Sunday, April 2, 2017

Golden Eductaion 1

Excerpts from GOLDEN EDUCATION


You have certainly, as I have, heard or read existential question as to why God did this or that, questions about Lucifer, about evil, about punishment, about free will, about Fate, about disaster, etc, etc. Such questions are anything but new : they have always been asked by believers and disbelievers alike. Let me add one more question : Is it easy to believe? The Quran says : "And though thou try much, most men will not believe."  (12.103) "And most of them believe not in Allah except that they attribute partners (unto Him)." (12.106) If I start asking why that is, I may not get the answers I want. So what to do ? Suppose you were (yourself or one member of your family) in a place (a school or anywhere else) and then somebody came in and started shooting at everybody. Would you then start asking who that person was or why he was doing that ? Or would you rush to safety ? Safety is hidaya (guidance).  It is You we worship and You we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path – (1 :5-6) If God says, for example, And it is not for a soul to believe except by permission of Allah , (10 : 100) I say right away Guide us to the straight path – If I flee from war and become a refugee a thousand miles away I should consider myself lucky, for many others have not had that chance. God help them. My safety comes first. Likewise, I will listen to God and I won’t argue with the arguers. 
And if you obey most of those on earth, they will mislead you far away from Allah's Path. They follow nothing but conjectures, and they do nothing but lie. (6 : 116)
I, the author of this piece, am a Muslim because I was born into a Muslim family in a Muslim State. As a kid, I was used to seeing people around me perform their daily prayers, recite the Quran, observe the holy month of Ramadan, etc. I mean, everybody can be a Muslim. You only have to testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad (pbuh) is His Messenger, to perform salah (ritual prayer), to pay the zakah, to fast during Ramadan, and to perform Hajj (pilgrimage) to the Ka`bah at Makkah, if you can afford it. That’s IslamIt's only when you start asking questions that you enter the area between Islam and Iman:  when you want to know why you should be a Muslim and not something else. It’s at this critical phase that a Muslim can either move up to the level of Iman or leave the Faith altogether.  One who, through personal experience and more knowledge, succeeds in discovering the truth and the beauty of Islam will move up, gradually, step by step, to the level of Iman and become a moomin (a believer), not only a Muslim, a submitter). This person would want to live and enjoy a peaceful Iman experience: to live as a moomin, always trying to improve his Iman in an attempt to reach the level of Ihssan.  This is a long process that starts with Guide us to the straight path –  The personal experience and the necessary knowledge will come afterwards. You first build the house (that is Islam), then you put in the furniture (that is Iman), then you add in the home decorators (that is Ihsan). When you reach this level, God becomes your ally and protector. Indeed, my protector is Allah, who has sent down the Book; and He is an ally to the righteous. (7 :196) Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into the light. (2 : 257) Your life becomes good. Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer - We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do. (16 : 97) It’s like your little heaven in the earth.
How do I know that I reached this level of the Faith ? The answer is :  (The true believers are those) "Who have believed and whose hearts have rest in the remembrance of Allah. Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest! Those who believe and do right: Joy is for them, and bliss (their) journey's end." (13 : 28-29)

The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely – (8 : 2) If I reach this level God says to me : O you who have believed, upon you is [responsibility for] yourselves. Those who have gone astray will not harm you when you have been guided. To Allah is you return all together; then He will inform you of what you used to do. (8 : 105)

Can anybody reach this level of the faith ? Honestly, I don’t know. But why not try ? God says 
"So fear Allah as much as you are able" (64 : 16) "Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship" (concerning the rituals; that's different from trials.) (2 : 185) But He also detailed ways one can  work his/her way up through the Faith ranks. If you can't fast very often or worship at night while people are sleeping, for example, you may still rise in your iman by enduring hardships and remaining steadfast in the worst ordeals.

(...) 

(...) 

