its all you

A while ago I attended a class at a masjid in which the sisters sat on a balcony overlooking the brothers’ area, and that has a microphone system set up so that everyone could hear.  A few minutes into the class a group of sisters came in with a number of children and starting having Quran lessons.  The noise they made effectively drowned out the voice of the shaykh, and I spent the majority of the class struggling to hear what I could from the lesson, and giving meaningful glances to the group to keep their voices down.


It was so frustrating to be there, ready to learn, with my book open, looking at the teacher and seeing him speak, knowing he was sharing beneficial knowledge with everyone, but not being able to access it because of the noise around me. 


It made me think about how often we must be in this same situation in terms of the spiritual realm… missed opportunities for knowledge, enlightenment, or remembrance due to inner static, distractions and noise… from sins, heedlessness, carelessness…  and we walk away from gatherings of knowledge wondering why we don’t feel any different.


I read an interesting phrase in my Mustalah book the other day, that knowledge is “fi butoon al kutub wa sudoor al ulema” (lit. in the stomachs of books and the chests of the scholars).  The last thing in this world I want to be is a book, just digesting information that I’m learning and storing it up like caloric intake, and without feeling.  I want it to be in my chest, my heart, pumping in my blood, felt like a human being.  But how can it be, if it’s drowned out by things that are already present there?


Ibn ‘Ataa’Illah said in his Hikam:


Rubamaa waradat ‘alayka al-anwaar

Fa wajadat il-qalbu mahshuwan bil-aathaar

Fartahalat min haythu nazalat


“Perhaps illuminations (ma’rifah…) passed by you and found your qalb (heart) filled, buried, occupied with vestiges of creation.  So it took off from whence it had come.”


Imam Shaf’ii said,


My knowledge is with me, and wherever I turn it follows me,

For my heart is its vessel, and not a ‘chest’ stored at home.

(Written June 2007)


Published in: on January 30, 2009 at 5:34 am  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Assalam u alaikum wa rehmatullah, Shazia ji. I read one of your posts (Julaybib) on alsafh.wordpress a few days back, and followed the link to damascusdreams. Since then, despite the fact that this is the final exam week, I have been reading a few posts daily, and its a pleasure. Jazakillah 🙂 Please do tell where you will be posting after damascusdreams (like you mentioned).

    This post reminds me of the bandit who stole Imam Al-Ghazali’s books, and told him that what knowledge does Ghazali have if he’s lose it once his books are stolen. The hikam of Ibn ‘Ataa’Illah you have mentioned is thought provoking; it seems to imply a wealth of various things.

    I have read a few comments by people asking you to contact them, and i have no idea how you react to those, so I won’t ask you. But in case you don’t mind, I’d like to be able to contact you…after these posts are all read. Or if you could just reply here.

    Jazakillah once again, and may Allah give us all the tawfeeq to do amal on knowledge.

  2. Subhaan Allah


    I just finished sending the following message to someone in Damascus and found your beautiful blog while googling Jam’at Dimashq. You write beautifully. May Allah enhance your taufeeq, Ameen!

    I am dying to learn the language (Fushaa)so that i may begine to gain deeper understanding of the Noble Qur’an, Avicenna, Al-Farabi, Al-Ghazali, Ibn Arabi, Tusi, Mir Baqir Damaad, Mulla Sadra, Mohsen Kashaani, Sir Muhammad Iqbal Lahoori (need Persian for it), books of Tasawwuf, history and so forth. I already have fair grasp of these topics and good understanding of the Western philosophical tradition, Christian/Muslim mysticism/Sufiism. My idea is to devote rest of my life to interfaith harmony by making a humble contribution to strengthen the intellectual movement for the revival of spirituality, a transcendent strand that weaves together all religions and their followers, along the lines of work of Frithjof Schuon and Dr. Hossein Nasr.

    Please give me some pointers, as to where to study in Damascus, and the dos and donts. Shukran

    Jazakum Allah Khairan


  3. sorry about the typos. haste makes waste!

  4. Salaam sister Shaziah.
    Subhanallah, your posts really brings me closer to Sham, although i’ve returned since the past 6 months. You’re so blessed to be there up to this moment. I wished i met u back in Rukn Eddin, but Allah has planned it all. 🙂

    Do make du’aa for me,sister. I’m pursuing my studies in Cairo now.

    Allah ma’ak.

    • Mashya Allah, this is so beautiful. Syukran

      Jazakum Allah


  5. As salaam alaikum.

    It’s been some time!!! Just surfing through.

    Ma’as salaama,
    nuh ibn

  6. As salaam alaikum —

    Just and evening of surfing!

    Ma’as salaama,
    nuh ibn zbigniew

  7. Hi ,
    Im a student of Phylosophy whos realy like all the muslin world , and few weeks ago i start a blog to write a articles about the all political and cutural muslin moviments.
    I wil apreciate if u can take a look , and if u like we can be partners , as i said i start few weeks ago so thats not a huge blog .

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