Tuesday, May 31, 2011

... And the World is in need of You

23. Judging self
We are taught
To judge ourselves,
But have care that
You do not judge yourself
And in your zeal,
You inadvertently
Punish someone else.

That is not wisdom,
It is self-conceit,
Alas, a common error
Stumbling the most
Earnest of seekers.

A little of regret is good, but don't go beating yourself over the head too much, sunshine. For there may be (indeed, there always is...) someone in need of your attention and compassion - your son, your daughter, your employee, your auntie, your mum and dad, your cat, your girlfriend, etc.. Cast aside your doubt, for you are a wonderful person. And the world is in need of you. Happy or sad, the world turns with no care to our feelings, so let us walk along the path of servanthood, the most true state of reality and perception, where things simply 'is' and happiness or sadness is nothing but a dress which we can wear and shed as we wish. Amen.

Until tomorrow morning, God bless.

Pax Taufiqa

The Servant and the Scale

The Servant & the Divine Scale

One night in the fastness of a dream, a servant of the Lord contrived to enter the Lord’s Court and found himself standing in front of the Divine Scale. He grabbed hold of the holy appliance, muttering – “O’ thee of perfect balance and judgment. I will put you to a better use than what you are being used for now!” He huffed and puffed, carrying the Divine Scale, “I am going to use you as a wedge to keep the Lord’s Door of Mercy open for humanity. That’s what I am going to do with you!” The Scale was saying something in reply, but the man merely retorted, “Speak not to me your arguments! My will is made.”

Lugging the protesting Scale on his back, this man made his way up, then up and then up further still until he reached the furthest edge of his understanding. And there finally, before his eyes he saw the Door of God’s Mercy. But surprisingly the Door was already being kept wide open. He looked up and saw that a hand was holding the door ajar. Then he saw the face of the person to whom the hand belongs, and he blurted amazed, “Prophet of God,…you are here?”

To which, Muhammad Habibullah replied, “Where else would I be?”

The Divine Scale then gently tapped him on his shoulders and said in a tone of mild rebuke, “That is what I have been trying to tell you all this while, mortal.”

Chapter 21 Verse 107 - And we did not send you (o’ Muhammad) except as a mercy to the worlds. (wa maa arsalnaaka il-laa raHmatal lil 'AAlamiyn)

I have read and heard many Sufi tales of the Prophet and the Scale. This isn’t one of them. I know I am knocking my head against the wall of hubris of both Muslims and Non-muslims - of those who are using their idea of Muhammad to propagate their hateful worldview and those who are reacting to this false representation of the Prophet. As a sinner, I am saddened by these believers, who are so busy alienating others and monopolizing God and heaven just for themselves. If this is how believers behave, then really, I don't want to be a believer in their eyes. I just want to be sinner, knocking on Mercy's door...

Have a nice merciful day, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Medina and the Chapter Ya Sin - Umrah Pilgrimage Part 20

WHAT A PITY. One of the first emotions which I crossed my heart when I gazed upon the gilded entrance into the actual tomb of the Prophet was “He looks caged… What a pity.” Later that night while chilling with my companion, Afizan, he also voiced the same feelings – “I don’t know, but when I gazed before the Raudah, I felt pity – that he is visited by thousands upon thousands of his followers each hour of the day, yet he looks imprisoned behind in the Raudah (Literally means ‘the Garden’ and denotes the resting place of the Prophet inside his mosque, Masjid Nabawi).” I thought I was the only one feeling such emotion, but I guess I am not alone.

EASILY PLEASED. While I was sitting by the pavement on my first day in Medina, suddenly a young arab youth sat next to me and asked to borrow my lighter. He said “How are you, brother?” It was a greeting which he obviously thought little of, but to me it meant everything. Finally, a local of the City of the Prophet greeted me as a guest. He then said thank you and left me to my contentment. It doesn’t take much to please me. Not in Medina especially.

CHAPTER YA SIN, VERSE NO. 82. I spent a lot of time in Medina with a room mate whom I call Arjuna. He is a sincere person, charming, energetic and has lived an interesting life though he isn’t very old. In one of our many chats, he had this to share. “I have a teacher of the Tarikat (Sufi Order) in Indonesia. And one day he told me that in the Chapter Ya Sin of the Holy Quran, in particular verse No.82, the bit where it goes “…kun fayakoon…”, it means that God says “kun!” and the Prophet replies “…fayakoon!” Below is the actual verse in Arabic Script and as translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali.

Verily, when He intends a thing, His Command is, "be", and it is!
(Innama amruhu itha aradashay-an an yaqoola lahu kun fayakoonu)

So in summary, what the Sufi teacher is trying to say is that all happenings in Creation from the Year-Minus-Zero till now occurred and is still occuring upon God saying “Be” and the Muhammad replying “And it is!”.

I nodded my head appreciatively, “Cool, cool... I never heard that one before.”, and thereafter kept my silence. Later that night however I remembered our conversation and wrote it down in my journal. For me, it was the best thing so far that I have received in Medina. A third bundle came in the form of a poem to a sinner as he made his solitary walk back from his midnight soiree at the Raudah. And that prose shall be in my next posting about the pilgrimage. But for now I leave you with a little poem recorded some 7 years back, ‘the Nabee’ here meaning the Prophet, Muhammad...

38. Make Me Pretty
o' Lord,
If I am a gift to the Nabee,
Then wrap me up in Your Beauty.

Powder my nose with discretion,
Shade my eyes with compassion,
Scent my breath with remembrance,
Colour my lips with conviction,
Lighten my brow with humility,
And comb my hair with chivalry.

Have a lovely day, sunshine. God bless you.

Pax Taufiqa.