Now, why do I sin ? Very often it’s either because I am pessimistic (and think Go dis not going to help me anytime soon) or because I feel self-sufficient and think that even God’s punishment would not affect my life anytime soon. Many people think that by only becoming Muslim God should give them everything they want. In other words, they make a favour unto God that they have become Muslim (that they pray, they fast…). "49.17. They make it favour unto thee (Muhammad) that they have surrendered (unto Him). Say: Deem not your Surrender a favour unto me; nay, but Allah doth confer a favour on you, inasmuch as He hath led you to the Faith, if ye are earnest." Did you become a Muslim to serve God or to make God serve you ? What if God gave you everything you wanted ? Would you even care about moving up from the level of Islam to the level of iman ? God first gave you a chance to become a Muslim, now He gives you a chance to become a moomin (a believer). This is a grade, you have to work hard to get up there. You have to work hard psychologically and intellectually. So if God puts you in a pitiful situation, that’s your chance to create a harmony between the physical things you do as a Muslim (praying, fasting…) and the spiritual framework within which you do these things. By doing so, you give a meaning to your salah (prayer), to your fasting, to your pilgimage… You are not only imitating other people, you are translating the language of your own heart and mind into physical acts. This will not happen overnight : it comes bit by bit. God knows what you want. Gos knows what you need. God knows the limits of your patience more than you do. God knows everything about you, even before you were born. What matters now is your intention, is what you have at heart. Do you want to serve God or do you want God to serve ? If you just want God to serve you, you will remain no more than a Muslim, which is per se a GREAT thing). If you want to serve God, God will put the angels and the whole universe at your service. Trial by ordeal is painful. Non-believers too go through painful experiences. It’s your intention, it’s your heart, that turns your painful experience into grades on the ladder of the Faith. It’s ups and downs. Your iman goes up very high, then it plummits, the nit goes up higher thane ver before, the nit dies away, the nit revives again and becomes stronger and stronger …until you find yourself on the straight path. Yes, it’s a long experience, because the higher you rise in your faith the harder your trials will be. Now, what if you fail a test/trial ?
(…)
When you feel alright, even if you are a moomin, you may fall to temptations, you may forget all the sufferings you experienced during your last ordeal. So God will remind you by a new ordeal.
(…)
That good job which gave you such a strong feeling of security and self-suffiency, well, you’re losing it now. You try by all means to get a new job : all to no avail. Your feeling of security is replaced by pessimism. What do you do ? Well, you either give in to your animal instincts, pushed by your overwhelming pessimism, or you remember your Lord and run to Him for safety.
(…)
Unfortunately for you, God may not remove your calamity anytime soon indeed. He will wait for you to learn a lesson.
(…)
God will wait for you to put more questions to yourself, to go through a self-analysis, to think more objectively about the world around you, about life, about your role in this world, about your goal in this life. God will wait for you to be honest with yourself. If you do this you will rise higher and higher in the Faith. As for the job, God created the whole world, how can’t He find you a good job, a good wife/husband…, ?
(…)
If you are a true moomin God cannot only give you a good job, He can give you all the tools and means to grow, to become an eviable person.
(...) 

(...) 



Um Kaltoum in Morocco
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URpJBt2kGYg


Golden Eductaion 2

Excerpts from GOLDEN EDUCATION

Suppose you were in a beautiful garden and then you got a call with bad news : chances are you’d forget all about the beauty of the garden. All your thoughts will focus on your SELF. There’s nothing more important to you than your SELF. And that’s normal. « Man was created weak. » (annisaa 28) Paradoxically, it’s at our moments of weakness that we pay attention to things we wouldn’t notice normally. This morning I went past a very old house on the outskirts of the city. It was in the worst possible state you could imagine. The French family who built this house and lived in it for years and years, during the colonial era, would be shocked to know that it has been turned into a dirty animal shed with lots of filth all around. Of all those French colons there remains one family in the whole area and it still lives in its old house. I have seen more than a dozen such uninhabited old houses in and around Sidi Moussa Elmajdoub, a rural commune, some miles away, which was called by the first French colons « La Suisse du Maroc » (The Switzerland of Morocco), however exaggerated that might be ; to everybody here the real Switzerland of Morocco is Ifran, in the Atlas Mountains. (When I visited Ifran with friends in 1995 I said if this is Ifran I wonder what Paradise is like !) Anyway, a few weeks ago I went to  Sidi Moussa Elmajdoub on foot and I was a bit dazzled  (once again) by the beauty of the valley and the artificial waterfalls built by the French and I can understand why the first colons called the place the Switzerland of Morocco. (At least at that time there was no dam on the river and so there must have been much more water than now.) The problem is, I was just going past a large graveyard, with lots of graves in it, when the rustic beauty of the valley snatched a broad smile from my face. I quickle forgot all about the graveyard and took pleasure in walking alongside the waterfalls. Such is the power of temptation ! But it is unislamic to feel and enjoy the beauty of the world ? Is it unislamic to live in a beautiful mansion in the middle of the greenery ?
(…)
This beauty was made for us, but it can also turn against us. It’s like knide, you remember (chapter 1) ?
(…)
(…)
(….)
(…)
So why should there be such pleasures in the first place ? Why should there be such a dazzling beauty ? Well, it’s the same place, the same Switzerland of Morocco, for the French colons, for those who lived there before them and for those live in there now. The same beauty, the same temptations, the same graveyard. But God did not make beauty only. He also allowed for there to be nasty things –for us to reflect. I wrote a whole post about trial : Why Sould I Be Tried?  So  you can understand that I’m talking here about trial.
(…)
Even the soldiers who served the French colonial authorities were not all French. Many came from other French colonies. And the foreign people who were then in our cities and villages were not all French. Also there were local collaborators. We learnt all this at school. The question is, does onr choose to be a colon or a collaborator ? A colon or a collaborator may have a family and children to feed. These children will not necessarily know how their father got the money to buy them good food or good clothes or build them a good house. Another question is, what’s the difference between a house built with money made by collaborating and a house built with money made by legitimate trade, for example ? For a stranger, what matters is the look of the house : is it nice or not ? He will be thrilled at the beauty of the house, of the car, of the factory, of the children… even if he knows the origin of the money. It’s because people look at the look, not at the origin. If this stranger were poor or single or homeless, who would care about him ? He may even be of those who
(…)
Maybe the French family who lived in that old house (turned into an animal shed) enjoyed the beauty of the house and the area in that beautiful time, but then the French had to leave. Maybe they weren’t even happy with the money they got when they sold everything. I can imagine the house was beautiful like a beautiful French high school girl. You can’t compensate that with money. But why is the house so dirty now ? Is it because the owner of the place is so poor that he only cares about the money he gets from the animals ? Doesn’t he care about beauty ? Or could he be « a wise person » who believes beauty is transient ? Could he be happy with his life ? I don’t even know who it is, so I can’t answer those questions. But what would you do in his place ? What would you care about ? That’s a very big question.

