Moulay Idriss (raheemahullah alai = Allah’s mercy be upon him)

Assalamu alaikum (=peace be upon you) dear readers,

Good ‘adab’ ( =manners/etiquette) on a rihla (= journey for purpose of learning, often used for spiritual journey) entails that the first places in a new country one visits are purposefully chosen.  We chose to begin as far as practically possible, with visiting ‘Moulay Idriss’, the ‘founder’ of what is modern day Morocco and the spiritual father of the land. There is a mosque by his burial site as well as the town where he is buried is also called ‘moulay Idriss’. We stopped here on our way to the ancient city of Fez, Al-Faas in Arabic, one of the great spiritual capitals of the maghreb (=literally ‘west’, meaning the western Muslim world…the lands that would comprise Tunisia, Algeria, Mali, Senegal, Mauritania, Southern Spain of today)

Moulay Idriss was the great-great-grandson of the prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). We were treated to a masterful narration of his story on our bus-ride to the city by Sh. Mokhtar, which I will not be able to recapitulate. However to summarize, during the tumultuous time of the khalif Ali (karamallahu wajha = Allah ennoble his face) and the years after, there was deep discord and division as to who would become the ruler. By this time, the capital had moved to modern day Iraq and the rule of the Muslim world had entered a dynastic period with the first Umayyad dynasty established.

Dynastic rule is not something Muslims are comfortable with and that was the case at that time as well. [The preferred Muslim system of rule has often been described as ‘meritocracy’ as opposed to ‘democrasy’ or ‘monarchy’]. So not surprisingly, in Medina, there was a movement to bring rule back to descendants of the prophet (peace be upon him) not simply due to lineage, but because they embodied the truest spirit of ascetisicm and ability to rule justly. In other words most ‘taking after the prophet’ (peace be upon him). The people of Medina swore allegiance to ‘Muhammed nafsul zakkiya’ (Muhammed the ‘pure souled’), the brother of Moulay Idriss. One of those who pledged allegiance was Ja’far al Mansur, who went on to found the Abbasid dynasty at the fall of the Umayyad dynasty, and then turn against the family of Muhammed nafsul zakkiya. Muhammed nafsul zakkiya was killed in 145 AH (after hijri, 762 CE), and many of his family members captured.

Moulay Idriss escaped and was taken by his ‘servant’ (there is no modern day equivalent, but you could think of this as his ‘valet’ in the old English meaning of the word perhaps), Moulay Rashid to the maghreb. [BTW ‘moulay’ in Arabic can be used to mean both ‘master’ and ‘servant’, or ‘guardian’ as well as ‘ward’…translators of Arabic texts need to be careful of terms like this that they don’t make mistakes in translation. A digression worth the mention as the Orientalists have done plenty damage in bringing knowledge of the Muslim world to Europe by making several mistakes like this the past 200-300 years]. Moulay Rashid had family ties in the maghreb, his mother being a Berber tribeswoman, and news of Islam had already spread as far as the Berber tribes which had for the most part already converted to Islam.

Therefore when Moulay Idriss arrived in the maghreb, he was welcomed with open arms as a great teacher by the Berber tribes, who gave him leadership and pledged allegiance to him. He founded a capital in what is now the town of Moulay Idriss and ruled there for a short 3 years. The caliphs in Baghdad, afraid of his popularity and rapidly growing influence, had him assassinated by means of a spy they sent to the maghreb. His wife, the lady Kinza, was 7 months pregnant at the time. In Muslim history, much is written about the nobility and wisdom of the lady Kinza. The boy born to her was named ‘Idriss’ as well. A prodigal child, he was carefully looked after by Moulay Rashid until at a very young age (perhaps early teenhood), all the tribes pledged allegiance to him as their leader. Idriss the second, moved the capital to Fez (Al-Faas), a project begun by his father. He lived a short time, dying in his thirties, but accomplished a great deal during that period. A master orator, leader, scholar, he memorized the Quran at a young age of course, and was a saintly person.

To get back to the tale of his father, Moulay Idriss the first is buried in the town bearing his name. It is a very picturesque town high up in the mountains (chosen for it’s strategic location) close to what used to be a Roman outpost. The mosque adjoining the compound of his tomb is stunning. We joined the congregation for the noon prayer there, and spent some time wondering around the town after. Only Muslims are allowed into the mosque complex though as it is a very sacred space. In the short time we spent there, we witnessed many beautiful experiences which I unfortunately cannot include in this medium. And perhaps on hindsight it is wiser to keep the space free from tourist cameras and the like. Some pictures I am able to share are below.

