- By His Eminence Maulana Muhammad Abdul Aleem Siddiqi (R.A.)
- Published 03/19/2013
- Ihsan -The Path to Excellence
On the 18th of February 2012, Assembly of Intellectual Muslim (HAKIM) have sent six of their members to a lecture organized by Dar al-Andalus, Suffah Study Circle of Singapore at Orchard Parade Hotel. The lecture entitled “The Meaning and Experience of Happiness in Islām” was delivered none other than Malaysian-based scholar, the honourable Professor Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas.
Right from the start, Prof. Al-Attas had confined his lecture upon two questions raised with regard to the topic of meaning of happiness in Islām as he brilliantly wrote in a monograph and included as the second chapter of his magnum opus – Prolegomena to the Metaphysics of Islam. He mentioned before this topic cannot be elaborated succinctly in 2 hours as it took him one whole semester at ISTAC before to lecture on this in detail and at length. He intended on that day to touch basic matters pertaining to the topic.
The first question touched upon whether is it necessary for the Muslim to understand the Western conception of tragedy before we could understand the meaning of happiness in Islām.
Prof. Al-Attas stressed that though it is not necessary to understand the Western conception of tragedy that flourished in their great works since the Iliad of Homer, Poetics of Aristotle, it is pertinent for the Muslims of today to understand the exact opposite of saʿādah as alluded in Qurʾān – which is shaqawāh rendered into English approximately equivalent of ‘great misfortune’, ‘misery’, ‘straitness of circumstance’, ‘distress’, ‘disquietude’, ‘despair’, ‘adversity’, ‘suffering’.
As Muslims our approach to this very important month should be as though we are entering into a training programme put together by Allah and His Rasul (uwbp) for each of us individually. Consequently we note that Ramadan is preceded by Rajab and Shaban, which are pre-training periods, since extra (nafl)-voluntary fast and zikr (remembrance of Allah) are recommended. Therefore as Ramadan enters, a Muslim becomes prepared to undergo some level of spiritual, physical and moral training for what Qur'an describes as: "La Allakum tattaqoon" - so that you may become pious and virtuous. (2:183)
I wanted to share with you this short clip from a television interview with Shaykh Bouti for a few reasons. In the remarks he makes regarding modern-day tariqas (often translated as Sufi orders), we come to realize that people do not always easily fit into one designated ‘camp’ or another – pro-Sufi or anti-Sufi, Salafi or anti-Salafi, etc – and that we should not be quick to put people in such pre-constructed labels or boxes. We also learn that taking a critical stance on an issue does not necessarily mean that one finds it devoid of benefit. Most significantly, we see from this clip the intense importance of sincerity and being honest with ourselves in our relationship with Allah, especially for those who teach and call others to Islam.
May Allah bless our teachers and grant us the beautiful quality of sincerity in our efforts.