In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Kindest
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Excellence is acquired over the years, not by looking ahead but by being here, at this moment, in this hour. Slowly, gradually, you’ll feel its power welling up inside you, compounding with effortless ease, all because you took time to be. I made no resolutions for 2022, no battle board, nor lists of goals and aspirations. Instead, I chose to do something novel for me, which is nothing.
What many of our subscribers shared last week stayed with me. Saiqa’s words about winter being a time for emptying our cups and reflecting on how to fill them (preferably in spring) were poignant. Sufis have a practice known as fikr, which means reflection or contemplation. What would happen if I did nothing? No grand plans or new tiny habits for the time being. What if I enter a period of quietude? Would I lose anything? Would I fail to “make gains?” What if I joyfully allow Mother Nature to work her magic on me by maintaining what she’s given? Sufis say that one’s regular litany (wird) goes on automatically, internally, even if we miss a day or two; and it holds, I believe, for all of our core habits.
What if, instead of trying to reach a B1/B2 level in Arabic, I sincerely meditate on the Quranic text, attend class, play Duolingo and enjoy myself? Would I fall behind? I suspect not; in fact, it may prove to be just what I needed. Near December end, I recited verse 4:15 and spent several hours afterward meditating on a possible esoteric meaning behind the literal words. I wrote a two-page essay on “an impossible” verse that night after discussing the same with my husband. He contemplated the relevance of such verses from a spiritual perspective and tied it into the purpose of life (forthcoming). “How seldom you reflect!” declares the Author of the Quran in several verses.
Instead of trying to lose weight, what if I focus on staying limber, healthy, open, and engaged with the practices I cultivated in 2021? Will I gain weight? Will all my effort be for naught? I think not. Jane, another contributor to the Collective Wisdom newsletter, happens to teach yoga, something I’ve always struggled to do. Rather than running so hard and pushing myself, what if I slowly stretch and flow with this new year? What if I learn to breathe well and sit upright with my Chakra system aligned? What if I walk like a Sufi “whose thought keeps pace with her foot,” as Abu Muhammad Muta’ish said?
What if I curl up with a good book like Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others that Kelly Skinner of Soul Care recommended in her newsletter? Or enjoy a good yarn like The Fellowship of the Ring with the entire family? What if I slow down until spring, savoring everything? Islamically, my three favorite months will begin around this time: Rajab (in February), Shaban (in March), and Ramadan (in April). It is believed that Rajab is the month to sow, Shaban to irrigate the crops, and Ramadan to reap the harvest.
May this year be a year of bliss, a year of pleasure, may we be alone with the Alone, and revel in His Divinity, may we find in silence and repose, a type of stillness that grows into something fruitful for all to receive.
From one needy of your dua,
PS. I wish to thank Shaykh Ismail al-Qadi, Jane Lockhart, Esraa Jarrar, Abira and Shahina Shinde, Saiqa Latif, Zeenath Sheikh, Nancy Grimes, Kelly Skinner, Abeera Zakaria, Mouhammad El Oussman, and Rémah Dinç for sharing their collective wisdom with us last week.
PPS. Collective Wisdom will probably become a quarterly feature of this newsletter, as many subscribers wanted to share but had other commitments. I hope to hear from all of you this coming year!