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Islam and World Peace - Explanations of a Sufi
by M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

The Affirmation of Faith

 I seek refuge in Allah from the evils of the accursed satan.
In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate.

Allah is Most Great: Allahu Akbar. We are the people who have accepted Allah; we believe in the one God and follow His Messenger, Prophet Muhammad, who brought us the holy words of the second kalimah: I testify that none is god except God alone, He has no equal; and I testify that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger.1

Let us reflect upon this kalimah sent down by Allah to the Prophet. For whom are these words meant? Muhammad was born in Mecca into the Quraysh tribe.2 Does that mean that the kalimah is meant only for the Quraysh? No, it has spread to all the different tribes throughout Africa and the Middle East and to people the world over, of every race and religion. Look how many Muslims there are in the world today.

Who has the right to call himself a Muslim and who does not? To whom does Islam belong? Does it belong to one sect more than to another? A person might say he follows one of the four imams: Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik, Imam Ibn Hanbal, or Imam al-Shafi'i,3 but does it really matter to which family or tribe or sect he belongs, or whether he is an Arab or not?

Allah belongs equally to everyone. Every tongue that has recited the kalimah with certitude belongs to the same family and dwells within Islam. They all bear witness to the oneness of Allah and to His Chosen Messenger,4 Muhammad, the Final Prophet, the Prophet for the beginning and for the end; everything that was given in the beginning was made complete in him. All those who accept this truth and the one treasure called Allah are part of the same body of true believers.5 They are all children born to one mother. To believe in Islam with perfect faith6 is to live in that one body in unity.

Therefore, anyone who has truly accepted Prophet Muhammad and has faith in the kalimah will never harm or kill another who has also affirmed these words, no matter what fault that person may have committed. A tongue that has recited the kalimah, a tongue that has accepted Allah and His Messenger, should never attack another person in any way.

By affirming the kalimah, it is possible for us to attain a certain state, but we must remember that those who have not accepted it are still our neighbors. We must love them, not destroy them. Neighbors are not there to fight with, they are not there to be our enemies. Once we have recited the kalimah, we must show our neighbors only love, trust, and friendship. We must melt their hearts and make them trust us and embrace us. Then they will begin to act in the same way themselves.

Islam does not mean killing or attacking others. When such a thing happens, Islam is harming itself. To embrace others with love and to dispel their hunger, disease, poverty, and difficulties is Islam. To speak to someone from within the embrace of unity is Islam. To be together, to eat together, to live as one life in a state of affection is Islam. That is love, God's love, and Islam is the affection displayed through that love. Islam is the compassion shown by acting with God's three thousand gracious qualities. Islam is establishing the praise of God and establishing the qualities of patience, contentment, surrendering all responsibility to God, and praising God for whatever happens.7 One who is truly in Islam will practice these good qualities and continually beg of God, "O Allah, forgive all our faults and correct us."8 That is what it means to be a true believer.

To become one is Islam. Just as the five fingers come together to form one hand, there is one group formed of all those who love Allah. In this world there are seventy-three different groups of human beings, and out of those, there is one group composed of all who have faith in God without the slightest doubt or wavering. That group is in true Islam.

For a Muslim there is only one race; there is no black, white, or yellow. There is no fighting and no division. How can we divide Islam and fight over it? How can we listen to people who goad us into conflict by complaining, "Those people are different from us''? The nature of true Islam is to bring together what has been divided. Once we were separate and scattered in many different directions, but the kalimah and Islam brought us together to worship the one God and embrace each other heart to heart.

True Islam is unity. We must be one. We must not create divisions by talk of different groups or different status. There are no divisions within Islam. Once someone has said the kalimah there is only one way to describe him: a child of Islam, nothing else. Earlier he might have been different, but now he is a Muslim. He might have followed another religion before, but as soon as he embraces the one God, he is in Islam.

Islam is Allahu Akbar, praising the one God as the Most Great. There are no titles or differences in Islam. There is only one great title: Al-Mawla, the Lord, the Protector. We may call men of wisdom by the title of master, or mawlawi, and we may even call those who have converted to Islam mawla al-Islam, or friends of Islam, but Allah alone is the Lord and Master of Islam, the only One worthy of worship. We are slaves to Him alone.

We must not create divisions in Islam by calling some high and others low. There is no such thing in the kalimah. Can we recite the kalimah and then separate Muslims into different categories, saying some are high and some are low? No, we cannot say that. A tree may have many branches, but the flowers and fruits on that tree are all the same. Is that not so? What does it matter if a fruit is on a lower branch or a higher one? Their seeds are the same.

