Friday, February 28, 2014

Great gem | Al-Raniri's book on 'Spiritual Subtleties for the Swiftly Ascending People of God'

Bismillah.

Oh my ever generous God subhanahu wa ta'ala.
I am one who's drowned in an ocean of sin, yet Thou let me find this great gem and showed me the real value of things.

***
O people, honestly speaking, I almost bought something less important but the ever so kind Lord guides this erring servant of His to a much better catch of the day - a precious book by Nur al-Din al-Raniri. It's the most expensive book in my collection but what is  RM290 if compared to its priceless contents.

Lata'if Al-Asrar Li-Ahl Allah Al-Atyar is a major work on Sufism written by al-Raniri, the great shaykh of Aceh Indonesia in 1640. Yes, we are talking the 17th century, mashaAllah.

It is transliterated into Malay and translated into English by an accomplished Malaysian academician Professor Muhammad Zainiy Othman of the Centre for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science, and Civilization (CASIS), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). 
MashaAllah tabarakallah!

The kitab by Shaykh al-Raniri comprises five sections:
i. Introduction - 'Affirming the Essence of the Truth Most Exalted'
ii. First chapter - 'Illuminative Knowledge'
iii. Second chapter - 'Unification'
iv. Third chapter - 'Stations and States'
v. Conclusion - 'Self Examination, Remembrance, Concentration, Presence, Revelation, Unveiling, Witnessing and Contemplation'

In the Introduction, Al-Raniri introduced himself as:
"The humble servant who is drowned in the sea of sin and decked by all kinds of blame, who is complete in deficiency and struck with awe of the knowledge of the Merciful, the dust of the feet of the people of "There is no God but Allah' who is nothing, Shaykh Nur al-Din b. HassanJi Muhammad, whose family name is Hamid_"

***
MashaAllah, if al-Raniri considered himself drowned in the sea of sin, then I must be drowned in an ocean of sin or rather 7 oceans of sin! May Allah forgive me for I cannot even introduce this magnificent book of al-Raniri properly. I am overwhelmed by my own deficiency as much as I am overwhelmed by this superb work of both Al-Raniri and Prof Muhammad Zainiy. 

In one of the concluding paragraphs for the first chapter, Shaykh Al-Raniri wrote:
"O seeker of the Truth! If you desire for an everlasting happiness (sa'adah) and eternal glory ('izzat) and your tree of illuminative knowledge to bear fruit in this world and you desire to experience the pleasures of the highest Heaven (Jannat al-Ulya) then you must continuously drown yourself in the meeting with God (liqa') day and night, until your intuitive ear hears the speech from the Divine Presence: 'Verily, long have the knowers desire for my Divine Presence and I too long to meeting them."

***
This great gem is published by UTM Press.

***
May Allah forgive us.
May Allah increase us in knowledge and grant us understanding.
Rabbi zidni ilma war zuqni fahma


You may purchase this book at Kinokuniya KLCC.
And my apologies, I am not in a position to buy the book
on behalf of anybody as requested by some people. 

p/s Thank you, LDP :)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Rich diet | Enrich the mind

Bismillah.

O people, if I may be utterly frank today. Well, no special reason. It's just a plain hot day. I was at the hospital today for a pap smear. Just checking. You know we have to take care of our body cos it's a wonderland :) That song by John Mayer remember?

Anyway, it was quick, like a pap and go kinda thing. Then look what I discovered? The law of attraction works. Am sure you have read about sending a signal of your intention to the universe and then the universe works your way. Sending a signal is like making niyyat.

In the last couple of postings, Miss Quintillion mentioned about million and zillion, you may recall. So when she saw this Millionaire's Caramel Crunch at M&S, she got super excited!

We all have to maintain a rich healthy diet, don't we? Well, this sweet cereal may not be so healthy but it's enriching all right - enriching to the mind and spirit. And with the right mindset it will manifest in our pockets, purse and bank accounts :) 

Bi-iznillah.

p/s 
You lady readers out there, go do a pap smear. Your body is a wonderland :)


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Be fabulous | Be spiritual | Be rich

Bismillah.

O my Gosh, what's with Feb-brew-worry? It is the shortest month of the year and it feels insanely short and I am short on posting. It ain't looking good.

What's brewing at your end this end of Feb? Hope it's feb-ulous for you. I am feeling fab tonight, reading 'Zero to Zillionaire' by Chellie Campbell.

