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[Reflection] Is God Hidden or Manifest? Syed Khadri shares his reflections, inspired by comic: In Search of Water

In Search of Water-1
In Search of Water-2
In Search of Water-3

 

Inspired by the Sufi Comic: In Search of Water, Syed Khadri reflects on the omnipresence of the Creator exploring excerpts from the Quran and Islamic traditions. His reflection ends with an insightful conclusion.

In the name of Allah the Merciful and the Compassionate, and peace and blessings of Allah be upon our master the Prophet Muhammed.

Allah (The Glorified and the Exalted is He) has revealed to his beloved Messenger Muhammed (blessings and peace be upon him) in Holy Quran – 2:115:
“And to Allah belongs the east and the west. So wherever you [might] turn, there is the Face of Allah . Indeed, Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.”(Sahih International)

Alhamdulillah, the quest of the fish for finding the meaning of water after reading the ayath of Quran – 21:30 beautifully explains the Omnipresence of the Creator.

“Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity, and We separated them and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?” (21:30, Sahih International)

Have you ever reflected on the names of Allah (The Glorified and the Exalted is He) – Az-Zahir (The Manifest) & Al-Batin (The Hidden)? How do you explain the names of Allah – The Manifest and yet Hidden, and Who is The Hidden and yet Manifest? If you apply logical reasoning – both names are opposite to one another, isn’t it? For how something which is hidden can be manifest or something which is manifest can be hidden at the same time?

But if you look beyond logical reasoning, imagination and see the names through the eyes of the fish in the above story, you will realize that indeed He (The Glorified and the Exalted is He) is Manifest and Hidden.

Look through the eyes of that fish which is trying to find the answer for ‘what is water?’ – though the fish lives inside the water, the water is hidden from her perspective and yet it’s clearly manifest than anything else, similarly Allah (The Glorified and the Exalted is He) is Manifest in this world and yet Hidden.

While reflecting on these, I found another beautiful example which explains Omnipresence of the Creator in Misykatul Anwar (The Niche of lights) of Imam Al-Ghazali (Radi Allahu ‘anhu):

Allah is Manifest and Hidden or Allah is the Light of heavens and earth can be explained in relation to the phenomenal – visible light. Imam Al-Ghazali (Radi Allahu ‘anhu) he quotes an example of Greenary, for example – in the full day light, you don’t have slightest doubt in your mind that you are looking at colors and it’s very likely you will suppose that you are looking nothing else along side with them. And if someone asks you ‘what you see?’, you would say ‘I see green and nothing along with green’. Here while looking at the color, you ignored that fact that light is also present which makes the color manifest for you to view. So, light which is manifest clearly is hidden when you look at things which light makes manifest as in above example.

Imam Al-Ghazali (Radi Allahu ‘anhu) quotes Misykatul Anwar (The Niche of lights):

“If this is clear to you, you must further know that those endowed with this Insight never saw a single object without seeing Allah along with it. It may be that one of them went further than this and said, “I have never seen a single object, but I first saw Allah”;”

You have to be very cautious here and should not take for granted from above fish or visible light example that – “Allah is in every place as light is with everything or water is in every place (as in fish’s example which lives inside ocean).” Too High and Holy is He to be related to any place! You should know that ‘place’ came into existence after the existence of this World but Allah (The Glorified and the Exalted is He) existed before everything and He is prior to everything.

So, we should avoid asking the question about Allah in relation to time and place because He created the time/place from out-of-time and we are the beings of in-time.

Ibn Arabi (Radi Allahu ‘anhu) says in his Futuhat Al Makkiyya (The Meccan Revelations): “So actually we cannot say, in the true reality of things that Allah existed before the world – because it has been established that ‘before’ is a time phrase, there was no ‘time’ (before the existence of the world).”

And Allah (The Glorified and the Exalted is He) and His Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him) knows best.

This post was originally written on the author’s blog. Check it out here!

Do you have some insights or reflections to share on your favorite  Sufi Comic &/or Sketch? Why not write for us?

 

[Interview] Amin Aaser on what inspired him to create Noor Kids: America’s fastest growing Islamic children’s book series

Co-founders and brothers Amin and Mohammed Aaser
Co-founders and brothers Amin and Mohammed Aaser

“A light for little Muslims”, Noor Kids is an insightful, innovative and fast-growing Islamic children’s book series created by brothers Amin and Mohammed Aaser. From growing up in North America and losing confidence in his own Islamic identity, Amin was inspired to ensure that the next generation of young Muslims grow up with confidence, inspiration and quality Islamic entertainment. Through its engaging and relatable content, colorful characters and quality design, Noor Kids is now the fastest growing Islamic children’s book series in America, and appeals to young people and their parents because of its universal themes and messages.

Meet Amin from Noor Kids and find out which events inspired him to create Noor Kids, what challenges the Muslim youth might face today, and how Noor Kids will help Muslims re-engage with their Islamic identities.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

The community that I grew up in Minneapolis, MN was monolithic. I was one of the few non-white, non-Christian people in my school. Poorly equipped to deal with such an environment, I began to feel weird among my peers. After September 11th, this feeling transformed into something much worse: shame. Time and again, I felt lowly in front of peers because of the faith in my heart. This experience forced me to reflect on faith, establish my belief, and reclaim my identity.

After college, I had a great career working with some of the world’s largest businesses, 3M, Target, General Mills, and Cargill, in finance, marketing, and operations. However, my passion for identity and faith forced me to reconsider by career path. I’ve recently left my career to study faith-based social enterprises at Berkeley.

Why did you create Noor Kids? How did you create it?

