Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year 2012! - In the valley with a donkey

15. One Day in the Valley
For many years, I wandered like an aimless fool.

Then one morning the Sun pierced the valley gloom
And I realized I was on the back of a donkey.

Glancing down I saw there was a loose rein and halter.

A man then appeared, he took the rein and placed it in my hand.

He instructed me, “Follow me as best you can.”

But looking at my willful donkey’s head, I grew nervous.
I cried to the man, “Wouldn’t it be easier for you to hold the rein and lead the donkey yourself?”

He glanced back and smiled, “That is not the way. That was not the way of my Master nor shall it be mine.”

Suddenly he laughed and concluded,

“And who’s to say that one day, your hand shall not come to resemble mine and you start to question; Who is really riding this donkey? Me or him?”

Then he started walking. I followed his retreating back, goading my donkey to keep up, while it’s anguished brays filled the still air of the valley.

New Year Resolutions. The noblest resolution is to control your willful ego, which in the above story is manifested in the donkey. You know, if I have a quicker and easier way to tame our ego, I would share it with you. People often talk about fasting, which is good at disciplining our body's appetite. But complete fasting is not only staying away from food and water from sunrise to sunset. It is also staying away from bad thoughts, controlling what our mouths say, what our eyes see, what our ears hear and what our mind thinks.

Hmm. Even that sounds difficult.

But we are here, already created. Let loose into the valley of life by God. Surely if we are here, God must know something we don't about ourselves. I think we should take it as a challenge to find out exactly what that is.

So that's my new year's resolution for 2012... to better control my rampant ego, and to find out what God sees in us. The question is, will 365 days be enough?

Happy new year, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Nobody Told Me This

Nobody Told Me This
Nobody told me
That I would miss you.
My mind tells me it is impossible
To miss someone I
Have never met.
How is it possible to miss you so,
And how can this yearning my soul forget?

Now people tell me
That you are a dead,
Then why do your voice
In my heart resonate?
They call me mad,
They say that thoughts of you
Will make all good things go bad,
They blame my love for you
For all that is wrong in the world,
Do they not feel love before?
Have they not fallen in love ever?
As a girl for a boy and a boy for a girl?

As if you would hurt anything…
Or ask hurt to be done in your name…

I have no analogy fitting for you,
Though you filled this world with parables
And clues of you,

But now
My pen is broken,
And the night is raining peace,
No more wars in my heart
No more wars for my heart
It is yours already…
Broken, healed and tamed,
So let me hear my heart
Speak your name
Once again.

Hullo, sunshine. Are you getting to know God already? If so, then good luck! Love for God, love from God is a theme that you can create and recreate upon a canvas as big as all Creation itself. It is often boundless and limitless, thus also difficult to put your finger on it.

Like all relationships, it will be fraught with some misunderstanding and miscommunication. But unlike any other relationship, the fault will always lie with us and not God, though we often blame Him for it. As for God, He simply has to bear with having a relationship with such a dodo and fallible creature like Man. We are lucky because God is well... God.

So God bless God, and may God brighten your day with sparkly truths and pearls of consummate love and mercy on this Sabbath. As David Soul once sang... Don't give up on us... baaaby...

Pax Taufiqa

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Friday, December 30, 2011

WHAT GOD WANTS OF US - the ego-nafs, prophets and saints, devils and other stuffs

13. Beware
Even the ego
Will love the Shaykh,
But for its own
Selfish reasons.

Beware, beware, beware!

14. Beware II
Even the ego
Will despise Satan,
But for its own
Selfish reasons.

Beware, beware, beware!

The Ego. Love, distilled from the impurities of the human ego, would be a remarkable wine. But it would also make it undrinkable. This almanac has sighed, moaned and at times clamoured about man's servitude to his ego, and our need to surmount it. But without the ego, this life-force that makes us wake up, work, play and desiring something other than God, we would not be who we are.

History of the Ego. God created the ego and the nafs a looong time ago (Nafs means human desire, normally associated with our baser / animal instincts. I am not sure whether the two are separate or actually two part of the same entity, so let's call it 'the ego-nafs' for the sake of convenience). And even though the ego-nafs for a while rebelled against God, after an eon of subjugation in the black flames of Hades, the ego-nafs finally relented, acknowledging that God is... God.

So God at the end of it, did not destroy the ego-nafs, nor do I think we, as mortals are entitled or capable of doing so. The Sufi masters often preached, "Do not let the donkey (the ego-nafs) ride you, you must ride the donkey." The Sufi masters did not say "Take the donkey out to the back and shoot it."

