Reflective Dust...

Oblivious Indulgences

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


It is as much wonderment as it is frustration that inspires me to pen these thoughts. I think I've always found it peculiar that people critique the taste of food, or while in the midst of savouring a meal, they feel the need to mention the different ways that make it even more personally delectable. I'm surely and regrettably guilty of the same, and I must ask myself why.

Why is it necessary to dedicate thoughts, words, and conversations to achieving optimal personal tastes which are not really going to change the meal before us? I suppose optimal tastes makes people happy, despite the limited ability in reaching it after the meal is prepared. Can't the range of what is "really tasty" be broader? I suppose everyone has different tastes and people aren't hungry enough to simply enjoy meals without a word about how it missed the 100% mark -- because 99% is still not 100%.

I think, though, that it is a lost virtue to eat without critiquing food, honestly. We live in a world, at least one side of the world, where critiquing food is part of our entertainment spectrum wherein contestants will win if their culinary conquests meet the approval of judges. We live in a world where it is commonplace to deliberately leave food in our plates knowing very well that it is destined for the garbage. We live in a world where we don't now how to tolerate the things we don't like or can't seem to appreciate. It smells like a foul type of world to live in.

And yet in other parts of the world, children pick up breadcrumbs covered in rubble from fallen buildings and parents know not what to do as their children cry in hunger. For some, the hunger is unbearable, and for others, patience is their constant companion.

We live in a world where it is fashionable to eat "healthy foods" but it pushes us to be intensely selective in what we eat such that we may just miss the point of food itself.

Food, as I see it, is not a life purpose. It's not a goal, an ambition, nor an end. It just keeps the body ticking. I'm all for wholesome food, but I oppose hyper-selectivity that allows us to turn away good food because it doesn't meet our standards of "optimally healthy."

Each their own. I suppose my opinions on the extremes in food preferences and eating are negligible. So I ask myself, what of the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam, and his eating habits? What of the sahabas? What does divine guidance tell us about approaching and managing food and eating?

These questions need answers and actions that follow accordingly, bi ithni Allah. May Allah guide us all to what is most pleasing to Him and beneficial, ameen.

***

حَدَّثَنَا هِشَامُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الْمَلِكِ الْحِمْصِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ، حَدَّثَتْنِي أُمِّي، عَنْ أُمِّهَا، أَنَّهَا سَمِعَتِ الْمِقْدَامَ بْنَ مَعْدِيكَرِبَ، يَقُولُ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ يَقُولُ ‏ "‏ مَا مَلأَ آدَمِيٌّ وِعَاءً شَرًّا مِنْ بَطْنٍ حَسْبُ الآدَمِيِّ لُقَيْمَاتٌ يُقِمْنَ صُلْبَهُ فَإِنْ غَلَبَتِ الآدَمِيَّ نَفْسُهُ فَثُلُثٌ لِلطَّعَامِ وَثُلُثٌ لِلشَّرَابِ وَثُلُثٌ لِلنَّفَسِ ‏"‏ ‏.‏
Miqdam bin Ma'dikarib said:“I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: ‘A human being fills no worse vessel than his stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls to keep his spine straight. But if he must (fill it), then one third of food, one third for drink, and one third for air.’”    [Ibn Majah]

Riyadh Al Saliheen: The Book of the Etiquette of Eating

***

Naturally Skewed

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Absolute stillness applauds the intensity of the wind. How veracious it is, through and through. It demands worthiness. The fickle fail to comprehend.

How many masks can you bear to wear? But it's the nature of the world and the times.

Times are such that we justify 101% indulgence of ourselves, ambitions, dreams, whilst simultaneously neglecting how ridiculous our expectations are of the world around us. Somehow we'll accept the two-faced nature of a person, but we won't fight the injustices that define every other aspect of the world. We live for ourselves, not for the goodness of the world nor for the purpose for which we were created. 

We accept the inwardly-ugly nice guy. He who talks the talk of grace when it suits, walks the walk of chivalry when it suits, but when the game wanes and he tires, his selfishness shines through. What a shame. I respect more the hateful enemy than the deceptive friend. Save the drama. Life is too short to play around. Why do we accept him? Because to some, he, and maybe even his character, looks good. Time eventually reveals the ugliness that lies beneath.