I wonder whether you have ever seen a little child or teenager draw something in an old copybook that he wouldn’t show to anybody. The copybook is full of drawings of horses or pets or movie characters or imaginary or real persons –why ? You, who can’t draw, would say WOW ! You are amazed at the child’s creativity. But to him that’s quite normal, it’s natural. And suppose he wanted to show his « work », who would be interested ? Don’t you know of painters/writers…who were recognized as such only after their death or very late in their life ? Don’t you know of artists who died poor while their work brought lots of money to other people ? Does such an artist necessarily have someone in mind (an audience) when he creates something ?

You know, it’s springtime right now, and the other day I was walking in the nearby wood when suddenly my eyes fell on a beautiful wild flower. As I was looking at that particular flower I noticed other flowers just beside it –maybe much less beautiful, but each with a different colour, each with a different shape. Once I was leaving a school where I gave evening classes when a 17-year-old female student of mine waved to me and said in a voice filled with awe : « Teacher, look over there ! » She pointed almost with a trembling hand at a car that was parked across the street. Between us, my heart leapt when I saw the car. It was just marvellous. (Didn’t I say temptation is so powerful !) I understood why the girl was looking at the car with such reverence. Well, I too went around in that wood, walking slowly, going from path to path, looking with such wonder at all those wild flowers, examining, like a passionale botanist, the shape, the colour, the peculiarities of each flower. When you are in such a place, looking with your heart rather than with your eyes, you can’t help asking : But why did God make this flower grow here, at this particular place, where nobody will see or care about it ? How many people will come and spend half an hour going from flower to flower and looking at their colours and shapes ? Well, is the number so important ? You remember those verses at the beginning of this book ? "And though thou try much, most men will not believe."  (12.103) "And most of them believe not in Allah except that they attribute partners (unto Him)." (12.106) God knows all that ! He knows that only a few would ever care. God says :
(…)
It’s for those people, who
(…)
That God made that beauty. If God says to those people
(…)
they will certainly say : No !
(…)
(…)
(…)
This penitent servant (عَبْدٍ مُّنِيبٍ) will be sensible to all beauty : be it wild beauty in the woods or man-made beauty like that wonderful car parked in front of the school. But this penitent servant  will not be impressed too much by man-made beauty when he knows the origin. He will care as much about the look, not at the origin.
(…)
This penitent servant  knows that it’s all trial.
(…)
But here’s the problem ! If that is what you believe, well, you will be tested. You can’t feign, once or twice.
(…)
If you pass the first test, prepare for the next. The higher you rise in your iman (faith) the harder your trial will be. And you’ll be tried with people around you, people who have wonderful cars, nice houses, good jobs, lovely children…and even people who don’t have anyhting at all.
(…)
You’ll be like a lonely sailor in a pitiless sea, lonely except from God. Each time you go beyond a wave in this monstrous sea of temptations you say
(…)
until  you reach the shore with the least damage. It’s a fascinating experience, but it’s very, very hard. It’s like learning chess on a software application, you go from level 1 to level 12. Except that you risk leaving plenty of feathers there!

