Surrenderworks.com / Psychology
OPEN LETTER TO A FUNDAMENTALIST IMAM 
Including "A Child's Story" and "On the Hatred of
Love"- About labeling the Poets and Philosophers of
Islam "Kafir", or "unbelievers destined for the hell-fire"
because they did not (thankfully) believe as "I" do. 

Beloved brother, as-Salaamu alaikum wa Rahmatullah.

Here's a simple story I wrote clarifying the difference between our duty to Allah and out duty to our fathers. It's only a beginning in my attempt to explain the phenomenon of "Islamic Fundamentalism" to the "rest of the world" in general, and my friends and students in particular.

Basically I'm apologizing to them for your rash and unprincipled behavior, and the horrible image of Islam that you are presenting to the world. And trying to explain to them that the human self is the human self, in any and all religions, and that the so-called 'mystical' or spiritual aspects of each religion are only the attempts to put the human psychology into the perspective of that religion. 

Fortunately, Islam IS from Allah, the Creator of all the worlds and all the people and all the religions, and the Qur'an was sent to confirm what is true in all of them and to set right the differences. Thankfully it IS the complete book of Allah, and therefore in it can be found all of the teachings necessary for the perfection of human character. However, the ayat of protection applies in all cases. "Innahu la qur`anun karimun fi kitabin maknunin, la yamassuha illa l-mutahharun". None shall touch it (draw nigh unto the meanings in the hidden book) except the purified (clean in mind, body, heart, intention and soul, only those will approach its true meaning.) The implication of this ayat is that the more we are purified (qad aflaha man tazakkah), the more we will benefit from the Qur'an. 

This is the very reason why preaching "Qur'an and Sunnah is NOT appropriate in this country. And particularly with the Christian, bible-thumping hellfire and salvation style that is so common to fundamentalist zealots such as yourself. 

Life is a puzzle. Try to solve it, not burn it because you think it's too difficult. Use your Qur`an to explore what you do not know, not to prove that you can read Arabic better than any one else. 

I would welcome your clarification and/or elaboration on any of the points I raise, since I'm sure you would be proud to consider yourself a voice of the "true" Islam, otherwise referred to as the "fundamentalist" movement. If you do not, or disagree in any way, please explain how. Thanks.

Mind you, I'm only seeking to explain it in terms of currently acceptable "Sufism" and "Spiritual Psychology", and at many junctures will seek to integrate it by influencing some of its viewpoints considered to be unreasonable or untenable, by western society and Muslim thinkers of the past.

The Child's Story (A generalized fiction)

My father was a proud man and he liked being proud of himself and his family. It gave him stature in the community that he was born into. He always wanted to be proud of me, and I always enjoyed pleasing him because I liked it when he loved me and hated it when he didn't.

I soon learned that I could experience that feeling of love (the 'divinity' of his attention) simply by behaving in the familiar patterns of which I knew he approved. He taught me well and I'm grateful to Allah that I am a good Muslim. My body is totally conditioned and I can tell when I'm off the siratul mustaqim (straight path) by the feeling of uneasiness that I get. It's kind of like how I felt when I was about to be punished for something but didn't quite know what it was. It's that little bit of fright that I get when I quickly ask myself "Is this OK? Do I dare? Is it wrong? Will I get punished?"  I'm very glad I feel that way because it keeps me safe and out of trouble.

My father tells me that in the 'hayyat ul akhir', which he says is the next life, the good muslims will go to heaven and the others will got to hell, and that we won't go to hell if we stay on the siratu-mustaqim, which he says is the Qur`an (holy book) and sunnah (character of the Prophet, SAS.) He tells me that that is why he is so strict with me, because he loves me and doesn't want me to go into the hellfire. I believe this, of course, and have the firm intention to raise my children exactly as my father raised me.

Only one problem. I never have time to play. And I know many other children who are always happy and playing. It seems that I am never happy unless I'm doing what my father tells me. So since I'm always reading Qur'an and studying tradition (hadith), I guess it's fore-ordained that I'm to become an Imam. This should be very for me easy because my father is an Imam and he has all the right books. He tells me very clearly what books to study and what books are valueless to me as an Imam. He even tells me which books are bad and I should never read because they will corrupt my faith. I'm very grateful to him because, thanks to my father, I'll never go off the path and will surely go to heaven when I die. 

