The Humble River - "Thinking Blogger Award"

BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

"You can find sometimes in rivers what you don't find in oceans."
- Arabic proverb

So I've been "tagged" as they say in the blog world. I'm not too sure how these things work, but as long as I'm not sitting here writing about my favourite food, colour, and beverage, it's all good. So thanks to the sister who has a kind opinion about me and my incoherent reflective thoughts, and who has left me with some food to digest. Mucho gracias amiga.

There's an appeal to this particular game of tag though. From what I've gathered, it is a way of expressing appreciation for another's thoughts, as articulated on blogs. I have a great appreciation for those who think intelligently. It demonstrates a wholeness in their character, at least in the blurred vision of a fellow human who can only comment on what I observe or experience.

Those who think outside the box, those who challenge the nonsensical ways of society, and those who go beyond whining while they build on profound concepts that already exist tend to impress me. And why not? God has blessed them with gifts, and I pray that we can all benefit from those gifts.

Just this afternoon, I was thinking about a discussion that my sister and I had years ago about praise. We were talking about Brother Dawud W. Ali, and I believe she mentioned then that there is hadith that says something to the effect that excessive praise of a person is like throwing sand in their eyes. It doesn't benefit a person, and it can unintentionally cause them harm. Praise has its place among humans; but if not delivered in the right dose and with a pinch of wisdom, it can breed a lot of diseases in the heart.

In my eyes, the most beautiful cloak that a woman can wear is made with threads of hayaa' (loosely translated as bashfulness) and compassion. And the beautifying cloak of a man, in my eyes, is made with threads of humility and generosity.

With that said, there aren't many blogs that I read. Hands down, I can easily select my favourite thought-inspiring blog, whose words, delivered with great finesse, often encourage me to delve deeper into my own ideas, by the grace of God. But I'm not going to name it.

Instead, I will extend an appreciation to anyone and everyone who challenges him/herself to think deeper, to go beyond the basics, to utilize the greatness of our minds, and to do this all with the intention of becoming better humans and tapping into the gifts that God has blessed humans with. As Shaykh Hamza Yusuf said in one lecture, Muslims today have held onto our belief in God but we have abandoned our intelligence in this belief. And non-Muslims have adopted our ancestors' ways of intelligent thinking and left the idea of faith. Glory be to God.

It's well past time for us to think, don't you think?

The pebble of appreciation lays comfortably in the riverbed of thought while the river itself continues to flow with peaceful elegance.

May the All Knowing guide us all to benefit from the rivers that may run through our lives, offering their wisdom in capsules of humble submission to the One deserving of all praise, ameen.

Meeting Preparations

BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

A teacher once said that the sahabas' yearly focus revolved around the month of Ramadhan. For about six months following Ramadhan, the sahabas used to seek God's forgiveness for having not made the most of the blessed month. The remaining part of the year would be used to prepare for the upcoming Ramadhan.

This past weekend my brother reflectively and matter-of-factly mentioned that Ramadhan is just around the corner. I was actually quite surprised that he had mentioned this, so I decided to calculate how long we have left. Okay, well Rabbi Al-Awwal is over or just about over at least... Hmm.. so there are about five months left until Ramadhan.

But what can we do to prepare for this blessed month?

Often in Sha'baan people ask me if I'm ready for Ramadhan. I'm never really quite sure how to answer the question, or even worse what they mean when they're asking it. How am I supposed to be ready? Do you mean is the freezer filled with samosas, both the chicken/beef and vegetable varieties? My answers alternate from, "I'm as ready as I can be" to "I hope so" to the most honest of all "I don't think I'll ever be ready."

Sometimes it feels like we have fallen into a similar trap that many (though not all, of course) of our Christian counterparts experience each week as their religious teachings have little bearing in their lives except on Sunday.

Maybe this year can be different for me and for us all. Maybe.

So what can we do? Below I have compiled a list, primarily for my benefit, of ways to try to get out of my self-destructive hole. Although I know that I am weak, it will at least serve as as reminder, God willing. Even if this effort doesn't bear any fruits for me, I can only hope that it can or it will for any eyes that may meet these words.

1) Become timely with all five of our daily prayers, and focus our hearts in our prayers.
2) Read more of the Quran each day.
3) Listen attentively to the recitation of the Quran.
4) Learn more about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), his way, his life, etc. and send more greetings to him, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa salam.
5) Participate in wholesome community activities.
6) Listen to lectures (these are easily available online) or attend classes regarding Islamic matters as a way to inspire us to improve.
7) Find ways to express compassion to loved ones, colleagues, and those who we surround ourselves with.
8) Attempt voluntary fasts, perhaps three times a month (on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of each lunar month) or on each Monday and Thursday - both of which were practices of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). As a shaykh once said, "sawm nurtures taqwa" (fasting nurtures God consciousness).
9) Work on improving our character, rectifying our errors, and repenting for our sins.
10) Work on developing a relationship with Allah, a relationship that we are all responsible for developing ourselves. Whatever you consider beautiful and necessary in a relationship, even complaining, take it to Allah.
11) Make a sincere effort to reflect on the bounties, blessings, and signs of Allah in all aspects of our existence.
12) And if we cannot do any of that, then perhaps we can at least try to grasp the essence of our deen again. This lecture is a good place to being: True Spirit of Islam. [The filming itself is blurry, but it is still very audible, and thus beneficial, insha'Allah. I'd suggest you just listen to it instead of messing with your eyes by trying to watch it.]
13) Oh, consider this a bonus point: Elements of Success.

