In his first book on Sufism, written many years ago, Martin Lings wrote, with reference to the Quranic descriptions of the celestial Gardens: ‘To speak of the Gardens and Fountains of Paradise, as also of its Rivers, Fruits and Consorts, is to speak the Truth, whereas to speak of such blessings in this world is only a manner of speaking, for the Realities are in Heaven and what we see here-below are only the remote shadows of Reality.’ He adds: ‘The shadow returns to the Substance and, for those with eyes to see, the best things of this world—and that is the criterion of their excellence—are already as it were winged for return to their celestial Source. It is the function of art, in portraying earthly objects, to portray mysteriously at the same time something of their “wings”.’ We take this as the author’s avowal of an intention which lies behind his poems, three of which are published here for the first time.
About the Author
MECCA From Before
Genesis Until Now
In this his latest work, eminent Islamic scholar Martin Lings discusses the significance of the pilgrimage to Mecca in the light of the tradition of Abraham. Drawing upon his own experience of performing the pilgrimage first in 1946 and then again in 1978, as well referring to the traditional sources he describes how the Hajj, proclaimed and established by Abraham and Ishmael about 4,000 years ago, and renewed by the Prophet Muhammad some fourteen hundred years ago, has continued to be performed without a break until the present day, its spiritual meaning as profound and timeless as ever.
BELIEFS AND MODERN SUPERSTITIONS
Drawing upon his wide knowledge of world religions the author in this book strikes at the root of everything that makes it difficult for people today to believe wholeheartedly in religion and in doing so, it shows modern man to be, in his own peculiar twenty-first century way, the embodiment of superstition in its most dangerous form. We are faced in the modern world with a situation similar to that in the fable of the Emperor’s new clothes. This book aims to speak the truth about the modern outlook especially concerning science and metaphysics, in order to dispell the illusion that prevents the intellect from seeing things as they really are.
About the Author
When the Prophet was in Medina during Ramadan it was his wont to make a spiritual retreat in the Mosque during the middle ten days of the month, and some of his Companions would do the same. But this year, having kept the ten appointed days, he invited his Companions to remain in retreat with him for another ten days, that is until the end of the month, which they did. It was in Ramadan every year that Gabriel would come to him to make sure that nothing of the Revelation had slipped from his memory; and this year, after the retreat, the Prophet confided to Fatimah, as a secret not yet to be told to others: “Gabriel reciteth the Koran unto me and I unto him once every year; but this year he hath recited it with me twice. I cannot but think that my time hath come.”
The month of Shawwal passed; and in the eleventh month of the year it was proclaimed throughout Medina that the Prophet himself would lead the Pilgrimage. The news was sent to the desert tribes, and multitudes flocked to the oasis from all directions, glad of the opportunity of accompanying the Messenger at every step of the way. The Pilgrimage would be unlike any that had taken place for hundreds of years: the pilgrims would all be worshippers of the One God, and no idolater would desecrate the Holy House with the performance of any heathen rites. Five days before the end of the month the Prophet set out from Medina at the head of over thirty thousand men and women. All his wives were present, each in her howdah, escorted by Abd ar-Rahman ibn Awf and Uthman ibn Affan.
At sunset on the tenth day after leaving Medina the Prophet reached the pass through which he had entered Mecca on the day of the victory. There he spent the night, and the next morning he rode down to the Hollow. When he came within sight of the Ka’bah he raised his hands in reverence, letting fall the rein of his camel, which he then took up in his left hand, and with his right hand held out in supplication he prayed: “O God, increase this House in the honour and magnification and bounty and reverence and piety that it receiveth from mankind!” He entered the Mosque and made the seven rounds of the Ka’bah, after which he prayed at the Station of Abraham. Then going out to Safa he went seven times between it and Marwah, and those who were with him did their best to record in their memories the exact words of praise and prayer that he uttered at every station.
