Friday, April 15, 2016

A Worthy Adversary Part 7, The Nutrition Connection

In the previous khutbahs, we have explored the mythic biography of Iblis based on a variety of sources including the Quran, commentary of Quran, hadith, and didactic tales. Another group of Muslims in the Islamic tradition were also fascinated by Iblis, and their discussion and commentary will form the remainder of my khutbahs on Iblis. This group represents an important pillar of our Islamic tradition, and its members refer to themselves as the seekers of religious truth and followers of the mystic Path. This group is the Sufis.

In this metaphysical strand of the Islamic tradition, there is a rich variety of Iblis material which reflects the diversity, complexity, and depth of the Sufi world. Some Sufi writings resonate with the commentary or hadith traditions of which we have already spoken, however these stories often take on a new perspective unique to Sufis. The Sufi contribution to the Iblis biography has further transformed Iblis into an important figure in the religious symbolism of Islam.

The general outline of Iblis’ biography is taken at face value by most Sufis, but particular events and details that concern an individual or a group of Sufis are reiterated.  Some Sufi groups took an interest in Iblis’ ability to take on animal shapes; dogs, frogs, pigs, monkeys. Other Sufi orders gave Iblis a different name or title that focuses on one or more of Satan’s characteristics. For example, in Al-Makki’s work he is called, Al-Batil, “The Worthless One”, while in Al-Kubra he is called Yunaq, “The One Who Flatters with Ruses”.

By far the more compelling interest in Iblis took the form of commentary on Iblis’ progeny and in the all-too effective means of Iblis’ children to dominate man’s spiritual life. The 9th century Sufi, Abdul-Qadir Al-Jilani, provides Iblis with a wife, Ash-Shaytana, who is formed from his left rib- as per the Eve instruction kit. As a result of the Shaytan-Shaytana union, she lays 31 eggs, which hatch out ten thousand male and female devils, who then spread over land and sea, reproducing like rabbits. Abu Hamid Muhammad ibn Muhammad Al-Ghazali  (also 9th century) does not give Iblis a wife, instead Al-Ghazali proposes that Satan lays the eggs from which his children hatch. Al-Ghazali’s focusis not on Satan’s reproductive capacity, it is rather an attempt to describe, through the use of narrative, the interference of Satan and his family in man’s inner spiritual development. Like a true parasite, Satan lays his eggs in the hearts of men, and once the young devils hatch they reproduce exponentially. The devils feed on man’s lusts, desires, and passions. Al-Ghazali uses the satanic lifecycle to convey a spiritual allegory on the origin of sensuality and the destruction these lusts and desires wreck on man’s spiritual life. Every expression of passion is a confirmation of humanity’s coexistence with Iblis and his tribe.

“Truly the ones who spend extravagantly have been brothers of satans and Satan was ungrateful to his Lord.” 17:27

In the hadith, children of Iblis are singled out and given names based on their particular duties.  For the Sufis, these duties were important because they signified the spiritual pitfalls than a religious seeker of truth could fall into.The Sufi writers use the same genealogical structure and expand on the names and occupations of the Iblis clan.  Al-Ghazali (following At-Tabari and Muslim) lists Thabr, Al-A’war, Dasim, Zalanbur, Miswat, and Khinzab (or Khinzib) and adding Al-Walhan- the devil who disrupts wudu. Al-Makki only mentions Khinzab, Al-Walhan, and Zalanbur, and adds Al-Munaqid. Al-Munaqid gets men and women to talk about their good deeds so they lose the bonus points they have acquired through them. In a work attributed to Ibn Arabi, the same job is assigned to a different devil, Al-Mutaqadi. Two other satans are also named, ‘Utma, who urinates in the ears of those who sleep through the night, and Kahil, who induces sleep in those who are listening to the teaching of learned men or to the jummah prayer. Farid Ad-Din Attar names one devil Al-Khannas, “The One Who Slinks Away”- a name used for Iblis in Quran 114- in his discussion of At-Tirmidhi and in a story which I will bring up at the end of this khutbah- if Kahil does not put you to sleep by then.
‘Abdul-Qadir Al-Jilani relates a very dramatic Iblis story, which he claims to have come through an impressive list of authorities via A’isha. According to A’isha, when an important group of companions came to the Prophet’s house one day:
The messenger of God-may God bless him and grant him peace! –came out. A terrible fever had taken hold of him; the feverish sweat rolled off him like glistening pearls. Then he wiped his brow and said three times, ‘May God curse the abominable one!’ and bowed his head in silence. ‘Ali- may God be pleased with him!- questioned him, ‘O you who are as dear to me as my father and mother, whom have you just cursed?’ (1)

