Victimhood | Teaching by Shaykh Ebrahim Schuitema

The following Dars (teaching) was given by Shaykh Ebrahim  Schuitema of Darqawi-Shadhiliya Sufi Path. Shaykh Ebrahim received his idhn (permission for transmission) in the Tariqa from the late Shaykh Mustafa Bassir of Morrocco, may Allah be pleased with him. This talk was given on 5th May 2012 and is on a very relevant subject on our time, "Victimhood."

You may download and listen to this talk as audio recording from this link: Dars: Victimhood.

Thanks to students of Shaykh Ebrahim, what follows is the transcription of the talk. Here is Shaykh Ebrahim speaking:

5th May 2012

This evening it occurs to me to explore a theme that is a recurring theme in our circle, and it is this issue of victimhood. Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala reminds us in the sura that Kamardine recited that He made us from one Self, He made all human beings from one Self which basically means our health and our disease as beings get presented in very similar ways actually. No matter how foreign you think somebody else is, how different they are, at the root of the matter we are very similar. The essence of all human failing, the failing that is the root of all other failings, is the conviction that you've been done-in. This conviction is completely irrational. It does violence to the truth.

We had a person staying at the zawia once, a young man who stayed here for several years, and one event - he ate an entire ox in one month - the picture of being spoiled. And at one point when he left he tried to take me to court for unpaid wages. And, SubhanAllah, it is such a metaphor for how we are; that we are absolutely floating on blessing and then we still think we are owed something, that we've been short-changed and done-in! We don't realize that this conviction that you've been done-in is the door to all other failings, to all other perversity and wrong action. There are very few people who do what is fundamentally unacceptable unless they can justify it to themselves and they always justify it to themselves because they've been done-in. Why do you steal? I'm a poor man. I haven't got enough food. I've not been given my dues so I'll take it from somebody else. Why did you do this cruelty to this person? O because he did x y z to me! So our misbehavior towards anybody is generally always based on the conviction that somebody has done us a damage. What's really sad about this is that we do it very often and don't realize that we are carrying that because our emotions carry it before our thoughts do. Well, apparently our emotions carry it because you just feel bad towards someone or you feel bad and therefore you want to get your own back or you feel done-in therefore you go and steal. So being inside your skin is a bad feeling, it's a disgruntled feeling. It's an unhappy feeling. Something has been done wrong to me.

What we have to understand though is that feelings don't just arise out of the blue. Feelings are your body's reaction to your internal dialogue. Your body is like a donkey. The donkey can't distinguish between the paper tiger that's suddenly been introduced into its field of vision and the real tiger. It just gets a fright. So if you keep whispering, this waswas, whispering to yourself at very subtle levels - that this is so bad and that is so bad and he is so bad and she is so bad, look at what they've done to me - you don't realize that then you start creating a climate of bad feeling. And more often than not we only experience the bad feeling. We don't realize that we are producing it with what we are saying to ourselves. And the only way we account for the bad feeling is saying he's creating the bad feeling.

So we distress ourselves with what we are saying to ourselves and then we make somebody else guilty of that distress. In a sense we are all like the young man who ate an ox and then tried to take me to court. We're all like that. We look past an untold mountain of blessing to find the one grain of blemish and we make that grain of blemish the issue. And because that grain of blemish justifies our own inadequacy that grain of blemish says, you see I don't have to be exemplary because look how awful they are to me! Make no mistake, if from now until the minute that you die only affirmation comes out of your mouth, in other words you only have good things to say about whoever you meet and whatever you deal with and you serve to the point of exhaustion whatever Allah puts in front of you, you cannot repay a millionth of what He has given to you!

So this conviction that we are somehow all done-in and the world or some other person has done us harm is the key root to our suffering. If we aspire to do anything at all on this Path it is to eradicate this disease. Other people think they are going to get happy by owning a house or by driving a nice car or by having nice clothes like I'm wearing now or by having so many children or by having so few children. Whatever the criteria are, on this Path we understand that being happy has one root only and that is to destroy this pernicious whispering in our own selves about how mean the world is. Because we understand that to cultivate the habit of gratitude is to cultivate contentment. So, on this Path the very first thing we do is whenever we feel bad we refuse to accuse the other and we rather examine ourselves and we own our own bad feeling. Who says that you have to feel bad because someone else misbehaves? There are all sorts of ways that you could react to someone else's misbehaviour. Try humour for instance. If someone else behaves like an idiot from one point of view it's very funny. Try incredulity. I can't believe that I did that. Try bemusement. Wow! Why 'outrage' out of the universe of possibilities that you can respond to with regard to somebody else's misbehavior. Really, you have to accept that outrage is a choice. Understand that when you make that choice you then open the floodgates of the blood chemistry of Jahannam in your own body. Don't blame that person. You could have found it funny if you wanted to. You could have found it slightly bemusing if you wanted to. You don't have to be outraged by it.

