Love & Fear

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

I was probably about seven years old when I was slapped across the face by the only adult who has ever raised a hand at me. It's not that I never deserved an occasional smack, but I'm grateful that the adults in my life favoured a merciful option in raising me. As for the exception, it was actually the hand of a Quran teacher who, surprisingly, accidentally struck me instead of my sister. And for that, I consider it a blessing.

After that incident, my father removed my siblings and I from that class, but there were no alternative classes. My parents both grew up with teachers who hit their students, and I think that sometimes my mother felt that we lost out by not continuing to attend. Despite reading the Quran with much difficulty and losing a Quran teacher, I appreciated my father's decision. Perhaps I figured that I could not learn in an environment of fear so leaving it only opened an opportunity to find a new path.

I mention this event because recently I have been contemplating the interaction between love and fear. For reasons best known to Allah, I wanted to love the Quran even though I feared Quran classes. But how does one go from fear to love? Or rather, how can one overcome one's fears well enough to embrace that which he loves?

At the heart of both fear and love is the recognition that only Allah is deserving of the manifestations of both these emotions. He is the One who has power over all. The dominion of the Heavens and Earth and all that exists and has ever existed and will ever exist sits firmly with Him and belong solely to Him. One might even say that our love of Him is inherent, though we are obliged to nourish it. Is love not something that grows when fed and withers when neglected?

When we love or fear something for other than His sake, then it must be from our weakness. Neither can be considered worthwhile when not for His sake since they must be emanating from our desires, and one who follows his desires alone is treading a treacherous path.

But when we love for His sake and simultaneously find ourselves cradling fears for other than His sake, which one takes the lead? Fear I imagine. Why? Because both love and fear return to having a good opinion of one's Lord. We have a good opinion of our Lord when we love for His sake, and yet we have an unbefitting opinion of Him when we fear for other than His sake. Our worthless fears form a wall that prevents us from embracing the good that He guides us to. Having a good opinion of one's Lord necessitates abandoning one's unfounded fears by putting one's trust and dependence in Him, Most Glorified is He.

I'm not sure if what I'm saying here makes sense to other than me. I see the lack of clarity in trying to articulate my thoughts, and perhaps that's partly because these thoughts are still immature and have yet to ripen. Or maybe this is as coherent as it gets for me. Either way, as a final thought (though it might be stretch to figure out how this connects to what I've said above), I am again reminded of some words that were kindly shared with me one day... "As it's said, if the veils were lifted you wouldn't choose for yourself other than what Allah has chosen."

!الله أكبر و لله الحمد

Dreams, eh?

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

It's a little drabby in here eh? It's been like that for far too many months, and though I've sensed it, I've felt disempowered to change it. In fact, I was contemplating a dusty demise, again, but suspected that within a moment of shy insight it might be regretted. Perhaps this is that exact moment.

What's missing, I see now, is the right or even the liberty to dream. The excitement and beauty of dreams is that they are unrestrained. Close your eyes and desire yourself to fly, and soon you will see yourself soaring the skies, perhaps even playing with birds should you desire. Dreams don't need to be frizzled with perceived reality since it offers limitations, the absence of which is really one of dreams' greatest attributes.

But is dreaming sometimes dangerous? The realist or even the cynic in me thinks so, but in my heart of hearts, I know that it is too dangerous not to dream. The world becomes dark and gloomy and bereft of sweet hope (a characteristic that dreams inherently offer), and to see it in such a way is to err. It is to fail to see beyond human error - our own shortcomings - and it is to disallow ourselves the simple chance to embrace some of the Creator's wisdom and generosity.

The sad irony is that by not dreaming we think ourselves as the possessors of wisdom, and we can erroneously convince ourselves that we are capable of deciding what we deserve. Truth be told, we don't "deserve" anything per se because we are intrinsically worthless. We are continuously dependent on God for our subsistence and we are eternally indebted to Him for our existence which is far removed from our will. Nevertheless, we enjoy much - our eyesight, movements, speech, joy, flavours, thoughts, love, compassion, touch, laughter, and all the tangibles that life has to offer, among other things. Again, these are delights which our Creator bestows on us, but beyond these things that we so often take for granted, do we limit our perception of what He can and will favour us with?

If success emanates from ourselves, then it necessarily must be limited and confined. It must be prevented from embracing seemingly accessible delights because we are prone to failure. If all things depend on us, then we would have little room to place our hopes and aspirations and we would crumble by the burden of being the source from which we succeed. But then what are we? Perhaps, we are simply passive vehicles that carry hope, those that relish - or sincerely savour - the good that the world offers, by God's decree, while we also actively praise the One who deserves all praises because He is deserving of all praises and we direct our gratitude to Him for His limitless favours on us.

So what does it mean to dream? I don't know anymore as I've silenced many of my dreams, perhaps I even turned the sweetest one away when it was almost reachable. Maybe to dream means to take one's positive energy and to use it to do good. And when the fruits of goodness come our way, it is to embrace them and to know that given all our human weaknesses these delights are not the fruits of our own efforts but the fruits that God bestows on us when we pursue the avenues that He opens for us and when we depend on Him for our success and wholesome existence.


و الله أعلم

Fried Eggs

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Last night I dreamt that I had made fried eggs for someone. I don't think I've seen fried eggs turn out as badly as they appeared in that dream and perhaps that's precisely what inspired the rest of the dream where we began a joint effort in making them again. The thought of possibly wasting eggs aside, it was a nice dream for me, one that I've enjoyed throughout the day. Why? Simply because some company is hard to come by, and I'm grateful for it even if occurs only in my dreams.

They say it is better to be in the company of good people than it is to be alone, but it is better to be alone than in the company of bad or evil people. But how do we determine that which makes for good company? Is it not relative to those involved? In many ways, I think it is. I think everyone has their own gauge, but I wonder if people who share similar ideals gravitate to each other or not. Instinctively, we would say that they do, but how is it then that their loyalty and zeal for each other's company fades away?

I am trying to reach a thought here (which I previously attempted and failed) about divorce as it is an ever-increasing occurrence that I would like to have some reasonable way of understanding. Divorce, as I see it, cannot inspire a tremendously beneficial discussion - in general - because each situation is unique and one cannot comment on a couple's decision to divorce unless one knows the details involved. Often times, it's not a black and white process. One doesn't have a checklist saying, "You messed up here, here, and here... Three strikes, it's done." With a union as deep as marriage, a decision as weighty as divorce cannot be simplistic.

