Nafsi, nafsi, nafsi.... Myself, myself, myself...

Bismi Allah

It all comes back to us, ourselves, our selfish motives, and our lack of effort directed towards understanding things outside of ourselves and our ways of doing and being.

It is often difficult to get our heads around the ways of this world. It's easy to appreciate complicated matters because the complication illustrates the intricacies and sophistication of life, but sometimes it's nice to find some areas of security, free of obscurities.

I imagine that many wonder, "Where must our loyalties lie?" In our chaotic world of increased technology combined with inept and ignoble leadership, it's not safe to trust anybody who is willing to give even a somewhat intelligent opinion on any matter. Thus, it becomes a personal necessity for individuals to learn more about the pertinent issues and to reflect upon these while strictly adhering to universal principles.

These thoughts stem from some of the ideas that Dr. Tariq Ramadan expresses to the world at large. He is one brother who I regard with a high level of respect, and whom I love for the sake of God. [May God bless him and his family, ameen.] Not only does he offer a humble and clear perspective of the world, but he also has practical suggestions that we can all implement in our daily lives to improve ourselves on a personal level and in turn become productive on the communal and global levels.

In a recent lecture, he mentioned that when we build our communities we have to start by building a space of love. For many, this love comes from our families and close friends. They are often the ones we lean on when things get difficult. It is such a blessing, but it's not something that is shared by everybody. I guess that's why it becomes increasingly important for us to express some level of this compassion and love to others. But how? This is a very personal question that each of us has to figure out, given our circumstances, for ourselves.

In one of my classes in university, we were required to form a group and complete a large assignment. The professor advised us to approach this group work with a focus on the process instead of the goal. Similarly, our goal in life is to serve our Lord as He commands us, yet the only way to approach this is to be dilligent throughout the process. The goal doesn't take precedence over the process, especially since we can't guarantee ourselves that we will achieve the goal --- all we can do is ensure that we are working hard towards the goal.

Whatever it is that any of us decide to do, we must take great pains to ensure that we do not feed our egos (or nafs, the lower self). Instead, let's transform our efforts into acts of servitude to God through serving humankind... God willing!

Unveiling One's Nature


The midday heat was becoming increasingly oppressive; nonetheless, the young man decided to trek on. He really had no other choice. "A few more hours until sunset, just keep going..." he chided himself. He had been walking alone through this barren desert for more than 24 hours in search of a treasure. It was not the typical treasure with gold and precious jewels, but rather the treasury of an oasis with lavish date palms and cool water. He knew it was a matter of time before he found it, but despite his decision to continue walking his body collapsed onto a blanket of burning sand.

"I must keep going... I have to find it," he mumbled. Still, his body would not obey. He dragged himself slowly across the earth moving a few feet further and finally collapsed. Time passed by slowly. Though conscious, he was exhausted. It was nearing sunset, and he was losing hope in his mission. In a final effort to continue, he dug his hands into the sand and pushed his body slightly upward. He then looked up.

Before his very eyes was no other than the oasis itself, more beautiful than he had imagined! He was ecstatic. "At last, I have found you!" he declared. The adrenaline that came with his excitement was enough for him to stand up again. He took slow steps towards his beauty as he spoke to it, "For hours, I've searched this hot and crude desert for you, and now you are mine. I shall enjoy you more now than I ever did in my dreams...."

He suddenly stopped.

"Strange..." he said. "Every time I come closer to you, you move further away from me." He took another step forward, and his beauty increased their distance again. "It is not time for games, my love. I've earned my time with you." The sun was rapidly sinking into the horizon, and his beautiful treasure was fading away. He counselled himself to patience. "We shall meet again in the morning," he promised the darkness before him.

He lay down on the sand, now much cooler than earlier that afternoon. Using his arms as a pillow, he tried to sleep. His attempts failed as his mind raced with thoughts of how he would claim his treasure. Finally, he drifted off into a restless sleep.

