Monday, December 8, 2014

Saint Mary — The Blessed Virgin

The time in which our Lady, Mother Mary, was born was a time in which the temptations of materialism held full sway over the Israelites. The interests of the world dominated them completely. They even altered the Word of God for the purpose of their buying and selling — the rulings of the Sacred Law. Allah forbade usury in all the dispensations, so they altered the rulings and made usury permitted to themselves. They made permitted to themselves much of what Allah had forbidden them. They made up clouds to obscure the order of the heavenly call, which had been directed to them, to run after material concerns. They became the slaves of Mammon.

Among the Israelites, there remained some righteous souls such as the prophets and their entourage and those who affiliated themselves to them. Among these righteous souls was our Lady Anne, the mother of our Lady, Saint Mary. Lady Saint Anne was one of the righteous women, one of the pious, worshipful, devoted to prayer and good works. She had great love for the prophets, saints, and the devotees that were in Jerusalem. When she became pregnant from her husband, she felt that she might give birth to a boy and so she vowed that what she carried in her womb would be dedicated to the Service of Allah.

Behold! A woman of Amram said, "O my Lord! I hereby do dedicate unto Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service so accept this of me! For Thou hearest and knowest all things."
[Quran 3:35]
She vowed that the newborn would serve the Temple of Jerusalem to be prepared for the service of faith.

We look at the effect of intention. What is our goal when we want to have children? What is our intention? The very Deliverance which we await for, which will happen at the hands of our Liege Lord Jesus, for that there will be for the Lady Saint Anne an ample portion of its reward and benefit, because she possessed an intention with Allah which resulted in the Advent of the Messiah.

We look at this fortunate woman who, when she intended that in her offspring there would be someone who serves Allah, someone who would serve this religion, when she was truthful in such an intention, Allah honored her because of her intention, but not in the way she thought. For she gave birth to a female child.

When she delivered, she said, "O my Lord! Behold! I have delivered a female child!" And Allah knew best what she brought forth, "And is not the male like the female. I have named her Mary and I commend her and her offspring to Thy Protection from the Evil One, the Rejected."
[Quran 3:36]
What was the reply? The sum total of what the hearts of the truthful seek is that their Lord receive them with Gracious Favor.

Graciously did her Lord accept her: He made her grow in purity and beauty; to the care of Zechariah was she assigned…
[Quran 3:37]

The intention of Anne made the one she bore accepted, even though it was other than what she had hoped for, since she had wished for a boy and received a girl. Righteous and truthful intentions are never quite in vain or futile in the Presence of Allah regardless of the judicial calculations of humankind, even if our hope and plans did not materialize. A girl came, but intentions are never lost in the Presence of Allah; thousands upon thousands of men are not even worth the foot of Mother Mary.

Saint Lady Anne gave birth to our Saint Lady Mary and she grew up, fed with purity, light, piety and righteousness. Those of the prophets, saints, and hermits that were in Jerusalem drew lots to see who would take charge of her.
The lot fell to Zechariah. He was a relative of Mary. Zechariah placed her in a mihrab.

The mihrab back then was not the prayer-niche we know today but consisted simply of an isolated cell or tower that had no door nor opening except from the top. It could be entered only with a ladder from the outside and another ladder down into it. Zechariah placed her in it. He would bring her food and go. She practiced her devotions and worship in absolute dedication and chastity, orienting herself wholly to her Lord in her place of solitude.

During his care of Mary, Allah showed our patron Zechariah certain wonders.

…Every time that he entered her chamber to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance.
He asked, "O Mary! Whence comes this to you?"
She answered, "From Allah: for Allah provides sustenance to whom He pleases, without measure."
There did Zechariah pray to his Lord saying, "O my Lord! Grant unto me from Thee a pure progeny; because Thou art He that heareth prayer!"
[Quran 3:38]
Such was the high rank of Mary that she was in a position to teach and inspire a prophet far older than her.
At that point, one of the prophets actually became her pupil in religion.

Zechariah wondered from where the fruits he found there came. They said he would find with her the fruits of winter in the summer season and the fruits of summer in the winter season. He knew full well that no one other than he entered that place which was shut tight and inaccessible; but, more importantly, such fruits were not to be found in the land since they were out of season. She said that it is from Allah. The fact of the matter is the certitude that sustenance is from our Lord and not from any created cause. We do know that we are commanded to deal with created causes and effects. However, if created causes and effects have been suppressed or rendered insufficient, then the Sustenance of Allah can never be suppressed.

Then came the tremendous event in which Allah manifested Himself, for which He had prepared Mary.

Relate in the Book the story of Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East.
[Quran 19:16]
The scholars have said that the East was an allusion to the Orient from where the sun rose, that is, to the East from her perspective. The people are accustomed to praise the East because it is the place from the direction of which the light of the sun comes unto Earth.