I should mention, before indulging other thoughts, that I appreciate that the stigma surrounding divorce is challenging. I've seen, even experienced, the pain of divorced loved ones, and I know that if people knew the weight of that heartache, the wise from amongst them would keep their judgments to themselves.

Is divorce a trial? It can be. Is marriage a blessing? It can be. Neither marriage nor divorce are a trial or a blessing in and of themselves. They are separate phenomena which can manifest in our lives in either which way. My point? Simply that divorce cannot be disregarded as it carries its worth and has a very specific function much like marriage has its function and its worth.

For me to try to better understand divorce, I think I need to consider the very beginning of marital unions, namely the process of "selecting a suitable spouse." I can think of at least five divorced couples who had good indications not to marry, and often I wonder why they did. But I realize again that I probably wouldn't understand their reasons since we all have different inclinations.

SubhanAllah.. Again, I don't feel like I'm getting any clarity on the topic, but perhaps that's just because it is a complex issue that is perhaps partly the harvest of devaluing and neglecting prophetic practices...and Allah knows best.

May the Almighty bless the believers with righteous spouses and unite them for His sake alone. May He make it easy for divorced believers and grant them His pleasure and blessings. May He protect and guide the children who are lost in the confusion of their parents' struggles, and may He help us all to rectify our ways and inspire us to strive to come closer to Him, ameen.

A Great Plan

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Sidi Abu Hasan al-Shadhili said,
"If you have to plan, plan that you will not engage in planning."

Despite such good advice, many of us try to ballpark some of our life plans. And then, as I so notoriously did for a year, we conduct a mental countdown to their anticipated execution. When alas the countdown is done and the plan is no more than the thought that formed its simple beginning, we go into overtime wondering about it calmly while remembering that the timeline was a mere hopeful estimate. After a few more months, however, we begin to realize that the plan may not come into effect and thus we attempt to convince ourselves to see it for what it seems to be - an illusion.

Such incidents should serve as a lesson not to cradle long hopes, but sometimes it's a lesson that is tough to learn. Perhaps this is because during the time of such inclinations we pray that Allah takes things out of our hearts if they aren't good for us and our iman, and yet all the while these things continue to remain firmly in place.

So how do we make sense of it all? I'm not all that sure yet, but for starters I'm reminded of a particularly striking occurrence in which one said, "It's heartening to see such certainty that what's best will happen. This way one is neither overjoyed or dismayed either way." I often wonder about these words as I had previously never really considered the balance of emotions and how they connect to one's faith. It is an intriguing perspective whose elaboration would certainly be insightful.

Is that to say then that some signs of security within the indulgence of hopes is not being overly excited when they come to fruition or overly saddened when they remain untouchable? Perhaps. Kullu shayin 'inda Allah, and again perhaps some deeper reflections on certitude in God and our internal reactions will prove to be extremely beneficial. In the mean time, it's a goal worth striving for as it appeals to the internal sense of balance and submission. Nonetheless, the better option, ideally, is to live one day at a time, neither dwelling too long on the past nor pondering tirelessly about the future in this world.

The irony of world-based hopes it that they, by definition, must have an end. But eternal hopes, if materialized and gifted to us from the Most High, glorified is He, are lasting. So which ones should we strive for? Which should we cling towards?

Our intelligence knows the best way to go, but we are weak and we incline to other than the way of patient submission. Part of being human is to err, but part of being a great human is to correct one's mistakes when one is able.

Just recently, I thought it perhaps a worthy attempt to try to channel more energy into reflecting on the world of the unseen. There is a lot that is happening within it, some of which we are intellectually aware but much of which we are soulfully heedless. Maybe we need to open our consciousness, for example, to the many angels that go about their work, those that accompany us at certain times and those that leave us at other times. Or perhaps we should begin to reflect deeply on how animals react to the unseen world such as a crowing rooster or a braying donkey.

Yes, perhaps this suggestion to reflect on a world that we cannot see is a bit peculiar as most of us are inept in its practice, but really, it has to be a part of who we are. How then can we prepare for our own deaths if we are oblivious to its approach and the promises that come with it? There will, without a doubt, come that day when we will be unable to make excuses for ourselves, and we will be held to account for our ambitions and actions in this world. Are we confident that we'll meet the day with favourable outcomes? No, we aren't. How can we be?

Indeed, these are the events worth anticipating. These are the only events for which we need to prepare and plan - a great plan indeed.

May Allah, the Guide, make easy that which is best for us and our relationship with Him and may He protect us from anything that distracts us from Him or burdens or hinders our relationship with Him, ameen.

Clarity Amidst Noise

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Some advice from Habib Umar (الله يحفظه)...

Taken from Radical Middle Way.

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The Ceaseless Tissue Box

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

When I packed my bags, I packed a lot of tissues expecting that I would need them when I arrived at my destination and knowing that I wouldn't know where to get any. And I did need them, but not for the reasons I anticipated. I find that the older I get the more frequently I need them, but for reasons that I never succumbed to before.

When we're young, we look at the chaos in the world around us and we see our parents' worry for us. As we grow, our concern becomes less about their reactions and fears for us and instead becomes our own - for them and for others. We try to protect ourselves from the problems, but it seems impossible because we soon learn that we are indeed the problem.

How can we be so heartless? How can we be so selfish? We call ourselves intelligent creatures. Indeed, this is from the favours of our Lord, but we are ingrates. He gives us our intellect and we use it to harm His creations. And yet we know, we know very well that the pain of another is no less than the pain of our own. And yet we persevere. Why, tell me, why are children sleeping on streets? Why are their homes blown to smithereens? Why are innocent men being imprisoned and tortured? Why do men abuse their wives? Why do wives cheat on their husbands? Why is one person's life more valuable than another's? Why? Why?

I don't know why.

Should I know why? If I know the reasons, will I be able to rationalize them? Will it ease the heart and cease the tears? No. No it won't. Because there is no excuse for injustice. There is no excuse for oppression. There is no excuse for causing intentional harm and failing to seek solutions.

Other than discarded tissues, I don't know how to make sense of this world. We hear and we try to obey ya Rabb. But we fail. So we, too, are no more innocent, though our crimes have different names.

Prophet Nuh, peace be upon him, called his people to guidance and rectifying their states. For 950 years he invited them to change their ways, to return to their Lord, to make aright the grave wrongs that they cradled in their hearts and lives. After 950 years, they met their end in the flood. And now, what can they say for themselves? Their lives in this world are insignificant, moreso when compared to infinity. Even their 950 years of subjecting a Prophet of God to harm all passed. This is Bani Adam. O Children of Adam. O Children of Adam. Where are we?