And on the eighth day of the new moon he rode to the valley of Mina followed by the rest of the pilgrims. Having spent the night there, he rode on after daybreak to Arafah, a broad valley about thirteen miles cast of Mecca, just outside the sacred precinct. Arafah is on the road to Ta’if and is bounded north and east by the mountains of Ta’if. But separate from these, and surrounded on all sides by the valley, is a hill which is also named Arafah or the Mount of Mercy. It is the central part of this pilgrimage station, which extends none the less over most of the lower ground; and it was on this hill that the Prophet took up his station that day.
Some of the Meccans expressed surprise that lie had gone so far, for while the other pilgrims went on to Arafah Quraysh had been accustomed to remain within the sacred precinct saying: “We are the people of God.” But he said that Abraham had ordained the day on Arafah as an essential part of the Pilgrimage, and that Quraysh had forsaken his practice in this respect. The Prophet stressed that day the antiquity of the Pilgrimage, and the words “Abraham’s legacy” were often on his lips.
When the sun had passed its zenith the Prophet preached a sermon which he began, after praising God, with the words: “Hear me, O people, for I know not if ever I shall meet with you in this place after this year.” Then he exhorted them to treat one another well and gave them many reminders of what was commanded and what was forbidden. Finally he said: “I have left amongst you that which, if ye hold fast to it, shall preserve you from all error, a clear indication, the Book of God and the word of His Prophet. O people, hear my words and understand.” He then imparted to them a Revelation which he had just received and which completed the Koran, for it was the last passage to be revealed: This day the disbelievers despair of prevailing against your religion, so fear them not, but fear Me! This day have I perfected for you your religion and fulfilled My favour unto you, and it hath been My good pleasure to choose Islam for you as your religion.
He ended his brief sermon with an earnest question: “O people, have I faithfully delivered unto you my message?” A powerful murmur of assent, “O God, yea!”, arose from thousands of throats and the vibrant words Allahumma na’m rolled like thunder throughout the valley. The Prophet raised his forefinger and said: “O God, bear witness!”
The ritual prayers were then prayed and the rest of the Day of Arafah, as it is called, was spent in meditation and supplication. But as soon as the sun had set the Prophet mounted his camel, and bidding Usamah mount behind him he rode down from the hill and across the valley in the direction of Mecca, followed by his fellow pilgrims. It was the tradition to ride quickly at this point, but at the first signs of excess he cried out: “Gently, gently! In quietness of soul! And let the strong amongst you have a care for the weak!” They spent the night at Muzdalifah, which is within the sacred precinct, and there they collected small pebbles with which to stone Satan, who is represented by three pillars at ‘Aqabah in the valley of Mina.
The Prophet himself prayed the dawn prayer in Muzdalifah, and then led the pilgrims to Aqabah, with Fadl mounted behind him on his camel…After the stoning, the animals were sacrificed, and the Prophet called for a man to shave his head. The pilgrims gathered round him in the hopes of obtaining some locks of his hair. “O Messenger of God, thy forelock! Give it unto none but me, my father and my mother be thy ransom!” And when the Prophet gave it him he pressed it reverently against his eyes and his lips.
When you hear Hoofbeats think of a Zebra.????
HOUR The Spiritual
Crisis of the Modern World in the Light of Tradition & Prophecy
Eminent Muslim scholar Martin Lings
give us from the outset powerful reasons for believing that we have now
reached a point in time from which ‘the end’ — whatever that may
mean — is already in sight without being immediately imminent. The
Eleventh Hour has its roots in the parable of the labourers in the
vineyard. The following questions run through the book: why did the
latecomers receive the same wage as those who had laboured throughout
the heat of the day? Why were they the first to be paid? And why, did
Christ say ‘And the last shall be first?’ These questions are
answered in the light of the concept of the Millennium, which is clearly
the equivalent of the new Golden Age of the next cycle of time, and
which is found in all three monotheistic religions, bringing them into
line, in this respect, with Hinduism, Greco-Roman Antiquity and
About the Author
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"And say: truth has arrived, and falsehood has perished: for falsehood is ever bound to perish." [TMQ Al-Isra:81]