If the superficial is your lead, then follow. There's no time left to mess around. Time is at its end. Embrace the decisions you've made for they are now that within which you shall find your comfort.

Written some months ago.

Common Ground

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Salafis and sufis, labels thrown around to define and divide, but really just a spectacular fitna in which Iblis is surely revelling.

Those who claim to be following the righteous predecessors of the first three generations after the passing of our beloved Messenger, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam, must recognize that the four established schools of judicial law that remain today are from that era, the earlier part of it for that matter with Imam Abu Hanifa returning to His Lord in 150 AH, Imam Malik in 179 AH, Imam Al Shafi' in 204 AH, and Imam Ahmed in 241 AH - may Allah be well pleased with them all and have mercy on all our deceased, ameen. None follow the scholars, but they follow legal judgments of the Quran and sunnah based on the understanding of the scholars who had the high level of knowledge required to derive these judgments. The rest of us only have our perception of "what makes sense" within our frame of ignorance - a careless way to live the deen.

I suspect that most who ascribe to the this way do not necessarily know what is said by the scholars they claim to follow, and instead adopt broad and hollow ways of thinking that really only serve in satisfying the notion that he is right and another is wrong.

What we require from the deen, for us to draw closer to our Lord and fulfill that which He commands of us, is agreed upon by all the scholars. The knowledge of it is definitive, qati', and yet some segments of the ummah want to find faults in their brethren by justifying an ill opinion of their religious practices in matters that are speculative or zhanni.

To all who are essentially seeking to divide the ummah, all I can say is get over yourselves and turn to Allah. How dare we continue in our ignorant ways as if it is for His pleasure and His sake.

For those who think that attending zhikr sessions and singing qasaid while neglecting the Quran and authentic sunnah is the way of righteousness, I say your priorities need sorting, but that's between you and your Lord and if you think yourself better than another because of it, then again we're of opposing views.

Alas,the nafs goes wild as people hang tightly to groups and idealogies. All of us say we want the pleasure of our Lord and we want to be attached to the legacy of our beloved Prophet and Messenger, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa salam. If that is truly what we seek, then we need to follow guidance that doesn't turn the permissible into haram and vice versa, and we need to seek the rarity of true scholarship combined with righteous practice.

For me, an indication of righteousness is good character. If one should speak ill of another, for the sake of arguing, I would be weary. The scholars of the past disagreed with each other, but with authentic proofs and with adab. Manners.

Don't misunderstand me. There are a lot of commonplace acts that are blatant acts of kufr or shirk and we need to recognize them based on the Quran and authentic sunnah and correct them. But who is actually studying the Quran and authentic sunnah?

We are living in the end of times. Allah only knows how much longer it is until the Final Day, the Day of Accounting, will arrive. Nonetheless, we all know that death is our shadow and we must prepare for it.

It's not our place nor our right to make judgments about people's personal practice of the deen in speculative matters, nor is it our place to discuss fiqh rulings when we haven't the knowledge to do so. It is only our place to check ourselves and to seek knowledge for the sake of improving our spiritual and religious practice.

Allah, Transcendent is He, revealed in the Quran:
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ إِلاَّ رِجَالاً نُّوحِي إِلَيْهِمْ فَاسْأَلُواْ أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ

And We sent not before you except men to whom We revealed [Our message]. So ask the people of the message if you do not know. [Al Nahl:43]
Let's connect our hearts to the Prophetic way of understanding and inclusion in that which is permissible, forgiveness and good counsel in that which is blameworthy, and reform in that which is forbidden. The deen is a systematic way of living. It's not an apple orchard where you pick the fruits that suit you based on your limited perspective.

We cannot lie to our Lord. For the whole world, do what you will, but for myself, I have the Quran and the authentic sunnah which I must strive to live by as taught to me by the scholars who commit their lives to sincere and earnest practice of divine guidance. I must remind myself that each moment brings me one breath closer to my last.

Choices must be made. Habits must change. Hearts must be cleansed. Actions must be improved. Amends must be made. Lives must be truly lived.

اللهم لك كل الحمد والشكر. اهدنا وتب علينا وفرج على المسلمين والمسلمات في كل مكان آمين

Polished Virtues

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

It's late, but sleep escapes me as memories, sentiments, and flavours of lovely times gone past remain active on my cerebral palate. I can hardly contain a smile. Unlike my time in Yemen - Allahumma farij 'alayhim wa 'ala jami' al muslimeen, ameen ya Kareem - I did not record events in a journal. I carry my memories in heart and mind, but little good will it do to recollect them here or at all for that matter.

