Sunday, August 8, 2010

Have you got Your Duaa List?

You know, it's a fact that I have been blessed with many caring and wise people who would come at the nick of time and I would benefit from their wisdom and knowledge and become many fold better than I was before that encounter. May Allah allow me to be able to show my appreciation - if showing appreciation is something that pleases Him - to such people, some day. May Allah also increase them in goodness, and shower His never ending mercy and blessings on these individuals.

Alhamdulillah I had the honour of attending sh Muhammad Al-Shareef's pre-Ramadan prep seminar at Al-Huda last year where he shared tips and advices on how to capitalize of Ramadan.

And one of the things he shared that day was the importance of creating a duaa list for Ramadan.

He narrated to us his own personal story of how when he was young(er) he once, with great dedication and consistency made duaa to Allah everyday in Ramadan, before the breaking of the fast to allow him to Memorize the entire Quran; in 2 years time, he was walking away with an ├Čjaza in recitation and a full-fledged haafiz. Ahamdulillah.

So I`ll add my own testimonial to this strategy!

Excited and energized, I decided to follow suite on this gold-mine opportunity last Ramadan ... and created my own Duaa list, which I wrote down, and kept near by the Dining table where I would be opening my fast everyday; and Alhamdulillah, I consistently opened up that list and would ask Allah for each of the items listed, every single day, before Iftaar.

SubhanAllah wal Hamdulillah. Who else accepts the prayers except He? If my memory hasn`t failed me, each of the duaas I had made was fulfilled, or is nearly fulfilled. The one thing that has not yet been made visibly accepted in front of me, I am sure will also occur when and if it is best for me, inshAllah.

To share one of the dua`s: I had asked Allah to allow me to learn Arabic to be able to understand the Quran as it is being recited to me. And SubhanAllah, it was barely that Ramadan had ended that I decided I wished to start attending Dr. Idrees Zubair`s classes, and it turned out he was starting an Arabic course!

You could tell he would be extremely tired by 8pm, when he came into the class, yet he would still dedicate himself to teach us Arabic, may Allah grant him the good of this world and the best of the hereafter. Alhamdulillah, after a year of attending his, and his dedicated assistant teachers`classes, I feel Allah (subhana huwa Ta`ala) has given me an incredible increase in my understanding of the Arabic language. I wouldn`t be hesitant to say that I can understand a good 50%-70% of what is recited to me now a days alhamulillah, and inshAllah I hope with time that percentage will only go up!

So this Ramadan try it out! Just as an idea. I am obviously not guaranteeing you any miracles here; but the power of dua is certainly amazing!

Monday, July 26, 2010

If our words could be silenced...

If we ever knew Allah's greatness.

If we ever glimpsed at the reality of our affairs.

If the heavens opened up to reveal what occurs up above.

If the mountains humbled themselves and showed their weakness.

If we for once - just once - got to see what truly resides within our hearts.

If the beauty of this world showed to us a glimpse of its ugliness.

If our words - just for a moment - could be silenced, and the heart reveal what they truly shadow beneath.

If the eyes could see the unseen.

If the Earth opened up just a little to reveal the fate of those it enshrouds.

If the words could be silenced, to let the heart speak.

If the words could be silenced, to let the truth reveal itself.

If we knew the truth, I wonder who amongst us could even live with themselves?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Watchuwaaaaannn?

You think my name is feminine? Let me clear all doubts you may have ... and say that the name is feminine-sounding in all cultures ... it's not a cultural thing. I am universally at a disadvantage in making a strong, first-time masculine impression.

And I ain't changing the name. :)

You think I smile too little? Well, I think you smile too much. There, we're even.

So you wish me to cut-down on chai, as it's unhealthy for my health? Well brother, I'm sorry if it hurts, but I will continue to drink chai and insHAllah will still cream you in any athletic competition when I'm 55yrs old (if I live that long).

Not satisfied with my personality? I sure hope you have at least entered into a conversation with me once, before you made any assumptions. :)

Think I'm a hypocrite? Liar? A sinner? Deceptive? May Allah protect us from all of these. It's amazing how a person can be painted as anything by people when they really want to go after him.. Hahaha... Alhamdulillah...

