Monday, November 29, 2010

Love - The Governing Light, A White Fire

O’ Governing Light!

O’ Governing Fire!

White Fire!

The Governing Love,

Beyond passions

That poets use to sprout wings and fly,

Beyond happenstances,

That lovers use to breach the peace!

Love that governs,

Love the ministers,

Love that guides.

Tis’ sweet beyond

The drunken ribald

Of minstrels such as I!


From chapter 26, "Stay Clear"
Pax Taufiqa

Sunday, November 28, 2010


49. A Little Knowledge Is Dangerous In The Hands Of Man
When you were uncertain, He plants in you the seed of knowledge,
When you became knowledgeable, He plants in you the seed of wisdom,
When you became wise, He plants in you the seed of arrogance,
When you became arrogant, He plants in you the seed of uncertainty.

What else can you do in these circumstances but plead;
O’ God! Harvest me! Harvest me when I look best to Thee!

FOOLISH SINNER. A wise man was once quoted as saying “God Save us from pious fools!” Well, I think being foolish and looking foolish is the standard operating procedure for us all. At some time in our life, perhaps last week or maybe 1 hour ago, your wisdom was found to be wanting and you ended up looking like a fool.

THE EGO(AGAIN). It happened to me on Thursday night. I was waiting for Heche and left the car double-parked. I stood in front of the car having a smoke when a couple of gentlemen descended from a nearby pub and entered a car parked in front of mine. The driver honked and gestured angrily asking “Is this your car, I cannot get out laa!” Frankly, I was surprised he couldn’t get out, but when I approached him replying through gritted teeth, “Yes, but please don’t honk again.” his alcohol infused breath hit me. I felt foolish, because really, a drunk needs to be managed, not glowered at. I felt even more foolish because I continued to feel angry. It is often our bruised ego that makes us look foolish, and a combustible scene even more combustible. You can be as smart as an Owl, but if you let the Donkey of your ego ride you… down the drain goes all your years of education and experiences.

SMUGNESS. I can be pretty smug. My closest friend said this of me, “Taufiq is even worse, he knows he’s smart!” I admit to the charge, I am guilty. And I fear what sort of mess my smugness will get myself into one day. No doubt I will look stupid and foolish again. It is fated, and in this desperate helplessness, I look to God for protection and cure for my own smugittude


15. Smugness
Some fear smugness
Which comes with knowledge.

But it is a useful sign
To reassess where you are,

And to realize that
After all your study and struggle,
You really know nothing,
And oh boy, are you in trouble!

BIG HEARTED I am not. But I am big about the heart. That great, great Muslim saint and theologian, Imam Ghazali was big on the heart too. His writing and eloquent life inspired my forefathers, and he remains a pre-eminent figure in South East Asia, despite critiques of him by ‘Muslim Modernists and Reformers’. I think the trick to controlling your ego is to make your heart as loving as possible – making it so big that your ego is lost in the COSMIC VASTNESS of your conscience. But your ego can also grow to great vastness if you are not careful. I try to follow my heart and not be arrogant with what little knowledge I may have. But as I said, I can be smug. Be patient with me, my friends, because for me, it is a constant battle to let my heart rule my head in the quest for Truth…
109. Truth, The Heart & The Mind
Truth is always felt.
Never reasoned out;

Your mind helps to identify
And connect the dots
That represent what meager
Knowledge you have acquired so far.

But the last mile, the complete picture,
Only your heart can comprehend.

FIGURING GOD. Wonderful thing, knowledge is. I often imagine us being little toddlers in the great kindergarten of God, with God Hiding Himself around a corner and having fun looking at us trying to figure Him out. Late in my life, I came across an old man who said, “Figure yourself out first, then you can figure God” I have lived by that advice since. So have I figured God? Of course not! I am still going through the multi-layered cake that is me. Some parts I find sweet, some parts I find sour, some parts I cannot discern a taste. Perhaps we are all like that…

13. A, B, C
God has left His Signs,
Like Alphabetical Blocks,
In the playpen of Man.

Some have raised them as towers to reach the sky,
Some have strewn the blocks and spread them far and wide,
Some have lost them,
While others give these blocks
Only perfunctory acknowledgement,
Seeing His Signs
Within themselves,
And greatest of them all
In the heart of a man, a shepherd orphan
Most delicate of all servants.

MUHAMMAD AND THE BURDEN OF KNOWLEDGE. Anyway, above all signs of God, even such signs as I may find in myself, I am enraptured most of all by the COSMIC NEON LIGHTS of Muhammad. His name has been bad-mouthed of late. He is depicted as mad and bad by some people who ought to really know better. Muhammad is not to be blamed; it is we who have been neglectful of his teachings of love, mercy and patience. Thus we must bear some blame for causing other people to misconstrue the Prophet. How I rue the day when I would face Muhammad and admit, “Yes, my Master… they were misled as to your nature and your message by MY NEGLIGENCE. Forgive me, please.” I am laying the blame at my threshold and that of the Muslims because we claim to be followers of Muhammad. And it is only because of the delicate nature of Muhammad Most Beloved that I can even hope for his forgiveness and intercessions…

GOD MOST FUSSY. All questions that you may frame, all answers that your mind may conjecture, if you trace their origin, all will ultimately bring you back to Him. He is the Creator of Languages by which He communicates with us and we communicate with one other. He is also the Creator of Knowledge itself. His Essence is therefore beyond human contemplation. Yet, He says He wants to be known (‘I am a Hidden Jewel and I desire to be known’, a famous Sufi quote) and He asks that you strive to know Him. But God is also Most Odd, the One and Only. Whenever I wrap my head around one idea of His Attractiveness, He reveals Himself to me even more beautiful in another aspect. He keeps me on my toes wanting more of His Infinite Variety, and curious as to what He has Planned for me - So I do believe that God is the Lord Most Curious.

6. My Lord Most Curious
My Lord Most Curious,
Creator of the how,
Creator of the who,
Creator of the why,

Mightiest Examiner,
Setter of the Questions,
The Crossroad of all knowledge,
The Spring of all Answer.

The Fountain of thoughtful query,
The Mirror of human reflection.

But the curiosity runs both ways. It is not a one-way street. I think we are often curious of God and his Mysterious Ways, but when it comes to it, our curiosity cannot be compared to His inquisitiveness over us, His beloved servants.

Forever, our Lord is inquiring over us… Are you fine? How is that ankle injury? Did you sleep well last night? Why are you crying? Are you sad someone got promoted over you? Do you have enough money to last the end of the month? Did someone cut you by some heartless jibe? Why are you distracted? Am I not incomparable in my Beauty? Ugliness cannot create beauty, and you are often enchanted by My creation – Yet you ignore Me. Why are you so blind? Even a mother cat would grieve for her kitten, do you not think I grieve for you? Do you remember Me? Do you know Me? I have created the stars in the night sky and all the fishes in the sea just for you, do you not know Me at all? My dear servants, do you even know who you really are?

