Monday, July 21, 2014

Heart Sick

Alhamdulillah i find myself blessed to still be breathing in another Ramadhan. The beginning began with a bang - a move from a beloved place to a newer place, a place that welcomes baby frogs, ulat gonggok, ants, the occasional centipede and not to mention a lot of mozzies. But all is well insyaAllah as we are settling in, adatlah the occasional hiccup kan? Alhamdulillah alla kulli hal - All praise be to Allah atas segala hal.

I was settling into the rhythm of Ramadhan when Gaza got bombarded by Israel, aerial invasion, ground invasion etc etc. the bloodshed is still ongoing. the numbers of the dead are rising daily. rage, anger, disgust, sadness, helplessness. in equal turns.

it is easy to give in to raw hate, at this stage, as image after image flashes on the tv screen, online in social media - of the dead, bloodied bodies splayed, children, men, women, indiscriminate indeed are their weapons.

in this hapless helpless situation i find comfort in His words - Surah Al - Maidah  - 5: 8

M. Asad

O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any-one lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do. 

or Abdullah Yusuf Ali - 

O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do.

I find comfort in the fact that there is a reminder for restraint, a strong case for justice. in the throes of emotion, when reason is thrust aside, there is a call for calm - for justice, for reason to prevail. there is solace in the reminder - remain conscious of God and there is comfort in the fact that God is aware of all that you do. when there is consciousness of God, there is a sudden humility, a sense of keredhaan that washes over you, He knows, you remind yourself, He is Most Just. So you calm down, you do your best with what you have, and let Him do the rest.

You may not be able to bear arms, you may grow hoarse in chiding the collective governments run by Muslims, you may tear your hair out at the glaring disunity of the ummah, the lameness of OIC (Oh i see aptly quipped by Tun M), but then you take a deep breath, and you remember that this is Ramadhan, this is the last 10 nights and you have life in you and your two hands to beseech Him (and none is Mightier than Him), you have a forehead to meet the ground, so lets pray our hearts out. and lets click and send whatever monetary aid we can for our brothers and sisters in Gaza. IRF, Mercy Malaysia, Aman Palestin, May Allah make it easy on you just as you have made it easy for others to help.

And amidst the senselessness of Gaza bleeding, MH 17 was shot down. Ya Allah! What a test. Another trial as nation we face after MH370. Lahad Datu. Internal political bickering. Gutter politics. Ya Rabb, please make the hearts of the Believers in Gaza steadfast on the Straight Path, the path of your Mercy Ya Allah. Instill in their hearts patience Ya Rabb, and grant them Jannah Ya Allah. Ya Allah, place the souls of the Believers in MH17 amongst the souls of Believers whom You are pleased with Ya Rabb, Ya Wadud, Ya Rahman Ya Rahim. Ya Allah, unite this ummah Ya Rabb, open up the hearts and eyes of our Muslim leaders Ya Rabb, unite our hearts for Your sake in a way that is most pleasing to You Ya Allah. You are the All Knowing, All Wise, All Praise is due to You, Ya Allah. Lord of All creation.

While waiting in the waiting room of the Ortho Department just now, i was reading Sayyid Qutb "In The Shade of the Quran".

There is an excellent analysis of Surah Al Fajr (The Dawn) which discusses and highlights faulty human understanding of Divine Will ) pages 165  - 166. - 

"Your Lord surely observes all". He sees, records, holds to account and rewards according to a strict and accurate measure which neither errs, nor exceeds the limits of justice. It is never deceived by appearances because it judges the essence of things. Human measures and standards are liable to all sorts of errors. Man sees nothing beyond appearances unless he adopts the Divine measure.

"As for man, whenever his Lord tries him with honour and with favours He bestows on him, he says "My Lord has honoured me" But whenever He tries him by stinting his means, the he says "My Lord has left me humiliated". Such is man's thinking about the various forms of trial Allah may set for him, be it comfort or hardship, wealth or scarcity. Allah may test him with comforts, honour, wealth or position but he does not realise the probationary nature of what he is given. Rather he considers the gesture as proof that he deserves to be honoured by Allah and as evidence that He has chosen him as a special honour.

It is a line of thinking which mistakes trial for reward and test for result. It imagines honour in the sight of Allah to be measured by the amount of worldly comforts given to a certain person. Allah may also try a man by stinting his means, and man again mistakes trial for reward and imagines the test to be retribution. He feels that Allah has made him poor in order to humiliate him.