We cannot show favoritism in Islam. We are all the creations of Allah, the children of Adam. The tribe of Abraham, the followers of Muhammad. Allah sends food to all and protects us all. And tomorrow He will question us all, no matter who we are or what position we hold. On the Day of Questioning9 and the Day of judgment, each of us will be judged for whatever good and evil he has gathered. Before that time we cannot tell if someone is good or bad, or high or low in status. We are all Adam's children, all fruits from the same tree.

Of course, there is one small difference. One fruit may be fully ripe and very tasty, another may be in the process of ripening, and another may still be as hard as rock. But we cannot hurry the unripe fruits by beating them. Each one will ripen in its own time, according to how much sun it receives and whether the wind blows on it from a southerly or northerly direction. Similarly, if we want to help the children of Adam to ripen, we can only do it by showering them with good qualities, not by beating them. We have to ripen them and make them peaceful with the kind of loving affection that regards other lives as our own.

We have been told, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." We have not been told to beat our neighbors, to kill them, or to cut them up. That will not ripen anyone. Only if a man's heart is melting with love can he reach a state of acceptance. His heart has to be right. When we show someone love, compassion, trust, and friendship, he will melt in our embrace. Affection evokes affection. So, let us embrace our neighbors as the Prophet has taught us. Let us share with them the things that Allah has given us. To live together in unity with all groups is the proof that we are all the children of Adam. Love your neighbor as yourself; don't take his land and kill him!

You must not accumulate wealth and destroy your good qualities. Money is a corpse. Unshakable faith, certitude, and determination is your only wealth, that is your paradise.10 Nothing other than truth and goodness will stay with you when you die. You cannot hold on to anything else. You cannot divide up the earth and keep a share for yourself; anything taken from the earth will have to be given back to it. Nor can you divide up the waters and keep a portion as your own. You can't hold on to water. Even if you drink a thousand cupfuls, you have to eliminate it sometime. No matter how much you take, water belongs to water and earth belongs to earth.

The Prophet Muhammad gave us the laws and the words of God, but he did not seek to hold on to wealth or land or possessions in exchange. He did not want such things. All he wanted was for us to accept Allah. How did he get us to do that? By showing us good qualities. He gave us the kalimah and the wealth of his qualities. He told us, "This is your true wealth; this is what will help you. Take it and share it with others." The Prophet taught us to love our neighbors, to let them follow any religion they wanted to, and to be free to worship any god they chose. If our neighbors wish to come to pray with us, then we must let them come. We should never attack them. Instead, we should live with them in loving unity and be happy together.

The Prophet also taught us that one who is in Islam must never attack another who is in Islam. If there is fighting even among those who have declared the kalimah, think how much worse it could be among people who have not. When one who has affirmed these words attacks another who has also affirmed them, that cannot be called Islam. Anyone who has said the kalimah is your own flesh, for you are made from the same form.11 You are one family, the creations of Allah, whom His light has touched. This is the absolute truth, the hidden treasure that was brought to us by the Prophet.

Islam will be unified only when Muslims think like this, when they accept this oneness and act accordingly. Only then will Islam progress and this treasure grow. But when one Muslim attacks another, when one Muslim acts treacherously toward another, when a Muslim takes revenge against his neighbors or kills them, such acts hasten the destruction of the world. Should that happen and evil ways prevail, then truth, faith, the wealth of the three worlds,12 and the grace and power13 of the Lord of mercy of all the universes14 will fail to benefit us. They will be wasted.

A Muslim must reflect upon the true meaning of Islam and the meaning within the divine words of the Holy Qur'an. People quote the Qur'an constantly. But is that enough? Some people can memorize the thirty sections15 of the Qur'an in two or three years. Is that all that must be done? The Qur'an does not consist only of the words we memorize; there are countless meanings and explanations contained within those words.

We need to understand every point behind the words we read; we need to understand the meaning of every single thing we do. For example, there is an inner meaning to the qurban,16 the ritual slaughter of animals. Before the time of Muhammad, people could kill a chicken, a goat, a cow, a camel, or any other animal whenever they wanted to. They could just pick up a chicken and wring its neck. Islam put a stop to this. Instead of allowing this killing in every house at random, the people were asked to come to the mosque to have an official person slaughter the animals in the way that was permissible,17 according to the laws.

But some people came and complained to the Prophet, saying, "My children are going without food. We waited for the official to perform the qurban, but he had to go to prayers and attend to other duties, so there wasn't enough time for him to slaughter our animals."

