Saturday, June 30, 2012

Positive provocation called love



Bismillah.

We all need it. We all cherish it. 

We need some kind of provocation every now and then to make us rush forward when we are a little slacking. Sometimes we are at our normal pacing and out of nowhere it appears - this positive provocation called love. And wow suddenly it puts a skip in our step, puts a smile on the face for no reason. Of course there is a reason - it's love.

Oh...the things people do when they found themselves love-struck. What have you done? It's amazing how people can do really strange things they wouldn't otherwise do, had they not been love-struck. It gives  us plenty of energy, an enormous amount of creativity, a soaring spirit and the list goes on. As we look back, we would all smile and think, oh how sweet, I mean, sweet sweet!

But let's not restrict it to typical love affairs, like the attraction a man and a woman have when they are courting. It can be anything, anyone, anywhere. Think about the first time you felt that rush of blood when you first saw him/her in school, at uni, at your workplace, at a gathering, on the train etc. He/she who made you nervous a little. You might not necessarily have ended up with him/her, or have anything to do with him/her later, still we cherish the excitement all the same don't we?

I think it's good to be able to dig it out, this positive provocation called love, which we have all experienced  in one way or another. It enriches our psychological well being. It could increase our emotional intelligence quotient one notch each time we recall the feeling. 

But intense love-struck can be difficult to contain. It pervades our entire being, our very essence to the core. No matter how beautiful it is and how addictive to lose oneself in the sensations, we must put it aside when we are in prayers. Or we will be guilty of hidden polytheism.

I know it's easier said than done. Let's learn something from this beautiful...beautiful Indonesian song called Ayat-Ayat Cinta (Verses of Love).

Bila bahagia mulai menyentuh
seakan ku bisa hidup lebih lama
namun harus ku tinggalkan cinta 
ketika ku bersujud

"When happiness begins to engulf;
it feels like I could live so much longer;
Alas I  must leave love behind,
while I make a sujud..."

Hmm...
_______________________________________________

Note: Sujud is prostration; to gracefully drop on one's knees with both palms touching the floor to the side of one's ears, elbows lifted, and forehead touching the ground. It is a moment of nearness with the Lord and hence none should occupy one's heart and mind save He. 



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Excuse me, God made me a Malay!


Bismillah.


Alhamdulillah wa shukrulillah for nikmat al-ijad - the blessings of being - that He has actually created us. When the Supreme Creator created us, He created us equal as His creation, and equally beautiful at that. Though some of us might insist that He has created us in various degree of beauty as defined by the eyes of the mortals. How rude can we be? True, He has created us differently with different colors and different features reflecting the multiplicity of His creations. On one hand we pretend to be Muslims and accept that wisdom. On the other hand, we quietly set boundaries based on our physical differences.

Worse still, we delimit the universality of love. "Sorry, you can't come into our family because you are not one of us!"

How dare you? Excuse me.....God made me a Malay!

Fortunately, race is not a prerequisite in the eyes of Allah, the All-Encompassing Love.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Be beautiful yourself

Bismillah.

"O the complainant who suffers no malady. Be beautiful yourself, and you will see beauty in all of creation." 

Imam Zaid Shakir ended his article 'The Beauty of Islam' with this saying by Ilya Abu Madh.

I can only dream of writing as maturely and brilliantly as Imam Zaid Shakir. MashaAllah! In the said article featured in EMEL magazine and New Islamic Directions Blog, Imam Zaid talked about his concerns on the not so beautiful images of Islam that are being portrayed in the mainstream media and why we should strive to be beautiful beings ourselves especially in terms of morals (akhlak). I have taken the liberty of cutting and pasting several key sentences which [I think] shout the main message, when put together.


"In short, the images usually associated with Islam and Muslims are those of death, destruction, harshness and anger. Rarely do we see images of life, gentleness and happiness...That being the case, each and everyone of us has a responsibility to do what we can to counter the prevailing stereotypes and to present an alternative image. To do that effectively, we have to realise just how beautiful our religion is and then begin to articulate that beauty in all we do...Perhaps more importantly, Muslims always strove to be beautiful people...Beautiful character, in this regard, should not be seen as lying in philosophically titillating abstractions. It is oftentimes manifested in the simplest things. A gentle smile extended to a soul longing to be loved. Patiently enduring the abuses and insults of the ignorant while endeavouring to educate and inform them with the best manner possible. The loving embrace of a spouse fatigued after a long day...The selfless consideration of the best interest of one's relatives, neighbours and when relevant, even a stranger. A quiet but determined commitment to reading, learning and critical thinking as the foundation of a life lived in the light of truth and moral excellence. It is further to be found in the willingness to sacrifice something of our present for the sake of our children's future...If enough of us are committed to bringing to the world as much beauty as we can then the world will be a more beautiful place. It will never be perfect. However, the light of our beauty will help to hide the darkness of its imperfections. This is the surest path to an Islamic revival."

