Life – An Exalted Destiny – Aga Khan III

Life - An Exalted Destiny - Aga Khan III Life is a great and noble calling; not a mean and grovelling thing to be shuffled through as best as we can, but a lofty and exalted destiny.

Layla tul Qadr – The Night of Power and Destiny

Layla tul Qadr The Night of Power Quran Sura 97 - Amaana.org

Man kana yarjoo liqaa Allahifa-inna ajala Allahi laatin wahuwa assamee AAualAAaleem

Whoever hopes to meet Allah, the term appointed by Allah will then most surely come; and He is the Hearing, the Knowing. – Quran 29:5

Please visit my previous Layla tul Qadr page where I describe traditional details of this holy night of Ramadan. With that as a foundation, I would like to present my views of this veritable Night of Power with focus on the above verse from the Quran wherein God hints that we are programmed to meet Him and that the term appointed will surely come when we will become Fana fi Allah, annihilated in God. To me, this is also congruent with Inna Lillahi wa inna Illaiyhi Raajioon – from God we have come and to Him is our return.

We have many Muslim greats in history and in the present age, who have all put through their version of the truth as they have experienced and known it and it is incumbent upon us as Ismailis, blessed with a Living Guide, no less, who constantly asks us to intellect and to change with the Time as the creation of God is continuous and to effect change in the here and now, and so, no wonder, he is the Imam of the Age! God presented our beloved Prophet Muhammad with the Holy Quran and as he was declared as the last prophet, Allah wanted to gift us with an even better Guidance by installing the Office of Imamate wherein God’s guidance would remain ever-fresh and pertinent with the time over the rest of human existence. This is a gift which should be cherished!

Layla tul Qadr - Night of Power - Amaana.orgComing back to the current subject, in my previous article on Layla tul Qadr, the Night of Power, I outlined some of the historical details of the celebration of this night and what have been the traditional beliefs. However, in following the Signs of God, I truly feel that the Night of Power that is as a “thousand months” which someone calculated to be around 83 years and 4 months of worship and prayers benefit to be garnered in one blessed night! I believe this is all pointing to the ascension of the soul, the seeing of the Noor (Light) which can take place by the Grace of the Lord at any point and so it is the Night of Power and the beauty of it is as of a thousand months of worship, just like the Night Journey, the Miraj of the Holy Prophet, where he was brought to the Throne of God and received spiritual graces and insight.

I only created the jinn and mankind in order that they might worship Me. — Quran 51:56

Wama khalaqtu al-jinna waal-insa illa liya AAbudooni — Quran 51:56

Think about it! God created us and hardwired us to find our way back to him — Fitrah. All of creation and the verses in the Quran together with all scriptures and mystical traditions have this common theme and all are engaged in that mode of activity, to search our way back to the Origin. And to do this, God put in many Wasilahs — paths, to make it easy to be in the search and be reminded to not get lost.

Stop learning, Start knowing

– Rumi

ngels in Islam Four AngelsThis couplet by Rumi has become a pondering point for me these days. In my quest for the Truth, Haq, I have studied the Quran, the Ginans, the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, sayings of Hazrat Ali and the Farmans of our Lord of the Age, Mowlana Shah Karim Al-Husainy Hazar Imam, and in them are the common directions where we are urged to seek out that spiritual happiness, that peace that my opening verse of this article alludes to. Our holy Imams and Pirs have indicated through the ages the path to that jewel, through good works, prayers and patience and with God’s Grace, we will encounter it and be self-actualized! I feel that we do not strive consistently or become quiet enough or do not know how to disengage ourselves from our busy material lives to be able to find that fountain of peace within us that our Sufis and mystics talk about.

The key reason for the practices of the holy month of Ramadan are designed for us to try to go towards this inward journey in all earnest. Of course, we can also get lost in all the rituals of fasting, the prayers and the breaking the fast and forget to find the peaceful center so near us, which is equated to paradise.

This month of Ramadan will be different, Inshallah! Layla tul Qadr is upon us. I have had a lot of personal prayers answered on this holy night over the years, without a doubt. These have been personal victories but the heart is still yearning for the happiness of the thousand months worth of Salamun, Peace! Inshallah!

