entire thought can only be understood if seen with spiritual lenses. Iqbal actually did not say anything different from what Sufis had been saying. Sufis say that due to sins, the corrupted self of people has to undergo many stages of inner purification before it reaches its true real original self. That is why there is so much importance given to denial or opposition of one’s Nafs-e-amarah (lower-self NOT self). Iqbal obviously knew all that. What he really meant can be translated as:-

Raise your PURIFIED self so that before every decree

God will ascertain from you: “What is your wish?”

Thus Iqbal did not say anything new at all. However, his greatness lies in the exact choice of words selected. Why did he use words that seem totally different from what Sufis say?

  1. Iqbal’s entire goal was waking, motivating & inspiring Muslims especially of subcontinent whose spirits, courage, confidence and energy level was completely zero. Since his audience was already demotivated shattered crushed demoralised, he could not afford to use words like khud ko mitana (diminish your self) or khud ki nafi (negate your self). His deep wisdom was using words which do 2 things at the same time – endorse spirituality and raise morale of Muslims.

  1. Islam is obviously not against self-actualization at all but it demands humans to first cross the spiritual path before pursuing self-actualization so that their genius has ikhlaas (purity of intention) in it. The aim of a momin (genuine believer) is not glory itself at all but to benefit humanity or glorify Islam with his God-given gifts or knowledge or caliber in anything. If Allah grants him glory in the process, he thanks Him. If Allah does not grant him any glory at all, he is still equally happy. That is sign of Nafs-e-Mutmainah (contended soul).

Holy Prophet (SAW) is the ideal human because his spirituality & brilliance both reached their highest possible level. That is why he is still the most influential person in history!

 

MUSIC IN ISLAM: AL-GHAZALI’S OPINION

Imam Ghazali on Music in Islam – Summary of his chapter in Ihya Uloomudeen (Revival of Religious Sciences)

Music can be absolutely prohibited, permitted, reprehensible or praiseworthy. As for that which is prohibited, it is for most young men who are overwhelmed with the lust of this world; for listening will stir up in them nothing but the reviled attributes prevalent in their hearts. As for that which is reprehensible, it is for those who do not project what they listen to into the image of human beings, but take listening as a habit for most of the time, for entertainment. As for that which is permitted, it is for those whose share of listening is restricted to enjoying beautiful voices. As for that which is praiseworthy, it is for the one who is captivated by the love of Allah Most High, and listening will only stir in him his praiseworthy attributes.
Centuries ago one had to go to special places and gatherings to listen to songs, which were not available all the time. When Muslim scholars discussed and ruled over listening to music and songs, they could not imagine a time in the future when literally millions of recorded songs would be stored in a virtual reality that are readily available all the time. But what are they listening to?
Imam al-Ghazali’s first concern was about the content which might lead youngsters to psychological projection and fantasising about sexuality. They colour what they hear through their own lustful desires. Once the content in itself is problematic, it becomes prohibited. The degree of prohibition of this type of songs may have been more severe had the scholars of old known about some of the explicit lewd content of many songs today. And while there are songs today that may be considered positive, because they motivate people to overcome challenges and do something good, there are dark-themed songs that entertain suicide and encourage wrong behaviour.
Once the song is devoid of problematic content according to Islamic universal norms, and the listener does not project any ill thoughts, but only listens by way of habit for extended periods, then listening is reprehensible. Al-Ghazali is concerned here with wasting time, as with any type of extended activity that does not generate personal or public good, material or spiritual. Listening here is a distraction from a purposeful life. It is interesting that the synonyms of ‘entertainment’ include diversion and distraction.
The third category is when listening to songs is simply permitted. Here the listener enjoys the beautiful voice and the melody. There is no transgression in content and it is done only occasionally.
The fourth category is when listening becomes commendable. It is for those whom the love of Allah occupies their whole time, emotions and actions. They are the opposite of the first category, for once they hear a song about the beloved, they think of Allah. The song, in their case, becomes a tool that helps in bringing forth the best in their souls and character.

