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We are back to last Wednesdays of the month at 7pm!
The theme for this month's meetup is based on the final verse of the longest surah of the Qur'an: Chapter 2: Surat-ul Baqara. The penultimate (second-to-last) verse is super important for context. From the Kaskas translation:
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The Messenger believes in what was revealed to him by his Lord, as do the believers; they all believe in God, His angels, His Books and His Messengers. We do not distinguish between any of His Messengers. They said, “We have heard and obeyed. Our Lord, [we seek] Your
forgiveness. To You is [our] destiny.” (02:285)
God does not burden a soul more than it can bear. It has [the good] it has earned, and [the evil] it has incurred. Our Lord, do not blame us if
we forget or err. Our Lord, do not make us bear a burden like those before us. Our Lord, do not make us bear what We have no strength to bear. Pardon us, forgive us, and have mercy on us. You are our Master, so help us against the people who deny the truth. (02:286)
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Here is why the penultimate verse is super important: the first "We" is in the voice of The Divine. The second "We" is in the voice of the believers, believers who do not necessarily self-identify as upper-case "Muslims" -- members of a specific faith community -- while very much being lower-case "muslims": those who find peace by surrendering to the Will of The Divine.
Fun fact: there are no upper-case nor lower-case letters in Arabic.
How many self-identifying Muslims in the world today "do not distinguish between any of the messengers"? A huge community of Muslims believe and say aloud that the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, is "Kheiru Khalqillah": the Best of the Creations of Allah, Glorified and Exalted.
Hmm, sounds like distinguishing, right?!
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On the surface, the last verse seems contradictory. If God Does Not Burden us more than we can bear, then why the heck do we pray that God Does Not Burden us more than we can bear? Do we not have enough faith in the beginning of that verse?
A proposed answer to that question: personal responsibility. Praying does not mean letting go. Praying does not even mean letting God!
Praying means, well, that we care and want to do better. Day by day.
With deference to the translation, the Arabic word translated as "pardon" is 'Afu, used as a verb. The noun Al-'Afu is one of the Ninety-Nine Names of the Divine. It is often translated as Forgiver or Pardoner. A community of Sufis believe that the origin of the word is the phenomenon where the desert breeze blows across the sand. All footprints disappear and everything returns to baseline. There is Peace. Harmony. Beauty.
When you pray, envision The Divine Blowing away the challenges of your life with a desert breeze, returning you to baseline. Whole. At Peace.
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Many think about Sufis as living in la-la land, out of touch with reality, where everything is shiny, beautiful, and metaphorical to a fault.
Nope, we Sufis live in a world of adversity, just like everyone else. The difference is that we view all of our life experiences and intersections, good and bad, as lessons to learn from, opportunities to grow beyond any limitations that we place on ourselves.
This meetup is time for you to share your adversities and intersections with people and events, past and present.
How have you engaged in Patience, Persistence, and Faith to overcome adversity? We invite you to share your truth. We live today -- at times struggling -- to uncover our path Home to the Divine.