Tuesday, January 31, 2012

At The Nib of My Pen - Muhammad and Mikhail

How I write About Mikhail
When I wrote your poem,
I had the Prophet Muhammad in my mind,
In my hand, and at the end of the nib of my pen...

I picked up Mikhail from school during lunch. He was surprised. "Aren't you working today, Papa?"

"Yes, but I am not so busy. After all, it's your birthday!" I replied.

We dropped by Nandos in Bangsar for some chicken. Is it me, or are those damn roasted poultry overpriced? While waiting for our food, I took some pictures of my son. "Oh, Mika. You are SO not photogenic. Come on... smile properly..." He explained why he cannot smile very well for the camera, "But I am not so happy."

"Why aren't you happier?"

"It's not as if Aqheel is here with us. If he was here, I would REALLY be smiling." (Brief note: Aqheel is his 11 year old cousin, and my brother's youngest son).

"Oh, I am so SORRY." I answered hotly. "If that is the case I will just take pictures of you minus your alleged smiles!"


Later we wandered into Toys 'r' Us, where amazingly my son was not interested in buying anything. "I don't want anything, Papa. I am waiting for Mummy to give me my money." Then he mused, "I wonder if she has gotten paid already. Hmm..." (Brief note: His earnest mother promised to reward Mika with cash on his birthday for totally dropping instant noodles from his diet... Yes, guilty as charged. We bribe our children.)

Then we wandered into a bookshop, where I bought him a TinTin adventure comic book, entitled "The Blue Lotus. "I chose it because it has a dragon, Papa." He explained.

While paying, I received a call from my brother inquiring about Mika because he wanted to drop off Aqheel at the house. I told the birthday boy the good news and without much ado, we paid quickly and hurried home. As I drove, I notice my son sitting quietly in the passenger seat. True enough, he is really smiling now.

I am not terribly worried about my son. I believe that wherever he may go in future, it will always be a good place. Perhaps it is the innate belief (or hope?) of a parent. Perhaps it is a father in denial of the murkiness and hazards of our times. I recorded the prose below because there was a time when Mika might have actually migrated overseas, to live in a foreign land, thousands of miles away from me. When I wrote the poem, I had the prophet Muhammad in my mind, in my hand, and at the end of the nib of my pen...

A good land
Wherever you may go, Mikhail
However far you may journey,
Because you bring me with you,
The land to which your feet takes you,
Will, with my blessing,
Always be a good land.

Have a beautiful day, sunshine. God bless all our children. 

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

The University of Love, Butt-Belch and Face-Fart - Mikhail's 8th Birthday

Mikhail's first picture as an 8 year old boy.  I asked him, "How does it feel to be eight?"
He replied, "Much the same, Papa."
Today is Mikhail's eighth birthday. And the fact that he has lived this long despite having a dad like me is a true reflection of his spirit to survive, live and damn all. He has endured the test and tribulation of my temper, clumsiness, ignorance and donkey-like stubbornness to reach this milestone. Not bad.

Butt-Belch and Face-Fart
But in my own limited ways, I have tried to teach him about good and bad. Politics and Chelsea Football Club (baaaad...), God, Nabi Muhammad, Eric Cantona (Goood...). I have tried to put a different angle to everyday things, so that he might learn, "Mika, a fart is a butt-belch, and a belch is a face-fart. Think about it."

University of Love
A parent's love for his/her child is passionate, real and visceral. It is maddening like drug, but if we keep our eyes open and our ears attentive, we are in truth entering into a University of Love, with God and the Prophet as our Master and Don, and us majoring in the delicate and challenging science of raising a kid good. 

93. Muhammad Mikhail
May he be a servant of God,
A lover of the Prophet,
A friend of the Angels,
A mureed of the Masters,
A caretaker of the Traditions,
And spring of charity
To all who may come to him in need.

Somewhere far, far down the line,
Perhaps he can also call himself
A son of mine.

That is my prayer for my son.

Have a beautiful day, sunshine. It is Mika's birthday!

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Monday, January 30, 2012

God Loves the Adoring and Forgiving Couple

25. Fifty - fifty
I am not a puzzle to be solved,
Nor a clay to the mould,
Perhaps all it involves
Is to love and to grow old.