Muhammad then said, "Instead of a hundred chickens, slaughter two goats. Instead of a hundred goats, slaughter ten cows. Instead of ten cows, slaughter three or four camels. Then, if you share the meat fairly, according to the size of each family, everyone will get what they need."

The traditional stories18 also tell of the Prophet saying to 'Ali,19 "Meat is one of the few foods available in our country, but if you eat the meat of any animal for forty days in a row, the qualities of that animal will come into you. 'Ali, never eat meat for forty days in a row. We should reduce our consumption of meat." Little by little, the Prophet gave the people these laws. Because of the strict limitations they imposed, only five to ten animals could be slaughtered a day instead of thousands. People could not simply kill as they pleased; they could take only what was needed.

Now, if the Prophet tried to reduce even the random killing of animals, should we increase the slaughter of men? How can those within a brotherhood attack and kill each other? If one person even gossips about another, and that person then gossips about the first in retaliation, fighting and death may result on all sides.

There was fighting before the Prophet brought the kalimah, but there is no excuse for it now. Now our neighbor is our brother, whether he recites the kalimah or not. We must trust him and he must trust us. We are in Islam, and that means we are in unity. The true meaning of Islam is to embrace our neighbors and love them as we love ourselves.

Each of us must think about this and look deeply into our hearts. We must pay careful attention to all of Allah's words. We must examine the inner secrets of the words of the Qur'an, the truth within every word the Prophet has spoken, and the meanings within his traditions. We must understand all that is contained within the kalimah and embrace each other in unity. If we can exist in that state, we will be in Islam. That is unshakable Islam, the great treasure given by the Lord of mercy of all the universes to those of us who have received the wealth of the three worlds. Once that wealth is ours, we will see peace, harmony, and unity. That is success. May we reflect upon this.

____________________


We must always think: What is Islam? Islam is like a rose. Even if a rose has fifty petals, each one contains the same fragrance. Similarly, even if there are many millions of children in Islam, the beautiful fragrance of Allah's kalimah will emanate from every one of them, no matter which city or country they come from, no matter what language they speak. It will be in their words, in their thoughts, in their actions, in their faith, in their prayers, in their meditation. It will be in their kalimah, in their devotion,20 in their remembrance, 21 and in their deep concentration on God. 22 That fragrance is there in the petals of every heart.23 We must try to know that fragrance.

The blood which unites us as one is the kalimah. As followers of Muhammad, we must be one. That is what it means to be a true believer. If we can establish a state of unity and trust, Islam can never again descend to the state it has come to now. Today practically every Islamic country is at war with another. Wherever we look we see divisions, separations, and wars. That is not Islam.

To wage war within oneself is Islam; the real fight is an inner one. To dispel evil qualities, evil thoughts, and the differences that lead to separations is Islam. To wage war upon jealousy, envy, and vengeance is Islam. To cut out and discard the qualities of Satan and to fill ourselves with the qualities of Allah is Islam. To show a heart full of love to our brothers and sisters is the wealth of Islam.

We must embrace each brother and sister with love and trust. We have to think of each one of God's qualities and fill ourselves with them, one by one, little by little. That is true love. There should not be one trace of prejudice in us. There should not be any words within us that are different from the words we speak outwardly.

The words of true Islam, the words of absolute faith, are like rays of light emerging from the sun. No matter how many clouds cover the sun, it will emerge from behind them and shine again. The clouds cannot change the sun. In the same way, the clouds of karma, sin, and satan, and the evil clouds of jealousy and revenge will come and try to conceal our light. But when faith, certitude, and determination stand firm, they will push those clouds away, and the radiant light of truth will once again shine forth from us.

To always shine with the beautiful light and form of perfect faith is Islam. And to become sweeter as we think of this is Islam. If we understand God's qualities, we will find them so sweet. If we act with God's actions, they will be sweet. When we embrace our brothers and sisters with those actions and with trust, we will realize what happiness is and know the goodness that comes from it. As we embrace each brother and sister heart to heart, helping them in whatever way they need, we will know what joy and goodness are.

As children of Adam, as members of the tribe of Abraham, as the followers of Muhammad and the disciples of Allah, we must understand this. Islam is to join together as one, knowing that those who have not affirmed the kalimah are our neighbors and that those who have affirmed the kalimah are intermingled within our own bodies.

