The phenomenology of a racist world

You know, for those living in the shadow of the system, black people and other POC (I wonder if the distinction of a person according to their skin colour is a subconscious symbology to describe the shadow cast on them) they can’t describe or develop their own phenomenology because it’s so antithetical to how white people experience their world that it’s an existential threat. They hear, anti-whiteness.

The stability of their world DEPENDS on the repression of its shadow, therefore they feel implicated and the cost of that implication is too high. Because to see the experiences of black people is to acknowledge the illusion of the world you’ve planted your identity in. It calls into question EVERYTHING you’re about. It starts to feel like disintegration- it’s not. It’s just an integration into WHAT IS. A collapse of dissociation.

You can see this mechanism in play when climate change is mentioned – the denial that the unsustainable lifestyle of dissociation is causing active harm, then the invalidation of earth itself (it’s getting cooler, it’s always been this way, it’ll course correct on its own)

Meaning towers over you

In silence, I hear the deep pain reverberating through the earth, absorbed through the aching feet of people whose bodies express their pain for them. Through the noise I feel the extreme incongruence embedded in social conventions that like a game of Jenga people are hoping they can keep playing without it collapsing on them.

It never made sense to fixate on a compartmentalized life when I can hear the din over the walls. I tried, but I could never fool myself into believing the illusions. Maybe that’s also why I haven’t married yet. It’s impossible to believe someone’s hollow words that are meant to seal me off into a niche.

I don’t know if pain brings clairvoyance or if clairvoyance brings pain but I realized too late that all my peering into the voids also magnetized to me the shadow forms and unclaimed pain that are like massive land fills of the collective’s energy.

The other day I joked with my therapist that it’s not only I that come to these sessions but all the unhealed aspects from ancestral trauma and unresolved conflicts in Somalis. I bring them to my sessions to release what I couldn’t metabolize through my intellect alone. It’s through these alchemical transmutations that I often gain insight into us, into our people. The noise has been tuned out to reveal the harmony in the sound. The image has been made symmetrical. It’s easy to see the potentiality in all things then.

I thought this path was going to be easier, but I accessed things that carry a hefty import tax, and I’m still paying off the debt of insights that I’m not entirely sure what I’m meant to do with?

I asked myself the other day if I’d have felt fulfilled in the conventional realities I so often compare myself to, and I wouldn’t. I guess being filled and feeling full also means that you don’t get to cut out what you don’t like. You have to taste all the flavours to develop a rich palate. You have to allow the opposites to co-exist because they give each other meaning and definition. I’m not here to define things, only to experience things as they already have been defined.

Perhaps the grief of our age is that definition often decontextualizes the opposites. Detached intellect compartmentalizing what was created concurrently. The connection is lost, and all we’re left with are pieces stacked on each other, like the Tower of Babel, like a game of Jenga. Building constructs that no one can inhabit or embody.

The loss of meaning : Islaamic epistemology in our age

The deen is simple because to integrate it is difficult, and exceedingly so in our times.

A lot of people in their enthusiasm look to replicate the trajectories of scholars of yesteryears not realizing that their scholarship arose as a result of the need in that time and the developmental phase Muslims were in as a collective. We’re in an entirely different epoch with unique and unprecedented challenges which can’t be overcome through knowledge alone.

The epistemological ground itself is rumbling and crumbling, and there are intense psychosocial conditions that require Muslims to synthesize context and perspectives for. That’s the only way to not only find true stability and a sense of self that isn’t rigid, but also to make the practice of the deen possible when you’re up against the momentum of a civilization going belly up. The debris from the deconstruction of postmodernism whips up a storm that Muslims can’t hide from. The very coordinates they require to navigate life will change abruptly and they won’t have the resources or foreknowledge to know how to not only survive existential uncertainty but to retain faith when knowledge loses meaning. It takes a lot of discipline to withstand that level of force and it will never come about by trying to bypass this deluge.

I see many people assume antagonistic or resistant positions to this deluge, trying to protect a heritage. Bro, this entire ship is sinking and there comes a time that it’ll get too late to get off it. Unless we deal with the facts of this age in a non-reactionary and open minded way, self-righteousness will be the death of us. And an ugly death at that because when reality as you know it is erased, so will be whatever anchors you relied on for faith and you’ll lose faith itself, existentially. It’s not a hypothetical scenario. This is happening.

Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, you are in a time when one who leaves a tenth of what he has been commanded is ruined. Then, there will be a time when one who practices a tenth of what he has been commanded is saved.”

The STAGES Matrix Roadmap

My gripe with the term mental illness

I don’t believe in mental illness.

(Wtf is that even?? Please don’t give me that reductivist bs of chemical imbalance.)

I want to see the diagnosis of the societal structures that are innately unhealthy. Show me a DSM of all the ways society fucks us up. Of the impact of colonialism, neoliberalism, capitalism, segregation, immigration, racism, Islamophobia. How schools are essentially dysfunctional. The productivity culture. Diagnose THAT. Diagnose the apparatus we’re conditioned by and socialized through. That’s the baseline against which mental health is measured : how well you can tow the line, conform, do what’s expected of you. How neurotypical you are.

