Sunday, April 12, 2015

Living in the Name of God

"Ikra-OKU! emredildi, ama neyi okuyacagiz?" sorusunun cevabi olarak Dr Yamina Bouguenaya'nin University of Virginia'da verdigi "Allah adina Bismillah ile yasamak" baslikli bir konusmasinin cevriyazisi (transkripsiyonu). Turkce cevirisi:

The transcription of the talk given by Dr Yamina at the University of Virginia as an answer to "we were told to Ikra-READ! but what is it we are supposed to read?" Please excuse the few typos. 

Living in the Name of God (by Yamina Mermer)
When do we use Bismillah? (Audience say: before we eat etc..)
Just in the prayers how many times do we say bismillah (17 times ),what is the wisdom in this repetition? İf something is repeated a lot what is the clue it gives to us? It is important. What is it that we repeat all the time?(audience say: breathing, eating, drinking etc ) we never complain about these things and we are not bored. On the contrary we appreciate them, because we have a need for them. So if we are told to repeat bismillah again again, it must be important.
Bismillah reminds me the first revelation. Ikra- read in the name of your Rab, Lord, Sustainer. What was Prophet Muhammad doing before he was appointed as the messenger of God? He was reflecting. When Gabriel came what did he say to the Prophet? “Ikra” and he said “I can not read”,”I am not a reader”. What is Gabriel asking Muhammad to read? (audience say: the word of God) what else? Was there a Quran out there? Isn’t that interesting? Why would Gabriel ask him to read? Do you think he did not know that Prophet is illiterate? Who sent Gabriel? He came on behalf of God. So why is he asking to read while knowing that he can not read? Is written word the only thing we can read?      For instance we can read people’s faces. Not only words are things are to be read. There are diffrent languages other than words and they are called signs.
Gabriel is the angel of revelation. If he is bringinging something from God, it must be something new, something I do not know. Not only just I do not know but also somehing that I can not find on my own without the guidance of Revelation. There are things I can find on my own (through the help of the way we are created(our fıtra)), those are also a form of guidance but not direct guidance like revelation. There is no need to repeat that Allah gave us already (what fıtrah is telling). What Revelation brings is something that I need. If Gabriel came to teach him how to read the script, there is no need for him to come because anyone can do that. So he must be meaning another kind of reading and if he is asking Prophet(sav) to read, it is certain that the Prophet is believed to be able to do that reading. After the third time, Gabriel says “ikra bismirabbikelleziy halaq”: Read in the name of your Rab who has created. İn these sentences there are some clues. How is he going to read? İn the name of your Rab and Rab is defined as the Rab who “creates”. So this reading must be related to creation. Muhammad (asm) was illiterate but he was charged with the mission of teaching all of humanity, all of us reading the creation in the name of our Rab from that time to the end of time. He teaches reading in the name of our Rab.
You can see the rahma and the wisdom in the usage of Rab not Allah in the first revelation, because in the first revelation you do not know who Allah is. The people of Mecca used the word Allah. However, it is one thing to say there must be a Creator but is saying this the end of the story? No, it is the beginning of the story. There must be a Creator, there must be a God but who is He? That is what the Quran is about. God making Himself known to us. Who is God? We do not know.  Just telling that he created the hevaens and the earth is not sufficient to have connection with God. So in the beginning the Quran does not use the word Allah, yet because the word Allah has some connotations in that culture. Rab in Arabic is the One who takes care of you, it feels very close, the one who sustains you, the one who takes care of everything. Not only it feels close, you feel the compassion but also you can not run away from it. If he just created the heavens and the earth, it feels like he has nothing to do with me. Rab is the One who takes care of my business. There is wisdom and there is rahmet, because now He is more accessible. Also I can feel my need about who this Rab is.
What are we going to read? Creation. Everything in the creation is called a sign. And what is the word for signs in the Quran? Ayah. The Quran says there are signs(ayetler) fil afaqi, in the outer world (sun, air, water,food, etc) and fi enfusihim and in ourselves (we can see, hear, feel, love, fear, anxiety, anger etc).
What is under fear or anger? An example? So anger is a sign, it is an ayah. İf it is a sign it is to be read and usually when I am angry, I do not realize that it is an ayah because I identify with it actually. I say I am angry.  Anger is something created, created meaning it comes into being, it does not exist on its own. It is an ayah means that  it has a message. Let’s say that someone said to me something that I did not like and I got angry. My anger is real but is what I am angry about real or not? You might ask why did Allah create anger, something that I do not like? But our reactions are not always related to what is created out there but to our perception. Quran is going to teach us how to read the signs properly.