Babies are being born into this world, and I hope for each and every one of them to know the delights of this world, as I hope for all those who are living. There are only two delights. The first is to know one's Lord, and the second is to love one's Lord. Most of us don't have an inkling of what these mean.

Which brings me to my final point. Conversation. We converse with ourselves all day, every day. In our sleep, we too venture with our souls following their tunes. Our dialogue continues. But in the great silence of the night, when the mind tries to hush and that inner voice tires, we have emptiness. If in all our conversations with ourselves, our world gets no better. Homeless children are no warmer at night. Oppressed people are no more free. Families are no more loving. If such is the case, then we must know that there is a great conversation missing in the picture of our lives.

And He says to us in those blessed days of Ramadhan, come. Come. And our response should have been and should continue to be Labayk Allahumma labayk! - At Your service, O Lord. Here I am! But we don't respond because we're not listening for the call. We can't hear it. We've silenced it in ourselves through our ignorance. When He says to call on Him, the All Hearing, the All Seeing, we respond with heartlessness except when met by trials. Why? Because perhaps in times of ease we think ourselves self-sufficient. La. La.

We said. We gathered together and said balaa! - yes! Our Lord addressed us, "Am I not your Lord?" And we said "Yes you are." But we don't even know what that means. We don't even know what that means. Ya Allah...

Ya Rabb, I don't understand this world, and I don't see my place in it. I want nothing of it except Your good pleasure, for me and my loved ones and all those who have even a bit of heart left. I see why this world is a trial, ya Salam, ya Aziz, ya Jabbar. We ask only You for peace. We ask only You for strength. We ask only You for protection from the evils of ourselves and of others. If You are not pleased with us, there is nothing for us to take from this world. Nothing. Guide us to You and to that which pleases You. Let us not despair in the condition that we have put upon ourselves. Teach us what it means to have a good opinion of You. Ya Allah, nasaluka wahdak. We ask only You ya Allah. Ighfir lana wa irhamna ya Rabb al 'Alameen. Ameen.

اللهم إنا نسألك رضاك والجنة، ونعوذ بك من سخطك والنار


Something to think about...

A Golden Pearl

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

I am sand, and I live beside the ocean. I spend my days treading the beach looking for that special spot where I'll be most useful. One day, as I settled myself amidst some beautiful rocks that glistened with rays from the setting sun, I noticed a particularly sparkly object laying subtly on the rocks not too far ahead of me. It was a pleasant sight that I relished for a moment. But before I could give it a second thought, the tides came in and the pulsing ocean reclaimed it.

Some years later, as I sat on the beach taking in the refreshing air, I glanced to my right and noticed it again. At once I knew that we had met before, but this time it seemed more enchanting than I had remembered. It was during this gracious encounter when I realized that the object of fascination was in fact a pearl, a golden pearl. I approached it slightly and then retracted. Gems of this type are not left alone for the likes of me to claim. Nonetheless, I stayed close by until night fell and it once again disappeared from sight.

Thereafter its memory could not be forgotten thus indicating that a closer encounter was inevitable. When it occurred, thoughts that this may be an ordinary stone or shell that simply had its own charm was dispelled. No, this really was a pearl, but it hid itself well. This pearl that perhaps was as ordinary as other shiny objects could only be seen clearly when resting in my midst. But again, I reminded myself that I was unfit to keep it from the ocean. I loosened my sandy embrace, and with a final sparkle it easily slipped back into the engulfing waves.

I often visit this part of the beach hoping for at least a glimpse of it, but hopes of such an occurrence are fanciful and unrealistic. Perhaps it's better that I close my eyes and savour the thought as a dream while I leave reality to take its destined course.

I Am From...

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Last year one of my homework assignments was to write an "I Am From" poem noting some elements that have helped shape the person that I am. It was an interesting though challenging endeavour as I wasn't sure which aspects to include and which to exclude.

Given that the poem was available for my classmates and professors to read, I think it served its purpose. Nevertheless, while I appreciate some parts of it, I think it fails at getting to the heart of reflecting on one's history. This poem speaks about the outward (in an unbalanced way) despite my reality being inward. Perhaps one of these days I should attempt a re-write wherein the outward and inward meet.

I invite you to try writing something about yourself. And if there is anyone exceptional enough to appreciate the privilege of reading your words, then do share them. Perhaps you'll find it a fruitful and insightful activity.

Alhamdulillah 'ala kulli haal.


I Am From...

I am from the thundering of Mosi-o-tunya,
guavas, and mangoes.
I am from burglar bars, guard dogs,
and monkeys stealing snacks.
I am from the cradle of basket weavers,
live bait, and creative knickknacks.

I am from the sweat of my parents
whose sacrifices are my comfort.
I am from a dinner table set for eleven,
discussions until twelve,
and "give me a chocolate bar, and we'll call it even."

I am from the heat of childhood games.
I am from the coolness of calm tempers.
I am from the heights of stamped passports.
I am from the depths of spiritual awareness.

I am from the melody of unstoppable giggles
and the sensations of milk and cake.
I am from the selfless counsel of elders and teachers
who evidence threads of wisdom in all that they've sewn.
I am from weekend barbeques, powdered Tang,
and a face much like my own.

I am from three date fruits and a sip of water,
and I am from a smile.
I am from the tranquil echoes of the muathin
calling to servitude five times a day.
I am from the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
I am from his legacy.
I am from his way.
[Insha'Allah wa ameen!]

October 5, 2009

Heartfelt Reminders

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

In the midst of clarifying their relationship, I witnessed one saying to another, "...but this isn't about me and never has been. It's about Allah and nothing else." From the outside, one can only wonder what a relationship contains when it is framed by such a delightfully peaceful thought. I often think about these words as I wonder how this wisdom can become a rule in life rather than an exception.

It is easy enough to begin relationships for Allah's sake as sometimes that's precisely what brings people together. But over time, relationships can easily transform into an "it's all about me" attitude inviting a troubling decline and far too many points on Shaytan's scoreboard. But surely there must be a way for the pitiful residue of such relationships to be salvaged and reformed to their glorious beginnings.

I found some direction to my thoughts in Imam Ghazali's, rahimuhullah, chapter on "The Duties of Brotherhood in Islam" in his voluminous work Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya Ulum Ad Din), but I couldn't help but feel that with a lack of adequate knowledge, training, and practice, most of us (myself foremost) are a far cry away from fulfilling the duties of our sisters and brothers in Islam. Perhaps that's why the text even speaks of a contract of brotherhood such that both parties understand the nature of their relationship and feel obliged to honour it, to make excuses for the other, and to see faults in the actions but not the person, among other things.