(End of story)

On the Hatred of Love

And you say about Rumi - (Implying all Sufi Poets and Philosophers) that they are unbelievers. You say this with such ease and certainty. And - you say it's because, "He taught love. But God loves (only) the Muslims". 

This is the definition of conditional love, and comes directly from parental upbringing in the tradition Muslim culture. Which is defined as the hayyatu d-Dunya and is that from which we seek to escape. Basically you are saying "if I am good, God will love me". But this is exactly the kind of love that is extended to the child by to the father who wants to have a "good" child, mostly so he can show him off to others and feel proud of himself. This is a quality of the nafs and engenders the pernicious infection that so dominates Christianity, that of "original sin". Basically it tells us that we are bad and must redeem ourselves by our actions. That implies that there is always "another", a being who sets the standards for, controls, and benefits from our actions. That's dominance. That's oppression. That's our parents. Until we are free from our self-imposed continuation of the behavior modification influences of our childhood, we are not truly in our own hearts, not truly with Allah, not truly, and wholeheartedly Surrendered to Allah. Without wholehearted Surrender, our surrender is incomplete and the part of ourselves that wants to know ourselves will always manifest itself antagonistically, will always be "put down" or punished, banned, rejected, and thought bad of.(1

"He loves us because we are "good", or because we behave in a way of which HE approves. This is love conditional upon behavior. Yet the Prophet (SAS) told us emphatically that paradise was not a result of our deeds.

If we artificially project, or hold in front of ourselves, someone whom we deem to be better than ourselves, then we consistently evaluate ourselves in the light of the reflection we project. In which case we will always see ourselves as lacking (in perfection).  But that's because we are setting up (in our minds) partners with Allah. By seeing ourselves, or imagining ourselves, in the "eyes" of "another", all of which we are carrying in our own heads, we become not only habituated to chronic self-underevaluation, (inferiority complex) but worse, we do not see, or know, or live in, the truth of who we really are, our own true reality.  This because we are constantly distracted from it by the dominance of the illusion (picture) we carry. 

So how far away are you, from Allah, if what you say be true?

We know Reality when we know Ourselves. And we know ourselves by knowing Allah. This is our primary obligation and it supercedes all others.  It is what we were created for. "I was alone and Loved to be known (recognized). So I created." Hadith Qudsi.  This is not to say that the self is Allah! Subhanallah! But it is to say that the only means to true self-knowledge is from Allah, and we know Allah by Allah. Hence Allah tells us in Qur`an " You remember Me, and I will remember you." 

Our job, and indeed we were created for it, is to know Allah. To know Him is to love Him, and to love Him is to praise Him, and to praise Him is to remind ourselves and inform others of His Infinite Bounty and Mercy. Then we are in unity  and fulfill our first obligation of being "Rahmatun lil `Alameen", a Mercy unto all the worlds. It is Allah's job to feed us, clothe us, nurture us, raise us by gradual stages into the ranks of men, and take us out of the hayyatu d-dunya as He decrees, for He is Rabbi l `Alameen. 

In a word, He remembers us! It is His knowledge of us that truly defines us, not our self-definition nor the definition of our parents or others from within our society. Our knowledge of ourselves is what limits us, and is the manifest illusion from which we (the Muslims) wish to escape. Such is the stated purpose of the din: to guide us out of the darkens of the illusion of ourselves into the Light of the Truth and Reality of Allah - Who is the Light of the heavens and the earth (Nur us-samawati wal ardh). 

Yes, Truth hath come and falsehood must perish. But remember that this is the din of Islam, which means Surrender to Allah, Who is Rabb il `alameen, Lord of ALL the worlds. That means He is the Lord of everybody, whether they recognize it or not. And it is our job (the real da`wa) to bring that recognition to their hearts and minds - hearts first, because he wants us to surrender to Him with whole hearts, completely, wholeheartedly.  Not half-heartedly, or with our minds only. 

We do that with our behavior. We are surrendered to Allah so that His qualities may show in our daily lives. Therefore we are the noblest, the wisest, the most compassionate, the most deeply understanding, and the source of forgiveness to everyone around us. This is the Essence of the Sufi healing. To offer forgiveness and love (Islam) from Allah as a new start to people who have been judged and therefore judge themselves wrongly, and in a darker light than the light of Allah

If we pass judgement, we are admitting failure, and deliberately avoiding our responsibility. And we are blaming someone else for our own shortcoming, for our own inability to understand, forgive and correct. 