Instead, I shall try to let the favourable sentiments diffuse into something more palatable for anyone who may dare have a read .

It seems that some have sweeping ideas of what "Arabs" do or how they are as a people. I can't say I know much more about the way of Arabs, in general, than any other people, but I will say that it's especially ignorant to apply stereotypes of a whole ethnic group that spans the Arabian peninsula, the Levant, and North Africa. This absurdity is ever-more obvious when I recall nationals speaking about differences they have with their fellow countrymen.

Nonetheless, from my minimal exposure, I can say that many of the Arabs whom I've had personal interactions with overseas share the common virtue of karam - generosity and hospitality. It's a virtue that the world so desperately needs now, especially those of us living in metropolitan cities in the West.

Related by Al Bukhari and Muslim:

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
"Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day speak good or keep silent; and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his neighbour; and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his guest."
It sounds straightforward enough, but at the heart of it is that these acts are directly related to our belief, our iman.

Perhaps these three themes of choosing silence over ill speech, honouring our neighbours, and honouring our guests are part of the solution to our spiritual dysfunction. As our teachers advise, "fake it until you make it."

As a reference point, I shall mention the incident in which I went to drop something off at friend's home. Despite my excuses for not being able to stay, she insisted that I take a fruit or canned drink. 

Then there's the incident when I went to the airport trying to get a seat on a plane to the remote city that I lived in. There, I bumped into my friend/co-worker/neighbour's husband who took it upon himself to ensure my easy journey by bus to the main bus station that we were both headed towards. He paid for my bus ticket, carried my bag as we crossed the street, pointed out the restaurant at the station, asked if I needed any money, and then went on his way. Shortly thereafter, another friend/co-worker/neighbour came to the bus station. When we finally boarded the bus, we sat beside each other, and I held her sick baby who slept in my arms for the duration of the 6+ hour ride. She told her brother to pay for my bus ticket, but I told her I'd pay. "عيب يا فرزين" she said and then she went on to explain that it's common in Egypt for neighbours to pay for each other's bus tickets. So I told her, "well I'm your neighbour, let me pay." She would hear nothing of it. The bus ride was followed by another 2 hour ferry ride. Suffice to say, we arrived home two hours after sunset. Shortly after settling in, my doorbell rang and standing at the door was my friend's daughter holding a hot dish of rice and half a grilled chicken ordered from a nearby restaurant. I'm still speechless. I pray that I meet them all again inshaAllah. May Allah increase them all and grant them all the best of this world and the next, ameen!

While these memories continue to touch my heart, I ask myself: What of us? What of me? Beautiful manners make for beautiful people.


The Time Is Now

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The real work needs to be done, and it is always done outside the classroom. It is the time when knowledge must be internalized, realized, and implemented, but when I ask myself what I know now, I can hardly find two words in response. For me, the knowledge is still contained in books and I have to discipline myself to take a share of it. I do, however, feel an internal change where I'm less agitated by my ignorance. I now know a bit more about myself and the world that I didn't know before. I know where I need to go, though I'm still figuring out the details of how, and I know that the road will be that much more challenging without proper companionship to transverse it. But companionship is a gift and can't be expected. Nonetheless, we hope for it.

From those souls who walked with me, I noted and hope to learn:
- "life is too short to feign chemistry"
- "closed mouths don't get fed"
- to display an outward agreement in terms of respecting the other's opinion even if I don't necessarily agree 
- to share food, specifically
- to at least attempt to understand significant historical and political happenings
- to joke with truthfulness
- to take the time to find the wise way of doing something
..and so much more.

The work must now begin. May Allah guide us to live our lives for His sake, to strive for His sake, to work and improve ourselves for His sake, to live the legacy of the Prophet Muhammad - peace be upon him - for His sake, to nurture the young with food for the heart and soul, to be merciful in our dealings, and to constantly connect ourselves with the Quran and the blessed Prophetic Sunnah, ameen.


Ambition?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

What have you learned Farzeen? In all these months and even years, I should at least be able to muster a respectable answer, but it's blank. My mind is blank. There's some strange phenomenon occurring wherein I seem not to be living in the many moments that make up my days, weeks, and life. If I am not living my days fully in the here and now, then where am I?

