During the weeks leading up to my birthday this year, I fervently searched for the true meaning of a birthday. I wanted to know what it is that I am supposed to be celebrating and I assumed that once I knew that, it would be easy to figure out how I am supposed to be spending that day. After consulting many friends and books on the subject, I resolved to look within my own soul. What follows is the fruit of my meditation on September 14, 2012…
In the beginning, the Oneness of God gives rise to the first originated beings – the Universal Intellect and the Universal Soul. As God transcends the act of giving birth, it is the union of the primordial parents – Universal Intellect and Universal Soul – that produces their noble offspring – the Cosmos as a whole. This Cosmos has both spiritual and physical realms known as the World of Faith (Din) and the World of Nature (Dunya), respectively. On my previous 25 birthdays, I’ve only celebrated my physical birth, and thus, honored only my physical body, physical parents, physical ancestors – all within the temporary World of Nature (Dunya).
The time has come for me to shift my focus and ask, “From where did I come and where shall I return?” Yes, my physical body came from my parents, who came from the race of humanity, born from the union of Adam and Eve. But where did Adam and Eve come from? And where did my soul come from?
That which I call “I”, which animates this mortal coil of matter, was given birth through my spiritual father and mother, our Imam and Pir, Shah Karim al-Husainy. He comes from the line of hereditary Imams stemming from the perfect union of Prophet Muhammad and Mawlana ‘Ali.
On my 26th birthday, I am honoring all of the familial forces that came together as one – to give birth to a new, individual center of consciousness arriving in this world to play its part.
As I close my eyes and reflect on memories from previous birthdays, I see my parents helping me cut the cake and wishing me for the upcoming year. I also see my spiritual father and mother standing at a distance, smiling at what he sees. And what does he see? A growing child, a beloved Murid, a dawning soul surrounded by her family gathered together to celebrate her physical birth. He waits for me to notice his presence, and as I do, he wishes me a very happy spiritual birthday and conveys his most affectionate, paternal, maternal loving blessings. For him, this is a commemoration of my bay’ah, the birth of my soul, and the gradual unfolding of its mission. He has been there all along, and always remains there, even after all of the other guests have gone home.