The Nature and Cunning of the Ego. So we are mortally married to our ego-nafs, in whatever manifestation the ego-nafs chooses - For the ego-nafs can be the sanctimonious preacher on the pulpit, it can be the envious beggar on the street, it can be the scrooge counting his money during Christmas, it can be the holy warrior 'loving' people to death, and it can be the politicians and their hateful speeches. However you live your life, the ego-nafs can dominate you. And as the two prose above records - the ego-nafs can easily blend into your consciousness, in a guise of love and affection, or in a mask of hate and revulsion. The ego-nafs has no fixed state and will adapt accordingly, for it is never gone, only disguised - Once upon a time, a man was approached by a mystic guru, who asked him, "Do you need guiding to control your ego?" The man only replied, "My ego has no control over me. All the time the ego begs me, 'Feed me! Feed me! Do not ignore me!' And all the time I choose to ignore it. So you see, I have no need of guidance." The guru then said, "Your lack of need is a manifestation of your ego."

He does, you know!
But God Always Wins. When you consider things objectively, by any avenue, God wins - He has Saints and Prophets who will invite you to God, just as he has the Devil and his minions to chase you to God. Good persons and good events to reward you and draw you closer to Him, as well as bad persons and bad incidents or accidents to chase you to Him. This is His World and His House, and as all gamblers know... the House always wins.

So what about us? But that is God's and the Prophet's victory. Inter-spaced between our birth and the Ordained Victory is our actual life. This discordant existence, often made messy and blurry by our inability to control and harness our ego-nafs. And for that, God has armed mankind against the ego-nafs with the most powerful weapons - our reason, our heart and our conscience. But unlike any other wars where victory is decided by who wins in battle, we win by simply showing up at the field of conflict with our reason, heart and conscience intact. That is all it takes, and that is all God wants of us.

Have a thoughtful day, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Good is Recycled. Evil is Recycled. God is Eternal.

I came from Heaven and I am going back to Heaven. But I never promised
anyone that I am willing to wait a lifetime. There must be a backdoor to Heaven
somewhere in this room. Hmm... maybe in here? Huloooo,,,, God? 
73. Evil Is A Cliché
Evil is not a great notion,
Deserving of special accolades.

The enemy has no new tricks up his sleeve,
And has found no new innovative ways to deceive,

Yet, for someone who uses clichés to further his purposes,
Strange that he has found in us so many willing followers.

But I guess that’s what make clichés a cliché,
Because they work.

Desire. You would think that after thousands of years, mankind would have learnt its lessons. But just as your mother and father wants you to do what they ought to have done and avoid doing what they ought not to have done at your age, that is just a desire. Above everyone else's desire, no matter that you know how much they love you, is your own desire.

God Given. And God has made your desire to be powerful and overwhelming, surpassing the treasure trove of knowledge already collected by your ancestors - You need to know yourself. To feel and experience the sweet and the bitter of life, that fire burns and water quenches, that the world often appears arbitrary and good intentions are no guarantee of good endings.

Evil is Recycled. In that way, God is giving each child the right to live life as he or she chooses. You pick your choices and you make your own world, connected but still very different from the world of your elders. Alas, in that way also 'Evil' (if you desire to give it a name) can recycle its old cliches of temptation - greed, envy, jealousy, pride, hubris, waste, selfishness etc. So even 'Evil' is given yet another opportunity, another round to box with your conscience and your heart. This cycle is as certain as the rising of the Sun in the East and its setting in the West. Until of course, that also changes.

Homecoming. Do not be so harsh on yourself. If you succeed, wonderful. But if you fail temporarily, know that in the past, there were many better than you, who have also failed. This too is a cycle. But at the end, our ancestors all return to the Lord, and so shall you. A fitting homecoming for a soul. So don't worry too much!

After all, 'tis Friday, sunshine!

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Fisherman, Rabita and the Ocean of God

The Fisherman, Rabita and the Ocean of God

THE MAN. Once upon a time, in a space between eternity and the great big bang, lived a man. He didn’t appear to have much talent for anything really. But he could write love letters. He hired out his skills to his troubled young male friends, who often enough were stumped for words to woo their maidens. But one day, he grew bored of all transient sentimental sop, and was moved to write about God, the Prophet and Love… and so he did. And he used to write about all sorts of things, even flirting with fana (annihilation in the spirit of the masters, the Prophet and God) and rabita ( a divine connection)…

The ocean is lapping on the shores of fana,
The moon is reflected on the waters of rabita,
And thou art nothing but a ripple,
A cloud of human emotions gasping
Across an eternity of oceans.