Of course, He does it in an entirely UberCool Godly way and not like a nervous mother hen fussing over her chicks. But you get what I am getting at.

THE ANSWERS ARE IN YOUR HEART. Life is about answering God’s questions, isn’t it? But unlike most examinations that we have to sit for, in this exam we need only to ask the Chief Examiner Himself, and He will pass you a note while the Angelic moderators are not watching. A little God-note slipped into the folds of your heart. So look for the answers you need there. The answers, and God Himself, is in your heart, always.

Have a happy Monday, Sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa

Footnotes – ‘A Little Knowledge Is Dangerous In The Hands Of Man’ and ‘Truth, The Heart & The Mind’ are from Chapter 2, ‘The Dam.Munir.Ana’, 2004. ‘Smugness’ is from Chapter 26, ‘Stay Clear’.’A,B,C’ is from Chapter 19, ‘Tiramesu’. ‘My Lord Most Curious’ is from Chapter 23, ‘My Lord has Answered Me’.

Friday, November 26, 2010

With God, It's Always Friday.

1. I have been blind, forgive me
I have been blind and deaf
To my Lord’s kindness all this time,
And now, His Kindness is brightly
Burning in me that I am swimming
In an ocean of regret and shame.

And I know with certainty
I deserved nothing
At all of all that He
Has granted me.

What is the future for us, when
For each error we commit,
Our Lord has simply picked us up
With love, and whispered into our ears,
“O’ My servants, this way,
This way to happiness.”

I am torn as my heart answers,
“O my Lord,
Forgive me.
Forgive me for forgetting You
And for forgetting myself!”


I am thankful today for it is Friday. Work is slowly piling up, and I am expecting a busy weekend. No rest for the wicked! But being the end of the formal working week, Friday is a good day to reflect on the events of recent days.

How has your week been, sunshine? Mine has been a few minuses and a lot of plus. I do not believe (as the prose suggests) that I deserved any of the positives. Frankly, I question sometimes, is what I think is good for me really good for me? If I get a nice car, perhaps it is only for me to end up wrapping the car (and myself) around a large oak tree? If I were down with fever, perhaps it is only for me to avoid getting into the car and having the accident?

There are many ways to contemplate what might have been or what the future may hold for us - Without Love, it would be an exercise of nervous calculation, finding ourselves slaves to the whims of a cold and arbitrary fate.

But your fate is in God's hands, so do not worry. You have managed to pass through another week, and you have survived. Perhaps you are a little scarred, perhaps the world doesn't appear so rosy. But don't fret, because even if you have little faith in God, truly this is what I believe - God will always have faith in you and when you fall (and you will!), He will whisper into your ears saying, "O' My servant, this way, this way to happiness." And that, my friends, is what really matters.

TGIF, sunshine!

Pax Taufiqa.
Footnote - 'I have been blind, forgive me' is from the chapter entitled 'Love is not writing or saying', circa January 2009.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Good exists next to the Absence of Good - Parable of the Moon

14. The Sun & The Moon II (Epilogue)
By the Sun shall you see the Moon,
And by the Sun shall you see the Sun.
And blessed and oft-forgiven are those
Who share the Light with his neighbours,
Returning scowls with a smile,
Returning hate with love,
Returning weakness with strength,
And ignorance with the sweetness of understanding.
Life is too short to feel miserable and hateful. Rest your weary soul by showing mercy, compassion and affection in the face of scowls and misunderstanding. The sweetness of your conscience is found in the flip-side of hate. Don't be provoked! I am a fool and prone to anger, but you, ah... you can do so much better than me! In fact, I have great hope in you..

Have a good Thursday, sunshine. The moon is shining bright above me, the cool morning air is my succour and to the East, I see the sun rising above the dome of the Umar al Khattab mosque.

Life is plainly good, and love - like all good things, is something only clearly define, when it is placed next to hate. Don't be provoked! The hate is there for you to show your wisdom and your spiritual station. Don't let yourself down. You are like the Moon, shining bright in the dark sky of ignorance and desperation.
Pax Taufiqa.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A god of war, Neo-Jihadis, Neo-Crusaders, Children, the Ego, the Business End of a Bullet and a Message of Mercy

131. Compassion and the Masters
In the hands of the Masters,
Is a weapon deadly,
True and fatal,
As Mercy is,
A mighty engine of war,
In God’s Own Armory,
Set upon a strong redoubt,
Raised high above the crowd
Of petty human jealousy.
Today’s verses are battering rams to bring the Gates of Ignorance and Hate crashing down. Today, I am sending 5 poetic sallies against the towering edifice that men call their Jihad and Crusade, but is in truth built on the clay of hubris and pride, and set in mortars of ignorance and bricks of hateful desperation.

We are all born malleable and yielding like natural clay, but the fire of our ego is burning us up, and making our clay hard. The so-called neo-Jihadis and neo-Crusaders of God are therefore an unyielding lot, and their hearts are shut to you. They are heartless men who will gaze upon the lifeless body of a child and say, “It is normal that an innocent dies for a good cause.”

3. Children
The blood of children is inviolable,
And do those who spill it
Believe Allah is on their side?
They have declared war on Allah and His Prophet,
Allah and His Prophet have declared war on them.

The frantic tribesmen of violence? The black-suited chickenhawks walking the corridors of power? The demagogues of religions and ideologies? They are mere nuances of falsehood, hate and ignorance whose existence is suffered by the Universe only to highlight in contradistinction Truth, Love, Beauty and God. They serve no other purpose.

So they persist in their mad folly, repeating the chorus, “In the Name of God! In the Name of Reason! In the Name of Justice! In the Name of Civilization!” But God speaks not to them. They are listening to their own ego, confusing the all-destructive ego with the all-Caring God. They are a deluded bunch.
12. Business End of a Bullet
My brothers today dream martial dreams,
And place their hopes on the altar
Of a god of war.

Seeing nothing beyond the business end of a bullet,

Recognising no honour in peace,
Realising not that the commanding voice
Strangely resembles their own.

Dumb lackeys and errand-boys
Of a god of their own devising

They shout, “Infidels! Infidel!”, and taunt, “Savages! Savages!” – They set their sword’s edge to the neck of an innocent, they move the cursor target on the satellite picture, their finger hovering over the Launch button… They have declared war on the children of God when they should have declared war on their egoistic selves…

27. State of mind
Evil is a state of mind,
To be fought in your mind,
And if you have not
Declared war on yourself,
Truly, you are one of the ignorant…

But, friends, don’t worry... It is not all bad. In fact it is really all good. Do your bit to make that part of your neighbourhood a better place. Quit that bad habit. Recycle. Invent a rival system to Windows. Donate to an orphanage. Donate a smile. Exercise. Do some gardening. Cook for your family and friends. If you are lazy (like me), try writing a blog. Anything, just do it! Time itself is on your side. The Universe is your cheerleader. The Sun is your coach and motivator. The pebbles and rocks beneath your feet are your constant support! They bear your weight in good cheer, saying, "Upon us walks a man/woman who is establishing Godly Worship! Ya Huu for God! YA Huu for Love!"

