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A Divine Language – A review of the book ‘Sufi Prayer & Love’

“What has he found who has lost God? And what has he lost who has found God?” – Ibn Atta Allah Al-Iskandari

Author Ahmad Javid’s book ‘Sufi Prayer and Love’ is a deeply personal and enriching discourse on prayer and love for the almighty. It explains in great detail the intimate talk you should have in your life with God, this is also known as Salat (prayer). This prayer is a separate divine language on its own and will bring you closer to the Almighty.

This is the kind of book that should appeal to a lot of people because at its heart lies an intelligent discussion on prayer - the right kind of prayers and the power it gives you in life. And Muslims especially should find this book as a great guide that extols the virtue of prayer and love for Allah. Most of us do pray but when our prayers remain unanswered we often wonder where we went wrong. It doesn’t exactly teach you how to pray but it explains in great detail what a prayer should be. Through simple stories and descriptions you will understand how to communicate with God better. The book doesn’t limit itself to mere explanations of the various rituals we follow as part of our prayers, but it explains the meaning and purpose behind every word and action.

It is said that you cannot teach Salat or prayer to someone as it is a personal and internal process. But the author here has managed to do just that through careful selection of texts showcased through the three parts in the book. And the Arabic recitations included in the book give off positive spiritual vibes. It makes the process of prayer an enriching experience than an event that you are simply going through the motions of.

The language used is wonderful and I had no trouble in following the book. The English and the Arabic words, mostly used in brackets combine together to make this a great read. As a non Muslim myself, I appreciate the fact that I got immediate translations of words and phrases that I have often heard in relation to the Islamic faith.

I don’t have any major grouses with the book, but at certain places I did wish the book had footnotes to give a more detailed history about certain items mentioned in the passages. Though the language used and the sentence structuring is contemporary, it has its own poetic feel. But if you are looking for a genuine Arabic poetic rendering, that you won’t find it here.

The introduction given by the author was an honest piece of writing and my heart went out to him that he was able to make such a divine connection with the almighty. I would highly recommend this book to my Muslim brothers and sisters who think that they already know enough about their religion and faith. Reading this book should give you a different perspective and bring you in harmony with God.

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A New Beginning 

“Islam and Sufism are one. Teaching that to understand Islam one must be a lover, how can one understand Islam when the heart is empty of love.” – Zarina Bibi

In the interest of full disclosure let me tell you upfront that I had recently embraced Islam. Faith for me has always been a personal affair and the conversion itself was a low-key event with no representation from any representatives of any religious organization. Since then I’ve always picked up books to find out more about this vast religion. While this book isn’t a step-by-step guide to understanding Islam (it is about understanding Allah) it helped me learn some basics of this faith that some of the other more accomplished books failed to mention. Also, this book also provided me with some excellent advice on how to deal with the challenges one faces in relation to your faith in the modern age.

The author Mr. Javid has concisely put down some highly readable material about the basic act of worship. The purification of the body and the mind before submitting oneself to God has been explained in great detail. You will really feel the divine love the author talks about in connection with offering Salat. Like I said before, the book provides easy to follow steps to meditate and to get closer to God. This nonfiction book is a great source of knowledge for anyone reading up on Islam and Sufism.

In the introduction itself the author talks about the inspiration or the divine intervention that led to him penning these thoughts down. Be as it may, it still felt like a well researched book. He has been able to present a diverse array of stories and simple to understand couplets to get the message through. Like many people over here, I too had limited exposure to Eastern philosophy while growing up. But I am glad thanks to internet and wider means of exposure people like me get to read such material within the Western structure of knowledge and teaching. It also reminded me that even more advanced knowledge is still hidden out there in the world and it is for each of us to seek it.

I still don’t subscribe to the dogmas and strict ritual processes of organized religion. But the idea I learned from this book and through Sufism is that I can still get closer to God and do good without being a part of some closed-knit group. Sufism is an internal energy, and one can argue that it is about the emancipation of the self from the ego. And from what I hear, Sufism is based on the ancient and esoteric interpretation of Qur’an.

I would definitely recommend this, because while the book doesn’t explain Islam in great detail, it still shines light on the holy and divine part of this great religion that still remains as misunderstood as ever. If Qur’an is the absolute guide that promises to take us closer to the Truth, then this book promises to guide us to discover the true potential and power of our prayers.

The light reflection 

“Verily, knowledge is a lock and its key is the question” - Imam Ja'Far Al-Sadiq

Before we start talking about the merits and demerits of this book, first let us address the principal component the book discusses in great detail – prayer. So what exactly is a prayer? We human beings have many wants and needs and to make these come to fruition (obviously we have to put in some kind of physical effort towards its realization) we send out these thoughts, hoping they will come true. We believe only a divine power has the ability to listen to these thoughts and respond favorably to them. It has long been advocated that if you send out positive vibes out into the universe then you will get back positivity in your life and vice-versa. People hint at a scientific sphere to its explanation as well. Wherein the electrical impulses from our brain carrying our wants from the deepest part of our consciousness flame out of our body and transcend the physical dimensions of space and time and reach a superior power or energy that intercepts these signals and responds accordingly.

This is the year 2016 and we have come a long way from the primitive ways our ancestors lived. The changes and developments haven’t been limited to technology and machines alone. The wealth of knowledge has increased, so has the awareness of its priceless value. Increased exposure and interaction with other people from different cultures has also expanded our consciousness. And our brains are hard at work like never before in trying to find out the mysteries of life and the purpose of one’s existence on this planet. And often it is those ancient religious texts we refer to, to aid in our search. One such text is Sufism, which portrays human beings in a central and favorable position in relation to God. Sufism isn’t a religion; it merely shows you the various holistic measures by which we can get closer to the truth and oneness that all religions pertain to when they talk about a God.

Ahmad Javid through this wonderful book has managed to raise and answer some important questions. Questions such as, what it means to be a human being, what is this reality that we come across every day. The importance of our past and the significance of our present and the future it will bring forth. Understanding Allah or God better and the love we should shower Him with and the love He has for us. This isn’t a book just for the Muslims, this is a book that all of humanity should read and refer to as a guide to understanding the ultimate truth and reality.

Sufi Prayer and Love addresses two key factors - The supreme power that we refer to as God and its children, the humanity. This ‘god’ isn’t a person up in the sky handing out favors and punishments. It is the truth and the only true reality of our existence. And it is up to ‘man’ to join this ‘god’ and wake up to the limitless possibilities of true love and goodness available inside him. This is the truth this book alludes to and has explained in great detail in full harmony with the school of Sufism.

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