Hoping to meet Ramadhan in a better state this year compared to last year is simply a means, God willing, to get us to the sweetest of all ends - being close to our Lord.

What more do we need?

*What a wonderful world this would be if we open our eyes to see He is all that we need right now, and we can all come together somewhere, somehow.*
- Zain Bhikha

Update: 2007-04-18

Here's a nice nasheed that resonates with me and gets to the heart of it. It's simplistic enough for a child to grasp, yet something that we can reflect on as adults. Absorb the message, insha'Allah. May Allah help us all, ameen!

The Heart of A Muslim
By Zain Bhikha

The Wind's Wisdom

BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

She whistles, she pleads, she strives to move forward - to warn - she's stern, but so timid. She is the howling wind, and she sings my song.

If you were the wind, what message would you share? Have you ever noticed how she sweeps by us as a gentle breeze on some days. She's cooing at us. But her patience is limited. She worries for us so she shows us her serious side. Listen. Listen carefully. Do you hear the tears in her gusts and shrills? Listen harder. What is she saying?

"Remember, remember! I am at the submission of Allah. It is by His will I am. To Him we all belong. Obey Him. Remember the people of 'Aad and how they met their end? Adhere, obey!"

She weeps. But she is strong.

The wind is a sign and a message in itself. It reminds us of Allah's strength and greatness when it howls. It also reminds us of His mercy as it cleans the Earth.

Listen to the lyrics of the wind and contemplate. Turn to Him in repentance while humbled in awe, but never ignore the wind.

[Written on March 10, 2002]


The wind has been howling all night, rousing me from sleep. She tells me that my moments of consciousness from sleep may be my last. She encourages me to seek my Lord's mercy. I fall into the state of minor death again, my dreams filled with discomfort. They show me many things, reminding me of inevitable death. In one instance, a hurricane begins to form only for the purpose of destroying us as we err, and yet a prayer at the moment causes God's mercy to descend and the hurricane to disappear. In the other instance, one is thought to be in deteriorating health and on her way to the next realm of existence.

Deluded by the illusion we call reality, the truth of our real existence, journey, and destination become muddled.

Listen to the wind, and work step-by-step to find your way. He is the Most Kind, the Most Merciful. May our return to Him be sweet. From Him is the only everlasting sweetness. Adhere to the way of eternal success, God willing.

I write this as a reminder to myself. These are the things not worth forgetting.

O Lord, let our return to you be filled with peace and tranquility. Guide us to lead our lives in a way that will earn Your favour and allow us to know You as you want us to know You, ameen.

My Nemesis

BismiAllahir Rahmanir Raheem

Praise be to God, the Most High, the One deserving of all love and dedication.

So where is your sweetness as you face the bitterness of today's reality? Is it in the depths of your home? Do you cherish it and hold it close to your heart? Do you weep when it leaves you? Do you mourn the thought of its demise?

We all have our secret stash of sweets. It's the only way we survive, even if we have presumably everything that one could possibly need to survive. Survival isn't only monetary. It is also spiritual, physical, emotional, and psychological.

I once had a prison. Deep in my mind. It was small, but it was there housing my Nemesis. I couldn't bribe it out of its existence. I couldn't nurture it into a beautiful garden. I tried approaching it, fighting it, scolding it. It didn't budge. I needed a key.

Many hours went by, and days, and weeks, and months. I managed to suppress it into a distant corner, forcing it to watch from afar as I frolicked in my gratefulness over life's comforts. I forced it to listen to my challenges. My aspirations. My reality. It watched for some time, barely making a sound.

And then one day it spoke. Vile words poured from it, and it finally declared its clear intent to a duel. A duel! Now things had gone too far, and I sighed deeply hoping that I could find that key. I searched. Not knowing when the duel would occur, I searched hard.

I sought guidance from those who may know, but none knew whether or where this key existed. I was faced with the prospect of inevitable ruin, but it seemed illogical. No ruin is inevitable, and this was no exception.

Again, I continued my journey far and wide seeking that special key. These travels distracted me from other pressing issues that needed my attention, but faced with a duel, I had little choice but to push on.

It was useless. I wasn't able to find the key. In utter failure, I fell to the ground, and did what my heart knew best. I wept, and wept, and wept. The earth surrounding me filled with these tears. Night came, and I lay in the midst of my tears secretly praying for my miracle.