A whim, a thought, an idea of God,
A gesture of Divine recreation,
A treasure from God’s heavens,
A river of sublime connection,
From the Earth to the Moon to the Sun.

PRIDE AND HUBRIS. And thus he fancied himself pretty knowledgeable about this Divine Love malarkey. And hubris grew in his heart, overpowering love. He felt himself privileged and special. Honoured to be amongst the few who traded their days and nights contemplating God and Beauty. He became a poseur of holy prose, and the light in his heart grew dim. He spoke with condescending tone of ‘the many’, veiling his pride with certainty…

Casting off from the harbour of doubt,
Beyond the servitude of your mind
Swimming in a sea of wine
Fancied by many,
Tasted by few.

THE SAINTS. But you do not live your life alone. And whether it is in the physical world or spiritual realm there are always onlookers. Minders of mankind – some people call them saints, others call them saintly. And there is also a part of mankind who call them cranks, witchdoctors and snake-oil salesmen, men not to be trusted. Anyway, the saints mind the Sea and all the swimmers in it. Actually, some people prefer to merely picnic by the beach. But others, aspirants of the Path especially (let’s call them mureeds), like to go swimming in the Sea. Of such people, the Saints are particularly mindful of. Partly because the passion seeded in these aspirant-mureeds often came from them. These young fellows often swim and drink, letting the wine go to their mind, conjecturing great visions as drunkards often do. And as everyone will tell you, you don’t drink and swim and expect calamity to avoid you. You are calling calamity your way…

And lo, the mureeds think they have journeyed far
And have seen the King and His crown,
Alas, to drink too much
And into their wine, they gently drown…

THE FISHERMAN. Fortunately above all saints, there is the Fisherman. He is unlike any man you have ever met. Indeed there are those who say that he is in fact the only Man to exist in the perfect form. In the beginning, there was the Sea, until God chose to bring forth from the sea a light, an Orb perfect and luminous as an infinite number of Suns. And as he was the first to arose from the Sea, it is only fitting that above all saints and lifeguards, he is the true Saviour and Salvation over the Sea. For this story, we will call him the Fisherman. And it is the Fisherman who trawls the oceans, always looking out for the hapless fools who plunge into the horizon of truth with nay a thought for their own welfare. Because these mureeds are young when compared to the age of Creation, they are often plagued by uneven passions. Sometimes being wonderfully good, at other times, negligent and forgetful. As they trash for dear life (which they inevitably do at the end), it is the Fisherman who comes along with his net…

Only to be caught
In the net of the Fisherman
Before they perished in their watery graves,
Pulling them out from their hubris state,
And who then wearily remonstrates,
“ Do not think highly of yourself,
Nor too lowly,
For each pretension
Leave a lot of souls
Drowning in this Ocean…!”

But the Fisherman smiled and concluded,
“And my boy, have I been busy salvaging you lot
Flirting with Rabita in the Ocean of God!”


Wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Ghosts, mini Gollums, Vampires and Ponti-babies!

