Thursday, December 15, 2011

Somw wise words of Imam Shafi'i RahimahULLAHU TA'ALA

“All humans are dead except those who have knowledge;
and all those who have knowledge are asleep, except those who do good deeds;
and those who do good deeds are deceived, except those who are sincere;
and those who are sincere are always in a state of worry.”

-Imam Shafi'i (rahimullah)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Concussion, It Was...Really!

A couple of days ago, I went to some place with my father. He and I were sitting next to each other on a couch for quite sometime, when a woman ( Let us call her A, for convenience' sake) walked in and stood right beside us. The place was all so crowded. She couldnt seem to find a place to fit herself in. So I moved a little closer to my dad so that she could sit next to me in whatever little space that was thus made available for her. So she sat down relieved, or so i think, at least. We didnt talk to each other for quite a while, because I am usually not the talker when there are a lot of people around, and more so, when they are not even remotely related to me. But then, she asked me something, (I forgot what exactly), and we ended up striking a conversation out of nowhere. She asked me why I was here and who I was with. You know, things like that, to initiate a conversation...Actually we were at a bank, so I answered her as best as I could. And then, another lady came ( Let us call her B), and she too couldnt  find any place to sit, so my father stood up and made way for her. There I was, a young woman, sitting with two mature elderly and motherly women on both my sides. This other woman then asked me what my token number was and who I was with. So I told her and asked hers. She then kept asking me questions like whether my mother was here too, and how many siblings I had. To the former, I answered in negative, and to the latter, I said none. So she was quite suprised and then asked me if my father ever felt upset on not having had a son who would look after him when he got old. Again, my answer was a no. More surprised as she sounded, she apparently tried to make amends for asking such a personal question by telling me that these days, having daughters is far better than having sons. ( Disclaimer: I might be wrong in thinking that she just wanted to make me feel better by saying this......she might be saying this very honestly and without any concerns that she needed to make me feel better by asking whether or not, my dad was too happy to have a daughter as his only child) And then A joined us in our conversation. We remained quiet for a while, and then another woman came and she sat between B and I, so I had to move a little closer to A. And we ( A and I, that is) re-continued talking about the benefits of having a daughter. She told me ( I am yet to check its authenticity, though) that when a man gets a son born to him, Allah Ta'ala Addresses the father and Says that I Have Bestowed you with your arms or something to that effect, but when a daughter is born, He Says that I Have Become your arms from now on. So I was wowed. by this I asked her where she lived in karachi, ( I actually asked her this for the second time, becaue I couldnt locate the place in my mind previously, so I was curious as to where exactly she lived in the city of my origin) She explained it to me again but it went in vain.I, too didnt insist, for I understood that the failure does not lie at her end. Then we moved on to some serious talking. She told me that almost all the Signs of Qayamat have been manifested, and although I knew that yes, some of them are being clearly observed, I still asked her :Really? How come? And then she continued telling me all the different vices that are so prevalent in this day and age. So I was like, yes, you are right! And then she said the society has become so evil-like that I fail to practice fully whatever good that I have learned and whatever I have taught so far. So I said that good education ( taaleem) goes hand in hand with good tarbiyat. Both of them are necessary prerequisites for a morally healthy society. I added by telling her my story that when I was growing up, my parents were always focussed only on my grades and my ranks in academics. They didnt really tell me that I should be pious alongwith being a well-educated human being. So i just told her that it is all due to the ignorance and insufficiency of Knowledge that is keeping people away from following and adapting to the life of a True Muslim. But then she showed me the other side of the coin. She showed me what I have always failed to notice, let alone ignore. She said that yes, I might be right, but what about the parents who tell their children every now and then to be well-behaved?What about them who have actually become weary and exhausted in making their children true muslims but nothing good seems to come out of all their toil and strife?She told me that whenever she explains to her children to do what is right and stuff like that, her children get annoyed, leave their food and walk out on her. She then went on and asked me why do I think suicide attempts  have become matters of common occurence now. And I was like , it was may be due to people's lack of himmat, you know, and she said, that yes, you could be right. But there's another thing that goes with it. Every man values his life as much as everybody else. It is just sheer depression that results from seeing his children screaming every night for food, and his wife telling him every night that there is no ration at home, eid is drawing near and things like that. What does a person do in such circumstances? He takes his life. She was not justifying suicide. She was only making me understand how "real" things are and how not everything's going to be our way. And all we need to do is to just stay put patiently for whatever we didnt have, showing  gratitude to Allah Ta'ala, for whatver we did have.To not show-off for whatever we did have, or to not be envious for whatever we didnt have. She was a teacher at a private school,  she told me. Her husband was a head-master at some government school. He had taken a second wife. And he gave A only 6,000 rupees for food rationing etc, while A gets a meagre 5000 rupees for her monthly salary. She finds it difficult to manage everything, but she doesnt seem to be complaining at all. Not to me, at least. Our conversation was interrupted by my father who wanted me to write a cheque for him for a hundred thousand and something. While I did so, embarrassment crept inside me and overwhelmed me. It has never left me ever since. Wondering why? Me too. I have just spent an hour and a half in narrating this short episode of my life with no real "punch-line" or "motive" in my mind. I wrote this so that I dont forget Hafeezah. That's what A's real name is. And how well it suits her! MashaAllah! And she came from Mach Goth, somewhere near HUB Nadi. May Allah Ta'ala Protect us and Do Hifazah of our Imaan at all times, good or bad! Aameen thumma Aameen!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Book Review: "Scattered Seed" by Maisie Mosco

Scattered Seed,
Maisie Mosco
Harper Collins

When shall we twain,
join hands again,
no more to part,
thou hast my heart?”

