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.

law of tawfeeq

One of my biggest life lessons was learning the concept of tawfeeq.

Ibn al-Qayyim is my kindred spirit, fo real. Just thinking about his books make my thoughts pause. He’s been one of my biggest influences on my writing, and it goes back to his book al-Fawaaid. Before I learnt Arabic, I had read translated excerpts here and there but it wasn’t until much later that I realized how much of the beauty was stripped in translation.

His book al-Fawaaid is like his Twitter page if he were alive today; bite-sized thoughts of reflection and wondrous observations. In it, he’s written quite a lot about tawfeeq, which essentially entails Allaah facilitating or paving the way for one, to success or attainment of goals.


He explains that unless Allaah wills for something to happen, it just won’t happen, regardless of how much effort one puts into doing something. And just like there are levels to effort, there are levels to tawfeeq. And fundamentally, the two are interconnected. He cites the closing ayah of surah al-Ankabuut as a backdrop for this principle ;

As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths. And verily, Allaah is with the Muhsinon (good doers).”

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Either/Or

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A lot of my anxiety and existential depression comes from trying to fit into a world that is as real as a narcissist’s persona and as deep as an instagram model’s selfie caption. It’s an illusion and a shadow cast by fears of being rejected for one’s true self. It’s a remnant of an afternoon musing in a child’s mind.

Maybe my mental disorders is a reflection of this world’s disorder? Perhaps my maladaptation is my soul shunning the chaos of this world? Perhaps my mind is protecting the seeds of a new world from being contaminated by the status quo?

I want to create my own world. I will wear my heart on my sleeve, be up all night, idealism will be my reality. I won’t tolerate manipulation, inauthenticity, or injustice. I want a job where I actually thrive and grow, with people who are as vulnerable and authentic in their fervour as I am. I want to live in a cosy home near nature and far away from commotion. I want enduring leather boots and a fly car that’ll be with me for at least a decade. I want the most from a minimalistic lifestyle, and expend the rest of my energy into realizing my passions. I want to create a social innovation company to come up with solutions to social problems. I want to be a social entrepreneur, philanthropist, activist, advocate.

I want my dreams to give a different hue to this grey world, however minute that hue. Or else what is suffering worth if not to connect one’s heart to the collective heart of humanity, and feel the beats and murmurs as one’s own?

 

The thing is to understand myself: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die. That is what I now recognize as the most important thing.

― Søren Kierkegaard

Is the system going to flatten you out and deny you your humanity, or are you going to be able to make use of the system to the attainment of human purposes?

― Joseph Campbell

be your own riddle

❝❞

You train yourself in the art of being mysterious to everyone.

My dear friend! What if there were no one, who cared about guessing your riddle,
what pleasure would you then take in it?

Søren Kierkegaard

the perfect sin

Midnight thoughts & thunders

 〈serial soliloquies〉

“The proud person always wants to do the right thing, the great thing. But because he wants to do it in his own strength, he is fighting not with man, but with God.”
Søren Kierkegaard


Perfectionism almost killed me. It burned me out like a lone ember that neither gives out heat nor fire. I realized perfectionism doesn’t exist in humans. We are dynamic, not static. I discovered my strength in my weakness; they were two sides of the same coin. By embracing my human imperfections I achieved a sense of humility which is in essence self-acceptance. When I accepted my flaws and imperfections, the inner turmoil & tug of war reached a halt. My strength lay in my weakness; my inherent flaws and tendency to sin. I drew closer to Allaah by my sins. The utter weakness that encompassed me realizing that constant spectrum of sinning and repenting- this exposed my frail state and in turn, the greatness of Allaah by contrast.

When I strove for perfection, I lost sight of what was important. It was as if I was striving to please myself by doing an excellent job, losing sight of the intrinsic, autotelic meaning of worship [ ‘ibaadah].

The hadeeth of the Prophet [ صلى الله عليه و سلم ] comes to mind;

 Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul, if you were a people who did not commit sin, Allah would take you away and replace you with a people who would sin and then seek Allah’s forgiveness so He could forgive them.” [Sahīh Muslim (2687)]

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