I am not a book to be read,
Nor a bride to be wed,
I am me, a butterfly,
A song on your lips,
A petal of rose, bright and red.

I am not a bridge to be crossed
Nor a faith to believe in,
I am me, glad and beautiful,
And in my eyes is a fire,
Golden and keen.

I have no shelter to give you,
Nor a harbour by the sea,
But if you were not you…
Then certainly, o’ love,
I would not be me.

Love is such a funny old thing. It can make you wise, but very often it can also make you mad. Chris Rock once said that if you have never contemplated murdering your soulmate, you are not actually in love. "Wow." I thought, "Chris Rock is like a sage, a Socrates for the new century. But of course, I think Socrates never cussed as much."

What do we bring to the table of love? Is it our wealth? Is it our lineage? Is it our class and respectability? Is it our good looks and health? All those things can be lost in a blink of an eye, often by our own mistakes, but sometimes by things which are out of our control. It would be foolish to rely on such baubles. 

I guess that at the end of the day, we can only bring ourselves into the grand equation of love. With all our niggling faults and imperfections, we hold our lover's gaze and ask, "This is who I am. I have poor table manners and I belch a lot. Do you love me still?" And every day, he or she will have to make that same commitment, as you do too.

I think God adores that in an adoring and forgiving couple. After all, it was He who created Love and Forgiveness.

Have a graceful day, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

I will vote for the Orange Party. It is a Fruit and it is Good for You!

I Vote
The air is heady in Malaysia for the General Election. As long as I am in the country, I have not missed my chance to vote since I became eligible at the age of 21. The incumbent government has not announced the GE yet, but rumours suggest late March. We shall see...

I Cancel Myself Out
At heart, I think you may tag me as a Socialist-Libertarian-Capitalist. Perhaps the political tags kinda cancels each other out, which is funny. If I was a Sufi, I would be pleased with such an outcome. Sufis should stay out of politics. In fact I strongly abhor the use of God and religion in politics.  

The Choices
Politics in Malaysia is generally based on coalitions between Barisan Nasional (the National Front consisting of UMNO (the Malays party), MIC (the Indians party), MCA (the Chinese Party) (PPP and Gerakan, who are ostensibly non-racial but predominantly Indian and Chinese) against Pakatan Rakyat (People's Coalition consisting of PAS (the Islamist Party), DAP (again, ostensibly non-racial but predominantly Chinese) and PKR (non-racial but largely Malay). This is only in Peninsular (west) Malaysia. In East Malaysia, consisting of Sabah and Sarawak, there are even more political parties, mostly representing the Malays, Chinese and the Indigenous races of the states. There are not many Indians in East Malaysia.

My Choice
I would vote for the coalition that does its best to stand out of my way, and says or does the least stupid things. Based on my understanding of human nature, I am really not entitled to expect anymore than that.

The Orange Party
If no one can meet my criteria, I will probably draw an orange on the ballot paper and write that I shall vote for an orange. Or any fruit really. It is likely to do less harm.  
This is MY political candidate. It does not want to change the world. It does not
want to dominate or change the way I live or think. It just sits there, you know... being an orange.
And if you get tired of it, you can eat it. You cannot say the same think for a human candidate.

Have a good day, sunshine. God bless.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

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

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Greetings from the Dead - Garden of Stones Part 2

Greetings from the Dead
Come to rest with us, my love and friend,
Discard the world and all its baubles,
Lay your weary head and rest by us
From all your toil and
Worldly troubles.

Beneath the grass and the Jasmine trees,
Marked by stone and marble heads,
Mask the beauty and the reason
That most men learn
When they are dead.

By Predicting Human Behaviourial Trends, 
You Yourself Become Part of the Experiment
I am curious why people can be so dead certain (excuse the pun), especially when they are not dead but very much alive. Mankind, who have zero control over what happens to themselves one second from the next, are awfully keen to commit themselves on ideologies and philosophies. They like to forecast public trends and societal changes based upon their knowledge. Such people would lead us to believe that they are objective. That somehow their knowledge and their academic (or political) pedigree somehow insulates them from their grand experimentation in behavourial human sciences. But this is what I believe - when it comes to predicting what mankind will or will not do, no one can be an objective bystander. By predicting human behaviourial trends, you yourself become part of the experiment. This is true whether you are a capitalist, a monetarist, a Keynesian, a communist, a socialist or any other -ist there is (oh, excuse the pun again).