Life’s lessons are learnt and not taught, and the medium of learning is the course of life, and every pupil is in himself a school-incarnate. One realizes this and acknowledges many other enlightening phases and modes of life after having read Maisie Mosco’s Scattered Seed, which is the second book of a trilogy about a Russian Jewish family which emigrates to North Manchester, England in early 20th century in order to escape the anti-Jewish riots and pogroms which erupted in pre-Soviet Tsarist Russia in late 1800s and continued till early 1900s.
The assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881 for which some hold the Jews blameworthy, provokes a large-scale, massive, violent yet organized anti-Semitic riots and massacres. With the lapse of time, in the early 20th century, despite military interventions, these retaliatory attacks become bloodier and homicidal as the Jews now take to arms to defend their homes, families and property from their Christian assailants. During these pogroms, thousands of Jewish families are torn asunder and reduced to a life of drudgery. With their homes thus destroyed, a large number of Jews seek new havens for refuge which they soon find in England and United States. Unfortunately enough, soon the initial airs of sympathy transform into a general attitude of social estrangement and aversion.
Sara and Abraham’s is one such family which struggles through the initial phases of homelessness and poverty, later stages of emigration and settling in England, and then subsequent alienation and degradation by the British society. This story is a family’s journey through all tinges and shades of life, be it white, black, or grey.  However clichéd it may sound, but yes, it is true that once started, the book with its grins and grimaces, meal-times’ discord and weekends’ reunion, and religious festivals and social occupations, glues the readers to it for as long as the narrative lasts. However, brief references to historical and religious details and elaborated and inter-twined kinship ties may often confuse the reader.
All in all, it is a good read for the lovers of religious history in particular and even a better read for the lovers of books in general!

Book Review: "Aleph" by Paulo Coehlo

Book: Aleph
Author: Paulo Coehlo
Publisher: HarperCollins

I’m exaggerating. If we seek something, that same thing is seeking us.
Nevertheless, you have to be prepared for everything. At this point, I make the decision I’ve been needing to make: even if I find nothing on this train journey, I will carry on, because I’ve known since that moment of realization in the hotel in London that although my roots are ready, my soul has been slowly dying from something very hard to detect and even harder to cure.
Routine has nothing to do with repetition. To become really good at anything, you have to practise and repeat, practise and repeat, practise and repeat, until the technique becomes intuitive. I learned this when I was a child, in a small town in the interior of Brazil, where my family used to spend the summer holidays. I was fascinated by the work of a blacksmith who lived nearby. I would sit, for what seemed like eternity, watching his hammer rise and fall on the red-hot steel, scattering sparks all around, like fireworks. Once he said to me:
‘You’ll probably think I’m doing the same thing over and over, don’t you?’
‘Yes,’ I said.
‘Well, you’re wrong. Each time I bring the hammer down, the intensity of the blow is different. Sometimes it’s harder, sometimes it’s softer. But I only learned that after I’d been repeating the same gesture for many years, until the moment came when I didn’t have to think, I simply let my hand guide my work.’
            I’ve never forgotten those words.

It begins with a confession of one’s repetitive failed attempts to be perpetually connected to one’s soul. It traverses along symbols, signs, intuition and adventure. It ends with a rendezvous with one’s inner self, one’s own soul. Like Paulo’s international bestseller, “The Alchemist”, his newly published “Aleph” has a journey within and without oneself for its salient feature, with the mere difference that in this recent work of his, the author presents himself as the protagonist. This is not to say that the “Aleph” has nothing new or worst still, nothing at all to offer to its readers as far as its story-line is concerned. Being a hundred-percent autobiographical account of the author’s journey across the Trans-Siberian Railway, which passes through seven different time zones and is one of the longest railway networks in the world, the book is marked with even the slightest detail related to the train ride, ranging from the constant lurching of the vehicle and the racket caused by the wheels rubbing against the rails, to the bothersome occasions of a sleep disrupted by the tumultuous halts and departures coupled with the constant jerks, which are a matter of common occurrence for a train-traveller. These and all other elaborate paragraphs, nonetheless, fail to bore the reader, let alone dissuade him/her to put the book down for even a fraction of a second. On the other hand, they only add to the reader’s already-growing interest for the 300-page memoir.  As the author sets out, a curious reader might as well intend to embark on such a journey himself, only to find later than there is no such need, for the reader already accompanies the author on the ride, and the journey thus under-taken by the latter is, in effect, the former’s too.  
            Having said this, one needs be reminded that this journey is not without a purpose, and to understand fully ( or even partially ) the author’s primary objective which underlies this decision of his. is an ardous exercise in itself, for, like Paulo’s other literary masterpieces, the “Aleph” is also inundated by philosophical and spiritual ideas which are often difficult to comprehend, despite the simplicity of words used to describe them.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Welcoming "Me" to "My Life"