We are told this peace, this Ocean of Allah is within us but our thoughts come in the way. Allah says He is closer than our jugular vein. Our Imam says He is always with us! Yet, why so far away? We are also told it is something given and not demanded and so as we sit in all humility and try to calm our thoughts in meditation, in Zikr, Dhikr (remembrance of God) and allow the Ocean’s waves to enter within. Of course, I am not the first to think of this concept as Amir Khusraw’s epic Qawaali Man Qunto Mowla, has a sweet refrain of going within:

Dara Dil E Dara Dil E Dar E Dani
Hum Tum Tanana Nana, Tana Nana Ray
Om Tum Tanana Nana, Tana Nana Ray
Yalali Yalali ala, Yala Ray
Tanana Tanana Tanana Tanana
Tum Tanana Nana, Tana Nana Ray…

Enter into the heart,
Enter into the heart,
Melt therein, You and me
Sing inside in sweet melody.

Maula Ali Maula
Maula Ali Maula

Master is Ali,
Master is he.

I get the same spiritual upliftment listening to the above as from the melody and words of

Please visit and listen to these two chants and you will see that music is indeed a universal soul language that does not hesitate to stir the spirit in us. Let me know what you think.

O mankind, truly We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Truly the most noble of you, in the sight of God, is the most Godfearing. Quran 49:13

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

Ya ayyuha alnnasu inna khalaqnakum min thakarin waontha wajaAAalnakum shuAAooban waqaba-ila litaAAarafoo inna akramakum AAinda Allahi atqakum inna Allaha AAaleemun khabeerun

Audio Quran 49:13

All the creation, the diversity of nations and tribes are by design so we could know one another! Isn’t that beautiful! Love your neighbor as thyself… And so we are not to take off to a monastery and live the life of an ascetic! The beauty of Islam is in the embracing of Din and Duniya, religion and world, where we live our mundane lives in the community and still manage to rise up in spirituality as we serve God and His creatures, and this makes us even more fertile to receive this Grace! Mashallah! The service ethic to humanity – Seva, thrives in our Jamat. It is a privilege to be able to serve. Seva karan tamneh bhejiya – verily, you have been sent to serve – Holy Ginan.

We have been told by Prophet Muhammad and Imam Hazrat Ali:

Whoso knows himself knows his Lord – man ‘arafa nafsahu faqad ‘arafa Rabbahu.

On this blessed Night of Power, let us strive to earn the Grace of our Lord and receive the Baraqah (blessings) to receive the Light and the Peace, Ameen, so we can know ourselves and know our Lord! This Maarifa – spiritual knowledge, gnosis, is the goal of every believer and we have a Living Guide to help us, how divine!

At Amaana.org, I have been growing, learning and writing and so my pages will never be perfect. I must say, I am truly blessed to be able to serve in this small way and share with our community the valuable gifts of our faith and if I can inspire to rededicate ourselves to this wonderful path, then it will have been my TKN – Time and Knowledge Nazrana and I hope our Lord accepts it from me as my way of serving His creation, Inshallah!

Before ending, here are a few more important Ayats and Quotes from our Guides that I had not included in the articles before but which show why this blessed night in the month of Ramadan is full of spiritual and physical Baraqah! This is another facet of Allah’s knowledge unfolding anew. I feel like I am giving it new meaning as the truth is already there; we all have to make it personal and experiential by interacting with it in our unique way. I hope you are able to benefit too from these jewels!

The Prophet said:

“The scrolls (suhuf) of Abraham were sent on the 3rd night of Ramzan. The Torah of Moses was revealed on the 6th night of Ramzan. The Gospel (Injil) of Jesus was sent down on the 13th night of Ramzan. The Psalms (Zabur) of David were revealed on the 18th of Ramzan. The Furqan (Koran) was sent down on the 23rd night of the month of Ramzan.” – Related by Imam Jafar Sadiq and Tabarsi (2:121) on the authority of Abuzar Ghafari.

Similar weighty and important events also took place on Nawruz:

“It was on Navroz that Adam was created, that God made a covenant with the souls, that Abraham destroyed the pagan idols, that the Prophet of Islam received first revelation (Layla tul Qadr fell on March 21st that year!), that the Prophet took Ali on his shoulders to smash 360 idols in Mecca, and most important of all, that he declared Ali as his legitimate successor.” – Imam Jafar Sadiq quoted in Bihar al-Anwar

For Muslims, this tradition has continued for over 1400 years since the time of Hazrat Ali (a.s. on whom be peace) the first Imam appointed by Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s. – peace be upon him). Not only was March 21st Imam Hazrat Ali’s birthday, but the famous event at Ghadir-e Khumm took place on March 21st at the investiture of Ali to carry on the covenant as ordered by God in the famous verses revealed that day to the Prophet.