When something happens it always comes to the filter of my perception. For instance you look at someone you say oh she is so beautiful, I like everything about her but somebody else might be allergic to that person. You like a certain color but somebody else does not. Just because I do not like a certain color it does not mean that color is bad. Let’s say someone said to me “what you just said was stupid”.  These words are real, my reaction does not always represent the reality but it may be based on my perception, how I see it.
Isn’t the perception also created, though? (a question from the audience)
My words are created but lies about God are not created.It is just my own imagination.
When I am in a state of ghaflah, in a state of unawareness, in a state of heedlessness, in a state of living haphazadly and never stopping to ask what is the meaning of this life, what is the meaning of things around, can I  distinguish between what is reality and what is my perception? Do I distinguish between the two? No, I think that my perception is the reality itself. When I rebel against God, I actually rebel against my own perceptions. When I stop and say that this is a message or this is an ayah, it has a purpose, then that stopping that interrruption itself becomes the intention to read, wait for the meaning.  Now I am in a state of awareness. My anger is here but my anger is because of things I have made up. When we question our perception it might be consistent with the fact or not. “I do not prefer” is different from “it is bad”. Just because you do not like it does not mean that it is something to be appreciated. Whatever created is good.
When I ask myself why am I angry? Because some said “what you just said was stupid”. Just stop and ask, is it stupid, it may be, I might have said something without thinking, then I say thank you, thank you for reminding me, may be she did not mean to remind to me but it was something created and for me it is a reminder, I should not say things haphazardly. If I do not think that what I said was stupid, then I say ok it is up to her, I do not think that it is stupid, still is there a need to be angry? So that anger is good because it is kind of a traffic light. It is good to stop and ask why am I angry? Becaue it could be something that I need to be angry and take action not just reacting but responding with wisdom and compassion.
Let’s take anxiety. Before a job interview you might be anxious. Am I goood enough fo this job, they may not like my outfit, resume, may be there are bettter people applying. Is it true that they do not like me?  When I leave these imaginary ideas what remains is a little bit of anxiety which is good. If I Just stop and put trust on God saying they do not know me, I  do not know them, I can not control them, and I do not know whether this job is best for me. So anxiety in itself is good, if there is real danger fear is good. It is there to protect me. Bu if I start fearing from all kinds of illusory things, fear becomes a handicap and life becomes very difficult. Did my Rab make life difficult or me? It is because I am not reading/using “fear” in the name of my Rab. İn the name of my Rab perception statrts going towards the fact???(bu cümlede  ne demek isteniyor anlaymadım) Otherwise I live in my own world without any connection with my Rab and when someone says Allah created everything I start to accuse Allah because I do not want to take the responsibility .
I wanted to point out this distinction(btw facts and my perception) because the moment we say that everything is an ayah/sign, it is generally asked what about all those bad things?
Behold in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the succession of night and day, there are indeed signs for all those who are endowed with insight. (3:190)
Göklerin ve yerin yaratılışı ile gece ve gündüzün değişmesinde, akıl sahipleri için deliller vardır.
So it is all about insight, reflecting, stop and think what is going on. The ayah starts with heavens and the earth which is very general and then talks about something which happens everyday. Be careful it does not say the day and night but the “succession” of day and night(the fact that one comes after the other). If it was day all the time would we even realize it? Probably we would not even have a word for it, because there is nothing to distinguish it. The fact that there is this contrast, when it is dark we feel sleepy and the daytime we wake up and work makes that even more a sign.  The original word used for the word creation in this ayah is “halq” which is not a static word, it is in the ing form of the word(mastar), emphasizing the dynamic flow of creation.One of the clues to this flow is day and night. Night and day means the earth is moving, rotating around itself and around the sun. Halq gives the sense of dynamic flow of creation. Things are always coming into being. Yesterday we were not here. 30 years from now someof us will not be in this world. 40 years ago some of you were not in this world. Isn’t that amazing? In addition to beings, things, emotions, events are also signs.