I am back and this time with a bang ( hopefully). I had been busy...there was always something or the other on my mind, in my hands, around me, over me and within me to pre-occupy "Me" and hence, distract me from engaging in writing activities.......something I always wanted to pursue as a lifelong occupation ( not profession, really )...something which is the crux of "My Life". I am not as prolific and knowledgeable a writer as my dear friend Urooj Malik, but I too want to use ink and paper and not face and voice to etch my thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and grievances about life into our very own words. And what could be a better medium than to do just that ? So sit back and I beg you to not crouch before together we embark on a journey through and across a narrative, yet to be named. I would appreciate if you all kindly encourage me to stick around for a longer time this time, at least for the narrative's narrator's sake....I badly need  your duas and wishes to help me don the writer's cap for as much as my narrator of the story desires. I leave you here.....

By the way, any guesses for who the narrator is? 


It is...

Yours truly, 



In the words of (Moulana) Hakeem Akhtar (Saheb):

Listen dear friends to the story of Moulana Rumi
Who was generally involved with teaching.
While being unaware of the ways of the path (Sulook).
Being involved with external knowledge at all times,
His lecturing pursuits had become famous all around,
While for him hard was the contact with the path.
For arrogance through knowledge keeps the men of knowledge
Far away from recognizing the truth.
For the main object of all knowledge is to attain Divine Love
Apart from that all is mere conceit.
But him on whom Allah's Grace shines,
One day or another he will become Allah's favorite.
In this way Allah's Grace shone on Moulana Rumi
And from the unseen, Allah's help reached him.
All achievements come about through Divine Grace
And without His favor nothing comes about.
From the unseen world Rumi was chosen.
As Shamsh Tabrezi prayed to the Lord:
"Lord, this fire of love burning in my heart,
This restless longing which lies in me,
This fire of truth which is buried in my heart
And all that was granted to me.
O Lord, let there be such a bondsman of Thine
Who in true fashion will be suitable to inherit.
That his heart may become filled with truth
And that I may fill his being with pearls of wisdom.
Let me find such an heir who will be able
To bear the burden of the fire of love in him.
For the burning love within myself
Is like the Mount Toor of love in the heart.
Lord, near indeed is for me the time of parting
To whom shall I leave this trust? O, Beloved."
Page 22 of 197
From the unseen came the immediate reply:
"O Shamsh Tabrezi, hasten towards Rum.
Go and make Moulana Rumi the Master of Rum.
Let him become unoccupied with the affairs of Rum.
“Thus at the command of the unseen Shamsh proceeded
Towards Rum as commanded from on High.
As he cast his sight upon Moulana Rumi,
Unconscious he fell down on the path.
Forgotten were the robes of knowledge.
Hungry and thirsty was he to be successful on the path.
At one time Moulana Rumi was known
As a man of dignity and splendor.
The one endowed with the special connections of Khwarizm Shah
And also endowed with being a Master of knowledge.
Whenever he had to go anywhere,
Speedily was brought for him the royal sedan' .
And ready for him were soldiers, servants and students
Who in honor and respect accompanied him.
He was used to having his hands and feet kissed
And on all sides he used to be crowded.
Today he fell down unconscious.
Through Divine Love he discarded all signs of pomp and splendor.
What a glance was thrown on him by Shamsh Tabrezi
And through that he became a leader of the Path.
When the Pir of Rum regained consciousness,
He followed the footsteps of Shamsh Tabrezi
Taking his Sheikh's bedding on his head as he walked
Having bought the humility of Love.
When does Divine Love keep a transitory world,
All that became lost in the dust.
For the honor of Divine Love is everlasting honor
And its ecstasy is ecstasy forever.
And upon Jalaluddin Rumi there was
The full effect of the influence of Shamsh Tabrezi
And Shamsh Tabrezi filled the heart of Rumi
With burning love and yaqeen.
From the hands of the Sheikh whatever bounty he found
The Mathnavi is filled with gratitude for that.
Look from what to what Shamsh transformed Rumi,
Through their liaison and company wonders resulted.
It is through the spiritual bounty of Shamsh
That without fear Rumi could dance around with turban tied.
Such an effect was had on the Pir Rumi
As he explains in Mathnavi without any fear.
That Shamsh Tabrezi was a light complete.
He was the sun and he was the lights of truth.
Page 23 of 197
In the Mathnavi, the fire of Tabrezi burns.
The meanings are Tabrezi, the words Rumi's.
What did Rumi acquire from the hands of Tabrezi (R.A.)?
Ask this of Rumi himself.
But I say, o my friends,
Search for it yourself in the Mathnavi.