She placed a screen from them: then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her in the visage of a man.
[Quran 19:17]
They said that the screen, hijab, meant she hid herself from mankind to dedicated herself to divine worship throughout the entirety of the days and the nights. After she tasted the sweetness of worship in her isolated abode of peace and solitude, she wished to taste the sweetness of worship in her travelling throughout the Earth.

When she saw Gabriel, he assumed for her an excellent likeness, the likeness of a handsome male.

She said, "I seek refuge from thee in the Most Gracious: come not near if thou dost fear Allah."
He said, "Nay, I am only a Messenger from thy Lord to announce to thee the Gift of a holy son."
[Quran 19:18-19]
She realized the secret behind his presence, the receiving of the manifestation, tajalli, that dawned upon her from Allah. What is the secret behind such a Gift?

She said, "How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?"
He said, "So it will be: thy Lord saith, ‘That is Easy for Me: and We wish to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us': it is a matter decreed."
[Quran 19:20-21]
Consider now the presence of food for our Lady Mary as she was in her cell, dedicated to her worship, without means nor sensory cause. This was a preamble so that she would understand that for the existence of the newborn there was no precondition required. The matter was not, for Mary, merely a mental apprehension. Rather, it was a discernment of certitude and of the heart, dhawq yaqini qalbî. For she witnessed and saw with her very eyes the Divine Gift with which human custom and cause-and-effect were breached right in front of her as food was conjured before her from nothingness. After that, she did not consider it strange that a customary cause be breached in the occurrence of a newborn child for her through the means of the Virgin Birth.

Then came the time for giving birth. It was said that the spirit of the child was breathed into her, the pregnancy took place, and the time of birth came all at one and the same time. We must not think this strange. The matter, from beginning to end, violates custom. The matter is one of the manifestations of the Power of Allah.

And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: she cried in anguish,
"Ah! Would that I had died before this!
Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!"
[Quran 19:23]

She gave birth to Jesus. The light of Jesus dawned upon this Earth. When he saw the distraught state of his mother, he addressed her even as he was in her womb or from below her after birth. He caused her to apprehend another meaning that reminded her of the Magnificence of Allah Who is with her.

"And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.
[Quran 19:25]
Here we tend to recite this verse without pausing for consideration. The palm tree is solid. It is difficult for a human being to shake it. A strong and mighty man would hardly budge a palm tree, even a number of men. The palm tree trunk at the bottom is very large while its top is thin so that the wind can move it. If we try to move a fully grown palm tree at the bottom of its trunk, we will not be able. How, then, can a woman in the weakness of giving birth be able to shake it? Yet this act is demanded of her and it is not sufficient for her to merely see the Divine Bounty.

In the first two phases, she saw the Divine Gift before her. The first time was for her schooling. Fruits and sustenance descended from the heaven and were laid before her without her asking. The second time she was told that she would give birth without outward nor sensory cause and without connection to any man, again, without her asking. Now, it is asked of her that she herself move the palm tree.

Some of the scholars said that this was an allusion to the world of cause and effect and to the fact that mankind is not to leave aside material means even though they rely on their Causer. This is a fine explanation. However, there is another meaning. The certitude that had built up in Mary has taken root in her conscience with such strength that it was now asked of her what no mind would normally accept to do whatsoever.

The mind says that in such a state there is no way for her to move the trunk of the palm tree. However, the order or directive came to her from her own child — a breach of custom in its own right, a newborn infant speaking and with this same breach of custom she was ordered to stretch her hand to do what she knew she was unable to do of her own power howsoever. And this is a meaning from certitude to which Mary ascended.

We own a share of this certitude which we ought to grasp and follow. When Allah asks us to do something from which we find our strength falling short, we ought not to procrastinate obeying the Divine Order with the excuse that we are too weak or that others are stronger. The day we reach the certitude that when we are true in helping Allah, Allah will help us, at that day, the palm trees of existence shall tremble for us.

O ye who believe! If ye will aid in the Cause of Allah, He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly.
[Quran 47:7]

The Virgin rose with her newborn child and returned to the Israelites. They saw her whom they knew to be chosen. Some of them might well have harbored jealousy in their souls against her because of her specially exalted station. Those whose hearts have muddied or become diseased by the ilk of envy find it difficult to watch those that are hale, respected and honored in the society.

This is what is called jealousy, hasad. The mark of jealousy is recognized in the heart of the jealous person by the fact that when he sees markers of distinction before him, whether in religion or anything else, something takes hold in his heart; after this he bides his time patiently until when he hears the smallest suspicion or accusation, he shouts, "Yes! I knew it!" loud and clear in its confirmation and is overjoyed at its news. Why? Because in his heart there is filth and turbidity.