Our responsibility as Muslims (and Healers of Hearts, which we all should be) is to know (not to claim knowledge) what is really wrong with the individuals we confront, and how to heal the wounds that have caused their inability to be at peace with Allah and embrace wholeheartedly the meaningful teachings of His Prophet. And it is our responsibility to represent those teachings in their original wisdom. Not simply to selfishly desire paradise and hurt other people in our mad rush to get there. Part of the original wisdom is to know who is ready for the teaching and for how much. It is a greater sin to reject a person by causing them to reject you, than it is to ignore them completely. In either case we are not to pass judgement. This is admitting our failure to understand, and displaying an unwillingness to know and learn more, which is our primary obligation. It is self-limiting and inhibits our ability to truly heal others and attract a true following for Allah. 


About The Reality, the Din ul-Fitrah (our original intent/nature, the Din ul Haqq. (Truh/Reality) 

I notice you talk always and only about the Book and Traditions (Qur`an and Sunnah), in the knowledge of which you compete to excel, but you don't talk about Allah, for knowledge of God you have none. 

Now you think you can judge. You have a high estimation of yourself, and rightly so. You'r on the 'right' path. So you (rightly) judge your behavior to be 'good', and others' to be 'not-so-good', or 'bad'. 

So now you are just like your father, for judgement is what he passed on to you, and now you are (rightly) acting in just the same way. You are just the same to others as your father was to you. 

So, since you, as a child, judged yourself 'bad' until you became 'good', and were judged 'good', in your father's (and therefore your own) eyes, you initiate the same procedure with others, that, until they meet up to your (minimal/Islamic) standards, they are simply not 'good' enough. 

It's not your behavior that's in question, it's why you have to judge yourself, and the accuracy of your judgement. As almost everyone knows, such is the way of the ego (Oh, you don't have one?). Always seeking to see itself as 'good' in its own,  and its parents', eyes. 

And in preaching Islam in this way you are not at all different from the Christians, with their belief in 'original sin'. You are pounding a book with no knowledge of its Author. You're saying that "since I'm bad until my father likes me (which he does, now that I'm a Muslim), the same applies to you. So until you become a Muslim (in my eyes), you are not (good), and therefore will go to hell."

This may not be what you intend to say with your preaching, but it is, in fact, what is being heard. 

In other words, you 'approve' of yourself and others like you (who meet up to your own (minimal/Islamic) standards), and (sternly) disapprove of the rest. 

This is very paternalistic, don't you agree? Or are you just 'right', and that's the way it is? And what about the rest of the Muslims, who mutually disagree with you? Are they wrong too? Where does your "judgement" of who is 'kafir' and who is not, begin and end? And is it really yours, or are you simply accepting it hearsay? And how do you know who fits into those parameters? 

Qur`an says "They seek to deny what they do not understand." Does that maybe apply to you, too? 

"They seek to blow out the Truth with the wind from their mouths." 

"We have created men in a forgetful mold." Do you remember Allah much?

"We found them following the way of their fathers." 

Again, you speak much about the Qur`an and the Sunnah, knowledge in which you compete to excel, but you speak little, if at all, of Allah, and rightly so, for true knowledge (ma`arifat) of the Mercy God you have little. But before you go on speaking about Qur`an and sunnah, fulfill your primary obligation and become this sunnah. "Wa ma arsalnaka illa li rahmatun lil `alameen." "And We Sent you not except as a Mercy unto all the worlds."

In order to BE a mercy unto all the worlds you must first have some direct experience of the Quality of Allah's Mercy, which means some 'direct' knowing of Allah, Who IS the Mercy unto all the worlds.

So you speak of fear while lovers you hate. You speak of avoiding punishment while of mercy you know little. Does this sound like anyone you know?

Why do you make war on the lovers of Allah? Do you not know what Allah says about what will happen in the end to those who make war, especially on the `awliya`u'llah and seek to cause separation and division in the religion of Peace, Love, and Mercy? "Wa ma arsalnaka illa li rahmatun lil `alameen." applies to you, too! 