Some people surpass themselves by practising certain sports or by engaging in certain adventures.
A
penitent servant  surpasses himself by practising his faith, on the ground, in reality. In either case, you’re doing that for the good of your own soul.
(…)
The world is full of people, but only a few of them mean to you. Your family and your friends mean to you more than anybody else. Idem for God. In the Quran we read :
(…)
How can this one mean to God anything ? If you want to mean something to somebody you do something to please him, don’t you ? If you want to mean something to God you do something to please Him, don’t you ? But if you can lie to people, if you can feign to people, you can’t lie to God.
(…)
All the temptations, all the glamour, all the beauty in the world was made for that purpose.
(…)
And just as we reveal to God that we are truly sincere, God reveals to us, through our tests, that when everybody lets us down, God alone stays by ours ide to support and save us. Just we know God more and more we end up loving Him.





Golden Eductaion 3

Excerpts from GOLDEN EDUCATION

III

In the late 1980’s a classmate of mine shared with me a number of American magazines (Time, Newsweek…), and one day he said : « Look ! » At that age I was shocked. I still had a beautiful image of such American big cities as New York, Los Angelos… Several years before that an American tutor said to me : « Don’t think America is Paradise ! » But what my classmate wanted to show me in that American magazine was shocking, to say the least. Otherwise he wouldn’t even have thought of showing it me. And it was in an american magazine ! It’s serious. Waste –all imaginable waste– covering the ground between high scarpers on the streets of New York. As if that was not shocking enough, my classmate showed me in another American magazine pictures of American citizens sleeping in cardboard boxes on the streets of Washington, DC, the Capital of the United States of America. It was just unbelievable. Now, in hindsight, I would say : So what ? The neighbourhood where I grew up until age 22 was bordered with two small landfills. The whole neighbourhood has now disappeared, making way for a new residential area. The two landfills have disappeared too, and the two streets that lined the old neighbourhood are now as clean as most of the streets in the city. I don’t think that what I saw in the magazine would be seen today by passersby on that NY City street. Maybe a new skyscraper has risen in that place. So, today, I would rather look at the minds and the hands and the arms that can raise these buildings as high as the sky. I would rather look at the epic American volunteerism, I would rather look at those millions of znonymous American citizens who donate (for love) to help not only fellow citizens but many people around the world as well. I would rather look at American civil society, at american freedom of speech, without which I may have never seen such shocking images. The problem is, it takes a lot of time (and good faith) to change one’s point of view. You have to be an eagle-eyed observer to see what many other people don’t. But what would you say when you hear or read a report on women from my country who serve as prostitutes in other Arab countries ? Is that more important for you to know than the increasing numbers of Moroccan youths living in Morocco, a poor third world country, who become doctors, engineers, highly specialized technicians, experts in all fiels, designers and inventors, successful buisnessmen and women…. ? Should I look at the beautiful waterfalls as were freshly made by the French, in « the Switzerland of Morocco », or at those parts of the resort which have been littered by young Moroccan visitors with all kinds of empty cans and bottles or at the filth left behind by country people on their way to their fields ? Should I look at the wood seats as they were placed in there by the French, for future visitors to si tat, or at the food waste left by careless picnickers ? Should I look at the hut beside the palace or at the palace beside the hut ? If you were sitting at a café in N.Y. City, would you sit out there and look at women’s legs and breasts, or at the amazing diversity of the city dwellers ? If you think that what you are seeing is not good, what are waiting for to change it ?

I recently heard an interesting radio show on China Radio International. A French journalist was telling a Chinese journalist about his trip to the Chinese Wigur province. He told her, among other things, about an oasis. As soon as the Chinese journalist heard the name, she said : « Ah, it’s known for its apples ! » The French journalist agreed and said how amazed he was to see that in that small oasis, surrounded by an immense forbidding desert, people grew apples, grapes and all sorts of fruits ! He then talked of another placen in which, he said, temeratures would reach 50°C, explaining that by the fact that the place lay below sea-level. The Chinese journalist recongnized the place at once and agreed that i twas the hottest place in china. But then she was greatly surprised, as I was, when the French journalist said that no farther than 100 km away from this hellish place…it SNOWED ! what can this teach us about us humans ? First, we can’t always know what’s beyond the hellish place or what’s beyond the place where it snows –just as we don’t know whether this woman was once a prostitute or may become a prostitute in the future. Not all famines are God-made : many famines are man-made. And even when we know that this famine was man-made we should sit idly by and wait for people to die. Why did those people settle in that Wigur oasis, in the middle of the desert, and did not go to a place with milder weather, Nay, they settled in there and turned the place into a garden of apples and grapes… It’s like they turned hell into heaven. They chose to be positive people. They chose to be civilized people. They chose to be good citizens, who fed themselves and produced good fruits for their fellow citizens. That’s what God wants us to do.
(…)


Golden Eductaion 4

Golden Eductaion 5

.............

Golden Eductaion 6

..............

Golden Eductaion 7

........