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November 29, 2008

the traveler on the path of god

While the traveler on the path of God is involved in normal activities, he has certain links and connections with God. Endless waves of yearning flow in his heart, and flames of love consume his inner being. The pain and suffering of separation melt his heart. No one except God is aware of his inner ferment. Yet, whoever looks at his countenance will realize that love of God, longing for the Truth, and quest for His Sacred Being has turned him into such a state.

Allamah Tabatabaie – Kernel of the Kernel

Posted by amin at 5:22 PM

sublime love

What is there more systematically architectonic, more reflectively elaborate, than a Beethoven symphony? But all through the labor of arranging, rearranging, selecting, carried out on the intellectual plane, the composer was turning back to a point situated outside the plane, in search of acceptance or refusal, of a lead, an inspiration; at that point there lurked an indivisible emotion which intelligence doubtless helped to unfold into music but which was in itself something more than music and more than intelligence. Just the opposite of infra-intellectual emotion, it depended on the will. To refer to this emotion the artist had to make a constantly repeated effort, such as the eye makes to rediscover a star which, as soon as it is found, vanishes into the dark sky. An emotion of this kind doubtless resembles, though very remotely, the sublime love which is for the mystic the very essence of God.

Bergson - The Two Sources of Morality and Religion

Posted by amin at 5:20 PM

November 27, 2008

knowledge is the seed of longing

For knowledge is the seed of longing, but only to the extent that it encounters a heart freed from the thorns of the passions, for unless the heart be empty the seed will not bear fruit.

Ghazali - Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God

Posted by amin at 2:52 PM

imposed silence

Now weaning creatures from their habits and familiar belief is difficult, and the threshold of truth is too exalted to be broached by all or to be sought after except by lone individuals. The nobler the thing sought after the less help there is. Whoever mixes with people is right to be cautious; but it is difficult for one who has seen the truth to pretend not to have seen it. For one who does not know God-great and glorious-silence is inevitable, while for one who knows God most high, silence is imposed so it is said: ‘for one who knows God, his tongue is dulled’.

Ghazali - Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God

Posted by amin at 2:50 PM

the tongues of the eloquent fall short of praising him

Praise be to God, alone in His majesty and His might, and unique in His sublimity and His everlastingness, who clips the wings of the intellects well short of the glow of His glory, who makes the way of knowing Him pass through the inability to know Him; who makes the tongues of the eloquent fall short of praising the beauty of His presence unless they use the means by which He praises Himself, and His names and attributes which He has enumerated. And may blessings be upon Muhammad, the best of His creatures, and on his companions and his family.

Ghazali - Ninety-Nine Beautiful Names of God

Posted by amin at 2:46 PM

November 24, 2008

love is a cosmic force

Feelings one "has"; love occurs. Feelings dwell in man, but man dwells in his love. This is no metaphor but actuality: love does not cling to an I, as if the You were merely its "content" or object; it is between I and You. Whoever does not know this, know this with his being, does not know love, even if he should ascribe to it the feelings that he lives through, experiences, enjoys, and expresses. Love is a cosmic force. For those who stand in it and behold in it, men emerge from their entanglement in busy-ness; and the good and the evil, the clever and the foolish, the beautiful and the ugly, one after another become actual and a You for them; that is, liberated, emerging into a unique confrontation. Exclusiveness comes into being miraculously again and again-and now one can act, help, heal, educate, raise, redeem. Love is responsibility of an I for a You: in this consists what cannot consist in any feeling-the equality of all lovers, from the smallest to the greatest and from the blissfully secure whose life is circumscribed by the life of one beloved human being to him that is nailed his life long to the cross of the world, capable of what is immense and bold enough to risk it: to love man.

Martin Buber - I And Thou

Posted by amin at 9:21 PM

November 23, 2008

faith and uncertainty

Faith is certain in so far as it is an experience of the holy. But faith is uncertain in so far as the infinite to which it is related is received by a finite being. This element of uncertainty in faith cannot be removed, it must be accepted. And the element in faith which accepts this is courage. . . . Where there is daring and courage there is the possibility of failure. And in every act of faith this possibility is present. The risk must be taken.

Paul Tillich - Dynamics of Faith

Posted by amin at 8:57 PM

November 17, 2008

short prayers pierce heaven

If a man or woman is frightened by some sudden occurrence of fire, or of someone's death, or whatever else it may be, then suddenly in the extremity of his spirit he is driven by haste and necessity to shout and beg for help. So how does he do it? Certainly not in many word, or even in one word of two syllables. And why is that? Because it seems too long a delay the urgency and agitation of his spirit. And so he bursts our violently, in great emotion, and shouts just a short word of one syllable, such as the word FIRE! Or the word OUT! Just as this short word FIRE! sooner arouses the ears of listeners, and pierces them more rapidly, so does a short word of one syllable when it is not just spoken or thought but secretly intended in the depth of spirit, which is also the height (for in spiritual things it is all the same, height and depth, length and breadth). And it pierces the ears of almighty God sooner than any long Psalm mindlessly mumbled in the mouth. That is why it is written that short prayers pierce heaven.

The Cloud of Unknowing

Posted by amin at 1:18 PM

spiritual mirror

God's word, either written or spoken, can be compared to a mirror. Spiritually, the eye of your soul is your reason; your conscience is your face in spiritual terms. And just as you can see that, if there is a spot of dirt on your bodily face, your bodily eye cannot perceive that spot or know where it is without a mirror or instruction from outside itself, so it is spiritually. Without reading or hearing God's word, it is impossible to human understanding for a soul that is blinded by sinful habits to see a spot of dirt in its conscience.

