Stories Of New Muslims


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  • Stories Of New Muslims



  • 7.Mr. Nuh Keller

     

    What follows is a personal account of a scholar I
    have been writing to for over a year and had the blessing of meeting when I
    invited him to do a lecture tour around England. He is quite unique in that he
    seems to be one of the few reverts/converts to have achieved Islamic
    scholarship in the fullest sense of the word in traditional and orthodox Islam,
    having studied Shafi'i and Hanafi Jurisprudence (fiqh) and tenents of faith
    (`aqidah). I hope it will serve as an inspiration to those who have moved
    closer to Islam but have not yet taken the
    Shahadah, and as a reassurance to those that have taken the Shahadah but are trying to find their feet in the
    beautiful ocean of Islam, and also as a reminder and confirmation to those of
    us who were blessed with being born into Muslim families, Amin.

    Mas`ud Ahmed Khan

     

    Born in 1954 in the farm country of the northwestern
    United States, I was raised in a religious family as a Roman Catholic. The
    Church provided a spiritual world that was unquestionable in my childhood, if
    anything more real than the physical world around me, but as I grew older, and
    especially after I entered a Catholic university and read more, my relation to
    the religion became increasingly called into question, in belief and practice.
    One reason was the frequent changes in Catholic liturgy and ritual that
    occurred in the wake of the Second Vatican Council of 1963, suggesting to
    laymen that the Church had no firm standards. To one another, the clergy spoke
    about flexibility and liturgical relevance, but to ordinary Catholics they
    seemed to be groping in the dark. God does not change, nor the needs of the
    human soul, and there was no new revelation from heaven. Yet we rang in the
    changes, week after week, year after year; adding, subtracting, changing the
    language from Latin to English, finally bringing in guitars and folk music.
    Priests explained and explained as laymen shook their heads. The search for
    relevance left large numbers convinced that there had not been much in the
    first place.

    A second reason was a
    number of doctrinal difficulties, such as the doctrine of the Trinity, which no
    one in the history of the world, neither priest nor layman, had been able to
    explain in a convincing way, and which resolved itself, to the common mind at
    least, in a sort of godhead-by-committee, shared between God the Father, who
    ruled the world from heaven; His son Jesus Christ, who saved humanity on earth;
    and the Holy Ghost, who was pictured as a white dove and appeared to have a
    considerably minor role. I remember wanting to make special friends with just
    one of them so he could handle my business with the others, and to this end,
    would sometimes pray earnestly to this one and sometimes to that; but the other
    two were always stubbornly there. I finally decided that God the Father must be
    in charge of the other two, and this put the most formidable obstacle in the
    way of my Catholicism, the divinity of Christ. Moreover, reflection made it
    plain that the nature of man contradicted the nature of God in every
    particular, the limitary and finite on the one hand, the absolute and infinite
    on the other. That Jesus was God was something I cannot remember having ever
    really believed, in childhood or later.

    Another
    point of incredulity was the trading of the Church in stocks and bonds in the
    hereafter it called indulgences. Do such and such and so-and-so many years will
    be remitted from your sentence in purgatory that had seemed so false to Martin
    Luther at the outset
    of the Reformation. I also remember a
    desire for a sacred scripture, something on the order of a book that could
    furnish guidance. A Bible was given to me one Christmas, a handsome edition,
    but on attempting to read it, I found it so rambling and devoid of a coherent
    thread that it was difficult to think of a way to base one's life upon it. Only
    later did I learn how Christians solve the difficulty in practice, Protestants
    by creating sectarian theologies, each emphasizing the texts of their sect and
    downplaying the rest; Catholics by downplaying it all, except the snippets
    mentioned in their liturgy. Something seemed lacking in a sacred book that
    could not be read as an integral whole.

    Moreover, when I went
    to the university, I found that the authenticity of the book, especially the
    New Testament, had come into considerable doubt as a result of modern
    hermeneutical studies by Christians themselves. In a course on contemporary
    theology, I read the Norman Perrin translation of The Problem of the Historical
    Jesus by Joachim Jeremias, one of the principal New Testament scholars of this
    century. A textual critic who was a master of the original languages and had
    spent long years with the texts, he had finally agreed with the German
    theologian Rudolph Bultmann that without a doubt it is true to say that the
    dream of ever writing a biography of Jesus is over, meaning that the life of
    Christ as he actually lived it could not be reconstructed from the New
    Testament with any degree of confidence. If this were accepted from a friend of
    Christianity and one of its foremost textual experts, I reasoned, what was left
    for its enemies to say? And what then remained of the Bible except to
    acknowledge that it was a record of truths mixed with fictions, conjectures
    projected onto Christ by later followers, themselves at odds with each other as
    to who the master had been and what he had taught. And if theologians like
    Jeremias could reassure themselves that somewhere under the layers of later
    accretions to the New Testament there was something called the historical Jesus
    and his message, how could the ordinary person hope to find it, or know it,
    should it be found?