The prophet then relates the tale of Iblis asexual reproduction resulting the laying of seven eggs with seven child devils, each devil would concentrate his efforts on one segment of humanity. Al-Mudahhish targets the learned men, ulama, whom he seduces with sensual delights. Ḥadith disrupts prayer. Al-Zalabnun (Zalanbur?) is in charge of bazaars, and pickpockets and muggers are under the domain of Batr (Thabr?). Lies, gossip, and tall tales are the workings of Manshut (Miswat?) and Wasim (Dasim?) induces people to indulge in fornication. The last is is Al-A’war who protects thieves and robbers and also convinces people that if they use part of their ill-gotten goods to fulfill their religious obligations of almsgiving they will be forgiven.

The Sufis may have emphasized the inventory and cataloging of shaytans as a way to navigate spiritual progression. Once a shaytan was named, it could potentially be tamed via prayer, recitation of God's name, acts of charity, etc. 

Although the Sufis inventoried the various satanic forces embodied in Satan’s progeny, the pervasive preoccupation with Iblis was centered in Iblis’s intimate relationship with human beings. This relationship is defined by two hadith I have discussed in previous khutbahs namely, 1) each person possesses his or her own personal shaytan (or jinn) and 2) ‘truly Satan flows in man’s very bloodstream’ Inna  ‘sh-Shayṭān yajrī min al-insān majrā ‘d-dam.”

According to the first hadith, each person, including the Prophet himself has his or her own personal shaytan, although in the case of Prophet Muhammad, his personal shaytan became a Muslim and only told him to do good. Al-Muhasibi wrote that this special privilege did not make Muhammad complacent, and he reminds the reader of Quran 5:49:
“And give judgment between them by what God has sent forth and follow not their desires and beware of them so that they tempt you not from some of what God has sent forth to you. And if they turn away, then know that God only wants that he light on them for some of their impieties. And truly many within humanity are ones who disobey.”

If this caveat to beware the temptations of passions is directed at God’s beloved prophet, then Al-Muhasibi warns, imagine how much more, we normal people, must be on guard against any sense of false security that would lower our guard to Iblis.


The second hadith that resounded for Sufis was “truly Satan flows in man’s very bloodstream.” For the Sufis, no man or woman was exempt from this premise, they believed Satan fills human hearts the way air fills an empty bowl.

Although the Sufis psychology of Iblis’ presence at the core of every human could be treated  in abstract terms, often analogies were made which incorporated the most basic and concrete of human physiology. For Al-Makki, the prohibition to Moses from eating animal veins (as documented in the Torah) was a link to Satan’s interior presence in human veins. Al-Makki and Al-Ghazali quote an expanded version of the hadith, which are not found in the bigger collections of Al-Bukhari, Muslim or Ibn Maja, as “truly Satan flows in man’s bloodstream, make narrow his pathways through hunger and thirst.”

This expanded version of the hadith adds an ascetic element, coherent with the Sufi view that the body must be trained to detach itself from worldly pleasures.  Choosing whether to overindulge in food or to abstain is now raised to a spiritual battlefield. Gluttony allows Satan to become part of one’s flesh and blood, whereas fasting provides a shield to starve out the Evil One and render him weak.

It is revealed that Ibrahim Ibn Adhan- may God’s mercy be upon him!- said, ‘I heard that for a day and night Iblis looked upon Jesus-may peace be upon him!- while he (Jesus) was writhing about. He (Iblis) said,’ How is it I see you writhing about?’ Shall I not bring you some food?’ Jesus answered,’You know well that if I said to these mountains and valleys ‘Become food for me, with God’s permission! Truly they would be. But you are my enemy, and my lower soul is your spy within me. However, I am starving out the spy and weakening it, that it may no longer posses the strength to pass on news about me to you. Truly my going hunger infuriates you! I wish nothing else from the world; and in this state of hunger I recite: I realize that a small loaf/ and a cup of Euphrates water overpowers hunger;/ I realize, too, that hunger is a help in prayer,’ and that a full stomach helps only to lethargy.”(2)

The belief that overeating provides Iblis with the means to occupy and control a human being’s soul is a persistent theme in the writings of many Sufis, including Attar and Rumi. As a warning, many of these stories use extremely graphic and grotesque imagery. The reason for this is the stories are supposed to be a ‘wake-up’ call and push the listener into a state of positive change.

