Divine Gift – a quote from Imam Abdul Latif Finch

An extract from Imam Abdul Latif Finch’s thought ‘He is wherever you are’

Love is a divine gift - Imam Abdul Latif Finch quote

Muhammad Abdul Latif converted to Islam at the age of 20 and has earned ijazas in Islamic Sciences including Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Maliki and Shafi’i Jurisprudence, Usul al-Fiqh, Seerah, Logic, and Arabic Grammar and Morphology under the tutelage of numerous scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California where he served as the Imam till for 3 years until he resigned in 2012 to focus on his graduate studies. In addition, he was a teacher and a program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation, Seekers Guidance and has assisted Zaytuna College ‘s Summer Arabic Intensive program for three years in a row.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch has recently attained a Master’s degree in Philosophy at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Many thanks to Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch for contributing to this blog.

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When You Love Something You Love Its Very Self – a thought by Imam Abdul Latif Finch

A Qurānic sign states, “Your Lord has inscribed Mercy on Himself.” (6:54) The ayah indicates, rather clearly it seems, that God has a Self. This Self has Mercy written all over it, to speak in the common vernacular. In other words, God’s Self and His Mercy are synonymous. We will attempt to show here that God’s ultimate mercy is with his very Self and those who reach that self-hood of Allāh are those who enjoy the fullness of His Mercy.

God’s Mercy is with His Very Self

God’s relationship with creation and our relationships with each other are based in Mercy. The tradition states, “Allah has divided mercy into 100 parts, and He retained with Him 99 parts, and sent down to earth 1 part. Through this one part creatures deal with one another with compassion, so much so that an animal lifts its hoof over its young lest it should hurt it.” (Al-Bukhārī) Naturally not every relationship is overflowing with obvious mercy, thus we know that there is some level of apportionment to each situation that we encounter. This division of mercy is accounted for in this tradition as 99 percent is with Him while the remaining 1% is amongst us. No doubt, this 1% is then further divided until it appears that some situations received no portion of mercy at all! Nonetheless, for our purposes, it is significant to note that the remaining 99% are actually with God, Himself. They aren’t with His angels, nor in His paradise or any other creature. Rather, these portions are, and most intimately so, with the Self of God.

We are Encouraged to Arrive to the Self

Every destination assumes at least four components: the travel, the path, the traveller and the destination. If one of these factors is missing there can be no endpoint to speak of. Without a terminus, travel has no purpose at all and to be devoid of purpose is to be meaningless. Surely revelation and meaninglessness are mutually exclusive concepts. In the Book God states, “And Allah warns you of Himself, and to Allah is the destination.” (3:28) Thus, the Self is of grave import for He is the Objective. As every target has the four constituents mentioned above, let it be understood that the travel is called worship, the path is known as Islām, the traveller is the worshipper, and the destination is God, Himself. This quranic sign also warns us about our destination. One must be careful regarding any warning by asking for guidance in dealing with whatever they have been warned about. As the path to the Self is termed Islām and Islām is the Straight Path, asking for guidance on the Straight Path daily, as per our recitation of al-Fātiḥa, is our encouragement to reach our Objective. The goal is God’s Self and thus we are encouraged to arrive to the Self.

Those Who Reach the Self are the Most-Mercified

If 99% of something is greater than 1% of it, then it follows that whoever has that larger percentage has more of it. If God has divided His Mercy into 100 parts and preferred to keep most of it with His Self, then those who arrive to the Self receive more of a portion of Mercy than those who do not. Those who are fortunate to receive more of the Mercy are, in this sense, more mercified than others. Thus, those who reach the Self are the Most-Mercified.