( Copied from " A Commentary of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi's Maarif-e-Mathnavi" by Maulana Hakeem Akhtar Saheb (damat barakatuhum))

Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Review: "My Life With The Taliban"

My Life with the Taliban
by Abdul Salam Zaeef, translated from the Pashto and edited by Alex Strick van Linschoten and
Felix Kuehn
Columbia University
Press, 331 pp., $29.95

They told me very smugly
that “we will be in Afghanistan for a long time. We will root out the
Taliban and Al Qaeda, and we will bring democracy and freedom”.
I could only laugh at them. “That may be your opinion, but I do not
Then, patronizingly, they would ask: “So, what is your opinion?
What will happen?”
In reply I would hold out an outstretched hand, all five fingers
“Here is where you are right now”, I told them. “But in three years
it will be like this”. I contracted my hand into a claw. “If you are not
complete idiots you will understand. Otherwise, in six years it will be
like this”. And I made my hand into a very tight fist. “It would be
good if you use your brain at this point. Otherwise, in ten years everything
will be out of your control. You will have an embarrassing failure,
and we will have a disaster”.
But they treated my words like those of a child. They told me that I
did not understand. But I told them, “I am an Afghan. I know this”.( 223 )

While I was reading through The Kite-Runner and later, A Thousand Splendid Suns, both by the same author, I felt an urge in me to probe further into the historical facts and diplomatic fiction about post-Soviet Afghanistan in general and the Taliban movement in particular. The first question I wanted somebody to answer for me happened to be why the Bamiyan statues had to be blown away when there were other possibly better and politically “safer” ways to get rid of them. Why couldn’t the Talibans hand over Osama Bin Laden and avoid being invaded by the Americans, was another query I wished to be replied by a plausible explanation of the matter. It was only a week ago when I landed myself into a crash course on Afghanology which quenched three-quarters of my ignorance regarding Afghanistan’s dreary past, simultaneously giving rise to more curiosity and doubts as to its future and what lies in store for it in days to come, if at all.
Yes, I gotten my hands on a book called “My Life with the Taliban” which sufficed for doing all of that for me.  Originally penned in Pashto by Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef ,who served as a former Afghan Deputy Defence Minister and Deputy Minister of Mines and Industries, and later as an ambassador of Afghanistan to Pakistan, the story is a narrative of the author’s journey through, into and out of Afghanistan across various socio-political changes that simultaneously occurred at home and abroad over the past three decades.
He starts his tale from his own beginning and then sets out to sketch the details as to the  framework of pre-and post-Soviet Afghanistan so as to paint the broader picture for the readers’ understanding and perception of the dire need for the initiation of the Taliban Movement, a name which was only unscrupulously tagged on a group of a few tens by the careless tabloids, making it sound a political phenomenon in stead of the religious connotations which the word “Taliban” actually consumes.
Before reading through the passages on the societal circumstances which led to  the inception of the now most dreaded militant organization, I often wondered if killing hundreds of innocent people in a bloody rampage, blowing away historical monuments , or even taking one’s own life along with several others’ in a suicide bomb attack were tactics good enough and “Islamically” permissible, in an attempt to perform the much-used and –abused jihad, and better yet, to establish the veracity and supremacy of Islam over all other religions. This book forced me to imagine how the recurring waves of frustration, social chaos and mistrust, and political unrest, accompanied by an acute deprivation of the basic amenities of life which the Afghans were and continue to be plagued with to this day, followed by the various groups’ bid for power for nearly three decades now, could give rise to small factions of illegally-armed men who would kill their own country-men in order to continue to retain their power in and around their respective “check-posts”.  And yes, they would abduct, rape and kill for money too.
This “local” narrative brought to my notice the fact previously unknown to me that the founders of the Taliban Movement waited patiently for quite sometime for the then-prevalent corruption and social unrest to subside before undertaking the responsibility of trying to create a peaceful and conducive-to-living environment. Also, I learnt that they only resorted to arms when they failed after a series of negotiations to convince the several groups of dacoits and thugs from among the mujahideen groups ( who had fought along with the Taliban against the Soviet ). Moreover, the Taliban’s unprecedented and successful feat to put an end to the cultivation of poppy and opium and the implementation of the Islamic Shariah Law preceded the notoriuos events of the Hazara massacre and the removal of the Bamyan statues were later episodes in the 5 year reign of the Taliban regime. As a matter of fact, the gods of the world deliberately maintain their silence with regard to the facts and fiction related to these events.
Yes, one can by no means deny the blameworthy character of our very own Pakistan in all the fiasco and hype created by the inherently “terrorist” natures of the Talibans. And so couldn’t the author either.  He has highlighted his disappointing experiences with the then Pakistani government officials, army personnel and diplomats while he was here as an Afghan ambassador to the country in a melancholy tone as if he was saddened by the evil ways a Muslim government treated its counte-rpart , even though it shared with it the same faith and same culture, at least in some places of the country.His painfully thorough description of the Pakistani and Afghan prisons and the Guantanamo camps rejuvenated the images of the enslaved Black Africans and their brutal treatment at the hands of their “masters” which had arisen in my mind during my perusal of Alex Hailey’s “The Roots” nearly a year ago.
The epilogue is one great literary piece which needs to be read aloud to all the diplomats currently serving in Kabul and Washington, in general and to those in Islamabad in particular. Although the writer does not end his story by providing the readers with a myriad of solutions to the social and political mayhem created by the infamous “War on Terrorism”, he asserts that a continued increase in the number of soldiers deployed in Afghanistan is not a viable solution either. In stead, he says, it will lead to more bloodshed on both the Afghans’ and the Americans’ sides. However, he suggests that the US should revise its war policy by beginning a campaign of peace.
Strangely enough, the author simply refuses to affirm his much-expected close links with the Al-Qaeda group. Thus, it is safe to assume that there is yet a lot to be said and heard about the associations between the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda. The truth, of course. It is interesting to note that the translators of the book have spent quite some time in Afghanistan ascertaining the facts and figures, so blatantly posited on numerous occasions in the books. This gives the narrative more credibility, at the same time adding to the viciousness of the truth so defiantly revealed by a Talib.
Having said all this, one thing that runs parallel to the author’s jihadic adventures and his political pursuits is his assiduity in acquiring religious knowledge and an urge to act upon it: a real, true and traditional occupation of a Talib which subsumes every other responsibility or occupation for that matter.
All in all, the book is a good read despite frequent occurrences of not-so-interesting details and rare occasions of spelling errors.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Al-Ghazali's concept of Lataif