I really am a world away from figuring out how things work in this world. Where do respect and love meet? Where do they depart? In an ideal world, people are supports for each other. Dr. Tariq Ramadan illustrates this great insight in his book "In the Footsteps of the Prophet" while reflecting on the story of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon them both). He writes,
"When Abraham is tempted by deep doubt about himself, his faith, and the truth of what he hears and understands, the inspirations and confirmations of Hagar and Ishmael (whom he loves but sacrifices in the name of divine love) enable him not to doubt God, His presence, and His goodness. Doubt about self is thus allied to deep trust in God" (pg. 5).
So while we, by our human nature, seek companionship we, too, have explicit guidance about how this companionship must breathe and act. At the base of it all is our own personal relationships with Allah as we cannot expect that comfort comes from humans themselves but rather it's a blessing from Allah, most Glorified is He. Hagar and Ishmael's conviction, as I see it, was independent of their love of Prophet Ibrahim (may Allah be pleased with them all). Rather, the three of them supported each other in the face of trials by remaining steadfast in their obedience to God.

When we are connected with those who are striving for greater God-consciousness (taqwa) and love, we hope that they will help us gently in our times of weakness and more importantly that we, too, can help them for none other than Allah's sake alone.

And if a union of this type should exist, then one must recognize it as gift from the Almighty and thank Him for it. It is only He who is deserving of all praises.

Ya Allahu, ya Latifu, ya Khabir, guide us to You and Your love. Bless us with a sound understanding of our deen and bless us with knowledge and love of You, the All Knowing, the Wise. Ya Allah, give us relief in our difficulties, grant us light in our darkness, give us strength in our weakness, and increase us in our sincere servitude of You. Ya Rabbi, protect me from wronging my soul and protect me and my heart from turning to that which doesn't befit obedience to you. Ya Allah, I seek Your guidance and Your protection. Guide us to Your good pleasure and protect us from Your wrath. Have mercy on us, ya Allah... Ighfir li ya Rabb. Ighfir li ya Arhamar Rahimeen wa salla Allahu 'ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa aalihi wa salim.

A thread...

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

I made a mistake of not writing. I made the mistake of failing to put a name and direction to my thoughts and internal tempo. Like particles of dust, they can now hardly be collected. They can hardly be corrected. When did I let them slide into an abyss of darkness? I wonder.

I made a mistake of hoping in a way that does not befit my place. Perhaps the root of this mistake is in forgetting or neglecting truth.

Truth always comes with us, even if we don't engage its presence. But it only shines for those who embrace it. Most times I give up trying to figure out what it means to hold it, to nurture it, to call it a part of me. Occasionally only a wayward thread of it comes into view, and that in itself is far better than nothing.

But it takes more than a ragged thread to sew a garment. Perhaps the goal should be better suited to the resources. Perhaps it should be a simple bow. Yes, a bow - as useless as it may be - is fathomable. But it's still an intimidating thought as I'll likely break the thread in the process. Is it worth risking?

There is no alternative. It must be attempted.

Ya Rabbi, help me.


Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

"If you want to know your rank with Him,
look to what He has established you in."
- ibn 'Ata-illah

Our teachers say that one should not leave Ramadhan in the same state as he entered it. That is, one should find an improvement in oneself in the days, weeks, and months that follow Ramadhan. But what if one leaves Ramadhan worse than one entered it?

Ramadhan is special for many reasons. It's the month in which the Quran was first revealed. In it rests a night that is greater than a thousand nights. It is the greatest opportunity in the year for people to turn away from heedlessness and draw closer to the Lord of all that exists, upon whom we are indebted for our existence and subsistence. The shayateen are prevented from continuing with their evil work in this great month, and humans are left with their nafs to recognize their slavehood before their Lord. But what if the nafs is too strong to overcome its impulses of negligence?

Now that the month has passed, do we have the right to grieve? We must grieve and repent for our heedlessness and negligence. We must. But at some point, we have to face the mirror, wipe it clear of the steam, and take a good look at the sight before us. Who are we really? Where are we going? Are we really being true to the reality of our existence? Where do we need to go? How do we get there?

It seems that ideals are often mishmashed with delusions. In a commentary of the Hikam of ibn 'Ata-illah, it says, "If sadness does not cause a person to earnestly race towards [catching up on] acts of obedience, then it is a sign of delusion and is not one of the stations of the people travelling the Path."

It is not a wonder that preparations for Ramadhan have to start now - in Shawwal. Ramadhan is not magical dust, and those of us who are unable to face our heart's reflection must recognize that each day of the entire year is a great opportunity to make aright what might be so absolutely wrong right now. Perhaps then, should we live long enough, we may be able to meet the next Ramadhan with enough spiritual health to embrace what it offers the heart and thus leave it as we hope - that is, a bit better than when we entered it.

Our Beloved... صلى الله عليه

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim


The Arabic proverb "If you return from travelling, give gifts to your family if even a rock" played over in my mind as I had only a few days left in Yemen and still a few more gifts to buy. Sana'a's charm captured my heart, but the beauty that I saw in her could not be bought and selecting gifts from her stores was challenging. I decided to go to the markets at Baab Al Yemen to shop for the remaining gifts. My friend, a very dear sister, accompanied me. On our way, we stopped at one store in which I noticed a necklace that I thought might be appropriate. The price was far too unreasonable for my likings, nonetheless we continued to browse the store. I then noticed a masbaha (prayer beads) which I thought was nice.

There were two men in the store, both chewing qaat seated on cushions behind the two dusty counters. The younger of the two stood up to serve me. As I looked at the scented masbaha, my friend and I conversed in English. The young man then asked me if I was Muslim. Na'am, alhamdulillah - "Yes, praise be to God," I replied. Ana Tom - "I'm Tom," he said. I was surprised. Lasta Muslim? - "You're not Muslim?" I asked. He quickly added ...ow Muhammad - "or Muhammad." In broken Arabic, I told him (or at least tried to tell him) that it was a shame on him to call himself other than his name Muhammad and that he should be happy and proud to call himself Muhammad. As I've been told, a home that has one with the name Muhammad is blessed by virtue of that name alone. I told him that Muhammad is the most beautiful of names. He said nothing.

The moon is almost at her peak of glorious illumination, but sadly at that point it will mark the passing of half of the blessed month of Sha'baan. It is the month of our beloved, the beloved of God, Al Habib Al Mustafa, our Prophet and Messenger, the seal of the prophets, Muhammad bin Abdillah, may God's peace and blessings be upon him.

