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

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.

Suicide as an expression of distrust

There’s nothing more powerful or wired harder than survival instinct. The only thing stronger than that is whatever causes a distrust in people and life which, if unmitigated, leads to suicide. Withdrawal, isolation, disconnection, depression are signs of suppressed life bc life is perceived more painful than non-existence. Using force to change that state only adds fuels to the fire bc it reinforces what causes distrust.

The only thing that has been more powerful than suicidal ideations for me was finding a trust in Allaah. A true trust. Not being goaded into things bc of guilt-tripping or threats or fear. But trust that came from Him showing Himself in my life and opening up awareness and knowledge that I could trust and return to no matter what happened. A bond stronger than anything I could do to threaten it.

That’s the only thing that has kept me alive in the past 8 years. No convincing, no positivity, no just shifting focus to other stuff to forget my thoughts ever helped. For whatever reason, my mind is an open field. There are no compartmentalizations. I lucid dream. Even in dream state, I remain aware. So I’ve never been able to trick myself into a different state.

Tide

I believe that awareness is like the cosmic blood that delivers to us the nutrients we need, and removes from us the toxins we release.

This awareness is abundant because it’s like a panacea as it is the spirit of Allaah breathed into us when we came alive in our bodies. Everytime we regain awareness, we reconnect to Wholeness. Everytime we suppress or deny awareness, we separate and fragment. We get cut off.

Healing, then, isn’t something created but a return to the original blueprint, a restoration, a purification of everything that doesn’t belong. A remembrance.

A spiritual dialysis.

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