I found this graffiti scrawled on the walls of my soul one quiet night, five years ago…

4. The Roadbuilder
I build roads,
Not walls.
For my message
Is peace,
Not war.

I grow roses
Not weeds,
For my message
Is beauty,
Not deceit.
So, the poems begin with a prose about Masters and ends with a prose about Master Muhammad Habibullah. May God bless all Christians, Jews, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, Druids, Animists, Socialists, Vegetarians, Meatarians, Trekkies, Progressives and whoever else who are busy establishing Lordly Worship on this saintly Earth. You are all my treasured friends…

Drink, and have a terrific Tuesday, sunshine,

Pax Taufiqa.

Footnotes - 'Compassion & the Master' is from Chapter 1 'The Dam.SunSun.Ana', June 2004. 'Children' is from Chapter 5 'The Profane & the Profound', Sep 2004. 'Business End of a Bullet' is from Chapter 11 'Winter & Rain". 'State of Mind' is from Chapter 16 'Qubruz Bluez' Sep 2005. 'The Roadbuilder' is from Chapter 17 'East of Albion' Jan 2006.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bipolar, between Happiness and Sadness, Validation and a Thank you (to You!)

We are all bipolar. Torn daily between emotions of happiness and sadness. I have been thinking about this over the weekend, and it appears to me that the best place for us to be is smack in the middle of the scale, not too happy, not too sad.

How can I be truly happy when my mother passed away at the age of 67 more than eight years ago? Yet, I cannot be entirely sad too because I know she is in a far better place, and in the company of eminent and saintly persons - no doubt continuing her chats with her family and friends, with members of her Ikebana Club, Speakers’ Club, Muslim Women’s Association, Puspanita and with the chief and mothers of the aboriginal settlement that she regularly visited with her informal charity buddies, and not to mention with the cohorts of close friends she has made around the world, in so many countries.

How can I be truly happy when beggars are roaming the streets for loose change, when millions were murdered in Rwanda, when daily thousands died in unjustified death all around the world because of a personal vendetta, a political pogrom or a young toddler shot in a crossfire between rival drug gangs in the townships of Colombia? How can I be truly happy when a maid is abused by her deranged employer right here in Malaysia, or there in Saudi Arabia, when a lorry driver in Iraq is decapitated by the bandits they call Al-Qaeda / Army of al-whatever, or when a Palestinian boy of 9 is used as a human shield in an Israeli army raid?

How can I be truly sad when my son is smiling at me, when Heche says "I love you too", when I can feel the reverberations of the Prophet in everything that I see, hear and touch? How can I be truly sad when my father is still alive, kicking and smoking at the age of 76, when my aunt calls me inquiring of my family and especially Mika, when I keep bumping into people who I admire for their tenacity, wit, honesty and humour, when I see people beginning to see other people through the prism of love, and not be hidebound to the illusion of race, culture, religion and nationality? How can I be truly sad when outside right now, there is a street sweeper who would smile and wave at me everytime I pass him by?

How can I be truly sad when I know of so many people who have lost so much more than me, but who are still able to smile, hug, kiss, laugh and love? They are like giants compared to me.

And finally, how can I be truly sad when I can still take time to share with you a little of my irrelevant life, loves and loathings(hehehe) - To speak out to the anonymous void, and to be heard and appreciated?

Some Sufis and other mystics will say that “Pah! When you are on the path of wisdom and piety, why need you for validation from others? You will derive your happiness and joy direct from the Divine Fountain itself. Your pandering to the whims of others is a sign that you are not immersed in Divine Knowledge yet.

But you see, I am neither a Sufi nor a mystic. I am me. A sinner, and if I must take pleasure from ‘the low-brow discount basement side’ of the Divine-Pleasure-Mall, well so be it. I still find ordinary people, ordinary music, ordinariness itself so beautiful, so graceful and so humble that I am contented already with my allocation of happiness.

And validation and appreciation from others? Of course I like it! It is a fuel to my fire, and an affirmation that I am not doing all that bad. Of course this doesn’t mean that I am doing all that good either, but so what?! I am a weak sinner, yet you still accompany me in my sinful blog. I thank you for that. Your magnanimity in the face of my heretical writings in the name of Love will not go unnoticed. I may not know your names, but you are not nameless to me at all. You are my friend, my brother and my sister. God bless your kind hearts.

Now go out there and have a great Monday, sunshine!

Pax Taufiqa.
Footnote - 'Ikebana' is a Japanese flower arrangement art, 'Puspanita' is a volunteer organisation of the wives of federal government officers of Malaysia, and 'Perak' is a state of Malaysia from where my mother's family originates.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pages Update

This morning I bumped into an early poem of mine entitled 'O'Poet'. As it is a prose that clarifies who I am and who I am not, I have added it to About what the Writer and the Blog is not page. The latest addition, as always, is at the bottom of the page.

In my review of my past writings, I keep coming across so many qualifications about what I write, that I myself begin to doubt my own veracity. I would be worried if I claim to be something that I am not. This is another one of those moments when I thank God and all the Angels that I chose to name my blog the Sinners Almanac. I, like the Prophet Jonah, do not wish to be judged on my merits. I choose Mercy over Truth. Sinners should always choose Mercy. And that is the truth.

Oh well... life goes on.

Have a great Sunday, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mika, Usman Awang, Orientation Day and a Debt that shall never be paid

Muhammad Mikhail bin Taufiq was born on 31st January 2004 I in Ward C, Pantai Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur. I was nervously waiting in the room when the nurse came in and said, “Can the father come with me?”. I followed her in a semi-conscious state to the babies ward. The as-yet unnamed baby son looked red like a tomato. The nurse gently passed him to me, and I recited the Azan (Call of Prayers) into his ear (I did it wrongly, but never mind that). That same night, I wrote a prose. I do not know why, but angels were mentioned…

8. Pantai Hospital, Ward C
Babies talk in Morse
To angels who tread these corridors

What beautiful talent we sadly unlearn
Weary of life’s maze, twist and turn
Until life itself ebbs to its full and final term
And we lay in bed, old, weak and infirm

Only to find ourselves once again speaking
To angels garbed in light, and with yea, what mighty wings!


His first pre-school was Villa Maria, run by the Good Shepherd Sisters. In end of 2009, he graduated. His major achievement I must say is his high tolerance of embarrassing costumes that he had to wear for the annual concerts. Often, I can see it in his eyes an unfulfilled wish to be 1 million miles away from the little concert hall.

