Where’s Today’s Ark?

The world is an incessant interplay of the ninety-nine attributes of God. These attributes are almost equally divided between those of rigor and immanence. Man benefits from both. Where immanence predominates, one is to be thankful for God’s mercy [1]. When tested with rigor, a concerted effort to correct any deviation from the monotheistic path (tauhid) is required.

Introduction

The people later to be known as the nation of Noah gradually slipped into a state heedlessness (Ghaflah). They negated the primordial covenant with God and attributed divine power to replicas of people, things and special events. Satan who was granted the power to “whisper to the soul” made this practice fair seeming. Against this backdrop, God sent a messenger to reacquaint the people with the covenant and guide them to the straight path (sirat ul mostaqeem). 


Ma – Tehtaj An Naharu Ila Dalili
(When Does Daylight Require Proof?)

The time slices during which God’s Messengers were sent to earth are times of divine refraction in human experience. During these times Truth becomes manifest and evidentiary miracles, often custom made, are in plain view of people. Rebuffing Truth (Kufr) with the divine light blazing is a form of Pharaonic arrogance not dissimilar to Iblis’s first act of disobedience. God grants human beings volition in accepting or rejecting Guidance (Hdiya). The nation of Noah , by and large, rejected Guidance. God decreed that the rejecters would perish. An enormous body of water overwhelmed all, save those in the ship of salvation.

Prophet Noah , in common with other Messengers of God, showed, for all humanity, the path to reclaim the title: “lieutenant of God on earth”. Stations (states) of the nafs along this path are followed by aspects of Prophet Noah’s life-long Message as reflected in life-events of later day Messengers of God. Finally, the teasing question: “Where’s Today’s Ark?” is tackled.

Discovering the Straight Path

The Prophets are chosen by God to guide erring humanity to the Straight Path (sirat al mostaqim). A canonical Hadith (Hadith Jibreel) identifies three Stations along this path:

1) Islam: concerns the stage of action, (generally acts of piety that require the body to be performed) [2]

2) Iman: the state of firm conviction in the belief in God; this is the stage where the mind surrenders to the Truth.

3) Ihsan: indescribable in human terms is the witnessing of God (shahood). Hallmarks of the previous states are unnecessary. God is witnessed through the ‘eye’ of the Heart (qalb). Each of these states has associated with them a progressively more abstract and more complete view of the true nature of God. Ascension to succeeding Stations is made possible through jihad al nafs [3]. The ascension to higher states is not necessarily linear, as Imam Rumi’s ascension to the state of Ihsan shows.


Ahl e Niyah Saru
Wa
Ahl-e Mohaba Taru  [4]

Imam Rumi was a renowned Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) scholar. While visiting the city of Tabriz, he was questioned about the purpose of acquiring knowledge. Not content with his answer, the questioner stated that the purpose of knowledge was to “Know, the Known”. In an incommunicable flash of realization, Imam Rumi realized the significance of the questioner’s statement. Whereupon, guided by the questioner, (who he accepted as a Sheikh (guide)) he followed a path to Know the Known (God), which led him to the state of Ihsan. The questioner, as it turned out, was a Gnostic, himself: Imam Shams Tabrazi. Imam Rumi’s son later writes that the great scholar was like a schoolboy learning from his Sheikh everyday. 

The Prophets

Iblis, the ancient enemy of Adam, has purposed himself to make mankind forget our affirmation to: “Alastu -bi -rabikum” (Am I not Your Lord?). Failure to honor our covenant leads to outcomes similar to that of Satan. God, in His mercy, selects people (Prophets) to remind, guide and admonish erring humanity. Noah , was selected to remind people of their covenant with God and give them an opportunity to accept or reject it. This is the mission of all Prophets of God. The truths, sense of Abodieh, Rida and the road to salvation shown by Prophet Noah’s are recounted in the context of later day Prophets. 

The Nations of Ad, Thamud

The people of Ad and Thamud were descendants of the people of Noah – who were in the ship of Salvation. Similar to the people of Noah , they too attributed divine power to man-made objects, thereby rejecting God and the Prophets sent to them (Hud and Salih . Their fate was similar to that of the nation of Noah

Heedlessness leads to attributes similar to those of Iblis – with consequent consequences.