    I studied philosophy at
    the university and it taught me to ask two things of whoever claimed to have
    the truth: What do you mean, and how do you know? When I asked these
    questions of my own religious tradition, I found no answers, and realized that
    Christianity had slipped from my hands. I then embarked on a search that is
    perhaps not unfamiliar to many young people in the West, a quest for meaning in
    a meaningless world. I began where I had lost my previous belief, with the
    philosophers, yet wanting to believe, seeking not philosophy, but rather a
    philosophy.

    I read the essays of
    the great pessimist Arthur Schopenhauer, which taught about the phenomenon of
    the ages of life, and that money, fame, physical strength, and intelligence all
    passed from one with the passage of years, but only moral excellence remained.
    I took this lesson to heart and remembered it in after years. His essays also
    drew attention to the fact that a person won’t to repudiate in later years what
    he fervently espouses in the heat of youth. With a prescient wish to find the
    Divine, I decided to imbue myself with the most cogent arguments of atheism
    that I could find, that perhaps I might find a way out of them later. So I read
    the Walter Kaufmann translations of the works of the immoralist Friedrich
    Nietzsche. The many-faceted genius dissected the moral judgments and beliefs of
    mankind with brilliant philological and psychological arguments that ended in
    accusing human language itself, and the language of nineteenth-century science
    in particular, of being so inherently determined and mediated by concepts
    inherited from the language of morality that in their present form they could
    never hope to uncover reality. Aside from their immunological value against
    total skepticism, Nietzsches works explained why the West was post-Christian,
    and accurately predicted the unprecedented savagery of the twentieth century,
    debunking the myth that science could function as a moral replacement for the
    now dead religion.

    At a personal level,
    his tirades against Christianity, particularly in The Genealogy of Morals, gave
    me the benefit of distilling the beliefs of the monotheistic tradition into a
    small number of analyzable forms. He separated unessential concepts (such as
    the bizarre spectacle of an omnipotent deity suicide on the cross) from
    essential ones, which I now, though without believing in them, apprehended to
    be but three alone: that God existed; that He created man in the world and
    defined the conduct expected of him in it; and that He would judge man
    accordingly in the hereafter and send him to eternal reward or punishment. It
    was during this time that I read an early translation of the Koran which I
    grudgingly admired, between agnostic reservations, for the purity with which it
    presented these fundamental concepts. Even if false, I thought, there could not
    be a more essential expression of religion. As a literary work, the
    translation, perhaps it was Sales, was uninspired and openly hostile to its
    subject matter, whereas I knew the Arabic original was widely acknowledged for
    its beauty and eloquence among the religious books of mankind. I felt a desire
    to learn Arabic to read the original.

    On a vacation home from
    school, I was walking upon a dirt road between some fields of wheat, and it
    happened that the sun went down. By some inspiration, I realized that it was a
    time of worship, a time to bow and pray to the one God. But it was not
    something one could rely on oneself to provide the details of, but rather a
    passing fancy, or perhaps the beginning of an awareness that atheism was an
    inauthentic way of being.

    I carried something of
    this disquiet with me when I transferred to the University of Chicago, where I
    studied the epistemology of ethical theory how moral judgments were reached
    reading and searching among the books of the philosophers for something to shed
    light on the question of meaninglessness, which was both a personal concern and
    one of the central philosophical problems of our age.  According to some, scientific observation could only yield
    description statements of the form X is Y, for example, The object is red, Its
    weight is two kilos, Its height is ten centimeters, and so on, in each of which
    the functional was a scientifically verifiable is, whereas in moral judgments
    the functional element was an ought, a description statement which no amount of
    scientific observation could measure or verify. It appeared that ought was
    logically meaningless, and with it all morality whatsoever, a position that
    reminded me of those described by Lucian in his advice that whoever sees a
    moral philosopher coming down the road should flee from him as from a mad dog.
    For such a person, expediency ruled, and nothing checked his behavior but
    convention.

