Reposted from Ramadan, 2007
Another part of my journey in Islam
Yes, I am observing the fast of Ramadan. I never could have foreseen this, but I don’t know why. It makes perfect sense. Beginning after my first trip to the Holy Land, I started studying Islam. My most recent trip ended just as Ramadan began. My first day home was the first day of Ramadan.
While in Bethlehem, the excitement level was rising. I was invited by many to extend my trip and to spend Ramadan in their homes. (Yeah, the whole month. I have never met with such utter hospitality.) I couldn’t, though if I had been able to I certainly would have. Leaving was difficult as it was, and I would have loved to have spent this holy time in a Muslim community.
Instead, I came home, and have taken Ramadan by myself. I am studying deep into Islam, and have found many elements that speak directly to my heart. The spiritual side of Islam appeals to me more than any other religion I have studied. (Notice I didn’t say spiritual path, I specifically said religion.) The spiritual aspect is Mysticism. Direct relationship with God, no mediation, the awareness that God is both imminent and transcendent.
The law and politics side is more sticky, tricky, trigger-happy for me.
And for both these things I am exceedingly grateful. The part that makes sense with no need for translation. The part that is my home already, is my heart, my love, my life, my surrender, my path. The part where God is, and i am.
And, the part that is so alien that I can’t look directly at it without engaging in separation.
How does all of it “make perfect sense?” I could not have thought of a better way to pull “my self” outside of myself; outside of the known, outside of the assumed, outside of the easy, the comfortable, the illusory. Sometimes it’s too easy to fall into ease, and not even realize that Truth Eternal has been sacrificed in the offing.
Ego rebuilds itself moment to moment, assuming new shapes to hold, contain, divide, define itself by. Even the idea of enlightenment can stand in the way of our relationship with It.
Circle of Women, Tomb of the Patriarch, Al-Khalil/Hebron
So, the perfection lies in being stretched beyond my own edges in a way that I ask for again and again. Through the frame of Islam, I can see God unchanged, unchanging. The way I have come to know It. I can also see where my ego is attached to the way I encounter God, approach God, conceive of God.
One of the big jokes of it all (and there are many, many Big Jokes for me in the terrain of my dissembling soul), is that God cannot be approached. God is. Eternal. Everywhere present, but in no one place localized. Beyond our comprehension. So, even on the mental level, God cannot be approached.
As a Mystic, I can say that all paths to the Divine are equal, while knowing that “path” is a misnomer, and “to the” a misleading statement. Even naming It, whether “Divine” or “God” is a veil.
“love is a veil between lover and loved
more than this I am not allowed to say.”
Even the idea of love is separation. In claiming a beloved, earthly or divine, we put ourselves into separation. Through this separation we have the chance to seek reunion.
Just as delineation limits by virtue of fixing “some thing” in place, love and aversion limit by placing things outside of ourselves, which creates something outside of The Other, as well. There is a sense of “the thing I am”, or “the thing I am not.” Both reinforce division.
But where better to see my assumed flaws, faults, assumed strengths? Where better to see my attachments?
In this, the healing of the world.
As my sense of self lies shattered into pieces on the ground around me, I laugh, and I cry. Some shards melt into the earth and become cells of the ageless soil. Some wisps of vapor, becoming the unchanging air. Some become sparks of light and join with the unwavering light of the sun.
And even beyond the joining with the geological and universal, each element in its time fades and joins the eternal, returning to the first home, the last home, the home that is now, and always will be; the heart of The One.
In the midst of the agonies and the ecstasies of mergence, emergence, mergence…I come back to the moments of peace where there is no separation.
What if “that I am,” were true of everything. What if inside and outside were an illusion? What if there were no line between work and life. Relationships with people and with God. Spiritual path and life, just as it is.
Cessation. At the heart of it all is surrender. The moment where lover and beloved are not two, but one. Nay, are none.
-LaSara (Fatima ‘Abd-Rahim)
“The foremost in religion is the acknowledgement of Him, the perfection of acknowledging Him is to testify Him, the perfection of testifying Him is to believe in His Oneness, the perfection of believing in His Oneness is to regard Him Pure, and the perfection of His purity is to deny Him attributes, because every attribute is a proof that it is different from that to which it is attributed and everything to which something is attributed is different from the attribute. Thus whoever attaches attributes to Allah recognises His like, and who recognises His like regards Him two; and who regards Him two recognises parts for Him; and who recognises parts for Him mistook Him; and who mistook Him pointed at Him; and who pointed at Him admitted limitations for Him; and who admitted limitations for Him numbered Him.
Whoever said in what is He, held that He is contained; and whoever said on what is He held He is not on something else. He is a Being but not through phenomenon of coming into being. He exists but not from non-existence. He is with everything but not in physical nearness. He is different from everything but not in physical separation. He acts but without connotation of movements and instruments. He sees even when there is none to be looked at from among His creation. He is only One, such that there is none with whom He may keep company or whom He may miss in his absence.”
-The oneness of god, according to Ali ibn Abi Talib
“I testify that there is no Deity (Lord) except the sole and matchless Allah. And the testification of the singleness of Allah is a word that Allah has declared sincerity (as) its reality, and made the hearts the centre of its contact and union. And has made the specifications and research of the oneness of Allah’s station obvious and evident in the light of meditation. The Allah Who can not be seen by the eyes and tongues are unable and baffled to describe His virtues and attributes. And the intelligence and apprehension of man is helpless and destitute from the imagination of his how ness.”
-Fatima bint Muhammad