The Hand of God, Lullabies of the Angels & the Wise

Last Saturday, Mikhail had a sleepover at his cousin Aqheel's house. It is the beginning of school holidays here in Malaysia. Of the 3 sons from my eldest brother, the other two being Adam and Imran, I guess it is Aqheel whom Mika likes to spend the most time with, simply because they are both in primary school. Imran is already in high school and Adam is pursuing his creative ambitions in College. There is an infectious enthusiasm when Mika and Aqheel gets together which I find refreshing, amused in their own world of video games, board games and movies.

Mika is a competitive boy but he dislikes being taught because it is a sign of his weakness. Case in point - Heche would tease him as he fails to score points on the PSP. He would get so exasperated, "Okay, here... take it! See if you can do better!" Heche instead suggests to him to see how Aqheel plays the game. His cousin would then take the console and do some serious button crunching combo to annihilate the enemy, "Like this, then this, then this!" But my son completely ignores his cousin's instructions and would instead be watching tv. After some frantic action on the game, Aqheel would pass the PSP back to Mika, "Okay, now you do it." Mika would quietly take the console, then stare at Aqheel blankly, and ask, "So now what?"

Last night, Mika confided in me. "Papa, do you know what is my favourite program on TV now?"

"No, I don't know, Mika." I replied.

"You would be surprised, Papa." then he paused for dramatic effect before continuing, "It's Romance. It's a story about a teenage boy and a teenage girl."


Our kids are going to grow up as fast as they want to. God bless their sweet souls and our only prayer as a parent is that may we not spoil the lullabies being sung to them by the Angels and the Wise.

12. Hand of God
I am in the cradle
Of my heart and thoughts,
Being swayed with gentleness
By the Hand of God, sung to,
With lullabies from
The Angels and the Wise.

Pax Taufiqa.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

He Says She Says - Is it Love or is it Fairness?

He Says She Says
They say they want Love,
But they complain
When the food is too cold,
When she spend too long to get ready,
When he rather be with his buddies
Than spent the night watching Sex & the City.

They say they want Love,
But they complain
When he forgets to say I love you,
When she forgets to pay the bills,
When he laughs at her new hair do,
When she scoffs at his dreams.

They say they want Love,
But they complain
When she says she has a headache,
When he’s off to golf before daybreak,
When she thinks he’s putting too much weight
When he does nothing and simply says its ‘fate’.

They say they want Love,
But they complain
When she burns the soufflé in the oven,
When he says that mother belongs to a coven,
When he forgets to take out the garbage,
When her beauty starts to wither and age.

They say they want Love,
But they complain
When it feels like the affection is not equal,
When the feelings are not always mutual,
When they think they have given so much
And what they get is woefully little.

This is not Love they want…
What they want is Fairness.

Something to think about, sunshine. This thing called Love that we crave? It is more magnificent than mere fairness. Indeed, if everything is 'fair' there won't be any need for Love. or Patience. And what a dull life that would be, bereft of passion and patience.

Pax Taufiqa.

Cats at a Baby Shower

193. The Bookish Cat & the Abyss
I began to read, and in time
I mewed, “It all makes perfect sense!”
But my heart felt cinder dry.

Until he came,
And dewdrops fell from the sky,
Smelling of the sweetest musk,
That threw me down,
Then dragged me, clawing, scratching
And coughing out hairballs,
From the abyss of my own caprice.

The prose was recorded some 7 years ago. The cat was sneaking under my chair yesterday. It took that long to marry off this poem to a suitable picture.

We were at a baby shower yesterday. The happy couple resided outside Kuala Lumpur in a new township near Bangi, about 30 minutes by the highway. We were early and Heche was helping to decorate the place. As the husband left to look for chairs (Yes, Ro - it is good to have chairs at social events, as people generally likes to sit), I left to find a cosy spot for me to write.

There were a couple of restaurants I could choose and for a while I was standing in the middle of the road looking lost. Finally I opted for a restaurant with a red wall. On the red wall was an outdoor sink. And there I sat, drinking Nescafe and writing before kitty here showed up. She was the skinniest cat I have seen for a long time. They are all skinny here. It is only in the city that the strays are fat. When I got back to the house, I found that the party had also attracted the neighbourhood stray cats. And they too were a pretty scrawny bunch. Happily, the father-to-be, although not very good at organizing baby showers, had a kind heart, and left a bowl of cat-food outside for their feline guests. I think it is a good omen for your baby shower to be graced by cats.

As a cat, I rarely cough hairballs now. And I think I know why. Each day when I write my postings, I am compelled to always look on the good side of life. And that is why, you are such an important part of my happiness...

Have a lovely catful Sunday, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

At the Soul's Airport - Still Sinning. Still Writing. Still Building Airplanes.

Dear readers,

All my words you read here in this blog or in my book, they are all written in a state of sin. The sketches are sinful too. The reason is simple really, for when I feel ‘holy’ I cannot write.

The truthful man in witness of the Truth must keep his silence in deference of the adab (right manners) before Love. Truth and Patience, which is God by any other name. So each word I write bears witness and judges me as a sinner. But I am a happy sinner, so don’t worry.

My words are like airplanes. I write them, and hopefully someone will board my rickety flying machines to whatever destination that they desire. I have been writing for more than 10 years really and for 9 years I had no readership and all my planes were parked useless in the hangars of the soul’s airport. Then one day, Heche finally convinced me to blog and in July 2010, I earnestly started to write and incorporate my prose into my postings.

And if some of my co-religionists think I am blurring the lines between religions… well tough luck to them. I am building my planes as big as possible to fit in as many of humanity as possible. This is my job, you see… and I would not do it any other way…

When you do get to where you are suppose to get to, I hope that it will be a Good Place. And remind those Good Folks there of me, because though you are already there, I will continue to remain in the soul’s airport - Still sinning. Still writing. Still building airplanes.

Have a good flight, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa.

Footnote - For the sake of prosperity, I am sticking this post to a Page entitled 'Dear Readers', as you will see on the right column of this blog.

Who is Muhammad and Who is a Muslim?

I am...