Chellie is so right in saying "You wear your thoughts like you wear clothes. Your thinking shows up on your face and in your body language and in your energy. You are projecting joy, success and prosperity or you are projecting misery, failure and poverty. People can see it and they can feel it."

Hmm...
It's time to reflect. Time to look inwardly and evaluate ourselves. We are in the business of evaluating ourselves and not others. Yes there is a profession called property valuer but not people-valuer, unless you insist on becoming one, that's none of my business.

The book by Chellie Campbell suggests writing an autobiography in two versions - one from "zero perspective" detailing all the ugly bits of your life, and the other one from "zillionaire perspective" highlighting all the great stuffs you have achieved. It's really about counting our blessings.

And as we do that, as Muslims, we should be happy and grateful so He will grant us more, more and more, He the ultimate rich God, way beyond a zillion, surely.

Oh by the way, the du'a which a dear reader/sister, Dr. P taught me was a verse from Surah Sad:
Inna haazaa lariz ghuna maa lahu min nafa din 

Recite 33 times after each prayer and you are on your way to becoming rich, bi-iznillah.

And think of Saidina Uthman ibn Affan radhiallahu anhu. Be spiritual and be rich. Be both. For it's not mutually exclusive.




Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Asked | Answered

Bismillah.

Sometimes all we have to do is ask, yet we are reluctant. 

Sometimes we have to be careful with what we ask for. Sometimes we have to be careful with things we secretly or unconsciously ask for because He listens and He knows. And when He grants, we can either be pleasantly surprised or darn gobsmacked!

Sometimes we don't ask hard enough because we don't want it bad enough. But at the end of the day what we get is what is destined for us. And what is destined for us has got to be the best thing for us. Because Allah is fair and all-knowing, we'll get what's best for us whether we like it or not.  

Sometimes I hesitated at writing my mind and tried to self-censor certain things. But many a time it proved worthwhile. Like the other day I hesitated writing about making the first million. But soon after my posting, a respected reader taught me a special du'a from the Quran on how to get rich quickly and have un-diminishing riches. Ahah! [Jazakillah Dr. P, I love you for the sake of Allah.] 

Sometimes when things are driving us berserk still we can afford a smile just thinking about the prospect of being with the people we love in the hereafter bi-iznillah :)

****

O love, why do you think He is not giving?
Because He longs to hear you begging.

O love, why aren't you knocking on my door?
For I long to open it, and see you there.

O love, I have been waiting for you to ask.
Because I am so eager to answer.

:)





Monday, February 24, 2014

Think and act macro as did Ahmad Ammar (1993 - 2013)

Bismillah.

We all know the meaning of Ahmad. Some of us roughly understood the meaning of Ammar. A more detail description of Ammar as defined by Quranicnames is: "Life and alive. Virtuous, pious, God-fearing and devoted to God."
  
Having read the book seen in below poster about Ahmad Ammar (1993 - 2013), I am convinced this young Malaysian had truly lived up to his name. He grew up and died a useful pious man as intended by his proud parents.

I never knew about him until my 18 year old niece showed me the book she bought just last night. The book eulogized Ahmad Ammar fittingly, although prior to his demise he was not that well known a person. But Allah honors whomever He chooses and sometimes make known His chosen servant posthumously. 

Ammar died in a road accident in Turkey, where he was studying history of the Ottoman as preparation for a big goal carefully planned by his visionary father - former president of the Islamic Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM). Ammar's death had inadvertently publicized his good works and akhlak. Apparently this young man had been living an extraordinary life dedicating most of his precious youth doing volunteer works for the ummah in Turkey, Syria and Cambodia among others. He had also been living a devout life, continually memorizing the Quran and spending his time thinking and acting on a macro level, whereas many people his age are going to concerts, dating, killing time at cafes, reading love novels, thinking and doing selfish micro stuffs.

Ahmad Ammar, a student at the Marmara University in Turkey, was also a student of Hoca Said Nuri of the Hayrat Vakfi institution where students are being groomed to live the teachings of Risalah-i-Nur as propagated by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (d 1960). Ammar who died on 2nd of November 2013, at the age of 20, was recently posthumously named Tokoh Maal Hijrah of Malaysia - a special award for people who make a difference for Islam and the ummah.

The book Cerita Cinta Ahmad Ammar [Ahmad Ammar's Love Story] is published by Karangkraf. His love story is nothing like the love story of most other youths. His love story relates to his love affair with doing something on a macro level for the religion. His father Haji Ahmad Azam Abdul Rahman and his mother Nur Azlina Abdul Aziz are a couple who themselves perform plenty of good deeds for the ummah. His parents had intended their only son to serve the deen, and well indeed Ammar did. 