In both situations the human concept is faulty. Wealth and poverty are two forms of a test Allah sets out for his servants.

A test with abundance reveals whether a man is humble and thankful to his Lord or arrogant and haughty, while a trial of the opposite kind reveals his patient acceptance or his irritability and fretfulness. A man's reward is given according to what he proves himself to be. What he is given or denied of worldly comforts is not his reward, and a man's standing in the sight of Allah is in no way related to his possessions, for He gives and denies worldly comforts regardless of whether a man is good or bad.

A man devoid of faith cannot comprehend the wisdom  behind Allah's action of giving worldly comforts or denying them. But when his mind is enlightened with faith and truth becomes apparent to him, he realizes the triviality of worldly riches and the value of the reward after the test. So he works for this reward whether he is tried with abundance or scarcity of worldly riches. As he disregards the hollow considerations of wealth and poverty, he feels reassured about his fate and his position in the sight of Allah."

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Alif the Unseen

during my stay at home, a good friend, Snuze came over and buried me in books. I protested, albeit meekly ... stuttered more like... but ...but... i have assignments! i have deadlines! gulp. *double speak for i have zilch self-control when it comes to the war between fiction and facts*...

not my problem came the tart reply...

she made a good point. so i gobbled up ilona andrews and i started on:

tentatively at first, then i started inhaling it cause it was gripping!! despite being a page turner, there was a passage that showcased a conversation between Alif, the convert and Vikram on the transcendental nature of the Quran which i found so satisfying to read in a book of fiction :)

so i stripped it bare of the conversation and extracted their mind blowing discussion:

"…There was the Quran, which shattered language and put it back together again in a way no one had been able to replicate, using words whose meanings evolved over time without the alteration of a single dot or brushstroke…

What do you mean, words whose meanings evolved? Asked Alif. That doesn’t make sense. The Quran is the Quran

The convert will understand. How do they translate zarah in your English interpretation?
Atom said the convert

You don’t find that strange considering how atoms were unknown in the sixth century?
The convert chewed her lips “I never thought of that”.

You’re right, there’s no way atom is the original meaning of that word.

Ah, but it  is, in the twentieth century, atom became the original meaning of "zahrah" 

Because an atom was the tiniest object known to man. Then man split the atom. 

Today, the original meaning might be hadron. But why stop there? 

Tomorrow, it might be quark. In a hundred years, some vanishingly small object so foreign to the human mind that only Adam remembers its name. Each of those will be the original meaning of  "zahrah"

Alif snorted. That’s impossible. "zahrah"  must refer to some fundamental thing. It’s attached to an object.

Yes it is. The smallest indivisible particle. That is the meaning packaged in the word. No part of it lifts out – it does not mean smallest, nor indivisible nor particle, but all those things at once. 

Thus in man’s infancy,"zahrah" was a grain of sand. Then a mote of dust. Then a cell. Then a molecule. Then an atom. And so on. Man’s knowledge of the universe may grow, but "zahrah" does not change.

That’s … the convert trailed off, looking lost.

Miraculous. Indeed. "

ok, i think this post needs to be continued. i need my beauty sleep and tomorrow is a monday. yawn. g'night. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Disiplinkan diri mu!

Nota untuk diriku:


on the twists and turns of fate:

"another turning point a fork stuck in the road, time drags you by the wrists directs you where to go, so make the best of this test and don't ask why, it's not a question but an answer learned in time..."

on the fallacy of memories:

"so take the photographs and still frames in your mind, hang it on a shelf, in good health and good time, tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial, for what it's worth it was worth all the while"

- time of your life - green day

This song turned out to be my Form 5 anthem. It was the last year of high school and a rather fitting end to 5 unforgettable years in a boarding school. enough time has passed by since then to make it seem to me like a lifetime ago. it makes me wonder, whether this sense of detachment from my former self is the same sensation alluded to in the Quran several times. the relativity of time.

Yusuf Ali translations: 

"It will be on a Day when He will call you, and ye will answer (His call) with (words of) His praise, and ye will think that ye tarried but a little while!"

Quran 17:52 

One day He will gather them together: (It will be) as if they had tarried but an hour of a day: they will recognise each other: assuredly those will be lost who denied the meeting with Allah and refused to receive true guidance.