Mental illness is such a patronizing term. It’s like calling poison a neurological dysfunction. It’s not a dysfunction if the reaction is proportionate to the toxin!

What we have is the pathologizing of the ways people have attempted to survive. Look at all the symptoms. They are all in reaction to something and yet diagnosis is decontextualized. All the symptoms are attempts at regulating a nervous system that’s gone haywire because of the inhumane expectations and pressures, not to talk about the environmental toxins in the soil, air, food and medicine.

That’s why “mental illness” is getting worse. Flip the picture and you’ll see a society nosediving as it’s becoming increasingly technocratic.

But sure, posters, campaigns, hashtags and assigned mental health awareness months will do the trick. 🙄

A fear born of love

Taqwa is not a dread of God, a hypervigilant fear of the unexpected things He may decide to do to you. It’s the fear of losing the wholeness and protective love you’re immersed in through His awareness because you crave it and need it to tolerate this worldly life. It’s the fear of falling from grace, of being shut out from that garden, not through being booted out, but through blocking out awareness, slipping into walking sleep.

Love makes you vulnerable because your heart is exposed and attached. But a taqwa that comes from a preemptive self-punishment because you think Allaah punishes by default unless you give Him a reason not to – that isn’t taqwa. It’s a rigidity that leads to hate eventually. It always does. Always.

إِنَّ الدِّينَ يُسْرٌ وَلَنْ يُشَادَّ الدِّينَ أَحَدٌ إِلَّا غَلَبَهُ فَسَدِّدُوا وَقَارِبُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا وَاسْتَعِينُوا بِالْغَدْوَةِ وَالرَّوْحَةِ وَشَيْءٍ مِنْ الدُّلْجَةِ

Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, the religion is easy and no one burdens himself in religion but that it overwhelms him. Follow the right course, seek closeness to Allah, give glad tidings, and seek help for worship in the morning and evening and a part of the night.”

Source

Ease. Closeness. Glad tidings. Seek help. Seek. Help.

The praxis of the deen may be summed up in those words. But that won’t sit right if we have healing to do, if our fitra has been tampered with and traumatized such that we are attuned to a hellish reality that makes the divine reality seem like a wistful fantasy.

Postmodernism and Islaam

I wonder how postmodernism has changed Muslims way of relating to Allaah and the deen.

The Qur’aan was expressed in a medium that is based on the balanced and healthy perception of fitrah in a time that centered the fitrah. Any internal fragmentation of the whole, whether through trauma or narcissism, distorts the very medium through which we interact with the Qur’aan through. This isn’t an individual pathology, but a social one where we’re socialized into discarding the wisdom of the organic self (fitrah) as primitive and reducing the self to adapt to a reductivist worldview. What was previously integrated and symmetrical becomes displaced and interferes with the central space where we receive and digest information: the heart. We gain a boatload of information that is decontextualized and boundless. It adds noise that distorts the sound of truth.

هُوَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَنزَلَ عَلَيْكَ ٱلْكِتَٰبَ مِنْهُ ءَايَٰتٌ مُّحْكَمَٰتٌ هُنَّ أُمُّ ٱلْكِتَٰبِ وَأُخَرُ مُتَشَٰبِهَٰتٌ فَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ فِى قُلُوبِهِمْ زَيْغٌ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ مَا تَشَٰبَهَ مِنْهُ ٱبْتِغَآءَ ٱلْفِتْنَةِ وَٱبْتِغَآءَ تَأْوِيلِهِۦ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ تَأْوِيلَهُۥٓ إِلَّا ٱللَّهُ وَٱلرَّٰسِخُونَ فِى ٱلْعِلْمِ يَقُولُونَ ءَامَنَّا بِهِۦ كُلٌّ مِّنْ عِندِ رَبِّنَا وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّآ أُو۟لُوا۟ ٱلْأَلْبَٰبِ

{It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise – they are the foundation of the Book – and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except Allah. But those firm in knowledge say, “We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord.” And no one will be reminded except those of understanding.}

[Aali-Imraan:7]

When our will is split, so is our focus. We become ungrounded in truth, and illusion invades. I’m reminded of Søren Kierkegaard’s book title Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing. That’s the fitrah. It’s to be tuned into the reality of WHAT IS and not a second-order of illusion projected on the world to escape what is through representation, interpretation, expectation or anticipation. It’s the perception of reality as it is in this present moment.

To the degree that our focus is split, we become increasingly automated and unconscious in worship. It becomes a mechanical process signified by a linearity that leads back to the self instead of connecting the self to Allaah. Worship then becomes an instrument of blocking out awareness and numbing the discord that exists within.

