Shaykh Ebrahim Schuitema – Personal Growth, Intention & Attention (a reflection)
Sacred Path of love 2011 lecture, notes by Ustazah Wan Nadia
Some scribbles during SPOL 2011. Points are from his notes: amazing man, subhaanallah. The rest are little reflections added (you can tell by the language heh) This was written on January 29, 2012.
Shaykh Ebrahim Schuitema – Personal Growth, Intention & Attention
In a nutshell: About adab, putting things at its proper places; to act appropriately. Also, about the correct intention; how to stay intact with your prior intention and not get deviated from it?
In order to do things appropriately is to see things as they are. To have adab is to put things at its proper place. Acknowledge that there is guardian lordship giving much to us little beings. Giving is not exactly being nice: it is about being appropriate. That is adab. The adab for it is giving the situation its due.
a) The structure of success is always the same. It does not matter whether it is to establish the deen, fight a battle, or build a business. It is the same deep pattern; you start off in failure and you endeavor to succeed to the point of giving up the struggle, and at the same point of giving up the struggle, the opening from Allah comes. That is when His help comes. When you have come to the point where you say, “Yes Allah, I give up, I have done everything that I can, there is nothing more that I can do, I have tried everything.”
b) This is why modesty is so important, and it is not false modesty. It is not thinking that you are very clever, but then sort of making out that you do not particularly want to be seen to think that you are clever. It means to understand that whatever success you are granted is not you. You cannot make anything work. You can only give up trying to make it work, and then it works. That is when you realize you are merely a servant of Allah; how weak and helpless you are and how dependent you are towards Allah.
c) Because the moment that you achieve success, you will think “What a clever fellow I am!” that is the problem. You think the rules do not apply to you anymore. You think you are the chosen one who can behave as he likes. That is a very dangerous place to be in because that is when we get up to mischief. We only get up to mischief when we think that we are in charge and invincible, when we think that we have got life and the world under control. Feeling self-sufficient and arrogant all over again, because nisyaan has taken over. So delegate and dedicate all the time. “Hand over the success to Allah. It is not your affair, He gives you the results. All you need to do is to put in effort. The results are not your problem.” It is our problem with the things of the universe and with ourselves that we look down upon our Creator. That is why we are like this today. Again, our problem lies with the fact that we separate our daily routines from Allah. When it comes to work, we feel that it is within our control, not Allah’s. Only big projects that has got to do with the deen is only when you do things with His name. That is incorrect. To have Allah is to remember Him all the time, every time, every single moment; even if you think whatever you are doing has nothing to do with Allah. There is. You need to have trust in Allah. Taking a bus, walking, playing with a cat, tripping on the stairs, picking your nose, flexing your muscles, being late for work, cursing the person who pushed you in the train, mopping the floor, think of ideas, taking pictures, tasting stale food, clipping your nails, wiping the table, going for a jog: all of this has got to do with Allah. He wills you to do all that. Not you. Never separate Allah from your life. When your heart beats His name, you will eventually remember your true purpose of existence, you are here for a higher purpose. And if you gain success, you are grateful. And if you fall and fail, you are grateful also, because either way, you know it comes from Allah.
d) Allah also says in surah an-Nasr, that He is verily the Most Oft-Returning (in Grace and Mercy). This is because Allah knows that you are going to get wrong. Allah has made us that way. How can you find, if you have not lost? How can you discover, if what you are searching for has not been hidden? That is why there is nothing that Allah loves more than the tawba, or repentance of somebody who has erred. Allah created you in a way that He knows how you are. He delivers your medicine, and what we must do is to see things as they are, read the instructions and see what you can do. He burns you in the areas of the universe and makes you know where you are vulnerable. A simple analogy is like water and vessel; water enters the vessel so it knows where the cracks are. Vessels cannot complain because water helps to find the cracks. It is complimentary, it is a blessing.
e) Is it not interesting that Rasulullah saw who is known to be ma’sum or faultless used to doistighfar frequently? He used to ask Allah to cover him or ask forgiveness from Allah frequently. The model of the perfect human being is the model of the one who distances himself from the illusion of capability. Sadly, his ummah, us, we are far beyond in trying to amplify and multiply what he has done. He is the one and only person who have ever thought of us throughout his lifetime, worried about us. He is someone we always take for granted and hardly look up to. We take other people as the role models, we follow the ‘ulama and shuyukh ta’asubically; but we fail to see the bigger picture of things. It is commendable that we have a leader whom we can consult; but it becomes a deep concern when we start to have doubts in our own infallible Messenger but we listen and follow every single order from a fallible shaykh.
f) So we are going to struggle and we are going to give up, and in that moment of giving up, there is a sweetness that Allah promises to realize for us. It is He who will make the opening happen for us. Then we again will become stupid and arrogant and say, “Look at how clever I am!” At this point then Allah says to us, “I will come back to you, just remember Me.” The pattern of existence is perfect in every respect; it is His design. His design is worthy of worship, of witnessing, of being overwhelmed by.” Tubna ilallah, truly we are arrogantly foolish, we have committed injustice onto ourselves. See how compassionate Allah is? It is about what Allah wants from you, not what you want from the world; this is about being a servant of Allah. Wallahu khayrun maakireen. Allah is the Best of Planners. In fact, He is the Only Planner. He is just giving us cheap thrills to have a taste on how it is like to plan.
