Monday, May 23, 2011

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.

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