By enumerating the importance of the events during the holy month of Ramadan and the important anniversaries that take place on Nawruz, March 21st, it reminds me of an Ayat of the Quran where Allah says:

Sunnata man qad arsalna qablaka minrusulina wala tajidu lisunnatina tahweela

(This was Our) way with the messengers We sent before thee: thou wilt find no change in Our ways. — Quran 17:77

Audio Quran 17:77

 

The above Ayat is retold by Imam Hazrat Ali in his Khutbat Iftikhar so beautifully and powerfully!

I am the meaning of Ramadan and the night of Qadr (Quran 97:1-3) mentioned in the Mother Book. My utterance is decisive, for I am the Surah of Praise (Hamd). I am the purpose of prayer itself, whether at home or when travelling. I am the purpose of fasting, and the sacred anniversaries in the months of the year. I am the Lord of Resurrection and Judgement, the One who can remove the yoke that lies heavy on the people of Muhammad. I am the Gate through which all shall pass who worship God; I am His worshipper, and one created by Him. I am both the witness and the One witnessed to, the possessor of the green canopy, He Whose name is mentioned in the heavens and the earth, Who is the travelling companion of the Messenger of God throughout the heavens, for with Me is the Book and the sacred Arc.

Mowlana Sultan Mahomed Shah has told us about our true selves, what we really are and how exalted of a destiny we possess as Muslims and on this Night of Power which is also called the Night of Destiny when you translate Qadr, I leave you with my conclusion, our beloved Imam Aga Khan III’s own words that will wrap up my article in just the right way, followed by the awesome Ayats from the Quran. Shab-e Qadr Mubarak! Persian of Night of Power blessings!

Thus there was an absolute need for the Divine Word’s revelation, to Mohammed himself, a man like the others, of God’s person and of his relations to the Universe which he had created. Once man has thus comprehended the essence of existence, there remains for him the duty, since he knows the absolute value of his own soul, of making for himself a direct path which will constantly lead his individual soul to and bind it with the universal Soul of which the Universe as much of it as we perceive with our limited visions one of the infinite manifestations. Thus Islam’s basic principle can only be defined as mono-realism and not as monotheism. Consider, for example, the opening declaration of every Islamic prayer: “Allah-o-Akbar”. What does that mean? There can be no doubt that the second word of the declaration likens the character of Allah to a matrix which contains all and gives existence to the infinite, to space, to time, to the Universe, to all active and passive forces imaginable, to life and to the soul. Imam Hassan has explained the Islamic doctrine of God and the Universe by analogy with the sun and its reflection in the pool of a fountain; there is certainly a reflection or image of the sun, but with what poverty and with what little reality; how small and pale is the likeness between this impalpable image and the immense, blazing, white-hot glory of the celestial sphere itself. Allah is the sun; and the Universe, as we know it in all its magnitude, and time, with its power, are nothing more than the reflection of the Absolute in the mirror of the fountain.

Surat Al-`Alaq – The Clot, Quran 96:1-5 – سورة العلق

Iqra, bi-ismi rabbika allathee khalaq
Khalaqa al-insana min AAalaq
Iqra, warabbuka al-akram
Allathee AAallama bilqalam
AAallama al-insana ma lamyaAAlam
Read in the name of your Lord Who created.
He created man from a clot.
Read and your Lord is Most Honorable,
Who taught (to write) with the pen
Taught man what he knew not.

Surat Al-Qadr – The Power, Quran 97 – سورة القدر

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ ٱلْقَدْرِ
أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ ٱلْقَدْرِ وَمَآ
لَيْلَةُ ٱلْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ
تَنَزَّلُ ٱلْمَلاَئِكَةُ وَٱلرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِم مِّن كُلِّ أَمْرٍ
سَلاَمٌ هِيَ حَتَّىٰ مَطْلَعِ ٱلْفَجْرِ

Inna anzalnahu fee laylati al qadr
Wama adraka ma laylatu al qadr
Laylatu alqadri khayrun min alfi shahr
Tanazzalu almala-ikatu warroohufeeha bi-ithni rabbihim min kulli amr
Salamun hiya hatta matlaAAialfajr

Surely, We revealed it on the grand night.

