I really love the approach of Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes when it comes to spirituality. Imbuing spirituality with social issues, which I find personally relatable when it comes to the teaching or therapeutic lines like counseling or psychology. It was a privilege to have him here all the way from the US and to remind us once again to use our gifts and our skills in service to Allah swt and to know our true purpose with our spouses and our children.
Last year on his more intimate ‘Youth Activism: Unlock Your Potential Being’ workshop, Shaykh Mendes asked us to look within and to recognize what are the things you are most mad about and what are the things you stand up for. That will be the clue to figuring out your life mission in bringing about change in the community. Then to think of what you’re going to do for the next 6 months to bring about that change. A brother bravely shared with us that he had experienced losing himself in drinking and smoking, so he plans to open up a boxing training center for people who struggles with similar issues to divert their attention to a healthier lifestyle and also to provide a space to release pent up anger. Syabas! 😀
This year in his ‘Purpose of Place: Finding Allah through Life’s Mission’ workshop, it reminded me again of what I believed in. 3 years ago, I found peace, authenticity and Allah ﷻ through that although it wasn’t something religious. And I too wondered why were there a lot of people who opened up to me with their stories. Not only people of my age but also people who were older than me and they’d always expressed gratitude and ease after our conversations. This non-religious complicated thing that I had a passion for yet resonates with the sentence “man ‘arafa nafsahu faqad ‘arafa Rabbahu”, which means “he who knows himself knows his Lord” which Allah has said in the Quran. I then find it interesting how he mentioned in his ‘The Way of Love: Joys and Realities of Marriage’ workshop about the 4 temperaments, which is a proto-psychological theory that suggests four fundamental personality types and that each of the 4 temperaments is connected 4 basic fundamental energies such as hot, cold, dry and wet. But what I found interesting was that he states that as our nafs. You have to understand your nafs, your spouse’s nafs, your children’s nafs. The positive sides of the temperaments are his or her strengths and if is compatible, achieve goodness while the negative sides of the temperaments are what you have to work on as a couple. However, marriage is like a spiritual path. With humility, it can make you a saint. What I meant by that is maybe the difficulty is not in embracing our differences after all. Maybe it is in overcoming our pride and opening our minds beyond what is comfortable. And it has a way of crushing our ego and conjure us to learn how to love unconditionally. And with patience, it promises you paradise. “So be patient, with a beautiful patience” [70:5]. How can we say we are marrying for our deen and for the purpose of purifying our nafs, if following the words of the Quran itself is a hard thing to do. With true love, strong marriages teach you Rahmah, Mawaddah, and Sakinah. Make time for Allah, give yourself space to just be with Allah, even if it’s in a marriage.
You were born together, and together you shall be forever more.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your
Yes, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness.
And let the winds of heaven dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but each one of you be
alone–even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver
with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not in each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the Cyprus grow not in each other’s shadows
– Kahlil Gibran, on Marriage from The Prophet
because in a physical world where zahir is usually more important, Allah will allow a sincere heart to reach something it longs for, if not in zahir, in batin. The beauty of it is that contradicting as it sounds, it will grow two hearts closer. This, however, will be hard, if we do not take responsibility for our selves. The wounded child that helplessly attaches itself onto others out of anxiety or loneliness. Connecting intimately with a greater entity, in another word, learning tasawwuf, helps us control these negativities.
Shaykh also said that we as Muslims are meant to go back to our deen al-fitrah in order to find out our purpose. Which then in his ‘Prophetic Parenting: Raising God Conscious Children in the 21st Century’ workshop, he brought up the meaning of Rabb as “to nurture one up to its perfected form”, which comes from the root word yurrabi, meaning to raise a child. Masya Allah.. Just like the concept of tarbiyah, in counseling, we have our inner child to raise in order to complete each of its needed developmental stages so that one can grow mentally. How many times do we hear people say ‘grow up’ and then be perplexed at how childish and irresponsible we were at that point. And how at times we feel like we are torturing ourselves from the pain we have to face while losing ourselves mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. We had a break out session and we were told to share what our dreams are to our group mates. I shared with my group that I aspire to open up a center where people can seek both professional counseling/psychological therapy and just like what Sout Ilaahi is doing, providing lectures, workshops, activities, and events on spirituality and traditional Islamic sciences for the masses. Therefore my greatest wish is to put the two together.
Just like what Shaykh Mendes said, it doesn’t mean we give you the hasbunallahu wa’nimal wakeel to recite, that will cure you. That hasbunallahu wa’nimal wakeel is to turn you to a solution and that not all kinds of illnesses can be cured with awrad. But that awrad is a means of attaining aspirations for the disciple at the same time discipline the soul to be in the remembrance of Allah. Thus my idea is to provide such a resource for people by collaborating with spiritual events, reveling the Prophetic teachings. He too, pointed out a very good point for all of us in his closed-door session ‘Wisdom in Action: Dealing with Contemporary Social Issues’, quoting Theodore Roosevelt;
“They don’t care about what you know, but they want to know whether you care.” – Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes
He reassured me, that just like the Prophet ﷺ , he catered to the needs of his sahabahs who came to him with worldly issues and did not dismiss them.
Alhamdulillah for such RE-flections. His visit here was extremely beneficial and his words just healed me. I am writing this to show that your deepest inner struggles can be your light, and sometimes Allah gives you such pain in your early life so that sooner or later it knocks on your heart to find that mission. Remember that the job that is earning you money doesn’t necessarily be your purpose. ❤️
May the things we do be in service to Allah swt.