IHSAAN: Being Present in the Divine Presence - part 2

Continued from previous post: IHSAAN: Being Present in the Divine Presence

Through Ihsaan we strive to become aware of Allah being aware of us. How are we to do this?

“As If”

Part of the answer lies in the small Arabic phrase in the Hadith Jibreel: “ka anna.” Ka anna means “as if” and it comes midway through the first part of the definition of Ihsaan: “an ta’abuda Llaaha ka-annaka taraahu… (Worship Allah as if you were seeing Him…)”

This is the heart of inspiration and creative thought / insight. This “as if” has significant implications. Obviously, we cannot literally “see” Allah with our eyes in this world. Even the Messenger is described as having seen the signs of Allah. Nowhere does the Qur’an say he saw Allah directly. We, too, may aspire to see at least some of the signs of our Creator - and having recognised them, to worship Him with the assumption, with the thought, that He is within our range of vision, although not visible to our outer eyes.

The Sufis say that we have eyes in our hearts. Our capacity to see through those eyes increases as we allow love to grow between ourselves and God, and between ourselves and one another. Through the eyes of the heart, through love, we respond differently to the world than we respond what we are acting only through the intellect, through reason, or through our normal emotional reactions. Our ability to be aware of the Presence of Allah, moment to moment, has to do with our heart and with how we feel toward Allah and His creation. To have one’s external life totally suffused by the internal feeling as if we are seeing God: this is the goal.

“If Not”

But as well know, feeling can be tricky. We cannot just say, “I think I’ll love so and so now,” and instantly fall in love. Nor can we say, “Starting this instant, I am going to continually feel as if I am seeing Allah.”

Fortunately, the most compassionate manifestation, rahmatallil alameen seems to anticipate this challenge and gives us another madam which is to Worship Allah with the awareness that He is seeing us, “fa in lam taken fa-innhu yaraak (if not, know that He is seeing you).”

If the first part of the definition of Ihsaan was that easy for everyone in every instant, there would be no need for the phrase (fa in lam, meaning if you do not). Fa in lam tells us that we might not feel as if we are seeing Allah but we should be able to at least have the thought that God is seeing us.

We cannot force ourselves to be in the state of Ihsaan, but we can practice the things that make that state come forward. Through dhikru-Llah and tafakkur (remembrance and contemplation), we can become more aware of the vital living Reality of Allah’s Presence in every moment. Especially important is muraaqabah.

Although muraaqabah sometimes refers to Sufic meditation, it is not just sitting on the floor, closing one’s eyes and making recitation. The Arabic root “raqaba” literally means to watch, to pay attention, to be alert and vigilant. Muraaqabah refers to actively paying attention to the Divine Presence. In muraaqabah we sit, thinking that we are in the Presence of Allah and Allah is with us.. we love Him, and He loves us… wherever we look internally, He is there.. in whatever is happening, He is present.

When we go to an optician for an eye exam, he or she starts clicking different lenses in front of your eyes to find out how you see best. When the right lenses are aligned correctly, you see clearly. Analogously, within us there are lenses - called the lataa’if (subtle centers) which can be and need to be aligned in the most efficacious way for us to experience ihsaan. Not only do they need to be aligned, but we need to learn how to perceive (to pay attention) through them.

We have within us a unique organ of perception with which we are familiar: our heart. If our heart - centre of both our physical being and our spiritual being - attains its optimal potential, we become aware of both the dhaahir and the baatin (the seen and the unseen). Outwardly, our heart is not only physically linked to our emotional centre, but it also supports the intellect and allows us to reflect upon ourselves. As a result, our insight is deepened.

When our heart, qalb is nurtured by our muraaqabah, by our du'aa, by our dhikr - in an environment that is not overly attached to worldly matter or things - then it will begin to turn (qalaba) naturally towards Allah. Like a mirror, it will reflect the "Truth." It will move to the state of mushaahadah (witnessing), and we will begin to witness only what is real, what is really true. If we really aspire to have faith (imaan), if we really want to submit in Islam, then we need to develop the ability to witness.

Two kind of distractions interfere with our awareness of the Creator. First are distractions of the external world that attract our interest, occupy our attention, and cause us to forget God. Such distractions are related to the self (nafs). Second are distractions that come from within us and are associated with the heart (qalb). To draw nearer to God, we must become free of both outer and inner distractions.

Physical heart is a metaphor for the Real Spiritual Heart (even though some may say the other way around)

.. It is interesting to note that according to the hadith, archangel Gabriel, salutation of peace to his being, did not respond to Prophet's definition of Ihsaan, even though he did to the previous two definitions. He responded to Islaam and Imaan but not to Ihsaan. Why not? One possibility is that the angels have no knowledge of ihsaan. Maybe human beings alone have been gifted with the state. Perhaps ihsaan can only be actuated through life in the world, in dunyaa, perhaps physical existence plays a critical role in learning to reflect upon the Presence of Allah, where as angelic beings in higher realm already live inside that Presence in the Kingdom.