I think religion, in its most pure form does not dabble in such fiction. For religion is essentially about the development and transformation of the individual. It is from the betterment of our own selves that we may have a positive impact on society. And really, it does not matter if we don't have such a wide effect, because for God, He is already very happy that you are feeling better about yourself. Such simple gratification is not enough for those who are earnest in changing the world.

An Old Sufi Tale
Once upon a time, a grand old Sufi master was dying. He called his followers to inform them that he is appointing a very young mureed to succeed him when he passes away. There was great disquiet especially among the elders, of which two were especially doubtful of his decision. He called upon the two men to attend to him. To both he posed the same question, "There is great unrest among our people, and religious duties are being neglected. What do you propose to do about it?" To which both of them replied that efforts must be made to educate the public, and enforce the laws on religious observance. Then he called his successor to come, and the young lad sat next to the old master. "Now, laddie." said the master. "The people are troubled, and they are not being good Muslims. What will you do about it?" The lad replied, "I will do nothing." The master then keenly gazed at the two rebels and said, "See? This is why he will be my successor."

And Rumi Said Something Too
And of course, Rumi had to have his own say when he told his disciples, "This world is absolutely fantabulous and peachy-keen perfect. If you find anything wrong, it is because you are looking at it through your tainted mirror."

And Those Malays
So the lesson is simple really. We need to change ourselves first... And last. The Malays have an old saying, "Jaga kubur sendiri." (literally meaning 'Take care of your own grave', but essentially to mean that you must be responsible for your own destiny and do not think yourself so wise as to determine the fate of anyone else. After all, you are not God. Are you?). 

See? Here lie the rebels...
See? Here lie the rebels...
Thus end all their seasons
And experiments in mind and reason,
To be buried with all their logic,
Their sleights of hands
And dabbling in magic.

Have a wonderful day, sunshine. Believe and it will be.

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

3 years on, still very much of the same - Thank God!

My name is Taufiq but I am also Abu Mikhail, meaning Father of Mikhail.
13. A&E, 21st July 2008 (with Ariffin)
How wonderful it is to know
That you can feel love
As you did before.
And to suffer love’s terrible blows
As you did
Once before.

Long have I not felt
This alive!
And this numb,
And this dumb.

My name is Taufiq,
And on the eve of this 38th year,
I am Abu Mikhail
Ringmaker, wordsmith, rosarymaker,
Poet, most sincere hypocrite,
Bumbling meddler, habitual sinner.
With a heart crushed by Ahmad, though I know him not at all,

Taking pleasure
In the floating clouds above me,
In the rustle of leaves around me,
When all humanity, including myself
Seem to have forgotten him.

I am looking for the Maulud in me,
And am a lover of graves and their dwellers,
I am between two fixed points
Of my own beginning and God’s eternity,

Though dishonorable,
I am in the company of honorable friends,
I am meaningless,
And only made meaningful by the hand
That holds me.
But I am also,
Finally, and painfully, just a man.

Note: Maulud - festive congregation celebrating and praising the Prophet Muhammad in music and hymn.

It was more than 3 years ago that I recorded this prose. It was the eve of my first birthday post-divorce, and I guess I was in melancholic introspection of my 38 years since I babbled and gurgled as a newborn in the Abdul Khalid household.

I was a ringmaker because I skipped work for an intensive three days (with room and board) silversmithing course in Newcastle (Kota Bharu, Kelantan). The course was taught by a school teacher by the name of Mr.Zuki. I think I made three silver rings. And I am in fact a rosary maker, although I have not made one for the longest time.

In the prose I also confessed that I am Mikhail's father, I love visiting cemeteries, I love songs in praise of the Prophet (as referred by his other name, Ahmad) and not to mention being a hypocrite and sinner. No surprises there.

Things have not changed much over the three years. What and whom I love, I still do. And lastly, I can confirm (again) that I am still very much, just a man. A happy man, in the company of good friends.

