Friday, November 30, 2012

Divine Allegory - God, the path and the rose of wisdom

You turned and you pointed, and when I looked in the direction You were indicating I saw a vast horizon of which I was unaware before. We stood at a great height and from here the
distant sea was visible with its sparkling reflections of light...

A Friend. Thus wrote a friend, the beginning of a short-short story. It is nice to meet a friend. Yafiah Katherine dropped by recently and as is the norm, I returned the courtesy and paid a visit to her at her site entitled Wild Dervish Writes - a Sufi Look At Life. If you would like to know how the prose ends, you may visit her by clicking on the picture below. She is also an author, a postgraduate presently doing her thesis and invites you to swot on Sufi books that have influenced and inspired her. You may glean such tomes here in her Amazon Sufi Book Store.

Hikmah. In this short and often ill-used life of mine, I have at least found out certain hikmah (wisdom) through observation and also rolling through the mire of my mistakes and error. Oh, it is not something extraordinary or secret. The hikmah is there, apparent as the Sun, and perhaps just as blinding (obvious). 

God speaks in Allegories. In the Holy Quran, verse 24;35, God says that He speaks to mankind in allegories. And this is how my friend Yafiah is speaking to me and you, through her stories and prose. Now the trick of it all is for me to realise that God is speaking to us all the time in allegories. He weaves His story and His Love and Lesson all around us. He's is all there for us to be aware. But being aware is the hardest bit of all, especially when we are tested...

Forgotten Allegories
I forgot that God was speaking to me in allegories 
when I was scolded and came away bitter and angry. 
I forgot that God was speaking to me in allegories 
when my hopes were broken and I felt myself broken. 
I forgot that God was speaking to me in allegories 
when in the middle of nowhere my car had a flat tire. 
I forgot that God was speaking to me in allegories  
when I became ill and felt my body on fire. 
I forgot that God was speaking to me in allegories 
when I came to money and ill-used all my wealth.
God speaks to me in allegories all the time
But how easy it was for me to forget! 

Hindsight. Of course, in hindsight, we inevitably learn and realise the truth. That the 'good' and 'bad' occurrences in our lives are nothing if not God speaking to us. Then we are able to find the balance, and read what God intended us to understand all along. The trick and wisdom is for us to realise this truth without hindsight, and realise it as it happens...

A Rose of Wisdom. This is the Rose of Wisdom that I seek from God. I am told that such divine bloom can be found in the Garden of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.). Now that I know of this rose, I am asking for it. Can you show me the way to the Garden, sunshine?

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Truth, God and the Bridle of Adab - the best virtue is good manners (adab), and real truth only manifests itself in the Divine Presence of Truth

Speaking the truth to power
I spoke truth to power
When I said good morning to my father,
I spoke truth to power
When I said goodbye upon my mother’s passing,
I spoke truth to power
When I said my marriage vows,
I spoke truth to power
When I spoke at the divorce proceedings,
I spoke truth to power
When I raised my voice at my son,
I spoke truth to power
When finally I said that I was sorry,
I spoke truth to power
When I orated in a crowded hall,
I spoke truth to power
In my prayer and its private intimacy

I spoke truth to power
Every second of my life,
But to Love, to the Power behind the power
I spoke the truth to the Truth
When I promised Him that
I shall adore Him and no other.

Over a couple of days, an old friend has been trying to share with me the lessons of truth, the Truth, and Love. It took him some time because I am kinda thick and slow with the uptake. But this was the outcome of our secret liaison...

Speaking the truth (in its proper sequence). We should always speak the truth. That is virtue. But there is always many different truths that we can choose to share with our listener at a single given time. So the sequence of truths that we disclose to our listener is our choice. And it is Adab (good manners) that we choose to say the truth that does not grate the listener, that does not belittle or anger the listener. Instead, speak the truths that soothes the listener and encourages him towards hope, knowledge, humanity, compassion and mercy. And this is better, because the best virtue is Adab.

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.), the Bridle of Adab.

Real truth is with Truth. Real truth and openness is only in the Divine Presence, that is why in the third last line of the prose, truth is being spoken to Truth (Haq), which is one of the mighty names and attributes of God. This happens when our senses and our limbs, our past, present and future antecedents admit to our own failings and weaknesses... our confessions of guilt and impropriety before God, who is happily(for us) also known as the Most Compassionate (ar-Rahman) and Most Merciful (ar-Rahim). So do not be discouraged by our very human failures and follies. He who created us, verily, knows us best. Better even than our own timid selves. 