              Islamic epistemology offers a special role to qalb in attaining to knowledge of the wonders of creation in general, and the knowledge of Allah in particular. The Holy Quran is dotted with appeals to man’s realization of significance, resourcefulness and vitality of qalb in matters of “belief” and cautions man of the sealing of his qalb in case he fails to employ it to seek maarifat and yaqeen in Allah. [1]The Traditions of the Prophet also attest to the pivotal nature of qalb to an extent that one even finds the Prophet himself invoking Allah to make his qalb steadfast on religion[2] and direct it towards His obedience.[3]  A reading through Islamic epistemology also shows that out of all the parts of a human body, it is the heart which has been specialized to “contain” [4]the knowledge of Allah, and hence, it is this organ through which revelation ( which is in turn, the way towards knowledge of Allah) is received. Imam Ghazali too accords a significant role to qalb in his epistemology: for him, qalb is the real essence or the asl of man.[5]
               Moreover, when he aims to understand the concept of qalb in particular, or tasawwuf in general, in matters as pertain to getting to knowledge and certainty, he leaves no room whatsoever for non-Islamic epistemology in a sense that he makes revelation and prophecy the “essence” of his discourse on the matter, on the pretext that spirituality or tasawwuf emanates exclusively from wahy and nubuwwat. However, he includes another thing in his treatise which is not explicitly mentioned in the Quran and is only metaphorically alluded to as being a special characteristic of the qalb, and that is, intellect/intelligence/reason or aql. Moreover, a reading through Ghazali’s books verifies the fact that his discussions on the function and properties of qalb are never devoid of an allusion to the significance of aql as being the receptacle of the special characteristics of the qalb. This paper is an attempt to explore the concepts of aql and qalb in Quran and Ghazali’s epistemology and argue that aql resides in the spiritual qalb. That is to say, aql dwells in the latifa of qalb. The discourse will end with a concordance between the two epistemologies. To this end, section one of this discourse will put forth various verses from the Holy Quran which are relevant to the concepts of aql and qalb. Section 2 will present and analyse Ghazali’s understanding of the two afore-mentioned terms and his explication of the subtlety which the aql enjoys with qalb by giving some analogies. The last section will attempt to harmonize the two frameworks of attaining knowledge: the Holy Quran and Ghazali.
I- Seeing, sight, insight and qalb from the Holy Quran :
          A careful glance at the approaches employed towards the Quranic sciences, the way the exegetes have expounded on the Quranic verses, and also the way various translators have translated the Holy Book shows that a word may have assorted meanings and it could mean differently at different occasions, and hence, could be translated in a horde of meanings depending on the context. The way Quran has dealt with the concept of aql is very interesting to notice, for the reason that it has used several words connoting aql , other than the word itself. Sometimes, it has also used qalb to denote aql, which will be demonstrated in due course. Notwithstanding there exist a whole myriad of ways the word aql could be used and interpreted,  the following discourse will only mention those ways which are relevant and equally helpful in establishing that aql takes place in the latifa of the qalb. 
               The Quran highlights the means by which knowledge can be attained to and the means with which a human’s will-power may be directed towards the obedience of Allah. For example, it pinpoints and appeals to the usage of sight, hearing, aql and qalb in order to ponder at the Signs of Allah. However, some of these words are often been used to connote intellect or aql as well, alongside carrying their original meaning.  Their description in terms of their connotation of intellect with examples from the Holy Quran is in order:
1) Sight: The Holy Quran uses different words such as ayn, basar etc to connote sight.  At some places, the word sight refers to the eyes, at others, it refers to the faculty of physical sight while at still others, it connotes insight or intellect.
 For example,
a) And again, you shall see it with certainty of sight! ( 102: 7 )  {عَيۡنَ}
b) Then look again and yet again, your sight will return unto you weakened and made dim. ( 67: 4 )   { الۡبَصَرُ}
c) (Remember also) the `Ad and the Thamud (people): clearly will appear to you from (the traces) of their buildings (their fate): the Evil One made their deeds alluring to them, and kept them back from the Path, though they were gifted with Intelligence and Skill. (29:38)  {   مُسۡتَـبۡصِرِيۡنَۙ‏  }

d) And commemorate Our servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, possessors of Power and Vision. ( 38:45 )  { وَالۡاَبۡصَارِ }

