The following is an excerpt of the transcript of a Sacred Activism Study Circle (Halaqa) by Shaykh Mendes, entitled “The Way of Love”, held on 2nd November 2016. Full audio is available here.
[Reading from “The Heart of the Quran: An Introduction to Islamic Spirituality by Lex Hixon] “Do human beings imagine that those who respond wholeheartedly to the demonstration of love that proceed from the source of Love, are on the same level of awareness as those whose negations of Love have become beautiful in their own eyes, and who follow only their own circumscribed ideas and personal impulses? As such persons live on very different levels of awareness during earthly life, so will they exist in the realm beyond death.”
So based on your connection to Allah, and based on your connection to the Love, the rahmah of Allah swt, how you experience this world varies.
[Continues reading from the book] “Those immersed in authentic awe of Allah Most Sublime live on the level of Paradise. The fragrant gardens of pure consciousness, where four rivers eternally flow: Divine Clarity is the river of transparent water, free from the slightest impurity, that refreshes the soul. Divine Knowledge is the river of sweet milk that nourishes the soul perfectly and never turns sour. Divine Bliss is the river of delicate wine that inebriates the soul who ascends in ecstasy. Divine Love is the river of clarified honey, the golden essence of mystical union. On the level of awareness called Paradise grow incomparable fruits, and countless attributes of Allah Most High. There, the soul is claimed completely by the Divine Forgiveness that flows from the Source of Love. But, on the level of awareness called Hell, the intense splendor of Allah is perceived as unbearable fire, and souls experience the terror that that they dream through their own state of negation, as boiling water which scalds their very being as they try to drink. My beloveds, how can these two levels of awareness be compared?”
Growing into Consciousness
Ultimately, Paradise is a consciousness. It is the consciousness that you grow to, and this is true whether you’re in this life (the lower life) or after you die. That does not mean it’s not a physical place. But even your perception of that physical place, after you die, you understand it and perceive it in accordance with your level of consciousness. Those people who live in Love and connectedness with others, with Allah SWT as well as with your fellow creatures, those people are living in the awareness of Paradise in this life, and those people who live in hatred, anger and rage, and see themselves as separate from Allah as opposed to being by Allah.
When we say Bismillahirrahmanirraheem, it means “I exist, and I seek blessing through the name of Allah, Ar Rahman (the Loving), ar Raheem (the Love Giving).” However you choose to translate it, there’s no one word that captures the meaning of these three names (Allah, ar Rahman, ar Raheem), the English language can only give you a glimpse of what these words mean. You exist through Allah. You are not Allah, but it is only through the names of Allah that you experience this universe. The things that you see, touch, feel, hear, think. So because of that, we are eternally grateful and indebted to Allah SWT.
Lights of Guidance
What you see is all about your level of awareness. The more physical light we have, the more we’re able to see. Likewise, the more spiritual light in your heart, the more of the spiritual world we’re able to see. And this is the objective, the primary benefit of Islamic belief, Islamic law, and Islamic spirituality (Iman, Islam, and Ihsan), of knowing the signs of the Day of Judgment – so that more Light comes into your heart so that you can see the world as it truly is, and you can understand the Universe as it truly is.
What happens when you have Light? You know which way to go, what decisions to make, you know where you go, and in what direction you need to go, you know to avoid harm and provide benefit, the more Light you have.
Paradise on Earth
So Paradise and Hell are not only physical places. They are physical places that exist right now, but they are also states of consciousness that people experience right now. Your dreams, the sensations that you feel in your heart, give you a sense of whether you’re living in heaven or hell. The more connected you are to Allah ta’ala, the more connected you are to your fellow creatures through Love and kindness, the closer you get to Jannah.
The Prophet SAW is reported to have said, “Whoever witnesses/bears testimony that there is no Creator except Allah, has entered Paradise.” He didn’t say will enter Paradise, see how Arabic works? Whoever has testified truly from your heart that there is no Creator except Allah, has entered Paradise. So witnessing lailahailAllah is not just something that you say with your tongue, but it’s a reality that you see with your heart, and when you see that reality and you live that reality, you will enter Paradise while your feet are still here on the ground. And this, my brothers and sisters, is the absolute joy and uniqueness of what it means to be a human being.
Note: The above is an exposition on the meanings of verses 14 & 15 from Surah Muhammad in the Holy Qur’an, i.e. Qur’an 47:14-15.
Alhamdulillah, Shaykh Muhammad Mendes (USA) will be coming to Singapore on 1st and 2nd April 2017 for a series of spiritually invigorating, enlightening and soul-replenishing lectures and workshops.
Delve into the depths of your inner being, seek and find the Light of the Divine within yourself, and heal the brokenness inside through witnessing the Majesty and Beauty of Muhammadan Love with Shaykh Muhammad Mendes.
1 APRIL 2017, 9AM – 1PM, MASJID MYDIN AUDITORIUM
Prophetic Parenting: Raising God-Conscious Children in the 21st Century
Workshop Ticket Price: $28
Purchase here: http://propheticparenting.eventbrite.sg
1 APRIL 2017, 8PM – 10PM, MASJID SULTAN AUDITORIUM
Spiritual Awakening: Cultivating Positivity in Life
Lecture Ticket Price: $15
Purchase here: http://cultivatingpositivity.eventbrite.sg
2 APRIL 2017, 9AM – 1PM, MASJID SULTAN AUDITORIUM
The Way of Love: Joys and Realities of Marriage
Workshop Ticket Price: $28
Purchase here: http://wayoflove.eventbrite.sg
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Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes embraced Islam at 17 years old and went to obtain a B.A. in Arabic Studies. Subsequently, he embarked on the study of traditional Islamic sciences for more than 20 years in Mauritania, Syria, and Nigeria, under the tutelage of scholars like Shaykh Murabit al Hajj, Shaykh Muhammad al Yaqoubi, Shaykh Muhammad an Ninowy, Shaykh Khalil Abdur Rashid, and Shaykh Mustafa Turkmani. He holds ijazaat in Islamic Jurisprudence, Islamic Spirituality, Theology, Prophetic Narrations, Qur’anic Exegesis, Logic, and Grammar.
Currently, aside from serving as the Founding Director of SacredService for Human Liberation, he also serves as the Imam of the Atlanta Masjid of al-Islam, and is a researcher and Lead Qur’anic Arabic Instructor at Fawakih Institute Atlanta.
He is a teacher, father, husband, servant of the community, and lifetime student of knowledge who devotes much of his time and energy to inviting people to live lives of spiritual and material significance, unite based on their shared humanity and appreciate their God-given diversity.