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4/28/08

Universal Prayer service...




I’ll start with how I got roped into this situation, rather my dear husband and I. My husband’s friend mentioned to him that he was going to listen to a ‘concert’ consisting of some religious songs, words, poetry, etc. Hubby dear asked if I was interested, I said ok why not? I had totally assumed that it was going to be some kind of nasheed or recitations or at the very least Islamic poetry. (Must say that hubby’s friend is not religious, he’s more ‘spiritual’ but still within the general realm of Islam (kind of – anyway will make sense later on) So, we go inside and take our shoes off and go inside the area, where we are greeted by a woman and asked if this was the first time coming to this – we, my husband and I say ‘yes’. So she chats for a while, and tell us to take a seat. Ok, we do so. I look around for the first time at the surroundings and realize it’s very calming and serene. We are given a handout, so I start to glance over it (couldn’t imagine why we were being given that). As I am glancing at it, I start to get a bit of a nagging feeling that ‘this is not what I think it will be’ – the understatement of the year!
It starts out nice enough: “Praise be to Thee, Most Supreme God,Omnipotent, Omnipresent, All-pervading, the Only Being...” I was like, ok thats nice. Most of the wording was like, this and quite nice to listen to. Then there started some music, a man was playing guitar and started singing this: Bismillahir rahim ...we start in the name of God” It was a nice scene, people were singing along with it. I know that they were not Muslim but it was truly heart-warming that they were so taken with it. So it continued this way, these kinds of words and music (there was even one song, ‘laillallah ill allah’ they kept singing it over and over (mashallah). I realized by now that it was not anything that I was expecting – but that was ok, because I like learning and experiencing different things. Well, that was up until the next phase of the “universal worship service” (I should have known better).
I’m not going to go on a write all that was said... but there is a site where I found all that I ‘experienced’

Basically this was called ‘universal Sufism’. Now being a convert to Islam, I of course heard of Sufism, but had never really gone too much into it. I know that it is a mystic form of Islam’
[Sufism is] a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God.”
Basically it’s a form of Islam concentrating on the more mystic and inner forms of reflection, and prayer. I should know by now that people will and have always twisted things to form their own conclusions and interpretations. Ugg! Sufis originally were following Islam the correct way, but they also devoted their lives to finding spirituality. One of the more famous Sufis was
Mevlânâ Celaleddin-i-Rumi -He was a universal mystic and a devout Muslim. His way of Sufism teaches unlimited tolerance, positive reasoning, goodness, charity and awareness through love.

“So long as my life persists, I'm the servant of the Qur'an”
"A dust on the path of Muhammad, the Chosen,
"If one conveys contrary to my words,
"Disgusted I am from the conveyor and from the conveyed."

Sounds pretty good? Yes, it does but unfortunately these people have twisted something good and turned it into something ‘wrong’. Well, at least that is how I think of it! If interested look in the ‘real’ Sufism, I have a bit and its kind of interesting. Unlike what I had witnessed.

It’s interesting how I was so ‘freaked’ out by all this. I do not get these feelings if I attend a church service or hear about another religion, etc. But this ‘worship service’ had me feeling all strange. I think it was because there was some elements of Islam but it became a twisted version of it. I know some people will think and say that ‘this was haram, you should have not gone’, or at the very least I had to leave the moment I realized what was going on. Well, I could not leave, would have been rude to my husband’s friend and to the people there. I do not feel that my faith is shaken or weakened by what I say, in fact it was strengthened. Subhanallah, I was so glad that I was Muslim and that I was on the ‘right’ path, but I do not look down upon these people, because they are trying to follow the right path, and only by God’s guidance, will they find the true path. Perhaps they will discover Islam on their own. They are not very far from the true path, but perhaps this is the way to find Islam. For us converts we were ‘lost’, in a sense, and were guided by God to the right way. I choose right now to take away only one memory from this event, this being the older man of the group. While they were singing, ‘bismillah hir rahman’ the old man had his hand over his heart, eyes closed saying these words over and over. Not a more beautiful site than that. Yes, there is hope in this world.

6 comments:

ammena said...

masha'allah, sounds like some fun :) im glad you felt strengthened at the end of it, alhamdulillah. What did hubby say? did his friend want opinions at the end? what was his opinion? thanks for sharing.

Aalya said...

Fun, well not really, at first I was like 'freaked' by it - all that 'love and peace' talk, its not my style all floating and things - they even said 'lets send love towards the TTC so that the strike ends soon' - hey the strike did end a few hours after that!! Power of love huh?
Well hubby was kind of like 'this isn't what I was thinking its going to be' - I was like no kidding!! He almost fell asleep - he saw everyone else had their eyes closed and he did as well(he had been sleepy all day) ... couldn't help but laugh at that! Well his friend is very into this - at least he is not totally out of religion, like some others he knows!

Arima said...

You don't exactly say what is wrong with Sufism. It's just another approach to the same thing. I like to see Islam as a spectrum with Wahabbism on one end and extreme sufism on the other. Personally I think it's best to find something in between these two but there are aspects of all approaches that are correct and commendable...I'm not quite sure why you took such a strong dislike to sufis though, of the two extreme I find that they are the most tolerant.

Aalya said...

Arima - I really don't have a problem with true Sufism. What I experienced at this meeting is very twisted(in my view only) - they are paying 'hommage' to other religions, I just did not feel comfortable with that. As well I did not mention in the blog (only because it was getting long already) they were singing songs praising Shiva(one of the Hindu gods) as a Muslim I am very uncomfortable with that and knowing that these people follow Sufism, which comes from Islam, I felt it was not 'correct' to do that. But as you said they are tolerant, which is very nice. Everyone has their own opinion - I respect that. Agree with it, not really.

Molly said...

I totally and completely agree with you, I think that you can take something out of every situation even if it is only a sense of being thankful that you were shown the right path.

And that is why I will willingly go to things that others may consider haraam. Allah encouraged us to learn.

Once, not long after I had converted and moved to Arizona I was approached by a brother who was following a sect of Islam that began in Tucson. They didn't believe in hijab, they didn't believe is naming the Prophet saas in prayer or in the adhan. Basically they focused on Quran, however on the mathematical interpretation of Quran, and focused solely on Allah. I mean the brother I knew loved Allah and really wanted to be a good muslim and thought this was the "correct path" however there was so much wrong with it, even down to changing the Quran *astughfurlillah* based on their mathematical calculations.

I went to their meetings a couple of times to understand, but never with the intention of joining.

I think what you did was a good thing, and I commend you. :)

eyes serene said...

Assalamu alaikom,
Well, it sounds interesting. I can understand how you can sit through a church service and be all right with it, but go to this and feel out of sorts... because, like you say, they are taking things and moving them around just enough so that it's off. With a church service, you expect to see religiosity and spirituality but not one that's borrowing from yours! But I don't judge or condemn the sufis, either. Each to his or her own. I am on a path that I feel is correct and right *for me* and I cannot judge, only Allah can. I must admit I don't like new agey stuff (this reminds me of new agey stuff.) One time we went into this store because we couldn't figure out exactly what it was, and we were bored and curious. (LOL) It turned out to be a new age place and I'm sure they must have found it really interesting for a hijabi to walk into their place! We took brochures and pamphlets and got a good look around, but of course without the intention of changing our beliefs. It is interesting but I find it's like a mish-mash of different religions and spiritual ideas put together and it seems to water down each component to do that. My opinion only!

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