That is not Gollum. That is a Toyol. Entrepreneurial Malays often employ such supernatural creatures
to burgle houses. They are not actually scary but more of a nuisance. If found out however, the
enterprising owner is often chased out of the village. 
Ghosts! In Malay tradition, the role of the supernatural creatures is often cast in a woman with long black hair called a pontianak. I do not know if she would actually drink blood, but she can do some psychological damage, and sometimes even physical damage. The types that do actually drink blood are what is known as toyol, which is kinda like a mini-me version of gollum. The toyol is normally a kept creature, and the owner would often use him for theft and mischief. If the toyol does not get its fill, the owner would have to give his own blood for his little employee. Why, even a Toyol deserves minimum wage. I think they are unionised. 
Maya Karin, acting her role as a Pontianak. The Pontianak is often  said to have died
in a violent death or often enough during labor. There she is carrying her dead child
and looking mightily pissed off. 
Pontianak! Many eons ago when dinasours roamed the Earth, my brother used to hang out at his friends' house where they listened to music, played guitar and smoked the occasional weed. On one particular night, most of the guys were downstairs watching TV when suddenly they heard a friend, whom I shall discreetly call Mr. Pink shouting from the 2nd floor, "Ponti-baby! Ponti-baby! Ponti-baby!" They rushed up and found Mr. Pink in a state of mild surprise, cheerfully sharing that while he was sitting by the window, an apparition of a Pontianak appeared floating outside. (anak is child or baby in Malay). He wasn't actually terrified, in fact Mr. Pink appear amused by the incident.
From the Japanese movie 'RINGU' later adapted by Hollywood into 'The Ring'.
She looks like a pontianak too. I think it's an Asian thing...
Clawed from behind! The house where they liked to party was on a hill with jungle all around it, and neighbouring houses pretty distant from one another. They were old government quarters from the time of the British empire. One of my brother's friend's house is actually in the area and one night he chose to go back alone. The guys were standing by the door watching him, Mr. Blue walking away into the dark night, along the stretch of road barely lit and pressed on both sides by the jungle. As they looked on suddenly they noticed that directly above Mr. Blue, was a figure in white with long black tresses sitting or standing on the branches of the jungle canopy that stretched across the road. They looked on in stunned silence as Mr. Blue, blissfully ignorant, walked beneath the Pontianak. But after a couple of yards further the ghostly figure floated down from the trees behind him and moved with great speed towards Mr. Blue's retreating back, "Hey! Hey! Hey! Watch out...!!!" The boys shouted but to no avail. The next thing they witnessed was Mr. Blue sprawled on the ground. The Pontianak was gone. They ran as fast as they could to him and found him groaning with some pain, "Oh...oh.. what the hell happened?" sputtered Mr. Blue. My brother found the back of Mr. Blue's shirt torn and on his back were red welts and scars akin to someone clawing their talons into his back.

Mother? Which is Mother? On one bright afternoon in the same house, the mother wanted to go out and asked her son to drive. Mr. Green was a bit tired, but being the dutiful son that he is, grumbled, "Okay... okay, I am coming." He trudged downstairs and looked out to the front yard and found his mother, obviously in a hurry, already waiting in the car. Raising an eyebrow in surprise, he found the keys on the side table and hurried to the car. "Where are we going anyway?" He mumbled as he got into the driver seat next to his mom. He turned the ignition and the old car faithfully started to roar into life. Suddenly the front door of the house opened and his mother was shouting at him, "Where do you think you are going, son?! I am still getting ready!" ... Uh Oh. If that is his mother there, then who the heck is he sitting next to? Mr. Blue quietly turned off the engine, got out of the car and went into the kitchen for a calming glass of water.

Hehehe. I actually wanted to write a short review of two horror books I read recently. I somehow got diverted I guess, reminiscing on the few ghost stories my brother once shared with me. I will do the books next time. Hope you enjoyed this brief diversion.

Have a beautiful day, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will find a Way

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Good Company make the Tightest Corner Bearable - Family, Friends and Holy Agents

151. Footprints
What am I, but a stray pixel
From an inscrutable imagination,
A castaway
Of a heaven long forgotten.

Wandering the shores
Of time,
And finding strange footprints
Resembling my own,
Trailing out of some Untamed Sea.

In Good Company. Hullo, sunshine. The day began for me rather listless, but it ended just fine, stuck in a rush hour jam, returning from attending a signing. But when you are in good company, it really doesn't matter, does it? Well, unless you need an urgent toilet stop. But you get my point.

A Friend in Need. There are many, many things in life we rather avoid. From credit card bills, to traffic summonses, from colds, a stomach flu to cancer. But sometimes, these things just happen. Perhaps we have been negligent someways, we bought something we didn't need to, we over-ate or we simply ate the wrong things. Other times difficulties happen without our knowledge nor are we to be blamed at all. Like getting caught in a civil war. Like sitting in the wrong bus at the wrong time and in the wrong place. We just hope that when such things do occur, we have friends and family who will stick by us, come what may. Who will bear with our mistakes and our dire straits.

The Divine Agents. For God may be the Giver of Blessings, but by God, sometimes He chooses the most beautiful of agents to attend to us when we need attention most. May the Lord bless the care-givers, from the tiniest crumb of comforts to the biggest of sacrifices, like organ donors... For we are all wanderers in this life, and one day, God will welcome us home to His Untamed Sea. But so long as we are here, we are fortunate to be ministered by His agents - our family, our friends and kind strangers. 