Skip 1 year onwards, and today I and Mika’s mother accompanied him for his orientation day in his primary school, Sekolah Rendah Taman Tun Dr. Ismail (1) for the January 2011 intake. Preliminary placing of Mika put him in Kelas 1 Mutiara (1 Pearl). During registration a teacher came in to round up the kids for an assessment test. Happily, Mika was the first to finish, but he had to wait for the rest to finish - Waiting is not one of his strong points.

Well, neither is it mine really. So I left him and wandered around the school compound. On a stairwell I found this beautiful poem by Malaysia’s Poet Laureate Usman Awang hanging of the wall…

If today
There is a Prime Minister in power
If today
A King ascends a throne
If today
(There is) An Honourable Spiritual Scholar
If today
A lawyer wins a trail
If today
A writer becomes famous
If today
Anyone becomes an adult
Their history was begun
By an ordinary teacher
(Who) with kindness, and patience
Taught (them) to read and write.

I came back to check on Mika, and saw that the pencil box has lost all its attraction and he has started making friends with the boy next to him. But he ignored the lovely girl to his right. My fault - Initially, I told Mika that all boys share a secret vow which simply reads 'Don’t Trust Girls!’. After a brief look at the class register, I found that girls outnumber boys by almost 2 to 1. In the car later, I suggested gently to him that the ‘Don’t Trust Girls’ dogma needs to be reassessed in light of the new discovery. He solemnly nodded his agreement.

After the assessment test was over, the teachers took the children for a tour around the school, you know, the canteen, the toilets, the computer lab, the teachers’ rooms etc. I found it naively sweet that the school authority believes that the 6-year olds would recall it all when they come for their 1st day of school in more than 1 month’s time from today.

The final item of the orientation was the re-placement of children to different classes. Some parents were kiasu (‘overly-earnest’ is the best translation I can give) and excited, waiting with bated breath. I made a joke that the teachers are in fact re-placing children according to how kiasu their parents were. They have no problem with the kids, it’s their parents that are the trouble-makers. I thought it was funny… but nobody laughed.

I am happy that everything went well today. And sad. I feel that my son is growing up too fast for me. But let me share with you a personal observation. When Mikhail was a baby / toddler, I always thought that I shall never love him as much as I loved him then. Such a cute and cuddly kid, I thought, with those huge Japanese cartoon eyes. Surely, when he grows up he will start to develop his own personality and character quirks, and shed the baby fat. No doubt, he will be less adorable to me. Less innocent. Less cute.

Now I can say that I was wrong. My love for him has grown on a steep learning curve. I love him for his good and bad habits. I love him for his patience and impatience. I love him for his smile and his scowls. I love him for his selfishness and generosity. I do, and I don’t know why I do.

As is often the case, such thoughts lead me back to my father and mother. And I believe that they too were faced with the same unexplained mystery. And that is why I know that my debt to them cannot be measured, and their love for me is counted every moment in a Heavenly Scale untouched by human weakness and caprice. This debt shall never be paid.

I would like to conclude this posting with the same question that I have often asked in this blog - If you share the same sentiments about your parents and your children, how can we not be brothers and sisters?

Have a great Saturday, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa.

P/S – ‘Pantai Hospital, Ward C’ is from the 1st Chapter called ‘the Dam.SunSun.Ana’, completed June 2004.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jihad, War, Caliph Ali and the sword Zulfiqar, Futuwat Code of Chivalry and Armchair Generals

The Caliph Ali is a cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet. He is a man of beautiful passions and a warrior of great valour. His sword, Zulfiqar is almost equally as famous. Some say that the code of chivalry known as futuwat (or futuwwa) is inspired by or originates from Ali.
159. Zulfikar I
Victory without chivalry is not victory.
Defeat with chivalry is not defeat.

As often is the case, Ali was chosen to be the champion of the army for a one-on-one duel with the opposing side's best warrior. In the melee, his opponent was thrown to the ground and disarmed. Ali raised his sword, the famed Zulfiqar, to smite his foe, when suddenly the man spit on Ali’s face. A dark shadow drifted over his countenance and Ali was temporarily stunned. Then he lowered Zulfiqar and said to his enemy, “Get up, pick up your sword, and let’s resume our duel!

The man was stupified, he stood up and asked, “Hey, why did you not kill me when you had the chance?"

Ali replied, “When you spit on my face, I felt my anger rise up like the flaming ash of a volcano. And had I struck you then, I would have been motivated by my anger, and not by my love for God and His Prophet. I would have done a great wrong.

160. Zulfikar II
Oh, noble Zulfikar who was never wielded in anger!
Who shall wield you now that for every man who fights for his Lord,
100,000 men fight for their egos?

Faith is a plant that flourishes in the soil of love, the sunlight of truth and the rain of mercy. Ego will empty any soil of love, it will be block out the sun, and cause a thousand years of draught. Ride and control your ego before it annihilates you and all that you hold dear.

161. Zulfikar III
As your ego grows,
Incrementally does the price of your admission
Into His Presence.

The condition of war is a special condition. It is not the natural condition of Islam. Those who talk of a thousand years of Jihad are madmen, fixated with swords and guns. But the truth is, if Zulfiqar had a voice, it will say, I want nothing to do with such men. And if I must concern myself with them, verily, let someone wield me against them!

Really, people should stop bandying the clash of civilization (Islam East vs Christian-Judeo West) fad and quit the warmongering bandwagon. The much anticipated clash has nothing to do with civility nor civilization. It is a clash of egos, a blood feud perpetuated by the dim-witted ‘faithfuls’. A game for bigots, armchair generals and psychopaths.

4. War
War should not be a game.
Nor for glory or fame.
It is mercy, tempered with courage,
It is acting with love
Though besieged by hate.

And if they ask, who says this,
Tell them, it is I,

So next time anyone mentions jihad or crusade to you, tell them what Zulfiqar has shared with you here today. I will love you for that…

Well, that’s it. Have a great day, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa

Footnotes – The 3 ‘Zulfikar’ poems are from the 1st Chapter entitled ‘The Dam.SunSun.Ana’, circa June 2004. The poem ‘War’ is from 28th Chapter entitled ‘A Celestial History, circa February 2008.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We have no religion, but Muhammad the Messenger of God has!

Ada orang kata 'islam agamaku'.

Kita jawab yg kita tiada agama, hanya menumpang agama dan adab Muhammad - Habibullah, Abu Arwah!

Kita kata kita penganggur cinta dan hanya merenung kepada wajah dan nur Ahmad untuk pengajaran dan belas kasihan Baginda yg sempurna zat, zahir dan batin.

