All True

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

Tap tap, who's knockin'?
The devil aint followin' ..., it's mah own soul
Itself a source of rage,
asking for comfort
But I'm still searching.
Where's the key to the cage?

The devil aint the problem
I need to make a start
One foot forward to make aright what's in this heart..
..of mine, oh, happiness is not its mark
Never seen a light, still in pitch dark...

Been searching for a while
But only my tongue has changed
Learned to fight
Hoping for mah tears on the first
of these blessed nights

Happiness is not in you,
or you,
or you
Complete as one,
False hopes in the tale of two
Expectations lead to disappointments
The soul, she's one
family-less, friend-less, all alone
Depending on the One
to find its way home

Sweet words, worse than sugar
eroding a heart
God I need to make this start
O God, heal my heart
Invite me to You
and open the door
I've seen my illusions and now I'm searching...
...but failing to fight what keeps me distant...
from You

Invite me to You
and let this soul soar
each time you privilege this forehead of mine
to touch the floor...
... in service of You.
Life's One and Only...
...all true...
All True.

O God, I turn to You. Lost is all my hope in everything except You. You are the source. Help me be true. Invite me to You. I only want You. O God, only You can ease this heart. Only You know what lies beneath my masks. Only You know me. Only You can save me.

I pray that this Ramadhan be one where some veils may be lifted,
and the truth of our existence may manifest before our hearts and souls,
and our minds and bodies respond to it in a way that is befitting of such realizations.

Insha'Allah wa ameen.

Ramadhan Mubarak!


Imam Al Ghazali: The Alchemist of Happiness

Part 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8
But I'd suggest you purchase your own copy.


BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

A few years ago, I wondered to myself about some of the secrets that lie in the Quran, especially the greatness contained in the chapters and verses that are recommended for daily supplications/invocations/recitations. I figured it was probably best that I take some time to think about the meanings of some verses, and I began (without much more progress) with suratul Falaq, the second-last chapter of the Holy Quran.

The Daybreak, Dawn
1. Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn
2. From the mischief of created things;
3. From the mischief of Darkness as it overspreads;
4. From the mischief of those who practise secret arts;
5. And from the mischief of the envious one as he practises envy.
It was the last verse that especially caught my attention, and I wondered what envy contains so that God, in His glorious knowledge and wisdom, would send these words for the benefit of humankind. What dangers are contained in hasad, envy, to which we are oblivious? I wasn't sure, but kept these thoughts at the back of my mind hoping that at some point I would have some insight into its importance.

A few months later, my father was sharing stories of his father's days and said that my grandfather (Allahu yarhamuhu) once told him that the biggest problem in the community was hasad or envy. SubhanAllah, perhaps that's one reason why we seek God's protection from it, I thought. I couldn't yet appreciate the depths of the Quranic words, and again tucked these thoughts away for further reflection.

In recent months, I was blessed with the chance to attend a few classes in a series of classes given by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus (may Allah preserve him) about the ahlil bayt, the family of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. He spoke about the hierarchy of creation (refer to the book "The Man and the Universe" by Dr. Mostafa Badawi for an excellent explanation of this among many other insightful and necessary explanations), and went on to explain that there are two fundamental aspects of a human:

1) 'Ubudiyyah in which case humans are passive in relation to Allah
2) Khilafa in which case humans are active in relation to Allah, people, and the cosmos.

Thus, humans are both active and passive, but success ultimately lies in submitting to Allah. Anyone who submits will be successful for the doors of Heaven are open to all, but we have to maximize our potential. And Allah gives us all different potentials.

He continued by speaking about the fadhal (bounty, grace) of Allah and mentioned that Allah will give His bounty to whom He pleases, and that the middle way in dealing with Allah's bounty is (roughly) "Do not desire what Allah has favoured to some and not others."