Thank you, sunshine. For keeping me company.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Footnote: This is one of the earliest prose recorded by the sinner, some 8 years ago. I have published it earlier in this almanac, I am sure. I completed this sketch today and for awhile I have been going through my old writings to find something suitable. And I think that perhaps this is it.

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Belief is... - The Sinners' Dictionary

Belief is...
Belief is a posture,
You can be sitting,
Standing, or lying on your side.
You can be kneeling by your bed
While others sleep at night.

You can be singing, dancing
Turning like a top,
You can be hurting,
Crying to God, Please make
The bad thing stop.

You can be running,
Walking or crawling on all fours,
Only to find that someone
Has locked the temple’s doors.

You can be reading, preaching
Speaking to an empty mosque,
Salvation you may be offering
But no one is actually asking,

You can be thinking, wishing,
That faith would not find you wanting,
Forgetting that belief is not just posture,
But in truth, an inspired feeling.

They drove your hearts into a corner, with books and sciences, taunting you, "If there is God, where is he?" In their sciences they are seeing deeper and deeper into outer space, and with their sciences, they are seeing deeper and deeper into inner space, that seemingly infinite space between our atoms and molecules. They have gazed deeply into the working of God's creation and think that they are wise. But if I myself make a computer and populate software and applications in it, you would not find me in my computer. You may find traces of my personality, talent and knowledge. But me? I would not be in it. Not in the sense that the software and applications may conjecture in the limited cognitive ability that I choose to program them with. So how will they find God?

This is a simple, simple analogy. Things are normally simple, it is often men, and their complexity and passion that often blurs things.

Something to think about, sunshine. But don't think too hard!

God bless.

wa min Allaha at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Saints and the Saintly - They walk amongst us

6. Somehow Different
There is no quest,
No holy grail,
For those who would take it
And share none of its blessings
With beggars, strangers and simpletons,
No offering of wine
For someone
Somehow different.

A 1997 STORY. Once upon a time, in 1997, two nondescript friends were having a conversation during lunch. And somehow or rather the topic turned to hermit saints, and this was what one friend said to the other, "What's the point of him staying in his cave in the jungle, on a deserted island or on top some lonely mountain, having learnt all that he have from his meditation, prayers and fasting? He must come back to society to help us! Really wha..." The speaker abruptly stopped as his eyes glazed over, and then he started to cry. He cried and cried and cried, much to the consternation of his friend who was getting desperately worried about him and about the food getting cold, "Hey... Hey... Hey! Are you alright?"

Finally his tears stopped running, and he replied, "Oh my friend. A veil was raised and I saw an ocean of sorrow, a horizon of regret, a sea of despair afflicting all of mankind... Who am I to ask the saints to face such horrifying spectacle." Then he sighed and concluded. "I understand a little now what faces the saints. But it also makes me so sad..."

THEY WALK AMONGST US. Well that was 14 years ago. Since then I have come face to face and met saints of all sorts. Tall and short, fat and thin, and they are in the midst of people, dealing with the poor and destitute, the rich and powerful, from street hawkers to tycoons, ministers, princes and kings. Attending to people with no homes, to people with many, many homes, whether you are a sinner or saintly. They take everyone in... if it is thus meant to be.

For the true saints have no qualm sharing their knowledge with people, albeit with discretion. It is not for glory of the quest nor honour for the holy grail that they do what they do. They do it for God and His Beloved Prophet. And with their 'gifts' they are commanded to be responsible over the kin of Adam and Eve, over the Nation of Muhammad. It is a heavy, heavy task. God bless their busy little hearts!

May you meet a saint, sunshine. If (you think) you hadn't, ask to meet one and see what happens. God will not refuse you. As for the saintly... well, I am sure you have been bumping into them through out your life. Perhaps you are one yourself.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way.

