Barakah (Arabic: بركة : also Baraka) is an Arabic term meaning blessing, particularly, spiritual gifts or protection transmitted from God. It is also described as "the greater good" derived from any act. The parallel Jewish term is the cognate Berakhah, in Christianity charisma or divine grace. Barakah also refers to the favorable result of any action due to divine blessing. It is also a Sufi term referring to a sense of "divine presence" or "charisma."
Muslims believe that "sincere invocation of God", good deeds, repentance, and prayer, may dispose God to dispense Barakah into their lives. This is supposed to make things easier, happier, and more blessed in this life, and by God's mercy, in the Hereafter.
Baraka is used in contemporary French as a synonym of "luck". A person who has "baraka" is said to be able to emerge unscathed from dangerous situations. This use of the term derives from the time of French colonization in Algeria (1830-1962). When asked why he did not fear being killed by his enemies, Charles de Gaulle is said to have replied, "I have baraka."
Barakah was the name of Al-Said Barakah a Sultan in Egypt who ruled from 1277 to 1279.
Like many other spiritual terms that originally had an almost technical precision, baraka has come to mean many things to many people. Idries Shah explains some of its Arabic cognates in the parable of The Islanders in his book The Sufis.
Baraka is perhaps more easily understood as a flow of grace rather than a state. It flows naturally from Creator to creation as a form of sustenance. It can also flow between creatures in a glance, an act of kindness, even a commercial transaction.
One of the more interesting characteristics is that baraka is not limited by time. For example, when God promised Abraham that he would be the father of nations (Genesis 17), one could imagine Abraham feeling energized by the gratitude of his future descendants. Similarly, the practice of ziyarat or worshiping at the tombs of saints (e.g., wali songo in North Java) can be seen as a transmission of baraka sending gratitude from the present into the past to inspire those who pioneered a religion.
The poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Walt Whitman is imbued with the transcendence of time by transmitting a feeling back and forth across years. For example, in the fourth stanza, he refers to his future readers as "others who look back on me because I look'd forward to them."
References and further reading
- C. Coulon, et al. Charisma and Brotherhood in African Islam. Oxford Univ. Press, 1988. ISBN 019822723X.
- L. N. Takim. The Heirs of the Prophet: Charisma And Religious Authority in Shi'ite Islam. SUNY Press, 2006. ISBN .
- P. Werbner, et al. Embodying Charisma: Modernity, Locality and Performance of Emotion in Sufi Cults. Routledge, 1998. ISBN .
- List of Islamic terms in Arabic
- Berakhah (Judaism; Hebrew)
- Spiritual gifts
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