I am the servant
Of Sublime Delicacy,

I am the agent
Of the Utmost Sensitivity,

I am the gift
Of Divine Mercy,

I am the Most Beloved of God,

The Bar above the Dot,

Wrapped in a
Fragile Humanity.

I was out past midnight with my friend, Longhair, when all virtuous people have already gone to sleep. We spoke about God, love, woman and sex. I said that men (okay, let's just say me alone) are perpetually in the movie, 'Sixth Sense', but unlike the spooky little boy who could see dead people, I would instead whisper breathlessly "...I see hot babes...".

We also spoke about Muhammad. He reminded me of an old sunnah (tradition) of the Prophet - One day, he was asked, "Who is a Muslim?" To which Muhammad Habibullah replied, "It is he from whom anyone need not fear harm, whether to be caused by his hands or his words."

I think today is as good as any day for you Muslims to raise the Bar and reject the deformed perception of many of your co-religionists who are changing their Faith of Moderation to suit their violent and bigoted ideas of what makes a Muslim.

Have a harmless Sabbath, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa.

Footnote - Picture is the interior of al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem. Courtesy of Syful Studios.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Forgive God

The Angel plucked me from the sea and she whispered,

"Why did you try to kill yourself?"

"Because God hasn't forgiven me." I muttered.

"You silly-billy. Of course He hasn't...,

Because you haven't forgiven Him."

Despair, anger, sorrow. Let's face it, sunshine. We blame God all the time. We just dress our dissatisfaction and disguise our grumbling by blaming some indirect cause, when all causes occur through His Will.

We have been taught that there is always someone to be blamed. Who left the fridge door open? Who did not keep an eye on the baby? Who let mother die? Who took a loan which he cannot pay? Who ran over Spotty? You? Your husband? Your wife? Your friend? The neighbour next door? There is always someone to be blamed but at the end of it all, you only end up blaming God, albeit indirectly.

Don't play the blame game, pet. Stick to forgiveness and understanding... because if you cruelly judge God, then one day will come when you will realise that, all along, you have been cruelly judging yourself... Then where will you run to?

Was it not Rumi himself who said that this world is perfect, and whatever woe and ugliness we see in it is through our own mirror and a reflection of our own imperfections?

Oh come on now! There must be someone I can blame. Yes, sunshine. You can blame Love. The very reason behind your existence...

Think about it.

Pax Taufiqa.

Two Poems & Paradise

13. My patience and God’s Will
I do not live by strength or weakness,
Wealth or poverty.
Nothing changes me,
And to me,
Patience and will
Is my best company –
My patience and
God’s Will.

17. Choice
I do not know what
May happen a moment
From now,
But I do know that
It is my choice to meet
Any happenstance
With either impatience
Or patience.

By choosing patience,
I choose happiness, and
Take my place in the
Right side of Fate.

Good morning, sunshine. It's a lovely day here in Paradise. Iqbal, the boss of the coffee shop here greets me with a smile and a Salam, and around me people are having their tea and coffee. The air is not too hot or too cold and my own beverage, milky tea with ginger is sitting warmly in a cup. The food here ain't very good (to be honest here), but I go where the faces are friendly and the service polite. Sometimes, on a good day, Iqbal would cut 10 or 20 sens from the price of my food. When I asked why, he would only smile, waving his hand saying, "Nothing, nothing, no problem..."

But it is not nothing. It is always something to receive kindness. And I guess if my idea of Paradise is woefully low in expectations, I don't mind really. I am happy, and isn't Paradise about happiness?

Thank you to God the Almighty Purveyor of Good Restaurants and Good Hearts (even if the food is kinda so-so).

Have a happy and patient day, sunshine. After all... its Friday! Wuu Huuuu!

Pax Taufiqa.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Impossibility of Proving that God doesn't Exist

I have no problems with Atheists. So long as they don't bug me. Indeed, as I have made clear in some earlier postings, there are a couple of Atheists which I am very fond of, like Bill Maher and Brian Eno.(Read 'Richard Dawkins is not Godless, the Essence of Belief and Disbelief, and a Bagel' here and 'Practice makes the Perfect Swing, Revelation or Evolution, Hubris, God the All-Excuse, Planet Xylophone and Bill Maher' here). Note to self - I must stop writing this long titles!

Dear Atheist, if you want to convince me that God doesn't exist, this is what you gotta do - You have to climb out of Creation (and here I will give you allowance and keep the meaning of Creation limited to the physical universe, and not count the endless number of angels, djinns, other worlds and heavens which you after all, do not believe in), and you make sure for me that God is not there. Pop your head out from Creation and ask for God, "Hullo! Hullo! Any deity home?" If God doesn't answer then please sign me up now as a life-time member of the no-god-brigade. I will be your man.

Waitaminute... You are saying that you cannot climb out of the Universe? You haven't even reached Mars yet? Ah, well, then that is not really my problem, is it?

Smug. I know, sunshine... this posting is a little smug. But I am tired sometimes of people saying there is no God as if it is a proven fact. It is not, indeed, it is impossible to prove God doesn't exist. But okay, I am willing to sign an armistice today... Let us agree that the way of the conscience is acceptable for everyone, because I do not think that any religious or atheistic dogma should impose something which is unconscionable. And this I believe from the top of my curly black locks down to my tiny twinkly toes.

Have a nice peaceful day, pet.

Pax Taufiqa.

God is an Autobahn (where you can drive your ambition without worrying about speed traps or running out of fuel)

Don’t you think that God has the biggest Ego of them all? Why, He cannot stand even having just one name. In Muslim lore, God has to have 99 names, and that is just what’s revealed. And He has engaged cohorts of fuzzy-minded poets and sinners (like yours truly) to evoke His Infinite Glory and Utter Awesomeness. But God’s Ego is the supreme shade and protection for mankind because it is under His Ego that we seek shelter from the harmful deception of our own egos which constantly seek to trip us in our Path to Him. And the same thing goes for the Egos of Prophets and Saints. For it is in their Commanding Spirit that their followers seek shelter and solace, their guided words and action residing not in the ego of the lower nafs (earthly desires, our egos), but upon the commanding heights of God’s revelations which spur their life-force beyond the understanding of ordinary humans.