    As Chicago was a more
    expensive school, and I had to raise tuition money, I found summer work on the
    West Coast with a seining boat fishing in Alaska. The sea proved a school in
    its own right, one I was to return to for a space of eight seasons, for the
    money. I met many people on boats, and saw something of the power and greatness
    of the wind, water, storms, and rain; and the smallness of man. These things
    lay before us like an immense book, but my fellow fishermen and I could only
    discern the letters of it that were within our context: to catch as many fish
    as possible within the specified time to sell to the tenders. Few knew how to
    read the book as a whole. Sometimes, in a blow, the waves rose like great
    hills, and the captain would hold the wheel with white knuckles, our bow one
    minute plunging gigantically down into a valley of green water, the next moment
    reaching the bottom of the trough and soaring upwards towards the sky before
    topping the next crest and starting down again.

    Early in my career as a
    deck hand, I had read the Hazel Barnes translation of Jean Paul Sartres
    "Being and Nothingness", in which he argued that phenomena only arose
    for consciousness in the existential context of human projects, a theme that
    recalled Marxs 1844 manuscripts, where nature was produced by man, meaning, for
    example, that when the mystic sees a stand of trees, his consciousness
    hypostatizes an entirely different phenomenal object than a poet does, for
    example, or a capitalist. To the mystic, it is a manifestation; to the poet, a
    forest; to the capitalist, lumber. According to such a perspective, a mountain
    only appears as tall in the context of the project of climbing it, and so on,
    according to the instrumental relations involved in various human interests.
    But the great natural events of the sea surrounding us seemed to defy, with
    their stubborn, irreducible facticity, our uncomprehending attempts to come to
    terms with them. Suddenly, we were just there, shaken by the forces around us
    without making sense of them, wondering if we would make it through. Some, it
    was true, would ask God help at such moments, but when we returned safely to
    shore, we behaved like men who knew little of Him, as if those moments had been
    a lapse into insanity, embarrassing to think of at happier times. It was one of
    the lessons of the sea that in fact, such events not only existed but perhaps
    even preponderated in our life. Man was small and weak, the forces around him
    were large, and he did not control them.

    Sometimes a boat would
    sink and men would die. I remember a fisherman from another boat who was
    working near us one opening, doing the same job as I did, piling web. He smiled
    across the water as he pulled the net from the hydraulic block overhead,
    stacking it neatly on the stern to ready it for the next set. Some weeks later,
    his boat overturned while fishing in a storm, and he got caught in the web and
    drowned. I saw him only once again, in a dream, beckoning to me from the stern
    of his boat. The tremendousness of the scenes we lived in, the storms, the
    towering sheer cliffs rising vertically out of the water for hundreds of feet,
    the cold and rain and fatigue, the occasional injuries and deaths of workers
    these made little impression on most of us. Fishermen were, after all, supposed
    to be tough. On one boat, the family that worked it was said to lose an
    occasional crew member while running at sea at the end of the season,
    invariably the sole non-family member who worked with them, his loss saving
    them the wages they would have otherwise had to pay him.

    The captain of another
    was a twenty-seven-year-old who delivered millions of dollars worth of crab
    each year in the Bering Sea. When I first heard of him, we were in Kodiak, his
    boat at the city dock they had tied up to after a lengthy run some days before.
    The captain was presently indisposed in his bunk in the stateroom, where he had
    been vomiting up blood from having eaten a glass uptown the previous night to
    prove how tough he was. He was in somewhat better condition when I later saw
    him in the Bering Sea at the end of a long winter king crab season. He worked
    in his wheelhouse up top, surrounded by radios that could pull in a signal from
    just about anywhere, computers, Loran, sonar, depth-finders, radar. His panels
    of lights and switches were set below the 180-degree sweep of shatterproof
    windows that overlooked the sea and the men on deck below, to whom he
    communicated by loudspeaker. They often worked round the clock, pulling their
    gear up from the icy water under watchful batteries of enormous electric lights
    attached to the masts that turned the perpetual night of the winter months into
    day. The captain had a reputation as a screamer, and had once locked his crew
    out on deck in the rain for eleven hours because one of them had gone inside to
    have a cup of coffee without permission. Few crewmen lasted longer than a
    season with him, though they made nearly twice the yearly income of, say, a
    lawyer or an advertising executive, and in only six months. Fortunes were made
    in the Bering Sea in those years, before over fishing wiped out the crab.