Have a sprightly Sunday, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Talkative Dead - Garden of Stones Part 1

The Talkative Dead
The world does not understand us. When the world disappoints us and appears unfair, we simply unfurl our wings, flex our feathered appendages and fly. We return to the Garden of Stones, a place of homecoming soon to be ours, and we listen to the voices of the dead. They are very talkative, if you listen careful enough...

“If you are not preparing for your inevitable death, you are not living well enough.” Says one.
“Aim high, tackle low.” Says another.
“Mind the planet, you are joining us but your children will still be needing it.” Adds a former green activist.
“Be grateful for everything, even the most dire events, because everything comes from God, and He would not have let it happen to you were He not confident in you and your promise.” Says a Guru.
“Don’t eat too much chicken. Or beef. In fact, don’t you think you have had enough?” Says a dead Vegan.
“Think before you speak.” Advises a spy.
“Find out who you are before you die. We are tired of explaining to the newly deceased who die without finding out.” Counsels a Saint.

Then finally, I heard, “Okay, stop feeling sorry for yourself. Make a good show of it, old boy. Don’t be deceived. And for God's sake, exercise!” Thus confides a dead friend who when he was alive regaled me with the most wonderful of stories. Mostly about God, the Prophet, Sufism and his (many) romantic entanglements with women. What a rascal was he! But a good, good chum. I think you know the sort, yes?

19. My love…
My love is a cradle,
And an epithet
Upon my tombstone.

Have a lovely day, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

The Dawn of Muhammad - a higher and greater end

The Dawn of Muhammad
The Dawn of Muhammad is breaking
Upon my cold bitter earth,
Once, when I was blind, now I can see,
Once, when I was deaf, now I can hear...

The Light of Muhammad
The ocean of milk,
The river of honey,
The endless acres of grapevines
That was once lost to me
But is now mine.

I am waking up this morning,
But it would not matter if I am not here to greet the Sun,
For I am here only for Muhammad,

I will be getting married,
But it would not matter if I am not here to exchange the wedding vows,
For I am here only to celebrate Muhammad,
So let the wedding preparations go ahead,
Let the aunties and cousins get busy,
Send out the wedding invites, 
Arrange for the caterers
And prepare the wedding bed,
For I am not getting married for myself,
But to celebrate the life and joy of Muhammad,

The Light of Muhammad,
The ocean of milk,
The river of honey,
The endless acres where love and mercy reign,
The pacific heart once lost to me
Is now mine once again.

There are non-Muslims who will accuse the lovers of Muhammad as being deluded in the religion of Islam. And interestingly enough there is also a sizable contingent of Muslims who will accuse the lovers of Muhammad as being similarly ignorant and deluded in the religion of Islam. Both acolytes of hate and servants of ignorance populate either side of the biblical divide. In truth, the madmen amongst the Judaic-Christian heritage and among the Muslims deserve their confrontations, one attracting the other like a moth to a flame.

For those Sufis and mystics of all religion, they are keeping the secrets to themselves. To be drawn into the so-called clash of civilizations is to give credence to a divide in humanity, that in truth, does not exist.

For however man divides, the Absolute Reality of God unites mankind above the petty and feeble squabbles of the hubris-mad crowd.

You, my love. You are destined for a higher and greater end. This I believe to be true.

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Friday, January 27, 2012

Layla, Majnun and their Big Fish in God's Ocean of love

26. The Smile
Layla! My Enthroned Sorrow!
My balm and heartache!
My sweet hemlock!
I caught Your Smile intended for another,
And it was I that You drove mad,
Though You were never mine.

Thou art blind,
For if thou saw My Smile,
Then it was always intended for thee,

And if I have ever Loved anyone any better,
Tell me, who can it be?

As a bona fide sinner, I don't go for the big fish. I am a timid sort of fisherman for love, and I would be happy enough to catch a small halibut for lunch. This is your fate and your limits when you are fishing at the very shallowest end of God's Ocean of Love. I am not complaining, I am gratified already to be allowed to slum about in His Creation. Thank You, God.

