Sunday, November 21, 2010

What Allah is Like

If you ask people what Allah is like
it can tell you much about whether they are in a state of submission
or whether they are fighting with all that they have
in quiet ways or loud
to keep Allah safely at a distance.

If a person sees Allah as a blazing sun,
seeing all and having mercy on none,
you can bet this person tries to protect himself, and will often stay indoors.

If a person sees Allah as a father,
always giving advice and protective,
she will try to get away with anything, and hope she isn’t seen.

If a person sees Allah as a light,
piercing all darkness and illuminating the world
he will live in shame of the shadow in his own soul.

If a person sees Allah as a schoolmaster,
expecting studiousness and discipline,
she will be fatigued and resentful.

This is why the Prophet—peace be upon him—
prohibited the use of images.
They are all inadequate, and they invariably lie.

I don’t think Allah is like anything.
Allah is like nothing else in heaven and earth.
If that scares you, you are wise.

You protest: “But you are constantly saying that Allah is like a lover.”
But my friend, if you will remember carefully, you’ll find you are mistaken.
I have never said Allah is like a lover, but that Allah is a lover,
and more: Allah is Love.

Listen to Najat: Don’t try to figure Allah out.
The ninty-nine names* will only lead you astray.
Just give up every image, every idea, every conception.
Submit, prostrate your body and your mind,
and let yourself be loved.

*An Islamic tradition names ninety-nine names, or attributes, of Allah.

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