2) Aql: Quran uses this word normally to connote the intellectual faculty native to humans, and that characteristic in man which drives him to obey Allah and turn away from passions and lustful desires.
a) We have made it a Qur'an in Arabic, that you may be able to understand (and learn wisdom). ( 43: 3)  { تَعۡقِلُوۡنَۚ‏ }
b) They will further say: "Had we but listened or used our intelligence we should not (now) be among the Companions of the Blazing Fire!" ( 67: 10 ) {  نَعۡقِلُ }
3) Qalb and Af’idah: It is the part of a human body which contains the knowledge of Allah., that is, it is that organ which receives wahy.
a) Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts (and mind) may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their hearts which are in their breasts. ( )  { قُلُوۡبٌ يَّعۡقِلُوۡن بِهَا }
b) But their hearts are in confused ignorance of this; and there are, besides that, deeds of theirs, which they will (continue) to do. ( 23: 63 ) {  قُلُوۡبُهُمۡ }
c) Verily in this is a Message for any that has a heart and understanding or who gives ear and earnestly witnesses (the truth). ( 50: 37 )  { قَلۡبٌ }
d) It is He Who brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers when ye knew nothing; and He gave you hearing and sight and intelligence and affections: that ye may give thanks (to Allah). ( 16: 78 )  {  وَالۡاَفۡـِٕدَةَ‌ }
e) And We had firmly established them in a (prosperity and) power which We have not given to you (ye Quraish!) and We had endowed them with (faculties of) hearing, seeing, heart and intellect: but of no profit to them were their (faculties of) hearing, sight, and heart and intellect, when they went on rejecting the Signs of Allah; and they were (completely) encircled by that which they used to mock at! ( 46 : 26 ) {   اَفۡـِٕدَتُهُمۡ }
f) The which doth mount (Right) to the Hearts:  { الۡاَفۡـــِٕدَةِ }
II- Seeing, sight, insight and qalb according to Ghazali:
 One of the salient features of Imam Ghazali’s mizaaj is his methodology of classifying concepts into sub-categories or types. His writings are dotted with examples illustrating this trait of his. Hence, one finds a categorization too, when he discusses aql and qalb. Imam Ghazali has put forth a framework in his book Maarij whereby he explicates animals’ faculties and human’s faculties and then asserts that the innate characteristic which distinguishes a man from animals is his intellectual faculty or aql.[6] He does so by establishing that it is the intellect which governs all other faculties so much so that it controls the animalistic characteristics such as shahwah and ghadab[7], that a man may also possess. Ghazali then divides this intellect into four levels such that three of them serve to acquire the “real” nature of things, successively either by way of theoretical sciences, axiomatic truths or empirical knowledge [8]while the fourth, if allowed to mature and develop fully enables an individual to conquer his carnal desires and inculcate in him a will-power to obey Allah. Moreover, the first type of intellect is what distinguishes man from animals: it serves as guiding light for the heart to understand and grasp concepts and things. It is this form of aql from which all other intellects originate and by which their respective attributes are enhanced and controlled. Also, the first two levels of intellect are native to a human being while the other two acquired and developed to an extent that all the first three intellects grow and evolve into the fourth level of intellect, which is      
                           the fruit and the ultimate aim.[9]
One should bear in mind that these are four levels of intellect and not categories, and hence, an individual will have to develop his intellect and undergo all these levels if he wants to inculcate in him a mature intellect. This is because only a mature intellect will help him perceive the knowledge of the Divine and realities of the nature of things seemingly hidden from him and previously unknown to him. Here a question could be raised as to the realities which transcend reason, because of Ghazali asserting in one of his books Maqsad[10] that there may be some truths which exceed reason. The answer to this is as follows: this reason could be at the level of one of the three intellects mentioned above, because of Ghazali stating elsewhere that intellect helps attaining to the knowledge of the hidden realities. Needless to say, intellect, be it of any type or level, is the place where knowledge resides, be it axiomatic or acquired, and that, the fact that a mature intellect is capable of perceiving the consequences of an action with the help of the knowledge acquired through the other three levels and as a result, is able to exert himself in attaining the benefits which accrue from  that act, or striving against his appetite to avert the evilness of the action, proves that an intellect engenders a certain will-power in man and channels it towards a right direction based on its knowledge and the perceptibility of the benefits or the evils of an act. Thus, in short, this could be said: an intellect is the makaan of knowledge and will-power.
               Furthermore, in “Wonders of the Heart” Ghazali asserts that knowledge and will-power are special characteristics of the heart. From this and what we have mentioned above, either of the two things could be inferred: 1) aql resides in the spiritual qalb, 2) the spiritual qalb resides in the aql. Ghazali argues the first notion without taking into consideration or explaining his elimination of the second interpretation from any discussion whatsoever. We would attempt to prove or disprove his stance by using the analogies which he uses to establish the relation between heart and knowledge.
A) King and his Kingdom:[11]