I wonder about my relationship with him, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa salam, and I know that I take him for granted, sadly. I know that it is a relationship that I have to work on and one that I long to taste the reality of. But love is not lazy, and my laziness in following his way is a clear indication of the illusory reality of the love that I claim to have.

I know my words with brother Muhammad, a shopkeeper in Sana'a's marketplace, were more for my sake than his. Why would it bother me that he would take another name instead of the name of our beloved, 'alayhi assalaatu wassalaam, if I were not guilty of taking a way other than his way?

As I try to discover the reality of what it means to call Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, our beloved, my beloved, I invite you to do the same.

May Allah make us among those who love Him and His messenger, Muhammad, peace be upon him, and may He guide us all on the path of truth and righteousness. May He make us among those who follow the way of the living Quran, Al Mustafa, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, and protect us from the evils of ourselves. Ameen.

Written on August 4, 2009

هو محمد في الأرض و محمود في السماء
صلى الله عليه و آله و سلم

A Blazing Flame

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

In the depths of the night, a flame burned brightly. It danced across observant eyes etching its beauty into timid retinas. Eyelids, the first line of defense, stood open and indulged the sight. There, in the stillness of the night, the fire only caressed the night's gentle breeze. Hidden was any threat of harm, chaos, or confusion.

The night has long since passed, and now under the luminence of the sun the casualties are clear. Logs and sticks that were once part of living trees are now charred remains, mere ashes, serving as the only evidence of the night's performance. Was it worth it? It is difficult to say. If life was shortened by the moment, then it likely wasn't. But if the fire's fuel was indeed true firewood, then the glamour only manifested its fate. There is a cycle, and every stage within it needs its due.

But when the cycle ceases to exist, must its memory be preserved?

I'm sorry...

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

I'm sorry. I cannot make any excuses for my insolence. I cannot explain myself, not in any comprehensible way at least. My reflection is far more loathsome to me than the sparks that you see spewing out from it. I try to keep my distance as I know that the volcanic pool cannot be tamed except with a profound understanding that few can claim. I do not want to leave a trail of charred remains. Eventually it will settle, bi ithnillah, but while it gushes and spurts with a vengeance, I am forced to live with it. There is nothing more I'd like than to be rid of it, or in the least, understand it. But understanding is a gift and comes only when He wills.

Interestingly, I had a flicker into the source of this angst very recently, and it was a horrible and frightening realization. I'm learning that those who despise lies are actually keenly adept at lying as they can disguise a lie with a mask of truth, honour it, and live by it. But eventually lies manifest themselves, and the only thing of worth in my being, I realize now, was an illusion. An ideal truth, but whose reality was far from embraced. Such was the depth of the lie.

It's fair to say that I'm understood by few. But if you take the worst from me, you'll find the worst because I do not have the strength to transcend your opinion of me. A flower will not grow in a bed of rocks and that's about all I can offer now. A handful of rocks.

If I could mute my state... If I could trace history and pick out a point of tearful submission... If I could, then perhaps a smile can return. In the mean time, I am learning more lessons. A beautiful medicine can become a vile poison. Of this, I wasn't aware. Such is my naivety. But naivety is a flimsy excuse. I offer no excuses for my insolence. I am as reprehensible as you see me, even more so.

I need to embrace hope, but I don't see the light. I ask, and He hears. I plead, and He hears. I am impoverished, but He is Al Ghani. I am lowly, but He is Al 'Ala. I want to want for me only what He wants for me, but I don't know how. I'm in darkness, but He is An Nur.

I wish I could relieve you of the burden of my company, but such is not in my hands. Nonetheless, I'm empathetic to your situation and pray for the best.

اللهم ارزقنا بحبك و بحب رسولك الحبيب محمد عليه الصلاة و السلام و بحب القرآن الكريم و بحب سنة سيدنا محمد صلى الله عليه و سلم. اللهم افتح قلوبنا إليك و اهدنا الصراط المستقيم يا ارحم الراحمين. اللهم نسألك حسن الخاتمة يا الله يا عظيم... آمين

Burnt Ashes

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

When strength escapes, we wonder if it ever existed. History records the evidence of some heart, but when the heart is gone and the longing is strong, why are the remnants only dust?

Weakness wants to take the ashes and use them as an adornment on the heart. Strength is voiceless. Breathless. She offers nothing, and even hope remains motionless. Energy that should be revived is spent. Spent on what you wonder? Spent on deception.

War quakes the world. Its form is gruesome, merciless, and demonic. We shudder at the thought of it. War. Nobody likes wars, and yet we fail in stopping them. Why?

We cannot conquer warfare of the land when we are completed defeated in our hearts. Some feel the fire of the inward but tame it with negligence.

She only hums gently when you don't notice her, but when you turn your attention she becomes gruesome. And the war begins. She's a master at warfare as she plays with hopes. She sets goals, helps you move towards them, and then, when you think you've gained some ground, she exhales a breath of fiery illusions and watches as her success marks your failure.

Her success marks your failure. And you hold the ashes in the palm of your hands hoping that you can use them to soothe a shaken heart.

Ashes will only bring the heart to heedlessness, rather feed it some air. Some fresh, clean air. It's not an easy delicacy to deliver, but intend and God will facilitate. Seek and depend, and He will answer and guide.

اللهم إنا نسألك رضاك والجنة، ونعوذ بك من سخطك والنار


يا مقلب القلوب ثبت قلبي على دينك

Passing Thoughts

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

It's a full moon tonight. My niece and I spent the earlier part of the night enjoying the night sky and mountain scenery together. The household has since fallen into a deep slumber, but sleep escapes me and I'm hardly inclined to blame an afternoon nap for this.

There is little about my life perspectives worth articulating these days, and perhaps that explains my recent written silence. There are many things that I've considered writing about, but the words seemed not to fall into place as they normally do. Even still, I continue to have difficulty finding my words. Alhamdulillah, I've recently closed one brief chapter in my life, one that I was ever-eager to complete. Unexpectedly, and by God's grace alone, I now find myself visiting close relatives who I haven't seen in about four years. I can hardly believe the changes that time has revealed.

I remember visiting the hospital when my niece, the daughter of my sibling-like cousin, was born. A few years afterwards, when she was still a toddler, I remember humouring her with games fit for a princess. Her older brother is the first of the family youngings, and I can hardly believe that he is now a young man and already taller than me. Since his birth, Allah has blessed us with 14 other births and 5 stepchildren. Alhamdulillah. All praises and thanks belong to Him for these many blessings. With 20 children that I like to call my own (though I've yet to meet one of them) child rearing concerns me.

