We offer these reflections on the “Ninety-Nine Names of God,” traditional to Islam and the Qur’anic revelation, to support the increased opening of our awareness to all the Generosity and Loving-Kindness of the Divine Bestowal. The Divine is so generous with the qualities of Being that in any moment they may be perceived in new ways, in varied intermingled resonances, with different hues, to touch our hearts and minds and souls and bodies, and awaken us in awe. Inshallah, more windows and doors might open every day for us to witness the Beauty and Magnificence of this Creation, both outwardly and inwardly, bestowed by that One who continually sustains us in every moment, with such an immense outpouring and in-pouring of Love. Subhanallah, Ya Rabbil al Ameen! Glory be to God, the Sustainer of all worlds!
“I was a Hidden Treasure, and I so loved to be known that I created
the two worlds, seen and Unseen, in order that My Treasure of Generosity
and Loving-Kindness might be known.”
~ Hadith Qudsi (A communication from the Divine, conveyed through the
heart of the Prophet Muhammad, beyond the frame of the Qur’an)
Ya Rahman, O Infinitely Compassionate One, Ya Rahim, O Infinitely Merciful One
“Ya Rahman, Ya Rahim, Ya Wadud”
Ya Malik, O Sovereign
“Ya Malik al Quddus”
Ya Quddus, O Most Holy and Pure, Ya Wadud, O You Who Are Infinitely Loving
“Ya Quddus, Ya Wadud, Ya Hadi, Ya Wakil”
See the growing list here.
Reflection on November’s theme: Kindness is not found in anything except that it beautifies it, and it is not removed from anything except that it disgraces it.
~ Shazreh Hussain (Islamabad, Pakistan)
I was recently invited by a school to speak to a group of young Muslim girls, 15 year-olds, about Islam. They greeted me with a barrage of questions: “Is there an Islamic dress code?” “Do Muslim women have to wear hijab?” “Why are the Shias and Sunnis fighting with each other?” “Does the Quran say men are superior to women?” “If I am wearing a dress with the picture of a living thing on it, can I still say the namaz?” I listened to them carefully. “I will do my best to answer your questions about Islam,” I reassured them. “May I ask you a question before I respond to yours? Turn to your own heart and tell me: What is at the heart of Islam?” The girls responded promptly, with certainty and confidence: “Kindness.” “Compassion.” “Goodness.” Their hearts knew kindness was of the Essence. Their hearts knew the truth of our beloved Prophet’s hadith, “God is kind and likes kindness in all things” (Bukhari, 6601).
I told the girls that God had manifested His/Her signs in three loci – the human heart, the universe and the Book. In their quest to understand Islam, their own hearts, filled with loving-kindness and purified from self-interest, would be their finest guides. The questions they were asking were important but the most fundamental questions had to do with what they themselves knew to be the heart of Islam: What is compassion? What is kindness? What will enable me to follow the Prophetic example and be compassionate and kind in every moment?
In our quest to live in the heart of Islam, to practice “kindness in all things”, the hadith selected by our teacher lights the way: “Kindness is not found in anything except that it beautifies it, and it is not removed from anything except that it disgraces it.” The Prophet illuminated the nature of kindness by choosing to use the word rafaq. The root of this word, R-F-Q, carries the meanings of compassion, gentleness, service, courteousness, tenderness, companionship, something from which one profits, skilfulness, ease and rest. When applied to an action, it means to perform an act skilfully, judiciously, thoroughly, neatly and nicely. Where the Prophet’s words explicate the nature of kindness, his actions embody kindness in its fullest sense. My heart is drawn to two incidents from the Prophet’s life in which we can find all the colours of kindness reflected.
The first took place during the Prophet’s conquest of Mecca. The Prophet was advancing towards Mecca at the head of an army of ten thousand men. In the moment of victory over his bitterest enemies, in the moment of entering his hometown after seven years, the Prophet paused his triumphal march to take under the cloak of his kindness a dog giving birth to puppies. He sent out an order for the army to move a few yards to one side so that the dog would not be distressed. He ordered soldiers to stand around the dog so the advancing army did not trample her. His heart was not veiled by the momentous importance of this march or by the joy of entering his hometown. There was nothing too insignificant in creation not to be deserving of his unstinting kindness. With incredible tenderness, he chose to move, not the dog, but his army.
The second incident took place in Medina. The Prophet was going to the mosque to lead the Eid prayers. On the way, he noticed a little boy sitting alone and weeping while other children were playing. The Prophet stopped and asked the little boy why he was crying. The little boy told him that he was an orphan and very poor. No child wanted to play with him. The Prophet lifted the little boy into his arms and consoled him. He asked for clothes to be brought for the little boy. He waited till they came and changed the clothes of the little boy himself. He then told him, “Today onwards, if anyone asks you who your father is, tell them it is Muhammad, and if anyone asks you who your brothers are, tell them they are Hassan and Hussain. He then took the boy to the other children who were playing and asked them to include the little boy in their games. In the heart of the Prophet, the little orphan boy took precedence over the large crowd of women and men waiting for Eid prayers. It occurs to me that he could have given instructions for the boy to be clothed, said some kind words and proceeded for the prayers. But then I think this act would not have been infused with kindness in its fullest sense, kindness as the Prophet practised it: compassion, tenderness, gentleness, thoroughness, companionship, service, bringing ease and comfort to a little boy’s broken heart.
Such is the teaching of our Prophet and such is the teaching of the Quran. A famous saying of Imam Ali’s tells us that the entire Quran is contained in the Surah Fatihah and the entire Surah Fatihah is contained in the Bismillah, “In the Name of Allah, the Infinitely Compassionate and the Infinitely Merciful”. If a Muslim were challenged to recite the entire Quran standing on one leg as Rabbi Hillel was asked to recite the Torah by a pagan who made it a condition of his becoming a believer, s/he could recite the Bismillah and say, on the best of authorities, that the rest of the Quran is a commentary on this verse. If we knew no other verse of the Quran, understanding and living by this one verse would bring us to an unceasing practice of kindness, to that heightened state of God-consciousness in which tenderness and care flow unstintingly to all of God’s creation. We would know that all of creation is in the Name of Allah and therefore everything we think, believe, and do should carry the fragrance of that Name. The attributes defining the Divine Essence in this verse and exalted above all others are ar-Rahman and ar-Rahim – compassion and mercy – and so each and every thought and action, if it is to carry the fragrance of the Divine, must have its roots in compassion and manifestation in kindness. In the words of our beloved Mevlana :
Go and be kind for Time is aware of kindness,
and He will not take kindness away from the kind.
Material things outlast everyone and will outlast you, too,
but better for you is that kindness will outlast you.