    At present, he was at
    anchor, and was amiable enough when we tied up to him and he came aboard to sit
    and talk with our own captain. They spoke at length, at times gazing
    thoughtfully out at the sea through the door or windows, at times looking at
    each other sharply when something animated them, as the topic of what his
    competitors thought of him. "They wonder why I have a few bucks", he
    said. "Well I slept in my own home one night last year." He later had
    his crew throw off the lines and pick the anchor, his eyes flickering warily
    over the water from the windows of the house as he pulled away with a blast of
    smoke from the stack. His watchfulness, his walrus-like physique, his endless
    voyages after game and markets, reminded me of other predatory hunter-animals
    of the sea. Such people, good at making money but heedless of any ultimate end
    or purpose, made an impression on me, and I increasingly began to wonder if men
    didn't need principles to guide them and tell them why they were there. Without
    such principles, nothing seemed to distinguish us above our prey except being
    more thorough, and technologically capable of preying longer, on a vaster scale,
    and with greater devastation than the animals we hunted.

    These considerations
    were in my mind the second year I studied at Chicago, where I became aware
    through studies of philosophical moral systems that philosophy had not been
    successful in the past at significantly influencing peoples morals and
    preventing injustice, and I came to realize that there was little hope for it
    to do so in the future. I found that comparing human cultural systems and
    societies in their historical succession and multiplicity had led many
    intellectuals to moral relativism, since no moral value could be discovered
    which on its own merits was transculturally valid, a reflection leading to
    nihilism, the perspective that sees human civilizations as plants that grow out
    of the earth, springing from their various seeds and soils, thriving for a
    time, and then dying away. Some heralded this as intellectual liberation, among
    them Emile Durkheim in his "Elementary Forms of the Religious Life",
    or Sigmund Freud in his "Totem and Taboo", which discussed mankind as
    if it were a patient and diagnosed its religious traditions as a form of a
    collective neurosis that we could now hope to cure, by applying to them a
    thorough scientific atheism, a sort of salvation through pure science.

    On this subject, I
    bought the Jeremy Shapiro translation of "Knowledge and Human
    Interests" by Jurgen Habermas, who argued that there was no such thing as
    pure science that could be depended upon to forge boldly ahead in a steady
    improvement of itself and the world. He called such a misunderstanding
    scientism, not science. Science in the real world, he said, was not free of
    values, still less of interests. The kinds of research that obtain funding, for
    example, were a function of what their society deemed meaningful, expedient,
    profitable, or important. Habermas had been of a generation of German academics
    who, during the thirties and forties, knew what was happening in their country,
    but insisted they were simply engaged in intellectual production, that they were
    living in the realm of scholarship, and need not concern themselves with
    whatever the state might choose to do with their research. The horrible
    question mark that was attached to German intellectuals when the Nazi
    atrocities became public after the war made Habermas think deeply about the
    ideology of pure science. If anything was obvious, it was that the
    nineteenth-century optimism of thinkers like Freud and Durkheim was no longer
    tenable.

    I began to reassess the
    intellectual life around me. Like Schopenhauer, I felt that higher education
    must produce higher human beings. But at the university, I found lab people
    talking to each other about forging research data to secure funding for the
    coming year; luminaries who wouldn't permit tape recorders at their lectures
    for fear that competitors in the same field would go one step further with
    their research and beat them to publication; professors envying with each other
    in the length of their courses syllabuses. The moral qualities I was accustomed
    to associate with ordinary, unregenerate humanity seemed as frequently met with
    in sophisticated academics as they had been in fishermen. If one could laugh at
    fishermen who, after getting a boatload of fish in a big catch, would cruise
    back and forth in front of the others to let them see how laden down in the
    water they were, ostensibly looking for more fish; what could one say about the
    Ph.D.s who behaved the same way about their books and articles? I felt that
    their knowledge had not developed their persons,  that the secret of higher man did not lie in their
    sophistication.