This is the simplest analogy Ghazali employs to explain his position that aql dwells in the heart. He relates aql to a king: an aql governs all the faculties such as imagination, memory etc as its aides in controlling the affairs of the kingdom i.e. hearts. This can be understood thus: aql governs all other faculties, motor or apprehending or speculative and through some, it gathers knowledge and using this knowledge, it becomes capable of perceiving the possible outcomes of an act, thereby, creating in man a desire and will-power which he in turn applies towards performance of that act. Conversely, the intellect, by means of its perceptive faculty, enables man to ward off the enemy, that is, the carnal desires, following which result in evil consequences, that is, disobedience to Allah, His Wrath and eventually to the utter loss of man, in the form of Hell-fire as his permanent abode. Moreover, since for Ghazali, heart is the asl of man, any loss faced by a man is in fact a loss for the heart. This explains the analogy and thus, it follows that aql is to qalb as a king is to his kingdom. One should also notice that the king is of no value or importance without his kingdom and the converse also holds true. Similarly, aql is of no value without a qalb which receives the knowledge, and vice-versa. A qalb without a mature aql is vulnerable to attacks from the enemies and aql without its dominion loses its control over it and in turn, loses its importance. So aql and qalb have to be related to each other in a way that the heart receives knowledge in the form of wahy and the mature intellect then processes, justifies it, and makes it comprehensible for the heart, thereby making the “belief complete.” [12] Hence, it could be said that according to Ghazali, aql, qalb and wahy together constitute the equation for certainty of belief in Allah, and none can be dispensed with, if kamil yaqeen and kamil maarifat are to be acquired. Also, since for Ghazali, knowledge and will are the special properties of the heart, this leads him to imply that aql which is the makaan or place of origin of knowledge and will, actually dwells in the spiritual qalb, that is, latifa-e-qalb.
2) The horseman and his mount[13]:
Here aql is likened to a horseman who controls his mount, i.e the horse. The blindness of the horse is not that destructive or dangerous as the blindness of the horseman. If the horseman is well-trained, he is able to succeed even if his mount is undisciplined, but if he himself is unruly and stupid, he will not be able to control his mount. Similarly, a person whose intellect has not matured yet, will not be able to fully acquire the knowledge and perceive the consequences of an act, and hence, will not be able to control his passions. The weakness of a horseman in commanding and restraining his mount is indicative of his own ignorance and weakness of his insight. Having said this much, a point which needs worth iterating is as follows: Ghazali posits this analogy in a chapter titled “Exposition of relation of heart to knowledge”. But in this analogy, he has not even once alluded to the heart, or analogized anything to the heart as in the previous case. Thus, it could be inferred that his including this analogy in the above-mentioned chapter presumes the intimate relationship between aql and heart. Also, he emphasizes on the harnessing of aql or intellect to the reins of the obedience to revelation “contained” by the heart in way that aql is
            at the service of faith…It will be a way of practice and interiorization. [14]
These two analogies if understood together suffice to conclude that for Ghazali, aql resides in the spiritual qalb.
III-Seeking concordance between the Holy Quran and Imam Ghazali:
The Quranic verses mentioned above are only a few in the multitude that pertain to the topic under consideration. These aayaat nonetheless evoke a certain attitude towards approach to reading and understanding the Quran in a way that it appeals it audience to use their sense-perception and intellect in order to believe and then attain to its certitude. For instance, whenever it invites reflection on the Signs of Allah, it calls for the usage of the senses such as sight and hearing as in the case of the aayat (67:4).However, when it refers to the disbelieving peoples of the Aad and Thamud, it invokes the readers to attend to the fact that although these people were bestowed with “intelligence”, they were not able to overcome the lures of the “Evil”, and hence, faced their dreadful “fate”. Moreover, the aayat regarding the Prophets Ibrahim, Moses, etc, signifies the importance of the utilization of the intellectual and physical faculties. [15]Similarly, when it uses the word aql, it uses it as understanding as well as a means to understand the articles of belief, so much so that it makes it a criterion for somebody to deserve Paradise or Hell-fire: If a man uses his intelligence (that is, mature intellect ), he will always be guided towards obeying Allah and will ultimately come to deserve eternal bliss and happiness in Paradise. Ghazali’s concept of happiness is similar: God’s Pleasure and Wrath are in accordance to man’s capacity of understanding and engaging in intellectual activity which in turn leads to an improvement of his soul. The author of the Lughaatul-Quran defines aql as the following: a) knowledge, b) the quality to perceive the goodness or the evil nature of things and to judge their benefits and risks, c) to tell the better one between two good things and the worst between two bad things, d) knowledge of universal principles, e) it is the trait which sets the decisive criterion between right and wrong, f) the intellectual activity with which the objectives and aims of a human being are channeled to a right direction, g) the noble trait in man which translates into his actions and speech.[16] Ghazali also understands aql as a means of perceiving knowledge and the goodness of an act, and instilling in man a will to translate his knowledge into action i.e. obedience of Allah.
Moreover, the Quran uses two words to connote heart: qalb and af’idah. A careful perusal of the translation and the exegesis of the Holy Book shows that by af’idah is meant the physical heart which is the seat of the spiritual heart and intellect, which in turn, is the seat of knowledge and will, which motivate a man to believe and obey Allah. This is the reason why in some instances such as in the case of the verse (16:78), the word af’idah has been translated as “intelligence and affections”. Thus, it becomes clear that af’idah is the place where the qalb and aql reside. Harmonizing it with Ghazali’s standpoint on the issue, we could say that af’idah would mean the physical cone-shaped heart which he mentions in the Wonders of the Heart, and to which is the spiritual qalb connected. Furthermore, the Holy Quran regards the qalb as the part of a human body which receives knowledge and “learns wisdom” and in case it fails to process this knowledge into firm conviction and certainty, it has been rebuked as being blind and ignorant. This shows that the absence of a faculty which would explain and understand the knowledge received by the heart in form of revelation is tantamount to the blindness of the heart. Moreover, if devoid of such a quality, heart will continue to be overcome by evil desires, thereby continuing to sin against the commands of Allah. This proves the criticality of the relationship between aql and qalb: qalb is the centre of the intellectual activity and it cannot attain knowledge of Allah without the aid of aql. Since the spiritual qalb for Imam Ghazali is the latifa-e-qalb, synchronizing his discourse on aql and qalb with that in the Holy Quran it can be concluded that aql takes place in the latifa of qalb. .