Yes, individually we should all strive to be a beautiful being so that eventually and collectively what gets manifested at the macro level is the beauty of Islam. This is some kind of a revival from within. But I just want to say something to encourage myself. In the quest to bring out the beauty in us oftentimes we have to dig deeper and sometimes overlook the 'ugly' bit. "A scar is a scar" said my surgeon, a simple fact which I have had trouble dealing with until he said it to me matter-of-factly. And though the water in the jug is somewhat tainted we have to keep pouring clean water into it until all colorations are gone and that what is left is a cleaner and purer substance. But purifying oneself is not as easy as pouring clean water into a jug. It's a real tough constant struggle. No wonder they say mujahadah nafs is the greater jihad. While we struggle individually to bring out the beauty in ourselves, look only at that which is beautiful in others because we are all work-in-progress.

p/s
Speaking of scars, our heart and prayers go out to Aesha Mohammadzai and all other unknown women who have become victims of heinous crime committed by people who ruthlessly rob women of their God-given beauty and dignity.



Friday, June 22, 2012

'Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World' - A Review


Bismillah.

If you are in the US, by all means mark your calendar on
Friday, July 6th 2012 
9.00 p.m. EST 
and tune in to PBS
for a mind-opening, heart-soothing and pretty documentary by Unity Productions Foundation (UPF):
'Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World'

Having watched a sneak preview of the film, I have confidence that come 6th of July, UPF will have achieved another milestone for its mission of creating peace through the media.

Narrated by Susan Sarandon, this 90-minute documentary cleverly weaves the passage of time, with people, places and beautiful objects - the when, who, where and what of Islamic arts since the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Viewers will get to 'travel' to significant places in Islamic civilization such as the Dome of Rock, the grand mosques in Istanbul, Djenne Mosque in Mali, Alhambra and Taj Mahal, while exploring Islamic arts from five angles - 'The Word', space, ornaments, color and water.

One of the two Executive Producers, Alex Kronemer said: "We hope watching the film will result in Muslims feeling a source of pride as well as celebration in their heritage." That's true, but I am more proud to see how passionately the non-Muslim art experts elaborate the intricate beauties of Islam, reflected even in simple objects such as a calligraphic bowl and a reed pen. They offer a fresh and refreshing perspective into the Islamic world and have opened my eyes and mind to my own religion. The film reminds me of how great Islam used to be and provokes a deeper introspection into the quality and reality of present day Islam.

If it was directed and produced by a Muslim, the film might not achieve its intended purpose. It might become too obvious and predictable. Robert Gardner's creative selection of art objects and contents has allowed the film to have a more neutral and palatable offering for both Islam-friendly and skeptical non-Muslim viewers.

I am especially delighted that Sufism gets a mention in the documentary. And the definition of Sufism in West Africa as quoted in the film should be true elsewhere - "That it is tolerant in nature...that people can have their own experience and celebrate their own experience with God. That we need to make space where we can be alone with our own thoughts, that we are a small speck of this universe."

Islamic art, in fact anything that is beautiful in this physical realm is a reflection of the attribute of God, the Divine Beauty - Al Jamal. Perhaps Muslims of the past could achieve a high level of artistic beauty because they understood the reality of Islam better, they understood servitude better that they had become a pure receptacle of His Divine Beauty, that they had become a truly clean mirror reflecting God's beauty amazingly.

Watch the film, allow yourself to be mesmerized by beauty which transcends faith. We may still continue to be divided, but at the end of the day it's not our struggles that will be cherished, but it is our common creativity and intelligence that will flourish and stay beautiful for the longest time.

Note:
Beginning 6th July 2012, you may purchase the film's DVD from www.upf.tv for US$19.95
Thanks to Arshiya Kapadia for the sneak preview.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Marhaban Sha'ban 1433 Hijri


Bismillah.