The word “ayah”(sign) is also used for each unit of Quran. In language a word is a sign. For instance when I say apple you think of something physical. When I say “elma” does it remind something to you? How about “tuffahun”? They all look and sound different(apple, elma, tuffahun), but they point to the same thing, because this is only a system of signs. The physical apple is the point of reference. What matters is the point of reference not the symbols because I can change the symbol. This is what sign means. In itsef if apple did not exist, we would not have the word, the sign. We did not have the word computer before it existed. A sign points to something beyond itself. Apple or elma or tuffah points to an apple out there. Now what does the Quran tell us about the signs? Where is the sign here according to Quran? Quran comes and says apple(not the word, physical apple) is a sign, is an ayah. Before it was our landing point, the physical apple was the point of reference for our human language. Quran tells me that the physical apple is a sign indicating something else. In itself it has no meaning. Now we are looking at this apple. What does it mean to us?  ((Audience say: it has a creator..) to them: you are going very fast.)) At first what is apple for me? Food. If I am hungry it is food. What else? Tastes good, gives you joy, pleasure, could be a joyful or painful memory, apart from being food looks nice(shape, beauty) etc. It is food because I have the “need”.  If I did not have need for it, apple wouln’t be the food for me. So apple+need=food, apple+need=pleasure,apple+my need to remember loved ones=memory, apple+my need for beauty=beauty. So “need” is the key. Apple is meaningful for me through my need. It is connecting me with apple so that I can read it. If it is food then it will trigger the questions like Who is sending me this food, who is feeding me?If it is the sustenance, who is the sustainer behind this? If it tastes good , who is the One taking care of me? If it has art and beauty who is the Source of this art and beauty? It is indicating something beyond itself. So just like language apple, elma, tuffah in themselves have meaning only because they refer to something out in the world, the Quran tells me that the physical apple that you eat is just like that word, it is an ayah, a symbol beyond itself, and when I interact with it, I can start reading it.  When I was coming to charlotsville when I see a sign to charlotsville do I stop there and say this is charlotsville. I do not . Right? Because it is a sign, it is showing me the way to Charlotsville. Quranic units are also signs:
Then let human consider his sustenance. * For that We pour forth water in abundance. * And We split the earth into fragments. * And We produce therein corn, * And grapes and nutritious plants, * And olives and dates, * And enclosed gardens, dense with lofty trees, * And fruits and fodder, * For use and convenience to you and your cattle.
(Qur'an, 80:24:32)

Then let human consider his sustenance (fel yenzuru) there is an emphasis here “yenzuru” means look, see. You are eating and suddenly you remember this ayah and you stop. If I do not stop it means I heard the sign but I haven not taken it seriously. It is like I have a treasure map but I do not follow it. I say that I have the Quran, the best word of God, that’s it, we are chosen etc. Unless I read it, it is not the Quran. It is only mushaf, the codex, the paper. Unless I follow the map, am I going to find the treasure? Just because I have the map to the treasure does not make me wealthy. So every ayah in the Quran is a map. Here it says” let human consider his sustenance. * For that We pour forth water in abundance” water is not acting on its own. And We split the earth into fragments. * And We produce therein corn, * And grapes and nutritious plants, * And olives and dates, * And enclosed gardens, dense with lofty trees, * And fruits and fodder, * For use and convenience to you and your cattle. For use and convenience here means that there is purpose, wisdom, knowledge, power. And there is care and compassion. I am here with the food. If I think that the food is coming from the earth, does the earth have any of these: purpose, knowledge, power, care, compassion? You put a seed in the earth and something starts growing. Does earth have life? It does not have life but all living things are coming out of it. So you understand that it is only like the door. If the food is always coming out of the same door do we think that the door is the source of the food? No. We all start wondering what is behind it? We also see that whenever water comes the door opens. Some people say water is the source of life. Does water have life? How can it be the source of life? There is an ayah saying: They can not create anything because they themselves are being created. Take water: I can do whatever I want with it. It does not have compassion, it cannot follow a purpose, so it is clear that they are all acting in the name of someone else, they are all at the service used for a purpose, and they are only signs. If I start reading them, just I read apple means this, I will see water and I’ll see rahmah, it is embodied rahmah. Rain does not fall as we learn at schools but it is sent. Only One who could control all of them could take care of me. So I have a need for the food and then food comes and this food works perfectly in my body so whoever made the food or the food itself knows me and my anatomy etc. you look at food, food comes from the earth. It needs rain, sun(sun means the rotation of all the planets etc), air, all the laws of physics, all the laws of chemistry etc. So for one apple to be even the whole world has to exist. Because we buy it just for 50 cents we do not think its connection the rest of the world. And that is why the Quran is saying consider, because it is not something obvious. It looks like just a small apple. Here it says stop and think :For that piece of food to be on your plate the whole world should be in place. So whoever made this should be the maker of all of it. Whoever you know is the sender your gratitude will go there. When a friend sends you a present with a delivery man. Would you be grateful to the delivery man? You would just say thank you to him and you would call your friend. Everything in this world is a delivery man, a messenger. Message does not have to be verbal all the time. It can be in the form of a feeling for instance. If you like apples very much and you are very hungry; when you eat an apple, you feel good. What does that feeling have to do with the physical matter of the apple? Do you think it is my flesh that is responding to it? No it is the soul, the heart, the feelings. There is something else that is sent through the apple. You are eating something physical, the result is a feeling. Those feelings have a meaning. A meaning that takes you to the beautiful names of God. So just like when I say apple, a-p-p-l-e, what does the word itself have to do with the real apple? It is just a symbolic connection we have decided.
If the apple itself is giving me the pleasure, then more apples should mean more pleasure. But it does not happen. The more I eat the same food, the less I want it. Why? Because it is not only in the apple but also in my need for it. The need is the key for reading.