Ihsaan is more than just paying attention to God. It is being so aware of God's presence that whatever we experience, whatever we see, is a Sign - a switch that turn on our remembrance - or perhaps a thorn that pricks us and wakes us up. For such a person who is in a state of Ihsaan, even drinking a glass of water is an act to remember God, to be grateful, to exercise heartfelt thanksgiving to the Creator who gives us thirst and also provide us means to quench it and fill us with satisfaction.

To actively interfacing with Allah's creation is a form of dialogue with Allah. Have you ever been with a child outside, when they see some flowers, and suddenly the questions start: "Why are the flowers yellow? Who made the flowers? Why? Why are some red? Why do some bloom now and some at other times?" ... We try encourage that, we say, "Oh look at that color! Look at these petals!" Trying to train the children in a certain way, so that they will continue to see life in that way. That is a way of looking that will reveal the beauty and majesty of Allah which is present within His creation. That way of looking brings us to the awareness of the Presence of Allah - to Islam based not on dogma, not on doctrine, not even technically on scripture, but on the Reality of the Presence of Allah in our lives, the Reality from which all doctrines and teachings are dervied.

Through Ishaan, we experience the tremendously responsible position in the cosmos in which we have been placed. We begin to reflect on the capabilities of Allah has given us, and we become inspired to constantly search for better ways to be.

Once we have a sense of the love with which this world is created, and a sense of respect for everything in creation, we become more aware of how we are.

After all, Who is watching? HU is watching. One of the Ninety Nine Beautiful Names of Allah is ar-Raqeeb, the Source of all regulating, all monitoring. Allah says in the Quran,

... inna Llaha kaana alaykum raqeebaa

... verily, Allah every watches over you. (4:1)

He also tells us,

.. maa yalfidhu min qalin illa ladayhi Raqeebu ateed

.. not a single word does (a person) utter but there is a watcher, ready (Quran 50:18)

In Ihsaan we become aware of Allah as the One Who engages in raqaba - Who observes and watches. From where is Allah seeing us? Think about it. If Allah is present everywhere, then Allah is seeing us from everywhere. He sees us from the person standing in front of us. He sees us from the flowers before us. He sees us from the person who do not see, who is behind us. He is seeing us through His creation. In that sense, I think it is Islamically correct to say that Allah is omnipresent. Not like big cloud that is everywhere, but rather in a sense that He is a part of everything He has created, and His consciousness permeates all that exists.

Now, extrapolate the derivatives from that. How do you want people to see you? How do you want to appear to other individuals? How do you like them to describe you?

The more we think in this way, the more we begin to watch our own self intently, because we know that in everyone and everything, we are being observed. On the simplest level, we are more motivated to refrain from wrong actions. The promptings of the lower self lose much of their charm when we realise ar-Raqeeb is watching.

On another level, we become aware that our eyes may not always perceive correctly, and our ears may not always hear correctly, and our mind may not always understand correctly. At some point in our lives, we may have had a tendency to assume that we were seeing, hearing and understanding the reality of situations. Now we realise that we need to polish our self - to work on purification (tazkiyah) before we can assume our perceptions are accurate. We need to engage in muhasabah, the process of self-assessment encouraged by the Messenger of Allah.

Account for yourselves before you are accounted; weight your actions before your actions become a weight upon you.

~ adopted from Applied Sufism by Shaykh Ahmed Abdhur Rashid

If you look at our world you will see our presidents, our head of states do whatever they want, the go to war ignoring mass protest, they lie to us, they sell weapons to kill millions of people and no one has any accountability. Their hand dripping with blood of millions murdered in the name of peace, democracy and freedom yet we go about ignorant and act as if its the new normal. Why do you think this happen?

This happen because when individuals who elect those presidents, head of states and people in power and position, themselves forget the very fundamental truth about grand accountability. When people forget that, their leaders automatically act on the same behavioural patter as if this world is everything, profit making is the only goal be it selling weapon, selling oil, selling contracts in the name of infrastructure building.

Unless people change, the leaders will never change; because the leaders are nothing but reflection of the level of consciousness that common man has. So if common man forget to account themselves, if people neglect the truth that there is a Judge above all and one day everyone must return for judgment, then all we will have is murderers and thugs in the place of president, prime minister, minister of parliament and so on and so forth.

The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was over 37 million. There were over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.

World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. Over 60 million people were killed, which was over 2.5% of the world population.

From March 2003 to June 2011 approximately 500,000 deaths in Iraq as direct or indirect result of the war.

By conservative estimate, close to 20,000 Afghan civilians have been killed directly by the war’s violence.

As we speak hundreds and thousands of people are dying in Africa where wars are manufactured on a daily basis by the Western Powers to help the industrial military complex running.

Indeed we have forgotten that there is a things called Judgment Day and no one is going out of this without answering for their action. So here is the reminder again: “Account for yourselves before you are accounted; weight your actions before your actions become a weight upon you.”

# Related:
* Realities of Grand Deception of the Present Life
* Deceptions in the world and its variations 
* Deceptions of the World and Present Life | continued



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Technology of the Heart: IHSAAN: Being Present in the Divine Presence - part 2
IHSAAN: Being Present in the Divine Presence - part 2
Account for yourselves before you are accounted; weight your actions before your actions become a weight upon you.
Technology of the Heart
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