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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The attributes of God, speech by Ms. Hanifeh El Hassan

Praise be to God; whose glory cannot be adequately praised in words. Whose bounties cannot be enumerated, the most devoted of worshippers cannot fulfil His due. His qualities are not limited by time or space and cannot be qualified by expression.

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen

Imam Ali bin Abi Taleb said: praise be to God who made the creation a sign of his omnipresence, the evolution of His creation a manifestation of His eternity, the diversity and similarity amongst His creation a proof that nothing is similar to Him.

I do not recall a moment in my life that I did not feel the presence of The Almighty God, His signs are all around me, His blessing overwhelm my world, everything I see reminds me of the Greatness of Allah.

Sheikh Sha3rawi said concerning our knowledge of the existence of God: Firstly; it is inborn and intuitive, secondly; it is intellectually attained by reason and finally; it is experiential originating in faith and perception.

I know that I always believed in God and turned to Him.

I was born to Muslim parents, I lived my childhood and teenage years in the rural areas of northern Lebanon, my town had a flutter of Muslim and Christian neighbours, Lebanon is known for its freedom of religion, as children we were taught that religion is for God and Lebanon is for all the Lebanese people.

We referred to Christians as our brothers and sisters and they referred to us as their brothers and sisters.

As there were very few Muslim schools in Lebanon when I was growing up, people had the choice to send their children to either secular or Christian schools, as such, many Muslim children used to attend Christian schools.

Before the Eighties, people in Lebanon did not feel the need to build Muslim schools, there was no more than a couple of these in each major city.

In public schools such as those I attended, religion was rarely mentioned and teachers of all faiths treated everyone equally.

My parents raised us to be well behaved and good citizens, talking about religion was rare but they prayed, fasted, gave to the poor and needy and planned to perform pilgrimage. Most of all they feared God in their actions and thanked Him for His bounties over them.

God was mentioned in all our conversations, if a person was asked: how are you? The answer was: thank God I am well.

If we were being asked about our future plans we would always add the condition: "God-willing." If we saw, heard or smelled something we liked we would say subhanallah how perfect is God or if we were amazed at anything, we would say: "This is the will of God", and if something bad happened we would say: "Everything is from God, we belong to God and to Him we shall return." If someone was to wrong us, we would say after praying to God to forgive them: God suffices us, blessed is He as our Guardian and Trustee.

At the age of 5, I felt so overwhelmed by the presence of God in my life that I felt the need to connect with Him, to talk to Him and to abide by His will. For this reason, I started to pray and fast.

I memorised some chapters of the Qur'an before even touching the Holy Book. I learned to pray from observing my grandmother; I had never been to a mosque nor had I been to a lecture about Islam. This was a time when all the reading material around me was purely secular.

I was ten when I started to read The Qur'an in my native Arabic, and it was wonderful. I knew I was reading the words of God, and there I was, a little child, reading and listening, God spoke to me through His book and awakened in me a greater understanding about His names and attributes, He taught me lessons about past nations, their course in history, their ebbs and troughs, their success and decay.

When reading the Holy Qur'an; I lived with Adam as he learned from His Lord how to ask for forgiveness and then did so, I saw the Forgiving attribute of Allah manifest very clearly. I lived with Moses as he spoke to Pharaoh, with Christ as he declared his mother's innocence and when he would heal people through prayer, with Noah as he built the Ark, with Solomon as he displayed his wisdom, with David as he slew Goliath and sang the Psalms. Through the words of Allah, I lived with Ibrahim as he chopped down the idols, as he obediently went to sacrifice his son, as he built the great mosques and as he was catapulted into the fire for his faith.

Every time I read the Qur'an, I am transported through time and space; to live with Joseph as he resisted temptation, with Job as he persevered patiently, with Jacob as he watched his children grow, and finally; I lived with all the pains and struggles of Muhammad, peace and blessings upon them all; as he made sacrifice after sacrifice to bring us this wonderful message; a message that gave a modern focus to our awareness of God; and a message that taught us how best to praise him.

