Monday, January 21, 2008

Baraka

In his latest post, my man Submariner asks;

What's in a Name?

Every good kwestin deserves favor. At the risk of making the good brother's Baraka induced enthusiasm even worse than it already is, I'll answer the kwestin directly.

Baraka is also the origin of U.S. politician Barack Obama's first name via Swahili which has been heavily influenced by Arabic.

Baraka is an Arabic term meaning spiritual wisdom and blessing transmitted from God (Arabic: Allah) to any creature that God wishes to bestow it upon. It is also described as "the greater good" derived from any act. In order to bring as much Baraka as possible into one's life, a Muslim should try to come closer to God by doing good deeds, praying/worshipping, helping others, and trying to follow God's commandments. He should also try to develop a close and personal relationship with God by remembering Him, knowing Him, and calling upon Him in his everyday life in the way that was taught by Muhammad through the many prayers and invocations.

Muslims believe that through "sincere invocation of God," and trying to sincerely please Him through good deeds, repentance, and prayer, Baraka can be brought into their lives by God. This is supposed to make things easier, happier, and more blessed in this life, and by God's mercy, in the Hereafter. For Muslims,

Baraka is what God uses to make the impossible possible.

Baraka also refers to the favorable result of any action with the blessing of Allah. It is also a Sufi term referring to a sense of "divine presence" or "charisma."

Baraka is used in contemporary French as a synonym of "luck". A person who has "baraka" is said to be able to emerge unscathed from dangerous situations. This use of the term derives from the time of French colonization in Algeria (1830-1962).


The Sufi practitioners of Islamic interior science are clearest on this subject;
In accordance with the rules of Islam, the true educator of souls (murrabi) is a master authorized (mu’dhun) to lead and orientate all those who commit themselves to this way, which is purification from the faults of the soul, embellishment of noble qualities and arrival at the station of excellence (maqam al-ihsan).

This authorization (idhn) is indispensable for transmitting spiritual education (tarbiyya), just as it was imperative in the past for those who taught religious sciences to have received the permission (ijaza) from the scientists with whom they had studied exoteric sciences.

According to Sufi masters, spiritual authority not only bears witness to the aptitude for guidance, (irshad), and the qualities (akhlaq) on which the capacity to guide is based, but above all, it is thanks to the virtue of this authorization that spiritual influx (baraka) and spiritual practices bear their fruits and awaken the hearts of those who aspire. Also, all those who receive the authorization to preach to men remembrance of God (dhikr) and are the revivers of this religion “receive clear signs from their Lord….” (Qur’an, 6, 57).
Of crucial importance and definite relatedness to the Sufistic term baraka is the Christic metaphor of leaven. I will argue over the next several days and weeks that these are not figurative, but rather, quite literal teachings conveyed to us in the plainest and simplest possible terms.