And what will make you comprehend what the grand night

The grand night is better than a thousand months.

The angels and the Spirit descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair,

Peace! it is till the break of the morning.

Surat Ad-Dukhān – The Smoke – Quran 44:1-8  سورة الدخان

Ha-meem
Walkitabi almubeen
Inna anzalnahu fee laylatin mubarakatininna kunna munthireen
Feeha yufraqu kullu amrin hakeem
Amran min AAindina inna kunnamursileen
Rahmatan min rabbika innahu huwa assameeAAualAAaleem
Rabbi assamawati wal-ardiwama baynahuma in kuntum mooqineen
La ilaha illa huwa yuhyeewayumeetu rabbukum warabbu aba-ikumu al-awwaleen

Ha Mim!

I swear by the Book that makes manifest (the truth).

Surely We revealed it on a blessed night surely We are ever warning–

Therein every wise affair is made distinct,

A command from Us; surely We are the senders (of messengers),

A mercy from your Lord, surely He is the Hearing, the Knowing,

The Lord of the heavens and the earth and what is between them, if you would be sure

There is no god but He; He gives life and causes death, your Lord and the Lord of your fathers of yore.

Please leave your comments

Quran, 13:28

ألا بِذِكْرِ اللهِ تَطمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

“Verily! In the remembrance of Allah do hearts find contentment.” - Quran, 13:28

Prophet Muhammad

Prophet Muhammad:

‘Ali is ‘as my own soul’ (ka-nafsi).

He said to ‘Ali, ‘You are from me and I am from you (anta minni wa ana minka).’

‘Truly, ‘Ali is from me and I am from him (inna ‘Ali minni wa ana minhu), and he is the wali (patron/spiritual master) of every believer after me.’

Hazrat Ali

12. When some blessings come to you, do not drive them away through thanklessness.

13. He who is deserted by friends and relatives will often find help and sympathy from strangers.

Imam Ali Sayings

Imam Jaffer Sadiq

لاَ يَكُونُ شَيْءٌ فِي اْلاَرْضِ وَلا فِي السَّمَاءِ إِلاَّ بِهذِهِ الْخِصَالِ السَّبْعِ: بِمَشيئَةٍ وَ إِرادَةٍ وَقَدَرٍ وَقَضَاءٍ وَ إِذْنٍ وَكِتابٍ وَأَجَلٍ. فَمَنْ زَعَمَ أَنَّهُ يَقْدِرُ عَلى نَقْضٍ وَاحِدَةٍ، فَقَدْ كَفَرَ.

“Nothing occurs in this earth and in the heaven except with the following seven stages: Will, intention, destiny, decree, permission, book and implementation. Then whoever thinks that he can reduce any of these stages, then indeed he has disbelieved.”

- Imam Jaffer Sadiq, Usul al Kafi, vol. 1, p. 149

Rumi on Ramadan

The month of fasting has come, the emperor’s banner has arrived; withhold your hand from food, the spirit’s table has arrived. The soul has escaped from separation and bound nature’s hands; the heart of error is defeated, the army of faith has arrived. Fasting is our sacrifice, it is the life of our soul; let us sacrifice all our body, since the soul has arrived as guest. Fortitude is as a sweet cloud, wisdom rains from it, because it was in such a month of fortitude that the Koran arrived. …Wash your hands and your mouth, neither eat nor speak; seek that speech and that morsel which has come to the silent ones.

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99 Beautiful Names

Asma-ul Husna

 

Aga Khan jokes

Aga Khan Speech Brown University May 1996:

"Looking around this colorful gathering, I recall helping in the choice of the Aga Khan University's regalia. Our research into Islamic traditions of academic dress revealed that an academic's rank determined the height of his hat. The higher the rank, the taller the hat. The senior most professors therefore appeared taller than their students even when sitting down. I have just learnt that my friend Neil Rudenstein, the President of Harvard has given instructions that all Harvard hats are to be heightened by at least a foot. This has caused havoc in the Ivy League which is now debating resolution MAHH96, standing for Maximum Allowable Hat Height. My academic standing and that of President Gregorian, should be evident from the hats that we are presently wearing!"

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