Lecture For:  Dar-al-Islam Seminar of 2003





Copyright 2003 Nadine Sultana d’Osman Han

Assalaamu Alaykum
I shall share with you some thoughts in our quest for spiritual enlightenment as we struggle in our daily lives to better our inner-selves.
Its seems to me that we are gathering here today because each one of us feel a degree of disquiet within himself or herself.
While our physical being is more and less attended to in a satisfactory manner, there are some unfulfilled spiritual’s needs, a sense of being lost.
FIRST:  Let us talk about THE EARTH’S JOURNEY.  From the moment we are born, we are traveling toward the kingdom of the Divine.  We are all conscious that the only reason for our birth is to enable us to reach the heavens.  Our journey on earth is short, full of detours and hardships.
We are aware that our final destination lies unto the Grace of Allah.  However, we are unsure of the path leading to that final destination, hence our need to seek each other for guidance.
Yet, the Divine path has been clearly marked by Allah’s chosen Prophets (pbuh).
We agree that Adam was the 1st Prophet and that we owe to that fact our elevation from mere animal form to a spiritual one.
Subsequent Prophets (pbut) imbued by the most perfect qualities that can be achieved by humans, were and remain a role model for us.
The main essence of the Divine Path is that the mind and the heart must be in harmony reflected in Ir-Rahman and Ir-Rahim.
It is also a fact that an orderly civilization must follow a hierarchical system of responsibilities.
Prophets were chosen by Allah to communicate His Almighty Commands; and these are the very signs we need to reach our final destination unto the Divine.
In the absence of Prophethood, Caliphs were chosen in a pre-ordained Divine Decree, to protect the Prophet’s teachings from misinterpretations.
To help them with their spiritual mission, the Caliphs in turn assigned a Shaykh-ul-Islam to be a link between the Caliphate and the believers.  In addition, the duty of a Shaykh-ul-Islam is to protect the Caliphate from harm.
I think that we all know that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did not name a Caliph as his successor upon his death.  But few of us are aware that the Prophet (pbuh) revealed that:  —“He who will destroy the Byzantine Emperor and will spend his treasures in Allah’s behalf will be the expected “Mahdi” when he conquers Constantinople”.—
This prophecy was in effect the Prophet’s only testament for his succession. 
It was fully fulfilled by the Ottoman Sultan Selim 1er who was the grandson of the Great Conqueror of Constantinople, Fatih Mehmet, in the year 1453.  Thus, to this day the Caliphate remains within the House of Osman.  This should have kept Islam united, but this did not occur because some religious leaders betrayed the weakened Caliphate by trying to usurp its authority. 
You might wonder why humans need Prophets, then Caliphs?  Are they to be our spiritual Judges on earth?  To this I shall say emphatically “no”.  Only Allah can be our spiritual Judge.
Prophets (pbut) were chosen by Allah to be a role model as to what was expected of mankind so we could eventually enter the Kingdom of Allah.
Caliphs on the other hand, naturally less perfect beings than the Prophets, had ( and still do) the mission to preserve the Prophets teachings of Allah’s Commands, and furthermore to protect it from misguided interpretations.
It is quite clear that utmost is a behavior that reflects a good conscience.  One must not harm another human being in any way—be it a man a woman or a child. 
Our mind and heart must show at all times compassion and tolerance for others.  We may be allowed intolerance only toward one’s own shortcomings! 
Our next step is to look at the way we treat others and distribute charity. 
The Qu’ran emphasizes strongly charity to the poor but even more so to poor relatives in that “Silatur-Rahem” is the pious duty of family, and pleasing to Allah. 
Bukhari said — ‘Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, he should maintain the bonds of kinship”—.
Silatur-Rahem is the selfless bond of kinship without the expectation of rewards from its recipients.  It is the genuine concern for family members for their well being, dealing with them with politeness and kindness, making them welcome and respected.  It involves financial help and even the sharing of wealth to avoid an imbalance in standard of living among family members. 
Again Bukhari reminds us that: —“The real maintainer of ties of kinship is not the one who reciprocates, but the one who establishes the relationship when it is cut”—.
Quite often it is easier for us to give charity to strangers, instead of needy relatives, because our vanity of recognition is thus gratified. 
Nonetheless, charity in itself is a good quality, but we must be careful not to let an act of kindness be tarnished by ulterior motives from our ego’s indulgence into power over the weak. 
In contrast to Silatur-Rahem is Qat’ur-Rahem, that is the failure to maintain relationship with family members. 
Timidzee had these words for Qat’ur-Rahem: — “There is no sin more deserving of being punished by Allah in this world along with what He stores up for him in the Hereafter than oppression and severing ties of kinship.—
Oppression against a family member falls under the disapproved behavior of Qat’ur-Rahem.  This brings me to the oppression of some women by men who have misunderstood Islam and the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh). 
Oppression against women may take many different forms.  Some are physical or psychological violence, confinement within a home, lack of activities freedom and among other restrictions imposed on women are of course the cloth and what it should be. 
Let me remind you that Allah is the essence of compassion and kindness and thus oppression in any form are never the words of Allah. 
Now let us take an extreme case of what happens when the Qu’ran is being misinterpreted.  The Taliban who were extremely pious, had been taught by misguided Imams that women should be avoided at all cost and thus treated with cruelty.  Oppression and murder of women were carried out in the name of Islam but in reality these actions could only be of madness.  Only unbalanced minds could believe that Allah would reward a man who had beaten to death a woman whose shoes squeaked in the street.
Yet, can we truly blame the Taliban of Afghanistan?  Perhaps not.  They are to be pitied for they were the unfortunate children victims of war.  They were raised and trained by religious teachers who had unscrupulously misled these traumatized children away from the spiritual truth of Allah.
This is why the Caliphate is so important, and must be protected so as to avoid the teachings of the devil under the banner of Islam. 
The oppression of Saudi women is also contrary to the teachings of tolerance and compassion of the Prophet (pbuh). 
There is much debate in regard to the heavy black veil of the Saudi women.
First let me quote Will Durant (although not a Moslem) from his book entitled “The story of Civilization”:
—“…shame is a child of custom rather than of nature…”— and that — “…our virtues lie in the interpretation of the time”.—
I could not agree more with this observation.
I think that you would agree that at the time of the Prophet Adam and Eve, garments were practically non-existents and certainly this did not offend for it was viewed not any less modest than let us say the heavily clothed Saudi women.  It is our perceptions that have changed, a consequence of material affluence along with clothing — No doubt affluence had to be the origin of the cloth.
The omniscient wisdom of Allah gave Islam the flexibility to adjust to human perceptions of good behavior but never to indulge in excess or despotism.
Humans are full of contradictions.  They create many obstacles and turmoil where none should exist. 
As mankind struggles with self-centered interests, greed and other coveted power and desires, many veils of oppression are imposed on others to obliterate them.  Yet, as we go along our earth journey we must never lose sight of the fact that the only veils worth wearing are the one of compassion, tolerance and Justice.  It is these that are the most pleasing to Allah.