But once in a while, the great white whale passes underneath my rickety boat. That manifestation of Divine Love as reflected in the curious entanglement of Layla & Majnun. I don't often record such prose, but when the Big Love bumps my boat, I put down my fishing rod and just write. I dare not tempt fate when Big Love is knocking.

Our Weakness As Humans
When you are in love with a human being, you have to accept his weaknesses. He may not be geared to please your every whim 24/7. He is unlikely to be a great chef, he is probably not the fittest specimen on the block and he is likely to be hiding some other personal foibles too embarrassing to share with you even now. And sometimes, when he smiles, he is not smiling at you. There is nothing wrong with that.

There Is No Such Thing As Coincidence
If however you choose to love the Divine Being, the Celestial Lord, the One-and-Only-and-No-Other God Almighty, you can safely assume that if you catch the smile of God, it was certainly meant for you. For God does nothing without purpose, and there is nothing coincidental at all about Him and His actions.

Need We Choose?
Must we choose between mortal love or divine love? I don't think so. For if you are fated to love the Unlike-Any-Other (aka God), only then will you truly encapsulate and manifest your love for the any other (aka man or woman). Love for God is the championship of championships of love, The Nulli Secundus (Second to None) of romance, the Rolls Royce of intimacies and the Moby Dick of affections. 

Layla & Majnun is an ancient tale, but you can join the story at any time, sunshine.

Think about it.

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wandering through Brickfields looking for bangles and a second-hand soul

We paid a visit to the neighbourhood of Brickfields a couple of days back to buy bangles for Heche. It is officially the 'Little India' of my city, although another area known as Sentul could have easily captured that accolade. The government has been busy tidying up the place, and now at the entrance sits a giant fountain with statuesque colourful peacocks. Brickfields is predominantly Indian because the main railway station was nearby, and the locality hosted many of the railway workers' quarters, a large part of whom were Indians. A hint of its history is the headquarters of the Railwaymen's Union of Malaya (old name for Malaysia, before entry of Sabah and Sarawak in 1963) which is still situated here, amidst the many, many Indian dresses, accessories shops and food outlets.

After meandering through the busy evening crowd, we settled at a big eatery, where I ordered ghee thosai, a thin pancake made of lightly fermented rice flour drowning in ghee which is a clarified semi-fluid butter. The thosai appeared disappointingly dry, but then I noticed the moist golden centre, literally floating in a pool of ghee. It tasted as wonderful as it was unhealthy. The resident beggar approached us for pennies, the donation of which he used to purchase a cigarette from the cashier. He took a seat not far from us and took a drag of smoke and nicotine, with his eyes closed and his hands clasped together as if in blissful prayer and gratitude. The Indian restaurant also served Chinese vegetarian food, with emphasis that it did not contain any onion or garlic. I am informed later that both are a no-no because they are an aphrodisiac.

While waiting for the thosai, Heche was leafing through this fortnightly edition of The Malaysian Soul Trader (our country's top second-hand soul resale magazine) when she came across an advertisement. She showed me...

I mused and said to her, "Hmm... I think you ought to look for a better bargain. This soul looks like it needs a helluva lot of work to get it road worthy." 

Have a beautiful and soulful day, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Different Burdens for the Saints, the Saintly and the Donkeys

148. Faith is a Flower
Faith is a flower of a Jasmine Tree in the Garden of Love,
The Garden is set in the Valley of Certainty,
In which flows a river sprung from the Blessed Fountain.
The Valley is encircled by four hills named Amity, Charity, Patience and Fidelity.
And above them all, rain clouds carrying teardrops of musk drift from the Mercy Ocean.

My beloved Maulana! Your perfume lingers still, and I wonder;
What did you see when you gazed out the window that morning, and cried?
What lingering thoughts troubled me that day when I wrote the prose? But the thoughts, or rather memories, that troubled me were not my own. It were that of a young apprentice in the company of a Grandmaster of a Sufi Order. On that occasion, the Grandmaster (Maulana) was minding his own, standing in a quite corner of the house, looking out of a drab little window. The young mureed saw him and was surprised to see the Maulana's eyes swimming in tears, before one pearly fell unannounced across his cheek.