This of course leads into the topic of hasad, envy. And it was then that I understood, to some extent, the words in suratul Falaq. He explained that hasad is bad (excuse my lack of a better word) because we impose our will on the will of Allah who has given of His grace as He wills. We need to avoid hasad, and give shukr (thanks, gratitude) to Allah for His fadhal.

How often do we think "I wish I had that like so-and-so" or "if only I were blessed with such-and-such like so-and-so, then I'd be able to achieve xyz" or "so-and-so is so blessed with/because of such-and-such, it'd be nice if I could have it too" or many other varieties of things that we desire for ourselves that are simply inaccessible though it may seem like 'everyone else' is privileged to possess them. It's not greener on the other side, and while some people may have some things they are bereft of some other things that others are blessed with.

My mother was recently telling me stories about people who utilize black magic to harm others as a result of seeds of envy. SubhanAllah, I could barely believe it, but it's true. And the scary thing about it all is that we can harm people, even unintentionally, by our envious ways. May Allah protect us from this, ameen!

Envy is a vile disease of the heart that most of us are guilty of harbouring to some extent. It only seems natural now to speak of ways of dealing with it. Imam Mawlud writes about it in the book "Purification of the Heart" which has been published with a translation and commentary by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. Refer to this website for some excerpts about envy from the above-mentioned book.

Envy is really a battle to overcome, but like all diseases of the heart, we have to first try to identity them in our hearts and then work toward curing them, bi ithniLlah! May Allah help us all, ameen.

Please correct me where I err... may Allah forgive me, ameen.

‘Abd Allah Ibn Mas’ud said the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

"Let there be no envy, except in two things:
1. A man whom Allah gave a wealth and guided him to spend it in righteous way.
2. Or a man to whom Allah gave wisdom and he acts wisely and teaches it to others."
(Al-Bukhari and Muslim; See An-Nawawi, Riyad As-Salihin)

Acknowledging XY

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

So what is it in the Y chromosome carriers that make them perfect targets to pick on once in a while? Perhaps a lot of them simply pour out reasons worthy of criticism. Honestly though, I don't think there are necessarily more aggravating males than there are females in the world, but the actions of men, majority of whom posses more influential power than double-X carriers, carry a greater impact (thus responsibility) than many women. (And of course I'm being very general here and acknowledge that inevitably exceptions exist -- it's all about the bell curve folks!).

As oh-so-tempting as it is to verbally annihilate some menfolk, I think it would be a waste of precious thought and time. Instead, I think it would be far more productive to speak of some men who shine. They are seemingly the most ordinary of men, but they are gems who I've been blessed to have in my life, if even for what seemed like just a moment. A cherished moment that gave me insight into rare beauties that as a society we fail to acknowledge.

Here goes...

I arrived in Sana'a with my travel companion and her twin sons at about 10 pm. We passed through customs without any problems, except that the officers wanted me to open my hand luggage. They asked what was inside, to which I responded "books." One officer only glanced quickly inside (thus no harm met my stash of M&Ms *phew*), asked where I was from, and with a smile said "welcome."

We were met by a brother (from Canada -- I'll call him "Ahmed") who I corresponded with for some time prior to my trip as he advised me on schools and suggestions on what to pack. His correspondence was very helpful, never mind all that he and his family did for me afterwards. He and his friend came to the airport, they loaded all our luggage into the van, and they took us to a hotel. The brother then spent some time showing us the area around the hotel, places where we could get breakfast, offered some advice on living in Yemen, and handed me more than enough Yemeni riyals for breakfast, since we had no riyals on us at the time. We soon met his wife and daughter, and we had dinner with them. It was the beginning of a sweet friendship. His wife is a gem, masha'Allah! I felt quite at home with them all so much so that my final days in Yemen were spent with them, alhamduliLlah.

