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Bismillah, Alhamdulillah

Bismillah, Alhamdulillah

Salaam Dear Reader,

InshaAllah, 2022 will be a year of new beginnings. We move back to our home at 58 Bussorah Street in a couple of weeks to a space that will be revamped, renewed and refreshed, all in time to celebrate 20 years of bookselling and good reading. How should we think about beginnings?

The Qur'an begins, after the Basmala, with 'Praise belongs to God, Lord of All Worlds.'

Perhaps taking this cue, and like all classical scholars, Imam al-Ghazali begins his works with an expression of praise. Each one of the 40 books of the Ihya 'Ulum al-din begins with an expression of gratitude that is nuanced intentionally to foreshadow the subject to be discussed.

Here is a sample of these opening lines.

The Book of Contemplation, Kitab al-Tafakkur (Book 39 of the Ihya):
All praise be to God, Who has ordained no direction or location wherein His Glory might be delimited.
The Book of the Condemnation of Pride and Self-Admiration (Book 19 of the Ihya):
Praise be to God, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner, the Mighty, the Compeller, the Proud; the Exalted whose glory none can humble.
The Book of Vigilance and Self-Examination (Book 38 of the Ihya):
Praise be to God who grants every soul what it has earned; who watches every perpetrator of outrage, who fathoms the innermost recesses of the hearts and best reckons the thoughts stirring inside His servants.
The Book of Invocations and Supplications (Book 9 of the Ihya):
Praise be to God; Whose compassion is all-embracing and Whose mercy is universal; Who rewards His servants for their remembrance [dhikr] with His remembrance [of them] – verily God (Exalted is He) has said, Remember Me, and I will remember you.

 

It is fascinating to see a scholar like Imam al-Ghazali return to gratitude again and again in inventive, inspiring and uplifting ways.

Parallel to this, there is an intriguing study about expressing gratitude in the book, Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times by Jonathan Sacks. The study involves Christian nuns of a particular order. In this order, the nuns are required to write an autobiography at age 20 when they enter the nunnery. These autobiographies are then kept in archives. Researchers working on these archives found that the nuns who expressed a language of gratitude lived well into their 80s without Alzheimer's disease. The researchers were able to predict with 85% accuracy whether or not a nun would succumb to Alzheimer's just by looking for signs of gratitude in autobiographies these nuns wrote all those years ago when they were 20.

Never underestimate the power of gratitude.

If Wardah Books were a person, she would be a 20-year-old. What should she write in her autobiography, as she stands at the threshold of adulthood, looking forward to new beginnings. She may not have the eloquence of Imam al-Ghazali, but we hope she has the presence of heart to begin: Alhamdulillah, Praise be to God.

With Gratitude,
The Booksellers of Wardah Books

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