Why do you rarely mention the name of Allah when Allah Himself tells you in the very book in which you profess to believe, "Wa dhikrullahi kathiran".

You know that if you really did that one thing the hypocrisy of your nafs would be immediately exposed and you would experience real shame before your Lord and lose the pride upon which your whole artificial world is based. And yet that pride is exposed already in the hadith that no one, not even the prophet himself will enter paradise as a result of his deeds, but only by the infinite Mercy of Allah. So why do you not seek to taste that mercy now - to really taste it, not just say you do?

American seekers are seeking God, not you, and not 'your' religion of separation and hate. Islam is the religion of Unity. So hate your 'self', if you must, that keeps you from knowing the love and the garden now. But don't project your hatred out upon the world in the name of Islam. If you do that, then you become one who drives people away from Allah. How can you invite them to the Love and the Mercy and the Forgiveness that they, and you, and me, so dearly love, seek and need, if you do not have it yourself? 

You cannot prove to people that Islam is a way to know God in this life, not only in the 'next' (which it most definitely is, in spite of 'opinions' to the contrary), unless you have completed your own personal 'suluk' or 'quest' for the truth of this matter. You cannot 'claim' it and be believed. It is obvious to people of truth whether you have walked the path you preach, or not. 

And by the way, where is the next life, anyway, when the prophet (sas) said 'die before you die'. And Qur`an says "say not that the true witnesses who have died in the way of Allah are dead. Indeed they are not, but alive in the presence of their lord and the bearers of glad tidings."

But man, you need to walk you talk instead of trying to use the religion of Allah as a political tool in a futile attempt to gain power and control over the land. That's why nobody believes you or wants to listen to you, because you're wrong. And your father was wrong, and you know it in your heart but are truly afraid to stand up to him, and to yourself, and speak you heart - which from its sincerity will truly find the REALITY of Allah and then truly understand and love the religion. But as yet, you haven't proven the truth of your way. You are only relying on evidence given to you by your fathers. And so, you only want to talk about it, and make your living as a talker. 

Nobody wants to hear you even though you are absolutely convinced that you are right. It's that very conviction and your unwillingness to entertain the possibility that you might be wrong that frightens people away from you. 

Just because you have the highest truth in you hand does not mean that you can beat people with it, or that you have come to reach the highest meanings and realizations, or that you have the remotest idea how to teach it. You obviously do not. The only people who are listening to you are people who believe as you do already. Your are preaching to the choir and have nowhere else to go. That is very ineffective and a waste of your time and talents. And Allah does not want you to waste the gifts he has given you. So "Which of the blessings of your Lord would you deny?" 

This conviction, in psychological terms, is the state of 'an-nafsil Amarra' - the convinced self. It is the very trap which learning Islam in the Sufi way (and modern spiritual psychology) will lead you out of. And into your true self, which will then be able to know and communicate with everybody, not just the people who believe that their trap is the answer to the world's problems. Only when you begin to question your conviction (not the truth, just the nature and origin of the conviction, the way you carry the truth), will you reach (as Al-Ghazalli did) the second and all-important stage of nafsi lawamma, the very frightening stage of self-doubt, self-questioning, self investigation. This is not a questioning of Truth, but a questioning of why you hold it in the way that you do. 

It is for the very reason of the frightening nature of this 'step outside ourselves' (in our willingness to discover absolute certainty), that we seek a guide, a 'teacher', other than our fathers. A 'certified' Muslim who has walked the way and knows how to help us out of the trap of our selves. It is a fact that many really good Muslim fathers send their children to spiritual teachers for this very education. 

Only from there can you reach the realms of true inner peace, confidence and certitude, the stage of nafsil mutma`inna which is the beginning of the return to you Lord (Radhiyyatan, Mardhiyya) that you are truly seeking and now only imitating. 

This, my friend, is the true Islam, the complete, perfect and knowing Surrender to a complete, perfect and knowing God. So take heed, and make war (on others, and not your 'self') if you will. But you, like us all, will bear the consequences of your deeds.

With love and respect, wa alaikum salaam


(1) This part of our being is recognized in modern psychology as our shadow, and is also, for the most part, being villainized, or made into the part of us that is hindering us from our desires. 


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