 Works Cited:

  • Al-Jalali, Maulana Syed Abdul Daim, and Maulana Mohammad Abdul Rasheed Nomani. LughaatulQuran. Delhi: Union Printing, 1953. Web.

  • Al-Ghazali.The Alchemy of Happiness.Trans. Claud Field. 1909.Web.

  • Al-Ghazzālī. Wonders of the Heart. Trans. Walter James Skellie. Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Book Trust, 2007. Print.

  • Burrell, David B. "The Unknowabilty of God." Religious Studies 23.2 (1987): 171-82. JSTOR. Web. 06 Mar. 2010. <>.

  • Ghazzālī. Al-Ghazālī's The Ascent to the Divine through the Path of Self-knowledge = Maʻārij Al-quds Fī Madārij Maʻrifat Al-nafs : Being a Psychological Approach to Theology. Trans. Yusuf Easa. Shammas. 1958. Print.

  • Ghazzālī. The Ninety-nine Beautiful Names of God = Al-Maqṣad Al-asnā : Fī S̲h̲arḥ Asmāʼ Allāh Al-ḥusnā. Trans. David B. Burrell and Nazih Daher. Cambridge, UK: Islamic Texts Society, 1995. Print.

  • Quasem, Muhammad Abdul. "Al-Gazali's ConceptIion of Happiness." Arabica T.2.Fasc.2 (1975): 153-61. BRILL. Web. 10 Apr. 2010. <>.

  • Muḥammad, Shafīʻ. Maʻariful-Quran. Ed. Muḥammad Taqī. ʻUs̲mānī. Trans. Muhammad Hasan Askari and Muhammad Shamim. Karachi: Maktaba-e-Darul-Uloom, 2005. Print.

  • The Holy Quran

[1] Quran, 63:3
[2] Tirmizi
[3] Muslim
[4] A Tradition reads: Allah said: My earth cannot contain Me, neither My heaven, but the tender anc calm heart of My servant., in Wonders of the Heart, p 46
[5] Al-Ghazzālī. Wonders of the Heart. Trans. Walter James Skellie. Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Book Trust, 2007.p. 6
[6] Ghazzālī. Al-Ghazālī's The Ascent to the Divine through the Path of Self-knowledge = Maʻārij Al-quds Fī Madārij Maʻrifat Al-nafs : Being a Psychological Approach to Theology. Trans. Yusuf Easa. Shammas. p. 174
[7] Ibid., p. 175
[8] Ghazzali. The Book of Knowledge. Trans. Nabih Amin, Faris. p.218-220
[9] Ibid,. p. 220
[10] Ghazzālī. The Ninety-nine Beautiful Names of God = Al-Maqṣad Al-asnā : Fī S̲h̲arḥ Asmāʼ Allāh Al-ḥusnā. Trans. David B. Burrell and Nazih Daher. Cambridge, UK: Islamic Texts Society. 1995. p. 157

[11] Wonders of the Heart, p. 28-29
[12] The Book of Knowledge, p. 221
[13] The Ascent to the Divine through the path of Self-Knowledge, p. 286
[14] Burrell, David B. "The Unknowabilty of God." Religious Studies 23.2 (1987): 171-82. JSTOR. Web. p.  174
[15] Maariful Quran, p. 535
[16] LughaatulQuran, p. 336