There was a very peaceful feel to the whole place. It bore the traces of people who had come to find rest, and found it, over the centuries. While we were there, a group of ‘munshid’ (=those who sing ‘nasheed’, which are often poems in praise of the prophet peace be upon him) came by, sat down on the carpet and started a beautiful harmonious chanting of a poem famous throughout the Muslim world; ‘qaseeda Burdah’.  [It is a long poem (depending on style of reading/singing, can take upto 4 hours), a nice documentary on it here and partial (?) meaning in English here. – one of my have-to-blog-on in the series of ‘music in Islam’ – inshaAllah. There is a rendition of it in a very ‘olde English’ style of singing performed by Sheikh Tim Winter of Cambridge – one of the greatest scholars in the Muslim English speaking world today, well worth the listen!]

Also to note, the love and reverence the people of the maghreb have for the family of Muhammed, peace be upon him is deep and ancient. Morocco is a sunni country and many in the world today unfortunately have the impression the Sunni world is divorced from the love of the prophet (peace be upon him) and of his beloved family. This is not true, and has never been the case. It was nice to witness such deep love, unspoilt by all the modern woes, in this beautiful spot…that still bears the marks of the saintly and revered person buried there, a descendant of our beloved Muhammed (peace be upon him) who had that great noble bearing which is a mark of those of his family, peace be upon him.

I will end with a short clip of the Burdah, sung in a very old Moroccan style

Peace be with you all.

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A glimpse into the little mosque inside the compound…

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Collecting water from the fountain in the courtyard, and ‘hanging out’ there… a scene that must have played out for centuries

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One of the doors in the compound. My attempt to read the inscription on the two rows, it is in the ‘maghrebi’ script – outer row ‘Al-ghani Allah’ (God is The Rich, or God is the one who is self sufficient, independent of needs) is repeated, inner row ‘Ash-Shaafi, Al-ghafur’ is repeated. Both are names of Allah, Ash-Shaafi means ‘The Healer’ (all healing comes from God, God is the source of all healing) and Al-ghafur means ‘The Forgiver’ (God is the only One whose forgiveness is sought, or God is the one who forgives all)

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Town street with food stalls lining it

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Tagines being prepared for lunch :)

 

And a clip from the Burdah…if you visit me, you may hear it playing often :)

Peace and blessing be with you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closeness

Closeness

Mercy descends in a voice that recites

After a hard days work into a long calm night

Bathed in splendour of good, lovingly looked upon

by a Lord most beautiful, beauty with love adorned

Lulled into a calm and refreshing repose

Tranquil in trust that rest will come

From The One to the one,

sleep brings a delightful glimpse of closeness

Light upon light

Refreshed to greet, if Allah wills, another dawn

***

Joymanifest (C) 2013

Ramadan nights

Ramadan nights are penseive
Waiting for the angels to arrive
Bearers of glad tidings
To souls who never lost hope in the promise of their Lord.

Ramadan nights are peaceful
With a peace beyond man’s realm
Descends a greater good
To tranquil the wayward ego and
souls then in grateful joy.

Ramadan nights. Oh what will I do
My Lord if I have to live past them
Grant me then
The witness of another Ramadan
Let the hours between be as if an inconsequential moment.

***
Joymanifest (c)

Do not speak

Do not speak too fast
   for I fear the speed of what you say
   will drown out what you want to.
 
What do you want to say?
   That you are lonely, and deep needs
   need filling by empty blabbering.
 
Where have you come from and where are you going?
Where have you come from and where are you going?
 
Isn’t that enough to speak about
   And ‘ere speaking, it needs deep thinking.
  true listening. It needs you to be quiet.
 
So you can hear what God has never stopped saying.
 
***
copyright Joymanifest 2013

If you hadn’t…

If you hadn’t made me strong my Lord,
I would not have been able to resist

If you hadn’t made me just my Lord,
I would not have been able to stand-up

If you hadn’t made me kind my Lord,
I would not have been patient

If you leave me for a moment my Lord,
I will be destroyed.

***
Copyright Joymanifest
Continue reading

Recitation, a new poem

Assalamu alaikum, peace to all!