Ar salallah hu ilaina
Bil karamaatil 'izom
Ahmadal Mukhtari Taha
Sayyidar ruslil kiraam

Allah has sent unto us
with incredible honors
Ahmad Al-Mukhtar Taha
The leader of all honorable Rasul
Allah Allah Allah Allah
Maa laana mawlan siwallah

We welcome this blessed month of Sha'ban, one which is dedicated to Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. Let's revise and recite this du'a, though common it is, we are grateful to have heard it from Habib Hamid Omar al-Habshi who had learned it from his guru Shaykh Sayyid Muhammad bin Alawi al-Maliki (rahimullahu ta'ala)

Allahumma bariklana 
fi Rajaba 
wa Sha'ban 
fabal lighna Ramadhan
Ya Rabbal alamin 
warzuqna siyamah 
wa qiyamah 
wa taqabbal ha minna.

The last part is especially important. O Allah grant us the ability to fast and perform the night prayers and accept it from us.

May Allah be generous on us in letting us taste the sweetness of ibadah and may He also grant us the wisdom to not depend on our ibadah. Ameen.


"Those who remember their remembrance of God (dhikir), are more heedless than those who forget their remembrance." - Abu Bakar Muhammad al-Wasiti


Four more weeks, and there she comes, Ramadhan, InshaAllah : )

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

His power over us



Bismillah.

La hawla wala quwwata illah billah

Somehow, I am still suffering from anesthesia hangover. Not so much physical, but mental and emotional. I am feeling aloof, disinterested and sombre towards people. At the same time, I am feeling guilty about having to write this, you know writing about myself too much. But writing is like a prescription drug to some people. 

The only person towards whom I am not feeling aloof, disinterested or sombre is my surgeon Dr. Al Amin.  I can't wait to go for my follow-up. There's something magical about his name. I had chosen him solely because of his name and he turned out to be superb, mashaAllah! He was also bashful, that I am shy to say that I had not been more shy with him [heh heh]. I must write about him, excuse me. Prior to the surgery I was feeling nervous about scars and the cold lonely journey to the operating theatre. It was my third experience, still it's as nerve wrecking as ever. But having had a doctor by the name of Al Amin helped a lot. [Gosh, I hope he doesn't stumble on this blog]. He had removed a 4 cm of foreign element from my body, yet only left a scar as tiny as a cigarette butt, without any stitches. Amazing eh? So much so that I am proud that I have got an imprint on me made by one named Al Amin - almost like "a prophetic stamp" if you will. Allah bless him with greater healing skills, I pray, Ameen.

Okay here's a relevant lesson for me and you dear readers. And thanks for listening.

"Among the adab to be observed in sickness is what I heard from Abu Bakar al-Razi who said: I heard al-Husayn say: I heard Abdullah al-Ridwani say: "Once Bishr al-Hafi and Makruf al-Kharki fell ill and therefore the doctor began to visit them frequently. But while Bishr would inform him about his illness, Makruf would refuse to tell him anything about it. Thus the doctor said to Makruf, 'Won't you tell me how you are as Bishr does?' Makruf answered: 'Do you want me to complain of God to you?' 

So the doctor went back to Bishr and told him what Makruf had said. Bishr replied: 'O doctor! We do not complain of God to you, rather we describe to you His power over us."

- Quoted from 'A Collection of Sufi Rules of Conduct' by Abu Abdul Rahman al-Sulami
- Translated by Elena Biagi.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Rahmat the former rock singer now sings 'Glorious Love of Rasulullah'


Bismillah.

Allah guides whom He wills! Talk about His vast Rahmat.

Rahmat's rendition of five songs of praises for Rasulullah s.a.w in the CD is, to me, world class as far as Islamic music is concerned. Rahmat, once a popular rock singer in Malaysia, has lately been associating himself with his guide Al Musnid Sheikh Muhammad Fuad bin Kamaludin Al Maliki. Thus, the CD comes with an endorsement from Yayasan Sofa, a foundation led by Al Maliki.

The album is named (in Malay) - 'Semarak Cinta Rasulullah' meaning the 'Glorious Love of Rasulullah'. My favorite song has got to be In Jabartum Kasra Qolbi - "If only you could heal my broken heart" - a number which is regularly sang by the Naqshbandi Haqqani band. Let me try translate the lyrics for you here bi-iznillah.