Mikhail, Zog and Trashcan - a belated review of Astro Boy the movie

That's me. Zog. No, the boy's not Mika.
I am Zog, according to my son. Zog is a 100 years old construction robot, made of pig iron that fell from Metrocity to the Surface world. Zog fell asleep until one day, Astro gave a little of his Blue Core energy to the defunct robot. Zog woke up and became pals with Astro and his friends on the Surface, which is actually planet Earth. This is a little of the story from the CGI movie on DVD which I only watched recently with Mikhail entitled (unsurprisingly) 'ASTRO BOY'. I think Mika does kinda look like Astro, except that Astro has no little belly. So I told my son that he is Trashcan. A robotic refuse bin that has all the characteristics of a lively friendly dog. Yes. I am an awesome dad.
This is Mika! 
I am talking about this movie, 2 years late (it was released in October 2009) because I found it to be intelligent and funny. When I first noticed that they are producing this Japanese Manga oldie (it originated in 1952!), I avoided watching it like the plague. It looked 'cute' and its probably gonna be 'cute'. And the sinner don't do 'cute' movies, disappointed as he has been by recent productions like 'Despicable Me' which hinted at being 'uncute' but turned out to be inane, sugarcoated and shallow. This movie, is surprisingly strong in dealing with human emotions and the robots (especially the Robot Liberation Front) are hilarious. The dialogue breezes through just fine. If you haven't watched it, you might wanna.

Robots play a big part in my son's imaginary world. He takes them everywhere. He talks to them, he dismantles them and rigged them back again for a robot battle. I am constantly bugged by him to choose my robot in the epic fights. Sometimes, he even lets me win.

No poems, sunshine. Just a movie review of sorts. And of course, Zog and Trashcan.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Monday, December 26, 2011

God. Breathing Down Your Neck - fate, fairness and anticipations

I am Your Fate
I am the turn of the key,
The opening of the door,

I am the tomcat strutting in the alley,
I am the worm in the apple's core,

I am the clouds adrift in the sky,
I am the sunlight in your eye,

I am the king sitting in his palace,
The widow crying atop her mourning dresses,

I am the silence of your contemplation,
The blaze of colour in your reflection,

I am everything and none at all,
I am your childhood that you cannot recall,

I am both your success and your failure,
The fate you always try to tailor,

I am the conclusion of your endeavour,
The harbour in all your weather,

Fair or foul as how I appear to you,
Is but a veil to hide the truth.

Fairness. We are creatures of cause and consequences. When we do wrong, we expect to be punished. When we do good, we expect to be rewarded. But sometimes the guilty escapes punishment, and sometimes the best among us appear cursed with a doom, the lost of a job, the lost of a child.

Fate. How far can we withdraw into ourselves to escape from the unfairness of this world? How deep into the well of our soul must we dive into, to silence the litany of voices asking for justice and fairness? But it is fate, that thing which none of us can divert.

Anticipation. Often we cannot control the end result of our action or omission. But a wise man once shared with me, "You may not be able to control what happens to you. But you can choose how you react to it. And you can anticipate and prepare for it."

The Prose of Anticipation
Anticipate that if you are alive,
That one day, you will die.
Anticipate that if you are loved,
That one day, your lover must fail you.
Anticipate that if you are married,
That one day, temptation will test your vows.
Anticipate that if you are healthy,
That one day, you will get sick.
Anticipate that if you are strong,
That one day, you will be weak.
Anticipate that if you are wise,
That one day, you will be foolish,
Anticipate that if you are rich
That one day you will be a poor,
Anticipate that if you are learned
That one day you will need learning,
Anticipate that if you feel tired
That one day, God will lift the veil
And reveal Himself being closer to you
Than your own jugular.

According to Muslims, it is said that God is closer to His servants than their own jugulars. That is pretty close. Stiflingly close perhaps. Smothering even. Ah, maybe it is a good idea of God to be Unseen while we are not ready yet. To see what we would do on our own accord, in our remembrance and forgetfulness of Him. Our ups and downs on this road called life.
God. Breathing down your neck.

Take care, sunshine. Talk to you later.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

A Cup of Religion Poured into the Sea of Life - Rumi and the Veneration of the Prophet

A Cup of Religion Poured into the Sea of Life
When we whirl we forget our names,
We forget our past, our history and our story,
We are pulling strands of creation
And with our right hand raised
We receive the Lord's attention
And with our left hand lowered
We become nothing but a channel,
A river of strings, flowing into
The ocean of love, attended by
The remembrance of God,
Praises for the Prophet.

People talk of unity
But we are not,
Being only mirrors of mirrors,
Raised by the bar above the dot,
Mortal creatures
And servants of God.

A little elucidation is perhaps useful for the phrase '...the bar above the dot'. It is in reference to the Arabic alphabet 'ب' ('ba'). The symbolism is significant because the bar lying horizontal reflects the essence of the Prophet being in prostration while the dot signifies God. Above the bar is all of Creation. The lesson here is that God chooses to look at all of Creation through the sight of Muhammad Habibullah. It is one of many lessons that manifests Muslims' great reverence to the person that is known as Muhammad. Is it any wonder that Orientalists in the past often refers to Muslims as Mohamadens? They were far from wrong.