Like how a mother wants to teach her child to cook; she knows her dish very well. She knows the steps, but she allows her child to spill a little, make a little mess, but at the end of the day, she will end up cooking up a storm and clean up her child’s mess. And her child runs along and does not know what she did was quite troublesome. The child would not thank her mother because she thinks what she did was right; unless she realizes. And the child will proudly tell the whole family that she cooked the dish, and her mother will only smile at her. That child is us. Something we fail to see. Even if we see, we fail to put that into practice into our daily lives.
g) Our normal lives are so mediocre and humdrum, that maybe we will be surprised once a week. Amazing! This is so because we are walking through life with blinkers on our eyes, because are not looking out, we are looking in. We are not listening at all. It is like this man who is about to be knocked down by a car, but he is so furious with his wife that he does not notice the car. So what is going on in his mind is this whole argument with this phantom woman in his head. His attention is certainly not on the road he is about to cross. She is in the house, doing the same thing. She is about to chop her finger off with a knife because she is having the last word with him in her mind.
h) We are not present because of our own inner dialogue. That inner dialogue creates the conditions that cause us to miss the surprise that is in the moment, like the car that is about to take the fellow out. If we could spend five minutes and not talk, listen to your inner thoughts. Listen to the words that are in your head. If it is about cursing people or feeling of resentment towards others, that is your true inner self, that is the state of your soul. If the words in your head are seeking forgiveness from Allah and worrying if you have not done enough for the deen, then be grateful that you are moderately still on track.
i) So the further you progress on the journey, the more you are able to suspend your inner dialogue, your own agenda; the more surprised you will become. Surprise, wonder, and amazement. Being ravished, bereft, breath-taken and amazed. This state is not a state for once in a while or once in a lifetime, or once a week, it is every moment’s state. It is the pinnacle of human experience. It is the ecstasy we have been made for. If you do not experience this state in every moment you have anaesthetized yourself.
j) We do not exist as individuals. Acting in the best interest of the other is acting in our own highest interest. This is the key to the world that we are going into. The epoch of competitive self-interest has brought us to the brink of catastrophe. We either act consistently with the highest possibility of our own intent, or we are done for.
About you; yourself. You are in the middle of a circle.
What you get from others: (Insecurity, Discontentment, Weakness, Conflict, and Stagnation)
(You Are HERE)
What you give to others: (Security, Fulfillment, Power, Harmony, and Growth)
How is it possible that you get all the negative vibes, yet you are still able to produce positive vibes towards others and for others? It is to remember who you are: a servant. Your intention: for Allah. Vision: to see things clearly as it is; make necessary amendments whenever needed.
Concern & Aspiration
In a nutshell: Dilate the vicissitudes, redha and shukur, about yearning to be a significant: yes or no? To redha with what Allah gives because He is giving you your medicine, so be grateful.
When you give unconditionally without producing anything in return, your intent has matured and you are fully human. Hence, how much can you contribute? That goes back to knowledge.
Put down the significance of other people and see the bigger picture and be in awe, knowing that it is all from Allah.
There are several levels of maturity and intention.
At Birth: get more
1) Do not listen
2) Do not do what is right but do what is in their interest; hence less trust.
“I am here to get.”
(E.g. Change my diapers, give me my milk.)
“I give to get.”
(E.g. when a child behaves so he could get his sweets. Or to give in or win over to feel important.)
At Death: give more
“I get to give.”
(E.g. Marriage, responsibilities, to feed the family.)
I am here to give unconditionally.”
(E.g. when we allow ourselves to serve Allah alone, means you are already giving your all; what can I give Allah? What can I do for Allah?)
Nearing death, when you give more,
life becomes easier, lighter, and less
stressful. It is about how much you
have given, not how much you have
Fundamentals in life consist of two things; gratitude and generosity. Secondary elements are trust and courage. Gratitude enables generosity and vice versa. Resentment based on selfishness disables generosity.
Attaining security is not about how much you can have, but how much you can contribute. Owning a house, car, career does not make you secure. 9-5pm job is not the essence of your life. That is why you are not grateful because you are not happy.
The best quote that got me laughing and crying at the same time is this:
“You’re idiotic beyond belief if you are not grateful to Allah.”
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