The Quran is a phenomenal book. It has about 50 titles, most of which I don’t know. One, the better known is ‘Furqan’, meaning roughly, ‘criterion’, i.e., a way to distinguish between right and wrong. The most commonly used word, ‘Quran’ comes from the root word ‘qara’a’. The arabic root word system is amazing. Root words are usually derived of three letters (in arabic there are no vowels and consonants, it is a phonetic language with diacritical marks denoting vowel sounds), in this case; q-r-a’, which can then be formed in many versions to mean many things that are derived from that root word. ‘qara’a’ means to read a written thing, recite with or without a script, proclaim, convey, call, rehearse, transmit, deliver. In fact the first revealed word, which is found in the Quran as the first verse of chapter (or sura) 96, is ‘iqra’. It was the first revealed word to Muhammed, the final messenger, upon whom God shower peace and blessing, and indeed a fitting opening for what was to follow and the mission he recieved with that word.
One of the Quran’s titles is shifa, meaning a ‘healing’. The recitation of the Quran carries immense healing and calming. Which is why often Muslims, even those who don’t understand arabic (the majority) will know how to recite the Quran. And this recitation has certain rules and methods. The best reciters or ‘qaari’s’ (you can see how the root word system is working!) often lead the prayers in Mosques, as during the prayer, verses of the Quran are recited. These recitations are beautiful and many around the world listen to recordings of them. And such is the healing power of the Quran, that the recording of it’s recitation is often used (i.e., by playing it over radio, internet, tapes etc) to cure people or comfort those who are dying. For myself, the Quran healed a broken heart and also soothed a mind when it was wandering ( I carry schizophrenia susceptibility genes and for a time was almost delusional due to some bad life incidents). Mashaallah (=by God’s grace), the Quran healed me. The words of my Lord are a soothing balm and comforter.
That was a long prelude! But it was organic so I hope you will indulge me and I wanted to explain the context of what reciting means to a Muslim. This is a poem written a few days ago ater a peaceful pre-dawn time of reciting, sitting on a prayer mat that was made of my grandmother’s soft old white sari, folded many times and wearing the white prayer dress of embroidered (white on white) skirt and loose head covering. I hope you will like it and I wish for you many such moments of utter peace and comfort, of such closeness with the divine. Praise and Glory be to Him. To end I want to say, ss Muslims believe, any good in me is from God and God alone.

Recitation

Teaching, guiding, soothing
Each morning before the sun rises
with the birds who wake before dawn
learning their song. I recite
the revealed words of the Creator
As the earth stirs to life
So does my heart.
As the cool gentle breeze of truth
hums within my heartstrings
As the perspicious light of guidance
dissipates the doubt in my brain
As the wise and the true
embellishes itself in my heart
I am but a grateful slave
of the One. One beyond time and place
One closer to me than my conscience
One knowning me better than I do myself
So then peace. In the safest hands
I am gently lead. To a better way to live.

Each morning as I recite
The words of my Lord. The birds sing
And soon it will be dawn.

***
Copyright Joymanifest Blog (C) 2012.

O’ Moon

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There is a beautiful moon outside and the night is clear and still. These nights of the full moon of rabiul awwal…the time of the birth of the beloved, the final messenger Muhammed, upon whom be peace and salutations, what beautiful nights they are.
Looking at the moon my heart realizes the prayer Muhammed himself would make on beholding the moon. And so my lips say it too- “O Moon, as thou dost worship my Lord, so do I!”
But tonight I gaze on the moon and add to it this yearning ( and these words are my own) – ‘O Moon, you are the same moon who looked upon the prophet making that prayer. O Moon how blessed you are! I am gazing on you that has seen my beloved and time stands still. How blessed my eyes to behold you! O Moon, as you do worship Allah so do I’
So saying my beloved’s words my heart fills with the light of the answering moon
Thanks and Glory be to God.

And peace to you all.

‘What a Nourisher’ from Rumi’s Mathnawi

Peace be with you all,

It is a beautiful morning here in Vancouver. MashaAllah it snowed last night (we have had hardly any snow this winter) and the earth covered in its white mantle suddenly seems a different place. How amazing it is that something so simple as crystallized water on the ground can completely change one’s perspective. But nay, I am wrong to say ‘ice on the ground’ is simple. Indeed water is one of the most amazing creations there is. From a scientific point of view it’s shear brilliance is astounding. It is the perfect substance and the perfect matter to bear creation. Indeed, in the Quran, Allah says He created every living thing from water;

أَوَلَمْ يَرَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ كَانَتَا رَتْقًا فَفَتَقْنَاهُمَا ۖ وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ حَيٍّ ۖ أَفَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ

Quran (21:30)
Transliteration
Awa lam yara allatheenakafaroo anna assamawati wal-ardakanata ratqan fafataqnahuma wajaAAalnamina alma-i kulla shay-in hayyin afalayu/minoo
Yusuf Ali Translation
Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?