HOW TO UNITE MUSLIM WORLD- A BRAND NEW IDEA!

 

The biggest root-cause of Muslim downfall is lack of Unity in the Ummah. Everyone knows it already but no one has understood the reasons for lack of unity. Thus, no one can provide a solution as well. Most people have this huge misconception that unity means uniting everyone on the same opinions, same views & same beliefs. That is humanly impossible and not the definition of unity at all. Unity is living with love, peace, compassion, brotherhood & good-will DESPITE intellectual differences. The target is not to finish intellectual differences but to teach people how to live WITH intellectual differences with mutual respect. Right now, why there is so much disunity in the first place? There are many many categories of religious Muslims. Each category considers itself as right and others as wrong. Thus each category teaches preaches endorses proves promotes only its own version of Islam. Thus followers & students of each category naturally develop a sense of superiority for their own group and look down upon others consciously or subconsciously whether they openly express it or not. This psychology is itself most destructive for unity and is sadly the perfect condition for disunity. I have identified the problem. What is the solution?

Throughout the world in Muslim countries, all Islamic institutes should have only and solely the following design:-

The governance/leadership/management/administration and ESPECIALLY faculty members should have no affiliation or association with any category at all. They should be 100% neutral. They should call themselves only Muslims – no further label at all. Admissions should be equally open to any person who claims to be a Muslim even if you don’t consider him one. In the same classroom, in front of all students, the teacher should teach point of views of ALL categories whether Sunni (and its sub-categories) or Shia (and its sub-categories) with EQUAL intellectual honesty, arguments and details without any bias, prejudice, discrimination and distortion of facts. Students should not be forced by the teacher to subscribe to any single opinion at all. It is totally the free choice of all students to subscribe to whichever point of view they themselves find convincing. They can become whatever they want to be without any fear. Qadiani point of view should also be fully included BUT with the purpose of proving it wrong and showing its flaws so that graduates can later do dawah among Qadianis. The only way to convert Qadianis is to speak to them and show them politely that their opinion is wrong because good people are in every single category – only Allah can judge them. We cannot judge anyone at all. Simply calling them Kafirs is no solution at all. You have to show them why its kufr in the first place and that is only possible if you actually know their thesis in full details. Similarly, within Shia sect, there is only one sub-category which is Kufr and students should study it properly only to prove its wrong.

The philosophy behind this unique idea is that Muslims of every category should know clearly that the other categories are also sincere and honest in their quest for the Truth. They are not bad or astray people at all. They are not fools at all and have their own sound reasons for believing in whatever they believe. No category has any right to claim its ahl-e-haq at all. No category has any special privilege towards Ultimate Truth. Only Allah knows the Absolute Truth. Only He can decide on the Day of Judgment who is right or wrong. Our job is not to judge people but to give them the benefit of doubt that they might be right as well. If we find something convincing, we cannot expect everyone else to be convinced with it as well. All we can claim is that we tried our best to reach the Truth and our category appealed to us more than others in the process but other categories maybe right as well. Only Allah knows it in the end. This is the psychology which generates mutual respect and trust despite all the differences in thinking which is perfectly natural and that is the need of this hour. 

Why 5 times Prayers are not helping Muslims?

The Quran said namaz qayim karo (establish Salat). It doesn’t say namaz parho (offer salat). Why? Because establishment of salat means living your entire life on the teachings of quran Sunnah as recited repeatedly in salat whereas offering salat simply means performing the small ritual for 10 minutes with full devotion concentration focus love sincerity (khushu khuzu). Please note that I am not denying the importance of ritual at all as it’s an obligation but the duty is fulfilled only when its practically applied during the 23 hours outside Salat.

Today the entire Ummah is in a pathetic state because Muslims only offer salat. They don’t establish Salat at all. They can continue doing this for 1000 more years. The horrible conditions of Muslim world will never change because in reality they are not following Quran’s order of Salat at all.