Let’s face it, sunshine, most of us are not exactly the vanguard of virtues. We make our stumbling and often confused way through life’s maze and puzzle, making Saints roll up their eyes muttering, “Oh Lord, look at this dumb kid…” and Angels cringe in dismay. But in some ways you are also connected to the Divine, the Saints, the Prophets and to God Himself. So you also have the propensity to do good. And if you believe that good needs to be done by ambition, then ride that ambition, baby…

If you want to build a majestic church, a Shinto temple, a pretty mosque, wherein people will praise and glorify God, then build it invite everyone and raise the Flag of Love and Unity high above the parapets.

If you want to bake the most awesome cupcakes to sell and donate the proceeds to an orphanage, then bake them and make people happy.

If you want to climb Mount Everest to sing praise to God Who is higher than the highest peak on earth, then climb it, but carry your own luggage and don’t use Shepas.

If you want to write the most beautiful songs, or choreograph the most amazing dance you can imagine to manifest Love, then compose the songs and choreograph the dance and set Broadway and the West End ablaze.

Just do it all, please.


Because you can do it, sunshine. You can do it.
Paulo Coelho, in his book, ‘The Alchemist’ once wrote that the most important lesson in life to unlearn is the lesson which we learnt while growing up – that we are somehow limited by circumstances and (God Forbid!) ourselves and thus we must be ‘realistic’ in our expectations and ambition.

But in the name of the Forgiver of Sinners, there is no reality unless we believe in it. So disbelieve the imaginary chains and let your ambition take fruit in the soil of your soul. If watered by Compassion, if tilled with Mercy, if seeded with Love and Sincerity… my dearest friend…, my beautiful readers, there is no limit as to how far or fast you can go - For the Love of God is an autobahn where you can drive your ambition without worrying about speed traps or running out of fuel.

This posting sounds like it deserves a theme song. And I do believe I have the right one right here. It’s from Rascal Flatts and it’s called ‘Life is a Highway’ -
Click Here.

Let the music play and let your dreams bloom, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Love of Love vs The Love of Hate

You will always be The Other

Life is about offering your hand to another,

Life is about sharing your food with another,

Life is about sharing your bed with another,

Life is about sharing the burden of one another,

Life is about keeping promises to one another,

Life is about sacrificing your life for the life of another,

Life is about looking out after one another,

So life isn't about you at all, it is all about the other...

But to someone else who loves you,

You will always be The Other...

I am quite in love with love, as in the idea of love. After all, in the great Cosmic Plan of the Almighty Creator, He need not have created love. But He did, and it is a Sublime Gift to humanity, that we may unite through Love. But there are also those who are united by Hate - who find assurance in the company of others who share the same jealousies, inferiority, despair, sorrow, arrogance, hubris and hate that have pickled their perception of other people. To them, 'the others' are not to be loved... 'the others' are to be feared and despised.

Often these groups fool themselves into thinking that it is love that binds them together. They are often a closed group with closed minds and hearts, and such people are well dispersed in all sort of human associations - be it a political, racial, religious, national, economic or social sub-group. Be cautious of them, sunshine, whether they are in a Christian society, a Jewish sect, a Muslim madrasah, a street gang, a political party, an atheist's club or even a Neighbourhood Watch. They will say to you that they are offering love, but it is in truth the Love of Hate, a poisonous and bent facsimile of real love.

Have a friendful and loveful Wednesday, pet.

Pax Taufiqa.

The Nature of Happiness - Have Hope and Remember

29. Real Happiness for God, Veil of Happiness for Mankind
For God, and those God has appointed unto you
As your Prophet and Saints,
Present unto Him and He
And unto them
Happiness both Real and Apparent,
For that is your highest obligation
In praise of Love and Mercy.

For your fellow brothers and sisters,
Present unto them
The Veil of Happiness,
Which is only Apparent.
For that is your highest obligation to them
In praise of Love and Mercy.

So now you ask me,
“So will I ever share real happiness?”

Yes, of course.
Whenever you cry out, “Oh God.”
In the unveiling of who you really are,
In the love and passing of your parents,
In the unveiling of your mate,
In the ecstasy of your wedding bed,
In the life of your child,
In the sighs of growing old,
And upon your lips,
In your last breath,
As you die.

Do not fret,
He will be there, o’ seeker.
Have hope
And remember.

This is a good place where we are, pet. Because here, in this mortal coil we can discern a little of eternity. But what of eternity if we are not happy? I do not wish for an eternity to be miserable. So far however, the pre-screening of eternity that we have seen is good. It is all good. I am a sinner, you see. But I am also a cheer leader of life, and of you.

And for so long as you have hope, you have nothing to fear. For hope is the bridge that connects Man to the Divine. So do not despair in your unpaid bills, your unrequited love or your spilled milk. Retreat, replan and rise again. You are not hopeless, sunshine. ...Have Hope and Remember.

Pax Taufiqa.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I am a SuperHero! (Super Psycho Bunny with B.O.)

Mikhail, age 7 - "This is you, Papa. I draw you with a shield and there is a pipe under your armpit that have smelly gases coming out. You have four eyes.

And you have big whiskers that shoot air. You have a face like a bunny. And big whiskers too. But don’t worry, because your whiskers can shoot bullets.

See, on your leg, you have armor on your knee. And around your torso you have belts. And a tail...

And on your shoes you have spikes. So you can kick people. And cause blood."

Have a happy day, sunshine. For me, my existence is validated... at least for 24 hours. Because...*sob*...my son thinks of me as superhero! Albeit with a rabbit face, body odour issues and a habit of kicking people around...