The morning sun peaked over the horizon, and the young man opened his eyes. Unsure of where he was, he surveyed his surroundings. He then remembered what had transpired the day before and eagerly rose to meet his challenge -- but it was nowhere in sight.

"It has to be here somewhere," he said. He continued walking. Three hours later, he saw it again. "We meet again, O Beautiful One," he said. No response. "You tormented me in my sleep, and now I must conquer you. But first, allow me to understand you." Still no response.

He plopped down onto the sand before it and said, "It seems to me that your wealth is only good at certain times. Can your owner not enjoy you whenever he pleases? Even if enjoyment of you has its limitations, will I have to chase you each morning? Even if I have to chase you each morning, what can you offer me besides sweet dates and some water?"

Still no response. He sighed. He closed his eyes and listened. Silence. He listened to his breathing. The world echoed a silence that moved with the rhythm of his soul.

He opened his eyes again and looked around only to find hills of sand in every direction. He smiled a knowing smile and rose once again to continue his journey. "Sometimes you just have to talk to your mirage."

"Anyone who spends the day in safety, in good health and with (enough to eat), is like someone upon whom the world and all it contains has been bestowed."
-- Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)
[Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 185]

Is Love Failing?


For centuries, people have written about love - romantic love, parental love, humanistic love, and the list goes on. To be able to love is a blessing, one that can't be taken for granted, but really, what does love mean?

Does love mean to adore someone or something to the point of weakening your grasp on reality or is it entirely the opposite and instead a force that brings us clarity? Is it really a "force"? If so, what is its purpose? Where can we find it?

If we say we love humanity, why do we wrong each other? If we say we love our families, why can't we respect each other? If we say that we love goodness, why do we engage in evil? We often blame it on the devil, aka Shaytan/Satan. He gets the blame where we err, and yet he will tell us himself that he can't make us do anything and that our decisions are our own. So do we listen to his suggestions because we love him? Perhaps. Or perhaps we are instead serving our nafs where we need to be serving our Lord.

As Muslims, it seems as though we have rankings of love and dedication. There are, of course, various types of love, but it basically goes like this: love your Creator, love the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and all the Prophets and Messengers (peace be upon them all), and then love everything that Islam teaches. The second scheme includes that which Islam teaches and goes like this: love your parents, love your kin, love the ummah, love your neighbours, and love humanity. Love is a sophisticated interplay of rights and responsibilities. In each instance, to achieve love requires some work and a focus, essentially the rekindling of a fire within the soul.

I am starting to believe each level of love has to be nurtured in order to have any hope for achieving success at the next level. Have you noticed how often when we speak of great people of the past, we find that these people actually loved their enemies simply as a result of their shared humanity? Today, it is considered praiseworthy to tell another person off -- a glory that at one point was endowed to the one who remained calm. No doubt, accepted cultural norms of today's society need to be challenged with an acute sense of awareness of what it means to be a Muslim.

The Muslim is the one with a patient smile, forgiving words, a compassionate personality, and yet is a lion on the battlefield for the sake of earning His Lord's pleasure.

Love is a tool and force that can be used for both good and evil. It doesn't fail us in bettering this world; we fail because we use it for selfish gains. Ironic, isn't it?

We can only say that we love something or someone if we know what that involves. In order to adorn ourselves with the cloak of love, we need to start from the beginning. For me, this means learning about what it means to be an ama (or 'abd, the masculine word) (servant) of Allah. This is the only type of love that can single-handedly fill the heart. Without it, every other type of love will neither be complete nor everlasting.

Sometimes servants of God try to behave like the Lord, without a doubt. Sometimes servants of God behave like servants.
When they behave like servants, they are truly like the Lord.
When they behave like the Lord, they are in a sorry condition.
- Ibn Arabi

Unintended Rejuvenation


*Wind were you the breath from the lips of the Prophet (peace be upon him) carrying wisdom to thirsty ears?* - Dawud W. Ali

Like the changing winds, I am forced to acknowledge the beauty of renewed direction. One step backwards has taken me two steps forward, praise be to God.

last post on this blog expressed my intention to cease blogging. Among the useful comments following the post was that of MuslimBro whose comments are the source of inspiration for this post.

