Peace, one and all…
Well, I’ve returned from the blog wilderness. Not a very long retreat, but a helpful one certainly. The key issue has been intention: where am I going; am I moving in the right direction; why keep writing this blog; what’s its purpose? From the little I’ve learnt of Islam, making sure of your intention is crucial and so that’s what I’ve been reviewing.
Writing has always been a form of catharsis for me. Indeed, this was one of the main reasons I started blogging. I wanted to write myself forward, if you know what I mean. In other words, writing is a kind of conversation, a written dialogue – with myself, my Self, God, others and the universe at large. Talking (or writing) through problems of mind and heart have helped me enormously in my attempts to grow beyond narrowness.
This, in a nutshell, explains my poetry. Essentially, my poems are (for what they’re worth) all about talking. They’re my ongoing conversations with my inner Self and God. They chart my soul’s progress through life, and document my growing (or fading) understanding of Allah’s utter centrality to all things.
Writing (or more basically, speaking) must be matched by action, if it is to be truly effective. This is what I’ve been exploring in my recent blogging khalwah (or ‘retreat’). I grow ever more acutely aware of the vast difference between what I say and what I do. I’m sure this is something we all feel (or should if we’re even remotely honest with ourselves). The trick, it seems, is in successfully moving from one to the other; or, in other words, how can I become the man I would like to be?
Ultimately, this is a lifelong struggle. I’ll only stop becoming the man I am to be as I draw my last breath. After this point, all that I have thought, all that I have done and all that I have become, will be judged by God. Being aware of my faults, I fear God’s judgement upon me. In my own reckoning, I have done and still do, much that is evil in the sight of my Lord. But, I am not so self-important as to confuse my own judgements of myself with Allah’s. One of the reasons God is God is because only He is qualified to judge.
Moving beyond automatic behaviours, unconscious mannerisms and actions; this is the task before me. How can I truly open my self, so that it can step out of the narrow prison my ego has built? Of course, Islam/Sufism is a method as much as a faith; but there is a difference between knowing and doing.
My progress on the Threshold Society’s 99 Day Programme (which may well extend into 99 years!) has come to this point: attempting to move beyond a mere ‘boom and bust’ spirituality; one that lifts in times of energy, and sinks in times of lethargy. I’ve been asked to reflect on repentance and ego, and have found the following statement by Abu Hafs al-Haddad particularly profound:
‘I abandoned wrongdoing, but then returned to it. Later that wrongdoing abandoned me, and I did not return to it’.
At this moment in time, I stuck firmly in the first half. Ya Allah! How I want to move beyond! How I want to be abandoned by my wrongdoing! But, wanting to end on a note of hope, here’s a poem of Mevlana’s:
Water says to the dirty, ‘Come’.
‘But I am so ashamed,’ the dirty one says.
‘How will you be washed clean without me?’
Wa akhiri da’wana an il hamdu lillahi rabbil alameen.