We think that the physical things are the reality. No. If someone knew no language came from another planet and started measuring the angles and studying the chemical constitutions of the ink on the paper would’t we laugh? We would say he is wasting his time. This is just writing, whether you measure it or know the chemical constitution does not matter, it is there just to be read. It is not the reality.Or it is like you receive a letter and you start to count how many a’s how many b’s there are.
Remember that physical things are not just static ayah but they are ayah in interaction with my need.
So just like the point of reference for the word apple is the physical apple, the point of reference of the physical apple is the attributes of God, esma-ul husna. It is a rizk, food, then it is a symbol to sustenance (Rezzakiyeh), it is beautiful then it is a symbol to the source of beauty, Cemal.
The Quran says everything in this world is an ayah. When we do not think like this, everything is meaningless because even the most beautiful thing will die and perish. Just think of past, 2-3 years earlier, it could just have been a dream. How do we differentiate reality and dreams if there is no source of reality? Maybe the only difference is that it is a common dream, we say that we were all together then etc. It ended and there is nothing to bring it back. The better it is the more painful it is. It becomes meaningless and painful because the heart longs for meaning and purpose. If there is no Rezzak what does the food mean? I will eat and then die and perish. So? When we stop and think we find the real source. We are generally running away, not stopping because when we stop and look at the physical reality without a point of reference we feel pain. We are running running running we are very busy. Busy doing what? We never ask.
I want to start with a dua, Prophet Muhammad taught us: Allahuma 'alimna ma yanfa'una wanfa'na bima 'alamtana,:: teach us which is beneficial and benefit us with what you teach us. There is asking for knowledge but not any knowledge, knowledge that is beneficial. Today lots of knowledge is available out there. We repeat “bismillah” everyday and we probably know its meaning. Our work is related to the second part of the dua more: benefit us with that knowledge. What we are doing here is not bringing new knowledge but connecting we already know, making sense of it, putting it into perspective, answering how it is related to me here and now.

We all have fears whether we are aware or not. Actually fears are not out there. I am fearful about my future, my children’s future, etc. When I feel that I can not control something, I panic and I fear. When I say bismillah it means that everything is under control. It may not be under my control but it is under control. If I internalize bismillah, will I be fearful about future? If you are not sure about whether everything is being taken care of then Quran says stop and reflect. Think about the past. How much was under my control? I want to believe that I am controlling everything because that is how I make myself relax. Quran wants to wake us up. We do not want to wake up because when we wake up we realize that nothing is under our control. But when we wake up there is the other side: I am not in control but Someone Else is in control, and there is a relief because if I am in control, there will be a mess, because I am so limited. It is good that I am not in control and it is good that the Sustainer of the all the heavens and earth is in control. So there are good news in waking up and questioning fears. The fears are in me, they look a lot, but there is one key, my perception, when I use that key then all fears go away. That is what Quran is teaching, how to view the world as signs. Everything has a meaning beyond itself. Don’t get stuck in the thing itself. ; I will always have a perception but if I am aware, my perception comes closer to the fact or at least I know it is from me. Allahumma arinal haqqa haqqan warzuq nattiba'ah wa arinal bathila bathilan warzuqnajtinabah , show us truth as truth, bless us with following the truth, show us falsehood as falsehood, and bless us with avoiding it. Fear is a sign to protect us from dangers but if I make up dangers, then it becomes not a blessing but a handicap, an obstacle to see what is going on and I start complaining. We become ungrateful, but what we are ungrateful about does not actually exist. It is all in my mind. It is my own illusion. I repeat praise to God with my tongue but I can not feel it in my heart. That is why it is called the process of tezkiye/purification, cleansing what all those false perceptions, illusions, assumptions that I have never questioned; because it is like if my galess were colored blue, I would see everything blue and I would never realize that it is because of my glasses.I would think is blue out there. It is only a matter of taking off your glasses or cleaning them. So in this dua again the emphasis is not on gaining knowledge. Here it says give me knowledge that will benefit me, is that enough?, no, it says benefit us with that knowledge. How do we live with the information we already have? Why do we repeat Bismillah whenever we start a new task? One of the names of Allah is El-Vehhab, the bestower of gifts and we say we worship in return. But what is worship?”Abede” is to adore, adoration. To love. Can you not love who is taking care of you all the time? Do we give anything to the Provider? No , we only receive.We are always receiving. We are receiving eye, and the light and the pleasure of meeting each other. When I am hungry and I eat something I like, it feels so good, worship is to take that feeling and after reflection knowing where it is coming, instead of saying oh it is very nice food, I really like it. If my love goes to the food I missed the gist of worship. I can go and prostrate but my heart is not prostrating to the Provider. My eye, my insight is veiled because the food was supposed to be a sign. The food itself is not an obstacle but on the contrary it is a sign. Quran says read the sign in the name of your Rab. If I read it in the name of God, Bismillah, it means Bi-ismi-Rezzak, in the name of the sustainer, beautiful, loving Bi-ismi-Rahim, Bi- ismi-Rahman, Bi-ismi-Vedud.