Why argue? So unless it is a fundamentally life and death situation, why argue with someone? Even if truth is on your side (or so you think), let the conflict pass you by... after all, it takes two people to make a fight. Restrain your argumentative ego to the Bridle of Adab. I do not think there is a better way, insyaAllah.

Have a happy, care-free, argument-free day, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rumi, Soul Teasers and a Deck of Cards...

These are called Rumi-spectacles. Wear them to change your perspective of the world,
which of course, changes the world itself....

Ah. Jelaluddin Rumi. Poet Extraordinaire, best-selling poet in the Western Hemisphere since sliced white bread was invented. Inventor of the dustbin hat. The man who spouted tolerance and inclusiveness before the advent of Hippy-ism, One Love, Flower Power and the Ungrateful Dead. A Game Changer, a Muslim Sufi Saint of unparalleled reach who popularized the whirling ritual and founded the Mehlevi Order.

I don't read Rumi. I don't go looking for him, but every now and then someone would quote him on Facebook and there we would meet... two brick on the wall of a friend. 

To change the topic entirely, as a habit, I do go looking for clouds. Especially when I am driving, which is of course appallingly dangerous. I would be driving up the road and be looking up to the sky. I cannot help myself, you see, drawn as I am to the clouds. They are such shameless flirts... The little soul teasers.

There they are. Teasing me with their God-given beauty.
Getting back to Rumi, about a month ago a stranger named Sean popped up out of the etherness  of the Internet and asked if I wouldn't mind too badly if he could reproduce one of my Rumi-esque Sufi-esque sketches. They are going to produce a 40-deck card set entitled 'Rules of Love of Shams of Tabriz'. Shams of Tabriz is Rumi's famous muse, a wandering dervish who wandered (as wandering dervishes have a habit of doing) into Rumi's hometown and sparked his passionate love and fealty. Shams was the Master of the Master then. This is the picture that Sean wants to use...

...which coincidentally contains the two phrases by which I normally close a posting. I guess this means that I should probably stop here now and leave you to your day, your love, your work and play.

God blesses you always, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

THE PATH IS LOVE - one question for God

One Question for God
Oh Love,
How strange I find this world to be,
And stranger still the people here,
Infatuated by the world
And stopping there,
When the world is here
Only to point to You...

Oh Love,
How strange I find this world to be,
And stranger still the people here,
Talking and talking and talking,
Thinking and thinking and thinking
Of everything else but You,
When everything else is here
Only to point to You...

Oh Love,
How can the world satisfy their heart
And the yearning that compels the searching?
When the searching of anything else has no value
If it does not bring them closer to You?

Oh Love,
Tell them I am sorry,
That I cannot join them
In their infatuation,
In their thinking,
In their talking,
In their searching...

For this world is not
Enough for me now,
And if there is a cure,
Please, Love, 
Show me how...

I work. I play. I eat and sleep. But truth be told, if any of this things I do, does not reveal just a little bit more of God and of his Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.), then really, what is the point of it all?

This is not a question on dogma or theology. It is about the dervishes of this world, the wanderers and restless wayfarers of the soul who, having found that the Path is Love, finds that this world possesses no other true happiness and joy than taking that one more hesitant step, that one more hopeful breath towards Love.

And of course, to reply the question posed,

Much like the path, the answer is Love.

Mawlana Shaykh Nazim of Lefke, Cyprus. Just a couple of mornings ago.

Have a lovely day, my friend. See you how the sun shines?

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Monday, November 26, 2012

Just Like Old Times - of friendship, chance meeting and the shedding of bitterness

My Old Friend
I met him, 
I saw him last night,
And we exchange pleasantries,

I saw him last night,
And I thought him beautiful
As the first time we met,

All my bitterness,
All my sadness,
All my sorrow fell away
Like leaves on a beautiful autumn day,

We spoke for a while only,
But it was enough for me,
He was my friend, you see.

And the funny thing was last night... 
My heart unconditionally confirmed, 
"You fool, Taufiq. He still is!"

I was outside the banquet hall at a wedding. It was there that I chance into my old friend, just minding his cigarette under a bleak evening rain. He was also invited to the wedding because he is a cousin to the bride.

