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Reflection on 'The Illumination On Abandoning Self-Direction'

Reflection on 'The Illumination On Abandoning Self-Direction'

by Ibrahim Tahir

Why This Book

This is the third translation of al-Tanwir fi Isqat al-Tadbir that I have come across. All the translations have slightly different interpretations so I was keen to see what this translation brought. The content page is intriguing, it emphasises in a visual way that the path requires effort and that we need to equip ourselves with a whole range of mental stratagems to keep ourselves on an even keel.

What This Book Is About

Reading this book is like an act of devotion because at every passage, you are invited to contemplate. Broadly, the core message of this book is submission both outwardly and inwardly. The outward submission is abandoning self-choice in favour of the Prophetic sunna, and inward submission is abandoning any opposition to Allah’s decree at every instant.

The author reminds us that we belong to whoever (or whatever) has authority over us. So if the world has authority over us (in terms of our pre-occupations, our hours spent in empty entertainment), then, we belong to the world.

My Thoughts On It

Like I have remarked before in reviewing other translations of Al-Tanwir fi Isqat Al-Tadbir, this work is a must-read manual for Muslims living in the world today. It is a much-needed counterweight against the doctrine of workism, hustle culture, and that bane of modern-day spirituality, the prosperity gospel.

Much like al-Ghazali, the author re-centres living, working, and being, as a path to God. Modern readers who have been unknowingly indoctrinated by expressive individualism and the ‘Law of Attraction’, may find this work a bit of a shock. But the sooner we realise that we have to put our complete trust in Allah, the better it is for our wellbeing and for our Hereafter.

“Know that the secret in the creation of self-direction and your having choice in the matter, is to make manifest the power of the Overpowering One (al-Qahhar).”

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