What Quran is doing is to refer the creation and give us guidelines about how to read it so that we are not stuck in the creation. It becomes a means to go back to God.That is in itself worship. So worship is not a burden, it is not something I do in return to God. It is not like He is giving me something and I am paying back. I am already enjoying the food, the only thing that makes that enjoyment a gratitude to God, worship to God is that I am aware that it is from Him. The moment I am aware my love does not go to the food but to the Provider of the food.
Everything is a sign means that there is the stamp of Rububiyyah, sustainership on everything. Tevhid is generally translated as oneness but oneness in arabic is vahdeh, vahdeh is something static, but tevhid is a process, it is unifying, making One, why, because the more I become aware, the more I become aware of the oneness of the source of everything. And it is not oneness as oppoed to two or three, it is wholeness, tevhid is wholeness as opposed to saying “it is from God but come on without food will you be full?” That is how we reason in general. That is what we learn at school. Without rain will plants grow? Therefore the rain makes them. How can it make them grow? It does not have life itself.So the Quran teaches us how to question. Without bulb will I have light here? If the bulb is broken will there be light here? The fact that plants need rain does not mean that rain is making them grow.Let’s say that you have understood that the bulb is not making the light, then think that cable is making the light. Is it true? No.Only 4 year olds may be deceived by it. We know that light for electricity is coming from outside.The way things are created, the fact that one thing is coming from another does not mean that one is doing the other, just because they are next to each other does not mean one is making the other. The earth, sky, air, laws of physics and chemistry, all the cosmos, seasons etc is needed for a single fruit to be, for a single atom to exist, for a single tree to grow. So it can not be water, it can not be the earth,it can not be the food that is feeding me. In the Quran Ibrahim says “he is the one who feeds me and waters me, and when I am sick heals me.” He feeds me because he does not only give me the food, I have no idea about how it is digested.The whole process from the beginning to the end is being taken care of. I am given only a small choice in the middle which is choosing what you want to put into your mouth, when and what.
After having food the Messenger of God sometimes prayed like this: "Elhamdülillahillezi et'amenî hazâ verezekanîhi min ğayri havlin minnî vela kuvvetin"  All praise is due to God who has fed me and provided it without any endeavour or any power on my part.   We normally think that I worked hard for it. Forget about buying it from the market, because that is obvious. Even if I am a farmer I only put the seed and wait. We are very much focused on the doing part. If we stop and think how much of it is my doing? Even my doing is an inspitaion. Even my doing is part of the receiving. But we forget and we think that I am buying this food, I am growing it. I have no idea. When it does not grow, I can not make it grow. Even look at your finger nails.It grows, I do not make it grow. Actually if it were going to listen to me, I would just make it stop. So what is important here is that when I do not realize the wholeness, what grips in is “şirk”, ascribing partners with God. Whenever there is şirk that unifying is not whole and complete it is lacking, and all our troubles come from şirk. There are no partners with God. They are all in my perception. Tevhid is not dogma, the reality, what is. Everything is a sign, speaks of Him. When I am stuck in my illusions, when I am not even aware of that distinction, when I think that my perception is the reality then I start bargaining, %80 to God and %20 to causes. It is not about living without food, it is eating the food in the name of God. It is not true that if you do not eat food you will be worshipping God and if you eat food you will be worshipping the food. However, heed with awareness that it is not the food that is feeding you, the food does not know and this of course applies to love, too. When you love someone love him/her in the name of God. What does it mean? Does it mean do not love your parents, kids, friends etc? No. Love them in the name of God. When we love them in the name of God they will be more valuable. Because they are gifts, reminders. They are like mirrors reflecting the names of God.