I anticipated this meeting, but not the outcome. For you see, he had some harsh words that he once wrote me, and I was hurt. And for the longest time, I kept my sadness and, I must admit it here, my bitterness. Like a troll sulking in the cave, I nursed my pain and bitterness like a burning itch. But after a while, even this troll grew tired of being separated from his friend. Yet even then, I did not look for my friend, and indeed, in a couple of occasions when I saw him in a social function, I slipped away. Still a troll, I guess.

So it was a relief for me, that when I bumped into him last night, with no chance of evading an encounter, my heart delighted in seeing his smiling face, shedding in an instance, two years of hurt, regret and sorrow. I was happy because I did not even have to think about it, I was simply glad to finally talk to him. And being reminded once again in his kind words and thoughtful remarks, why he is my friend.

It was just like old times. I count this as a win for the Prophet, and glory unto God, Friend of the Friends, and Best Fixer-Upper of Petty Squabbles. 

Amongst Friends... and Shaykh Raja. Sometime in 2006, I reckon.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Just As You Are - people are real, corporations are a myth

A friend.

Just As You Are
Tis’ better to be a master of a small boat,
Than an able seaman of a giant liner,
Tis’ better to be the lady of a cottage,
Than the maid of a mansion,
Tis’ better to cast a small shadow
Than to cast one bigger than yourself,

Diminished, I return to my small abode,
Diminished, I stroll down the quiet road
To my small heart and my small ambition,
To my books and my music,
As I seek solace from my Lord
And hear Him assure me
Time and time again,
Though I deserve no assurance…

 “Others may not see you as a star
But you are quite enough
For Me just as you are.”

As a lawyer (for I am one), I take some pride with knowing 'stuff', thinking I 'understand' the world and the working of the human mind. I like to believe that I know 'what's what' and above all, that with all this vast knowledge, I won't let anyone make use of me. 

He he he.

Well, a couple of days ago I was well and truly 'used' by my  client. Completely dropped into the crapper and expected to learn to swim in the deep end of the pool. He he he. But I didn't drown. I managed to get to the pool's edge, but only just. Funnily enough, it was not from any help from my client, but rather the 'other side'. My client was a corporation, and the other side were individual human beings. I guess it should come to no surprise that people are better than corporations. After all, corporations have no feelings or morality.

Even politicians (and this is saying a lot!) are better than limited liability corporations. For at the end of the day, they are still human beings, representing themselves and their personal opinions and ideals, however moral or immoral it may be. A company is a means by which businesses derive maximum profitability with minimum accountability, as a corporate veil comes down upon man's greed and avarice, hiding its unquenchable appetite for money and power behind 'cute', 'friendly' and 'green' slogans, cooked up by their advertising and PR consultants.

I am still bitter at being used, I guess. He he he.

But I am here, and I am still alive and writing. I have done nothing deserving of this, but I have your kind company. So despite all this complains, life is, as always, actually beautiful. Alhamdulillah. 

Thank you, sunshine, for dropping in. Have a wonderful sabbath.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Our Memories is Greater than the Sum of all its Parts - life, death, mothers, masters and God

Bukit Kiara Cemetery, Kuala Lumpur.

Our Memories
Though you may not see Him,
Verily, He sees you,
Though you may not hear Him,
Verily, He hears you,
Though you may not remember Him,
Verily, He remembers you in good company,
Not a single moment has He left you in doubt,
Not a single page of your life that He has not read aloud,
Every glance, every tear that you shed,
Every laughter, every smile and playful pout,
All your joy and bitter regrets,
All your good and all your bad,
All your within and all your without,
Like a riverfall descending down the mountain side,
Like the little fishermen boats that run through the harbour,
You course through His thoughts as you make your way to Him,
To His sea and to His mercy,
And along the way,
You met me
And you helped make 
Our Memories.

Dearest mother,
How I miss your smile and laughter. Your impregnable optimism and your fire. How I miss your cooking, all that fish and vegetables. How I miss you bringing fruits and produce from other countries. How I miss you greeting the many friends and family who would come to our house, bringing light of laugh and love into our lives.

Dearest master,
How I miss your presence, silent and all-encompassing. How I miss the way you say my name. And how you made me feel. You were small in stature, but somehow you seemed to me seven feet tall. I still have your number in my cellphone. If I call it, who will now answer?

Dearest dearest,
You were ever present in these, the memories of my mother and my master. My beloved, benovelent, most kind and merciful Creator. I knew you were there. I had no doubt. For you have given me a life rich with love and laughter, tribulation and ease, success and failure. However my life has turned, I knew I had your undivided attention…


Arbayah binti Haji Hashim, somewhere in South England.