Quran 10:45

He will say: "What number of years did ye stay on earth?" They will say: "We stayed a day or part of a day: but ask those who keep account." He will say: "Ye stayed not but a little,- if ye had only known!

Quran 23: 112 - 114

sometimes when memories pull me down and i begin to feel the hot  lava of resentment bubbling, it makes me forget the context. the context that this life, to be worth the while has to be framed in the context of the hereafter.  i have to remind myself that sometimes the wrong choices sometimes lead us to the right places. Allah knows best what the 3 years of my life amounts to. He alone knows the daily struggle i face to overcome those years of carelessness. 

and so it is i find comfort and reassurance that any heartache, pain, offence, joy, anger, injustice, sadness is temporary. which brings me to a concept put forth by hamza yusuf in his lecture which attracted me greatly. 

he put forth that this dunya is a world of symbols. the next life is one of meaning. our actions in this world is translated in the next into meaning. (this is not verbatim, i am explaining what i understood in my own words, but to get the full grasp and the context of what he meant, you can view the vid here

the beauty in this idea is that although our lives are a realm of symbols, and our deeds are necessarily a representation (reflection) of our souls and is transient in nature, yet despite that, we still live full lives here. this dunya is richly populated by the seen and the unseen.

our symbolic "dunya" lives are imbued with meaning. the true and full extent of this meaning is not accessible to us in the here and now because that is the fitrah of this world. the nature of this world of symbols. Allah swt in his Mercy and Wisdom has veiled (hijab).  our sight in this world. this veil is lifted when we die.

if i understand correctly, this corresponds to the fact that the door of repentance (tawbah) closes when death is knocking on a soul's door. (i digress) at this point in time, whatever doubts one may have on the existence of the hereafter too quickly dissipates when confronted with the Truth. 

hamza yusuf went on to explain that the lives of the human being is divided into 5:

1) the realm of souls 

2) the mother's womb (also another form of barzakh or barrier)

3) the dunya

4) alam barzakh

5) the hereafter (Akhirah)

the 5 lives each have their own unique fitrah. 

so my own thoughts in relation to this was the movie inception. the concept of a dream within a dream within a dream. layers to the dream. layers upon layers of meaning, like the layers of an onion.

i must unequivocally state here that i am not making a parallel between the 5 stages of the lives of man and likening them to the stages of a dream within a dream. nor am i saying that life is but a dream! relatively it might seem like a dream (due to its transience) but what i am doing is drawing a comparison between the rules governing each layer. or the fitrah governing each dimension/stage. 

the rules governing this layer (this dunya) is clear. we are bound by time and space and our physical bodies and the laws of physics.  scientists are discovering something new everyday (more like discovering that some scientific truth was actually not so true - see dark matter, string theory etc etc) 

people like to say that the imagination aren't bound by the laws of physics. but my personal opinion is that a human being's imagination is bound by this realm. what we can imagine is bound to what our senses can perceive in the dunya. 

Allah sent his Guidance and Mercy in the form of his Prophets and Messengers through Time to mankind.  the absolute clincher for me is that for all the knowledge that we know to date and everything we will ever know (all that Allah reveals to us through reason and inspiration) is relatively but a drop in the ocean of knowledge, the total Reality belongs only to Allah s.w.t.

wallahu alam. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

An Exercise in Free Will

It's been chaotic of late. There's a war raging, a cyber war notably on facebook and blog postings, a war of flags resulting in a riot of blue, green, turqoise flags madly mushrooming all vying for space on an already crowded landscape. 

Trees, hills, traffic lights, road dividers, bridges, buildings, not much of public infrastructure is spared. 

Bamboo shoots reaching out to the sky, does the tallest bamboo stick strike a subconscious victory over a shorter stick? 

A war of symbols  among others, between a full moon, a rocket, a crescent moon, a scale.

I think if it was economically viable, some nitwit would probably attempt to drape the moon with their flag of choice. 

The most regrettable  casualty seems to be adab, respect and tolerance. (i am being redundant i guess since adab encompasses tolerance and respect). 

The most regrettable casualty would be loss of life. i stand corrected. 

I had not been reading the Quran translations for close to 2 weeks, no good excuse at all, just a lame one - presentations and physio. But this was where i had left off. When i read both translations, i just could not believe it. Allah indeed is Al-Lateef

This intense political polarization tallies with the scenario painted in verse 118 of surah Hud  [11:118]. Of course the verse has wider implications and more universal application, but for my current reality, it hits home.