What have you learned Farzeen? Straight faced and glazed eyed, I can say that I've lost count of the times when I've been overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for the parents and family with which Allah has graciously favoured  me. Perhaps many of my days are still lived with them despite the physical distance. A tear escapes. 

What have you learned Farzeen? Nothing of this world is real. Ideas, dreams, stories, relationships, hopes, fears, and all the rest of this world are mere decorative features of this journey we call life. The reality of it is hidden beneath, but I've yet to see beyond these illusions. I'm trying to turn them away. I want nothing of them. Nothing. 

What have you learned Farzeen? Self-constructed ideas are one of our greatest enemies, and worst is when we justify their presence in our lives as if the meaning of ambition is choosing or carving a future for ourselves. Kalla. Ambition is the realization that we are active in making decisions about our immediate reality -  that is, our reactions to whatever Allah puts in front of us. 

Ambition is consciously striving to use any goodness in ourselves for the betterment of humanity - past, present, and future. Ambition is not putting a desired objective on a pedestal and chasing it, but it is promising ourselves to utilize every situation to draw closer to Allah, for His sake alone. In that is not only worthwhile ambition but it is self-liberation. Servitude.

I seek freedom from the intensity of my nafs and its pathetic weaknesses. I seek freedom from my laziness that fails to utilize the infinite blessings that are weaved in my life. I seek a better me who won't justify her weaknesses but will be honest about them and consciously stand in opposition to them. 

Allah continuously sends so many beautiful people in my life. I never understand why they open their hearts to me, and yet by Allah's grace, some do, and I should be a better person because of it. I should, could, would, but I'm not. Why?

March 13, 2016 
12:18 am


hadith19arabiccut

Abu al-‘Abbas ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas(ra) reports:

“One day I was riding (a horse/camel) behind the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, when he said, ‘Young man, I will teach you some words. Be mindful of God, and He will take care of you. Be mindful of Him, and you shall find Him at your side. If you ask, ask of God. If you need help, seek it from God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together in order to help you, they would not be able to help you except if God had written so. And if the whole world were to gather together in order to harm you, they would not harm you except if God had written so. The pens have been lifted, and the pages are dry.’ ”

Related by Tirmidhi
Translation from 40hadithnawawi.com

Perspective

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Daylight savings is in effect. Shortly after noting the clock change from 2 AM to 3 AM, I noticed that the birds had already started whistling their morning tunes. I suppose their songs marked the last third of the night.

Spring is in effect here, and it gives me a savoury feeling of renewal and rejuvenation. I dreamt last night that I was back in the last city that I called home, surprising myself with my return there. The dream, as usual, had strange aspects, but it also allowed me to meet one dear sister with whom I spent the entirety of my working hours. Memories of it almost feels like a lifetime away, and so too will be my life here when it becomes a part of my history, and so will life in general when we all leave it and meet the world of destined eternity. 

Life is a collection of historical moments, their worth being encapsulated by both the insights that reflections bring forth from them and the effects that immediately reflect back onto us in our lives. Am I a better me because of the last menial choice that I made? Declaring vs. concealing, sharing vs. hoarding, acknowledging vs. denying, praising vs. chastising, waiting vs. advancing, thanking vs. whining? Yet each possibility is more excellent when the situation demands it. I suppose that's the meaning of wisdom حكمة: putting things in their proper place. 

I have decisions to make about what I might want to do or should do. I think I've stopped chasing most of my created illusions, and yet I can't be certain that I don't continue to conjure up new nafsi falsehoods. I struggle to put things in their proper place these days. The Farzeen I see today is one who I would have swiftly rejected six months ago. Does it mean I was less tolerant or does it mean I am now too liberal? The difference between them can only be determined by the Quran and authentic sunnah. It is our exclusive guide, and it is only from there that confusion becomes clarity, and clarity becomes the reality for which we start striving.

Shaykh Muhammad An-Ninowy (الله يحفظه) has started teaching the Hikam of Ibn 'Ata Illah - one of my most favoured books because it helps us put reality back into perspective. There is much to be taken from each aphorism and its explanation, but I'll close with this one as a straightforward reminder for myself, inshaAllah.

"الأعمال: صور قائمة، وأرواحها: وجود سر الإخلاص فيها"
"Actions are but external forms, only given life by having true sincerity in them."