Allah Allah Allah Allah
Maa lanaa mawlan siwallah
There is no master for us, save Allah

Kulla maa naa daitu yaa Hu
Everytime I call out 'Oh my Lord'

Qolaya 'abdi anallah
Allah will surely answer "Oh my servant, I am Allah"

In jabartum kasra qolbi
If only you could heal my broken heart

Antu mu ahluz zimaam
You may well be the most respected leader

Au wassol tum ya habaayib
Or perhaps you have arrived at Him, O lovers

Ha kazaa sha' nul kiram
That is a profession of the noble

Qo lat aqmaarud dayaaji
The moons speak, Oh so beautiful

Qul li ar baa bil ghoram
Say to those who are in ecstasy

Kullu man yakh shaq Muhammad
That all those who are in love and missed Muhammad
  
Fi amaanin wa salaam
Always be peaceful and safe

Wa habibi waj nataahu
Oh my beloved, whose cheek is radiant

War dataa ni kad dihaan
Like anointed rose 

Wa duumu 'ul 'aini tajrii
And tears fall out of missing you

Mithla haatho lil qomaam
Like the clouds pouring rain

Ar salallah hu ilaina
Allah has sent unto us

Bil karamaatil 'izom
with incredible honors

Ahmadal Mukhtari Taha
Ahmad, Al Mukhtar, Taha

Sayyidar ruslil kiraam
The leader of all honorable Rasul! 





















p/s 
This CD was a gift from a dear friend who visited me at hospital recently. It has given me amazing healing, not forgetting my brilliant and compassionate surgeon Dr. Al Amin of Tawakkal Hospital. Alhamdulillah, with every sickness therein lies a miraculous remedy. With every hardship comes ease. Thanks Sis Tina Jazakillahu khair!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Gotta have faith | Rajab reflections



Bismillah.

We would not have come this far if we have not had faith. Having faith is about trusting the Divine power and will, that everything is going to be alright. That applies, regardless of one's "faith" (religious beliefs). One just have the trust in that bigger power, that Being which is bigger than ourselves. Henceforth, anyone who is faithful has a religion.

This space borrows its name from Shaykh Ahmad Alawi's "Language of Faith" although some might translate lisan al-din as 'language of the religion'. In any case, we want to speak about what we have faith in, about what we believe in, our iman.

We don't write anything purposely to get a reaction. We simply write anything that makes a strong impression in our heart that we just have to pour it out. But inevitably we do get reactions from people. And from our experience there is no way predicting how a certain outpouring of emotions would or could affect other people. Anyhow, it looks as if we wear our heart on the sleeve and that our reflections of life have made us an 'open book'. Isn't life an open book? In fact it's an open book with pages that turn by itself, almost. But we all know who the page-turner is.

So many things have unfolded in this month of Rajab. As we approach its end, we reflect on this 'month of repentance' and we realize events in our lives are by nature 'repenting'. Repenting means turning back to where it should have been in the first place, turning back to its primordial state - the faith. No, it's more than faith, it's turning back to the spot where our consciousness of God is as its nearest - the endpoint of mikraj

Someone has made a heartfelt du'a for me on this Israk wal mikraj occasion and thus I'm reminded of the price we have to pay before we could attain the fruits of nearness. [Thanks T.]

Reflecting on the last days of Rajab, I turned the pages of 'The Sublime Revelation', yet again. Let's say ameen to this du'a made by the honorable Shaykh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani on the last day of Rajab, 887 years ago:

"O Allah, 
fortify our religion (adyan),
our faith (iman
and our bodies (abdan)
with Your nearness; 
and give us in this world good, and good in the hereafter, and guard us against the torment of the fire."

Among the parting words of the Shaykh in 'The Sublime Revelation': "The foundation of attainment (wusul) to Allah is faith (iman). The foundation of all goodness is faith."

So, we gotta have faith. And we bid farewell to Rajab!
__________________________________
Credit: Allahyarham Muhtar Holland/Al Baz Publishing
Pic credit: www.sakkal.com

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Reflections on Isra Mikraj by Habib Husein Alwy Agiel



Bismillah.

Alhamdulillah wa shukru lillah for the opportunity to sit before Habib Husein Alwy Agiel at Ba'alawi KL tonight.