I owe him an apology, the premise of which has occupied my thoughts and has helped me to assess myself. My response to his comment was, as I see now, ridiculous. I said, "I'll refrain from blogging until I have something substantial and worthwhile to say that may benefit any readers." There will never be a time when I can say to myself that what I have to say will be substantial or worthwhile to anyone besides myself. SubhanAllah! The arrogance of the statement is shameful, and I seek Allah's guidance and protection from such thinking. I also denied that writing is a gift, and that too is sheer stupidity on my part. May Allah forgive me for it, for no doubt He has blessed with me a lot and the ability to write is definitely a blessing and gift from Him. By recognizing this blessing, I am no doubt obliged to use it in a good way.

So to blog or not to blog? Well, I have benefited from exerting some energy into articulating my incoherence, but I question why it is that I felt relief after my decision to cease blogging. I have an idea of reasons for this relief which I think I discovered from my response to Farhana's comments on my last post. I told her that my posts have gradually weakened since the onset of this blog. When I said that, I was referring to the quality of writing. But it's not the writing itself that I find weakness in, rather it is the intention and/or motivating factor behind the writing. SubhanAllah... I sense a change there that I don't like, and which I believe may be harmful to myself.

I tend to get frustrated with myself for not putting my money where my mouth is, and this blog is clearly my mouth. This is another deterrent. However, with that said, I know there is greatness in step-by-step progression. For example, it is a general trend in society that people enter university, pick a program, and move forward with it as long as they are able and willing or as long as they have achieved adequate credentials. My university experience was far from that, and will likely continue to remain that way. I decided to graduate one year earlier than initially intended because I didn't want to have a degree just for the heck of it. I feel as though I need to pursue other things in life before perhaps considering going back to further my education for the sake of achieving other purposes. Blogging is no different I think. My writing on this blog compared to my writing in notebooks is quite different. I think in some ways, at this point in my life, I do need this outlet as an introspective endeavour -- but on condition...

The condition is one and the same, God willing, with everything in life, and that is that it helps me to move closer to the ultimate goal of purifying myself and coming closer to Allah. If it does not help me in my servitude to my Creator, it is worthless. That goes with everything and anything in life.

"Actions are based on intentions, and he will have what is intended for him." Thus, I will likely resume blogging as long as I can keep my intentions clear and use it as a source of healthy progression, God willing. If not, may Allah help me to see the wretchedness in my misdirected deeds, ameen.

Jazakum Allah khayr previous commentators for being the means through which Allah has allowed me to see my errors. May He continue to favour you with His blessings, and cause us all to meet Him when He is pleased with us, ameen!

Everything Has Its End

BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

I've had a sneaking suspicion, or rather a gut instinct, that there was something about the 'blog world' that wasn't good for me personally (I guess just being the way that I am). But I pushed it aside and instead spent four months writing things that were probably best written in notebooks, if I felt the need to write at all for personal benefits.

I am not sure if in any of my posts I have mentioned trying to 'earn Jannah [Paradise].' If so, forgive me for making such a nonsensical statement. We cannot earn Jannah. It is only by His mercy that we will be able to enter Paradise, God willing. For a brief elaboration on the topic, watch this short clip:
Are You Ready to Die?

I don't think there is much traffic on this site, alhamduliAllah, but for those who do visit it, thank you for your comments and discussion, both of which I have appreciated. I will need to find alternative means, besides a wonderful family, for more regular thoughtful interactions. Nevertheless, such is life. Here's a parting
gift. Oh, and one more. More food for thought, and another point worth reflecting on, God willing.

May God, the Almighty, forgive me for my mistakes/errors and the wrong that I may have engaged in. May He guide me, my loved ones, the ones who I have come to respect including those in the 'blog world,' and the entire ummah of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Ameen!

Remember the ummah in your prayers...
Wa 'alaykum assalaam wa rahmatuAllahi wa barakaatu.
"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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"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]