I'm generally a highly honest individual, Alhamdulillah. Most people would say, a bit too honest. And if I - in the spur of the moment - ever slip and speak a minor lie, my conscious generally strangles me and I correct myself, as awkward as it may be. And Alhamdulillah, on this blog, especially (to the best of my memory), I haven't lied, ever. If that causes you to loose sleep in the night, you are welcome to approach and ask for clarifications. :)

hahaha ... Look my dear brethren ... If you're really hoping and eager for me to fit your magical and wondrous expectations of how the ideal me should be; let me break your heart right now and tell you ... It ain't happening :).

What's amazing is how despite EVERYTHING, people are still daring to compare me to our beloved Prophet ... A'uzubillah (as if there can be a comparison). SubhanAllah, it truly is amazing how Allah works... Alhamdulillah :).

May Allah allow all of us to love Him, His Messenger, and each other for His sake. May Allah forgive us all for our sins and shortcomings, aameen.

Monday, June 21, 2010

To this end...

I hope that perhaps one or two of you, maybe even three of you, will think hard about the highly simple message that I have been emphasizing through my past few months of writings: That your Lord, Creator and Worship-worthy Deity is only the One God. This was the message that Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Lot, David, John and Muhammad all preached, lived and died for...

We all know what kind of critical criteria I'm writing of. We have it for nearly every important decision-making process in life: when an organization is considering hiring a new staff member, it has several factors it will consider; some are mediocre, some are highly important, and then there usually is one factor that is critical. A firm involved in a highly creative and dynamic field, as an example, would perhaps make the person's personality their critical factor.

Most people have some critical factor in selecting a life-long partner; their spouse.

The critical factor is such that without it being fulfilled, all other factors become irrelevant. And this is the reality of our eventual success in the life after death. God must be accepted as God, and no other deity or figure can be given an attribute of divinity alongside Him.

My friends, who amongst us has discovered the cure for death? The greatest truth in the life of this world is that we will all leave it.

My friends, how do I convince any of you about the magnitude of the life to come?

While we worry over the rise and fall of civilizations - and no doubt that is a noble worry as well - the truth is that there is something much more lasting than the establishments of this world.

And if our minds can agree that there can only be one ultimate truth of the reality of creation and the cosmos, then surely we must agree - for the lack of better words - all these diverging viewpoints can't together be right.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cultures are a Beautiful Thing...

I've been ranting on this blog way too much lately. However, I realized there was one more thing I needed to clarify.

And that is the fear of me proposing some sort of importing of a foreign culture on our own.

Your culture is my own culture, and why would anyone wish to do that in any case... In all honesty, we are a beautiful people. I mean that with the utmost genuineness. We are a beautiful people.

We have so many beautiful values.. values that other societies can learn from.. We still have basic human dignity; we value honesty; we have a belief in following principals; we care for the less fortunate in our societies, and try to help them through their misfortunes; we even have a heart for the rest of humanity, in that when we hear of misfortunes of people from other lands, we try to give what we can to help them as well.

And our culture is our identity.

How I wish I could ask God to simply come down to us once - just once - and declare and prove to you His care for us.

It is we, human beings, who tend to find attributes that differentiate ourselves from others; but God tells us in the Quran that He made people into different cultures and tribes so that we may get to know each other.

Cultures are beautiful things. They are the interpretation of a people of how the world works and is. But God does not see the 200+ lines on earth as we have drawn them on the map. He sees hearts, some that glow, and others that shine brighter than the sun.

This is what Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings be upon him) declared so boldly in the sermon that came to be known as The Last Sermon.

In a message of gigantic proportions, where he declared declarations that would forever transform societies, calling for the respect and dignity of women, abolishing unfair business transactional practices that were predominant at the time, and declaring the culmination of the message...in that emotional address he told the ~100,000 congregation,

"All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; and a white man has no superiority over a black man nor a black has any superiority over a white, except by piety and good action."