ISHQ-E-RASOOL (LOVE FOR HOLY PROPHET SWS)

There are thousands of things which come under the category of Sunnah. Not a single aspect of his life is unworthy but it is obvious that there are levels of importance & levels of categories within Sunnah. All Sunnah are NOT equally important at all. The LEAST important Sunnah are growing a beard, wearing certain type of clothes, having a turban/cap on your head, using miswaak etc. The MOST important Sunnah are having intense love compassion mercy for others, forgiving your enemies, having a pure heart free from hatred jealousy ill will for anyone, being concerned about the welfare of entire humanity, having pain and worry for the cause of entire ummah, having deepest wisdom, being an intellectual giant with profound knowledge both spiritual & worldly, having patience to bear injustice and tribulations in life, being happy with Allah even when everything goes wrong, going out of the way to help others, perseverance, selflessness, unwavering commitment, determination, high aims, high goals, high aspirations, courage, fearlessness, speaking the truth without compromises, sheer hard work, attaining excellence, sincerity of intention, not being judgmental about other people’s status in the eyes of Allah, embracing people with totally different views, doing something to benefit the society, making sacrifices of your own pride & selfish desires, fighting anger, totally avoiding backbiting or dirty politics, doing everything on justice & merit, never depriving anyone of his/her due right, finishing personality-worship (shaksiat parasti), being practical/realistic in approach, highly strategic visionary far-sighted thinking, totally avoiding dispute over small issues, full chastity (haya) while dealing with opposite sex and many other qualities- this is the real essence and spirit of Islam. These are the things which defined Holy Prophet SWS.

Today, the Muslim world is in a pathetic state because religious people who call themselves Ashiq-e-Rasool (lovers of Holy Prophet SWS) are focused on the least important Sunnah and discard, ignore & never adopt the most important Sunnah. They can continue doing what they are doing for 1000 more years, the horrible conditions of Muslims will never change because in reality they are not following Sunnah at all.

TAZKIA-E-NAFS (PURIFICATION OF SOUL)

In Muslim world, many Sufi Khanqas are working on tazkianafs. However, a close examination of their people shows that the results are very unfavorable. Many people don’t attain purity of heart at all which is clearly demonstrated by their bad morals bad ethics. This is because of lack of deep understanding of tazkianafs of those who are in charge. Currently, the only method being applied for tazkianafs is Zikr, Meditation, quranic recitation, acts of worship  etc. This is obviously one way but not the only way at all. There are 2 more methods as well which I will introduce. 1) intellectual tazkianafs 2) imaan tazkianafs.

1) The important thing which needs to be understood is that how does a spiritual sickness originate in the first place? Why does a qalb (heart) become sick? There is a thought process behind every spiritual disease. There is a deviation from correct knowledge in every case. Let me give you an example. Jealousy is a very common disease. Have you wondered why does a person become jealous in the first place? It is the thinking in his mind, “why does he have what I don’t have” or “why did Allah give it to him and not me”. This is the mindset behind jealousy. Note that the cure for jealousy can be done by correcting this thinking through proper knowledge based on quran Sunnah. How? A Shaykh should explain to his disciple that whatever the other person has been given is between Allah and him. Whatever the disciple has is between Allah and himself. It is part of our faith and belief as Muslim to be happy with the distribution of Allah because it is His own wisdom and we can not question it at all. Once the disciple understands this concept properly, he will never feel jealous of anyone at all. Note that this tazkianafs took place only on a mind level and since the heart is connected to mind, the heart becomes pure as a result. Let me give you another example. Hazrat Wasif Ali Wasif said, (Urdu) “ghussa na karo koi bhi shakhs Jo bhi bura karta hay woh Apnay fehm say he majboor hay”. Note that this is a very deep wisdom. It is telling us that when people act horrible with us we should not be angry because people only act according to their level of thinking and they themselves are not fully aware of it. Thus we should ignore them. If you properly conceptually understand what hazrat Wasif said you won’t be angry at all unless in extreme cases. This understanding will help you in controlling your anger and thus you will fight with your nafs and retain a pure heart. Again tazkianafs took place purely on an intellectual level.