Pax Taufiqa

I am Nothing but a Mirror of You

I am Nothing but a Mirror of You
What little I have of Generosity
I borrow from Mother,
What little I have of Ambition
I borrow from Father,
What little I have of Taste
I borrow from Abang Cik,
What little I have of Passion
I borrow from Abang Ein,
What little I have of Grace
I borrow from Mak Ndak,
What little I have of Chutzpah
I borrow from Mak Su,
What little I have of strength
I borrow from Ariffin,
What little I know of Ping Pong
I borrow from Pak Su,
What little I have of Writing
I borrow from Tolkien, Bryson,
Herriot and Wodehouse,
What little I have of Charm
I borrow from Shahzad,
What little I have of Promise
I borrow from Russell,
What little I have of Salvation
I borrow from Katherine,
What little I have of Compassion
I borrow from Abang Shem,
What little I have of Acumen
I borrow from Amirul,
What little I have of style
I borrow from Feisal,
What little I have of Happiness
I borrow from Mikhail,
And what little I have of Honesty
I borrow from Sumathi.

But whatever I have of Folly
I borrow from none but me.

So come into my life, sunshine
And join the Distinguished List,

To extinguish me as I am
By your sweet virtue,

To make me less of me
By borrowing some of you,

Until I am Nothing
But a Mirror of You.

We all have people we look up to. People we admire and wish, "Damn, I wish I was like him/her!" Well, since each word that stumble from our unthinking lips is essentially a prayer, then I don't see how it is possible that God won't answer you. Come into my heart and light my white lilies, sunshine. I have many switches, pick one, and turn me on.

Have a sublime 24 hours, sunshine. Until the next 24 hours.

Pax Taufiqa.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Fountain of "I" and Patience

71. The Fountain
I approach the Fountain
And reflected in its waters I saw the sky,
As I came closer
I saw the mountains and trees,
As I came closer
I saw the meadows and valleys,
As I came even closer
I saw the hosts of humanity,
As I arrived and peered straight into its waters
I saw no one,
No meadows,
No valleys,
No mountains,
No trees,
Not even the sky.
I only saw I.

Someone real old and real dead once cornered me in the hollow of my sadness. And this was what he had to say to me, "My dear fellow, whenever I feel let down, whether by myself or someone else, I go the Fountain. And there I will find the balm to heal all my heart's dismay. Because there I realise that although I cannot control whatever happens to me, I can still choose how I react to it. Because if life is entirely about perception, then the world's reality is entirely dependant on how I perceive it to be. And I choose to perceive the world to be perfect in all its essence, and to be beautiful in all its form."

"But how do I master my own perception", I asked.

To which he replied, "Patience must come before perception".

Pax Taufiqa.

The Good Sinner

I always wanted to be a good believer. Whenever life became uncertain and unhappy, I always said to myself – "Taufiq, old’ boy. Maybe you should try to be a good believer". When I recall my life, it happened on four distinctive occasions.

I was 13 years old. I don’t know why, but I felt I needed more structure and order in my life. I even wanted my parents to send me to a residential school (which is quite funny really because I dropped out of one not more than a year before). Well, my mother said no, so I started to pray more instead. But the religion and its rituals did not suit my taste back then. Guided simply by ordinary religious books, Islam failed to titillate my taste buds and soon I got bored.

I was 18 years old. I was in college and I guess I was impressed by the kindness and discipline of some of my friends. Essentially, they can be broken into 4 parties. First, the non-affliated groups who had no interest in joining any recognized group of Muslim students. The other 3 were the PAS affiliated chaps (PAS is the biggest Muslim faith based political party in Malaysia), the Abim boys (kinda pro-government Muslim movement popular amongst college and university students) and finally the famous Tabligh guys (the Muslim missionary movement started in the Indian subcontinent and whose name is derived from one of the Prophet’s 4 essential characteristic meaning ‘to transmit / to inform’). I tried to change my sinful ways but none of the groups however piqued my curiosity and certainly not enough to drag my attention away from my No.1 curiosity (or you can call it obsession, to be brutally honest here), which was, of course, girls. I was never in co-ed school, you see. So being in close proximity with these lovely and graceful creatures consumed my waking and sleeping hours. I was besotted, so not much movement on the God front at this point in time, although I did try (a little).

I was 22 years old and studying in the UK. I had a brief moment of trying to be holy but again, neither praying nor books I found in the Islamic Centre library really kept my attention. I was more interested in cooking, British morning television ('Ann & Nick'), the game of Snooker, and once again, girls. Am I never to be ‘holy?

Finally at the age of 34, I decided to drop in on a Sufi Tarikat franchise situated (conveniently) just about 5 minutes walk from my house - And life has never been quite the same since. Oh, there is absolutely no change in me. I am not holy at all and still keep to my habitual cursing and sinning. Why, only yesterday evening my son Mikhail commented, “Papa, you have anger issues…”. I guess this is because I am still at the stage of listening and not (really) obeying. I am not very good at following orders and instructions, you see.

But what I have found in this school of kind-hearted, open-minded and forgiving association of fine (and not so fine) individuals is a new look at God, Love and Life. The perception which was borrowed to me, or perhaps I stole from the Masters’ eyes is to see a world of infinite possibilities, to see the good that is in all of us, to see the beauty in the peace and discord of mankind, to lie awake at night and wonder just how cool God and His Prophet are, to have a tenacious and stubborn belief in the inherent goodness of people whatever bad news the mass media may be peddling at any given point in time, to find Love in the smallest gestures and in the biggest spectacle of human drama, to always feel loved, to always know that I am listened to, to feel empathy for those who do not feel the way I do, and to try and be patient (I am still working at that, sunshine), and finally, to be the best me that I can be, whatever or whoever that may be.

So I am not interested in being holy anymore, sunshine. I leave that to the Masters and good students of the Order. Here, where I am now, I am just trying to be a good sinner…

27. The Good Sinner
I am learning to carry
The good manners of a sinner,
A hypocrite and a charlatan.

Whither I go,
What shall become of me thereafter,
I do not know.
Have a productive Monday, pet.