Warning is Itself a Mercy

We have stated that God’s apportioned Mercy is predominately with His very Self. We also demonstrated that these helpings are, and most personally so, with the Self of God. Thereafter we have shown that our goal is God’s Self and that like all goals we are called to arrive to the Self. As shown, those who arrive to the Self are the Most-Mercified. Those who do not arrive are in a sense devoid of Mercy. Those devoid of Mercy face some kind of non-mercy. Whoever lacks some of the mercy of His Lord has not been fully guided. Whoever has not been fully guided has some level of misguidance. The Book states, “And who despairs of the mercy of his Lord, but such as go astray?” (15:56).

It may be said, then, that to whatever degree we suffer from misguidance, i.e., non-mercy, is the degree to which we are astray. As most of us have not reached this Self-ness described here, we remain asking God for guidance daily, “Guide us on the Straight Path.” The recitation of al-Fatiha is a divine mandate. Thus asking for guidance is a command from God. The quranic sign states, “And Allah warns you of Himself, and Allah is Kind to [His] servants.” (3:30) In other words God has warned us of His Self, via revelation. We are therefore instructed to reach Him and to thereby avoid the consequences of not doing so, i.e., not enjoying full Mercy. To be warned of consequences is to be enabled to evade them. One evades harm through guidance. We do not ask but that God has already granted us our request. Thus to request for guidance daily is a kindness to those who ask for it, i.e., the servants. In this sense, warning itself is a mercy.

As His Self and His Mercy are in fact synonymous, God’s Self is the epitome of Mercy. Those who reach that self-hood of Allāh are those who enjoy the fullness of Mercy while those who do not ask for it daily. This appears to be the essence of guidance. Whoever despairs of the mercy of His Lord, which lies ultimately at His very Self-hood, it appears, has not been fully guided. Whoever has not been fully guided has some level of misguidance. To whatever degree we suffer from misguidance is the degree to which we are astray. As most of us have not reached this Self-ness, and are therefore in need, thus we remain asking God for guidance everyday, “Guide us on the Straight Path.” Those who have attained to it know that this is a permanent condition for Mercy will always belong to the Self. Thus their request is for the Self, constantly. May Allāh give us Allāh, Himself.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch

Aug 2015

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He is with you wherever you are – a thought by Imam Abdul Latif Finch

Love is a divine gift from God to His creatures. In fact, some of the Qurānic signs that allude to procreation, the act that allows for humanity to continue forward, point out the reality of this divine blessing. The Qurān states, “And among His signs is that He created spouses for you from yourselves that you may rest in them, and He placed between you love and mercy.” (30:21) Thus in the most pragmatic activity required for the continuity of our species, God opted to plant the quality of love and mercy as the glue that would bind the union together.

In another place, God has stated, “He is with you wherever you are.” (57:4) Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah said:

Allah will say on the Day of Judgment, ‘Son of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit Me.’ ‘My Lord, How could I visit You when You are the Lord of the Worlds?’ ‘Did you not know that one of My servants was sick and you didn’t visit him? If you had visited him you would have found Me there.’ Then Allah will say, ‘Son of Adam, I needed food but you did not feed Me.’ ‘My Lord, How could I feed You when You are the Lord of the Worlds?’ ‘Did you not know that one of My servants was hungry but you did not feed him? If you had fed him you would have found its reward with Me.” Son of Adam, I was thirsty, but you did not give Me something to drink.’ ‘My Lord, How could I give a drink when You are the Lord of the Worlds?’ ‘Did you not know that one of My servants was thirsty but you did not give him a drink? If you had given him a drink, you would have found its reward with Me.’ (Al-Bukhari)

God is obviously not in need of any mercy nor compassion from creation. Rather, God created us with love, mercy, and compassion for we are in need of it. The Quran states that Ādamites (The Children of Ādam) are the representatives (khulafā) of Allāh in the earth. The representative points to the one represented in all their affairs.