We spent two weeks living in the hotel, much to the despair of my travel companion. In that time, I had the task of finding a suitable school for myself and an apartment. AlhamduliAllah, with more advice and assistance from this brother and his wife, I finally decided on a school. The hunt for an apartment was more challenging, but for that too Allah sent two brothers my way. One was a connection of a sister I knew online. May Allah reward him and his brother for their sincere efforts, ameen. The other brother was a complete stranger whom my sister had contacted online. He learnt that I was in Sana'a, and he offered his complete assistance. He told me on several occasions that it was his obligation to help me, though the truth of the matter was that he had no obligations towards me whatsoever. It was through his efforts that I found an apartment that was in an ideal location for me and that came with a landlord and his family (who lived upstairs) that took good care of me. I eventually met this brother's wife, mother, father, daughter, five sisters, and many nieces and nephews. I can't describe my first meeting with them except that the difference of languages was not a barrier for us. They all easily claimed a special place in my heart, and I continue to think of them with much fondness. AlhamduliAllah, I was also able to spend a few days with them before leaving Sana'a and Yemen altogether.

Both of these brothers and their families were there for me like my family. In fact, they both came to the airport to pick me up when I returned to Sana'a, and they, along with one brother's wife, took me to the airport when I left Yemen. It was a complete blessing for me to have kept their company, the company of their families, and to wave a final goodbye to them as I had my boarding pass in hand ready to come home to my family. SubhanAllah... There are no words in this heart of mine that can thank them adequately. May they find their rewards with the Almighty, ameen. It goes without saying, I cannot thank Allah sufficiently for the many blessings He bestowed and continues to bestow on me. All praise belongs to Him, the One whose generosity is unmatched, whose mercy is ever-abundant.

There are a few more noteworthy brothers that Allah sent my way, if even for a brief moment, but I'll not share all their stories except for one. One brother, Muhammad, is a friend of one of the above-mentioned brothers. He and his family live in the poorer parts of Old Sana'a. Life is difficult for them as they deal with poverty. His month's salary runs dry two weeks into each month, and every month they are without food. SubhanAllah. I'm so grateful to have met these people because they have hearts of gold. Muhammad's wife was the first Yemeni sister who I was able to sit with as she chit-chatted with Ahmed's wife. She made a point of speaking in fus-ha Arabic for the benefit of us foreigners, and I remember how excited I was when I was first able to understand some of what she was saying.

When it came time to leave Yemen, I had some problems with my passport which her husband was going to try to resolve for me by taking it to one of the government offices. A few days before he planned on doing that, he took his family (for the first time) to an amusement park in Sana'a (since his son really wanted to go). Sadly though, there was an accident with the roller coaster that they were on and his shoulder was badly injured. I went with Ahmed and his wife to visit the brother in the hospital, and while there his wife told me that as he was being rushed to the hospital he worried about my passport and told her what needed to be done. When I saw him at the hospital, he apologized that he couldn't take care of things for me, though his relative would, and that if he was okay in a few days he'd like to take me to the airport. I told him not to worry, and that I'm going to tell him the same thing I'd tell my father if my father was in his situation, that is that he should rest and take care (and if you're wondering, I said it in very broken Arabic, but they're forgiving people). He smiled.

So while we continue to moan and complain about life, men, and everything in between, there are people who are far better than us because they want to be, though their conditions are far more challenging than ours for reasons that they cannot control.

Perhaps one day, insha'Allah, I'll be able to write about my father and brother(s) who mean more to me than words could describe. Perhaps for this reason, if no other, I shouldn't challenge their sanity as much as I do...

May Allah make the menfolk of our ummah among the righteous, may He bless them with ease, and bless them with generous and kind hearts. May He give them the patience and strength they need to successfully overcome the increasing number of challenges that they face today. May He facilitate their efforts for His sake, and make them shining lights in our ummah, ameen ya Rabil 'Alameen!

Half of Knowledge...

BismiLlahir Rahmanir Raheem

Western society, as a whole, seems to belittle and even mock one of the greatest institutions of human existence - the family. We really don't seem to have a holistic concept of its value and thus we neglect its preservation in pursuit of societal ideals. Ironically though, the West values education even though the educational system itself is in serious disarray. I am a product of the dumb-downed educational system. Perhaps if I had remained in the corrupt country from which I emigrated, I may very well have had a chance to develop sharper thinking processes that I could utilize now in adulthood, wa Allahu 'alim. But such is the past, what of the future?

