Wednesday, June 20, 2007

200)My milestone 200th post with heartfelt thanks to my many blog readers from six continents.

I've been asking myself the past few days what would be the most appropriate way to ring in my milestone 200th post since launching my blogsite on the F.I.E.L.D Ismaili Heritage website in March 2006. I finally decided that introducing my many readers from six continents on dynamic planet earth to my co-religionist Jalaledin's new blogsite would be the proper thing to do: . I have also included a link to Jalaledin's blogsite in the suggested links section of my blogsite.

Very interestingly, the link to Jalaledin's blogsite has also been chosen as their Post of the Week(June 18th -25th 2007) by the blockbusting and wildly popular Ismaili Mail website:

Jalaledin's blogsite is entitled 'Al-Fatiha-The Opening' and it is shaping up to be a sublime and sanctified collection of material on this most fundamentally important Sura in the Quran. After the Shahadah(There is no Deity except Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah), the Sura Al-Fatiha has got to be the one Sura that binds all Muslims together, whatever their varying interpretations of Islam may be. In Jalaledin's own words:

"This Sacred Space is dedicated to celebrating Al-Fatiha or Al-Hamd, The Opening Seven Verses of the Holy Qur'an, the one fundamental "lived experience" shared by every single Muslim, with the intention of fostering a profound and abiding level of commitment to Love and Unity within the Ummah...."

Jalaledin invited visitors to his blogsite to send him any material we were aware of as well as our thoughts on the Sura Al-Fatiha. The first thing that came to my mind, which I submitted and which was graciously accepted by Jalaledin under the title 'Hazrat Ali on Al-Fatiha', was a passage I had read many years ago in celebrated author Seyyed Hussein Nasr's book "Ideals and Realities of Islam", as follows:

"The basmallah opens every chapter of the Qur'an except one which is really the continuation of the previous chapter. It also opens the Surat al-fatihah, the opening chapter of the Qur'an, which is recited over and over again in the daily canonical prayers, and which contains the essence of the Qur'anic message. 'Ali, the representative par excellence of esotericism in Islam, said that 'all the Qur'an is contained in the Surat al-fatihah, all this Surat is contained in the basmallah, all of the basmallah in the letter ba' with which it begins, all of the letter ba' in the diacritical point under it and I am that diacritical point."

I subsequently tried to collect more of my thoughts on this Sura and submitted them to Jalaledin for his consideration. Once again he graciously accepted and, being the shameless self-promoting narcissist that I am, I reproduce it here in full:

"All Beings" in Al-Fatiha:

The Sura Al-Fatiha and the Sura Al-Ikhlas are sister suras in my opinion because they help us to delineate clearly those who need to be maintained and sustained and He who is self-maintaining and self-sustaining. In the Sura al-Fatiha, Allah is referred to as the 'Maintainer of all beings'('Rabil aalameen') and in Sura al-Ikhlas Allah is referred to as 'Absolute, Independent, Self-Sustaining, Self-Maintaining'('Allahu samad').

The 'beings' in Sura al-Fatiha refer not just to human and other living beings but also to all beings in the entirety of creation, such as the Universal Intellect and Universal Soul as identified in philosophical Ismailism.

According to a famous hadith of the Prophet Muhammad: The first being created by God was the Intellect ('aql). In philosophical Ismailism, Universal Intellect was the only being to issue, by a process of origination through the Divine Command or Divine Will, from the Absolutely Transcendent God, and everything else in creation is an emanation from Universal Intellect.

In more recent times the above concepts have also been described by the 49th and 48th Imams of the Shia Ismaili Muslims:

"Of the Abrahamic faiths, Islam is probably the one that places the greatest emphasis on knowledge. The purpose is to understand God's creation, and therefore it is a faith which is eminently logical. Islam is a faith of reason."(Aga Khan IV, October 9th 2006)

"The creation according to Islam is not a unique act in a given time but a perpetual and constant event; and God supports and sustains all existence at every moment by His will and His thought. Outside His will, outside His thought, all is nothing, even the things which seem to us absolutely self-evident such as space and time. Allah alone wishes: the Universe exists; and all manifestations are as a witness of the Divine will" (Memoirs of Aga Khan III, 1954).


Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation:Aga Khan 4(2006)
The God of the Quran is the One whose Ayats(Signs) are the Universe in which we live, move and have our being:Aga Khan 3(1952)
Our interpretation of Islam places enormous value on knowledge. Knowledge is the reflection of faith if it is used properly. Seek out that knowledge and use it properly:Aga Khan 4(2005)