Subhanim Allah, Sultanim Allah, Nabim Muhammad alayhi salam.

Wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way
My happiness is by their side
I await the Day

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Blinding Sun and the Power Grid of God

75. One
And I am undone,
Unmade, unwritten, unread.
Unraveling, my brother! I am unraveling!
Fading but not dying,
Dreaming but not sleeping.

And I am undone,
Lost to you,
Lost to me,
Blinded by the Sun.

You do not look directly to the Sun because it would injure and blind you. But if you look at the Sun's reflection on a pool of water, it is alright. For God has made this world both a veil and a mirror, to hide and to display His many divine attributes. It is the way that He has chosen for all humanity to approach Him. A divine courtship, of Layla and Majnun, as we Majnuns run hither and tither chasing Layla's reflection, God's own intimacy, kindness and beauty for those who seek Him. 

And God has constructed a world of your existence with countless ways to communicate with Him, and He has created the capacity of the human heart to express numerous ways for us to praise Him. And the path of love is not through the highlands of elevated thoughts alone, but through the valley of humanity, with its many weaknesses, folly, greed, apathy, hate and hubris. You are meant, my friend, to be a beacon, a lamp, a connection to a better reality. So you do not thumb your nose at what most people think to be ridiculous and stupid. You are looking through the veil of humanity's own weakness to see the divine connection, that we might make this world a better place.

That is all. 

The Power Grid of God
Do not look down upon the old,
And what appears to be broken,
Do not cast aspersion without knowing
The true reality of meanings,
Do not think lowly of those
Whom you think have lost the plot,
For even the humblest looking sockets
Is connected to the Power Grid of God.

Have a lovely day, sunshine. God bless you.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Angel Sitting on My Chimney

The Angel Sitting on My Chimney
Smoke and soot filled the room,
“What is blocking my chimney?!” I fumed,

So out of the shed I pulled out the ladder
And up the side of the house wearily I climbed,
Breathing heavily and regretting my dinner,
Wondering what will i finally find,

Lo and behold who I found on my roof
But an angel sitting pretty on my chimney top,
Absorbed utterly in a book on his lap,
Oblivious to the evening rain,
Reading under a column of light
Falling through a heavenly gap.

Good morning, sunshine. Why are you here today, when I have for you nothing but a whimsical drawing and a whimsical prose?

I would not advise you to spend your time reading on top a chimney though, unless you don’t mind your buttocks being burnt and blackened. Angels have no worry of such worldly problems of soot and smoke, you see. Created in light, neither blackness nor dirt touches them.

God bless the angels, blessed servants of God!

I wish for you the finest of days today, whoever you are, wherever you may be and whatever you may be doing.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Monday, November 19, 2012

Light Upon Light - God and the Gossamer Screen

The Gossamer Screen II
He is the Gossamer Screen,
And the Lord made him with
Fine threads of light,

He is the Gossamer Screen,
And he shines brightest at night,
When all the world is asleep,

A long time in the making,
His web of light is stretched
From one end of God’s infinity to the other,
And called the Gossamer Screen
He reflects the Lord’s Light better than any other.

He is the flower of spring,
The first snowfall of winter,
He is God’s own serendipity,
Flowing with beauty and mercy,

As His Light falls upon him,
It is Light upon Light,
Praised by the dead in the cold earth,
Praised by the angels, deathless in the sky
The Sign of Mercy, Most Beloved of God,
The Gossamer Screen is he.

It is the understanding of the Sufis, those praying, singing and dancing dervishes, that true reality is God's alone. We are only reflections of God's own absoluteness juxtaposed upon a transient mirror, fleeting moments in the imagery when contrasted with the infinite breadth of His existence. And this is quite interesting, considering when I look in the mirror I see me and no one else. As I am sure you do too (I mean you would see you, of course. Not me. Hehehe). 

Oh well, this is what they tell me.

And yet the world is not an illusion for us. It is extremely real as we are born, we grow up, we work and play, we get married and have children, we love and we fight, we crawl, walk and run, we do all the things humanity has done since the beginning of time, until finally, we relinquish our hold to this world, to return to our Creator, God. So in its form, the world performs its function perfectly.