We wanted to solve a problem: how can we make sure that little Muslims, growing up in a challenging environment, still maintain confidence in their religious identity? This has much to do with my personal story above… I wanted to ensure that other children don’t experience the same situation that I had.

After researching at Harvard University, we discovered three key items: (a) role models, (b) parents, and (c) critical thinking.

(a)   Role Models: In order for kids to feel normal and build a constructive identity, they must have role models. One form of role model is a character – like Dora the Explorer. These role models help children develop a constructive identity. Further, when kids see themselves in the media that they consume, they feel normal – as if they are just like everybody else.

“My passion for identity and faith forced me to reconsider by career path. I’ve recently left my career to study faith-based social enterprises at Berkeley.”

Read more

Photos from the Launch of Sufi Comics Rumi at Comic Con Bangalore

Last weekend we had an amazing time launching Sufi Comics Rumi at Comic Con Bangalore.

My legs are still sore standing for 3 days at the event.

But it’s a good kind of pain :-)

This year’s Comic Con Bangalore was in a different venue compared to 2 years, and there was an entry fee, so we were not sure how many would attend.

But the turn out was overwhelming at times! It’s one of the biggest exhibition events that takes place in the city every year.

Not only did we get to meet friends who bought the first two books & came for getting the 3rd book. We also got to introduce Sufi Comics to a whole new audience.

This year international guests were invited to speak at the event, including Sana Amanat, the writer of Ms Marvel, Kamala Khan.

At times working on a book can be a very lonely process, but events like Comic Con make up for it!

A special thanks to all our friends who made it to the event. Kazim, Shrabonti, Noreen, Som, Nakheer, Zawahir, Jaffer, Waseem, Dr Mateen, Syed Akbar, Priti & Srikant.

Check out the photographs below:

Photographs

In the Media:

Thanks to the journalists who wrote about us:

Times of India

Deccan Herald

The National

Blogs:

… and the wonderful bloggers:

Fahad Kadri

Muhammad Baqir Sadiq

Sayed Khadri

Mohammed Khan

Hussein Rashid

Shahirah Elaiza

Zeenat Merchant-Syal

Where to get the books?

Click on the links below:

40 Sufi Comics

The Wise Fool of Baghdad

Rumi

What’s the next book?

Top Secret! But you’ll be the first to know :-)

We’ll announce our next project in the coming weeks. Till then we’ll be continuing the short Sufi Comics web comic series on our blog.

Meet us at the Launch of Sufi Comics Rumi at Comic Con Bangalore

 

comic con rumi poster

We’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.

We’re launching Sufi Comics Rumi at Comic Con Bangalore!

The only way we were able to complete this book was because we had committed to launching the book at Comic Con Bangalore. :-)

We’re just in time. In fact the books are getting printed as I write this post.

Every event organized by Comic Con India is very exciting for us. We get to interact with our readers directly, and also meet to new ones!

By coming to the event, you’ll be the first group to get your hands on our latest book “Sufi Comics Rumi”, and have them signed by the authors and artists.

I’ll be there along with Arif, Rahil, Tanzil & Abdul Gafur.  Do drop by to say “hello!”

Comic Con Bangalore is taking place over 3 days. The 12, 13 & 14 of September. We’ll be there all 3 days.

Our Presentation on Rumi will be on 14th of September at 12 pm.

You can book your tickets online.

Here are some photographs from previous Comic Cons:

 

[Reflection] Eman Eid on the blessings taken for granted and the treasure of contentment

Sufi Comics - The Headache
Sufi Comics – The Headache

Have you ever found yourself taking for granted the simple blessings in life? Sufficient food, clean water, education, or even a roof over our heads. The month of Ramadan was a month to rethink, revalue and reflect on one’s blessings. As we bid farewell to the month of Ramadan for another year, Eman Eid reflects on these blessings in life and what we can learn from the challenges we face.

This Sufi Comic: The Headache, made me realize how great our life really is. It describes how a man has a bad headache and how he questions why God has done this to him. But what he doesn’t take into consideration is how God has kept him well for 30 years, still he hasn’t thanked Him for doing so. Instead the man complains rather than thanking God for all He does for him.

In today’s society we are often blinded by other peoples luxuries that we cannot see and be thankful for what we have. We complain over small things when others would kill to live the way we do. We complain because we don’t have the best clothes, yummiest food, or even that we might have the most homework. What we don’t realize is that some people are less fortunate than we are and might not even have clothes on their back, or food to eat, or even a book to read. We are showered with treasures and only crave more.

How foolish we are that we complain and never even stop to think that we have it all and should be thankful for all we have. God has given us so much and if only we can realize that He does what He does for the benefit of us. We might go through situations that seem unfair and we ask God why has He done this to us but it is actually to cure us. Read more

Watch Muqtar Ahmed inscribe Calligraphy for the Rumi Book (Photos + Video)

muqtar-ahmed

 

Rumi’s greatest work, the Masnavi has more than two thousand references to the Qur’an.  It is a volume of work that is deeply attached to it & is often referred to as the poetic Commentary of the Qur’an.

So when working on the Sufi Comics – Rumi book, we included references to the verses of the Qur’an on the same theme as the poem.  This would allow the reader to discover a more authentic meaning to the poem.

These days the lettering in a book is almost always done using computer fonts. But we didn’t want to use Arabic fonts to present the verses.

So we asked Muqtar Ahmed, to inscribe the verses of the Qur’an & sayings from the Islamic traditions for the book.  He’s the only calligrapher in India to have received a third level Diploma (equal to a masters degree) from Istanbul based Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture.

It’s a treat just to watch him write. As his reed stick touches the paper, the divine words appear in it’s most beautiful forms.

Have a look at the photographs & video clips I took of him inscribing calligraphy for the book.

Read more