2. A person can get rid of a spiritual sickness also by an imaan method. For example, someone has done extremely bad to you and you want to take revenge. You should consider that Rasoolullah SAW forgave his worst enemies on conquest of Makkah. If you love him, you should act like him and adopt his morals. Thus you too should forgive those who do wrong to you so that you will earn the proximity of Rasoolullah SAW. This imaan-oriented feeling emotion inner state will motivate and Inspire you to not take revenge at all. Thus your heart will become pure once again. This is tazkianafs through imaan method.

Note that all 3 methods of tazkianafs are equally valid and successful. The only difference is that it depends on the aptitude temperament personality of disciple which method to apply. It will vary from case to case. A Shaykh should know his disciple very well before suggesting him the appropriate method. All 3 methods will give positive results.

Fundamental Flaw with Today’s Sufis

Tazkianafs is not an end in itself but a means towards the end. If we read holy Prophet SAW and Sahaba’s lives it becomes crystal clear what is the purpose of tazkia. 1) Allah wants momineen to establish a nizaam (system of governance). This process is full of hardships because of the sheer opposition by those running nizaam based on kufr. To do sabar u need tazkia. 2) once the nizaam is established, you can easily get corrupt because of power, worldly desires and temptations. Again u need tazkia to retain purity and justice. These are the two reasons why tazkia is needed. The biggest mistake of Ahle Tasawuf is to consider tazkia itself as the goal and not do the things for which tazkia was required in the first place. This is why Ummah is in a horrible situation since 6 centuries because of lack of proper understanding of deen.

IDEAS FOR THESIS TOPICS as Student of Postgrad Courses at ISTAC, IIUM in 2009

English Literature

Islamic Interpretation of Shakespearan Tragedies:

There is a book by the same name in main library. Take one specific play, lets say Hamlet or Macbeth and then relate to islam what we learn from it about life or man. Someone really good in English should take it. Prof Ajmal would be delighted to be the supervisor, what more do you need!

Psychology/Spirituality

Islamic Reconstruction of Western Hierarchy of Human Needs:

The famous psychologist Abraham Maslow came up with his theory of human happiness and motivation which is, unfortunately, accepted as a universal standard in academia. Just like any Western Psychologist, since there is no mention of soul or spirituality, the hierarchy is flawed to the fullest. It teaches that man has 4 levels of needs for satisfaction (starting from the lowest and most fundamental) – the physiological, social, egoistic & pleasure-oriented. From the islamic perspective, it can be challenged and refuted both on theory and in practise. What modern psychology doesnt know is that the veracity of

this hierarchy is inversely proportional to the spiritual level of a man. The higher the spiritual level, the lesser the dependence on other needs for satisfaction. Our History is full of people who, because of their connection with God, have lived with highest contentment with only the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter & marriage i.e the physiological.

Science

Quantum Physics & Wahdat-ul-Wajood

Ibn-al-Arabi’s concept of WW has been deemed as outright kufr by some, the highest level of tawhid by some and not understood at all by others. Interestingly, what he underwent as a mystical experience or state of spiritual witnessing, is slowly and gradually being uncovered or rather affirmed by Quantum Physics. The new physics has already

shattered all the previously held myths of a materialistic mechanicalistic interpretation of the Universe. We live in a spiritual rather than a material universe. Surprisingly, the Multiplicity we see in creation is reduced to Unity i.e there is one universal soul in

everything. When “matter” is dug deep into down to the most microlevel, there is nothing left. The seen realm points to an unseen realm which seems to be, mysteriously, responsible for everything in the seen realm.
Here Harun Yahya’s idealism is really helpful but it shouldn’t be borrowed fully. He was a bit too inspired by the movie, Matrix, and thus surpisingly came up with an islamic philosophy which was partially mind-blowing and partially flawed because Islam is in

between idealism and realism.