He never asked the Maulana why he was crying. But he later recalled the story to me, and I wrote the above prose - Whoever knows what inspires the tears of Saints? Perhaps it is better not to know. For undoubtedly, we are all blessed to bear our own burdens, and for me, I am quite happy to bear the burden for donkeys. For I do not wish to carry the world on my shoulders.

May God protect and exalt the spiritual stations of the Saints and the saintly.

And God bless you, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

The Names of God - Surely we cannot ask one thing from God and offer the opposite to our own brothers and sisters?

When you call unto God
As Ram, Christ, Buddha,
Celestial Being, Mother Nature,
Divine Justice or Allah,
It matters not to me so long
As He fits the description
Of the Creator.

If He does not fit the description,
You can call Him by any name,
And I will say that you misunderstand
And you need to stop reading with your eyes
And start seeing with your hearts.

When you call unto your fetish
As money, food, greed, pride,
Hubris, bigotry, selfishness,
Sex, impatience, vanity or anger,
It matters not to me so long
As it fits the description
Of your habits.

For don't you know?
You are worshiping what
You normally hold
In your hands
And what you normally
Hold in the fastness
Of your unbridled ego.

Be at peace with everyone who is not you, sunshine. Do not be trapped by hate and intolerance for the mere reason that others may have different names for the Creator. You do not need to look far to find hate and intolerance. It is in the millions upon millions of black sites and Youtube videos that promote their version of reality, these people who worship in the Religion of Hubris masked in the religion and traditions of their forefathers. The truth is that their forefathers would have rejected them now for being vicious, immoral and deprived of their God-given sense of mercy and empathy.

Have a good day, sunshine. Reject hubris and embrace tolerance. For has not God Himself tolerated us in our own vanity and foolishness? Surely we cannot ask one thing from God and offer the opposite to our own brothers and sisters? This is what I believe my Prophet teaches me. 

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Charity and Piety, Love and Kindness- saying goodbyes...

The Truth Is…
If you are not prepared to risk everything,
The truth is you have gained nothing for yourself,

If you are not willing to lay down your life for a friend,
The truth is you have not found a friend for life,

If you have not burst into flame,
The truth is you have not come close enough to the Sun,

And if you have time to spare,
The truth is you must lose no time
To end that sparseness,
And fill your hours and days
With charity and piety
Love and kindness.

My late sainted mother would have undoubtedly disapproved me writing about her. She would consider my superlatives and adjectives of her as undeserved and exaggerated. But sincerity has a beauty unto itself, whether you are pious or irreligious, whether you are wealthy or stricken in poverty. I only write what I know of her.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of my mum’s passing, and I would like to suggest something extra nice for my family to do. The plan is still gestating in my head, but family and orphans will be part of it, I am sure.

On the day of my mother’s passing, there was a burst of flame. And it shined brightly like a beacon. It called unto her many, many close friends and family to come to my house, “If you had known Arbayah in your life, know that she has passed on. So come that you might say your last goodbye.”

Whenever I visit her grave, which I don’t do often enough, I always say “Hello.” But I never say goodbye, for that was said almost 10 years ago. What I always say is, “See you soon, Mama.

My mother was a strong and capable woman who lived life to the fullest. Though she might not agree with my constant harping of her life and love, no doubt she would agree with the last phrase of the prose. 

Thus fill your day, sunshine, with charity and piety, love and kindness.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Monday, January 23, 2012

See, Here He Lies

See, Here He Lies
I want to die with your name on my lips,
I want to die with thoughts of you playing in my mind,
I want to die lying in the heather of your soul,
I want to die running in your fields of corn,
I want to die walking in your forest of mercy,
With your voice in my ears,
Breathing your perfume,
Shaded under your glory,
Swimming in your ocean,
Grasping your hand, in your embrace,
Saddened no more by this
Most bitter separation.

I want to die with tears in my eyes,
Hearing you address the congregation
“If you seek a lover of Muhammad,
See, here he lies.”

But Not Yet.
I don't want to die yet. There are too many things to do, you see. Of course whether I get the time to finish it all (mostly writing, sketching and publishing more books), is really isn't up to me. In any event, the question is redundant because when you are writing and sketching about God, the Prophet and Mankind, one lifetime is not enough. You need several lifetimes. No, I am not asking for several lifetimes from God. I am just saying, ya know? 

