May 1988: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

Page 4

MASJID TUCSON United Submitters International

PO Box 43476 Tucson AZ 85733-3476 USA

Tel/Fax: (520) 323 7636

Masjid Tucson site:

Masjid Tucson e-mail:

Happiness is
Submission to God Alone

ISSN 1089-053X



by Virginia Omar Kamouneh  (formerly Karima Omar)

For several years I had thought of him simply as “ The Number 19 Man “ – you know, that guy in Arizona whose computer research on the Qur’an had smashed so many intellectual walls, freed so many hearts to accept God’s last revelation.

I also thought of him with a good deal of bewilderment. After all, this Rashad Khalifa, this #19 guy, was also reputed – and openly claimed – to deny Prophetic traditions. Even the collections of hadith which I had invested so much money and so many brain cells in amassing and absorbing. Not only the “week” hadith (rather a redundancy, really) which my imported role models frowned upon even more than usual, but the good old Sunni staples of Bukhari and Muslim with their lovely bedtime stories of the Mercy for Mankind forcing his enemies to drink camel urine, gouging out eyes with hot mails – in between satisfying 9 wives in a single evening.

So this #19 guy had to prefer the Qur’an – the Word of God – to these gratuitously graphic goodies? Gee. Then how did he know how to do all the fun stuff the sunnah teaches us? How did he know which shoe to put on first, which hand to eat with, or what to say before, during and after going to the bathroom? From what I had been taught, man could not only live by bread alone, but he couldn’t even make it on a strict Word of God diet – he had to have supplements, other men to do the hard stuff for him – like thinking.
So, for quite a while, my perception of him was marked by ambivalence. Given my intellectual/ emotional/ social state at the time, this was probably the best of all emotions – firm indecision. For quite a while, my comment on Dr. Rashad Khalifa was, “I love the work he’s done with Qur’an and may Allah bless him for it but – I cant agree with his views on hadith.” It was a stock response, a mantra which I dutifully chanted when asked my opinion of this man from the Mysterious East of Tucson.

For quite a while. But , as the Qur’an says, “You pass from stage to stage” (84:19) and I certainly did. To stage to stage, in fact, through that’s another story altogether. For

gradually, almost imperceptibly, I came to understand – and finally accept – what ironically had always qualified my admiration of Dr. Khalifa. But it wasn’t through him; it wasn’t through his books and newsletters which, I confess, were eclipsed in my library by frightful mounds of Tafsir – of – the Years and lcky - Ihyas – it was simply through my study of hadith, my research and writing and reevaluation of my own beliefs – a process of evolution as unlikely as it was inevitable.

I had heard of lovers of God before; had even met a few who seemed to be caught up in an affair with the Divine. But, more often than not, it seemed to have degenerated into a Miles Standish situation with the love originally addressed to God being interceded by an (unwilling) intercessor – a Prophet, a spiritual guide, a teacher or somewhat shaky shaikh.

No, I never had met a real lover – not of God, anyway. I’d encountered lovers of His lovers perhaps, or lovers of lovers of His lovers with their wishful arrangements of carefully cultivated hothouse piety, but no direct – dialing devotees. And I certainly didn’t except to find one in this Rashad Khalifa.

By the time I met him, I was a supporter, even a bit of a fan, so I had fully braced myself for the inevitable letdown. Yes, inevitable, for frankly, I excepted to find an air of – of paranoia. After all, anyone who had weathered the slings and arrows of controversy that he had over the years was bound to be a little on the jumpy side. So, I anticipated at least asomber, intense man, one who matched the bold face and exclamation points of his writings. I excepted a man who hadn’t time to be silly, hadn’t strength left to laugh at himself and was too busy opening hate mail to crack a smile. But that was OK, I reminded myself; OK and quite natural. Writers always seemed to suffer in the translation of face- to – face encounters. After all, I was a writer, and had seen the

suicidal looks of readers who had had the misfortune to at last meet me in the flesh.

Instead, that bright pre-spring afternoon, in the International House of Pancakes deep in the bowels of Burbank California, no less, I found a shining exception to the rule. I found a lover, a true lover of God. A man whose speech, behavior and mannerisms bore witness to the fact that submission to God is indeed a happy state- not the gloomy and grim affair that so many portray it. I found a man with a quick wit, a ready smile, a gentle humility which was fairly radioactive in its trust and reliance on his Creator. On his Creator. Not on his Creator’s creation, not on the cultural security blanket of knee-jerk rituals, not on the petty shirk of self-righteous rites or Sufic psychobabble but on God Alone.

Ironically, in all my years of searching for a magical mystical cure – all, I found it in a man who demystifies Islam, who cuts trough all of the idolatry of what – to – do – to – whom – with – which- hand- when to reveal the safe, sane and sensible Way that we always pretend and seldom portray it to be. A man who seems content with his God-“… secure and content soul, come back to your Lord, satisfied and satisfying.” (89:27-28), a man satisfied that God had “imposed no hardship on you in observing the religion.” (22:78) Perhaps that’s why he ruffles the feathers of so many bird- brained Muslims, for he embodies the truth- the simple fact that piety and clinical depression are not synonymous, not even on speaking terms. A subversive truth, indeed.

Dr. Khalifa is indeed a curious case. He had gardens of laurels of impressive achievements on which he could easily rest – and not unjustifiably. His translation of the Qur’an is truly inspired, clear, concise – and being scrapped by its translator. Less than 7 years after its publication, he is publishing a revised edition.

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