Philosophy (Theoretical)

Comparison of Nietzche’s Superman and Iqbal’s Khudi (Selfhood) / mard-e-momin

Take two of the most breathtaking thinkers from West & East and see where they meet and where they differ when they came up with their magnum opus.

Philosophy (Practical)

Self Actualization & Islamic Revolution

I can give you example from Pakistan but I think it applies to most Muslim countries. The secular people manage to fully develop their inner potentialities, gifts, talents and abilities. Since they are secular, they either dont serve islam at all or harm islam. The religious people on the other hand fail to acquire any sort of brilliance and thus fail to have any impact on society. The running system, as a result, remains secular and an islamic revolution remains a mere dream despite innumerable efforts. What are the exact measures to be taken in all walks of life to solve this problem? Your thesis is

the answer.

Philosophy/Science

Is human nature good or bad – Scientific Solution to an old philosophical riddle

On one hand the Quran says that Fitrah (human nature) is good. On other other hand, the whole history of man is nothing but a proof of man’s innate evil. How do we reconcile the two? This is one of the most debated topics ever in philosophy. Science, again, comes to a partial rescue of religion. The recent studies in brain have shown that the nueronal arrangement is “hardwired” in such a way that it facilitates belief in certain universal good moral ethical principles. However that doesnt fully answer the question at all because if that is the case, then why do humans dont act that way in real life? Here we have to bring in a lot of concepts to prove our case. First, nueroscientists have shown that the dualism of brain and mind is true i.e they are two seperate entities influencing each other. Analagous to software-hardware relation in computers, the brain is just a processor of information whereas the mind is the seat of intelligence. The brain’s “hardwiring” thus is not a fixed configuration but is altered by the mind. Mind is related to soul whereas brain is related to body. Here comes the concept of what we call tazkia-e-nafs (purification of soul). A spiritual person’s mind doesnt let the brain lose its innate goodness whereas an impure soul (and thus mind) leads to the corruption of brain’s original structure. Thus religion plays

the role in not letting the fitrah get distorted. However, the quran has also affirmed that most people do not accept the truth. Thus without religion, the soul acquires adverse traits and thus the mind distorts the brain’s nueronal arrangement. All this explains why man

has acted more evil than good throughout history despite good nature. This also answers another very important question – free will is not a myth but a fact. Just because brain is hardwired to be good doesnt mean we are puppets or robots or machines but we control our own hardwiring.

Intellectualism – Modern Affirmation of Ancient Perspective

The Quran said that Truth is for intellectuals. But when we see the history of Western Thought or even Muslims of the modern age, we see that many many people with brilliant IQs either become agnostics or atheists. Have you ever wondered why? Perhaps the most fascinating discovery in Nuerocardiology has revealed 2 things. a)the biological heart is not just a bloodpump but a highly intelligent organ having influence on brain b)the experiments done on biological heart further prove the existence of a spiritual heart. The Quran and Sufis have always claimed the spiritual heart when pure as the organ of higher knowledge and when impure as that which conceals or distorts or rejects the truth. So now we know why people like Russel, Marx, Frued were deprived of the truth despite having wonderful brains. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Art/Spirituality

Impact of Contemporary Music on Human Spirituality

Shakespeare said that “Music is the soul’s medicine”. If I were to islamize his theory, all I need to do is insert one extra word in the statement – Music is the commanding soul’s medicine. Shakespeare probably didnt know the difference between ruh (soul) and nafs-e-

amarah (commanding soul).
Most people debate on whether music is haraam or halaal but what is important is its impact on spiritual level, the rest will follow inevitably. The music which most people listen to serves as a poison for the soul. This is from a purely listener’s perspective.
When we talk from the Artist’s perspective, the psychology hidden beneath them shows that modern art is nothing but a beautiful outlet for a miserable void within. Here again, there is a direct yet secret link between the low spiritual level of contemporary artists and the inspiration behind their work.