Prophet Ibrahim

Prophet Ibrahim was cast into the fire (after he destroyed the idols). God decreed he should be saved: “O fire be coolness and peaceful to Ibrahim”. (Quran 21:69) 

God who made the natural order can just as easily break it.

Prophet Ibrahim when challenged to sacrifice what he loved most – offered his son. 

The sacrifice required is not of flesh and blood, but rather the surrender of man’s purpose and will to God. (in a word: Islam)

Prophets Yusuf and Yunus

Prophet Yusuf was a favorite son of a Prophet, abandoned in a dry well, sold to slavery and imprisoned in Egypt. 

Prophet Yunus was cast in the pit of a large fish and endured ill health.

Neither Prophets railed against God. Both of them showed a serene acceptance of God’s will (Rida, a key Islamic virtue).

Prophet Moses

Prophet Moses wished to behold God: " ‘Reveal Yourself unto me so that I can see you’. (God replied:) ‘You Shall Not See Me, but look at that mountain, if you see it standing, then shall you see Me". God revealed his Glory to the mountain. The mountain was flattened and Moses fell in a swoon. …" (Quran 7:143) 

God does not reveal himself in this crude manner. Contained in man is something that is not of the earth (that points to heaven, our primordial home), by cultivating that can man hope to see God (with the eye of the Heart)

Prophet Isa

For all his exalted position (his ascension and second coming him) his first words on his (miraculous) birth were: "I am the slave of God …" (Quran 19:30)

The state of Abodieh (slave-hood, obedience) as contrasted to Satan’s disobedience is the most perfected of the states, and most pleasing to God. (Note: Slavery and slave-hood in this context should not be confused with chattel slavery (e.g.: Roman Empire, New World) 

Prophet Mohammad

He is the seal of Prophets, after him there will be no Prophets. "…This day have I perfected your religion for you completed my favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion…" (Quran 5:3)"

The Message first conveyed by Prophet Adam and affirmed by all succeeding Prophets after him was reaffirmed and re-conveyed for the last time. The era of the Prophets has come to a close. 

God has completed His favor on mankind. The Book (Quran) is a witness and source of salvation for all of humanity till the end of time.

Present Day Ark

Today, humanity is in need of an Ark to save us from the ravages of Modernity. The era of Modernity ushered in by the writings of, for example, Gibbon and Edmund Burke has led to a loss of meaning. With only the lower agitated possibilities of the human condition recognized, Modernity has striven to find meaning. Karl Marx attributed alienation of the soul to class differences in society; Sigmund Freud attributed it to the early repression of the passional dimensions of the human condition. When these remedies proved inadequate, meaning was sought in a sea of machines, skepticism and then skepticism about skepticism and later by New Age spirituality (among others). With higher states of the human condition explicitly excluded, Modernity’s quest to find meaning and purpose are bound to be frustrated. 

Modernity is characterized by a lifestyle that is centered on the self, and on the lower possibilities of the human condition. The message we inhale almost from birth is to glorify the nafs (clay-bound body) in one form or the other. To "discover oneself", to "free oneself", and last but


… Adamic restoration is possible even under the worst of conditions …

not least to "be yourself" emphasize a self-centric modality of behavior. Our patterns of consumption (for instance: automobiles, clothing, being seen at the "right" places etc.), it appears, define our identity. The result, not surprisingly, is a society which enthusiastically pursues material happiness but which puzzles over ever increasing rates of suicide, drug abuse, failed relationships, and aberrant forms of self-mutilation. Unremarkably, it’s a society in denial, pain. 

"… Had you spent all that is upon the earth, you would not have reconciled their hearts, but God has reconciled their hearts …" [Quran 8:63]

The Prophetic Message and The final Prophet’s luminosity reshaped the pagan Arabs from a crude materialistic populace to a unified nation – all this in a span of twenty years. This shows that the Adamic restoration is possible even under the worst of conditions, even in times such as ours. The proverbial ark is with us. With the Quran, the example of the Prophet and thousands of transformed souls to guide us, let us set foot in the Ark – before the rains. 