The concept of Muhammad is however not an easy idea to grasp. For you can read thousands upon thousands of books, hear sermons and sohbets recounting the magnificent and delicate natures of the Prophet, but you won't be near to encompassing the knowledge of Muhammad. For the Secrets of Muhammad is with his Lord. And it is not a fixed sum, for it grows with each second that passes through Creation, rising as the Prophet's station rises in the Divine Presence. The whirling dervishes do not add to or augment religion nor the knowledge pertaining to the Prophet- Simply because their understanding of religion has crossed many oceans of contemplation, following the sails of their Grandmaster, Mevlana Jelaludin Rumi, who himself, maddened  with love, continues to pursue the Prophet. Rumi has taken a cup of religion and poured its contents into the sea of life.

Are you ready, sunshine? It is a good day to sail.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Super Dad and the Language of the Trees

Well, Mika was dropped off at my house today by his mom (her official name is Halimah, but she likes to be known as Gina. So, of course we will all refer to her as Halimah) and Uncle Herman after their visit to Universal Studio's theme park in ol' Singapore. As promised he returned bearing gifts, including the one presently on display on my work table. He was playing with it, when I told him to be careful. "Why?" He inquired. "Well, Mika, because it is made of plastic. That is only gold paint. You will scratch it if you are not careful."

"Ooh." He said, and nothing more. Later however he was obviously a bit perturbed and commented to me, "I am sorry, Papa, that the thing is not real..." I said, "Well, Mika. I don't really care. But do you mean what it says?" as I ran my finger across the emblazoned statement. "Of course, Papa!" He ejaculated.

"Well, then it is REAL to me."

So it was a really tiny Santa that came to me in the early morning of this glorious Sunday. I had an inkling something good was going to happen, and you know how? Because of the wind. It blew sprightly outside as the leaves rustled and bustled, the bough and branches bending to the will of the wind. And it spoke to me in a language of the trees, "Good morning, Taufiq. Something good cometh!"

I am not a super dad. I am just a dad. But having a son like mine does make me feel super. God bless all our children, and our fathers and mothers. They are all extraordinary. We must do our best to be deserving of them always... It is not always easy, but we gotta try. Have a beautiful day, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Xmas Stockings and a Lump of Sinner - The Beauty of the Oneness of God

I know I was a bad boy. But come on.......!

We are all bad boys. If God decides what we get based strictly on the details that our Recording Angels (the two that follow us everywhere) totting up our good and bad deeds, how many of us will ever get anything wonderful in their Christmas stockings?

God is not bound to anything, unless He says so. And He has said, He has assured mankind time and time again that He loves us, however foolish and bad we have been acting. On the scale between God's Justice and God's Mercy, where does the balance lie? For God has also said that His Mercy is greater than His Wrath. People often asks for justice, and demand that justice be dispensed. But none of us will be able to match God's generosity, our good deeds for God's good blessings. So do not be so hasty to demand justice. On the scale of justice we will fall woefully short and heaven knows what we will find in our Xmas stocking... a lump of coal or perhaps a lump of sinner. Hehehe.

I wish you a Merry Christmas, for those celebrating this auspicious day. There are dogmatic difference between religions, but as my brother once said (quoting a book he alas cannot now recall the title of), "Your choice of bride is different from mine. But who am I to denigrate your choice and your bride?" - And when it comes to God, I know that we are all worshiping the same One God, however the Bride may be named, veiled or dressed. That is the beauty of the Oneness of God.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Saturday, December 24, 2011

20 Seconds with God - a life time and then some

Twenty Seconds with God
One - and I am undone,
Two - then I thought of You,
Three - I said that wanted to be free,
Four - so You showed me the door,
Five - I was born and I am alive,
Six - I was fooled by my ego's many tricks,
Seven - So I turn to You, yearning for heaven,
Eight - Wishing o' Lord that I was dead,
Nine - And You answered, "You will return to Me when it is time.."
Ten - To which I reply, "O' Lord... But when?"

One - "When the moth returns to the Sun."
Two - "When you cease to think only of you."
Three - "When you stop climbing the money tree."
Four - "When you come knocking on My door."
Five - "When you find the Prophet's honey in his bee hive."
Six - "When you can fast weeks upon weeks."
Seven - "When you look for Me and not My heaven."
Eight - "When you serve the living and honour the dead."
Nine - "When you learn to be kind..."
Ten - "...And remember Me in any circumstance."