Pax Taufiqa.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Motherhood, Womanhood and Godhood

Get Me Down From Here
There is no good raising my mother on a pedestal,
For she will only say…
“Hey, get me down from here, I look ridiculous!

There is no good praising her with praise,
For she will only say…
“That is not important, what is important is you.”

There is no good putting up many pictures of her in my house
For she will only say…
“That is just too much, take some of them down.”

There is no good reminding people of her,
For they will only say…
“How can I forget your mother, she was so friendly!”

And finally, there is no good writing poems of her,
For she will only say…
Really, you are wasting your time with this frivolous activity!

COOKIE. My mother, God bless her sweet soul, is an awesome cook. And that means getting the ingredients as fresh (and as cheap) as possible at the neighbourhood wet markets. Thanks to my father who gave her considerable allowance for housekeeping, she was not only able to keep her family fed (perhaps too well) but also feed close and far relatives and friends, all day, every day. In her lifetime, our house was a hive of hospitality, and my Mom was the queen bee.

WOMANHOOD AND GODHOOD. Technology of the Heart is a blog I used to frequent a lot, but of late, between work and my own writing I have had very little time to read blogs or books (I have 3 books still waiting for me to complete). So I count myself lucky to drop in today because there I read 'Divine Feminine in Islam and Fatima' (Parts 1 and 2 – Click Here). It is a sublime and indepth exposition on the idea and ideal on women and femininity in Islam. If you are a rare visitor to the Sufi world, or even like me, an occasional trespasser in mysticism, you will still be amazed by what is written... I kid you not.

I write a lot about my mother. But I bet she is like all mothers out there, caring, loving and with a stubborn belief in the goodness and promise of their children. We must not let them down, sunshine... I know you won't.

God bless God, and God bless Motherhood and Womanhood.

Pax Taufiqa.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Life is full of storms... but it can also be full of Meringue

22. Spiritual Contentment
Some ships while their days
In false harbours and riverines
When there are Seas to be crossed
And storms to be conquered.

MERINGUE. There is perhaps nothing more finer when you are stuck in a Burger King, in the middle of a nightly tropic thunderstorm, for a girl who loves you to show up unplanned with a box of mixed berries meringue.

THE BEST. Sometime last week, Mika and I was awoken by the thunder of God, electrifying the night air. It felt like a lightning hit the earth just outside the balcony of our room, the door of which was open to the wild orchestra occuring outside. Mika was beside himself and shouting "Papa! Papa! Papa!", so I immediately hugged him and gently assured him repeatedly that it was just thunder and that everything was going to be alright. Poor kid. He trembled in my arm for awhile before finally succumbing to sleep once again, while outside the rain was still pouring like someone in Heaven forgot to turn off the tap. A couple of hours later I was awake again and gently nudged Mika to wake him up for school. He opened his eyes, smiled and simply said, "You are the best, Papa." Later that morning, in the empty lot across the road from my house I found a big tree uprooted and lying on its side. So the lightning did fall just yards outside from my room.

BAKING TIP. My beloved city of Kuala Lumpur has been hit by rainstorm every evening for the past five days. This is not a good time for anyone to make mixed-berries meringue, because it is not recommended to make mixed-berries meringue (or any meringue in fact) during a rainy day or when the air is humid. Heche just googled this up and I wanna slip in some useful information in this posting.

CONCLUSION. Life is like sailing, sunshine. But there is always a flock of seagulls hovering near our ship. This means that land is never far away, and that God's heaven is the next stop for all of us. But before we get to God's Harbour, we must accept the storms that often come at sea as part of our life, for in its raging tempest is the wild unstoppable beauty of Fate's ultimate power over us - to teach us reflection, humility and submission.

But life is not all about ducking for cover from the storms, because along the way we also get goodies, like being called 'the best' by your child even though you are far from being the best at anything. And that I think is simply awesome, just like meringue.

I am happy. Happier than I have been for a very long time. Thank you for allowing me to share my happiness with you, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa.

When Your Father is a Day-Dreamer, You Better be a Real Trooper

A couple of years back, I think Mikhail was about 5 years old when I accidentally closed the driver’s door of my little hatchback on my little son’s fingers. I did not notice that he had placed his hand on the edge of the rear door and when I turn around, he was already screaming and crying.

Lucky for us that there was a gap between the two doors so neither was his finger cut or his nail torn off. Mika cried, he bawled, but in 10 minutes he was sitting in the sofa, sniffling quietly and watching tv. The doctor who examined him later said that there was no permanent injury, just some swelling which should abate in a day or so. But my own feeling of guilt did not end. Remembering how Mikhail kept on saying, “Sorry, Papa… sorry, Papaa…” (as if it’s his fault) in between his heart-breaking sobs, it just made me feel worst.

I felt like a complete moron. A fool of a father, a day-dreaming daddy… and just for that moment in time before the accident occurred, how I wished that I was perfect. That I had eyes on the back of my neck and saw what Mika was doing. Or at the very least attentive of the fact that when you are closing doors and a 5 year old is in the vicinity, it’s always a good idea to know where he exactly is and what is he doing before closing the door shut.

9. Perfection – parental accidental (Ran)
The Lord is necessarily perfect,
In Love and Devotion,
To compensate for our imperfections.

O’ fathers who curse in grief,
O’ mothers who faint in despair,
See the parables in yourselves,
And within your sons and daughters!

I ended the day thankful that Mika was not terribly injured. That he had innards of steel beneath his skin - a real trooper. So perhaps that is the lesson to be learnt on that day. That and the fact that as a father, I need to be more aware of my surrounding.

And Perfection? God is Perfect not because He stops accidents from happening (obviously He doesn’t Do that). He is Perfect in guiding us to better understand ourselves and our children. And guiding us to the beautiful virtues on display by fathers and mothers all around the world. Within the lesson that we learn, sometimes hard lessons, sometimes soft lessons, is the Delicate Reality of God’s Divine Beauty and His Love for all His creation. I am happy that God is God that way.