As stated in the Qurānic sign above, God creates us in love, mercy and compassion. This aforementioned prophetic tradition shows that we are expected to deal with each other in the same manner while in the world. The one who is able to do that the best is the most gifted of representatives. Perhaps his / her greatest skill is his /her awareness of God in all situations; able to recognize Allāh in all scenarios he /she is able to give Him His right in them. The right of Allāh in dealing with the creation is to treat them as He intended them to be treated, i.e., with love, mercy and compassion. Therefore, the true representation of Allāh in the earth comes through that Child of Ādam who is most merciful toward the creation whoever and wherever they are for he/she is not veiled from their Lord in any situation, so as to forget their specific task in representing Him.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch

Aug 2015

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Tawbah, Mercy & Closeness – a thought by Zara S

zikr - ZS

Photo courtesy of Zara Singh Photography

“God loves those who turn to Him” Quran 2:222

And how do we turn?

توبة 
Tawbah – of a human being is an act of sincere and whole hearted TURNING to Allah after His protection has been sought against the evil effects of past sins and reforming a broken connection or tightening up a loose one with Allah.

From تاب taba: “To return; repent; turn one’s self in a repentant manner…”

Reflecting on this – what about friends? Spouses? And so on. Apologise and seek their forgiveness. If turning to Allah in sincere repentance draws you closer to Him, then turning to companions and strangers alike and seeking their forgiveness may also draw your hearts closer to them, just as it draws you closer to Allah.

Having mercy on them – reflecting the Mercy that Allah has on you, can only bring you closer to Allah and His servants.

Thus, it’s not the arguments that matter. It’s how we work to draw ourselves closer to those we upset, and those who upset us. So alHamdulillah for the clashes we have, as they can only bring us closer to each other, just as our sins bring us closer to Allah when we repent. Just as our mercy on others opens the doors for Allah’s mercy upon us.

May we be drawn to those who love Allah and His prophet, peace be upon him. Ameen. May our hearts remain close and unified. Ameen.

Zara S

(Guest Contributor)

Aug 2015

Zara S is a mother, a freelance writer and photographer, and a full time teaching assistant residing in London.

Visit her facebook page ZS Words & Pictures to view  more of her work.

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Thikr (Rememberance) – a thought by Imam Abdul Latif Finch

zikr

Many of us find it terribly hard to enjoy thikr.

Remembrance is a good thing, we know it, but we don’t actually enjoy it.

We do other things for pleasure, frankly.

What we need to understand is that thikr is God’s pleasure.

When we please God our souls are pleased.

When our souls are pleased we are content.

When we are content we always remember why.

When we remember why we are thankful.

This causes us to say, “al hamdu lillah” from our soul to its Creator…pleased and pleasing, inshallah.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch

July 2015

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Quranic world – a quote by Imam Abdul Latif Finch

The Qurān is from a different world. If recited properly you go into it. If you consider its meanings while reciting you tour it. If it moves into your heart you become a resident in that world.

– Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch 2015

Quran quote

Muhammad Abdul Latif converted to Islam at the age of 20 and has earned ijazas in Islamic Sciences including Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Maliki and Shafi’i Jurisprudence, Usul al-Fiqh, Seerah, Logic, and Arabic Grammar and Morphology under the tutelage of numerous scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California where he served as the Imam till for 3 years until he resigned in 2012 to focus on his graduate studies. In addition, he was a teacher and a program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation, Seekers Guidance and has assisted Zaytuna College ‘s Summer Arabic Intensive program for three years in a row.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch has recently attained a Master’s degree in Philosophy at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Many thanks to Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch for contributing to this blog.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch’s website

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch’s Twitter page

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch’s LinkedIn page

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Trouble free-ness – a thought from Imam Abdul Latif Finch

paradise

It seems like every person wants their life to be trouble-free.

There is nothing in this world that is free from trouble.

So, where do we get this notion of trouble-free-ness from?

Since all of us regardless of our backgrounds and times long for this kind of life, without having ever experienced it here.

This collective condition indicates that all of us without exception, know of it but from some other time and place; one we’ve all experienced and remember.

This life that we recall that is free from problems and consequently attempt to re-create here was in paradise.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch

July 2015

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