 

Footnotes:

[1] Whereas God is under no compulsion to be merciful; mercifulness (i.e. to be merciful) is a state that God has prescribed for Himself [" …kataba alihi rahama …" Quran 6:12]
[2] Piety that generally require acts of the body to perform: Shadah (The Twin Testimonial: No Diety save God and Mohammad is the Messenger of God), Fasting, Zakat, Haj and Prayers 

[3] jihad al nafs: The struggle to purify oneself from diseases of the heart (lust for power, honor, and greatness, greed …) 

[4]. Those that rely on intentions, Walk on the Path. Those that rely on love, Fly on the Path.



By: nasir munir | Source: IslamiCity | Category: Articles, Faith, Featured | Topic: islam, noah's ark, prophet noah | Views: 20,454 | Comments: 21

21 Comments

  1. Finally!!! I salute you at Islamicity for finally putting Ihsaan beside Islam and Imaan…but I still think you need to expand on Ihsaan and let people understand the true meaning of it on a personal level. Take for example the beginning of Surah Al Baqarah. All it talks about is Taqwa-Allah really.

    I hope you present more articles such as this one. Alhumdulillah.

  2. It is unfortunate that the author did not research this topic more profoundly, as he/she would have found the “Ark.” As so aptly stated: with the advent of the Noble, Magnanimous and Holy Messenger (sawa), finality of Prophethood/ Messenger-ship came to an end, and yet the “Ark” stands as a Prophetic symbol, so who is to lead us to the “Ark”. it is none other than the Final Messenger (sawa), who has clearly identified was humanity the “Ark of Salvation” when he he so clearly and emphatically stated: “MY AHLUL BAYT ARE LIKE THE “ARK OF NUH (AS)”, WHO EVER BOARDS (FOLLOWS THEM) WILL BE SALVAGED, WHO EVER LAGS BEHIND ON THE SHORE (NEGLECTS THEM) WILL BE DROWNED!”

    This is an authentic statement in conformity to the Glorious and Miraculous Qur’an. It is denial of such a designated “central Leadership/ Guidance” that we find humanity drowning in the tumultuous seas of chaos, confusion and mis-guidance. It is not too late to board this “Ark”, what is required is an urgent reassessment of our condition and realign it to the path of the “Ark”, whereby we will be saved from the oppressive darkness of the ocean of mis-guidance and transgression.

    Was Salaam

  3. It is a good article, well written. But what about Muslims inventing and making sophisticated machines to detect and search for the lost ‘Ark’? Modern technology seems to be the domain of the non-Muslims. A Muslim scientist who pursues his vocation or invention also qualifies IHSAN – advancing the various stations of al-nafs. Remember a coin has two sides.

  4. THIS IS A WONDERFUL ARTICLE AND PARTICULARLY INFORMATIVE FOR THE NEW AND THE NON-MUSLIM. ALHAMDULILLAH!…..FOR HE, IS THE TRUTH!!(AL-HAQQ)

  5. To learn more about Ihsaan, Islam’s highest level, read following articles by great contemporary scholars of Ihsaan:

    http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/sufitlk.htm

    http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/ahm/fgtnrevo.htm

    Following link provides a lot of good book of Ihsaan:

    http://www.fonsvitae.com

    The single root cause of all problems that Muslims face today is that they have either abondoned Ihsaan due to misleading propaganda against it or they are ignorant about it due to never having any exposure to it. Tied to “Ihsaan” is the level of Islam which is to live our daily lives according to Divine guidance which necessitates following the Shari’ah correctly which is possible only through following one of the 4 schools of thoughts of Jurisprudence which alone provide correct understanding of Shari’ah. To learn more about them, please read:

    http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/ahm/newmadhh.htm

    http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/madhhabstlk.htm

    The best available book on Shari’ah in English is SHaykh Nuh Keller’s “Reliance of the Traveller” which is a comprehensive 1300 page book on Shari’ah (or level of Islam) (http://www.amana-publications.com ).