“Be coolness and peace on Abraham:”
Allah says to the fire “be cool” and it is cool, fire and coolness together is unusual for us. If on His command fire becomes cool, it means that fire does not burn on its own. Burning and fire are put together like we put a bulb and a switch and in between a cable so that when we put the switch on we have the light on, and someone who is not aware of the system says oh the switch brings light. This is exactly what we do when we do not stop and reflect.We see fire burning, fire burning, fire burning and we start to take it for granted. So fire and burning; are they related together? No. The fire itself would mean nothing to me unless it produces something or the food itself would not mean nothing to me unless I have hunger. It is because I interact with it, because I can connect with it, because it can fulfill a need in me, I start saying oh it is sustenance, it is food, it is beautiful. Quran says “in the intercession of day and night” that is the sign. Fire on its own would not mean much; fire is important because it burns. İn the Quran Allah says that we told the fire to be cool and it was cool meaning that fire is acting in the name of its Creator. And if you do not believe it, stop and meditate, reflect: Can fire burn? Do you think burning is an easy process? Burning means that you know how to take any matter and transform it into something else. How can fire have that knowledge and intelligence to be able to burn?  It is like saying that switch is making the light. So time to time there is an interruption like in Ibrahim s case, because we take things for granted and we never question them, they become a veil to the reality.So we say how come the fire did not burn? Who said fire has to burn? This is a big debate about whether causes produce the effect or not. A minortiy of Muslim scholars said yes and majority said they do not. The order itself is a sign to the Orderer. Fire burns by  God’s command and cools by God’s command. In the eye of the unaware it looks like the fire is burning. It looks like apple is feeding me. Look at this water. I drink it and it goes to all my cells and it knows everything. If any human being drinks it, it works fine. Think about all kinds of animals. Do you think they have the same anatomy as I do? With all of them it works fine. Can I give it to plants? Yes. How does it know? Either it knows everything, if so we should start worshipping it, because without water there is no life. But look at it, it does not have life itself. It does not have any claims, it is so transparent. It does not have life but all living things are coming through it. In the Quran it says “we made everything alive with water.” We can not say how would I know, I thought water was giving life. If we stop and reflect we would never think water is doing it. Water is af is saying I know nothing, I am under the command, I am only a mirror. It is a mirror to the Sustainer.
O humankind! Worship your Sustainer, Who has created you and those who lived before you, so that you might remain conscious of Him Who has made the earth a resting-place for you and the sky a canopy, and has sent down water from the sky and thereby brought forth fruits for your sustenance: do not, then, give God any compeers. (2:21-22)

.“do not, then, give God any compeers” : do not think that %80 God and %20 food, rain or etc. Whatever the heart thinks the sustenance is coming from, the love will go there. Otherwise it means I am still attached to the things themselves. If I am attached to the thing itself, it is called shirk. It is the only transgression that is not forgiven. Why? It is not because God does not want to forgive me but because I am going away from his forgiveness. I am going the wrong direction. It is the worst injustice against yourself. To be stuck in the things themselves and not seeing beyond them.
Will they, then,- ascribe as partners beings that cannot create anything since they themselves are being created (Quran, 7:191)
How can this food give you joy and pleasure? It is given through it. It is only a mirror.
He to whom the dominion over the heavens and the earth belongs, and who begets no offspring, and has no partner in His dominion: for it is He who creates everything and determines its nature in accordance with [His own] design. And yet, some have taken, besides  Him, imaginary deities that cannot create anything but are themselves created, ] and have no control  to avert harm from, or bring benefit to themselves, and have no  control over death, nor  life, nor resurrection!   (Quran, 25:2-3)
who creates everything and determines its nature in accordance with [His own] design. He made the food so that when you eat it you like it. Only the one who knows our hunger and taste buds etc. can match our need. The food does not know. If it was from the food, the more I eat the more pleasure I would get from it but it is not true. And yet, some have taken, besides Him, imaginary deities: Food, money or whatever we give importance to.
Behold in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the succession of night and day, there are indeed signs for all those who are endowed with insight. (3:190)
[and] who remember God when they stand, and when they sit, and when they lie down to sleep, and [thus] reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: "O our Sustainer! You have not created any of this without meaning and purpose…(3:191)
When these verses were revealed Prophet (asm) woke up at night and he cried after the revelation. When Bilal came for the morning prayer to the door even his beard was in tears. Bilal said “why are you weeping, God has forgiven all of your sins.” He said “how can I not weep when these verses have been revealed to me.”
If you have meditated enough to internalize that everything is a mirror, then when you see them you remember. The heart can only be satisfied when it finds the source, it is not satisfied with passing things.
So why are we taught to say Bismillah so many times? Bismillah is a dhikr/remembrance. What am I supposed to remember?
Are you not aware that it is God whose limitless glory all [creatures] that are in the heavens and on earth extol (yussabihu), even the birds as they spread out their wings? [Each [of them] knows indeed how to pray unto Him and to glorify Him (tasbihahu); and God has full knowledge of all that they do
 (Quran, 24:41)
Göklerde ve yerde olanların ve kanat çırpan kuşların Onu tesbih ettiğini görmedin mi? Onların hepsi duasını da bilir, tesbihini de. Allah ise onların yaptıklarını bilir.