Rumi has a quite shocking Iblis poem which describes a gourmand of lust who has given himself to oral pleasures, “Satan’s fodder.” Once this gourmand is fully enmeshed in a web of desire, his dignity and spiritual worth vanish, the wretched being is left groveling before Satan like a catamite. Resolutions to fast are useless to the one who has the “nose-bag” of Iblis tied to his face. When the death rattle finally overtakes this wretched being his mouth reeks of bad vinegar, like the mouth of Iblis. Rumi’s shocking imagery is intend to
“Wean your infant soul from the devil’s milk;
    Afterward make it join company with the angel.”(3)

Attar uses a fable he attributes to At-Tirmidhi to explain Iblis becoming a permanent component of man’s corporeal self. This myth dramatizes the particular hadith without making a specific reference to it.

After Adam and Eve have sinned and then made their peace with God, they are busily engaged in the work of this world. One day Adam goes off to work, and Iblis comes to visit Eve, bringing along his son, Al-Khannas.

“Iblis said, ‘Something important has come up. Please watch my son until I come back.’ Even agreed and Iblis went on his way. When Adam came back, he asked, ‘Who is this?’ She said, ‘It is the child of Iblis, he has been left in my care.’ Adam reproached her, ‘Why did you agree?’ He flew into a rage, killed the child, chopped him into pieces, and hung each piece from the branch of a tree. Iblis came back and asked, ‘Where is my child?’ Eve told him the whole story. ‘He has been cut into piece and each piece has been hung from the branch of a tree.’ Iblis called out to his child and he was joined back together. Alive once again he stood before Iblis. Another time he addressed Eve. ‘Here, take him; I have something else important to do.’ Eve refused. He kept after her with entreaty and lament until she agreed. Then Iblis went on his way. Adam returned and asked her, ‘Who is this?’ Eve tole the whole story. Adam berated her and said, ‘I do not know what the secret is in this affair. My order you reject, but the one from God’s enemy you accept, and you are beguiled by his words!’ Thereupon he killed the child and burned him. Half of his ashes he threw in the water and half he flung to the winds, then he left.”

Iblis returns and resurrects his son from the ashes, then asks Eve to watch over him. But she refuses because now she fears Adam’s anger. “He will destroy me!’ she pleads. Iblis reassures her, and she agrees, unable to resist Iblis’ power. Adam returns and he’s furious. He’s at his wit’s end and he comes to a permanent solution

“Adam killed Khannas and fried him; he ate half himself and gave Eve the other half to eat…When Iblis returned and asked him for his child, Eve recounted the whole tale. ‘He killed him and fried him. I ate half and Adam ate half.’ Iblis said, “This was exactly my intention in order that I might have access to man’s interior! Since his breast is now my abode, my goal is achieved.”(4)

This tale goes back to the earliest texts; Iblis has mingled himself within the fabric of each human and continues to do so. The mingling is symbolized by the eating process. Attar’s version implies that the sharing of ‘sacred’ food possesses transforming qualities, yet here the good is the food of death, and the transformation is one of spiritual degradation. The myth can be interpreted at different levels, but the central focus is the need to explain Iblis’ link with humans.

All the Sufi imagery used to describe Satan’s relationship within humans has been concrete; flowing blood, veins, food, gluttony, starvation, cannibalism. In the next khutbah, I will examine traditions that integrate Iblis into a more abstract and psychological prototype.