Muhammad Asad translated this as : 

And had thy Sustainer so willed, He could surely have made all mankind one single community: but [He willed it otherwise, and so] they continue to hold divergent views.

Yusuf Ali translated this as:

If thy Lord had so willed, He could have made mankind one people: but they will not cease to dispute.

Indeed there has been NOTHING but divergent views online, on tv, in the newspapers, on the billboards, everywhere i turn my senses are assaulted by this divergence. I was very attracted to M. Asad's interpolation on this verse, especially on divergence of opinions, reproduced below:

"....Thus, the Quran stresses once again that the unceasing differentiation in men's views and ideas is not incidental, but represents a God-willed, basic factor of human existence. If God had willed that all human beings should be of one persuasion, all intellectual progress would have been ruled out, and "they would have been similar in their social life to the bees and the ants, while in their spiritual life they would have been like angels, constrained by their nature always to believe in what is true and always to obey God" - that is to say devoid of that relative free will which enables man to choose  between right and wrong and thus endows his life - in distinction from all other sentient beings - with a moral meaning and a unique spiritual potential." part of footnote 150.

to my mind, Asad's contention is that the divergence of opinions (any opinion, not just political) is a manifestation of man's free will, and that our free will is a blessing and in conformity with God-given status as  His khalifah, at the top of the food chain so to speak, endowed with reason. 

so fellow countrywomen and men, let's all agree to disagree. let's merrily make our way to our designated polling station this Sunday 5.5.2013 and voice our concerns, disappointment, endorsement, support, anger, pride whatever emotion whatever your reason, let's just peacefully mark the ballots and wait for the results.

let's just accept the results gracefully, sans name calling, fear mongering, doubt planting. lets leave all the hurt and pain we have caused each other and let's focus on what's really at stake, let's go back to nation building. let's give our support to whoever our elected leaders turn out to be and go back to the task at hand.

maybe this is too much to ask, but one can always hope and pray. but i'll start with myself. note to self. go vote and go back to work insyaAllah with renewed vigour. and finish my masters. and strive to go to Hajj, if not this year then next, insyaAllah.

May Allah bless us with guidance and tolerance and make it easy on all of us.  Amin. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

An Appreciation for Showers

Now i know why cliches are cliches! there is a fundamental truth that strikes a universal chord embedded in the heart of each cliche. Take for example the cliche "you never know what you have until you lose it". In all my 3 plus decades i took showers for granted. In the last 3 weeks alone i have gained an insight into what a nikmat showering is. Simply because I am deprived of fully partaking in it!

The bliss of washing away a day's worth of natural body oil and sweat in the Malaysian heat is something i will never again take for granted, InsyaAllah! I look forward to taking a shower without tying a plastic bag over my right leg and balancing myself precariously in the shower. I cannot wait to get the cast off my right leg on Tuesday. I must admit to being anxious, what if my knee is forever stuck in it's swollen size? What if i can't bend my leg fully? How will i squat and duduk antara dua sujud? Will my limp go away? Will i always be fearful of my knee popping out again? Can i run without holding myself back?

Worrying serves me well if i end up supplicating to Allah and redha to what is decreed. The triviality of my condition in the face of trials others put up with shames me. I have first hand experience in changing adult diapers. Upon reflection, what is immobility of my right leg compared to immobility of the whole body? If immobile people do not complain why should i?

Note to self: verily after every hardship is ease.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bite sized reminder

a friend forwarded this vid to me. It was so concise and conveyed the message in captivating form i was compelled to share it! let's see - the recurring themes, submission - to Allah, conversely subjugating the nafs - the ego, the arrogance, submission to HIS will over our own personal desires. don't we all have desires? self - don't be fooled by those desires, don't be ruled by those desires.

in this very submission to Allah, the creation finds - liberation from nafs, liberation from the temptations and distractions of this dunya.

This dunya, our nafs and shaytan all conspire to decorate sins to make it look so desirable to me, to make sins look so normal, so ordinary so small and insignificant. nauzubillah. therein lies the danger. when we think we are safe, that our sins are small and "i am a good person". remember self, Allah will be the judge of that. All that is within my power is supplication, sincerity, humility, avoidance of further transgression, self awareness, god conciousness in my own actions. in my own interactions. and patience in the face of adversity.

the struggle within, daily.