I don't have the answers to many of the questions that I have in this regard. It goes without saying that parents all have their own parenting styles and most want the best for their children. Right now, it's not appropriate that I spend a great deal of time thinking about this as there are more pressing and practical things that I need to attend to as soon as I return home, God willing. I pray that I have the strength to pursue them as my track record thus far is horrible.

In the meantime, for those few of you take the time to keep track of my ramblings here, I'll invite you to think about your parents and their efforts to raise you to the best of their abilities. Pray for them. Honour them. And serve them for the sake of Allah.

May Allah take us all back to Him in the best of states, and may He allow us to lead lives that are pleasing to Him. May He use us as tools in His service and protect us from all evils, ameen.


Ya Waaliday
يا والدي

Nothing can fully articulate what needs to be said
Though often times I wonder
In those wee hours of the night while lying in bed
How great it is that this love still grows fonder

Since even before my first breath of this world's air
Your two hearts were constricted by my uncertain state
Before the world even knew my name did you care
God's generosity is abundantly clear in our written fate

Limitless have been your lessons in all respects
And selflessness adorns all your offers of companionship
My every decision lovingly circumspect
As I hold a goblet of gratitude awaiting your sip

Servicing your requests are my honour
And inciting your disappointments are my shame
Endless wasted opportunities now considered a goner
My history of disservice marks a soul's pitiful fame

How rare it is for me to sit down and say
My dearest mother and father I love you more than you'll know
Thank you for the many blessings you've helped bring my way
And forgive me for the many times my appreciation fails to show

Recognizing this as your life-long investment
It is only from God that the fruits of your labour can be unveiled
I am impoverished and will certainly fail in repayment
So I ask Him to bless you with the best of this world and the next and make this a debt repaid


Written on March 28, 2009

Let it pour, oh let it pour

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Let it pour, oh let it pour. As God gives life to the earth that is dead, He surely gives life to hearts that are dead. Oh let it pour.

Hearts that seek the balance between fear and hope must see that these words are too weak for the reality of their meanings. Perhaps the language of articulation is the deficiency. Fear does not describe the state in which one anticipates receiving the wrath of God, nor is hope strong enough to describe the supreme authority by which God commands His creation. Hope contains too much doubt in affirming God's transcendence and mercy. It almost belittles a good opinion of His greatness. But there are no words in English that match these depths, at least not from my perspective or minimal knowledge. However, one word from which to draw clarity is justice. Justice will prevail. God does not wrong souls, but souls earn their conditions. And we depend, in our entirety and without an alternative, on His mercy and His supreme will and power.

Let it pour, oh let it pour. The earth is grieving the loss of light and there is nothing that can ease her pain. Light and darkness are not and must not be considered the same. How then can one who knows be the same as one who does not know? How then can servitude be likened to heedlessness and disobedience? Like parallel lines, they will never cross.

As we survey our lives, deciding where to go and how to get there, we must pause and soak in the rain. Oh let it pour. It is not altogether relevant where we want to go, but it is critical that we recognize the reasons why we want to go there. As days pass, one enveloped into the next, what do we have to hold onto? What do we need to hold onto?

Oh let it pour. By the permission, generosity, and grace of Allah, let it pour.

Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the Night and the Day; in the sailing of the ships through the Ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which Allah sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth;― (here) indeed are signs for a people that are wise.
2:164 - English "translation" of the Quran.

Shoreline Observations

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

As I look at the world around me, I'm not really sure what to think. My mind cannot comprehend how we, people of this world, go from love to hate, or from respect to disrespect, or from sincerity to selfishness. Worse still, I cannot understand how this occurs after committing oneself to the precepts of marriage. These wonders are not, in my mind, directly linked to issues of divorce as that is a topic all on its own.

The marriage process by itself is one that is.. uhm.. I can't even find a suitable word to describe it. Suffice to say, I'm at the shoreline and keep a safe distance away from the waves, with rare exception. I suppose it is the exception that makes the endeavour worthwhile.

One night, when I was especially tired and eager to get to sleep, I returned to my room and found my roommate on the phone with her betrothed. I couldn't sleep with her chatter, but I figured that she was much too happy for me to get irritated at the late-night conversation. At last, she hung up the phone, and as far as I could tell I was finally going to have a chance to fall asleep. But then she sighed deeply and said, "Farzeen, have you ever known love like this?" I tried not to laugh out loud and was glad that she couldn't see me in the dark. "No" I said. She sighed again, and then I knew it was going to be a much longer night than I had anticipated.

The following night, however, was much different. She confided in me about her worries and sought some counsel. From what I gathered (and Allah knows best), both of them were approaching marriage with less-than-ideal intentions, and thus their specific issues were quite predictable. Given their predicaments, it seemed as though their relationship was as good as done, but a day or two later my roommate informed me that she was going shopping. "Shopping.. hmm.. now?" I asked. "Yes, for my wedding!" she said. "Yesterday you told me it was over, and today you're going shopping?" I asked her in obvious surprise. She laughed and shrugged her shoulders. I imagined things were sorted out. I do hope that she is happy and content wherever she is now. By agreeing to get married, they were both getting exactly what they wanted from their union. And perhaps this is true for many.

SubhanAllah.. perhaps that's the missing link that keeps some of us on the shore and others of us deep in the ocean. And yet all are seemingly content with their methods. We seek the most fitting means to match the ends which we desire. If the means do not match the end, then they do not suffice us and we most often seek new ways. We all have different ends and different means, no one better than the other. Perhaps marriages become especially strained when time illumines the discrepancy between these premarital expectations and reality. And God knows best.

I wonder at those who marry but don't live together. Each their own, but it's a strange regularity these days. If one is not ready to get married, then why get married? Yes, I know, because relationships can reach levels of closeness and inseparability that they become Islamically questionable. Gotcha. But you can't beat the system. Marriage comes with rights and responsibilities, and it's a shame that we are willing to accept the rights while we place the responsibilities on others. Yes, the others agree, but then again so do grandparents who find themselves raising their grandchildren. Is that the best option for all involved? Sometimes it is, but most times, I'm not so sure. Allah knows best.