Pax Taufiqa.

Don't eat Bacon, but Love the Pig

According to James Herriot, the late great vet of the Yorkshire Dales, there are good pigs and bad pigs. There are pigs that were once cute little piglets but when they grew up, turned into grumpy and short-tempered giant sows. There are also old kindly pigs, emanating kindness and general love-all attitude from their sty.

I think it is important to reflect upon the pig. It is famously known that Jews and Muslims, by their laws, aren’t suppose to eat pigs. But we are not suppose to despise them, after all, they are also one of God’s creatures.

I have a close affinity to pigs. Like the pig, I am also fat and have excellent appetite. And as a group we sinners are often despised too, just like pigs. People simply forget that often, when they look into the nature of what they presume to hate, they will only find their own prejudiced selves, reflected upon someone or something that have never in fact done them any wrong. So I like the Christian saying... “hate the sin, love the sinner.”

And I want to add another one for the book… “Don’t eat bacon, but love the pig”.

Have a safe Sabbath, pet.

Pax Taufiqa.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Miser & the Robber

Life is about sharing. This is not easy for me to say because I am not naturally generous. I count pennies and when I do give I check my wallet to see if I still have money for tomorrow. I am that sorta guy, you see. But sometimes we just gotta share when it is simply too selfish to keep the posies of prose to yourself. And for the first time ever in the Sinners' Almanac, I am sharing two prose from another pen. The pen belongs to Russell Streur, a friend I never knew I had.

1. Miser in Hard Harbor
Here in hard harbor
No sign of spring
Only cold rain
And barren wind
Each step north and another
Farther from your arms

I'm a miser
On a night like this
Hoarding every moon
We’ve slept beneath
Spending every coin in my purse
To buy back

The thousand miles
Separating us.


2. Robber Chih's Rules of Life
Eat the livers of your enemies.
Camp on the sunny side of the mountain.
Don’t listen to babble.
Laugh more.
Cherish every moment fate grants.

Eyes yearn for color.
Ears for music.
The mouth for flavor.
Gratify desire.

Discover the hiding places.
Steal only what’s worth stealing.
Be the first to take it.
Be the last to lose it.
Share the loot equally.

It's Friday night here in Kuala Lumpur.

Wherever you may be, have a great weekend, sunshine.

Pax Taufiqa.

Love on the Road with Anis

I have known Anis for a long time. We were in college together, and even back then it was apparent to me that she will be one of the 'different' ones. I recall her showing me a letter from George Lucas's (or is it Steven Spielberg's? Sorry, Anis, if I err here) production company addressed to her. I remember holding the letter like it was written on goldpaper. Anyway, Anis, being a big fan of the Lord of the Ring trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien wanted to ask the great movie maestro whether he would be interested to put Frodo, Aragon, Gandalf and Smeagol on the silver screen. Well, the studio replied and basically said that such a movie is not in the offing, however, they are planning to produce a movie called Willow which is also fantasy based. The movie was released sometime in 1988, and collected almost USD58 million in the US alone.

I bumped into her travel blog recently and found a short write-up entitled "Love on the Road". I found it to be witty and interesting. I for one, never had the risk of falling in love on the road. Simply because I am seldom on the road. But perhaps you are the sort that would be travelling half of the year, all over the world, and may need advice on managing airport-terminal affairs and hotel lobby liaisons. If you would like to read her observations on this (and other random thoughts that she may be entertaining at any given time), just Click Here.

Thank God it's Friday!

Pax Taufiqa.

My Mother, the Rice People and the Nail Demon

In her dedicated mission for Taufiq to get some 'smarts', I was enrolled as a student into a University. Did I get them smarts? I don't know, but I certainly got fatter. (From right; the sinner, me mum, Raja Nushirwan, Faizal and the shadowy apparition taking the picture is Shamsul)

I was never too bright. And at one time in my life, I was even skinny. When I was about 5 - 6 years old my mother's friends used to tease her, "Oh, Ba' yah, Don't you feed your son? Look at the scrawny little thing". And the fact I used to get sick almost every month finally persuaded my mother to take drastic measures. She told me a story. Not just any story, mind you, but a big whopper of a lie.

So one day, she took me aside away from prying eyes and informed her youngest son, "Peq (that is what she calls me), do you know that if you don't finish your rice, the rice left in the plate will cry." She paused for dramatic effect, then asked me, "What do you think about that then?" I found that snippet of information interesting, but otherwise I was not affected, I told her. My mom sighed and decided to bring her deception to a higher level. "Well, not only do they cry, but they get angry and will want to punish you!" Finally she caught my attention. At 5 years old, the word 'punish' is very relevant to me. "Angry? What do you mean, Mama?"

"Listen, Peq. When you go to bed, those little rice men will be hiding under your bed, and the moment you fall asleep, they will climb up and carry you off", my mother elaborated. "Whaa? Carry me off where?" I asked, staring at her fearfully. "To the sea, Peq. They will drop you into the middle of the sea." Gulp.

Even at that young age, I had a strong sense of self-preservation. Never mind that I have always been leaving rice unfinished in my plate and still woke up the next morning on dry land and in my bed. Nevermind that any other 5 year old kid would doubt the physical ability of cooked white rice to carry anyone off anywhere, I believed my mom, you see.

So from that day onwards, it became a nightly ritual for me to nervously peer under the bed to see if any of those evil little rice people were there. And I think I started to eat more too, because it was around then that I started my life-long love affair with Maggi Mee instant noodles (curry and chicken flavour) and fried chicken. Some 10 years later, she would have reason to regret her success as my mother pondered upon her fat little son's figure, and started putting me on all sorts of diets to slow down my galloping weight gain.

