Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Suffering is a gift. In it is hidden mercy." -Rumi

It is amazing to recall the ups and downs over the last five years of my life. I went through a rough divorce and found comfort in all the wrong places. That was the jumping off point for a downward spiral. Too many vices, too little time. I had family (i.e. parental) troubles thrown on top of that emotional heap. After being torn every which way and trying to make sense of it all, a bright light shone into my life. I was introduced to Islam. I fell in love with the Beloved and everything began to change.
I moved to Egypt. I became a Muslim. I got married and I now have the most wonderful people in my life. It was a year of changes.
"The highs are hidden in the lows. Spring is imminent in fall. Don't run away from anything." -Rumi

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks

Although Rumi has been dead for over 700 years, his poetry still resonates across the globe and deep within the mystical Islamic tradition of Sufism. I felt like sharing my love of this beloved poet and wonderful author by quoting a few lines from The Essential Rumi.

Quote from "A Basket of Fresh Bread" -Rumi                                        

"Don't feed both sides of yourself equally. The spirit and the body carry different loads and require different attentions.

Too often we put saddlebags on Jesus and let the donkey run loose in the pasture.

Don't make the body do what the spirit does best, and don't put a big load on the spirit that the body could easily carry."

copyright 2004 by Coleman Barks

"Perhaps the world's greatest spiritual poet-the gold of Rumi pours down through Coleman's words. The words leap off the page and dance!"
-Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart

"At the end of our wanderings there is only the soul's yearning to return to God. No one speaks that yearning better than rumi. No one, these days, does Rumi better than Colemen Barks."
-Ram Dass, author of Be Here Now

"Through Coleman Bark's inspiried renderings, we tired, modern people have come not only to love Rumi, but even-a little-to love who and what Rymiu himself loved."
-Jacob Needlemen, author of The Heart of Philosphy

Other titles by Coleman Barks:

The Soul of Rumi
Rumi: The Book of Love
The Drowned Book

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mission Statement... of sorts.

I decided to start this blog, not only to keep a journal of my studies, but as a way to sort my thoughts. Sometimes it's like a multi-train collision in my head, especially when I am talking about religion or philosophy. So many thoughts all converge at one point, which causes me to forget where I began my line of questioning or reasoning. At times, I get so bogged down with inexhustible resources that I have to just stop everything, refocus, and delve into the subject again.

Islam is a recent passion that I share with millions worldwide. When I say recent, I mean that I have only been a Muslim for approximately 2 years. These two years have not been easy. Prior, I had been a Christian for 8 years, I dabbled in Buddhism, and for a while I was not of any denomination and even hated any organized religion. In some ways, I still hate the idea of organized religion.

When a friend told me about Islam, I didn't really listen as someone who wanted religion. I merely debated with that person regarding religion and everything under the sun. One day, alhamdulilah (thanks be to God), I found myself really listening and understanding. I was thirsty for this knowledge and began seeking more information. I knew then I had to be a part of this greatness, a part of His greatness. I began to love God, to want Him in my life. It even felt good to pray again.

I brought with me a lot of emotional and religious baggage, which I wish I could have left at the door, so to speak. Although, I think this "baggage" is carried by everyone who has ever changed, or thought about changing, religions. It would have been ideal if I could have erased my previous religious imprint and started anew. Even now, two years later, I can't help but interject Christian thinking or other secular information into my learning of Islam. It causes me to question and doubt, at times, what it is I am doing. Then, I remember why I began this journey. I was incomplete. My questioning and doubt is a way for me to strengthen my belief through the answers that I find. Thus, my arduous and rewarding path to Allah was founded.

So, here's to my attempts to make sense of it all, and find myself in the Beloved, insh'Allah (God willing).