The fitrah remains buried in the unattended rubble, and a false self takes on a managerial role of simulating worship where the person does what they THINK worship is and should be like. Their heart is nowhere in the equation, and neither is intention which is mindfulness. Instead worship becomes absorbed by the current day epistemological crisis of meaning brought about by postmodernism and late stage capitalism where reality has to be visually represented to be real. Only what can be ascertained and assured is pursued. Only what can be tokenized and consumed is deemed real. Only what can be measured and has some sort of exchange value has value. The end goal of worship then is mediated by this hyperreality that dictates how we interact with and navigate our subjective experience of life itself. We then find ourselves fighting to scrutinize ourselves for fear of losing the image of a productive worship that gives us a consistent identity (I’m the one who seeks knowledge/teaches the Qur’aan/prays tahajjud/wears niqab). Worship is aestheticized.

I’m reminded of the verse in suraah an-nisaa [119]

وَلَأُضِلَّنَّهُمْ وَلَأُمَنِّيَنَّهُمْ وَلَءَامُرَنَّهُمْ فَلَيُبَتِّكُنَّ ءَاذَانَ ٱلْأَنْعَٰمِ وَلَءَامُرَنَّهُمْ فَلَيُغَيِّرُنَّ خَلْقَ ٱللَّهِ وَمَن يَتَّخِذِ ٱلشَّيْطَٰنَ وَلِيًّا مِّن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ فَقَدْ خَسِرَ خُسْرَانًا مُّبِينًا

{Verily, I will mislead them, and surely, I will arouse in them false desires; and certainly, I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and indeed I will order them to change the nature created by Allah.” And whoever takes Shaitan (Satan) as a Wali (protector or helper) instead of Allah, has surely suffered a manifest loss.}

This is a crisis in epistemology that inverts the experience of truth and leads to the manufacture of what imitates meaning. False desires, desires that aren’t connected to organic need but that one is sold on hypnotically. Capitalism, hyperconsumerism. And it all stems from losing touch with reality, with not being able to discern one’s experiences to see whether they’re congruent. That split-off creates fractals of fragmentation on the macrocosmic level. Corruption.

Sincerity protects your search for truth

Answer :

Wa alaykumussalaam. I’m sorry for all that you’ve been plagued by, but you’re gaining clarity, you’re going over timelines, you’re reflecting, you’re analyzing, you’re trying. You’re hoping. All that is from the tawfeeq of Allaah. What you’ve been plagued by is unfortunately from the pollution of our times where people speak from where they haven’t embodied. They signal what they haven’t processed. They use the deen for their nefarious mind games. But it’s a call that we’re so outside of our core that we outsource the search for and discernment of truth to others who claim one thing with their words but another with their energy.

As long as your intentions are rooted in your mind and not your heart, you’ll be fighting other people’s battles, like constantly swatting away swarms of flies. The rabbit hole of falsehood is endless, so it’s much easier and more healing to start over and ask yourself who is Allaah? If He’s the truth, then whatever you do in search of the truth will lead you to Him. If He’s the truth – a rhetorical question bc He indeed is al-Haqq, beyond dualistic conceptualization – then being honest with Him about your state and establishing a rapport where you look squarely at what is in your heart – currently the truth is that you don’t have motivation for worship – will shift you away from conflict to reconciliation. When you take responsibility for where your truth lies, you can recognize what you lack and need. You need love. You need guidance. You need divine support. These aren’t easy things. We don’t procure them on our own through intellectual efforts. We RECEIVE them when we admit that we’ve fallen short and can’t function without them. Bc that’s the truth. You’re struggling bc you’re bypassing the fundamental truth about the state of you today. Perhaps you’re afraid that it’ll be permanent if you say it or accept it. Perhaps you’re afraid you’ll be punished.

But remember this : as long as you’re sincere and true, Allaah will guide you. Allaah will protect you. Allaah says about Yusuf:

وَلَقَدْ هَمَّتْ بِهِۦ وَهَمَّ بِهَا لَوْلَآ أَن رَّءَا بُرْهَٰنَ رَبِّهِۦ كَذَٰلِكَ لِنَصْرِفَ عَنْهُ ٱلسُّوٓءَ
وَٱلْفَحْشَآءَ إِنَّهُۥ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا ٱلْمُخْلَصِينَ
And she certainly determined [to seduce] him, and he would have inclined to her had he not seen the proof of his Lord. And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our chosen servants.

[Yusuf:24]

The word chosen is mukhlaseen from the root akhlasa, ikhlaas. Meaning, bc of his dedicated sincerity, Allaah protected him.

And this is something echoed by iblees, as told by Allaah in surah Saad :

قَالَ فَبِعِزَّتِكَ لَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ
إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ ٱلْمُخْلَصِينَ

[Iblees] said, “By your might, I will surely mislead them all
Except, among them, Your chosen servants.”

But if you can’t bring yourself to speak the truth within yourself, you’re blocking out His tawfeeq. You’re suspending yourself in a battle you’ll never win or leave. So the first order of things is to be honest about what Allaah already knows is within you. The rest will come. Trust me it will. But take that step and your heart will tell you the rest.

I’ll pray for you.

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