We make tesbih too. Subhanallah means I forgot and I thought the food itself was nice, the food cannot give me this, estagfirullah, I ask for forgiveness, that One source is nothing deficient, nothing less than perfect. If I do think something in the creation is bad I again say subhanallah :Any deficiency that I see in the creation is from me. Yunus(prophet Jonah) aleyhisselam’s dua: la ilahe illa ente subhaneke inni kuntu minezzamilimiyn: “I am among the wrongdoers. I am the one who wronged myself, not You.” Why? I perceived the whale as a bad thing. It is like I close my eyes and I say there is no light. Even if  I am told about the presence of light, I say I will open my eyes when I see the light. I will only surrender when everything is fine. You will not be able to see that everything is fine unless you surrender. You will not be able to see the light unless you open your eyes. “muslim” (not with the capital M) means someone who is the in the process of surrendering. The opposite of surrender is to resist: “No. Why is it happening? This is bad. It should not have happened.” When I am objecting, I am not open to see the wisdom or the compassion in it. That state of resistance is just the opposite of surrendering. I am not going with the flow but close my eyes and say it is dark, it is dark. Even when it looks dark, look for the light, may be you closed the door, maybe there is a switch. Just surrender, that is the tesbih. And here it says everything is in the state of tasbih, meaning that everything is clear. But I can not see clearly. They are always showing the right direction, the direction of the light.
The seven heavens extol His limitless glory, and the earth, and all that they contain; and there is not a single thing but extols His limitless glory and praise: but you fail to grasp the manner of their glorifying Him! (17:44)
The seven heavens extol His limitless glory, and the earth, and all that they contain: there is not a single thing that does not extol His glory. We have no excuse. We fail to grasp their manner of glorifying. There are many chaptes of Quran that starts with sebbeha liilahi ma fissemavati velard: all that is in the heavens and the earth glorify Him, show his divine names.
There is a chapter in the Quran called el-Haşr: Resurrection, chapter 59. This chapter starts with same ayah: if you see something beautiful saying no no no it is not from itself, it is from Him, if you see something ugly admitting that it is from you, it is not from Him.That is what tasbih is about.
All that is in the heavens and all that is on earth extols God’s limitless glory (59:1)   God is He save whom there is no deity: the Sovereign Supreme, the Holy, the One with whom all salvation rests, [the Giver of Faith, the One who determines what is true and false, the Almighty, the One who subdues wrong and restores right, [the One to whom all greatness belongs! Utterly remote is God, in His limitless glory, from anything to which men may ascribe a share in His divinity! (59:23) He is God, the Creator, the Maker who shapes all forms and appearances! His [alone] are the Beautiful Names.  All that is in the heavens and on earth extols His limitless glory: for He alone is almighty, truly wise! (59:24)
Utterly remote is God, in His limitless glory, from anything to which men may ascribe a share in His divinity! (59:23): If you see anything bad in his creation, it is from you. He is very remote from what you think you see. May be you are confusing your perception with the creation. This is 101 in the Quran.
His [alone] are the Beautiful Names: all the beautiful attributes belong to Him alone. Is there a need for another deity? Can we worship anything else? He is the source of everything so all our graitudes and joys goes back to Him. That is the gist of worship. When we think that he is the Provider and with worship we are giving something in return, worship becomes a burden. Worship is not a burden.It is an opportunity to express our love. It is not only an opportunity but a privilege. If I think it as a burden I missed the point. That is not worship then. I do not know whom I am worshipping. There is no worship without knowing. In the Quran it says “I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me.” When we hear this we might say but I have my own life. How do I know all the beautiful names belong to him? May be they do not. It says well go and look everything, all that is in the heavens and the earth, everything makes tasbih to Him. You look at water and say no no without water there will be no life. In the Quran it says we gave life to everything with water, I say yes this is true. Water itself does not have life but it gives life to every single living being. It as if knows all of their atoms and everything.When I reflect this, I can hear the tasbih of water. Water is as if saying No no no it is not from me. Can’t you see, whoever made all of these things making us this way? He is the one who is taking care of your needs, he is the Rab. So I am supposed to drink water bi-ismi-Allah, not in its name but in the name of God. Eating bismillah: You gave me this salad and the need for it so that I can feel this spiritual joy. First it is physical but then when you think about it in this way it becomes spiritual and you start seeing the divine names reflecting there. My physical body benefits from the physical water but who gets the taste is the spirit. There is the taste of meeting the Caring, Loving, Sustaining. He is the One feeding me and quenches me. You feel the closeness that is mentioned in the Quran:”we are closer to you than your own jugular vein”. You feel in the presence of God. Now God is not some empty word, He is the One whom I see His beauty and beautiful names in the mirrors of everything. So now that I reflected then when I see I remember, and just in case I do not remember by seeing them I say that formula which is like a key :bismilllah. When I say bismillah I remember.These are beautiful verses because they are making the connection between everything making tasbih and the divine names and if the divine names belong only to God then there is only One to worship. It’s %100, that is tevhid. That is why tevhid of uluhiyya, saying God is one, is not enough. Tevhid-I Rububiyyah, the Rab, the One who is taking care of everything is also one.There is oneness in all the names of God. Otherwise we say He is the creator but I am afraid of something as if it has control over my life.