The Qur`an taught me that God can be a friend to me like He was to Abraham, that God is the Healer as His Healing Grace was manifested through Christ. I learned that He chooses from His Creation, great people like Mary the mother of Christ, and raises her to a position of honour above the women of the world. I learned that God gives both those who believe in him and those who don't without discrimination. He looks into our hearts, He gives both physical and metaphysical bounties, some of us only see the material bounties, some have been blessed to see the spiritual also.

I learned that God's Will comes to pass and that true contentment comes in accepting His Grace in whatever form it comes. I learnt that God answers my prayers and I saw God as Generous, Magnanimous and above all Loving and Forgiving.

I regularly contemplate on the names of God and his attributes, the names I learned since I was young , I memorised them by heart, I sang them, and I called him with each and all, I enjoyed communicating with Him I listened to his beautiful words as I read or heard the Qur`an over and over.

I learned more about improving my relationship with God as I read about the prophets of God, about their friends, companions and loved ones; I read more and more about special people and their relation to God.

Here are some examples:

The Prophet Mohammad, peace and blessing upon him, after the death of his beloved wife and his most supportive uncle, took his call to the neighbouring city of Taef, the leaders of the city rejected him and turned their mischievous youths against him, they pelted him with stones and verbally abused him. After leaving the city, he retired next to a vineyard and made the following prayerful appeal to His Lord: "O Allah! To You alone I make complaint of my helplessness, the paucity of my resources and my insignificance before people. You are the most Merciful of those who show mercy. You are the Lord of the helpless and the weak. My Lord, to whose care do you leave me? To an unsympathetic stranger who would sullenly frown at me, or to an enemy who acts as if he had been given control over my affairs? However, if Your wrath does not fall on me, there is nothing for me to worry about. I seek protection in the light of Your countenance, which illuminates the heavens and dispels darkness, and which controls all affairs in this world as well as in the Hereafter. May it never be that I should incur Your wrath, or that You should be wrathful on me. And there is no power nor recourse, but Yours alone"

The Prophet Jonah, peace be upon him, left his town in anger over the wrongdoings of his people, he was swallowed by a whale. He made a prayer from the belly of the whale as follows: There is no god except You, Glory be to you I have wronged myself.

And Moses when he turned his face toward Midian fearful and vigilant he said: My Lord, deliver me from the people of the evil-doer. And as he reached Madian he again called on God: "I am in need of your blessings."

God gave us an example in Assia the wife of Pharoah who rejected the way of life of her tyrannical husband and followed the believers. She appealed directly to God asking Him to grant her a place near to him in heaven and to save her from Pharoah and his supporters.

There is also the example of Jacob who turned to God after a long separation from Joseph and after just losing Benjamin and prayed: I complain of my sadness and sorrow to Allah, lest my Lord bring me together with them.

In every case, God the Most Compassionate responded to their prayers.

Yes, I have experienced God in my life, He is All-Knowing, Almighty, controls everything, He is the Provider, His blessings are tremendous. As the Mufty of Australia Sh. Taj Aldin Alhilali says: "The Lord God has made this world a testing ground for me and you, the more we respect it and are measured and considerate towards its resources, the more we and our children can enjoy it. Knowing that I share this world with you, I know that I must cooperate with you in order to make this world a better place. In this sense, I must appreciate our equality, not only as people, but also in terms of our access to resources and our ability to contribute both intellectually and physically. Such contributions require the pre-condition of freedom of conscience for us all. In this sense, our equality when dealing with each other transcends our colour, language, race and choice of faith."

Yes, I have come to know a God Who is Personal who hears our prayers and always treats us with Love, Mercy and Compassion. He remedies our short-comings and rectifies many of our faults, He heals us when we fall ill and guides us when we feel lost, Perfect in every way, God's love transcends all other love and encoumpasses all in its greatness.

May God bless us all and keep His love over us.

Prepared by Hanifeh El Hassan

1 comment:

  1. Such a beautiful testimony by a true beliver in the omnipotence of God Allah is very inspring and encouraging and serves as an example to practise our religion more diligently compassionately and mercifully. May Islamic Friendship Association continue to present such beautiful testimonies as often as possible to inspire us fully.