And so this isn't about cultures, lifestyles and our identities. The Lord of the east and the west is the Same. And God sees no preference amongst one cast, people or culture.

Accepting God as God gives every man, woman and child equal access to God. There is no superiority of the one from the East over the West, nor is there any superiority of the one from the West over the East, and each has their own connection with the Creator.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Nature of Religion...

It's unfortunate that the idea of religion has become so mundane and backward in our times. In the Muslim circles of scholarship Islam is often described as being much more than religion: rather, a way of life.

And now that I think about it, I think that is what religion is supposed to be. It's just that we have today juiced religion out of all the good it brings to a society, and creamed it down to something that could fit in a house.

It's ironic that if you explore most religions that exist today (if not all) you will find that they root back to a concept of a single, transcendent God. Some decided that the God needed assistants, others decided He needed some other sort of support, so in essence we have various understandings of how a single All Powerful (or at least transcendent) being relates to us, the human being.

And I guess that makes you wonder if the idea of a One, All Powerful Being is innate in the human being? Islam teaches us of the concept of a Fitrah (a basic world view or nature) that every human being was created upon, which invites the person to goodness. It is our desires, and the insinuations of Satan that invite us to evil and wrong ideas.

One of my most cherrished teachers in HighSchool, Miss Marcenick, used to say that every religion in the world today has a golden rule: the rule of humanity; that we should treat our brother as we would like to be treated; that creatures of the devine all have rights; that good actions and deeds lead to good ends, and evil actions lead to an evil end, etc...

--

On the Day of Judgement, when all of humanity will stand before their Creator, and none shall be able to escape the awesomeness of that day; God will show His creation His perfect justice..

God will gather humanity and declare, "Who so ever used to worship Me; come and ask Me for your reward and seek My assistance, and I will help you. As for those who used to worship a God other than Me; go to whom so ever you used to worship and ask them to protect you today." [quote paraphrased]

And indeed that will be the day of great abandoning; when all those who used to be worshiped will abandon their worshipers... Isn't that perfect justice?

You see, many question today that if God truly exists, why did He create evil in the world? And while I am no one to speak on God's behalf, we are told that the evil that befalls us is due to our own sins.

...You see, God created the human being as a social creature. If each of us isolated ourselves from everyone else, most of us would not be able to survive; and even if we did, our survival sure would be difficult. It is with this understanding that humans live with each other, in communities, that they are also expected to look after each other.

When we say look after one another, we tend to think of it in the material sense: help each other survive by sharing food and clothing. And while that is true, and certainly essential. Care-taking also entails the spiritual well being of the individuals in the community.

So when we see someone committing actions, or taking a road that will cause them and others around them harm; i.e. sins... in the sight of God this also becomes the responsibility of the society to help the person stop.

But when we stop caring; when we stop trying to keep society clean - on a societal level (i.e. in the public sphere) - we fall into a self-created cycle of evil and destruction.

--

You see, God created a perfect universe. With extreme strain and emphasis God asks, and repeats His question in the Quran, asking, insisting, almost daring humanity to look around His magnificent creation and find any cracks; find loopholes or any forms of defects. And then he concludes His own dare with a firm conclusion that we (the human being) will never be able to find any defects (see Chapter The Dominion 67:3-4).

It's amazing how the same structure of particles orbiting a central core make up the basic building block of all creation: the atom ... and the solar systems, which combine together to make our galaxies and ultimately our universe.

It's beautiful that almost every single species of insects, plants and animals is in their own unique way sustaining and maintaining our ecosystem. And to think we still have a great deal of the world to discover; all the creatures that inhabit our oceans and deep-water bodies. Much like how God informs us in the Quran that "He created in paired couplets everything that grows from the Earth, as well as ourselves, and things we do not even know about." (see chapter 36: verse 36)

And do you know why there is such perfect balance in all these creations? It's because they are following a strict course set by Him. Indeed the entire universe is in devout worship and obedience to God; the entirety of the universe is involved in a peaceful submission. And so their is peace and there is balance.