Dawn finally arrived, bringing with her hope. I looked upon the earth, and there, in a puddle of my own tears lay the key. The key! At last, the key had been found. But how could this be? I had searched the entire space the day before, and yet nothing was there.

Along came a spider, o wise one, to tell me that the key is brittle. It was formed from my tears and the very earth that I tread on the day before.

Ah, so the key never existed! I had to work towards its creation. Rejuvenated, I returned to my prison.

With my newly formed key in hand, I unlocked the doors. There was going to be no duel. My Nemesis graciously walked out. From him, I heard truth. For hours, I listened. I absorbed. I savoured. Truth and more truth. For every minute of that truth, the prison deteriorated slightly until it vanished completely.

This is how I found my freedom. This is how I befriended my Nemesis. This is why I smile.

Where there once lay a prison, a garden of sweets flourish, planted by my Nemesis himself, forever filled with the fragrance of a fresh breeze. Thank you Nemesis.

We all have our sweets, where are yours?

I prefer the way of my Lord over the way of my nafs.
Thank You Allah.

Be Good People...


Or view it here.

God is the Light of the heavens and the earth;
the likeness of His Light is as a niche wherein is a lamp
the lamp in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star
kindled from a Blessed Tree
an olive that is neither of the East nor of the West
whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it;

Light upon Light!

God guides to His Light whom He will.
And God speaks to mankind in symbols
for God is knower of all things.

Quran - Chapter 24, Verse 35

Comic Relief - That's Life!


Well I think it's due time for some comics, what do you say? AlhamduliAllah, life is great. Sometimes it's nice to kick back and smile at the way life goes, even if it doesn't go exactly the way we hope.

[Note: Click on images to see them enlarged. The blog template's width doesn't accommodate these comics well. Sorry for the inconvenience.]


And so it is, loneliness can no longer be ignored. You bravely venture into the crazy world to seek a suitable partner.

But it is a lot more difficult than expected.

If at first you do not succeed, try and try again. Finally, you find that lovely significant other, get married, and have a family of your own.

The novelty of marriage soon wears off, and blunt honesty becomes trying.

Somehow, the marriage survives. The sweet children grow up, and the cute cooing sounds of infanthood develop into your nemesis.

Parental love wins through. You hope for a bright future and insist that your children attend school.

But going to school doesn’t necessarily mean earning an education.

Fortunately though, in this crazy cycle we call life, there are friends and loved ones that help us get through.

Keep smiling!

Sweet Dreams

"Then which of the favours of your Lord will ye deny?"
- Quran [55:13]

It’s not possible. Just because you can dream it, it doesn’t mean you can taste it. It doesn’t mean you deserve to taste it. It doesn’t mean you are entitled to it. Dreams, o sweet dreams.

Sweet dreams are mine, but reality knocks at my door and tells me that my reality is sweet though it is not my dreams.

Am I entitled to complete peace? Without the temptations of my nafs? There is no release from this wonderful trap. Escape is tangled with loyalty. If I escape, will it mean abandonment? Lack of patience?

No. It won’t.

But still, I cannot shake it off. Let it go. It’s not an option for you. Just look in the mirror, and you’ll see truth. Ah, but you have hope in God’s great favours, in His ability to make the impossible possible. In that case, also have hope in the benefit of sorrow, for such will be your flavour. In the least, prepare for it. His decision has been made. Your destiny is no secret to Him.

Prepare, for you’ll likely only learn this the hard way. Again.

Bon Voyage, insha'Allah!


My sister just e-mailed me a copy of her itinerary which kicks into effect in two days, insha'Allah. I can hardly believe that she'll soon be on her way to Pakistan, a place that she has wanted to visit for a long time.

It goes without saying that I will miss her. Probably more than she’ll miss me since she’ll be too busy with other things and will probably find just enough time to miss her boys (naturally). Nonetheless, I am really happy for her. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for her to visit a place that has intrigued her, and of course it’s an especially nice chance for her to meet some of her husband’s extended family.

I pray that her trip goes well. I pray that no one gives her or her mother-in-law a hard time wherever they may be. I hope that during their tremendously long flight they both remember to pray for the family and ummah, and the betterment of our world.

Often through partings the soul learns to appreciate what it so often takes for granted. “Distance makes hearts grow fonder,” isn’t it?

Many months ago, as I talked about my own smoke-filled travel ideas, my mother shared some of her motherly greatness. I was telling her that if I went anywhere and never returned, such would be my fate. My time to return to my Creator is written. Of course, my mother knows this (and probably was the one to teach me this), but I thought that perhaps her motherly love was still trying to protect me. Instead, she showed me her love, insight, and strength through words that I will never forget. She said, “It’s not death that I’m worried about… I’m worried about all the possible things, other than death, that may happen to you.” Ya Rabb… ya Rabb…

O Lord, please take them safely and bring them home safely. Ya Allah, we all have our destined time of return to You. I submit to that. Please let that be our best and sweetest moment in life, and please protect us all from the evils of mankind, jinn, and Shaytan, ameen.
"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]