Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a lustrous niche, wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a glittering star. It is lit from a blessed tree—an olive—neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would well-nigh glow forth even though fire touched it not. Light upon light! Allah guides to His light whomsoever He will. And Allah sets forth parables to men, and Allah knows all things full well. (Al Quran 24:35)
Book reviewed by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
Book written by A Helwa, who has over 15 years of experience writing and speaking on Islam and personal development. Over the past several years she has inspired over 400,000+ readers through her passionate, poetic, and love-based approach to Islamic spirituality
My cousin, whom I consider as my baby sister, as she is younger by a couple of decades, recommended the above book in a family Whatsapp group. She wanted every family member to read it. She is well read and is a physician in USA, Dr. Shayasta Mufti. She is not someone with a missionary spirit and this was the first time that she had recommended any book in the family group.
So, I could not ignore it and bought the book in Amazon. Later I learnt that a large part of it is available free in PDF form in Archive.org as well:
The one short, pithy but very useful quote that I really loved in the book is from Hazrat Ali, “Do business with Allah and you will profit.”
When you get the book, I suggest that you start reading it from the third chapter titled: The Mysterious World ofthe Qur’an. Then go to the beginning and review the endorsements of the book.
I believe the author in addition to her own life experience has drawn extensively from the Sufi tradition of Islam, without any sectarian boundaries.
Ibn Arabi, who has also been called the greatest Shaikh, once said, “You are what you love.” May I respectfully suggest, if we love God, the Quran or the Truth more than anything else, our egos, our present religion, our prior ideas, our sect or denomination, our favorite scholar of Islam, or our favorite teacher or Shaikh, then we can find the Beauty of God or the excellence of the Quran, wherever it may lie hidden, like a hidden priceless gem in sand.
This book has an ample supply of spiritual pearls.
To create a mindset of love and compassion, if you are a Muslim, may I suggest that constantly chant or meditate on the following verse as you read the book:
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ
“We did not send you Muhammad but as a mercy for the whole mankind.” (Al Quran 21:107)
The only other suggestion I want to make is to read with an open strategy to receive, after all it is not the only book about the Quran that you will read. Whatever worthwhile you find in the book take it and what seems questionable simply ignore without a strong feeling of condemnation.
Be a Thomas Jefferson, who was the third President of USA and the writer of the American Declaration of Independence, he read the New Testament in the Bible and created a small book from it for himself called, the Jefferson’s Bible. He took out resurrection and alleged divinity of Jesus out of the New Testament and created a personal manuscript. For the critical mind, let me say, you don’t need to reject any book that you read, for one small reason or the other, as long as you are finding something useful and worthwhile in the book, as Jefferson said:
If you benefit from this book of A Helwa, with the same loving and open mind set, you may want to check out my blog about the Quran as well:
— TheMuslimTimes (@TheMuslimTimes2) July 17, 2017
Book Review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
A substantive and sweet overview of Islamic understandings of God’s unconditional love and mercy.
In a precise and precious introduction, A. Helwa explains that she wrote this lovely and lyrical paean of praise to Allah especially for those with a “longing heart.” She guides us through the Divine mysteries and practical exercises that “inspire love, strengthen faith and increase reliance on and intimacy with God.”
Near the end of this honest introduction, Helwa confesses, “I am not a writer. I am a dreamer and lover of God. These words found their place on the page because God wrote it to be that way.” Whether written by Helwa or God, this spiritual journey into the heart of Islam chimes in our minds, bodies, and souls long after we have pondered its fetching portrait of unconditional love and mercy.
Drawing on the words of the Holy Qur’an, the life-giving sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, and the writings of Islamic scholars and mystic poets, Helwa challenges us to connect with these treasures of Islam and the mighty mission to transform the world. She often trains our attention on the wisdom of the Sufi Rumi, who never fails to open our hearts. Here are just four examples:
“God sends hope in the most desperate moments. Don’t forget, the heaviest rain comes out of the darkest clouds.”
“Each moment contains a hundred messages from God. To every cry of, ‘Oh God,’ He answers a hundred times, ‘I am here.’ “
“The language of God is silence, all else is a poor translation.”
“Nothing I say can explain to you divine love, yet all of creation cannot seem to stop talking about it.”
Helwa covers key Islamic understandings of Allah, who we are, the message of the Qur’an, repentance and return, and the ecstasy of oneness. She does a fine job explaining the importance of salat (five-times-a-day prayer) as a means of tuning into Divine Love. She defines prayer as “swimming in the current of God’s generosity and immersing every atom of our souls in gratitude for the blessing of being given another day to serve God’s will on Earth.” In sturdy chapters on Zakat: Giving as an Instrument of God; Ramadan, the Holy Month of Fasting; and Hajj: A Pilgrimage to God, Helwa presents these traditional pillars of Islam as poignant ways in which Muslims affirm to the world the Oneness of God.
There is so much wisdom creatively presented here that it is hard to capture the sweep and sweetness of this volume. Given our interest in spiritual practices, we especially appreciated the reflections at the end of each chapter designed to help us apply the teachings in our daily lives. Helwa explains: “These sections felt important to include because the Qur’an describes the acquiring of knowledge without internalizing that wisdom and putting it into practice like that of ‘a donkey carrying books’ (62:5)” (See the practices for examples.)
Helma ends Secrets of Divine Love with this reminder:
“Allah is waiting for you. Return to His ocean of love and let Him embrace you with the healing waves of His endless mercy.”