Ahmad Ammar is the first foreigner who has been given the honor to be buried at Eyub Sultan, a distinctive burial place in Istanbul. He now "lives" with other big time Islamic activists such as Abu Ayub Al Ansari, some 60 sahabah of the Prophet salallah alaihi wasalam, awliya and heroes of the Uthmaniyah/Ottoman empire. He actually joined his notable neighbors at Eyub Sultan on the 1st of Muharram 1435 Hijri.

Ahmad Ammar has clearly been granted husnul khatimah and made a praiseworthy hijrah to the eternal realm - something that we all should keep praying for.

Al Fatihah to Ahmad Ammar and other prominent residents of Eyub Sultan.




Credit: Hanis Eizzati for buying the book and thus introducing me to Ahmad Ammar.



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Peeper of hearts

Bismillah.

O you who keep peeping, I feel sorry sometimes that my heart seems to be silent lately and cannot string any words. One should avoid speaking for the sake of speaking. It's not a good idea to write for the sake of writing either. Sometimes it's hard to accept the fact that it is He who throws. Without His tawfiq, we can do nothing. 

Why do we sometimes want to peep into the heart of others? Perhaps there's something in there for us :)
Perhaps we have something in common. Or perhaps we are trying to pick on what's uncommon. But seriously it's best that we peep our own hearts and not busy our bodies with other people's lives. 

The kitty in the below poster looks almost exactly as my little Ben and Ngot Ngot. They have both ran away. I let them move on. Perhaps, it's they who decided to let me move on. Surely the Prophet (pbuh) loves cats for a reason. I found them to have latif (subtle) qualities. They were great at peeping into my heart and thus understood me even in silence. Connected hearts communicate even in silence. 

And love between silent hearts cannot be silenced just as a million hands cannot stop the sun from shining. Even if the whole world gang up for or against someone or something, nothing happens except that which He wills.    



Saturday, February 22, 2014

Book Ends | End of chapter?

Bismillah.


"And the Sky is Not the Limit" is one of 18 new books which lined atop a chest of drawers in my room. If not for a couple of book ends, they would fall off the edge. Temporal space has limits. Yes, the sky seems limitless, but then anything that is created has limits -- all things cre-ated that is. The Cre-ator, of course, is limitless. 

We learn from "He who taught by way of the pen" that nothing could contain Him, save a believing heart. It's got to be a space so vast - the heart. In that little secret space so private to each one of us, we flip so many pages of "written" words which make up pages after pages, which in turn make up books after books of life's episodes. We are in for the long haul. Well, if we are in that frame of mind, then a nasty page or a nasty chapter should not bother us too much.

I favorited this tweet by Women of History: "The story of your life has many chapters. One bad chapter doesn't mean it's the end of the book."

If we were to dive deeper in our hearts, we'll come to grips with the true meaning of it being vast enough to contain Him. And therefore His af'al (actions) upon us. So vast is the heart that it can accommodate many books on life that we don't even need book ends. Even if or when we arrive at the last page of the last chapter, or the last word of the last line of the last chapter, His Words upon us shall resume in the other realm. Glory be to Allah, our Maker who makes us experience life and death. Glory be to Allah who teaches us about eternity, a real life to which we shall wake up to after having experienced "death". Glory be to Allah who lets a believer see how the Book of Life really has no such thing as a final chapter, that there is no end to the book, that is if we believe in His Book, in the first place.

So what, if the chapter you are now at, seems like one bad chapter?
A passionate reader will read on. A real believer will continue flipping the pages and move on.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Innocent writing

Bismillah.

It's Sunday, my adult mind thought I ought to find something useful to write - though my body is weak on account of carrying and arranging things at home. For the sake of the loyal readers whom I love and respect, I will share the fruits of my labor - of having organized bookshelves. To state the obvious, when things are neat it's easier to find what we need. 

Two books I thought of sharing with you: 'Kid's Letters to President Carter' and 'Albert Einstein's Letters to and from Children.' I turned to these books today after getting stuck reading two utterly serious books on Sufism.


When the mind gets overloaded with complex matters and the heart gets tangled with adult emotions, it's a good idea to drop everything and return to the innocence of the child-in-us. And this lagging blogger could use some innocent writing to fill up the white space.

