Aug 04, 2023

The Islam I like to call "conventional" is in a "hamd" crisis today. Yet the opening of the Qur'an, this invitation to enter the dimension of Revelation, begins with "Al-hamd"... and the same is true of the fundamental ritual of the five daily meditations.

"Hamd" describes a state of deep gratitude, but also of reverence, attention, awareness and love for the Being, and through Him for all beings. This state of being is in fact the core and foundation of all re-ligion (re-connection).

Today we have reduced religion to dogmas to believe in, actions to do, and sins to avoid.

Whereas, if we think about it, the fundamental basis and very essence of "al-imane" (often translated as creed, belief, doctrine or dogma), is nothing but the recognition of the Divine Being and the recognition of and gratitude for the Grace of intelligence that He gives us.

Similarly, the raison d’etre of the "acts of worship" and various rituals (the things to do) is nothing but gratitude and recognition.

As Mevlana Rumi well says: "If you can say only one prayer, let it be "al-hamdoulillah" - in other words, "I recognize Your Grace and Your Love in all the grace that I feel within myself and witness around me. For this, my heart is filled with profound gratitude.”

The ritual of prayer comes to express recognition and gratitude for the body, for its life and strength that the Unity of Life and Strength (Allah) gives us. It is also an expression of gratitude for the five elements (earth, water, fire (sun), air and ether).

When we practice this exercise as a group, we express our recognition and gratitude for the benefit of being surrounded by "humans," or even better: "Hu-mans," our brothers and sisters who are with us in acknowledging the Being (in Arabic: Hu), and other hands that join our tiny hands to carry out spiritual work and the service of the Being…

"Sins," "acts of disobedience" or “the forbidden” ("haram" in Arabic which also means "sanctuary" or "to sanctify") are actually actions that violate our own sanctuary (our body) or the sanctuary or sanctity of another. In other words, they are the consumption of one's self or the other without recognition and consciousness...They are the de-sacralization of that which God made sacred.

If we meditate carefully, this "sin" of consumption, a lack of consciousness and recognition, has become the generalized state of mind of those who practice "religion" today. We use our acts of worship and our "right" to "please" God. We do not seek to express or develop through these actions our gratitude or love for "God," the Essential BEING…

In everyday actions, we are guided and driven by the consumption of substance rather than communication and connection with the essence of things. We consume plants and even animals for our food or well-being, without seeking to recognize in them the soul and life that flows from the Source of Souls and the Source of Life.

We use our teachers to “become” something.

We use our spouse to feel "fulfilled" or to satisfy our desires.

We use the beautiful nature and landscapes around us as a form of "enjoyment," without seeking to connect to the secret they reveal and the essence they unveil…

We no longer take time to feel and develop our gratitude and love for being, for the Being, and for the beings with us in this experience called life. All has become subjected to our consumption and desire to possess.

Without a doubt then, we are disconnected. Our own way of being (or failing to be) has brought about the deep sense of emptiness that many religious people feel, because they no longer connect and reflect…
The problem of the religious people is that they believe they have found THE truth and now they only want to see the world and things around them through the paradigms of their limiting set of ideas they call "religion." This "religion" is not longer about establishing a reconnection to the Being. Instead, it's become an obsession with the performance and perfection of conventional acts of worship and a "mental fixation" on conventional "acts" of disobedience too...

Obedience and disobedience as good and evil have become images fixed and frozen in this paradigm of conventional religion…

As a consequence, we end up falling into absurdity and contradictions:
we “do” the five prayers because they are "obligatory," but neglect to pray before eating, for example. , And what does that say about us?

Thanking the Great Spirit and Divine Providence for the meal on our table every day is the most universal and primordial prayer. It is a natural and primordial response emerging from a Fitra, (sound human nature). If it’s an afterthought for us, what has happened in our development that has led to this?

we avoid conventional sins but we constantly violate the sanctity of each other (human, animal, plant...) by reducing every thing and person to a consumable substance while ignoring its essence…We even abuse time - forgetting that it too is a creation of God. When we strip our eyes of recognition and reverence of the Divine spirit in all things, we strip ourselves of our own humanity and meaning.

Honestly, if we had to designate a single act of obedience as absolutely OBLIGATORY, I would say it's the act of recognition! And if we had to declare a single sin as DEADLY, I'd say it would be the act of ingratitude and lack of recognition!

And again, as Mevlana says it so well: "If you can say only one prayer, let it be "al-hamdoulillah." In other words: Thank you. I recognize. I acknowledge. I am grateful!

This is the expression of gratitude towards the ONE and the UNITY of all things...

It is indeed this very prayer that Divine Intelligence speaks of in the Qur'an, telling us to pay special attention to it. He calls it: "As-Salat al-wousta." Mentioned in Sura 2, verse 238, it is the prayer in the middle of all prayer, the prayer which is the reason for all prayers, the prayer at the heart of every prayer, the prayer in the midst of your very experience of being. It is the continuous unbroken prayer: "al-hamd"!

“As-Salat al-wousta” actually refers to a state of mind rather than well-defined movements at well-defined hours. It's the mindset that gives meaning to the rituals. This mindset can only be cultivated by practicing the ritual with the intention to develop more "hamd," and with the attention that will enable us to actualize that intention.

Then and only then will we truly taste the happiness of being - and that is in fact the goal of all religion.