The above verse is precisely what science understands of the process of creation. Isn’t it amazing to have the Big Bang Theory and even the evolutionary origin of life theory in one simple sentence! As a scientist, this excites me to the heavens and humbles me to the dust! Subhahana wa bihamdihi (Glorios is He and all praise and thanks is his). I could go on and on about water, but I really began this post to copy Rumi’s poem. So here is a link to a post on the mention of the water cycle in the Quran. And here are excellent articles about why water is so miraculous-
The source of the water miracle: hydrogen bonds
The design in water
By the way, to my non-Muslim readers, water is one of the most often used words in the Quran and discussed in a very many varied contexts and instances.

It is hard to include Rumi or anyone else’s work in the same post that includes the words of our magnificent Maker. However, I am guilty of the same, mixing my words up with the Quran as I write this blog. So may there be some good in these poor words from a very faulty specimen of Allah’s creation and may my Lord be pleased with the effort. We Muslims say that ‘All good is from Allah’. For among his attributes is ‘The Good’… whatever is good in this too is from Allah and may our beautiful Creator make us more receptive to Divine grace. Rumi himself was an inspired person after all, and indeed it is amazing for I was only going to copy the poem when I began with the comment on the snow, and then that lead to thinking of water and this leads to thinking of how water is the source and nourishment of us all which perfectly ties in with the message of this peom, which is that if you have God as your source and well-spring, you have nothing to fear or grieve! Alhamdulillah! even my brain is wired and works as God desires! :) yay :)

What a Nourisher

The sensible man doesn’t pay attention
to what increases and decreses,
since both pass like a quickly moving stream.
Whether the water of life runs clear
or is tumultuous as a flood,
don’t bother speaking of it-
it doesn’t endure more than a moment.

In this world thousands of animals live happily,
without throes of anxiety.
The dove on the tree coos gratefulness,
even though her food for the night has not yet arrived.

The nightingale’s glorification is this:
“I depend for my daily bread,
on You who love to respond.”
The falcon delights in the King’s hand,
and no longer looks at carrion.

Look at every animal from the gnat to the elephant:
they all are God’s family
and dependent on Him for their food.
What a nourisher is God!
All these griefs within our hearts
arise from the smoke and dust
of our existence and vain desires.

MashaAllah, on that note to end with one of my most favourite ayah from the Quran (ayah meaning ‘sentence’ but the root word means ‘sign’ or symbol or proof..a word rather deeper than sentece and used in many ways. Actually one of my close friends named her daughter ‘ayah’, I think that illustrates what I mean). It is the last ayah of a very beautiful short lyrical surah (chapter) called ‘Mulk’ (The Dominion)

قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَصْبَحَ مَاؤُكُمْ غَوْرًا فَمَن يَأْتِيكُم بِمَاءٍ مَّعِينٍ
Transliteration
Qul araaytum in asbaha maokumghawran faman ya/teekum bima-in maAAeen
Sahih International Translation
Say, “Have you considered: if your water was to become sunken [into the earth], then who could bring you flowing water?”
Yusuf Ali Translation
Say: “See ye?- If your stream be some morning lost (in the underground earth), who then can supply you with clear-flowing water?”
Quran (67:30)

Trust

Assalamu alaikum, peace be with you! It has been a long long while since I last wrote. I have been on a journey, not just external but also internal as many life events took their toll. But this joy that we are all born with, the light within, never abated…only I could not see it sometimes, blinded by tears. Aren’t we all at some point in our lives and is not the benefit of the tear to wash the dirt from the soul? to clean the eye so it can see again, what is important and essential.

Here is a poem I wanted to share, I found it writen some time ago, during Ramadan I believe.

Taught to trust
through hours
when my feet swell
and my body sways
gently to the rhythm of the recitation
rising and falling
as my breaths
joined to the rhythm of the universe
this reverberation
Ramadan night resonation
With the soul
for a moment, split second divine
worry leaves and the heart is re-born
The soul’s polish
reaches that first sparkle
when polishing cloth leaves its surface
and before dust can settle
split second glimpse
of the Divine
Light upon Light
so heavy, yet so ethereally weightless
so substantial, everywhere yet nowhere
It explodes, this light
in a quiet spreading
beyond physics…beyond the created
It is just there. And polished mirror soul
I reflected it. Till it was everywhere.
And I was nothing, in a sea of light

There I found trust, implicit absolute immaculate trust
My Lord will look after me.

***