When such filth and turbidity had taken root in the hearts of those people, they felt that in the special distinction of Mary lay an implicit address to themselves. They seemed to hear the message:
"You ought to return to purity, you, those of you, who have polluted yourselves with the material world and its lucre and illusion to which you should never have attached yourselves. 
Here, before your eyes, is a dainty woman who is honored with this high station of sanctity while you, who lead your society, how far behind you have left purity."

Thus, the state of purity of the Virgin Mary was a state of admonition that had been overturning the beds of those possessed of insight among the worshipers of money and property. Now, as soon as they saw the nursing infant in her arms, they became overjoyed.

At length she brought the babe to her people, carrying him in her arms. they said,
"O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought!"
[Quran 19:27]

Why did they not ask when they had a chance to learn something? But their muddied hearts could not bear to see the purity of the Virgin before their eyes. This is the wont of those who have polluted themselves with the worship of materialism. It is too much for them to see purity revered and followed among the people.

But she pointed to the babe. They said, "How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?"
[Quran 19:29]
Allah did not give them pause for her to answer them.

He said, "I am indeed a servant of Allah. He hath given me Revelation and made me a Prophet."
[Quran 19:30]
He listed the meanings which Allah had especially bestowed upon him and the ranks with which He had honored him. He made the key to that list the affirmation that he was the slave of Allah, his servitude to Allah. Then, proceeding from the secret of his submission and servitude to Allah, came the ranks of loftiness. Then he described himself as being Blessed and Dutiful so we would know that the secret of dutiful piety is not binding merely upon those who possess it but also applies to others. The societies that recognize the degrees of piety and righteousness among its people of merit are the societies that rise in the ranks of merit.

And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be;
And He hath enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live.
[Quran 19:31]

Allah had said to her before she went back out to her people:

So eat and drink and cool thine eye. And if thou dost see any man say, "I have vowed a fast to the Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being."
[Quran 19:26]
Ponder this meaning. The rule would have been that He tell her, "Get ready to answer them. Say to them, Allah is able to do all things. Give them the proof and the evidences: I carried and gave birth in a very brief time, you saw me just before and I was not pregnant, if this had been a falsehood or a sin, this should have taken the normal span of time, nine months..." But He did not give her permission to speak nor to prove her innocence. Meaning, in facing this trial, she had turned entirely to her Lord Almighty and Glorious in tawakkul.

At length she brought the babe to her people, carrying him in her arms, and they said,
"O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought!"
"O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!"
[Quran 19:27-28]
There was implied parentage. It was also said that Aaron, the lineage of whom Mary was from, was proverbially known for integrity and purity. This is a preamble for the charge that is coming up. After falsehood settles firmly in the heart of the dishonest person, he becomes refined in the art of bringing out that falsehood. "We know so well that you are righteous and goodly, but this, this terrible thing you have done!" They seem happy to see evil.

But she pointed to the babe. They said, "How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?"
He said, "I am indeed a Servant of Allah: He hath given me Revelation and made me a Prophet; and He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live."
[Quran 19:29-31]

So then blessing is with Jesus wherever he is. When he walked upon the Earth blessing was with him wherever he walked, and after he ascended unto Heaven blessing ascended with him wherever he ascended.

"He hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable."
[Quran 19:32]
And now the fruit of what preceded:

"So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die and the day that I shall be resurrected!"
[Quran 19:33]
When this meaning came into broad daylight, they were crestfallen and remained unable to say anything.

Jesus grew up, fed with purity. When Allah willed to send him forth, his mission among his people was the mission of the spirit: to link the hearts back with their Lord and revive values and morals. This is the reason we do not find, in the Gospel, much talk about the Law but instead find that the Gospel focuses on morals, parables, and spirituality.

Jesus said, as is mentioned in the Gospel:
And he answered, “My errand is only to the lost sheep that are of the house of Israel.”
[Matthew 15:24]
That is, Allah sent him to those whom the world has so overwhelmed that they have become, unconcerned with anything other than food, drink, and lusts, without the least heed to rising to any Divine Connection.

When they did not accept that magnificent mission, denying its truth, plotting against it, denigrating it and defaming Jesus while some of them believed in him, Allah desired to cleanse him and raise him up to the Second Heaven.

He raised him up and the days passed while they remained in their disbelief, defacing the creed, far from spirituality and connection, and so until the time came when our Sultan Muhammad appeared.
Jesus had given the Glad Tidings of him in the Gospel.

— Sheikh Habib 'Ali al-Jifri, translated by Sheikh Gibril Fouad Haddad,
transmitted via Sidi Terence Helikaon Nunis of A Muslim Convert Once More

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