Kita mengetuk pintu hati Ahmad MUSTAFA dan menyeru, ya Maulana, Ya Rasulullah, terima lah kami, sayang lah kami dan jgnlah lupa kami yang ketandusan kasih sayang tanpa senyuman, berkat dan kemanisanmu, ya Muhammad - madu kurniaan Tuhan, gula dan segala kemanisan yang ada pada keberkatan Tuhan pada kita.

Ada mereka yang berkata kita gila akan dikau, Baginda... Tetapi, hakikatnya adalah mereka belum mengenali dan menikmati cinta mu, kasih manja mu kepada umatmu yang lemah dan kolot - ya, Rasul hatiku, dikau tiada bandingan segala alam. Ameen.

English translation –

There are people who say that ‘Islam is my religion’

In reply we answer that we have no religion, (for we are) only clinging upon the religion and traditions of Muhammad - Beloved of God, Father of Souls!

We are beggars of love, and we only gaze to the countenance and light of Ahmad for guidance and affection of His Majesty perfected in his core, essence and form.

We are knocking on the door of Ahmad MUSTAFA's heart and asking, O’ Master, O’ Messenger of God, accept us, love us and do not forget we who (will forever) thirst for love without your smile, grace and sweetness, o’ Muhammad - the God's grant of honey, (the) Sugar and all Sweetness that is contained in (all of) God’s Blessings for us.

There are some who will say we are mad for you, Your Majesty… but the truth is they have not yet met nor tasted your love, that adoring love you have for your nation who are (always) weak and misguided – O’ Messenger of my heart, there is none equal to you in all of creation, Amen.

The sms in Bahasa Melayu was sent to an Indonesian friend earlier this morning. Tonight is a night to rest and give thanks. So, thank you, my friends, for sharing a little corner of your consciousness with this hapless sinner.

And tomorrow? Well, tomorrow Eid Mubarak, sunshine!
Pax Taufiqa.
PostScript, 4.04am Eidul Adha 2010 - I guess I cannot sleep until I serve the full pint of this posting. I respect and admire those who are yearning for God through religion, beyond the tyranny of their ego - Those who are breaking free from religious pride / hubris and annihilating the misconceived notion that they 'own' their religion.
My sweet friends, whatever faith you practise, you never own your religion, just as much as you never own God, nor His Names or Meanings. Eons and thousands of years ago, Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad and so many other messengers and prophets were inspired by God to guide, warn and give succour to mankind. Some messengers are well known, while others are now anonymous, their names lost in the mist of time. To them you owe your wisdom and rituals, and the religion that you practise is essentially theirs, not yours. You are merely a guest, or sometimes a stowaway and trespasser in their lore and wisdom. Yet they tolerate you, God tolerates you, no matter how often you misrepresent their teachings.

.So do not take God's ways in vain. Do not claim ownership over religion nor God. It is in that seed of hubris that we find the trail leading to the insane 'us and them' dogma - a disease that is forever seeking to kill the essence of what your messenger and your prophet has left for you - Love, Hope, Tolerance, Mercy, Kindness... all of this will be lost, if we allow our ego and pride to overcome our submission to the Benevolent Will of God All-Loving, All-Merciful.

So my thought turn to the pilgrims in Mecca and pray that in their pilgrimage, they shall find the truth of who they really are, and who God really is. And of course, to each and everyone of us, who are undertaking their own pilgrimage, each day and each second- a pilgrimage from the falsehood of the ego, to the Truth of Love, of God. Come, my friend - help me in this journey... for I am told that the Host of Pilgrims is the Aid to all souls heart-broken. Let us mend our broken lives there... in the Guest House of God, which people call the heart.

Thank you, sunshine.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Richard Dawkins is not Godless, the Essence of Belief and Disbelief, and a Bagel

There are atheists and there are atheists. Many are kind, generous and tolerant - nice guys and gals with whom I would love to share bagels with. Others though can be bigoted and sanctimonious like the worst of priests, theologians, popes, rabbis and imams. So really, the disbelieving fellas - they are no different from believers like you and I. There is good and bad in everyone.

I have no objection to the first type of atheists, whom I admire for their virtues. It is that Gawd-Help-Me types whom I find annoying.
During a brief holiday in NY in 2006, I came across Richard Dawkins’s book entitled ‘The God Delusion’. Curious, I bought the book - It is an interesting essay of a man’s dislike and distrust of religion. But for me, his protestations of his Godless belief, doesn’t make Richard Godless (If I intend to tease someone, I like to be on a first name basis). The opposite, in fact. And this is the reason why…

That sort of intolerant atheists can persist in their disbelief, for what its worth. They will continue to pour scorn on all the faiths of the world, claiming religion to be the root of all evil. But however far they may journey in the narrow confines of their mind, and however small they may slice the atomic cherries, they will not find God, nor the proof against God, save as what their disbelief has already engineered for them. Their rejection of the existence of God are in truth a remembrance of God(Dzikr), just like a counting of the rosary, the prayer cry of the Muezzin and the turning of the Buddhist prayer wheel. This doesn’t appear to make sense at all. But let me explain…
Disbelief is Dzikr (Remembrance of God)
Belief is remembrance,
Disbelief is also remembrance,
Because God is Lord Almighty
Over those who believe in Him,
And those who disbelieve in Him…

After all, isn’t ‘disbelief’ also a creation of God?

I would like to meet Dick (at this stage of our friendship, I am entitled to call him thus) and demand back the good money I paid for his book. I am not convinced by his incomplete analogies and conclusions, interesting though they may be to leprechauns.

Ah well. At least Dicky writes like an old romantic. So sentimentally, we are, as the Romans would say, ad idem (in agreement). Maybe I would share a bagel with him after all.

Thank you for reading my Monday rant.

Pax Taufiqa.

P/S: The poem is from current and untitled chapter.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Art of Drinking in the Tavern of Love, with Abu Yazid, Hallaj, Rumi and Abdul Qadir Geylani

In Teddy Bears and Sweet Gentle Walks we spoke of how Love will change your life. And I must warn you that, given free rein, Love will demolish your doubts and sadness. I know this to be true, because more than a year ago a kindly bartender in the Tavern of Love told me…
21. A heady draught II
Ah, drinkers,
Did you not see
The sign outside?
“Verily, you who
Wish to enter,
Leave your doubts
And sighs outside.

For only love is
drunk here. Love
in all her delight.
Love! Love!
Love without respite!”

So how can we stop drinking Love, my friends? It is a most addictive beverage. A drink distilled by the Very Best of Distiller and promoted by the Very Best of Copywriter …

22. A Heady Draught III
Love is a draught
Exquisite in nature,
Brewed in secret
Like no other,
A loving nectar,
A liquid amber
Coursing through
Your soul like a
Golden river.

