Author Saeed Malik: The Qur’an through a Heart’s Prism
By Ras Hafiz Siddiqui
Saeed Malik and the book authored by him
Author Saeed Malik is no stranger to success. He has already been a high achiever and is from amongst the success stories that South Asians try to emulate in the Silicon Valley where entrepreneurs from Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh have made quite a name for themselves.
By enriching the technological horizons of the world (and themselves in the process) throughout the tail end of the last century and then struggling during the first decade of this one, one finds it interesting that CEOs and Presidents like Saeed still find the time and the energy to plunge themselves into the spiritual realm with such a high level of commitment. “A perspective on the Signs of Al-Qur’an: Through the prism of the heart” is quite a book and Saeed Malik deserves both praise and feedback for this sterling effort.
When the author approached this writer to read the book, he found some reluctance. A book on ones beliefs from any point of view is usually reserved for religious scholars to evaluate, and after hearing its long title I felt that it was beyond my scope of reading. But having said that, after reading a few pages, the thought did come to mind that this book should have been named “The Qur’an Through A Heart’s Prism” and that it has been written for any person who is willing to appreciate this spiritual journey called life. Like life itself, this work is broken up into chapters. And akin to stops during any journey, the traveler (reader) discovers many points of interest.
From the chapter titled “Reflection”, Saeed Malik writes, “Faith replaces doubt, yet it does not enter through the door of mental reasoning or logic alone. It seeks the heart because it must reside in the heart. ” Another excerpt from the book, “Spiritual emancipation and temporal equality and fraternity are at the heart of the Kalima. The Kalima rejects dogma and embraces both the simplicity and the profundity of Oneness,” from the chapter titled “This is my Lord”.
And from the well-researched chapter “The Message” we learn, “God’s guidance is primordial. Starting with Adam’s displacement from paradise, God’s revelations were received by a chain of prophets before Muhammad. He, Muhammad, was the final seal and the final restorer. The Qur’an does not abrogate what came before it, although it does assert that previous messages have been deliberately tampered with, offering the simple proof that the Jews and Christians would not have had a divergence of views if this was not the case.” One may ask the author to elaborate on this and whether the passage of time was a major factor in this change. He writes later in the same chapter, “Perhaps the most poignant present-day reminder underscoring the reformist aspect of the prophet’s message is the Kaaba itself. For a pilgrim to the Kaabah, the symbolism of its restoration (as opposed to re-creation) as the house of Abraham is inescapable.” It appears that the author is stressing the common origins of Judaism, Christianity and Islam here but with the reservation that all three diverge in the material (not the spiritual) picture in today’s world. That the solution just lies in the abandonment of selfishness is not lost to many of us in the outside world.
Moving on to the chapter titled “The Messenger” which is self-explanatory. “The followers of Islam believe that Muhammad was the last messenger of God. This was a matter of belief then. Today, fourteen centuries later, the belief is a historical fact. What is equally factual is that Muhammad’s prophet-hood took place in the “daylight of history,” writes Malik. He follows up in the chapter titled “ Scales of Justice” which in the opinion of this reviewer will raise many eyebrows but has some logical concluding thoughts: “Man intoxicated by power and wealth forgets his own Master, who bestows upon him his ability to command as well as the resources to exploit. Man mistakes nature’s dependable submission with his own mastery and control.”
In the realm of complexity, the “Relationship with God” chapter in this book has to rank very high. God is both personal and universal, writes Malik. “Dhikr is to experience God and like all experience it is within oneself, personal and intimate and defiant of uniform expression. At a minimum it is the richly laden process of connection to our Source and the ensuing discovery of our belonging to it.”
The last (and longest) major chapter in the book, “ The Most Beautiful Rosary,” delves deeply into lines from Surahs in the Qur’an. Here the author has done a great deal of work to explain the relationship with the Divine and one can leave it to the serious reader to reflect on its contents.
The Epilogue of “A perspective on the Signs of Al-Quran: through the prism of the heart” is preceded by calligraphy by the late Pakistani painter Sadequain which adds a nice touch even without its original colors. But let us leave the book here with what Saeed Malik writes in the closing pages. “Ibadaat is to serve a purpose higher than one’s own. Ibadaat in its purest form puts God at the center of consciousness, motivation and action.” There are some limitations here in this work because in spite of trying to reach the outside, it does not stray too far away from the interpretation in defined parameters of established Muslim beliefs. The poet Rumi is present here along with Sadequain’s calligraphy but beliefs are clear, precise and sometimes bluntly presented.
Saeed Malik for some reason wanted this scribe to do this review. I do not regret his choice but as someone who usually reads and reviews liberal works of fiction, this was quite a change. The spiritual filter used to write this book works most of the time, something the reader will enjoy. And the thought does come to mind after having met Saeed on a couple of occasions, as to why a senior technology executive from America’s Silicon Valley would embark on such a difficult task of writing this book and devoting several years of his life to it. Maybe it is not just the poor of this world who are hungry for food and religion. It appears that senior executives and company Presidents remain hungry at the top in the spiritual realm. This effort is one such example that needs to be read by those aspiring to understand Islam. (The book is available at www.booksurge.com or on Amazon.com. The author can be contacted at Saeed325@gmail.com)