I was training a group of people in Lahore in the week and it was a two day process. The first day went very well. The second day, after morning tea, people came in late and I spotted a few people playing on their cellphones. And I felt that they were not giving me the respect due to me as the facilitator and lecturer. From that point forward, for three hours that program just went really bad until I caught myself realizing that it has actually nothing to do with these people. They are only responding to the opinion that's coming out of me. You see, Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala tells us "I am My slaves opinion of Me." Wherever you turn there's the Face of Allah. Allah is the Outwardly Manifest. In other words the manifest world that faces you, you produce. There's nothing inherently good or bad about anything. There's only your judgement that it is so. There's a whole universe of possible ways of responding to anything. So it's not without reason that our Wird has the structure that it has because the aim of the Wird is fundamentally to attack victimhood.

Astaghfirullah ~ I cover myself.
Ma'sha'Allah ~ What is in front of me is by His Decree.
SubhanAllah ~ Isn't it amazing!
HasbanAllah wa Ni'am al-Wakil ~ I need nothing other than the protection of my Rabb. What He has already put in front of me is already amazing.
Laa ilaha ill'Allah ~ There's nothing other than my Rabb.

So the structure of the Wird is a finely scripted scalpel to incrementally cut out our idea that we are done-in.

So in this struggle of escaping our own sense of outrage the first thing is to engage in the practices like the Wird because they are designed to help us escape. Further to that we really have to guard our tongues. You know, we cannot continue with this diatribe against our country, against our community, against our companions, our friends. There has to be a rule to this. You only have licence to say one bad thing once you've said twenty good things. And this is not about being moralistic. "O! Stop speaking ill of others!" You don't realize that this discourse that you are having produces an effect in you. It makes your life miserable. If you keep walking through the world and you're saying, "This is bad. This is bad" you're living in a bad world. How about walking through the world and deliberately saying, "No no no! I'm not going to say that. This is good. This is good." Then you start living in a good world. It's immensely pleasurable to live in a good world. It's depressing to live in a bad world.

Every single manifestation of resentment is fundamentally false. Every single manifestation of resentment, no matter how legitimate you think you are, is the equivalent of the young man taking me to court after eating an ox! When you catch yourself being resentful do not try and get retribution from the world or from the other person we are resentful towards. Root out the resentment and the way to root out it out is to transmute, to change its character from resentment to gratitude. Everything that you've defined as a curse if you look at it from a different point of view you'll find the blessing in it. Every single thing that is a curse has a blessing at least in direct proportion to its curse if not more.

Shaykh Youssef, an early ancestor of the Cape Town Muslim community, frequently got locked up in solitary confinement on Robben Island. He was in fact the first political prisoner on Robben Island and the Dutch who locked him up got very confused by this old man because they'd lock him up and when he came out he'd always be incredibly grateful towards them. He would thank them - it was a wonderful time, thank you. They locked him up in solitary confinement. And he used to say to people that these Dutch don't understand they're giving me khalwa. SubhanAllah!

You see, our Rabb did not create us to be miserable. He created us to be enchanted. And it's like when you use something for its purpose then there's a sense of fulfilment in that. We have an idea that fulfilment is about the thing coming into its own, achieving its purpose. Your purpose is to be enchanted. To be fulfilled is to be enchanted. You have to understand enchantment is a choice. It's not just going to happen. You have to work at it.


May Allah Grant us success on this Path.
May He Grant us annihilation in Him.
May He Grant us death before we die.

(end of the Dars).

May Allah grant Shaykh Ebrahim hayyat at-tayyiba and continue to bless his work, ameen.
# Reference and Resources:
* Zawia Ebrahim website
* Dars 2012 by Shaykh Ebrahim
* Facebook group of Zawia Ebrahim



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Technology of the Heart: Victimhood | Teaching by Shaykh Ebrahim Schuitema
Victimhood | Teaching by Shaykh Ebrahim Schuitema
Technology of the Heart
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