Saturday, 24 November 2007

Important Lecture with Distinguished Scholars from Damascus: Meet Them NOW

Meet Distinguished Scholars from Damascus

North London Central Mosque
Cordially invites you to lecture entitled

Muslim Manners in Western Contexts

By great distinguished scholars of Damascus

Dr. `Abdul-Fattah Al-Bezem
(Mufti of Damascus & Director of Al-Fatah Islamic Institute)
Dr. Husam Ad-Din Al-Forfour
(Head of the Academic Section at Al-Fatah Islamic Institute)

Lecture Moderated by:
Imam Ahmed Saad
(Imam of North London Central Mosque)
Date: Wednesday 28 November 2007
Time: After `Ishaa Prayer 6:00 PM
Venue: North London Central Mosque
7-11 St. Thomas Rd., N4 2QH
Nearest Tube Station: Finsbury Park
Buses: 254 – 259 – 253 – 29 – 106 – 236

*Lecture will be in Arabic followed by Q & A Session

Thursday, 8 November 2007

From Darkness to Light

In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful*

By: Imam Ahmed Saad Al-Azhari

All thanks and praise are due to Allah, the One Who taught man how to speak and express and enshrouded his heart in His eternal light, guided him by His light, educated him by His light and granted those who surrender to Him an eternal light by which they can easily find their way and lead their life and end up in Paradise, the abode of light.

The brothers of IFE are very dear brothers to myself and it is because of the love that connects me to them I am here amongst you today and since we are speaking about light and darkness, I pray to Allah to make this love a light that connects all of us to Him and help us live in His light on the Day when people will be suffering from the darknesses of their evil selves. Today's topic is "From Darkness to Light" and in fact, I loved such an inspiring title because it brings a lot of things into mind. My talk might sound a bit philosophical and a bit strange but these are thoughts on the topic which I thought I love to share with everyone here today.

Darkness vs. Light

When we think about darkness and light we can realize one important fact which is that darkness is in fact the lack of light. It is not just the opposite of light in a sense that it is the existence of a substitute for light; rather, it is the opposite of light because it refers to the non-existence of light. Therefore, if we substitute the word darkness with any other word, we can use 'lightlessness' or 'lack of light'. Therefore, someone who does not have light, has got nothing indeed. Almighty Allah refers to this fact in the Qur'an: (24: 40)
The second striking fact about darkness and light is that light is always mentioned in the Qur'an in a singular form while darkness is mentioned in plural form and that a significance indeed. Light whatever its source may be, has got one basic source which is Allah. The different reflections of light we see in this universe are normally the apparent causes but not the main or the initial source of light. Totally the opposite darkness has got many sources and each of these sources has got many reflections and many causes behind it. The word darkness and the stem from which the word in Arabic is derived namely dh-l-m is mentioned a hundred times in the Qur'an.

The third fact we can observe here is that Allah has adorned on of the Suras of the Qur'an with the name 'An-Nur' (The Light) and, if we go through the whole chapter we will find that all its sub-topics focus on the theme of light and how light is important in everything. For instance, the Sura starts by speaking about 'false accusation' and how do people sometimes slip into the abyss of accusing people falsely of doing things and it shows that everything should be brought to 'light' to judge those who have falsely accused others; we shall ascertain if they are true in their claim or not. Later on, it tells us about the etiquettes of visiting people and entering their houses and enlighten about the most suitable way of doing this. Further on in the same chapter, we are told about the way Muslim men and women should conduct themselves in public so that people maintain a light in their life and lead a life of purity and safety. More and more, the Sura touches on the source of this light and enlightenment, the Source of Light; Almighty Allah Who showers His eternal light on those who listen to His words and apply His teachings.
The fourth fact about light and darkness is that a plethora of words are normally associated with light and reveal its nature and another plethora of words are associated with darkness and very relevant to its nature. Whenever we mention light words like 'protection, safety, ability to see things and distinguish them, judgment, justice, brightness, the sun or the moon' will happen in our minds. On the contrary, when we mention darkness words like 'fear, danger, carefulness, injustice, prison, death and confusion' will be brought to our minds in one way or another.

About Darkness

Since we have already stated that darkness is the lack of light, we should speak about the state of darkness first and see what causes man to lack light and be deprived from it and then give some hints on how can we achieve light again. Darkness has got two main types; physical and spiritual. The concern we are giving today is to the spiritual one because the physical one is just a reflection and projection for the spiritual one. Darkness is normally caused by sins which lead to distancing oneself from Allah; the Source of Light. As for sins, they will normally happen when the person gives control to his whims and desires over his fear of Allah and mindfulness of Him and when he gives priority to his body over his soul and prefers to lead an animalistic life and enjoy whatever is available paying no attention to what should and what should not be done. It happens as well when the person deifies his desires and starts worshipping them with Allah; in which case, he will be torn between two masters and you cannot serve two masters at the same time. In fact, sins which we have just spoken about can themselves lead a person to gain light if he looks at them with regret and decides to re-direct his compass and get himself back on the track. It is because of this that Sidi Ahmed Zarrouk says, "When a servant is plagued with desires and heedlessness, it may either lead him to get closer to Allah or to be disciplined or to be distanced more from his Creator. If the sins caused him to feel regret and then repent, then it will lead him to draw nearer to Allah, if they caused him to remember Allah every now and then and feel down because of his sin, then they have disciplined him and if he attaches himself more to them, then he is surely distanced from Allah and driven from His mercy.

One important fact is that darkness – which is a result of addiction to sins- will normally cause a vacuum in the heart and lead to its death. You may find the person walking, eating, and talking but he is dead; his heart is not there, simply because it is enshrouded in darkness and swelled with demons.

Purify your heart, and see the truth clear,Showered on thy heart is mercy held dear.Hearts that live in delusion will never be sincere, Swelled by evil demons and haunted with fear

The reflections of darkness could be seen when you ask a person about the aim of his existence and the goal of his life and you find him either giving no answer or very material answer. In both cases, you can discern that he is 'blindly' leading a life of confusion in the darkness which he made around himself, simply because he has disconnected himself from the Source of light. When we do not charge the batteries of our faith, they will run out of power and the torch of our belief will not be able to save us because the batteries are dead. Thereupon, darkness will show its real gloomy face and we will realize that this darkness has started, long time ago.

About Light

Light is the only fixed fact in this universe and that is why it represents a measurement for important and significant things; therefore, we have the speed of sound but more accurate and important is the speed of light. Likewise, Almighty Allah tells us in the Qur'an about the significance of the exact position of the stars, simply because when light travels to us from a star, it takes time and as we see the light of that star it means that the star has already moved from the position where we are seeing him at the moment. In this way, light is very important because it is fixed and, mild as it is, it is very powerful. It is able to stop you from looking if it is very strong; it can change your life once it touches your heart. The only thing you need to do is to connect yourself with it, how?
1- Keep a daily wird of Qur'an to recharge your battery
2- Keep a daily wird of tasbih and seeking forgiveness
3- Be keen to change the darkness of your night by light rak`at, for this is what will enlighten your grave
4- Always remember that it is because Allah has connected you to Him, you should keep on praising Him.
I would like to conclude by quoting Ibn `Ataillah in his famous Hikam: "Light unveils and the inner eye judges; then the heart either advances or retreats.""The army of heart is light; the army of lower self is darkness. When Allah wills to help His slave, he reinforces him with the armies of light and cuts off the reinforcements of darkness and otherness.""Lights are the mounts of the hearts and the secrets."


* This lecture has been delivered at Bethnal Green Technology College at one of the events conducted by Islamic Forum Europe, London on 29-4-2007