"Dear Mr. Einstein, I am a little girl of six. I saw your picture in the paper. I think you ought to have a haircut, so you can look better."
Cordially yours,
Ann 

"Dear President Jimmy Carter,
I have seen a lot of pictures of you and you weren't wearing a shirt with a tie. Don't you think a President of the United States should always wear a tie when he takes a picture?...The citizens want a neat president." 
Your friend,
Marjorie L

Heh...heh...
Of course we cannot say these kids were nit-picking, only neat-picking.

Wish y'all a good week ahead. And stay neat.

Publisher credit: Prometheus Books & Grosset & Dunlap  

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Goodword Express

Bismillah.

I will be honest with you as I have always been. I was working on some maths on how to achieve 1 million dollar savings in a couple of years. That is a convenient distraction from a deep-seated unsettled feeling of not having the inspiration to write. Then my mother came by and asked "Are you writing for Lisan". My reply of "yeah..yeah.." obviously was untrue. Then she said, I should write something.

So I wrote yesterday's posting not because I had anything worthy to write. It was purely driven by my mother's appeal. The point I wanted to make is: I love my mother. I know she loves me unconditionally. Good things are driven by love. Love motivates people. I say, love motivates people better than money. And I think no one wants to exchange love with money. That's not a good trade ever.

***
A dear reader sent me an apt reminder:
"Work for a cause, not applause
Live life to express, not to impress
Don't strive to make your presence noticed
Just make your absence felt"

Yes we should live life to express. Express more love that is. Just by the sound of it, express means giving out or giving away as opposed to impress, which indicates an inward direction instead of an outward gesture. 

When we have a million dollar savings, we can spend it for a good cause, a lot more. That's expressing with money. That's expressing with actions.

The least we could do before expressing with such an action, is to express with words, good words that is. 
It's like already being rich and having our own locomotive named - The Goodword Express.

It's Friday 3.35 am, never mind my rambling.
Jumaah Mubarrak.
Wassalamualaikum warahmatullah.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Entirely heart and soul

Bismillah.

"How much more happy, delightful and sweet we were,
When we were entirely heart and soul and were not bodies,
If our Lord agrees to be gracious toward us,
He will forgive us and return us to what He created us to be at the beginning."

This is one of about 2000 quatrains attributed to Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi - the famous 13th century Muslim Sufi and mystical poet. It took 2 notable bodies 22 years to translate the quatrains from the Persian language. They are Dr. Ibrahim Gamard and Rawan Farhadi.

Rumi as is plainly known in the West, has suffered from bad translations. This is an observation made by Sidi Faruk Hemdem Celebi, the 22nd direct descendant of Mawlana Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi who, in the book of the gigantic translation work, is referred to as Mawlana. Indeed, he is Mawlana Rumi.

The massive translation effort undertook by Dr. Gamard and Rawan Farhadi is named simply 'The Quatrains of Rumi'. This unique gem is endorsed by Mawlana's descendant, so let's pray it would act as a correcting agent for those bad translations of Rumi out there, bi-iznillah.

I first heard about this special publication circa 2009. Only 4 years later have I become fortunate to see and touch the book. Alhamdulillah.

Mawlana Rumi's teaching is a heavy-going stuff. The weighty book is heavy, literally. It measures about 4.5 cm thick. Yes, it has a demanding look. It is as though the book shouts: this subject about the Lord and relationship with the Divine, broadly termed as Sufism, is no laughing matter.

It is no laughing matter no doubt, now that we got here in this temporal world. Things, as stated in the above-quoted quatrain, were much more happy, delightful and sweet, when we were not bodies.

In our bodies here in this present realm, we are faced with more than 4.5 cm thick veil before us. It's no laughing matter. Bodies may be living in the best physical condition there is but still we are not as happy as we were, somehow. The "gifts" of this world pale in comparison to the state we were in before - entirely heart and soul.      

What was in the beginning, was better. And we long always to go back to that better state. May the Lord be gracious toward us and forgive us and return us to that better state.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Climbing Faith

Bismillah.

Sometimes we do things against our normal logic. Sometimes we don't have the time to think. Sometimes if we were to pause and weigh the "ifs" and "if-nots" we might just back off from what otherwise might have been a good experience. Sometimes our default rationale faculty gets overruled by an invisible "upper hand" - the Lord of Power. 

So faith, Alhamdulillah, took my two loyal companions and I up a shaky scaffolding to the rooftop of a beautiful mosque in the city. 

Only when we got down did I think of what could have gone wrong. The long skirt underneath my jubbah might not have cooperated. I could have fallen, head down, nauzubillah. But sometimes the Almighty switch our destiny from something worse to a not-too-bad one, out of His mercy.