So, again and again we order from the bartender, “One more! One more!”, despite the looming hangover which we sometimes suffer because …
23. A Heady Draught IV
Without discretion
Love manifests itself
In the morning after
As a painful hangover.

And after 4 prose of Love, where are we? Ah, here… to the fifth and final round, which I invite your toast, ladies and gents, in the honoured remembrance of Abu Yazid al-Bistami, Hallaj, Rumi and Shaykh Abdul Qadir Geylani! Come on, sinners… finish it and I will join you drunk under the Table of the Prophets and Saints! Because, if we are not worthy to sit with them, at least let us get intoxicated under them!
A Heady Draught V
If you desire Love, Happy Hour is Every Hour
Alas for those who seek Love without Love,
For only by Love will you find Love.

And if you have passed that stage,
And come to know the Bartender
A little better, then
You will finally realise that
In the Tavern of Love,
All drinks are, In Truth,
On the House!

Have a great Sunday, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa.
P/S - First 3 poems here are from the chapter entitled 'How Beautiful Love is' completed 9th October 2009. The last, is happily freshly brewed this wonderful Sunday morning, 14th November 2010. How lucky are we!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I love music. We all do, I am sure. The musical preference may differ but the love of music is universally shared. Everyone, from tyrannical dictators to saintly mothers, in their own peculiar way, has an inclination towards music in some form. Often music involves the transmission of humanist and spiritual ideals in formal or informal surroundings. It is therefore not surprising that at its very earliest conception, music was a major part of the spiritual transmission and experience of man.

Spiritual music falls into many specialized categories. We have the American-African gospel music of the South, which arose amongst the Negro slaves as an expression of their yearning for freedom and struggle against daily subjugation under the whip of their 'Masers'. In the Indian Subcontinent, Qawwali is just one form of (as practised by the late great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) music glorifying the Lord, and in remembrance of the extraordinary life and character of the Prophet. In many aspects of Classical, Baroque or Romantic concertos of Western composers (especially in the early traditions), there exists an inner and spiritual purpose; as an invitation and exhortation to spiritual improvement and elevation. It is interesting also that in many forms of music, and especially spiritual or folk music, the instruments utilized often reflect the landscape whence it came. Thus, in the haunting flute of the Cheyenne, one can almost imagine the flowing grassy
steppes of the Dakotas. In the beat of the murawiz and Ghazal, we are transported to Arabia. In the thumping orchestral performance of the Classics, we find ourselves seating in resplendent opulence of Renaissance Europe, glorifying Christ in stupendous arias. To each race and place, there arose its spiritual music equivalent.

My purpose however is not to dwell in music which is clearly spiritual and as intended by the songwriter. It is our suggestion that even popular music, or more commonly known as pop music (including Rock & Roll) has deep and at times, extremely thoughtful spiritual and mystical emphasis, perhaps beyond the original intention of the songwriter and composer.

A couple of years ago, I noted how pop songs, especially love songs, extols or demands love in the most complete and unconditional form with phrases like; undying, one and only love, faithful and complete, true and forever, cannot live without you, etc.. In my immature understanding I asked myself, surely this songs refer to no mortal love but God himself? Surely these songs are nothing less than expressions of love between God, Prophet and humanity? This was however an intellectual exercise. Intimate experience only occurred about 2 years on. For in those days, I used to recite dzikr (remembrance of Names of God) on the drive to work (no doubt to get as many brownie points as possible). One day however, being the unrepentant hypocrite that I truly am, I found my remembrance of God rather ritualistic and dry. I felt out of tune with the divine cosmos. Driving home later that day, I instead switched on the radio and the station was playing “Suci Dalam Debu” (Purity in the Dust) by Iklim. The lyrics (by S. Amin Shahab / Music by Wan Zul) shook my heart as they appear to transform a rock ballad into a haunting and exhaustive tale of the human spirit, repentance, and the all-encompassing outpouring of Divine Love and Mercy;

Kuharapkan kau kan terima – I hope you will accept (me)
Walau dipandang hina - Though I am dishonoured
Namun hakikat cinta kita – For the certainty of our love
Kita yang rasa - Is what we feel

Suatu hari nanti – One Day
Pastikan bercahaya - A Light will surely shine
Pintu akan terbuka - And a Door will open
Kita langkah bersama – Through which we shall both enter

Di situ kita lihat – And there we will see
Bersinarlah hakikat – The Light of Certainty
Debu jadi permata – Where Dust is transformed into diamonds
Hina jadi mulia – And the (once) dishonoured is honoured.
This song was not new to me. Yet its meaning changed for me from the time I originally heard it in 1990s. From that day onwards, I continue to listen, and experience many songs which were once understood only in its basic man-woman love dichotomy to something more beautiful. Even new releases astounded me, as Kelly Clarkson did, in “Breakaway” (Matthew Gerrard, Bridget Benenate, Avril Ramona):

(chorus) I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly
I'll do what it takes til' I touch the sky
I'll make a wish
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway
Out of the darkness and into the sun …
… Wanna feel the warm breeze
Sleep under a palm tree
Feel the rush of the ocean
Get onboard a fast train
Travel on a jet plane, far away (I will)
And breakaway…

I must admit that some understanding of the 'trigger words' which have parallel meanings as understood and practiced by past and present mystics, greatly influenced the experiences of these songs. Common words and phrases will then carry different meanings, as in Breakway where the singer seeks to “… sleep under a palm tree, feel the rush of the ocean, get onboard a fast train, travel on a jet plane, far away…”. Sleep and dreams are ideas that arise again and again in Sufi lore, as do the Ocean, which is commonly also called the Mercy Ocean, in which humanity is sprung from and must return to. The concept of change and travel, reflects the concept of hijra, wherein one migrates and adapts to a new environment (or new self) for the sake of the Lord and His Prophet. Of course, when Kelly sings “…And breakaway out of the darkness and into the sun…”, the meaning is plain not only to the brethrens of Islam, but also believers of many other faiths. In Sufism however, the Sun may commonly be used in reference to God Himself. A Sufi lore speaks thus, Only by the Sun will you see the Sun. And this inevitably takes us further into the realm of Tawhid, which is the concept of Oneness of God, the cornerstone of all monotheistic faiths.

In the earlier Suci Dalam Debu, the word hakikat mirrors the personal certainty of experience and belief in God, the Angels and the Prophet. It is the highest form of understanding and a quest for all Muslims. The idea of purity in the dust can be referred to the pouring of the Divine Light of Muhammad (NurMuhammad) into the earthly vessel of clay that we call our body; alternatively, it may also refer to man’s too common weakness in judging people at their exterior/manifest (zahir) without understanding the core (batin). Additionally, the nur or light plays a key role in Muslim literature. For darkness is perceived not as a substantive reality, but merely the absence of light. Just as evil is no significant matter, being merely an action devoid of good. These are all codes and keywords common in many Sufi poetry and lore, none more so than in the writings of Maulana Jelaluddin Rumi, whose writings continue to be in the bestseller list of the West.