But we the human being, have been blessed with free will. We have been given the ability that even Angels have been deprived (or saved?) from: to choose whether to worship God or not to worship Him.

But choice comes with its pros and its cons. You see, God wasn't the oppressor to create choice and then offer no consequences; what justice would it be to make some strive to submit, and let others follow vain desires but offer no fair compensation at the end?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Romance

An admireable figure once said that romance doesn't have to happen with some girl... Romance can be with an idea, a belief or a world view.

It's that inner drive for a cause you believe in: an idea.

You see, many people have ideas. Almost everyone speaks like a scholar or acadamian today, and nearly everyone has a perspective on how to fix this world's problems.

But not every idea is worth believing in and not every idea works. Some ideas don't go far enough. Some go too far. And some just go backwards rather than forward. Ideas are of all shapes and sizes, just because you have an idea, doesn't mean you have romance.

No sir, romance...what should I tell you about romance?

When you're involved in a romantic dance with a belief, the nights go by and your dance doesn't stop. Your health suffers, but the romance remains as young as when you were 20. For romance, you'd climb the longest ladder - if you could - to reach for the stars. Romance with an idea is almost an unearthly concept; because romance makes you do crazy things.

But who defines craziness, anyways? For most of us, it's the snob with a big mouth in our circle of friends. But what does he know anyway?

No my friends, very few have enough foresight to see, but those who see, can tell you that the world itself is leaning on the side of craziness. What does Joe or Moe even know to claim xyz is crazy?

It's only the people who're crazy enough to dream; the Romeos whose Juliet never sleeps; it's these crazy people whose romance allows us to dream; their romance allows us to breathe.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Understanding the Beauty of Allah

So it perhaps frustrates many people how I always seem to speak so lowly of the human being. Why so anti-people?

And really, the answer to this is that I'm not anti-humans. Having been one of that species for the past 22 years or so, I can relate ... however I have realized that we - the human being - have a very egoistic nature. Constantly our nafs (which can be translated better as Ego, here) makes us think higher of ourselves than we really are.

You have to start closely examining the human heart - and the only heart you can ever examine is your own - to find out how true the Prophet's words were when he described the heart as being something that constantly changes (peace be upon him). As I recently learned, the word Qalb (heart) in the arabic language in essence means a thing that constantly fluctuates.

And we, since our childhood, hear stories of Umer - one of the greatest thinkers and scholars of the Muslim Ummah - how he as the ruler of the Muslims', the second greatest companion of the Prophet, a great ascetic, a just and wise leader, one of the 10 promised Paradise during his lifetime, a participant in the battle of Badr, and whose firm faith was testified by the Prophet (p.b.u.h) himself! ... would constantly be worried of committing nifaaq. And I don't know about you, but I always wondered why he would do that?

The first explaination that usually jumps out, at least for a second, is, "it was an attempt on his part to be really righteous!" Probably because of the shallow times we're living in.

However, as the deeper and deeper I go into examining my actions, I realize the more and more how easily the heart turns. This is why Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) would describe the intention as having three states: before the act is done; during the action; and after the action is carried out (to the best of my memory these were the only 3 states he described).

It's true! You may have the best of intentions before doing the action, and then people praise you and you see the 'goodness' of your own deeds, and before you know it your ego has gotten the best of you.

So Umer's concerns were genuine; you see, he understood more than us that no matter how high a state of righteousness he may reach from the people's perspective, he could be simply heading towards a deceptive road of self-religiousity, where he starts doing actions for the sake of the people.

And so as with many of my posts, I may have left you baffled with the subject header of this post. Figure it out :-).

Understanding our own weakness, and acknowledging the vast and immense mercy of Allah in His ability to constantly forgive all the wrong we do on a daily basis, and even the defects in our good deeds; this understanding will allow us to Love Him.

May Allah allow us to Love Him.

The real Companion for us, and our only hope for the journey that awaits us: when our skin gets wrinkled; and our hair turns gray; and the disease of death over takes us, and we are honourably buried in a wretched hole, six feet under.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Response to "In Search of Solace"

My dear son, how easily you forget.