Habib Husein began his tausiyah by acknowledging the tawfiq, hidayah, inayah and rahmah of Allah for enabling us to attend the majlis despite being occupied with all sorts of worldly matters. "Allah has inspired in our hearts and facilitate our steps to the majlis. We have confidence that Allah shall shower His mercy, blessings and forgiveness at this place. We hope none shall leave this majlis without being pardoned for heedlessness, that illnesses will get cured and petitions be answered, be it favors of this world or the hereafter."

"By the blessings of our guru Shaykh Sayyid Muhammad Alawi Al Maliki the author of Kitab Wa Huwa bi al'-Ufuq Al-a'la, may Allah strengthen our hearts in the days to come so that we are able to be present at such a majlis."

"Fifteen centuries ago we learned from the Prophet about the virtues of this kind of gathering, that he had asked his companions to stop by hilaqul zikri (gathering of remembrance) and hilaqul ilmi (gathering of knowledge), referring to them as heavenly gardens."

"It is highly commendable to gather for the purpose of making zikir and studying the deen. Tonight we have  begun by praying and reciting Ratib Al-Haddad. Imam al-Haddad was not only a Sufi, one who was learned in Tasawwuf, he was also a pharmacist who mastered a concoction for both physical and spiritual illnesses. He had put together Ratib al-Haddad when Yemen was faced with an 'Aqidah Revolution'. People from Tarim went to see him for solution. He told them to come back after 3 days and that was when he first prescribed Ratib al-Haddad. So Hadramaut and Tarim survived the 'revolution' and remained steadfast with aqidah ahlul sunnah wal jamaah to this day. Hold fast to the ratib, may it protect our aqidah and that of our children and descendants."

Then Habib Husein went on to talk about Israk wal mikraj, where Allah narrates the former in Surah al-Isra' and the latter in Surah an-Najm. Making reference to his guru's kitab, he said the practice of 'celebrating' Israk wal mikraj is common, it has got nothing to do with shariat. Meaning to say it is not a sunnah, wajib, makruh or even bidaah. However, if one marks the occasion of Israk wal mikraj in relation to or as a wasilah to Prophet Muhammad s.a.w then it becomes wajib because it is compulsory for us to know the history of Rasulullah s.a.w as it is obligatory for us to know him.

"Anyone who says it is bidaah is foolish because it has got nothing to do with hukum. We celebrate Israk wal mikraj so that it would heighten our appreciation and love towards the Prophet s.a.w. Some people argued about the accurate time to mark the event, whether it is in the evening or in the morning of 27th of Rajab. Ulama too have different opinions on the exact timing of Israk wal mikraj."

"Sayyid Al-Maliki, the author of the kitab we are discussing tonight said this fact (not having an agreement on its timing) does not affect the event itself. On the contrary, anyone who says Mawlidur Rasul is fixed on 12th Rabiul Awal or Israk wal mikraj must be celebrated on 27th Rajab, that is in fact bidaah. It is up to us when to commemorate the events because it has not been defined by the religion. What is more important is that we take advantage of the gathering by instilling good values on people and fill the event with zikir and reciting ratib. Sayyid Al Maliki said (in the kitab) that he has confidence that Allah would accept a gathering that is done for His sake even if the timing is not so accurate."

There are plenty of lessons we could learn from Israk wal mikraj. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w has been granted special privileges and accorded many honors beyond the Israk Mikraj episode. Allah has promised to pardon him should he ever commit a sin. He is the first and only person given the mandate to grant shafaat and he will be the one and only who shall grant us shafaat. When all other prophets will decline our plea for shafaat, it is he Rasulullah who will say: "Ana laha. Ana laha." His love for the ummah is greater than a mother's love for her child. His concern for the ummah is greater than his concern for his own family or  that of himself. We all know what his last words were - ummati ummati.

Another of his special privileges is dakwatan mustajaba. His prayers is mustajab as it is ainiyah hinniyah, it will be granted there and then. He has reserved this one special privilege in the akhirah so that he could use it for his ummah.

Allah s.w.t has never addressed him by his name Muhammad. He is always called upon by his attributes - Ya aiyuhan Nabi and never Ya Muhammad. The mukjizah of the other prophets have all expired, but his mukjizah is ever living.

The Qur'an teaches us through parables of the past so that we can learn from the bygone civilizations in order to reflect on history and not repeat their mistakes. We learned about Ad and Thamud who were after worldly gains and who were not hesitant about displaying their wealth. Do not be like them or we shall perish as they did.

