In my effort to learn more about faith, I have come across a significant number of individuals with deep knowledge of the subject. Professor Ahmad Rafique Akhtar made a significant impact on me in this regard. I found this video which covered part of one of his talks in 2015. Since, it is mostly in Urdu, I translated it, for the benefit of those who don’t know the language. I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible.
Can we feel God?
Yes, certainly. Feeling Allah is very easy. I am not here to preach my orientation, but feeling God is the easiest. Maybe everything you earn in life is with effort, and I cannot assume maybe individual conditions maybe different for all, but I have found it so easy that I am ashamed at my lack of courage. I kept thinking why I didn’t… but with a lot of thought and consideration and with proximity to God, and this is what I preach even now, the only way to meet God as soon as possible, is… the same answer I gave to an American.
He was head of the Quantum & Relativity Department of The University of (Texas at) Austin. When he came to meet me, he said sarcastically, “I searched for God for 14 years, why didn’t I find him? How is it that you found him?” I told him that Professor, God is not the by-product of mathematical researches. He has to be the top priority of intellectual curiosity.
This is the singular principle. The God that you place below every level of life, He cannot be had.
He is the first truth and the last. He is the Knower of everything, He is the Intellectual of everything. This earth is not made in folly, this earth is not made in error. Objectives are not in error. The God of such great knowledge will expect you to at least… I am just so shocked… the first breath is His, the last breath is His, kids are His, wives and husbands are His, education is His, careers are His, honor is His, ridicule is His, sickness is His, Cure is His…
“And when I am ill, it is He who cures me”
When so much of everything is Allah’s, who will you give priority? Who will you accept? Who will you find higher?
When even your child’s life is in His hands, when your husbands are in His hands, when your wives are in His hands, when every single one of your breaths is in His hands, doesn’t your intellect force you to think that our biggest priority is Allah. Give Him His right place. And I swear to the Rubb-e-Kaaba (God of Kaaba) that He will be closer than your aorta. There is not a single doubt in getting near to Him, than feeling Him. He will be in your hands and feet, in your every movement, and you feel Him, see Him… not with the eyes, seeing through the eyes is a compulsion, because it is not capable, only capable of physical. But apart from this, you will find Him closer in every respect. You will converse with Him. If you don’t have the capacity to answer Him, but laugh and play with Him, you can find an immense courtyard to have a chat. Its hard to find space anywhere else.
He is a very good friend. The prophet of God said, “Allah is how you think of Him.” He will be your friend if you think of Him as a friend. If you are fearful… An aged wali died in fear and met another wali. When asked what happened, he said, “Allah told me, you stayed fearful all the time, now you can be fearful here also.”
Don’t you believe this ayah from Surah Az-Zumar, Verse 53
“Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.”
People, you are so wasteful. “I gave you attributes to benefit in work and you are just wasting those. I gave you a body to keep fit, but you waste that too. Why do you waste so much of everything? I asked you to earn and spend on your family, but you spend on extravagance. You’ve wasted so much. Just don’t waste this. Don’t tie up your thought with the hope of God. Make all the follies, except this one… Don’t be disappointed with your Lord’s mercy.
No Kabeerah (major) sin, No Sagheerah (minor) sin stands. Your Lord forgives every sin. He is merciful beyond limit. How do we deserve such graceful kindness? What were we? One single cell. But He doesn’t say that to weak people, He says it to the pious, ones with long beards, “Don’t you know? You’ve come here to tell Me that you’re very pious.
“Those who avoid the major sins and immoralities, only [committing] slight ones. Indeed, your Lord is vast in forgiveness. He was most knowing of you when He produced you from the earth and when you were fetuses in the wombs of your mothers. So do not claim yourselves to be pure; He is most knowing of who fears Him.” Surah An-Najm, Verse 32
I don’t care what you have done. Don’t call yourself pious. Fools, I know how pious you are and where you came from. How you were born. Millions of years of foul black mud, of filth, which dries up and sticks to the bottom of the glass, We picked you up and took you forward. Gave you instructions.”
“Has there [not] come upon man a period of time when he was not a thing [even] mentioned?
Indeed, We created man from a sperm-drop mixture that We may try him; and We made him hearing and seeing.
Indeed, We guided him to the way, be he grateful or be he ungrateful.”
An elaborate description of human conception is given. The shape of the human sperm is disgusting, yet they grow into beautiful human beings.
Stay humble, stay under God’s shadow, ask with humility.
At the end, Prof. Akhtar shares couplets from Mirza Ghalib‘s poem.
arz-e-niyāz-e-ishq ke qābil nahīñ rahā
jis dil pe naaz thā mujhe vo dil nahīñ rahā
go maiñ rahā rahīn-e-sitam-hā-e-rozgār
lekin tire ḳhayāl se ġhāfil nahīñ rahā
To offer love, my desire exists no more
The heart I was proud of, exists no more.
I remain forever indebted to the tyrannies of life
But forgetful from your thoughts, never and no more.
A Humble Request: What you have read above is just a meek effort from a lowly student. Please do not consider this the final word on this topic. I encourage you to do your own research, if you want to learn more, and form your own opinion. There are many knowledgeable scholars of Islam, who will be able to guide you much better.