Extol the limitless glory of your Sustainer's name  
 56:74; 56:96; 69:52, 87:1
When we see that everything makes tasbih what do we do? It says then now you join everything. In one commentary of these verses it says it is like an orchestra, everyone is reciting the names, everything is chanting the names of God, when you become aware of this you also want to join in. This verse is an invitation, join them.
Thunder makes tasbih with praise. (13:13)
When we hear thunder, it means that rain is coming and rain is associated with rahmah. So when we hear thunder instead of fear we remember the glory of God. This verse also connotates that if I am making tasbih properly, it is going to lead me to praise Him, to say you are so beautiful, so generous, so knowing.
And We caused the mountains to join David in extolling Our limitless glory, and likewise the birds (21:79)
 [and for this,] behold, We caused the mountains to join him (David) in extolling Our limitless glory at eventide and at sun­rise. (38:18)
David is not making tasbih on his own but together with the mountains and the birds. Something to stop and reflect. All beautiful attributes belong to Him. How do I know? Go and see everything around you, they all make tasbih: nothing claims it for itself, they reflect it without taking ownership, they are very transparent mirrors.
When Noah got onto the ship what he said is very interesting: So he said: "Embark in this [ship]! In the name of   God be its run and its riding at anchor!  (11: 41) So he does not just say Bismillah and then say let’s do our work. Although we say bismillah there is somehow a disconnection and we carry on doing things on our own name. Here the bismillah is like me plugging my laptop in. He says bismillahi mecraha ve mürseha: in the name of God be the whole process from beginning to the end: that awareness is there. Not like I say bismillah and as if what I do after is unrelated. It does not say in the ayah say bismillah and read, it says ikrabismiRabbike, read in the name of God, of your Rab.
Remember the signs out there are also signs through the inner…When I think that I am not involved it is because I am unaware. The food looks out there but the food is food because I need it, because I eat it, because I see it, because I smell it, I taste it. It seems like I am afraid of an interview out there or of an illness but I am afraid of it because of the way I perceive it. So an illness is not just something out there. Yes, it is out there, it is a fact but how I respond to it is also my perception. That’s why when it says in the Quran that there are ayah fil afaqi ve fiy enfusihim, in the outer world, in the horizon and in yourselves, this does not mean necessarily two groups, one here and one out there. The fact that they are mentioned immediately together is the fact that they also exist together. There is no sign out there that does not exist with something in there. That is why they are mentioned together.
Fear of Failure of an exam:

I have been given a need to pass. Either I have that fear of failing becaue I have a desire to, if it is really about I want to pass, then such a person prays for it, and part of the prayer is to get ready for it. But sometimes we find ourselves sitting, not doing what we think we should be doing. I do not do the reading but at the same time I am very anxious. Why do I live this contradiction? This is not fear of the failure itself. Failure means something to me. If the fear of the failure is so big that I can not even go and study, for instance I might be thinking that if I fail, there will be something about me, people will say something or I will see myself worthless. If my understanding of value is from my degree, I may feel worthless. I think that in order to be worthy I have to pass everything. I know people who have the best qualifications but they still work hard. Why are you working so hard? Someone said to fail something or not be doing something makes feel herself empty. It means “all my worth is from what I do”.Sometimes you are going to a class and the teacher says my name is professor or doctor something.your name is not doctor(!).Being a doctor might have added experience to you but it does not give or take worth. Our worth is already given, the moment we are created as halifah. In the Quran it says He taught the names to everyone. When you go to a house the most precious one is the smallest. There is special sevice to a baby or to a child. As we grow people say you look after yourself. Worth is not given according to degrees. That is what we perceive. So here fear is probably %20 related to reality, which is good, it is what wakes me up and makes study. We should be grateful for this kind of fear. If we stop and listen to this feeling , we can understand that it has a message. Fear looks ugly to us but remember what we said before, every single thing is making tasbih, if it has been created, there is a reason, either there is a real danger you need to take care of or I am making it up. I start asking is this true that if I fail the exam I will be worthless? We are confusing the two things. We have been given the desire to do good but when we can not make, it does not make us worthless. So always these inner signs carry messages, usually what we do is we do not like them and we close the door. Sometimes we have fears that continue for years and years, why? Because I never listen to it, it does not go. It came to fulfill a purpose. Just to give you something to check that you are on the right track, everything if read properly is going to lead us to a state of praise. Then we say subhanallah sebbih bi hamdi rabbike: when you make tasbih that tasbih has to come with praise, if it is not coming with a praise I am missing the tasbih. I am not seeing the flawlessness of what God has sent.

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