But I also recall another round of scaremongering by my Mum. From the particular family I was brought up in, to say 'aku' is a big no-no. What is 'aku', you ask? Well, it simply means 'I' or 'me'. But it was considered rude and common to use it, so my mom always said that if I ever say 'aku', then the 'Hantu Paku' (the Nail Ghost) will come and get me. Yes, I know, my young life was full of malicious spirits bent on killing me. Anyway, I wondered how the Hantu Paku looks like, then I saw a picture... it was in my brothers' room. It was frightening... and surely that guy on the right must be the Hantu Paku! See picture below.

Signs of my dubious intellectual standards didn't just stop there. Up to 8 years old at least, I thought that all those people being gunned down or falling off buildings in television dramas and action movies actually do in fact die. Concepts of stuntmen and special effects were unknown to me back then, but strangely I had some grasp of insurance - "Hmm...", I thought, "Maybe these are really poor people, and they take life insurance before voluntarily dying on camera so that their family can pick up the insurance claim. How sad!"

And for the longest time I also thought that raisins came from a raisin tree. But I guess one of the signal example of my hazy concept of reality had to do with cigarette butts. You see, I speak Malay, and I called cigarette butts 'puting rokok'. And 'puting rokok' in Malay means cigarette teat, so you see I at least had some rationale behind it. You don't smoke a teat... but you know...err babies... You get what I mean. Plus it sounded close to the correct word. Oh how my friends laughed when they heard me say it. No, you fool, they said, its 'puntung rokok' and not 'puting rokok'! Initially I refused to believe them, thinking my teat-theory correct, until finally they showed me a Malay dictionary. Oh... I see.

So not only can I really be dumb, but I can be stubbornly ignorant. And that is why my mother is a saint for loving me, and despite all evidence to the contrary, believing that her son is smart and would perhaps prove to be a productive human being some day. She is a mum, you see. And I guess all mothers are super-optimistic that way about their children. God bless their sweet souls...

Pax Taufiqa.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

We are all 'Live' Performances from One Single Concerto of Love

2. Music, Truth and Mercy
Music is prohibited for none,
Advisable for a few,
Optional for others,
Highly recommended for the rest,
And mandatory for a number.

Truth is for all.
And Mercy is for the asking.

No two 'live' playing of a song is ever the same. To replicate accurately the way Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played his concertos is to be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart playing his concertos. And even then, each performance of his music will be different from one to the next. There are simply immeasurable factors to replicate accurately.

I think mankind is a 'live' performance of God’s Own Concerto. Each man is different from another man. Each Eve is absolutely different from another Eve. And it gets even more cloudy when the Taufiq typing this blog now is different from the Taufiq having his lunch some five hours ago. Thus we are different from each other, and in ourselves we are different from one moment to the next. And yet, we have only One Conductor, and the piece of music that we manifest resonates from One Single Concerto of Love.

I am no renaissance man. My musical interest spans classical music, the happy hippies of the 60s, the rockers of the 70s, the happy (but hideous fashion) New Wavers of the 80s, right up to the new millennium. I am happy with Bach, Mozart, Duran Duran, the Carpenters, the Who, and yes... even Lady GaGa (despite her music videos being both ridiculous and contrived)

Music crosses borders, sexes, race and religion. I could be hearing the words of the Band Perry, Cat Stevens (aka Yusuf Islam) or Led Zeppelin… but to my soul’s ear, it is one single lament for love, a yearning for the Divine Infinity while we are still tied to our very human mortality.

It is all good and beautiful, sunshine. What is love without a little yearning?

And as the prose says… Truth is for all, and Mercy is for the asking. So ask...

Pax Taufiqa.

If you are a newbie, I have written earlier postings on music. Here are some of them -

God, Prophet & Rock & Roll (Click Here), God, Prophet and Rock & Roll Part 2 (Click Here), Night of the Nightingales (Click Here), God took away my chance to die young - The Band Perry (Click Here).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Good Shepherds vs the Bad Shepherds and Their Roulette of Faiths

Many of the Prophets of old were Shepherds, literally speaking. And from their work, the analogy of the Shepherd and His Flock came about. It makes sense, and in terms of prose it is good copywriting (I appreciate this things).

Well, we still have our shepherds of mankind now (Should they be called manherds?). But there are good shepherds and there are bad shepherds. How do we distinguish whom to follow? Well, if you wish to listen to a sinner (and I cannot imagine why you should), I have a clue. It is easy, really - Just follow the one shepherd that is accepting all sorts of sheep into his care. Don’t follow the one that is alienating and ostracizing humanity. He is not going to bring you to God. He is only interested in increasing his flock. Raising his bet in the Roulette Table of Faiths. It is a game for his ego and hubris. Don’t be another casino chip in his hand. You, sunshine… you are meant for God. You are not meant to be a pawn.

60. Do they think they can deceive God?
If anything we must know,
We must know that
We don’t own God,
So it disturbs me so
To find preachers declaring
That the God worshiped
By the so-called unbelievers
Is somehow different to the God worshiped
By the so-called believers!

While there is urgent need
To build bridges,
These half-wits are
Building walls,
Yea, walls of the asylum!

And nay, this disease
Is not attributable solely
To the Muslims.

It is a contagion affecting
The so-called hierarchy
Of all religions,
Seeing themselves fit
To apportion mankind
To their
Individual fiefdoms
And flocks.

They can deceive men...
But do they think they can deceive God?

We are all born into His flock. And I have certainty in in Psalm 23.1 of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. I believe it simply because I believe it, so really... does it matter that If I believe it in Islam? And does it matter if you believe it in Christianity? Or Buddhism? Or Judaism? Or Hinduism? Submission to the Shepherd, submission to His Caring Ways, in our sleep at night, and awake all day. What want is left for us, when we are in His Embrace always?

So why are people fighting at all? Ah yes. We gotta blame the bad shepherds in Islam and Christianity - The bad shepherds in all religion.

Happily, where there is bad, there is always good. God bless all good shepherds, toiling to do their best in whatever creed that they may wear. For they may call unto God by another name, but what they mean behind the name, we all share.

Amen, Amin.

Pax Taufiqa.