Were you not struggling with the truth some years ago, and when you thought you did not have the strength, He strengthed your heart, and gave you firmness?

And when you lost your way, and fealt alone - and indeed you were alone - and you became a victem of your own thoughts, and your heart would jump at every fright, did God not raise your status, protect you and allowed you to return to worship?

And when you begged and pleaded one night, grabbing on to your heart asking The Most Merciful to let you not die (spiritually), did He not fulfill your request, wipe clear your sins, and bring you comfert?

At every moment, do you not remember how God kept overlooking your defects, bringing you back to goodness when you yourself disobayed Him, and keep hidden your weaknesses?

Yet today you dear to be arrogant?

Indeed you are not the only creature, for the earth asks, the mountains ask and even the oceans ask everyday, and God subdues them, so that perhaps some sinners like you would repent.

Indeed Malaika, if you were this earth's caretaker you would be ruthless and cruel, but God is neither cruel nor is He ruthless, but He is merciful, and will let humanity repent, just as he lets you repent everyday.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thoughts & Ponderings...

You know, I was blessed with many wise teachers in highschool, one of them, my Careers teacher (who was a Music teacher, otherwise) on the first day of class drew a large pie chart on the blackboard; then, he chalked in an extremely thin slice in the pie, and said to the class, "this is how much we [as individuals] know." Then he chalked in a slightly bigger slice in the pie, and declared, "this is how much of the world's knowledge we know, we do not know."

And then he turned to us with his arms spread to his sides, as he said to us with his usual cheerful yet witty smile, "and the rest of the pie, ladies and gentlemen, that you see, is all the knowledge we don't even know, we do not know!"

And honestly, Mr. Wilson (to the best of my memory that was his name) was onto a major point.

You see, we each have uncovered bits and pieces to the truth that is our reality; we have scholars in psychology, math, physics, medicine, philosophy, business, robotics, etc... Each holding certain knowledge that is their contribution to this earth. And we as a society progress holistically when we pool our learnings and apply them to a greater good.

So perhaps it could be, that what I suggest to you with such strong words carries such great weight that it would not be appropriate to utter such knowledge in any milder words? Perhaps that is the slice of the pie that I hold, just as you hold your own individual slices.

My friends, how do I convince you that God is no joking matter. As life is no joking matter, God is a reality Who cannot be 'poofed away' like a child's childhood imaginary friends by simply chanting out loud 'He doesn't exist! He doesn't exist!"

We are a society of words. We love to reword things for special new meanings... For God, we replaced Him with words like Mother Nature, and History (ref: 'history repeats itself.' and 'those who forget history, history forgets them.') Indeed, God-made laws like the laws of physics, and His laws of history are not self-standing entities; they are His creation. God can and does have an intelligent design for His universe. A logical system. But somehow, somewhere, we learned so many of these laws that we as a society became arrogant, and decided we were good on our own and these 'mystical' explanations for how the universe came into order were theories of the past.

Perhaps our disinterest in God, and our lowly perception of Him lies in our lowly perception of our predecessors; we see them as being in darkness, and we attribute that darkness to their attachment to religion. Forgetting that our knowledge, is in actual fact an accumulation of the knowledge of all those who preceded us. We did not, after all, recreate the wheel, nor did we reinvent the fire.

And even if our predecessors were ignorant; does their ignorance necessitate God's lack of intelligence? The mere discovery of a logical system in our environment and universe should be a testimony of the intelligence of God Al-Mighty ... not a point of His negation.

I never declared myself a scholar, a philosopher on life, or a genius. I do not consider myself to be any of these three, but if my simple reflections on the small details of life, which we have complicated so much that we have forgotten the essence of their existence, has made me into a genius, then let it be, and all praise belongs to God for such.

Indeed, humanity has been blessed with geniuses who have joined for us dots that were always meant to be joined... and we have also been cursed with idiots who have redrawn the lines, to make the flower into two separate flames that seem to have never been one.