Event Review: Love Retreat 2012 – Shaykh Alaeddin el-Bakri
(Taken from organizer’s page): Shaykh Alaeddin Elbakri has served the Muslim community in the United States in numerous capacities, serving as Imam at several Islamic centers and establishing full-time and weekend Islamic schools. He has also served as a founding board member of IMAN (Inner City Muslim Action Network) in Chicago, as a book editor for IQRA and also is an advisory board member in many Islamic organizations.
(Taken from almadinainstitute.org): Shaykh Alaeddin El-Bakri began his study of Islam at a young age in North Africa and continued his education in the Islamic sciences in Jordan, learning from pre-eminent scholars in the Muslim world. He has served the Muslim community in the United States in numerous capacities, serving as Imam in several Islamic centers.
Love Retreat 2012 Lecture Series
Organized by the Muslim Converts’ Association of Singapore, Darul Arqam, the Love Retreat Series 2012 aims to uncover the deeper realms of love and go beyond that which our eyes can discover in terms of what it encompasses.
In his first lecture here entitled “In the arms of the Beloved” Shaykh Alaedin speaks to our hearts the love that often slipped our minds because of its Greatness and our ignorance. Understanding that the perception of love in our context today has evolved into an “animalistic act”, society has too often related love to exist between man and a woman, as opposed to a greater understanding of it – which Shaykh related to as “Divine Love”.
Narrowing our concept of love to be as such, we have also narrowed opportunities in our live to view love as a beautiful emotion as an essence of existence because God Created life on this earth out of Love. Relating the importance of love in our lives to the water that plants need, Shaykh Alaeddin reminds us the need to have it in our lives “because if we don’t love for a long time, we become dry, we become harsh towards people.”
He then went on to describe the intricate details of life – from the ability of our eyes to see colors, the diversity of life on this earth and the subtlety of the wisdom behind every creation to allow a beautiful insight towards understanding the love God Has for all of us.
“How much more if God going to show you He loves you for you to understand it?
Everything is there for you – to serve you.”
[pullquote_left]“because if we don’t love for a long time, we become dry, we become harsh towards people.”[/pullquote_left]
God’s Love is beyond any love we can all ever imagine. God is Most Powerful and anything could happen with His Will. But our abilities to do beyond what our minds push us to despite our countless thoughts of ungratefulness and our continuous sinning is a simple evidence why is He is also the Most – Loving and the Most Merciful. All that God Has decreed is of the best considerations and we should put our Taqwa and Trust in the One whom we are most Beloved to, and should love as our Most Beloved.
The Greatest Love of All
His second lecture, “The Greatest Love of All”, speaks of the love for our beloved Prophet Muhammad salallahu ‘alayhi wasallaam. God Gave us the best example we should follow but when “something is in abundance, we don’t see it anymore.” The Prophet was a man who loved his Ummah more than anything.
Yet we hardly value that love of his and God by not allowing ourselves to understand the value that we hold. God created us with abilities in which most other living creations could not have and sent to us the most beautiful of creation – the Prophet, as ‘rahmatan lil ‘alameen – mercy to all of mankind’ for us to emulate beautiful acts from.
“Do you see how you’re created? Do you see how you’re elevated in your stance?”
With all that we have in us, we have a message to deliver. A message that was derived from the life of the Prophet for mankind and the “only way to deliver the message was to live it.”[pullquote_right]The Prophet was a man who loved his Ummah more than anything.[/pullquote_right]
The message of love, peace, humanity – the message that holds the essence of Islam is what we should deliver.
“What we have that others don’t have – that’s when you know it’s for sharing.”
In our strive to be better Muslims, as human beings, we encounter pain and at times it causes us to fall back. But there was no pain greater than the pain the Prophet had went through. However, he transformed the pain to push him to be greater than he was each time.[quote]“Your value is in your goodness. It’s in your Taqwa.”[/quote]
This should remind us of how we often forget the countless blessings we have been granted in our lives when we falter and especially, the greatest of blessings – the best example to all of mankind in perfection of noble character, Rasulullah salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam.
The Circle of Love
Having covered the aspect of love towards God and the beloved Prophet, Shaykh Alaeddin went on to unravel the love between God’s Creations in “The Circle of Love”.
Speaking on the theme of humanity and what connects the hearts of believers to each other – how we are all brothers and sisters, he reminds us of the message and purpose of this life. The human body is almost sacred, and all that it contains and enables us to do should empower us to put it to good use – for the sake of God.
There is something in us that relates ourselves to each other and its connection should be so strong that if somewhere in this world some people are suffering, we would feel the pain too.
“Because we are Muslims, we are unstoppable.”
What we have been blessed with, to the simplest of abilities, should be put to good use for the Ummah. That itself should push us to go out there and do something in the name of humanity and for the love in our hearts for our brothers and sisters.
We should appreciate one another’s abilities and learn from each other. God created us differently with different ways of thinking and perspectives but with a common ground – and that is to be human with each other.
To put our love for God’s creations into action, it involves humanity. Love for the sake of God between mankind will exist when one is selfless and has the will to sacrifice for each other. When we love someone, we would do extra for them and when we love the Ummah we would volunteer our service for them.
Are you Having an Affair with your Spouse?
Moving on after discussing love between God’s creations, Shaykh Alaeddin’s final lecture, “Are you Having an Affair with your spouse?” covers one of the many beautiful structures in Islam – marriage.
Speaking about the process of marriage, he reminds us that the “worst thing [we] can do to [ourselves] is to “fall in love with someone before we have evaluated the person with our minds.”
“Allah promised to make you live a good life, a life that you live inside of yourself.”
It is a trust to make good decisions for one’s self, and especially marriage. As Muslims, God shall be the meeting point for a man and a woman and what connects them to each other. With Him as a point of focus, the foundation of the marriage becomes something unshaken, as opposed to channelling all the love only between each other. When people fall in love and get married without understanding it is with Allah’s Will that it happened, they start viewing it as it was of their own doing and grow in it with each other’s ego – which would then lead to circumstances such as divorce and the like.
However, Shaykh Alaeddin affirms the fact that divorce was never viewed as a stigma in Islam. If a marriage does not work out, it is only right to move on and make the right progress in life.
To avoid such instances, he reminds us “to let our hearts follow our minds, because we have a mind.” Usually following the heart would lead to rash and irrational acts, which was why Allah Blessed us with a mind to act with practicality.
Concluding his beautiful series of lecture here, he briefly runs through with us the many different aspects of love we have in our lives – from the love of God, to the Prophet, to the Deen, to the love of mankind and then to our spouses. Love holds a rather vague and profound acclamation to it, but under the influence of the society in this age that we live in, love is something that is limited to that of which is human. Fortunately, in reality, love is exists from within our souls and in all of existence for the One who created this Love in our hearts is manifested in the entire universe.
May Allah Bless Shaykh Alaeddin for what he has shared and may Allah continue to Grant him the wisdom to inspire others to be better in the name of our religion.
A flawed servant with a voice to and for trust. Your sister in faith, your friend in deen and your Ummah in congregation.