We learned from the Qur'an about tyrant rulers, so we should not be power crazy or we will end up like them. We also learned from the Qur'an about the success stories of anbiya and awliya. Prophet Musa had water gushed forth just by using his stick. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w had water flowed from his hands to feed 10,000 of his armies and their camels.

Half of the inhabitants in heaven will be the ummah of Prophet Muhammad and the other half would be the ummah of all the other prophets.

One lesson we learned from Israk wal mikraj is that of solat. We too could experience mikraj five times a day through our solat - mikraj of the spirit, heart and soul towards Allah, leaving behind our shahwat and nafs to prove that we are a servant of Allah and not a servant of our nafs. Through solat we witness the greatness of Allah. If you wish to be a world leader, walk the path of good and honor by observing solat. But be cognizant, there is a difference between performing the obligatory duties of solat and performing true solat. It is the most important and sacred act of worship. Happy and prosperous is he who performs solat for it will be the first and foremost thing that Allah will question.
_____________________________
Allahu a'lam.May I be forgiven for any errors and omissions.
The majlis was hosted by the ever gracious Kak Ina & Ben of Ba'alawi KL.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Isra & Mikraj weekend at Ba'alawi KL on 16 & 17 June 2012


Bismillah.

In conjunction with the Isra' wal Mikraj
there will be a recital and khatam of a kitab
by Al Imam Sayyid Muhammad Alawi Al Maliki (rahimullahu ta'ala)
entitled
Wa Huwa bi al'-Ufuq Al-a'la

by the venerable
Habib Husein Alwy Agiel
(a mureed of Al-Maliki)

The majlis will begin at Maghrib
on both Saturday and Sunday
InshaAllah.

Venue:
Ba'alawi KL
No. 9 Jalan UP 2A
Prima Ukay
Saujana Melawati
KL
Tel: 03 4108 5888

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Trust Al-Amin



Bismillah.

Fifteen years
That's how long the love affair has been
Not that I didn't care before
How could I know
I was lost without you

One chilly morning in Rajab
Fifteen years ago
There my eyes fell on the stunning site
Bright lights almost blinding
You then became life in my veins

Oh Al Amin
I just wanted to say thank you
for opening my eyes to you
though I may be in the back row
still, I love you so

Should I ever go
leave this prison of Mukmin
welcome me please
as one who raise her hand
so you would count me in

I just wanted to say this
in case I am being taken away
this Thursday
or any other day!

Allahuma salli ala Sayyidina Muhammad
wa ala alihi Sayyidina Muhammad
wa barik wa salim


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Alone with the Alone, always

Bismillah.

Two reasons why this is being written: because I am home alone and because I have been listening to the song 'Alone' by Heart, the whole weekend. [Oh, pity you! Some might say.]

Let's explore the misconception some of us might have about being alone. Being alone is actually good as it gives one plenty of "me-time" to reflect on life and its matrix.  

Some people have the tendency to associate being alone with being single. Well, no! Dr. Wayne Dyer says: "The fact is that everybody is single. No matter how great the relationship you are in with somebody else, you are still single. You are still an individualized expression of God. You are going to be single, even if you are married with somebody continuously on your arm every minute of the day." 

That's true because we are unique, independent individuals. But I also believe while we are all "single" beings, we are also alone in our exclusive consciousness of self and the One Being we are connected to - God.

Hence, we are alone with the Alone, always. Being alone with our Creator, our Caretaker, our Provider, gives us an incredible amount of strength. Don't forget that simple but weighty invocations we learned from Sahl al-Tustari:
Allahu shahidi
Allahu naziri 
Allahu ma'ie

Allahu mai'e means Allah is with me. Therefore, it is fundamentally wrong to say 'Till now I always got by on my own', even though that's one line from the song I so love to sing along to.

As this 'lonely' weekend comes to an end, here's wishing you a fruitful and peaceful week ahead.

-E-















Saturday, June 9, 2012

The price we pay for love


Al Mumit - The Taker of Life
Bismillah.