Transcendant Unity of Religions

It amazes me to see that both professors & students get seduced by a concept owing to its philosophical eloquence despite being nothing but outright Kufr with no space for difference of opinions. It doesnt require much labour to shatter this concept by the help of both Quran & Sunnah. So the need for a rational argument or debate is not even required. However, since we shouldnt let our emotions mix with the Truth, a scholarly analysis of both its exponents & opponents be carried out objectively and let the Truth stand out clear once and for all that AFTER the advent of holy prophet/Quran there is no way to find God other than Islam (not in the universal sense but specifically shariah) although we dont know who will go to heaven/hell.

The Concept of Knowledge and Scholar

We live in an age of superficiality & shallowness with all emphasis on the outer (zahir) of everything. None suffers this dilemma more than the concept of knowledge/scholar. There are two levels of it. The lower level deals with the uncompromisable distinction between knowledge (ilm) and information (malumaat) as far as the content is concerned. Modernity fails at even this lower level as it doesnt distinguish between the two. But the current world of islamic intellectualism, too, is not free from error. It fails on the 2nd or higher level. In this level, the distinction is drawn not on the content but the inner reality (batin) of that knowledge. Quran and Sunnah defines scholar (alim) as the one with 2 characteristics – fear of Allah & consciousness of the gravity of the consequences of sins. In Sufism, knowledge is something which lifts the veils between man and God. The higher the realization of man’s own nothingness infront of Allah, the higher the knowledge. The current ummah’s educated/literate class, however, is suffering from a crisis. Even when it comes to an islamic scholar, it has borrowed the western image i.e the one who talks/argues well, writes well, publishes a lot, collects huge gatherings i.e those characteristics which Allah even gives to sinners and He benefits deen by sinners as well. Note that I am not denying the need of people in the modern age who safeguard the intellectual veracity of deen infront of the onslaught of secularism and westernization. Such people are required and be appreciated but they are not qualified to be called scholars if they suffer from the same spiritual diseases of the heart as the masses. Knowledge is way beyond just a mental/academic/verbal/literary exercise devoid of the transformation that it is supposed to bring in man. Modern ummah is full of people who outwardly know all the ins and outs of deen but inwardly know nothing at all.

The Concept of Adab

In Tasawwuf, a disciple (mureed) is a slave of his guide/master/shaikh. In madressas, the student has almost the same relation to an ustaaz. In secular institutes, any Tom Dick Harry would start challenging someone like Shah Wali Ullah. None of the above is right. In the first 2 cases, adab is exagerated unnecessarily. in the 3rd case adab doesnt even exist. On one hand we should have adab for big scholars. On the other hand we should consider the hujjat (proof behind argument) not the person. How do we reconcile between the two? Here it gets very technical. Lets divide religious knowledge into 2 categories – evidential & experiential – the first (e.g haram/halaal, fiqh etc) requires evidence from quran/sunnah, the second (e.g unveling of God, ilham etc) can be respected without evidence owing to someone’s higher level of relation with Allah unless it is directly contradictory to revelation. Now the real challenge is how do we exactly differentiate which issue belongs to which category – your thesis is the answer.

Happiness & Satisfaction

This is highly related to the 2nd suggestion in my 1st email.

There is an immense difference between solution to a problem and escapism from it. The fact that no one is truly happy from within despite glowing & cheering faces has almost become a universal law in our times. So what does the modern man do about it? He comes up with 10000 ways to distract himself from the perpetual spiritual void within. Thus his Wants surpass his Needs by miles. Since acquisition of so many wants is not easy and neither he feels good without them nor knows his real need, his life is a constant vain struggle for satisfaction. How tragic indeed!

The Concept of Human Dignity

Just because two people use the same words doesnt prove they mean the same thing. It is surprising that some people in the quest for islamizing western thought would relate the Quran with the saying of, lets say, Erasmus and propose that they both mean the same just because they both say “man has dignity” NOT realizing the unbelievable difference between the two. The holy prophet & Sahaba lived the life of fakr which is considered as the most inferior way of life in our age where dignity is seen in a pompous outlook of life totally devoid of submission, humility & simplicity – the essence of real dignity. Thus dignity is not just different but rather opposite in Islam and West.