The Sublime Quran, an English translation by Layla Bakhtiar
“Satan’s Tragedy and Redemption: Iblis in Sufi Psychology” by Peter Awn in Studies in the History of Religions (supplement to NUMEN) Vol XLIV, edited by M. Heerma van Voss, EJ Sharpe and RJZ Weblowsky, (Leiden: EJ Brill Publishers) 1983

 (1)‘Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani, Al-Ghunya li talibi tariq al-haqq, 2 vol
(2) Abu Talib Muhammad Ibn Ali Atiya Al-Harithi Al-Makki, Qut al-qulub 2 vol. and Ilm al-qulub.
(3) Jalal ad-Din Rumi, Kulliyat-I diwan-I Shams-I Tabrizi  ed. Badi Azx-Zaman Furuzanfar and Ali Dashti (Tehran) pp 1065-1066 #2879 and #3250
(4) Farid Ad-Din Attar Nayshaburi, Tadhkirat al-awliya

Abu Hamid Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Al-Ghazali, Ihya ‘ulum ad-din 5 vol, 40 books

Muhyi ‘d-Din Ibn ‘Arabi, Shajarat al-kawm, containing a short treatise called Hikayat Iblis

Friday, April 1, 2016

Balance and the Middle Way

Al- Fathiha - recite

Wa kadhalika ja’alnakum ‘ummatanw-wasatal-litakunu shuhadaa’a alan-nasi wa yakunar-Rasulu alaykum shahida. 
And thus have We willed you to be a community of the middle way, so that you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind, and that the Apostle might bear witness to it before you.  2:143

This verse from Surah al-Baqara is familiar to most Muslims, and is often cited to position Islam as a religion of balance, i.e. not overly formalistic as Judaism, nor overly permissive as Christianity.  This interpretation however, does not reflect the meaning of the verse in context.  It is situated within a series of ayat that acknowledge distinctions between followers of the revelations of Prophet Mohammed, pbuh, and followers of the religions that came before.  More specifically, verses 142 – 150 instruct the Prophet to turn his direction of prayer toward the Kabah, and no longer toward Jerusalem. 

That said, this is one of those verses that is taken by many to have a much broader meaning in and of itself.  Mohamed Asad writes:

“Middlemost community” is a community that keeps an equitable balance between extremes and is realistic in its appreciation of man’s nature and possibilities, rejecting both licentiousness and exaggerated asceticism.  In tune with its oft-repeated call to moderation in every aspect of life, the Quran exhorts the believers not to place too great an emphasis on the physical and material aspects of their lives, but postulates, at the same time, that man’s urges and desires relating to this “life of the flesh” are God-willed and, therefore, legitimate.  On further analysis, the expression “a community of the middle way” might be said to summarize, as it were, the Islamic attitude towards the problem of man’s existence as such:  a denial of the view that there is an inherent conflict between the spirit and the flesh, and a bold affirmation of the natural, God-willed unity in this twofold aspect of human life.  This balanced attitude, peculiar to Islam, flows directly from the concept of God’s oneness and, hence, of the unity of purpose underlying all His creation; and thus, the mention of the “community of the middle way” at this place is a fitting introduction to the theme of the Kabah, a symbol of God’s oneness.”

Asad, and others who similarly extract expanded meaning from this verse, may be over-reaching.  But he is not deviating from the general Islamic value of maintaining balance in life, balance which can be extended to any number of dimensions.   I will give more examples of how balance is referenced in the Quran, and in the Prophet’s life, but first let me say something about Asad’s assertion that this balanced attitude “is peculiar to Islam.”

Here are just a few of many possible quotes:
Thomas Merton – “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

Aristotle – “It is better to rise from life as from a banquet – neither thirsty nor drunken.”

Shakespeare – “They are sick that surfeit with too much, as they that starved with nothing.”

Confucius – “To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short.”

Finding the middle way, or balanced attitude, it would seem, is a notion as old as philosophy itself.  And yet, it is an attitude that is so difficult for us humans to maintain that God’s revelations in Quran remind us repeatedly of its importance.

We read in Surah Al-Araf:

Children of Adam!  Beautify yourselves for every act of worship, and eat and drink freely, but do not waste: verily, God does not love the wasteful.  7:31

Say:  “Who is there to forbid the beauty which God has brought forth for His creatures, and the good things from among the means of sustenance?”
Say:  “They are lawful in the life of this world unto all who have attained to faith – to be theirs alone on Resurrection Day.”  Thus clearly do We spell out these messages unto people of innate knowledge! 7:32

There is a story in the Seerah – the life of the Prophet, pbuh, of three young men who decided to camp in one of the mosques in Medinah, to not leave the mosque but spend as much time as they could praying, fasting, and not getting married.  The Prophet heard about it so he brought them to his mosque and told them, “I fast sometimes, but I don’t fast sometimes.  I pray some nights and I sleep other nights, and I am married to women.  I am the Prophet of Allah and I am the closest of all of you to Allah.”  In other words, he told them, exaggerated piety will not get you closer to God. 