The Cloud of Unknowing

Posted by amin at 1:16 PM

November 15, 2008

beauty will save the world

One day Dostoevsky threw out the enigmatic remark: "Beauty will save the world". What sort of a statement is that? For a long time I considered it mere words. How could that be possible? When in bloodthirsty history did beauty ever save anyone from anything? Ennobled, uplifted, yes - but whom has it saved?

There is, however, a certain peculiarity in the essence of beauty, a peculiarity in the status of art: namely, the convincingness of a true work of art is completely irrefutable and it forces even an opposing heart to surrender. It is possible to compose an outwardly smooth and elegant political speech, a headstrong article, a social program, or a philosophical system on the basis of both a mistake and a lie. What is hidden, what distorted, will not immediately become obvious.

Then a contradictory speech, article, program, a differently constructed philosophy rallies in opposition - and all just as elegant and smooth, and once again it works. Which is why such things are both trusted and mistrusted.

In vain to reiterate what does not reach the heart.

But a work of art bears within itself its own verification: conceptions which are devised or stretched do not stand being portrayed in images, they all come crashing down, appear sickly and pale, convince no one. But those works of art which have scooped up the truth and presented it to us as a living force - they take hold of us, compel us, and nobody ever, not even in ages to come, will appear to refute them.

So perhaps that ancient trinity of Truth, Goodness and Beauty is not simply an empty, faded formula as we thought in the days of our self-confident, materialistic youth? If the tops of these three trees converge, as the scholars maintained, but the too blatant, too direct stems of Truth and Goodness are crushed, cut down, not allowed through - then perhaps the fantastic, unpredictable, unexpected stems of Beauty will push through and soar TO THAT VERY SAME PLACE, and in so doing will fulfil the work of all three.

In that case Dostoevsky's remark, "Beauty will save the world", was not a careless phrase but a prophecy. After all HE was granted to see much, a man of fantastic illumination.

And in that case art, literature might really be able to help the world today.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - Nobel Lecture in Literature 1970

Posted by amin at 8:08 PM

November 12, 2008

mohammed's summoning

for T.W.

Power stepped into his hiding place:
at once a presence he could not mistake.
He begged the Angel—pure, erect, ablaze—
to leave him as he was. He would forsake
all his ambitions; it was best he stayed
that baffled, over-traveled man of trade.
He'd never learned his letters…and now such
a word! For wise men, even, far too much.
But no, the Angel fiercely showed and showed
the writing on its page. This will that glowed
would not back down, again demanding:—Read.
And then he did. The Angel bowed its head
before him, one from thenceforth who had read:
who knew, and carried out, and who decreed.


Posted by amin at 6:29 PM

November 8, 2008

the light of faith

Indeed, I seek profuse forgiveness from God for having wasted a part of my life studying the opinions of the pseudo-philosophers and polemicists from among the theologians and the intricacies of their discussions, learning their clever tactics of speech and their art of debate, until at last with the light of faith and the assistance of God, the Munificent, it become clear that their syllogisms were sterile and their path not straight. Thereafter, I surrendered my affair to Him and His Messenger, the Warner and the Warned, believed earnestly in all that he had reached us from him, accepting it without making any attempt to find some rational justification or scholarly interpretation for it. Rather, I followed His Prophet’s guidance, refrained from what was forbidden, and submitted to his injunction – as God the Exalted has said: “Take and follow whatever injunctions the Messenger brings you and refrain from what he forbids you” (59:7) – until God opened my heart to what He willed, and by the grace of following His Prophet, I was delivered and saved.

Mulla Sadra - Asfar

Posted by amin at 11:52 AM

November 6, 2008

yes we can

Hello, Chicago.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Sen. McCain.

Sen. McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Gov. Palin for all that they've achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the new White House.

And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you've given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best -- the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod who's been a partner with me every step of the way.

To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.

And I know you didn't do this just to win an election. And I know you didn't do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.
There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage or pay their doctors' bills or save enough for their child's college education.

There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.
This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.
Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

Barack Obama

Posted by amin at 11:26 AM

November 3, 2008

to him all things shall be referred

The mystics say that hope and fear, longing and intimacy, expansion, trust, resignation, and submission are all essential elements of love, for love at the aspect of the Beloved's compassion inspires hope, fear at the aspect of His awe, longing at non-attainment, intimacy with the achievement of realization, expansion with exceeding intimacy, and trust with confidence in His care, resignation with relishing everything that He makes to occur, and submission at the aspect of one's inadequacy and inability and His perfection and omnipotence.

Real love is coextensive with submission when the wayfarer knows the Beloved to be the absolute sovereign and himself as the absolute subject of His sovereignty. Real love is coextensive with fana' when he sees the Beloved as everything and himself as nothing. For those who possess this station, everything other than God is a veil, and the ultimate goal of the journey is to turn away from all to attend to Him: To Him all things shall be referred (11:123).

Nasir al-Din Tusi - Awsaf al-Ashraf

Posted by amin at 1:45 PM

November 1, 2008

his dazzling light

O poor man occupied with your great worldly influence which embitters life and with little wealth which causes disorder, you arouse astonishment when you are content with these, neglecting to look at the beauty of the Lordly Excellency and its glory despite its luminosity and appearance, for it is so apparent that it need not be sought and so obvious that it does not require reflection. After the purification of the soul from the base desires of the world, nothing bars the soul from occupation with that beauty, except its strong luminosity together with the weakness in the pupils of the eye. Glory be to Him Who has disappeared from the sight of men’s eyes by His dazzling light, and become veiled from them by His great appearance!

Ghazali - The Jewels of the Quran

Posted by amin at 5:25 PM