God bless and protect everyone who needs to maneuver scaffolding on a daily basis. It's risky business. But every business requires some kind of faith and sometimes we just have to make a leap of faith and let God play His part.  Praise be to Him for even if we did not let go and let God play His part, He is ever so watchful  - "slumber seizes Him not, nor sleep." Laa tak khuzuhu sinatun wala naum.    

And this mortal had to sleep for hours and hours in order to recover from body-ache, on account of the climb. LOL.
  
Alhamdulillah ala kulli hal.



Sunday, February 2, 2014

Mind the gap | A reply to one reader

Bismillah.

This is an open letter to Aunty S of Spain.

First and foremost, thanks for the inspiration. I found your sincere-sounding letter very inspiring and emotionally uplifting. It's worth waking up at 4.30 a.m. to such a comforting email. Thanks again. 

I would like to apologize for the small gap in this blog publishing. I took for granted of how some people might be affected by my hasty act which was driven by anger and frustration. It humbled me to know that some people did mind the gap. Though I must say, this space is not that significant unless Allah wants to make it so to a soul wherever he/she may be.

It's nice to know you are a mother. It's a blessed position/role to have. It's an honor to have a prayer from a mother. Thanks again for your du'a. Verily, I am in need of it. I pray Allah will bless you too - with abundant peace and happiness, you and your family. Ameen.

I am only human. I will be honest and say that I made the blog private yesterday because I was disappointed that some people tried to control my freedom of expression. There are many control freaks out there LOL.

Having lived in Malaysia for a decade, you might know a little bit of Malay. But still for your benefit I will explain a bit 'bout the last posting which was written in the Malay language - it's my mother tongue. That's why my English is not good either. But really we don't have to be apologetic about it. Yet I must say your English is good. Still, what's most important is the honesty and truthfulness that comes with our words. I know another Kashmiri like you (he lives in London by the way) who gave me the impression that Kashmiris are honest people :)

The last posting in Malay was a rather choppy poem I wrote to express my thoughts about the simple blessing of knowing what time it is. It's a simple thing we take for granted. I learned that from a friend who had been released from a short term imprisonment. He shared with me the torments he experienced in jail. Yes, I have all kinds of friends but let's not brand anybody because it is only Allah's acts (af'al) upon a person as He wish. In fact, this friend of mine is very pious. He said, in an 8-by-8 cell shared with another 8 people who mostly talked about drugs, he just kept quiet and recited Al-Ikhlas continually. No clocks around. Days were long and nights were longer. Thus, he said, men are lost without time. But fortunately for him he felt Allah was always around and never far away.

So that's the story behind the Malay poem I wrote which you might not have understood and then as if to add to your disappointment I made this blog private after that posting. It was unintentional. I am sorry. As I said, I was upset because some people tried to block my creative expression. So I rebelled in my own way though it might not make any sense to you and me.

Thanks for writing and for making me realize another simple fact: that the world is big! That there is a country called Spain. Of course I knew that :) and that some people there do care about me and what I do here in KL. Thanks. Often times we are so bogged down with life's daily drama that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Even as I write this I know it's ironic because just a couple of days ago, I had a large world map installed in my Study. I will show you a photo of that later InshaAllah :) 

Aunty S, thanks again for your kind words and prayers. May this posting put a smile on your face, as it is my small attempt to redeem myself.

Fi amanillah...ahh as I say that I could still hear Shaykh Ninowy saying that to me a couple of times when we parted the other day. His voice was clear and authoritative. It carried a lot of weight. Amazing how words that come from a beautiful heart can serve as a long lasting balm which we could go back and repeatedly apply for our headaches.

Fi amanillah.
Your sister in Islam,
Eza
 
p/s
Would love to ramble more but I am late for a computer class. Yes I have computer class on Sunday at 8.30 am. Luckily my teacher has got a great sense of humor. LOL. Alhamdulillah :)

Dear Aunty S, As promised - the World Map.
I will from now on look at Spain and think of you :)

Am sure you miss KL :)
This coincidentally was taken on Saturday 1st Feb
which is Federal Territory Day where KL-ites get a holiday.
Chinese New Year fell on Friday
so it's a long weekend for us here in Malaysia.
I am good at singing the Chinese New Year song LOL
Gong Xi Gong Xi Gong Xi Ni...
This store has just opened at KLCC.
 I read, therefore I am.
Pic credit: H.E