There is another story, this one about Abu Bakr.  He used to pray aloud in his backyard in Makkah.  In fact he was so loud that it disturbed his non-Muslim neighbor, whose complaints came back to the Prophet.  This ayah came in response:

Surah Al-Israa
Say:  “Invoke God, or invoke the Most Gracious: by whichever name you invoke Him, He is always the One – for His are all the attributes of perfection.”
And pray unto Him; yet be not too loud in thy prayer nor speak it in too low a voice, but follow a way in-between;  17:110

Of course we can find other examples of the benefits of balance and moderation in Quran.  But let’s come back to the present.  The challenge of finding balance in life has not diminished over time.   We all struggle with it – finding balance between work and family life, between material concerns and spirituality, between indulgence and restraint.  If you do a search on the Internet for “life balance,” you immediately see just how widespread this notion is now in our culture of pop psychology.  The focus is on “mindfulness,” “awareness,” “work-life balance,” “internal vs. external balance,” and there are myriad lists of techniques to practice to help you achieve it.  Consider the image of a gymnast on a balance beam.  Staying on that beam takes work – practice, and the tenacity to get back on the beam every time you fall, because falling off is part of the training process. 

Achieving balance in life is not just an Islamic ideal, of course.  It is a human ideal.  However, as Muslims, we have both special challenges to maintaining our sense of balance and equilibrium in this world, and special resources to help us do so.

I do not need to elaborate too much on the challenges we face as Muslims in 2016.  On the one hand, we suffer from the weight of a history that has given rise to very unbalanced interpretations of our faith – extremism that has led to demonization and violence against the civilization that nourishes and sustains us.  On the other hand, the unbalanced reaction to this extremism is the demonization of our faith and those of us who practice it, especially by those who seek to gain political advantage in doing so.  It is not easy to be Muslim these days.  Muslims are falling off the balance beam in both directions – young people who get recruited into extremism, and many more who leave faith altogether. 

Maintaining balance takes work, and courage.  Please indulge me to share the story of someone who is, in his own creative way, trying to maintain balance in a country unbalanced to extremes.  We have the special joy today of having one of our nephews with us from Egypt, Amr.  Amr could have continued his successful career as a financial advisor in Egypt, focusing solely on material gain in a society that has become dangerously oppressive and intolerant to anyone who hopes for freedom of expression.   But Amr has intuitively, and intelligently reacted to that oppression by launching a new career for himself as a travel writer for Egyptians – he will be sharing with them a hopeful vision of a free life on the road.  At first glance this might seem frivolous, since most Egyptians will never be able to leave their country.  But by sharing a window to other worlds, he will give them a sense of the possibility of other ways of being, and hopefully, a sense of balance. 

Amr is not using Islam per se to guide his new adventure.  But he is using his faith, faith that has given him the personal strength to take the risks he is taking to achieve his goals.  Faith is key, but I find that Islam also gives us specific tools to help maintain balance in this crazy world; at least it has for me.  In fact, one of those tools helped bring me into this faith.  Please indulge me again, with a more personal story.  As most of you know, I was raised as a Unitarian.  Unitarianism is a very intellectually oriented faith tradition.  The focus is on thinking, exploration, and “finding one’s own path.”  As I became an adult, I took the exploration seriously, and investigated all kinds of other faith traditions, looking for more reassurance, more comfort than constant questioning could offer.  I became fascinated for a time with the realm of spiritualism, and read everything I could find about psychics and supernatural phenomenon.  I even went to visit a psychic, someone who was followed by dear family friends who were Christian ministers.  Elwood Babbit of New Hampshire went into a trance in front of me, “left his body,” and “channeled” the spirit of Dr. Fisher, an 18th century physician who explained to me that the struggles I had been having with my father were left over from a previous lifetime, in which he and I were brothers, Seminole Indians in what is now Florida, and we had fought with each other during those lives.  The reading gave me a sense of peace at the time.  It allowed me to view our relationship from a different perspective – from a “therapeutic” distance.  But after awhile, I grew to feel uneasy about it.  Even if this experience was “real,” how could I trust it?  I had no tools with which to discern what was real and what could be fabricated in this world of psychic spiritualism.  And that was potentially dangerous.  It was at this point that I began to read about Islam.  And in Quran I found Surah al Falaq:
Qul a’udhu beRabbil-falaq.
Min sharri ma khalaq.
Wa min sharri ghasiqin idha waqab.
Wa min sharrin naffathati fil uqad,
Wa min-sharri hasidin idha hasad.

