It is hard to describe today at the IMO with Habib Umar and our other teachers and fellow students. I came with a heavy heart. I haven’t been well recently, school has been intense, I miss home, world politics is stressful; in short, the turbulence externally has been matched by my internal disarray. But hearing Habib Umar tell such beautiful stories about the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), seeing Habib Umar’s smile, and feeling his love for all of us through his lessons and the duas he made for us has been healing water to my thirsty heart. Habib Umar’s state and lessons make you think, yes, through the tawfiq of Allah, it is possible to be steady and calm regardless of what is going on around you. There is another possibility, another way to be. It is a beautiful realization.
In addition to Habib Umar’s example, it was a blessing to sit with such wonderful students and laugh and share stories during the breaks, an inspiration to see the always smiling (and serving!) volunteers, and a beautiful reminder every time the MC encouraged us to support the Cambridge Mosque that we must all help one another. The end of the night was a light-filled and heart-softening Mawlid, and the masjid was packed…and the beautiful sight of so many people gathered together to celebrate his beauty, peace and blessings be upon him was another wonderful reminder that in stressful times, sending blessings on the Prophet will always bring calmness and peace to the heart.
Most of the time during the lessons we put our pens down and simply soaked in Habib Umar’s stories. Whether he was telling us about the palm tree that moaned at its separation from the Prophet, or the story of Sayyiduna Bilal doing the adhan once again at the request of the Prophet’s grandsons, or the camel that complained to the Prophet about being overworked (or any other story that Habib Umar shared with us) they all were beautiful reminders that there is so much to learn and cherish about the Beloved.
So though not exhaustive here are a few quotes from my notes today. More later insha’Allah.
Opening Session, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus
It doesn’t take a genius to look at times in which we live and see that they are turbulent. Tribulations are happening in a very short period of time. Instead of years, things happen now in a matter of days that completely revolutionize things.
We have to see everything as being from God, this has to be completely rooted in our experience of the world.
There is no neutrality. Think of the verse “verily mankind is in loss..” You are either benefiting your soul or imprisoning it.
When you wake up, right away say the dua of awakening. Doing this sets up a cognitive frame through which you understand what the day is about. Make a conscious effort to devote every moment of the day to Allah. In this way, you’re setting up your day to benefit from tawfiq and to have openings that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
You overcome challenges by being grounded. This retreat is an opportunity to become grounded, and when you’re rooted and grounded, you aren’t affected in a negative way by everything around you. You will know how to deal with changing circumstances in light of unchanging principles. Things like tadheem, exaltation of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), love for the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) implementing the sacred law, getting rid of blameworthy character traits, adorning oneself with praiseworthy character traits, these things are unchanging, and rooting yourself in these things will enable you to interpret changing circumstances.
We normally associate worry and panic with turbulence. This program and tour is about acquiring tranquility in turbulence. Because verily in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest. The very goal of life is remembrance.
Can only be free internally if submit externally. Can only have unrestrictedness from restrictedness and unlimited possibilities from limitedness. The example of this is that a limited amount of letters give fruit to an unlimited number of meaning.
Learning outward and inward taqwa results in the fruits of tranquility.
Awliya are like flowers. Different beautiful colours and scents, but all from the garden of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
Seek sacred knowledge with the intention of acting according to it and teaching it. The person who learns with intention of acting and teaching is proclaimed great in the kingdom of God.
Whenever hope and pray for long life, pray that life is used for benefit, and know that however long your life is, it is still short. Forgetting something that will invariably come is foolish and the missing of an opportunity. Whatever state you’re in, travel to your Lord with whatever you have. Perfection will never occur through lagging. Even if you have vices, you have nobody but your Lord. Take advantage of every opportunity. Every rakah can pray, pray. Every gathering of good can go, go. Since you only have Him, then rush to Him.