    I wondered if I hadn't
    gone down the road of philosophy as far as one could go. While it had debunked
    my Christianity and provided some genuine insights, it had not yet answered the
    big questions. Moreover, I felt that this was somehow connected I didn't know
    whether as cause or effect to the fact that our intellectual tradition no
    longer seemed to seriously comprehend itself. What were any of us, whether
    philosophers, fishermen, garbage men, or kings, except bit players in a drama
    we did not understand, diligently playing out our roles until our replacements
    were sent, and we gave our last performance? But could one legitimately hope
    for more than this? I read "Kojves Introduction to the Reading of
    Hegel", in which he explained that for Hegel, philosophy did not culminate
    in the system, but rather in the Wise Man, someone able to answer any possible
    question on the ethical implications of human actions. This made me consider
    our own plight in the twentieth century, which could no longer answer a single
    ethical question.

    It was thus as if this
    centuries unparalleled mastery of concrete things had somehow ended by making
    us things. I contrasted this with Hegels concept of the concrete in his "Phenomenology
    of Mind". An example of the abstract, in his terms, was the limitary
    physical reality of the book now held in your hands, while the concrete was its
    interconnection with the larger realities it presupposed, the modes of
    production that determined the kind of ink and paper in it, the aesthetic
    standards that dictated its color and design, the systems of marketing and
    distribution that had carried it to the reader, the historical circumstances
    that had brought about the readers literacy and taste; the cultural events that
    had mediated its style and usage; in short, the bigger picture in which it was
    articulated and had its being. For Hegel, the movement of philosophical
    investigation always led from the abstract to the concrete, to the more real.
    He was therefore able to say that philosophy necessarily led to theology, whose
    object was the ultimately real, the Deity. This seemed to me to point up an
    irreducible lack in our century. I began to wonder if, by materializing our
    culture and our past, we had not somehow abstracted ourselves from our wider
    humanity, from our true nature in relation to a higher reality.

    At this juncture, I
    read a number of works on Islam, among them the books of Seyyed Hossein Nasr,
    who believed that many of the problems of western man, especially those of the
    environment, were from his having left the divine wisdom of revealed religion,
    which taught him his true place as a creature of God in the natural world and
    to understand and respect it. Without it, he burned up and consumed nature with
    ever more effective technological styles of commercial exploitation that ruined
    his world from without while leaving him increasingly empty within, because he
    did not know why he existed or to what end he should act. I reflected that this
    might be true as far as it went, but it begged the question as to the truth of
    revealed religion. Everything on the face of the earth, all moral and religious
    systems, were on the same plane, unless one could gain certainty that one of
    them was from a higher source, the sole guarantee of the objectivity, the whole
    force, of moral law.

    Otherwise, one man’s
    opinion was as good as another’s, and we remained in an undifferentiated sea of
    conflicting individual interests, in which no valid objection could be raised
    to the strong eating the weak.

    I read other books on
    Islam, and came across some passages translated by W. Montgomery Watt from
    "That Which Delivers from Error" by the theologian and mystic
    Ghazali, who, after a mid-life crises of questioning and doubt, realized that
    beyond the light of prophetic revelation there is no other light on the face of
    the earth from which illumination may be received, the very point to which my
    philosophical inquiries had led. Here was, in Hegels terms, the Wise Man, in
    the person of a divinely inspired messenger who alone had the authority to
    answer questions of good and evil.

    I also read A.J.
    Arberrys translation "The Koran Interpreted", and I recalled my early
    wish for a sacred book. Even in translation, the superiority of the Muslim
    scripture over the Bible was evident in every line, as if the reality of divine
    revelation, dimly heard of all my life, had now been placed before my eyes. In
    its exalted style, its power, its inexorable finality, its uncanny way of anticipating
    the arguments of the atheistic heart in advance and answering them; it was a
    clear exposition of God as God and man as man, the revelation of the
    awe-inspiring Divine Unity being the identical revelation of social and
    economic justice among men.

    I began to learn Arabic
    at Chicago, and after studying the grammar for a year with a fair degree of
    success, decided to take a leave of absence to try to advance in the language
    in a year of private study in Cairo. Too, a desire for new horizons drew me,
    and after a third season of fishing, I went to the Middle East. In Egypt, I
    found something I believe brings many to Islam, namely, the mark of pure
    monotheism upon its followers, which struck me as more profound than anything I
    had previously encountered. I met many Muslims in Egypt, good and bad, but all
    influenced by the teachings of their Book to a greater extent than I had ever
    seen elsewhere. It has been some fifteen years since then, and I cannot
    remember them all, or even most of them, but perhaps the ones I can recall will
    serve to illustrate the impressions made.