What is attractive is that these experiences bring the Divine to a human level of understanding – a little gleam of joy stolen from songs which others may call mere entertainment, so-called 'low brow' pop songs. In any event, they show a very real and caring Lord, a very real and loving Prophet, and the fortunate happenstance that we, the children of Adam, are all in His care. This is not an academic discourse, but experience. Many a times, this intimacy is expressed in the separation between the lover and the beloved, and the terrible yearning for union with the Beloved, which in Christian mysticism may be “rapture” or in terms of Sufism, in the “annihilation” (fana) of the believer in the Lord. Often, the sense of longing is almost physically painful, as Jennifer Paige sings in Stranded;

You know it only breaks my heart
To see you standing in the dark
Alone waiting there for me to come back

… If it's coming over you
Like it's coming over me
I'm crashing like a tidal wave
That drags me out to sea
I want to be with you
If you want to be with me
Crashing like a tidal wave
I don't want to be
I can only take so much
These tears are turning me to rust
I know you're waiting there for me to come back
(Matt Brownleewe & Arbuckle Lee)

The fear of the singer turning into rust by her constant tears can be resolved through Alchemy which is the mythical science of changing base metal into gold, for gold does not rust. At another level however, real Alchemy refers to the transformation of man, locked in his earthly vessel, into a creature which mirrors his real (haqiqat) station as a member in the most honoured congregation (Mankind) of the most praised being (which is essentially the meaning of the name, Muhammad). Gold can also mean the message of the Messenger, the Quran and the Sunnah, which shall not be dulled by time, and is guaranteed by God Himself in an unbroken chain (silsalah) of the Prophet’s inheritors that is golden in name and nature.

There is a price however to be paid by these songwriters and singers. Such is the adulation of the fans and the material rewards that many, sadly, fall into temptation. But don’t judge them too harshly and remember the warning given by an old sinner;

Songwriters and stagewalkers,
Balladeers and raconteurs,
Playwrights and soul singers.

O’ artisans, be wary!
For thy nemesis has cultivated the skill
Thou both share far longer than thee;

The ability to weave a good story
And move the heart of thy most belligerent enemy.

This article is not knowledge. At best it is personal reflection, and perhaps a lot of what I may wish to communicate is lost in the transmission. There is no real rule, nor guide or manual that can help us understand a song(and dare I say it, life itself) save through the prism of love. And that is the only key. Every thing else depends upon the heart (and ears) of the beholder as each man and woman continue to create and recreate their respective and very individual universes. And if the Lord is how His servant makes Him to be, then may He be the Lord who leaves signals and signposts, in the most odd and unexpected of places, to guide the wandering soul home;

… Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on…

… And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last.
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll…
(Stairway to Heaven performed by Led Zeppelin, Paige/Plant)

God, Prophet and Rock & Roll was written 3 - 4 years ago as a magazine article. Perhaps you may notice that it isn't as light-hearted and mad as my normal postings. But I think the point is clear. And I hope you enjoyed reading the article as much as I did writing it. Let the Music play, Amadeus!
God bless you, and have a great Saturday, sunshine.
Pax Taufiqa.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sleep of the Trees / We are the Garden of our Fathers and Mothers / The Rose of Conscience

27. HoHum HoHum, Me Sleep
Me sleep in winter,
Me bloom in spring and summer,
And when the angels of autumn dither,
Me know me shan’t stay awake much longer,

And how me fall for their sleeping songs,
These angels who make me doze in ease;
“To bed”, They sing,
“ To sleep you belong,
Beneath your blanket of golden leaves.”
From Chapter 15 ‘The Red Baron’, 27th July 2005

Hmm... I am resting beneath a whimsical prose of wood spirits and angels today. Just don’t mention Tolkien or Treebeard.

I am also thinking that our mater and pater - they are all consumate gardeners and greenthumbs. Because, however stubborn we may be as saplings, no matter that our soil holds little promise - somehow, bit by bit, their garden yield the most beautiful of roses - Our conscience. I may follow it reluctantly, I may at times refuse to listen to my conscience. But it is there already, in full bloom. And for that I owe it all to my mum and dad.

And if you share the same sentiments, dear friend... really, how can we not be brothers and sisters?

Pax Taufiqa.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Al-Qaeda can shove it. Taliban can stuff it. Osama is a nutjob - Putting the Joy back in Jihad, Putting the Fun in Fana!

17. Putting the Fun in Fana
Do not blame us for feeling happy
Being at the side of our Saidi
Swimming we are, in a sea of manna
Leaving footprints, on the shore of fana.
(From Chapter 1, ‘The Dam.SunSun.Ana’) Fanaa (فناء) is the Sufi term for extinction. It means to annihilate the self, while remaining physically alive. Persons having entered this state are said to have no existence outside of, and be in complete unity with God. Fanaa is similar to the concepts of nirvana in Buddhism and Hinduism or moksha in Hinduism which also aim for annihilation of the self. Fanaa may be attained by constant meditation and by contemplation on the attributes of God, coupled with the denunciation of human attributes. (from Wikipedia - I do not agree entirely with this definition, but it's not too bad)

Some seven years ago, I wrote this poem. A happy, happy verse reflecting my happiness in finding a compass in my sea of doubt, a ranger to lead me through the witch’s forest, a friend, a guide, a Jedi Knight, a Saidi.

In March 17 2010, a friend published an article called ‘Putting the Joy back in Jihad’ in her blog. I found it to be some kind of wonderful. Do read it. I have mentioned Nun Tuck already in my previous postings. If I were to judge my religious convictions on whether I agree with the merits of her words, then I too am a Christian. But I am tired of labels and labeling.

While others use religion to stick labels on people, bloggers like Nun Tuck applies religion to peel away our prejudices of ‘the other people’. Only when you remove your misconceptions of other people, only then, will you be able to break through your own misconception of who you are. Once, you know what you are not, you are on your way to knowing who you really are, and hey, that’s only a wink away from knowing God. *Wink* *Wink* *Wink*

I hope that one day, I may be accepted as those who establish Lordly worship. I hope that one day, people will remember me and say, “Taufiq? He was neither here nor there, but how he loved the Prophet!” As for now? Now I am just a sinner.

But despite that, you are still my friend. I would say that God will thank you for befriending a sinner, but I know you. You are already happy befriending a sinner. You already know what others know not.

Have a goodish Tuesday, sunshine!

Pax Taufiqa.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mika and the Spirit of Soccer, Papa, and in the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

I kicked a ball around yesterday with Mika and my nephew Imran. Imran did alright but Mika doesn’t seem too bothered by the rules. He is quite willing to cuddle the ball in his small arms and try to run past me into the goal. Then he would repeatedly tap the ball against the net, saying “Goal! Goal! Goal! Goal!”. I think he beat me and Imran by about 24 goals to 1.

