Saturday, July 14, 2012

Gengki & Kaizen | Seekers and Guides


I used to frequent 'Gengki Sushi' restaurant in KL (praise be to God for great Japanese food!), but never bothered what gengki meant until I passed by the Japanese embassy in KL not too long ago. There was a banner hanged outside the embassy's wall. The message written on it had left me with a lump in my throat.

Surely you remember the 11th March 2011 tsunami that hit Japan. We saw how the world united in grief and offered as much help as possible. On the banner was a sweet sentimental message from the people of Japan thanking Malaysians for the contributions we made in response to the tragedy. But what caused a lump in my throat was that it also said the Japanese would rise again 'with gengki'. That is with energy, with enthusiasm!

Oh we know how good the Japanese are at rebuilding lives. Remember  Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 1945? And did you know that when 16 orphans living in a madrasah near KL died in a landslide, the Japanese showed 'kizuna' (bond of friendship) by funding a disaster prevention project worth 360 million Yen? Talk about the beauty of humanity.

And kaizen means continuous improvement. It's something many of us would have learned at our workplace. The two words together gengki & kaizen have become my professional mantra lately. But as a seeker of the knowledge of Allah, we must have gengki and kaizen too. It is in my opinion, equivalent to having himmah (aspiration). It's a promising and comforting word for a beginner like me especially, because it's quite an easy requisite to have. I still remember the words of advice from almost all the guides I've met: "Keep your himmah high."

This spirit of striving for the better with enthusiasm is not only common among the seekers but also the guides. I learned this from a lecture by Shaykh Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi on the different levels of guides or shaykh. A question was posed in a sufi gathering, "Who is the wali?" Someone answered 'he is the one who guides you to Allah, someone who shows you the way'. But the imam of the Shadhili tariqa remarked, 'But to show the way from far away is easy.'

Shaykh Al Yaqoubi further explained that the awliya are judged or measured by the number of people they could guide to Allah, the number of people they could take with them on the path to Allah. A wali is someone who could not only tell you right from wrong, to just tell you the direction, turn right and go straight when he himself has not traveled the path. A wali according to Imam Abul Hassan Ash-Shadhili is one who has walked the path, one who could take you by the hand and walk with you and hand you to your Lord! Subhanallah!

May Allah, by the blessings of Rasulullah s.a.w and the barakah of the Sufi shuyukh from whom we have learned directly or indirectly, let us have the privilege of having our hand guided and presented to the Lord subhanahu wa ta'ala. Ameen.

Disclaimer: It is important not to think that the journey to Allah involves a physical or spatial dimension because He is at no place. The journey as clarified by Shaykh Muhammad Al Yaqoubi is metaphorical.

Wish you a great weekend with your loved ones. I think I'll have salmon sashimi today. Oh no! Some 'holier than thou' people might reprimand me for talking about wusul and food in the same breath. Sorry!

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