I Will Be There.
But being the on-top-of-everything kinda guy, I like to plan ahead and would love for the above prose to be engraved on my tombstone. I advise that it be in small-ish font size because otherwise my tombstone would tower over other graves. I leave it to my kin to sort out the details. What? I cannot be expected to plan everything about my funeral. The only thing that I can promise you is that I will be there.

Death Will Come.
People die. That is the way of the world. It has been since the time of Adam and Eve, and it will thus continue until God decides otherwise. So at the end of it all, we are ultimately united by one common fate. Despite all our worldly disputes about money, nationality, race, religion, football clubs and ideology, we all share the same fate. You would think that this would make people more circumspect about judging other people, yes? Unfortunately no. Because we have been programmed to believe that we shall be judged differently according to our religion. But let me share with you a story - Once I was in an assembly of wandering dervishes, and a question was asked of the Shaykh as to who will be inhabiting heaven. And if I recall correctly, this was what the Shaykh said - "It is entirely up to God. Do not presume anything." Then he also added this little teaser, "Do not be surprised if your closest neighbour is the person you hate the most in your life."

Divine Justice & Divine Irony
So be careful in judging anyone in this life. Lest you will be doomed to spend an eternity living next to him (or her). When I think about the most nut-crazy hubris-addicted so-called 'perfect' Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews and Atheists around... and the idea of them being eternal neighbours with their most hated nemesis... Aaah, what Divine Justice (and Divine Irony).

Have a lovely day, sunshine. God bless you always.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

A Rainy Chinese New Year, a Vespa Scooter and Propaganda News - Pictures tell stories

About a month ago, I mentioned that the hot dry season is coming. Well, it lasted for a week  at most,
then the rain came back with a vengeance, causing flash floods in a number of neighbourhoods
in my city. So note to readers: Don't use this almanac as a weather blog. 
I saw this colourful scooter yesterday morning. It was emblazoned with the tricolours
of the Italian flag, which of course makes sense since the scooter is the Italian-made Vespa.
I was walking on my way to buy breakfast.
I read this Flying McCoy cartoon today in the daily Sun newspaper. I think it is a little funny because
I suspect that most people have kinda made up their minds that 99.99 % of newspapers in the world
all serve some vested interests or other. Fox News is flayed by liberal and progressives as the un-News
television news network. But to some degree, EVERYONE has an agenda, be it a government television
network, a privately-owned news organisation, a non-governmental group or even a blog. It is not wrong
to have an agenda, the important question is whether your agenda is to promote understanding or hate,
circumspection or hubris, peace or violence, unity or division?
Update: On Chinese New Year holidays, and especially on the first couple of days, almost 99% of
Chinese restaurants the country over would be closed, which means brisk business for Indian, Indian Muslimand Malay eateries everywhere. We arrived for brunch and found a vast crowd of humanitytrying to get sitting in this famous Indian banana-leaf restaurant (Raju's) in the leafy neighbourhoodoff Jalan Gasing. They were all here - Malays, Indians, Eurasians, Caucasians and even a smattering of Chinese, taking a break perhaps from the festivities at home.
Have a good Monday, sunshine. It is a public holiday here in Malaysia, being the Chinese New Year. We have many, many, many public holidays. Gong Xi Fa Chai! 

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Welcome to the Year of the Dragon - babies and brides

Today is the eve of the Chinese New Year, as many of the 1.4 billion Chinese of mainland China and 40 million Overseas Chinese gather around the family table to celebrate the rise of the Year of the Dragon.

Befitting such an auspicious year, many plans will be made and followed through with the well-known Chinese diligence to get married and make many, many more Chinese babies. 'Tis a good plan.

In my office, Shikin, our tiny, tiny clerk manage to give birth to another bouncing baby boy yesterday, days ahead of her scheduled Ceasarian. The vitality of a Dragon baby, he cannot even wait for the Dragon year to actually commence. The baby weighed in at a healthy 3.5kg, which means that his mother would need to lose a mere 1.5kg to return to her normal weight. Shikin had absolutely the most skinniest pregnancy I have ever witnessed. "But she is so thin!" remarked Heche hotly.