Why is the family so important? I'll leave you to explore this question by yourselves. Instead, I'd like to bring attention to an area that draws parallels to this question, and it too is equally neglected leaving us, the Muslim community, in confusion. I'm referring to our essential Islamic education.

SubhanAllah... I'm not sure where to begin. I often wish I had a road map so I would know what it is that I need to know to be able to live in this world as one who utilizes her existence to the fullest. I'm eternally grateful for all that my parents have taught me. I often try not to take their lessons for granted. I can recall many occasions when I couldn't access their advice only to ask myself, "What would Mom and Popz tell me to do?" It has actually been quite efficient in helping me choose my next steps carefully. But my parents (may Allah reward them, elevate them, and grant them khayr fid dunya wal aakhira, ameen) have been limited in delivering the wealth of Islamic knowledge that is out there. I don't at all hold this against them because such knowledge has to come from those who have sat at the feet of teachers who continue the chain of sound knowledge from the time of the our beloved Prophet and Messenger Muhammad (salla Allahu 'alayhi wa salam).

We live in times when the ignorance of Islamic scholarship is the rule rather than the exception. As a community, we get into petty arguments (or heated discussions) when none of us have any substantial knowledge about the matter being discussed. I think it's time for us (starting with myself) to keep my mouth shut about matters that must only be discussed by those who know.

I recently had the opportunity, alhamduliLlah, to participate in a program (called Qurba) with the Razi Institute. Masha'Allah 'alayhim. The shuyukh just make me smile. May Allah preserve them and allow us to benefit from the knowledge which He has bestowed on them, ameen. In a five-day program located on a beautiful college campus, we were introduced to the basic structural premises of the major Islamic sciences. We had the opportunity to witness how these sciences interact, and it truly is no simple thing. It is complete ignorance for any of us to believe that our deen can be understood and implemented by simple consultation of the Quran and sunnah while neglecting the Islamic scholarship that flourished after the death of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. It's an absurdity that I can no longer exert the energy needed to make any sense of it.

I left those classes feeling that my brain was fried. I struggled to get a grasp of the larger picture knowing that I have many holes in the foundation of my basic Islamic education. SubhanAllah... how little we know, oh how little we know. It is no exaggeration to say that those of us who read Islamic books and attend Islamic conferences and listen/watch Islamic lectures at home have been exposed to but a grain of sand in the depths of an ocean of knowledge.

In God's great generosity, He has allowed me to be settled close to a community that is glowing with Islamic scholarship, those who are striving to equip us with Islamic principles that will facilitate us in our lives as we strive to come closer to our Lord through sound Islamic teachings and practice. I just hope that He will honour me and my loved ones to be among those who can benefit from the presence of these gems, insha'Allah wa ameen.

"نصف العلم في كلمتين ـ لا ادري"

Simple You


Look into your heart and tell me what you see. Is it the ocean, a fire, a mountain, or simply empty?

Close your eyes and tell me what you see. It's not "nothing," if you look deep enough. There the waves crash, the birds sing their prayers, and the heart takes over the mind.

Now open your eyes. What do you see? Just a wall or a universe? The clouds and the trees paint a much larger picture, yet you choose to ignore them. And what of the moon? Perhaps we are blinded by our own vision. An irony of some sort, a sad irony.

Do you really want to see? If so, open your heart and close your eyes. Touch the sky and you'll find a surprise. Only then can you appreciate your vision --- to see beyond your "natural" scope. 'Tis nothing too profound. 'Tis simply a blessing to all who choose to use it.

Give thanks and praise to the One who gives you such gifts, such an honour! Forget not your place in this universe because you, simple you, have a fixed place.

Penned on November 25, 2001
"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]