This is the most important aspect of Islam: oneness. The tongue which says the kalimah makes us one. This is what must safeguard Islam. To protect our neighbors from danger is Islam. First we must see that we ourselves don't kill them, and then we must embrace them. We must act according to the laws that have been sent down, according to the words of Allah, Prophet Muhammad, and the Qur'an; the words of truth, conscience, integrity, and justice. Every thought in our hearts must follow those laws; we must not stray from them.

For a human being there are four kinds of justice: God's justice, the king's justice, man's justice, and the justice of each conscience. First we must act with God's justice. Then we must become the king inside our bodies, controlling ourselves and ruling justly over the four hundred trillion, ten thousand spiritual qualities and the millions of actions that are there within us. We must then become that king's subjects, acting with justice toward all mankind. Finally, we must develop the justice of the inner witness, the conscience, and begin to live as human beings in the state of complete justice.

We must reflect deeply on this and know what true Islam is and who we are. If we live in such a state, these qualities will spread, the kalimah will spread, and love, trust, and friendship will spread. Therefore, embrace every heart and make everyone your brother. Send forth from yourself the quality of embracing others and let that love touch and touch and touch their hearts, making them peaceful. That is Islam. Do not send a sword, a knife, a hatchet, or a bomb. Send the kalimah, send the words of the Prophet, send Allah's three thousand gracious qualities and His ninety-nine powers.24 Send love forth from your heart to others.

If you embrace people in this way, you will realize so much happiness and sweetness, as heart after heart after heart is captured. It will turn them into exalted beings, beings of peace and tranquility. It will turn them into men of wisdom, virtuous beings with compassionate hearts. We must bring God's qualities into our actions and make them an integral part of us. We are told to feed the hungry and give charity, but giving money is not enough. Embracing others and giving them good qualities is a much greater charity. Giving wisdom is an even greater charity. And to have absolute faith and become a brother is the greatest charity of all.

Precious children, jeweled lights of my eyes, my brothers and sisters, every one of us must reflect on this and do it without fail. It must come into our understanding and live within our hearts. We must know it in our worship. It must resplend from within our inner beings and emerge from our lives as a treasure.

Islam is the greatest blessing we can receive. The treasures of Islam are the grace25 of Allah and the wealth of all three worlds. All that we can ever understand in life is within Islam. Even our burial and the questioning in the grave and the giving of the verdict are all within Islam. It is all one.

The words I have just spoken came from my heart. They came in the name of Allah and Prophet Muhammad. They came from the innermost heart of a poor man26 who has not studied or learned anything. Every word came from my heart. If there is any fault in what I have said, please forgive me. Every brother and sister, I most humbly beg you to forgive me in the name of Allah and the Prophet.

Amen. May the peace, the beneficence, and the blessings of God be upon you. 27


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Footnotes

1. The al-shahadah kalimah. See appendix.
2. Quraysh: The Arabian tribe from which Muhammad was descended and of which his grandfather, 'Abd al-Muttalib, was chief.
3. The four imams:

  • Imam Abu Hanifah: Born in al-Kufah A. H. 80 and died in Baghdad A.H. 150.
  • Imam Malik: Born and died in Medina A.H.94 - A.H. 179.
  • Imam Ibn Hanbal: Born and died in Baghdad. A.H.164 - A.H.241.
  • Imam al-Shafi'i: Born in Askalon, Pakistan A.H.150 and died in Cairo A.H.204.

These four men systematically developed the rules of conduct and law [fiqh] from the injunctions of the Qur'an and the ahadith. Four different schools of thought were established after them and each has a slightly different interpretation of the practices of Islam.
4. Mustafa al-Rasul
5. mu'min
6. iman
7. sabr, shukr, tawakkul `ala Allah, and al-hamdu lillah
8. astaghfiru Allah al- Azim
9. Qiyamah
10. firdaws
11. surah
12. mubdrakat
13. qudrah
14. rahmat al-'dlamin
15. juz'
16. Externally, it is the ritual slaughter of animals to make them permissible to eat. Inwardly, it is to sacrifice one's life in devotion to God and to cut away the beastly qualities within the heart of man.
17. halal
18. ahadith
19. The fourth caliph, son-in-law of the Prophet, husband of Fatimah, and father of Hasan and Husayn. The second convert to Islam, following Khadijah, the first wife of the Prophet.
20. 'ibadah
21. dhikr
22. fikr
23. qalb
24. wilayat
25. rahmah
26. miskin
27. al-salam 'alaykum wa-rahmat Allah wa-barakatuhu kulluh


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Copyright 2003, Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship