One L(ove)

January 2, 2009

Walking with al-Ghazali through the storm

Filed under: Uncategorized — galileehitchhiker @ 8:47 pm
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For the past two years I have been experiencing a spiritual crisis within. It’s not that I had given up faith but I felt as if my devotion was built on shaky foundations. I didn’t feel anything through my devotion — to the point that I felt I was only complying with my lips but not with my heart. I felt as if the world all around me was a serene ocean and I had extracted energy from it only to expedite the storms brewing within me. With these storms, I unleashed their terrible fury upon all that I loved and cared about. And after the damage was done, did I truly benefit? And when everything’s in rubble, why do the storms remain? And where will they go to satiate their hunger after all’s been destroyed and lies in ruins? On the first day of the Islamic calendar, I started reading al-Ghazali’s The Deliverance From Error (his spiritual autobiography which a friend gave to me), and finished reading it on the first day of the Gregorian calendar. Within this period of emptiness and unchartered territory, a space no one claims, I felt I had a rebirth within me. It was so refreshing to read al-Ghazali’s words. It’s amazing when a small book can communicate a wealth of information. It’s like being in a never-visited-before garden, running around madly with arms outstretched parallel to your sides, feeling the sadness of the petals brush against your fingertips, and then you stop when one flower catches your eye. You look at it and say to yourself that certainly another flower within this small garden cannot be prettier than the one you now behold in your hands. You gently tear this one from what you perceive to be its loneliness, and as you exit, you realize that you were wrong. There is another that is prettier. You tear that one and then it goes on — until there’s nothing left but stalks which reveal the painful subtleties underneath the beautiful wonders hidden within your hands. The same goes for al-Ghazali’s book. Within it were flowers of blossoming ideas and when you took them and tried to understand them, you realize the pain al-Ghazali went through to overcome his spiritual crisis. I found someone I could relate with and have a dialogue with. Even though there are some points of his that I felt are outdated, laughable, erroneous, and weak, I know that I’ve found a companion that’ll be by my side for the rest of my life. (What good are your heroes if you can’t laugh at and pity them?) After reading al-Ghazali’s spiritual autobiography, the storms have gone away and I feel as serene as the ocean I once manipulated. All I hope is that what I’m feeling within me is the opening of an eye of new understanding, and not the eyes of my hurricanes. Insha’Allah.

I think the next posts I’m going to do are going to be on al-Ghazali’s views on a handful of topics that he covers in his The Deliverance From Error. Three to be exact: philosophy, Sufism, and prophecy. Although al-Ghazali does talk about kalam (Islamic scholastic theology) and the Ta’limites (the Isma’ilis, I believe), I’m not going to cover them in those posts because I feel as if I’d truly had a dialogue with al-Ghazali on the three topics mentioned above. I’m now reading Shaykh Abdul-Qadir Jilani’s Revelations of the Unseen. I hope to have the same life-changing dialogue with him as I’ve had the one with al-Ghazali.

P.S. I watched Godard’s film Le Mépris (English: Contempt) today. I have eternally fallen in love with Brigitte Bardot (even though she’s not a big fan of Muslims), but I wish deep inside that I had also fallen in love with and had picked up a video camera when I was younger. Instead of being in law school, I should be in a film school somewhere mixing my love for art, philosophy, literature, poetry, colors, waves, the breeze that comes after the rain, music, the desert, parking garages and lots, a leaf struggling through the cracked concrete together with my thoughts, desires, boyish romances! & dreams! & fantasies!, hopes, and tears.

Currently listening to: Cat Power – You Are Free

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