Thursday, June 22, 2006

Gods and Earths?

Your father is an image of the Lord of Creation, your mother an image of the Earth. For him who fails to honour them, every work of piety is in vain. This is the first duty.

- Hindu saying.

(taken from The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis, pg 104)

I'm wondering whether or not the Nation of Gods and Earths (aka 5%ers) got some ideas from Hinduism. According to them, the black man is called God, and the black woman is called an Earth.

According to Five Percent beliefs, only a man can achieve the level of perfection symbolized by a 7, whereas a woman can only reach a 6. Gods refer to Women members as Earths, or Queens.

Peace to all the Queens
Submitting to the sevens

-- Poor Righteous Teachers, "Can I Start This" (Holy Intellect).

Just as Earth revolves around the sun, woman is subordinate to man. A Queen or "Earth," must cover 3/4 of her body, just as 3/4 of the earth is covered by water, and so 5% women wear head coverings and long loose-fitting garments. A female Five Percenter is known as a "muslim," unlike the male God, because she witnesses to the fact that her man is Allah...

- Islam in the Mix: Lessons of the Five Percent

Note: the 5%ers have almost nothing to do with Islam.

The Islamic "sect"/group to which Brand Nubian belong, known by outsiders as the Five Percent Nation of Islam, by insiders as the Nation of Gods and Earths, hold beliefs so far removed from mainstream Islamic teachings as to be virtually unrecognizable as Islamic to a majority of Muslims. For example, the chant "allahu akbar" ("God is Greatest") in the context of this Brand Nubian song means something very different than in mainstream Islamic beliefs. God/Allah, for Five Percenters, is not the Divinity as conventionally defined by the monotheistic faiths. God is the black man. For orthodox Muslims, this is shirk, un-Islamic polytheism.

- Islam in the Mix: Lessons of the Five Percent

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Socrates on Virtuous Men

In Plato's Meno, Socrates and Meno are attempting to define 'virtue'.
In his first attempt to define virtue, Meno lists a number of virtues that each of men, women, or other people should have, such as benefiting others, ruling over people, etc.

Socrates says: You are mentioning virtues.. But what I want is virtue itself. If all these things you mentioned are virtues, then there is one thing they must have in common that makes them virtuous. If we find this one thing that is in common, that makes all these things virtuous, we find virtue.

They come to the conclusion that actions must be accompanied by wisdom or knowledge in order to be virtuous. If all virtuous actions are accompanied by wisdom or knowledge, then virtue must be either partly or wholly knowledge.

Now knowledge and wisdom are not inborn qualities. The fact that men have them would then mean they must be taught.

Yet virtue itself cannot be taught. There are no students or teachers of virtue. Many virtuous people have sons who are not virtuous, despite any attempts to teach them virtue. It simply cannot be taught.

So if the knowledge that leads to virtue is not inborn, and is not taught, does that mean virtue does not exist? But virtue does exist, and it exists in many people who were neither born virtuous (as it is not inborn) nor taught the knowledge that makes actions virtuous.

Since knowledge must be taught, and we here see that these people can be virtuous without being taught it, then virtue cannot be knowledge. So the only other possibility is that virtue is right opinion. Right opinion is like knowledge, but is not taught. You can have right opinion about something, and that opinion need not be based on experience or knowledge, it is just opinion that happens to be right.

Therefore the actions of virtuous people are guided by right opinion, which is similar to knowledge but need not be taught. So what is the reason certain people have right opinions about things (without being taught them), and are thus virtuous? They must be inspired these opinions by God (or the gods). God inspires some people with the right opinions to direct their actions, making their actions virtuous. They do not necessarily have an understanding of what it is that makes their opinions right.

Virtuous people are then divinely guided, in that their opinions about things are divinely inspired. This is what makes them virtuous.

It is possible then to call such people divine. NOT because they themselves are divine, but because their opinions are divinely inspired. They are virtuous because God (or the gods) inspire(s) their opinions about things, and these opinions guide their actions. They are illumined and inspired by God, even possessed of God. Thus it is possible to call them divine (even though they themselves are not divine).

So argues Socrates, in Plato's Meno.

Friday, June 09, 2006

To Walk on Water

"The disciples failed to find their prophet, so they went out to seek him and found him walking upon water. One of them said to him, "Prophet of God, shall we walk toward you?" "Yes," he replied. As the disciple put one foot forward and then the next, he sank. Jesus said, "Stretch forth your hand, you man of little faith. If the son of Adam had a grain or atom's weight of faith, he would walk upon the water."

- Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Kitab az-Zuhd

(from The Muslim Jesus, pg 70-71)

Maqaaleed as-Samaawaati wal-Ard

"His are the Keys of the Treasures of the Heavens and the Earth. And those who reject the Signs of Allah,- it is they who will be in loss. " (39:63)

"His are the Keys of the Treasures of the Heavens and the Earth: He enlarges and restricts the sustenance to whom He will: for He knows full well all things." (42:12)

It is reported that Uthman ibn Affan, may Allah be pleased with him, requested further information about Allah's injunction of the Keys of the Treasures of the Heavens and the Earth (mentioned several times in the Qur'an). The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said to him: "You have inquired of me something which nobody has ever asked me before. They Keys of the Treasures of the Heavens and the Earth are as follows":

[see below]

The Prophet (s.a.w.s) continued: "O Uthman! Whoever recites it one hundred times every day will be rewarded ten graces. First, all his sins will be forgiven. Second, his suffering from hellfire will be written off. Third, two angels are appointed to guard him day and night from sufferings and diseases. Fourth, he is granted a treasure of blessings. Fifth, he will reap as much blessing as someone who would have set free one hundred slaves from the offspring of prophet Ishmael (a.s.). Sixth, he would be rewarded of blessings as if he had read the entire Qur'an, the Psalms, the Torah, and the Injeel. Seventh, a house will be constructed for him in the Heaven. Eight, he will be married to a pious Heavenly maiden. Ninth, he will be honored with a crown of honor. Tenth, his recommendation (for forgiveness) of seventy of his relatives will be accepted.

"O Uthman! If you were strong enough you would not miss this remembrance on any day. You will be one of the successful ones and you will surpass everybody before you and after you." [1]

One of the great contemporary Sufis, Hazrat Abu Anees Barkat Ali of Dar-ul-Ehsan, Pakistan, has achieved a unique position among the men of piety by reciting this sacred formula. He has erected a large signpost at the entranceway of his spiritual sanctuary, upon which the words of this invaluable formula are inscribed. His own life bears ample testament to the efficacy of these words, as he has personally adopted more than ten thousand Hindus of the lowest caste and provided them with a complete training and education in life. Moreover, he maintains a clinic that provides medical care and that has restored the sight of more than three thousand persons so far, without charge of any kind. He has written more than three hundred books on Islam and Sufism, all of which have been distributed free of charge (the jacket of one reads: "These books are written for ourselves and you to read, but not for sale. They have already been sold to Him for Whom they were meant"). A countless stream of devotees arrive at the well-known Dar-ul-Ehsan sanctuary and receive, by His grace, spiritual instructions from among the fourteen Sufi orders of which Barkat Ali is a teaching master, or shaykh. Maa shaa' Allaah! The qualities and attributes of Sufi Barkat Ali could be enumerated further, but anyone who views his life with an open mind must conclude that he h as exceeded the usual range of human accomplishments. He is now in his seventy-sixth year. [2]

[This formula is also very important for healing- conveying protection against any illness for the day it is recited.]

The Formula

Begin always with:

Laa ilaaha illa-Llaah, Muhammadun Rasoolu-Llaah
A'oodhu bi-Llaahi min ash-shaytaan ir-rajeem.

[The formula for the Keys of the Treasures of the Heavens and the Earth may be recited 21 times after each daily prayer and requires not more than three or four minutes to do so.]

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Laa ilaaha illa-Llaah wa-Llaahu Akbar
wa Subhaana-Llah wal Hamduli-Llaah w-Astaghfiru-Llaah
Alladhi laa illaaha illaa Hu
al-Awwalu wal-Aakhiru waz-Zaahiru wal-Baatinu
yuhyi wa yumeetu wa huwa Hayyun laa yamootu
wa huwa 'alaa kulli shay'in Qadeer

1. The Hadith master Imam as-Suyuti said that this hadith is fabricated, but its results may speak otherwise. Many Sufis consider it as one of the most powerful and effective prayers in Islam. Allahu A'lam. (My footnote)

2. Source: The Book of Sufi Healing, pg 155-157

Note: Hadrat Barkat Ali has since passed away (in 1997).

Meditate on the Qur'an

“How much of the Koran do you recite daily?” Ibn Ataa' was asked. “Formerly,” he replied, “I used to complete the whole Koran twice every twenty-four hours. Now I have been reciting the Koran for fourteen years, and today I have just reached the Sura of the Spoils (The 8th Sura)”

- Attar, Remembrance of the Saints, pg 319-320

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


When asked to detail all the links in his initiatic chain (silsila), Khwaja Baha' al-Din Naqshband (founder of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order, d. 1389) replied,

"Nobody ever went anywhere by means of a chain."

- Jami: Baharistan, 26.
from The Wisdom of Sufism, Pg 83.