God bless, may you have a restful holiday. A time to reflect on the year that has past, and the new year that looms ever nearer. And of course, you are right. It is not 20 seconds with God. It is a life time and then some. 

Don't forget me in your beautiful thoughts, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Fences, Saints and Feral Dogs

108. Tall Fences
Come to your senses
My would-be martyrs!
And rely not on man-made borders
That keep outsiders out,
For today you may be within
Come tomorrow you may be without.

Then we shall see how well you fare
Clambering up your proud fences
Built tall and fair
With your incessant and foul pretences.

Marx was right. Religion is often the opiate of the masses, not being the fault of the religion itself. Today religion can be an olive branch, but tomorrow it may be an assault rifle. Religion grows the form of what the man holds within. If he is ruled by his heart and conscience, he will be dressed in his heart and conscience, and whatever he does will permeate with love, mercy, kindness, delicacy, patience, tolerance and empathy. If he is ruled by his ego, his action will often reflect the hate, hubris, envy, jealousy, bitterness, despair and sorrow that he nurses within.

We are our worst enemy. For my own religion, I see a defining group who has the habit of labeling what is Islamic and Unislamic. They meander through the body and society politic, delivering judgments with their words and eyes. No, they are not the politicians and preachers only. They are also us, we ourselves who in our daily lives often judge people. Questioning the veracity of their spirit and soul. But who questions the questioners? Such people often build up fences, saying, "We are the right ones. You are the wrong ones." But who's to say that is true? Already they are wrong, for acting without etiquette, which is the essence of the Adab (good manners) of Islam.

Love. Both good and evil has its pretences. If you want to be good, leave the pretences of piety and goodness behind. Stay awhile here with me, on earth where both saints and sinners can mix, do not deny that we are imperfect in so many ways, and that only common empathy and compassion stands between our peace and the war of feral dogs. It is raining now, so you see... even the sky agrees with me.

Have a perfect Sabbath and xmas, sunshine. And happy solstice too!

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Friday, December 23, 2011

Whirling and Loving in the Last Quarter of Time

After we perished, we returned and we whirled
We perished, did we not?
When life appeared unfair and
Sadness fell like rain from the heavens
Leaving puddles of sorrow all around us.
Friends came visiting to wish us well,
Unknowing that they were consoling
An empty shell.

We died, did we not?
When hateful thoughts and bombs left
In buses, trains, marketplaces and falling from the sky
Took away our children, our fathers and mothers,
Our life reflected in the mirrors of our beloved,
Now cracked, broken and buried
In the meadow and sand dunes of our pain,
While orphans and widows turn to us crying, "Why?"

We were lost, were we not?
No humour amused us,
No song calmed us,
No balm soothed us.

We were simply blown away, were we not?
By the rising storm from the east,
By the despairing horde from the south,
By the lords of the north and west,
Where has gone the light of the universe?
Where is the orphan from the desert?
Where is the Moon above Medina?
Where is Layla and her Majnun?

From this despair we return;
We are now whirling,
We are now loving,
Expelling the death of hope,
Turning aside the defeat of humanity,
Ending the famine of mercy,
Watering the drought of love,
We are struggling, are we not?
We are asking, ‘Forgive us’
We are pleading “Do not forsake us, o' Lord’
We are begging, 'This way that You love us,
Do not ever stop...'

How needful are we for You,
Are we not?

O' God?

Sinner. Do not worry, sunshine. If I could whirl, I would not write. If I was so busy 'being good' I would not spend so much time in the grubby confines of the sinners' almanac. Things are difficult, but perhaps things were never so easy to begin with.

Still around. It is coming to the end of 2011, and soon the Christians will celebrate Christmas, and later in 2012, it shall be the turn of the Chinese to celebrate their new year. Thank you for still being around, my friends. Thank you for sticking with it, for rising up however fate has put you down, for facing the big and small adversities of your life with patience and submission.

End of Time. People worry about the end of time, and there are pundits out there whose sole job is to chronicle the passing of Armageddon's milestones. I do not have the talent nor the sheer chutzpah for that. My job is only to write and remind myself how beautiful this world is, how it can still be preserved and how there exist still millions upon millions of people out there, whom without funfair or grand gestures continue to live their days, making beautiful changes, and sparking a beautiful light in the lives of those whom they touch.

I appreciate all that you are, and all that you are trying to be. God bless.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way