Sacred Valley, Contentment, Intelligent Vision
Issue 979 » December 29, 2017 - Rabi-al-Thani 11, 1439
Ta-Ha (Ta-Ha) Sura 20: Verses 11-12
Moses was told to take off his sandals, either because they were made of the skin of a dead donkey, or out of reverence (tazim) for the sacred space where he was standing, just as people are commanded to remove their shoes before entering the sacred sanctuary (haram) of the Kaba or in fact any mosque. According to a more esoteric reading of this phrase, al-Ghazzali suggests that in being asked to remove his sandals Moses was being instructed to cast aside this world and the next world by turning his face toward God alone.
It is interesting to note that the name of the holy valley in which Moses encounters God is Tuwa, which comes from a root that means "to fold up" and "to become enwrapped." Thus, Moses is told to rid himself of any thought of this world or the next, because he is in the place of Divine intimacy, the inner, holy sanctuary that symbolizes the Ocean of the Divine Presence above all states of existence. It is here that all of existence is "folded up" before him and where his soul becomes "enwrapped" in the Divine Reality.
"The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary" - Seyyed Hossein Nasr
The fear of poverty is an instrument of deception and a common cause of misguidance. A person can grieve over a plethora of concerns and problems that he or she may never have to face. These phantom concerns can be controlling. A person who has wealth is constantly worried about his estate and its potential loss. Often, wealthy people enjoy no peace of mind and their lives are rife with conflict, contention, and treachery. People who are righteous do not suffer anxiety that tears down the body and mind. They are content to do good and trust in God.
People who harbor good thoughts about their Provider deflect insidious whisperings about Him and the subtle provocations that create irrational fear. His dominion is never diminished in the least when He gives to His creation all that they need. And if someone is given more than another, one should not harbor bad thoughts toward that person. Wholesome thoughts about God express themselves in one's contentment with what he or she has, and not stretching one's eyes toward the assets of others. The Prophet said, "Contentment is a treasure that is never exhausted." [Tabarani]
"Purification of the Heart" - Hamza Yusuf
Culture enables us to be comfortable with who, where, and what we are. Muslim Americans who are comfortable with being themselves have taken the first major step in becoming role models for their children and others and radiate a sense of direction and credibility. Identities that are rooted in deep cultural contradiction are easily thrown into states of confusion and doubt. True religiosity and deep spirituality require inner consistency and stability, which are only possible within a sound cultural nexus. When adults are confused about themselves and live contradictory lifestyles—one persona at work, another at home—they can have little of value to impart to their children, who are likely to be even more confused about who they are, a perilous state of affairs in today's youth culture.
Beyond identity formation, a successful Muslim American culture would serve as the basis of social development and communal self-determination. But this requires not only taking interpretive control of our religion, ourselves, and our community but developing a healthy social-psychology that provides authority without authoritarianism, continuity and tradition without blind conformity. A successful Muslim American social-psychology must be at the center of our culture just as it is at the core of the most successful social classes around us. Our social-psychology must allow for the full and dynamic participation of both genders on an equal footing. It must be genuinely transparent, identify problems honestly, facilitate discourse, and seek real solutions on the basis of mutual respect, co-operation, and collective thinking, healthily rooted in the past with an intelligent vision of the future.
"Islam and Cultural Imperative" - Umar Faruq Abdallah, p. 11