اللهم لك كل الحمد والشكر. اغفرل لنا و ارحمنا و تب علينا. يا حميد يا مجيد يا ودود يا كريم اهدنا إليك وإلى ما تحب ويرضاك. اللهم اجعلنا من المخلصين والمتوكليلن والتوابين وعبادك الصالحين برحمتك يا أرحم الراحيم وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وآله وصبحه وسلم والحمد لله رب العالمين، آمين يا رب.



Heart's Form

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Imagine iron molded into a heart`s form. From the external, one can easily see a jewel embedded in the heart`s case. Its location is unique as it fills a hole allowing it dual access with its radiance shining brightly outward to the onlooker while simultaneously illuminating the inward with intimate light. There is, however, an even more fascinating jewel hidden in the hollow of the mold. It is embedded firmly within a protective casing of the metal and thus its radiance is confined to the inward alone. In its secret and humble abode, it dazzles and enlightens the heart chambers with impressive grace. Rare is it for the inward jewel to displays its charms, but its luminous existence is never forgotten. Jewels of the heart are rare to find.



Aug.21, 2013

Beauty

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In a frame of ambiguity, I cannot prevent my heart from a smile at the sight of what it cannot behold. Guilty are my indulgences, the flavour of tastelessness savoured. How can something be so beautiful and yet warn of lethal consequences? It cannot be as such because beauty, as I see it, is not a physical sight but a soulful gesture. Sometimes I think my imagination writes the master script, and yet I have the evidence of rough drafts and the culmination of fateful serendipity. There is no such thing as random, inconsequential, and purposeless. 

So in all that, I only really want to say thank you. To the One whose all-encompassing knowledge garnishes my heart with aromatic fumes that continue to linger. How bountiful an experience. How precious a memory. How grateful I remain, forever indebted to Him who knows that some smiles are shaped from tears and some tears are formed by smiles. Beautiful either way. It is beautiful either way.

الشكر والشوق

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

قلتُ: أشكر اللهَ أنه وضعني في هذا المكان معكُنّ الطيبات. الحمد الله
 قالتْ صديقتي: كل طيبات (قصدتْ في تلك المدينة الصغيرة)
قلتُ: لا... لسن كل الطيبات
ضحكت صديقتي

As odd as it may be, I am sometimes reluctant to try new dishes with the logic that if I really like any, then there is the possibility that I may want it again later on. I suppose seeking anything of the ephemeral world that is not in front of me only serves to complicate life. Yet, despite my general thought to not get attached, I do. In the world of insignificance, I would quite thoroughly enjoy a plate of mahshi malfoof and kusa - made with Egyptian rice - followed by a serving of konafa. But worst still is trying to get my heart and head around that which and those whom I miss.

I miss the athan, the scenery, and the serenity. I miss the sights and sounds of children playing on the street - barefoot and kicking around a ball, the honking horn of the bread man's van around 'asr time, (a sound that was once a nuisance), the morning greetings, the smiles, the language - both the Egyptian dialect and the attempts at fus7a, the du'as, and the general mirth that develops over time once understandings are developed. I miss the simplicity. I miss the sincerity. 

I do, however, recognize that because I was an outsider, I was spared the internal drama that close communities and families sometimes experience, and I'm grateful for the peace that that offered.

But to say that I miss a part of my life which I was blessed to experience does not negate the fact that my time there had come to an end and that this side of the ocean, too, contains intangibles and people to miss. I suppose it's the same as tasting a delicious dish or beverage. Who can forget a sweet drink that once quenched a deep thirst? 

The fine difference here lies between two phenomena: the natural disposition to remember good that we experience, and to desire the return of the goodness which is no longer a part of our immediate reality. The first, I imagine, is rooted in gratitude while the second is embedded and maintained in long and quite often false hopes.

و الله أعلم


Aug. 28, 2015

"I shouldn't miss you this much, but I do." (12/08/09)
"Do you think that you will enter the Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Apostle and those of faith who were with him cried: 'When (will come) the help of God?' Ah! Verily the help of God is (always) near!" [2:214]

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Inspiration

"Be mindful of God, and God will protect you. Be mindful of God, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of God. If you seek help, seek help of God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that God had already prescribed for you. And if the whole world were to gather together to harm you, it would harm you only with something that God has already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the ink has dried."
--Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]