    Imam Ghazali has been a great scholar of Ihsan in the past. Many of his works can be found on http://www.ghazali.org His great books of Ihsaan, Iman, and Islam are “Ihya al-‘uloom ad-Deen” (Revival of Religious Learnings), “Minhaj ul-‘abideen” (Best Way for the Worshippers), Kimiya as-Sa’ada (Alchemy of Happiness), “Jawahir ul-Qur’an” (Jewels of the Qur’an).

  6. Imam Ghazali has been a great scholar of Ihsan in the past. Following excerpts from his book “Jewels of the Qur’an” shows how Ihsaan is the main theme of Qur’an:

    The FIRST aim [of Qur’an] is knowledge of God

    [Himself], including the essence [zaat/dhaat],

    attributes [sifaat], and works [af’aal] of God.

    The SECOND aim [of Qur’an] is definition of the Path to God [this “Path to God”, that Qur’an defines, leads one to having an intimate relationship with God, to have a deep knowledge of God, to have the Ma’arifa (Gnosis) of God, to have an unwavering certitude (Yaqeen) in God which leaves one with no doubt about God, and to have a direct experience of God with one’s

    soul which is a subtle faculty God has given us to

    know Him], by which the “rust” is removed from the

    “mirror” of the soul, so that the light of God may be reflected clearly in the purified soul.

    The verses of the Qur’an dealing with the first aim, knowledge of God, are called by [Imam Muhammad] Al-Ghazali the jewels of the Qur’an. The verses dealing with the second aim, are called the pearls of the Qur’an. In giving these epithets to designated verses, Al-Ghazali emphasizes that these two aims, knowledge of God and the way to God, are most important.

    The luster of the jewels and pearls is further

    highlighted and reflected by the verses representing the other four aims of the Qur’an as defined by Al-Ghazali.

    The THIRD aim [of Qur’an] is definition of human

    conditions at the time of attaining to God. The

    condition of spiritual fulfillment, of which the

    epitome is vision of God, is symbolized by the Garden (Jannah). The condition of spiritual bankruptcy, of which the epitome is alienation from God, is symbolized by Hell, or the Fire.

    The FOURTH aim [of Qur’an] is definition of the

    conditions of people who traveled to the Path of God, such as the prophets of the past, , and the conditions of those who deviated from the Path to God, such as the tyrants and oppressors of the

  7. I do believe that this is one of the best articles I’ve read here. Very profound; I do believe that a spiritual malaise is the root of the evils in the world (perhaps that’s obvious and redundant, if so, please excuse me). I love the mystical current in Islam, it’s awesome. I love the terms (eye of the heart), it’s awesome. Can anyone who might read my post reccommend some good books to me?

    Peter

  8. Salaam Peter,

    I posted a comment for you in the article, “And ominous watershed? 4 more years of trauma?” about what and where the City of Apples is. It is in fact a city called Kuba, in the North-Eastern slope of the Caucacus mountains, around Azerbaijan.

    I want to introduce you to a starting point on Sufism, where there is a lot of Mystical knowledge. Please visit http://www.naqshbandi.org which is one of the greatest Sufi orders of the World; http://www.sufism.org of the Sufi Order of Jalalludin Rumi (ra), better known as the Mevlevi Tariqat. Also look into The Qadiriyya Order of Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilaani (ra), and the Chishtiyya Order of Al-Hind (India, Pakistan), of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (ra). There is such great knowledge within these orders, and so much love (muhabbah) and adaab (mannerism) within these orders. If you would like to get in touch with me, please e-mail me at. I would really like to keep in touch with you so that we can share more knowledge with each other…for there are in reality two types of knowledge; the first is book knowledge and the second type of knowledge the unseen, the hidden realm – knowledge of the heart, which cannot be learned in books. Please contact me.

    May Allah bestow on you a bounty of peace and prayers,

    Akbar

    meadowvaleislamiccentre@hotmail.com

    Ya Rasool-Allah, Ya Habib-Allah, Ya Nabi-Allah

  9. Meaning of Ihsan, Iman and Islam, are comprehensive. They have been dealt in greater depth in a book titled: “Kitab Al Iman” (Book of Faith) by Ibn Taymiyyah, translated by Salman Hassan Al-Ani, Shadia Ahmad Tel.

