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’.

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