The institution of marriage, I think, needs to be treated with seriousness. Enjoyment of the occasion should not excuse an abasement of its greatness, a greatness which is found in its depths. We cannot reach great depths with light hearts. Not the way I see it at least. In the Book of Intentions, Al Habib Muhammad bin 'Alawi Al 'Aydarus, (الله يحفظه) lists intentions of marriage from the work of the great Shaykh 'Ali bin Abi Bakr As Sakran. The list finishes with, "I have intended all the previous and more from whatever I control, say, and do in this marriage for Allah Almighty." And within this niyyah, this intention, I think is the greatest beauty in all the jewels of marriage.

Perhaps I speak of ideals. But if we do not pursue moral and spiritual ideals, then what will we pursue?

Ungrateful Inception

I have nothing to offer the world,
Nor to those who tarry within her
I cannot benefit those who meet me
And prefer to be a stranger

To myself I am only a shadow
A voiceless and formless existence
Within which light does not reside
Giving only my own decrepitude preference

It’s not in my perceived capability
To do that which is the praiseworthy norm
To walk as an ambassador in this world
Tracing the steps of the Beloved, peace be upon him, in an ennobled form

It is a favour for humanity
To be rid of my energy
For my misdirection is unfitting
And my mistakes far too many

But as life resides in my limbs
I’m still indebted to act
Wanting to be rid of myself
Muting the voices to react

It is my very intolerance
Of my being’s reflection
That proves the worth of this indulgence
Highlighting an ungrateful inception

The truth of this realization
Must emphasize a logic to discern
Being nothing for oneself or for others
Yet waiting for a peaceful return

His Way

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

I look at your picture and can't stop myself as your name easily slips from my lips, ya ibnati. Allah's favours are grand, and we thank Him, Transcendent is He, for blessing us with you, ya habibti. I remember those days when you relaxed in my arms or lay wide awake resting on a pillow by my side as we listened to the wisdom of our dear teachers. May we and our loved ones always be in gatherings of His remembrance, ameen. Nas-alu Allaha as-salaamah.

I look at the world around us, and I wonder. I've been wondering for some time. Some days, rare days, I like to think that I come closer to making sense of it and maybe even grasping some understanding our place within it. In 27 years, should you not return to your Lord before that time, will you find yourself where I am now? How will the world look to you, and what will it mean?

I had the good pleasure of learning of a book by our teacher Habib 'Ali Al Jifri, but I couldn't read much further than the first page. Within it, he named the confusion:
When the Muslim and the Believer becomes fully aware and comprehends his mission, he is then able to understand others with that comprehension of his mission. And to the extent that the Muslim and the Believer only dimly understands the greatness of the mission with which God entrusted him exclusively of others, he is hardly able to understand well and widen the scope of his relationship with creatures in all their variety.

Ignorance is painful.

I recently had the opportunity to ask a respected teacher about the role of a Muslim woman today. She kindly corrected my question. The role of a person, irrespective of gender, is the same. She said there are three roles or responsibilities for people, both men and women:

1) Worship Allah on earth
2) Tazkiyyah or purification of the nafs
3) Inhabit the earth

She elaborated on the final point by adding that we must inhabit the earth in the way that Allah wants, according to the shari'ah. For example, perhaps it can be by raising one's children, which is praiseworthy and a great task, or perhaps it is by working in something that one is really good at, etc.

May Allah bless us with knowledge and understanding. May He guide us and our loved ones to lead lives that are pleasing to Him and in accordance to His way, His laws, His guidance, and His message. May He protect us from the evils of ourselves, mankind, and jinn. May He bestow His rahma upon us, forgive us, and teach us. Ameen.

Some wisdom to sip on... In The Shadow of Fatimah

Be Great People

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

My brother sent this to me today. BarakAllahu fih. really puts things into perspective.

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3a - Part 3b

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

Midnight Craving

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

I have a craving to savour the night sky, to sleep beneath the stars, and to smile at the radiant moon. It's been two years since then. Two nights ago, as I spotted the moon and searched the stars for a recognizable constellation, my mind overpowered my heart to make my way into the building. With snow-filled treads, I turned away from the beautiful sky and enjoyed the remaining steps that led to the entryway of my destination.

Isn't life like that sometimes? Our minds sometimes overpower our hearts, for better or for worse, and vice versa. I seek to achieve a balance between the two, but such an ideal is increasingly more difficult to possess.

Matha biki? I remember her asking me that night. I wasn't in a state that could engage in chatter nor could I share in their laughter. My enjoyment of their joyous moment was periphery, though sincere. Matters that weighed on my heart begged my attention, and though I hadn't the know-how to ease their burden, I allowed them to collapse into puddles of my confusion.

Since then, I've become less adept, and now the challenges between heart and mind have no way to a solution. The heart, being a bit fickle, wants to hold onto sweet delights though they may be illusory. And the mind is left with conflicts, weighing things that really don't need to be weighed. Considering, contemplating, and finding no end to put calm into a distressed heart.

So where does that leave things? I wish I knew.

May Allah guide us. May He enlighten us with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. May He bless us with the clarity of truth in our lives, and may He give us the means to experiencing tranquillity with Him, ameen.


Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful

May His blessings be upon His last and final prophet and messenger, Muhammad.

It is in the darkness of the night that the heart speaks the loudest. She demands attention. And by God's grace, her voice is heard.

There are many things that have been on my mind recently, and while the pieces are still fragmented, there are some moments of partial clarity that are indeed blessings.

Tonight, by God's generosity, I cradle such a moment.

As a distressed babe finally finds comfort and escapes from this world into a peaceful slumber, so too can our thoughts. For a time. A brief time.

Success. It's about the only word that fits in all our pockets as it is carried by us all. None, with a relatively sound mind, truly care to live life without achieving some perception of success. Yes, we want to be successful. Our human intelligence demands that much. The only question then is "What is success?"

I used to think that some portion or sign of success was in one's feeling of peace or completeness. Perhaps, I thought, success was in one's ability to wade in the water leaving behind beautiful ripples with little disturbance to the life structures below. But now I'm not sure that I have the words to describe my current understanding of it. But like most things that I embrace, it comes after many notions which I've turned away and it is from this angle that I will try to clarify my thoughts, bi ithnillah.


Success is not in sacrifice by itself. Sacrifice is perhaps part of the journey, but it isn't the epitome of the trip nor is it a noteworthy segment of the path. Success is not in ease. Success is not in beauty of any form. Success is not in wealth. Success is not in knowledge though depending on the nature of the knowledge it could be a precursory gift.