For myself, there is a flurry of weddings anticipated this year, as young (and old) lovers among my friends and family finally settled to settle down. In less than 2 weeks time, I am (dubiously) respectable and (sadly) old enough to be asked to witness the Aqad (wedding) ceremony of my niece Balqies and her beau, Amirul.

Take care, sunshine. May you ride the Dragon well this coming year.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

We are One. So don't make Fun (of each other's beliefs)

Love, who am I? Who are you? Who are we?
The fruit of love grows on the tree of adversity.
The dress of love is stitched by our folly,
The flame of love is white in colour,
The hope of love is in loving one other,

I am not waiting for answers,
I have not asked any questions,
The crown of love is the crown of strife,
The life I live, and the life I will give away
I will return to Him that gave me life,

So do not say that I am one of you…
Besotted with names and forms…
Spellbound to destination and endings…
'Heaven! heaven! heaven!' sings the melody,
But never asking the question of
Who am I? Who are you? Who are we?

We are one. Many missionaries and evangelicals of religion are selling a good story. Believe in God. Obey God. Follow the holy scriptures. Believe in the family, work hard and do not steal, lie or cheat. If you do believe in the existence of an Omnipotent Divine Being, there is not much to argue with here. The common truths are common to everyone, and if you leave out the God bit, even atheists will be hard put to debate against the importance of the family unit and basic human decency.

What truly mystifies me are preachers and politicians (as sadly both tend to be the same nowadays) who insist that there is an ‘us’ and ‘them’ - Between Muslims and Hindus, Christians and Jews, Sikhs and Buddhists and the whole barrels of faith that trundle through the path of life.

Shiva. Yesterday, I had breakfast outside, and as I was taking my seat I heard a strange Indian tamil music coming from one direction, I wondered where the song came from for I saw no speakers. Then it struck me that it came from the cellphone of the Indian man at the next table. I knew it was a religious song because I recognised the name 'Shiva' being repeated again and again in the chorus. The man was obviously affected, and I saw in his eyes that far-away look which I bet I also have when I am engrossed in music about God and Love. So I empathise with him, I understand and I certainly do not ridicule his beliefs. Why, we are almost exactly the same...

Do not make fun. We share so much in common that it makes no sense whatsoever to belittle the faith of another. Indeed I would go so far as to say that it is the voice of a mad believer to make fun of the disbelief of an atheist. Sarcasm, Cynicism and ‘put downs’ are all marks of pride and hubris and is a dishonorable badge to be worn by any believer, in whatever faith you hold.

The message is blurred. The truth is that such acts do not shame God at all but it shames us. Yet when people judge our religion, they will judge by our tolerance, wisdom, compassion and humility, so do not then say that such people have heard the ‘true message’, when we have been so darn hard working in deforming and destroying the message of our faith.

I would like to return to the common ground that we all share. Trust me. I am almost exactly like you. Only perhaps a little bit more of a sinner.

Thank you for sharing your Sunday with me, sunshine.

Wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Path In Conversation With God - our happiness and sadness

Happiness and Sadness
If you take happiness in its full measure,
You must take responsibility for
The full draught of sorrow.

This is not a question
Of punishment or reward,
But of smoothing the creases
In our conversations with God.

Faith is the sum of all our sentiments of love, affection, trust, hope, courage, compassion, empathy, tolerance, humility and all those other divine ingredients that the Creator has mixed with your soul to create us. This makes me happy.

But the underlying basis of all these worthy attributes is to be challenged by the opposite forces – hate, contempt, mistrust, despair, cowardice, indifference, cruelty, intolerance, pride and hubris. This makes me very, very nervous.

But according to Muslim lore, no man or woman is tested beyond her innate virtue and strength to overcome. So if we fail (as we sometimes do) to hold unto our principles, we have failed no one but ourselves. This makes me sad.

But happy or sad, this is the journey for us. And when I mean 'us' I am not talking about any mystic, dervish, Sufi or New-Age acolytes. I think it is a road for everyone. A path in conversation with God, as we walk, run and sometimes stumble while pleading, praying, smiling, sulking, laughing, crying and talking with the Creator Who always listens, and Who never turns away.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way