Imran on the other hand knows the rules, but the chap underestimates his kicking power. So often at close range, I am forced to making sure that the ball doesn’t hit me where it hurts. I haven’t touched a soccer ball in ages. But being hit by a soccer ball in the holiest of holies is like riding a bicycle. You will never forget it.

After a good half hour we three were sitting on the park bench, contented in an endorphin induced high. Suddenly, a philosophical look came over Mikhail, and he spoke in a grave tone, “You know Papa, it’s not just about winning. It’s about having fun. That is the true spirit of football, and it is in the heart”.

So that is my boy. Not very good about the rules, but he got the Philosophy and Spirit of Soccer down nicely.

Kids here call their father by all sorts of names. Some call their fathers ‘Bapak’ or ‘Ayah’, which for me has a rather formal ring to it. Other children address their pater as ‘Daddy’ or simply ‘Dad’. Sometimes, the word loses the second ‘D’ and my friends end up being barely acknowledged as a “Da” or “Dae”.

Before Mika was born, I thought hard about how I wish to be called. After much soul-searching, I concluded that I like ‘Papa’ best. I recall the simple gentleness of the word from an old 1993 Renault Clio advert when I was reading Law in the UK. I think that the word clearly affirms my paternal position, and most importantly, I felt it to be the softest and sweetest way by which my child can call me. After 6 years, I am happy to confirm that the experiment is a complete success. Too successful perhaps, for I give in way to often to Mikhail’s plaintive ‘Papaaaaa….’.

For us, God has revealed His 99 Names and Attributes. And I find it sweetly succinct that of all His Omnipotent Names, He invites His servants to call on Him by the names of ar-Rahman and ar-Rahim – Most Gracious and Most Merciful - The two holy names which to me, are the distilled essence and gentlest manifestation of Love. It is higher and finer than Love, you see. For love can often be tough and testing!
Of course 'Papa' isn't a divine name like ar-Rahman or ar-Rahim, but you get my drift, I am sure.
People are suppose to recite the heavenly names as a precursor of all actions. And when I mean all, I mean ALL, however mundane or insignificant the act may be. Of course, as a hopeless sinner, I myself regularly forget to do this. So, I will remedy this and say it here- In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful! Are you hearing me now, God? God? ....God??

Hehehe. He is hearing me, alright. And thank you too for hearing me.

Have a great Monday, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa.

P/S - The Bismillah calligraphy is by the gifted Sudanese artist Hassan Musa.

Abu Bakar, Abu Yazid, the End of Hell Part II, Calvin & Hobbes and My Left Foot

An anonymous reader left a comment in the earlier posting entitled "God Heart, the Light of Love, the End of Hell and Childhood Memories" asking me to recall the story of Abu Yazid, Abu Bakar and the End of Hell. So here it is. But before we go there, I would like to introduce them both by way of my earlier writings on this worthy fellows. To put these fine chaps in my context.

Abu Bakar as-Siddique was the constant companion of the Prophet. He is generally accepted to be the closest companion of the Prophet. He was the first man to accept the prophethood of Muhammad ibn Abdullah and Islam. His love for his Prophet is beyond my stumbling prose to describe. But I wrote the poem anyway of course…

26. The Stingy Bartender
What is this love you speak of?
A fanciful plaything
We appraise others with,
Conditional and poured from its vessel
In stingy measured draughts.

We should be ashamed to name it love
In the presence of
Muhammad and his Abu Bakar.
Chapter 11, ‘Winter & Rain’, December 2004

Abu Yazid al-Bistami is a saint famously known as the rebuffed visitor at God’s Door. Again and again he was refused entry by God. Each time, God asked him, “Who is knocking on My door?” And each time Abu Yazid replied, “It is I, Abu Yazid, your servant!” Then one day he finally gave the right reply – Abu Yazid answered God’s question, saying, “Oh, It is you, O’ Lord!”. The above cartoon was an early work and inspired by the story of Abu Yazid. The twist in the tale is courtesy of my brother, ergo the ‘by Poon’. Poon is a common Malay nickname for ‘Saiful’. Don’t ask me why. It makes no sense to me too.

(If you wish for an authoritative version, read a book. Or if you happen to bump into any saint, well just ask him/her. I can only recall bits and pieces of what I was told, and which I read in a book. And of course, I have taken great liberty with the language and personality of God and His Saint. I am incorrigible, I know)

So now you know that old Abu Yazid is a great mystic, a champion of Fana-fillah (Annihilation in the Oneness of God), a saint of the highest order, a lover of Muhammad and a true servant of God.

Well, one rosy day, Abu Yazid got it into his head to take his Love of Muhammad one step further. He prayed to God Almighty that he, Abu Yazid, be manifested in Hell, in such an enormous size to fill up each valley, abyss and dungeon of Hades – so that not one member of the Nation of Muhammad shall be fated to dwell and suffer the tribulations of Hell.

God the Lord Creator, being in a buddy-pal relationship with Abu Yazid, answered the saint’s prayers. God said, “Sure, A.Y. But perhaps, before we begin transmogrifying you (to use a Calvin & Hobbes phrase), let me show you Hell first’" The Lord lifted the veil and manifested the unimaginable vision of Hell to poor old Abu Yazid. He was speechless and transfixed, for he saw that the whole of Hell was already fully occupied by a gigantenormous left foot. It was breath-taking. In awe, Abu Yazid asked, “Whose left foot is that?!” God replied (and I would like to think He did so with a smile and a little chuckle), “It is Abu Bakar’s". God-Dramatic-Pause-Here.He beat you to it. Sorry.”

Now your friends are gonna ask - So does Hell exist still? Are we sinners going to be thrown into its welcoming inferno? So what is Abu Bakar’s shoe size? And what about all those infidels? What will their fate be?

Does it matter what the answers are, my friends? If we do good, shouldn’t we feel the joy of kindness and love already? If we do bad, shouldn’t our conscience hurt already? Does the Almighty really need to constantly wield the Carrot of Heaven and the Stick of Hell to herd us lambs in the right path? Sigh…

I do believe in the End of Times. But not as envisioned by some of the fans of Armageddon theology (and I mean both Muslims and Christians). For I believe that in each moment of Creation, the spiritual station of the Prophet and the Saints are rising and rising. That love, mercy and compassion of the divine messengers and prophets is growing ever larger, and we have the good fortune to take shelter under their wing.

I am a poor sickly felon. Please don't rely on me. But you are one of those who are establishing true Lordly worship. I am taking a little sweet from your pantry of sweets. God will bless you for your generous attention towards this guilty but stubbornly happy sinner.

And happily, it is Sunday again, sunshine!

Pax Taufiqa.