Success is not in the driver's seat of such vehicles as a Lexus. Nor is it in its opposite. Success is not in a diamond ring. Nor is it in the absence of such extravagance. Success is not in a spouse. Not even a righteous spouse. Success is not in a charming smile and crisp clothes. Nor is it in its opposite. Success is not in radiant hair and skin. Nor is it in its opposite. Success is not in acceptance from those whom we admire. Success is not in a fulfilling occupation. Success is not in taking care of one's family.

Then what is success?

All I know about success is that it is with Allah. It is by His decree, just as everything else in the universe. We cannot be confident that even in the beautiful things that we achieve in this world we will be among those whom Allah chooses to favour with His grace and eternal peace.

Then why do I even bother mentioning success? If it is not in our hands, why do we need to even flesh it out? Decree is with God alone, in all respects and in its entirety, but we are responsible for our actions. And simply, our success is in our submission to Him, entirely.

No, do not grieve that you are not earning as much as you would like. Do not let your heart, for even a moment, drop at the thought of the struggles that you face. SubhanAllah.

The Quran is filled with His promises, His Truth. And yet we do not take it, let alone hold firm to it. This is our failure.

We struggle and struggle to develop our professional lives, to earn "reasonable" incomes and yet our rizq (sustenance) is promised by Him. He will take care of it, and yet we worry about it. This is our failure.

We learn all that we can so we can interact in this world with ease, perhaps with praiseworthy intentions, but do we know what He wants of us? If not, this is our failure.

We have a little or a lot. We have filled bellies, loving families, and we complain. We only choose certain moments to express our gratitude to our Lord for things which we consider particularly great. But if we forget Him with even a sip of water, we have tasted failure.

As I look at the world around me, I know I cannot afford to live without challenging the values that we commonly place on certain things. I cannot afford to occupy my heart with other than Him. Not even for a moment.

And yet I do. As I write this, I see my failure. And if the trench wasn't as deep as it is, I would perhaps have confidence in getting out of it myself. Fortunately, I do not have this confidence and thus I risk not another failure because regardless of the depths of the trench, it is only by His grace that we will walk upon this earth with the sweetness of truth and reality in our hearts.

May Allah give us success with Him. May He guide us to return to Him in complete submission. May He bless us with knowledge and understanding, and guide us to rectify the conditions of our hearts. May He guide us. Ya Rab, guide us to You. Let us not be among the heedless. Let us live for Your sake alone. Let us strive for only You. May You be the absolute ruler of our hearts. May our actions and every breath bring us closer to You. Allahumma ighfir lana.. Allahumma ighfir lana.. Allahumma ighfir lana.. O Allah, forgive us!

Written on Feb. 6, 2010


A lesson wherein Habib Umar bin Hafiz (Allah yahfazuhu, ameen) puts things in perspective.

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

Ignorance Is Painful

بسم الله الرحمان الرحيم
اللهم صلى على سيدنا حبيبنا محمد و على آله و صحبه و سلم

It was in this hijri month, Rabi' Al Awwal, that the best of all of creation was born into this world to live on this Earth, may God's peace and blessings be upon him and his family and companions. We remember him, we send salutations to him, and we reflect on the lessons that he taught throughout his life as he lived in complete servitude to Allah, to whom belongs all praise and submission.

I wonder... I wonder... And the wonderment does not cease. But the words lose themselves enroute from my heart and my mind to my tongue or the tips of my fingers. I wish I could grasp them, examine them, polish them, and stare at them with the wonderment of awe and not of confusion. Ignorance is painful.

And yet we accept it as our states. I accept it as my state. Maafi mushkila sah? 'Indana maalun, wa baytun, wa malaabis. Kuluha takfi, sah? La. La. Abadan la. Matha bina? Majanin... sahih. They used to speak of our beloved, saying that he wasn't of sound mind. They could have not been any further from the truth with such a claim. Their contentment with their states encouraged their slanderous ways. And what of our own? Where does our contentment, with the material world as our guide, lead us?

Ignorance is painful. Painful indeed.


Ironic, isn't it?

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

There is a heavy fog hanging over the land these days. An abundance of rain poured through, and it has dispersed as quickly as it arrived. It came with clarity, a light source in itself. And though in its absence there is darkness, there too remains, as always, remnants from which we may benefit, bi ithnillah.

One such keepsake is the words of Habib 'Ali Al Jifri - Allahu yahfa'dhu - who said that women should not strive for "equality" with men as it implies inferiority, but rather they should strive to surpass men. The next question, naturally, is "how?" How can women surpass men? As there are those who make value judgments about equality between genders, who lays down the foundation of excellence and success?

In an effort to try to answer these questions, I'm reminded of the words of Shaykh Abdallah Al Haddad who, during one lesson, spoke about the essential questions that we each need to ask ourselves.

1) Who am I?
2) From where did I come?
3) Why am I here?
4) Where am I going? or What is my destination?

He elaborated on each question and its fitting answer as explained to us in our Islamic teachings. It is in the answers to these questions that we know that we are created from something very insignificant and even vile, and yet we have been given life as a test within which we need to compete with each other in good works. He said, "life is an opportunity for worship, thankfulness, and praising Allah."

True enough, people are in constant competition with each other, even with their own standards of what is "sufficient" for themselves. These competitions are ironic (and perhaps even laughable if they weren't so serious) given our soulful identities, but I suppose it should come as little surprise since these are the fruits of illusions.

And on the surface, this world is an illusion. But if we dig deep enough, by God's grace, this world is a great sign affirming God's transcendence and omniscience.

I wonder sometimes about how many of us run the rat race of life, living from weekend to weekend to get through the life paths that we choose for ourselves.

There are many who study for degrees but not for knowledge. There are many who work to earn money, yet not to serve. There are many who compete for everything that will disappear upon our deaths as smoothly as a mirage. And yet, in a lonely corner, there remains our sideline pile of good works and acts of servitude for our Lord's sake.

It baffles the mind really. And the irony continues as some people sense the traps of this world and write and read books such as "The Simple Guide to a Minimalist's Life" which only breaks down the difference between wants and needs. We want more than we need in tangibles, and yet we need more than we want in intangibles. Sad, isn't it?

In all my incoherence, I'm saying only this, why are we building elaborate forts out of snow, knowing very well that summer will eventually come, when we could rather spend our efforts building elaborate forts out of gold?

May Allah protect us from being engaged with anything that does not benefit our eternal existence. May He guide us to all that which will bring us closer to Him. May He forgive us where we err, and may He teach us how to tread the path of success with Him. May He, the Almighty, bless us with knowledge, understanding, and practices that are all for His sake alone. May we live for His sake, and may we return to Him in the best of states. Ameen.
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"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]