Say:  I seek refuge with the Sustainer of the rising dawn.
From the evil of aught that He has created,
And from the evil of the black darkness whenever it descends,
And from the evil of all human beings bent on occult endeavors. 
And from the evil of the envious when he envies.  113:1-5

As I read more about Islam, I realized that this is a religion that does not deny or minimize the power of the spiritual world, in which I had come to absolutely believe.  But Islam also provides a perspective on the nature and limitations of human beings in our relationship to the world of spirit, which I had also come to recognize with absolute certainty. 

Over the years, I have found that the tools of practicing faith in Islam have helped me, both personally and even as an adherent to a widely misrepresented and mistrusted faith.  Here are just a few examples:

From Quran, for those who would misuse our faith for violent ends:
Surah Al-Maa’idah
You who have attained to faith!  Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice.  Be just:  this is closest to being God-conscious.  And remain conscious of God:  verily, God is aware of all that you do.  5:8

From Quran, regarding those who play on fear and hatred for their own political gain, to boast about their own power and prowess:
Surah Luqman
God granted wisdom to the sage Luqman, who shared it with his son.  Among the advice he gave is the following, as documented in Quran:
And turn not thy cheek away from people in false pride, and walk not haughtily on earth:  for behold, God does not love anyone who, out of self-conceit, acts in a boastful manner.  31:18
“Hence, be modest in thy bearing, and lower thy voice:  for, behold, the ugliest of all voices is the loud voice of asses…”  31:19

I find comfort in these words, and many other verses I find in Quran, even if I am reading them out of context.  In fact, whenever I look in Quran for words of comfort, I can invariably find something that applies, even if the words were revealed for a different circumstance.  I believe that Quran can be useful in this way, as long as we use the verses to good purpose, even while  I understand that it is important to know the historical context of Quranic revelation, to the degree that it is possible.

But the other aspect of Islam that has helped to keep me balanced is a different, a very practical tool – the one we are using here today – the tool of prayer.   Here is another quote from a non-Muslim, Francis J. Braceland – “We can be sure that the greatest hope for maintaining equilibrium in the face of any situation rests within ourselves.”  This is true, but when we are suffering, it is hard to find the strength within to get ourselves back on track.  This is where I have found prayer so helpful.  Many times I face prayer reluctantly, as a chore, an encumbrance – especially when I am in a hurry, or feeling disillusioned about my faith.   Another, anonymous quote says “The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you’ve lost it.”  When I find myself feeling prayer as a burden, I know I’ve lost my balance.  It is only my commitment to God that I would pray the Muslim prayers, that keeps me doing it at those times.  I take that commitment as sacred, and so I make myself pray.  I get back on the beam, and I invariably find that, even if I begin with impatience, or my mind wanders around my practical cares and worries, by the end of the prayer, I have once again made a connection to God, the beam feels more like a pathway, and I am brought back to center. 

And so, I end as I began, with the opening verse of Quran, Surah al-Fatihah:
Bismil lahir Rahmanir Rahim
Alhamdu lillahi Rabbil alamin.
Arrahmani Rahim
Maliki Yawminid Din.
Iyyaka na budu wa Iyyaka nasta in.
Ihdinas siratal mustaqim.
Siratal-ladhina an amta alayhim ghayril maghdubi alayhim wa lad daaliin.
All praise is due to God alone, the Sustainer of the worlds,
The Most Gracious, the most Merciful,
Lord of the Day of Judgment.
Thee alone do we worship; and unto Thee alone do we turn for aid.
Guide us on the straight path,
The path of those on whom You have bestowed Your blessings,
Not of those who are condemned, nor of those who go astray.  1:1-7

Oh God, help us to keep balance in all the aspects of our lives.  Guide us on your path – the straight path, the middle path, the path of balance in all things.

Saddaq Allahu al Azeem.  Ameen.