"The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love: it is perhaps the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment. To ignore this fact, or to pretend that it is not so, is to put on emotional blinkers which leave us unprepared for the losses that will inevitable occur in our own lives and unprepared to help others to cope with losses in theirs."
- Dr. Collin Murray Parkes 

Edda and I have been best buddies since we were 17. Just a couple of years ago she lost her mother whom she had cared for like a baby. She bathed her, fed her, dressed her up...you name it. This she did for many years right until her last day. Last night, Edda lost her father. Pak Haji Jafry was a man of few words and because of that I cherished my conversations with him although I could only do that just about twice a year. Still, I have gathered enough evidence that he was a man blessed with karamah. Outwardly, he looked ordinary, spent his days riding bicycle to musolla five times a day and didn't mingle unnecessarily. I shall remember him as one of those whose du'a meant a great deal to me; one who made special prayers for me three nights in a row just so that I would do well in my exams, a favor I didn't ask yet he did voluntarily. [Oh, I've just been told that he had refused to go to hospital because he said he would die in two days' time. And he was right!]

Yesterday, young Shafiq died after saving his friend from drowning. A very obedient son he was, he never  bothered to swim because his mother wouldn't let him. So yesterday at a picnic with his college mates, as usual he just sat on the river bank, until a friend called out for help. Help he did and both came onto dry land before Shafiq slipped and fell to his death into a waterfall. 

Shafiq was everything to his mother Mak Na, a widow who sells curry puffs for a living. Whenever Mak Na sees my mother she'd say: "I'm exhausted but when I think of my son, I become really strong again. I can't wait for him to graduate and work. Our life will change for the better." This has been on her lips ever since Shafiq entered college. Yesterday, Mak Na's dreams came to an abrupt end. But we all know she should be proud that Shafiq has died a savior and possibly a martyr. In all likelihood God has given Mak Na a much better reward than anything she might have wished from her obedient son.

Al Fatihah.
________________________________________________
The quote by Dr. Parkes is from his book, 'Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life'.
Pic credit: Bro. Hamid Iqbal Khan http://www.redbubble.com/people/hamidsart 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Brains are by default, religious!



Bismillah.

That's a scan image of my brain taken two days before the Venus was due to transit the Sun. That was on 4th June 2012 [heh heh...pardon me, this Venus thingy is making me act rather 'differently'.] But my brain was normal said my dear doctor. It's normal BUT 'with fast beta activity'. In layman's terms that basically means: I think too much nonsense! But of course my doctor didn't say that. He had phrased it and explained the state of my brain, in a polite manner.

Next time I should ask him why some scientists (non-Muslims) are saying our brains are wired up for God? There are dozens of articles written about our brains as having peculiar features that link it to the Creator, to God. But obviously anything that is created by someone is by default linked to its creator. That's common sense. And who can create an organ as cool as the brain? Tell me.  

THE brain of every human being, from believers to atheists, has been revealed to contain at least three "god spots", all linked to religious beliefs and thoughts. - Leigh Dayton/The Australian.

"...religious feeling is not invisible. The common thread among mystical and spiritual practises is that while people are engaged in them, the lobes of their brain can be seen working together to create a powerful emotional experience. "When we looked at [subjects'] brain scans, instead of the frontal lobes going up, the frontal lobes actually went down [in blood flow]. Which makes sense in the context of what they are describing is happening to them" - Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist and author of 'Why We Believe What We Believe.'

So people, let's think about it. And imagine the activities that are taking place in the area at the back of our skull i.e. the parietal lobe, because Newberg says, "it's involved in that feeling of becoming part of something greater than oneself." 

In a nutshell, brains are by default, religious.

Wallahu a'lam.

p/s Because we are Muslims, we are believers, we say this and that but in the end we often mention the Creator by saying Wallahu a'lam or we say Bismillah upfront. These phrases connect us to that Being which is greater than ourselves. Allahu Akbar!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Transit of Venus | Love-struck Master

Pic credit: AP
Bismillah.

Today, the planet Venus, one that is associated with the Goddess of Beauty and Love appeared to make the master of all planets, the Sun, love-struck.

Because we doubt we'll catch this event again in 2117, let's reflect on it now.

The Sun to Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi was none other than his beloved master, Shams-i Tabriz, the sun of Tabriz, the apple of his eyes, the one who held his hand and showed him the way to the Truth. Rumi was like a cup full of love, overflowing in fact, so much, for his dear master.

How many times in our lifetime do we get love-struck? Well for the Sun, it's once every 105 years or so. That's like once in a man's lifetime. That's how rare and special love is. The rest, let's just call it infatuation.

Rare, spectacular event like this demands a deeper introspection of life on this physical plane. At a micro level we get so caught up in our day-to-day routine, needs, wants and complaints. And sometimes we get nosy about other people's lives too. We should realize that we are a tiny speck on planet Earth and planet Earth is only a dot on the Universe's canvas. 