    Its ISBN # is : 0-9662140-1-3

    It could shed a lot of light on our understanding of life.

  10. Salaam, Akbar. I will most certainly email you, and I can’t thank you enough for trusting me to do so. I agree about the two sorts of knowledge; I think we may say that there is knowldge that we can discern for ourselves (i.e. book knowledge)and that which God reveals to us. Also, thanks for telling me the name of the city, Kuba, and its location, I had missed the post…at any rate, I’ll be emailing you now :)

  11. Brother Mohammed,

    Many thanks for the recommendation(I just read your post), I will most certainly read it.

    This is great! Allahu Akbar (I hope I said that right).

  12. Akbar, I wanted to confirm that you got my email to you; I sent it yesterday. I looked at the websites you reccommended and they were awesome! Everyone else: sorry about my multiple posts, but I’m trying to get spiritual knowledge and guidance:)

  13. It is the case now that books relating to Islam in English are infinitely more sympathetic, more scholarly and greater in number than ever before. It is also the case with the plethora of books; it is difficult to get a bearing on a starting point. My plea is not to visit your local bookstore and pickup the first book you see on say, Maulana Rumi. These “modernized” books make him appear as a 20th century Hippie. Which emphatically is diametrically opposite to both his early and later life. Also, the Sufi path needs to be experienced not read, an after dinner reading of “Sufi books” may, in the end, be of much help in the way of Spiritual wayfaring. Having said that, permit me to give you a couple annotated references:

    1 The Vision of Islam (Visions of Reality. Understanding Religions)

    by Sachiko Murata, William C. Chittick

    This is an excellent introductory book, but read it “as-is”. Not completely devoid of possible misunderstandings, it is nevertheless a good beginning. Easy reading, but not in depth – and neither was it intended.

    2 Martin Lings, Sufi Saint of 20th Century by Seyyed Hossein Nasr

    This book is a tribute to Martin Lings literary style. This book begins with a fascinating account of the interaction between a French doctor (atheist ~ agnostic) and Sheik Allawi (The Sufi). In the transaction between the two, honesty, clarity and ever-present Sufi sanguinity of Life are brought into full and compelling focus. After the introduction, the more formal aspects of the Sufi tradition are explored in a wonderfully-simple literary style.

    Having read this, you may want to tackle many of the books by the Great Imam Ghazali and Maulana Rumi’s Mathnavi. Note, Gnostics guide you to the path but none will tell you the actual experience – which cannot be framed in human terms anyway

  14. Nasir,

    Thank you for the book reccomendations. I will most certainly look for the titles. I agree that Sufism is a way of life and not a hobby; my friends and I refer to those who have read many books but have not done the work as the ‘armchair mystics’. Again, thank you sir, for your referring books to me. And any and all suggestions are welcome.

    Akbar, I hope you got my second email, I’ve emailed another one. Hopefully the hotmail server is just running slow; in any case, I’ll also send you emails via my work email, which is very reliable. Just so you know, I’ve received two from you, so I think I’m getting everything fine on my end.

    Sorry everybody about the posts, but my spiritual life only now seems to be coming together :)

  15. ABC I hope you see this email, I somehow missed it before. I will indeed look at those websites (right now as a matter of fact). Things are moving fast for me; I’ve decided to act upon the revelations that Allah has bestowed upon me. No more resisting, this Friday I am taking the Shahada. Khaysuddin is my Muslim name. Please feel free to send any and all knowledge my way that you can, for I am very ignorant, and I seek Ilm.

  16. He has created the heavens without any pillars that you see,and has set on the earth firm mountains lest it should shake with you. He has scattered therein moving creatures of all kinds. And We send down water from the sky, and We cause plants of every goodly kind to grow therein. This is the creation of Allah (ie proof).Then show Me that which those whom you worship besides Him created. Nay the Zalimun (wrongdoers)are in plain error.

    SO this exactly where todays Ark is the True,Logical Religion|which is proved Scientifically like the above Verse of the Quran in Surah Lukman (the Wise) Verses 10-11.

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