    One was a man on the
    side of the Nile near the Miqyas Gardens, where I used to walk. I came upon him
    praying on a piece of cardboard, facing across the water. I started to pass in
    front of him, but suddenly checked myself and walked around behind, not wanting
    to disturb him. As I watched a moment before going my way, I beheld a man
    absorbed in his relation to God, oblivious to my presence, much less my
    opinions about him or his religion. To my mind, there was something
    magnificently detached about this, altogether strange for someone coming from
    the West, where praying in public 
    was virtually the only thing that remained obscene.

    Another was a young boy
    from secondary school who greeted me near Khan al-Khalili, and because I spoke
    some Arabic and he spoke some English and wanted to tell me about Islam, he
    walked with me several miles across town to Giza, explaining as much as he
    could. When we parted, I think he said a prayer that I might become Muslim.

    Another was a Yemeni
    friend living in Cairo who brought me a copy of the Koran at my request to help
    me learn Arabic. I did not have a table beside the chair where I used to sit
    and read in my hotel room, and it was my custom to stack the books on the
    floor. When I set the Koran by the others there, he silently stooped and picked
    it up, out of respect for it. This impressed me because I knew he was not
    religious, but here was the effect of Islam upon him.

    Another was a woman I
    met while walking beside a bicycle on an unpaved road on the opposite side of
    the Nile from Luxor. I was dusty, and somewhat shabbily clothed, and she was an
    old woman dressed in black from head to toe who walked up, and without a word
    or glance at me, pressed a coin into my hand so suddenly that in my surprise I
    dropped it. By the time I picked it up, she had hurried away. Because she
    thought I was poor, even if obviously non-Muslim, she gave me some money
    without any expectation for it except what was between her and her God. This
    act made me think a lot about Islam, because nothing seemed to have motivated
    her but that.

    Many other things
    passed through my mind during the months I stayed in Egypt to learn Arabic. I
    found myself thinking that a man must have some sort of religion, and I was
    more impressed by the effect of Islam on the lives of Muslims, a certain
    nobility of purpose and largesse of soul, than I had ever been by any other
    religions or even atheisms effect on its followers. The Muslims seemed to have
    more than we did.

    Christianity had its
    good points to be sure, but they seemed mixed with confusions, and I found
    myself more and more inclined to look to Islam for their fullest and most
    perfect expression. The first question we had memorized from our early
    catechism had been Why were you created? To which the correct answer was to
    know, love, and serve God. When I reflected on those around me, I realized that
    Islam seemed to furnish the most comprehensive and understandable way to
    practice this on a daily basis.

    As for the inglorious
    political fortunes of the Muslims today, I did not feel these to be a reproach
    against Islam, or to relegate it to an inferior position in a natural order of
    world ideologies, but rather saw them as a low phase in a larger cycle of
    history. Foreign hegemony over Muslim lands had been witnessed before in the
    thorough going destruction of Islamic civilization in the thirteenth century by
    the Mongol horde, who razed cities and built pyramids of human heads from the
    steppes of Central Asia to the Muslim heartlands, after which the fullness of
    destiny brought forth the Ottoman Empire to raise the Word of Allah and make it
    a vibrant political reality that endured for centuries. It was now, I
    reflected, merely the turn of contemporary Muslims to strive for a new historic
    crystallization of Islam, something one might well aspire to share in.

    When a friend in Cairo
    one day asked me, Why don't you become a Muslim, I found that Allah had created
    within me a desire to belong to this religion, which so enriches its followers,
    from the simplest hearts to the most magisterial intellects. It is not through
    an act of the mind or will that anyone becomes a Muslim, but rather through the
    mercy of Allah, and this, in the final analysis, was what brought me to Islam
    in Cairo in 1977.

    "Is it not time
    that the hearts of those who believe should be humbled to the Remembrance of
    God and the Truth which He has sent down, and that they should not be as those
    to whom the Book was given a foretime, and the term seemed over long to them,
    so that their hearts have become hard, and many of them are ungodly? Know that
    God revives the earth after it was dead. We have indeed made clear for you the
    signs, that haply you will understand."  [Qur'an 57:16-17]

    Nuh Ha Mim Keller is the translator of "The
    Reliance of the Traveller" [`Umdat as-Salik] by Ahmed Ibn Naqib al-Misri

     

     

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