Ramadan: Remembering Our Utter Dependence on the Unutterable One

by Khaleelullah Chemnad

Our Muslim cousins are in the season of Ramadan, from the first glimpse of the new moon on July 19 until the next new moon on August 18. A chance for all of us to remember our creaturliness and our utter dependence on the Unknowable and Unutterable One.

During this season consider reading The Illuminated Prayer: The Five-Times Prayer of the Sufis by Coleman Barks and Michael Green or The Heart of the Qu’ran by Lex Hixon to explore the beauty and grandeur of Islamic spirituality.

Below is an excerpt from Rabia Harris’ excellent short essay on Islamic Nonviolence. Rabia is the founder of the Muslim Peace Fellowship at the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

“… The Arabic term for that which is truly in charge in the world, upon which nonviolence depends, is ALLAH. You can hear that name in your heartbeat. In English, we generally refer to God. There’s only one.

The Muslim Peace Fellowship holds that nonviolence is the core social teaching of all the great religious traditions, and has been carried by all of the Messengers of God.

An Islamic approach to nonviolence will, however, differ in important ways from other understandings. Every religious community takes its distinctive quality from the Messenger who founded it. It follows that the community of Muhammad is perfumed with the perfume of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. And Muhammad {peace and blessings be upon him: PBBUH}, like all of us, possesses both a worldly and a spiritual dimension.

In the world, Muhammad {PBBUH} was the civilizer of the Arab tribes, and his heart was with all oppressed people everywhere. His historical mission was no more, and no less, than the establishment of peace and justice where cruel custom and tyranny had reigned. He worked in, and with, the substance of his times, toward a goal far beyond the horizons of his times. He used extraordinary spiritual means toward equally extraordinary political ends. Through his labor and insight, a great world culture emerged out of a fractured landscape of petty tribal wars. If we trouble to look, we easily find in Muhammad {PBBUH} a master strategist of nonviolence.

In the spirit, Muhammad {PBBUH} has three major characteristics, according to the mystical tradition.
The first characteristic is absolute servanthood: all his being was fully given over to the presence and work of God.
The second, deriving from the first, is all-encompassing perfection. This is a special kind of perfection. He was as human as we are, but in him, every single element that constitutes human nature and experience, without exception, found its true balance and rightful place. Nothing was made greater or less than it really is; nothing was excluded. All the most difficult experiences that we tend to reject, in him were transformed. Among those difficult human experiences is warfare. Not all divine messengers have integrated this.

His third characteristic is to prefer what God prefers: all-embracing compassion for the plight of creatures. Allah said in a non-Qur’anic divine report, “When I created the creation, I inscribed upon the Throne, ”˜My mercy overpowers My wrath.’” And He said of Muhammad {PBBUH} in the Qur’an, “We have not sent you save as a mercy to the worlds.”

This understanding of the nature of the Prophet provides the theological foundation for Islamic nonviolence. … “

Read Rabia Harris’  whole essay.

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