At the macro level the Creator is orchestrating all these movements so beautifully. Who knows why He is making Venus transits across the Sun? How many more times will this occur? It is very likely that we'll be somewhere else in year 2117 when this takes place again, if it ever will. Well at least many of us would agree not to wait for that year.

Oh...one more thing, this transient "mole" on the Sun makes me realize how insignificant the moles on my body are. After all, we are not going to see Allah with our physical body. We'll be leaving it behind in the grave. And we know already that He looks at what is in our hearts. We may gaze up at the planets as far as we want, yet He remains grounded in the heart.

Pic credit: Reuters

Rabbana ma khalaqta haza batila 
Subhanaka faqina azabannar

O Lord, you have not created this in vain.
Glory be to You, save us from the torment of the hell-fire.
(Qur'an 3:191)


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On the passing of Prof. Dr. Muhibuddin Waly (1937-2012)

Bismillah.

إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ 

Prof. Dr. Muhibuddin Waly, a highly respected Sufi scholar of Indonesia had passed away on 7 March 2012.

This posting is late obviously, but you know they say, better late than never. I came to know about it in late March from one kind visitor who left a comment on this space. Thanks to him, otherwise I would have remained oblivious to the passing of the author who was instrumental in shaping my understanding of Islam when I began to re-learn the faith about ten years ago.

20 July 2002 was the date written on the book of Prof. Dr. K. H. Muhibuddin Waly which I have held on to dear life. Hakikat Hikmah Tauhid dan Tasawwuf (Al-Hikam) is a translation of Al-Hikam including commentaries from notable Sufi scholars. Dr. Muhibuddin Waly wrote the book's preface while he was attached to the International Islamic University of Malaysia in 1994.

A graduate of the prestigious Al-Azhar University, Dr. Muhibuddin Waly was also a renowned murshid of the Naqshbandi Al-Khalidiya Al-Waliya Tariqa. He was the son of a grand scholar of Aceh, Indonesia, Shaykh Mudo Waly Al-Khalidy who was a contemporary of a prominent Malay scholar based in Makkah, Shaykh  Yassin Al-Fadani (rahimahullah).

Dr. Muhibbudin Waly died in Aceh at the age of 75. He is remembered as one who was always calm, soft-spoken and had been devoted to da'wah despite being plagued by ill-health. 

I, for one shall testify that he helped restore my religion, albeit virtually through his book and I will forever be indebted.












Al-Fatihah.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Partial eclipse of the moon



Bismillah.

No, it's not total eclipse of the heart (the hit song by Bonnie Tyler) but it's partial eclipse of the moon. 

It's 4th June, we are about halfway through 2012, Alhamdulillah ala kulli hal. It's 14th of Rajab, it's supposed to be a "white night" when the moon should be at its brightest but Allah is powerful over all things. On some nights He is not letting the moon shine its full glory, just like on some days our hearts get eclipsed by certain things.

Let's not forget to make a special prayer on this occasion, pray for forgiveness and that He will ward off any calamities. Ameen.

Earlier today I went to see my good old doctor, a Consultant Neurologist. I just have to mention it here because he is a good healer. The last time I saw him was eight years ago and I have known him for like 18 years. He is a good healer because a short session with him could remove a total eclipse of my brain, bi-iznillah. And his staffs were healers in their own right, the fact that they remembered my name, healed me the moment I stepped inside the clinic. 

May Allah make us grateful for all the beautiful people we come across in our daily lives. They are like the moon, neither partial nor total eclipse could change the fact that we are thankful for it.


The moon from my window, post eclipse

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Wave of peace



As a member of the Commonwealth, it is only fitting that we congratulate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her Diamond Jubilee celebration. Picture above shows some of the boats representing the Commonwealth countries taking part in the Thames Pageant today.

In the name of international relations and peace let's give her a credit for having embraced her regal fate very graciously. Imagine being  a 25 year old lady who is called home to take on the responsibilities left by your father who has just passed away? And your father happens to be a king? Sixty colorful years have passed since that fateful day. We especially commend her on the efforts she made in offering peaceful and friendly waves to so many countries around the world, regardless of faith. 


We hope our Muslim brothers and sisters in Great Britain will continue to live harmoniously and prosperously.