But form is not everything. There is of course the essence, the meaning of the world. And it is in this context that this world is illusory. For it betrays a deeper compelling purpose to our existence. It is to be a servant of God and to be of service to all our brothers and sisters in humanity. From this fitrah (essence) pours out all the very best of what we can be... honest, obedient, kind, compassionate, creative, loving, merciful and humble. This is the reflection of the Light of God, existing not just in Heaven, but on Earth as well. And the very best of Mankind reflects best the Light of our Lord. For the Muslims, this very best is Muhammad ibn Abdullah (s.a.w.s.), Prophet of God, anointed Mercy to all the world(s).

In the holy Quran, we read thus...

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a shining star. (This lamp is) kindled from a blessed tree, an olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself) though no fire touched it. Light upon light. Allah guideth unto His light whom He will. And Allah speaketh to mankind in allegories, for Allah is Knower of all things.
(Verse 24:35, transliteration by Marmaduke Pickthall)
This is the true reality of our existence then, living in a world of allegories and parables. But the allegories and parables are not for play, it is for us to reflect and contemplate upon, that we might learn a little of who we truly are, which is the very first baby steps towards understanding who God truly is...

May your path be beautiful and meaningful, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Gossamer Screen - beauty is the projection of power.

Beauty and Power
Beauty is just one
Of many devices
By which God projects 
His Power.

Singapore. I flew to Singapore yesterday for a day-trip at the behest of one of my clients. Like little legal gnomes, my group of lawyer friends guided and witnessed the signing of more than 40 contracts for the purchase of apartments by the well-to-do citizens of the southern city-state. I do mostly corporate stuff, but I sometimes help out my partner, Alex, in this conveyancing work (sale and purchase of real property), and I do enjoy dealing with retail customers... talking to real human personalities up-front, rather than through the corporate veil of companies and organizations... For you see, people think differently when they are spending their own money, as opposed to the company's money. It is a welcome change.

Beauty. The rain has been pouring like nobody's business these past couple of weeks, and as we took the morning flight I saw white plumes of cloud rising majestically in the sunny sky. And it was the memory of me and Alex flying fearlessly in a tin cylinder through the heavens that made me think later this morning - that beauty is the projection of power.

Eternal Beauty. And how strange it is for most people to fall for transient beauty when the eternal beauty and power of God is there, clear as day, looming over our lives like the clouds and storms in the sky, or intimately close to us, in the form and beautiful aspects of our children... 

The Gossamer Screen
You have witnessed it yourself, 
God is projecting His power 
upon the  thin gossamer 
screen of your life.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way  

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Most Impertinent Gift of All - life, love, children and the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.)

1.      A Clear blue sky, Qasidah Burdah!
I am standing beneath
A clear blue sky,
As the night clouds part
To reveal stars that twinkle
And wink at me,
Trying to winkle from me
A little sigh, a little tear,
A little chuckle,
As I, Taufiq,
Take delight in God’s apparentness,
In the burning fire of stars countless
Light years away from me,

And in the delight of God’s covertness,
In the burning heart of the Prophet’s Companions
So near to me, that I can feel
Their breath upon my cheek,
Their hand upon my hand,

And they are saying,
“O’ Taufiq! What do you desire?”

And I am replying now,
“O’ Stars of my Twilight Sky,
It is your Master that I covet!

Really I do declare that I am the most greedy person I know. Not happy enough with the delights of this world and the birth of my son some 8 years ago, I still want more. I want the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.), of all the most impertinent desires that mortal men can hide in the folds of their hearts. 

But the point about divine gifts is that it comes with a qualification, for each thing which we receive, whether it is money and wealth, breath and health, land and friends, has a flip side. With great gifts come great responsibility - For what are we spending our money on? With each breath are we making this world better or worse? If we have health, what are doing with our bodies? And what are we allowing to be built on our lands? And do we take care of our friends, or do we neglect them?

And when it comes to the gift of children, come on... let's face it. We have never been properly trained and educated to fulfill our responsibilities towards them. For Muslims, they would therefore ask for the most impertinent divine gift to help them manage their responsibilities in this life, and that boon is the gift of access and intimacy with the best guide to all Mankind - God's anointed Mercy to the world(s), the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.).

Of course, he has passed away a long, long time ago. But if you really wanna know, the nature of death and the reality of the after life makes this a wholly technical issue which can be dealt with easily...

Attending to the Prophet(s.a.w.s.)
Attend to the Prophet
And the Prophet will attend to you
Direct your attention to the Prophet
And the Prophet will direct his attention to you
Listen to the Prophet, for he is already speaking to you,
Turn to the Prophet, for he is already gazing to you,
From a place far,  far away
But very, very near.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jack of all trades, Master of none - knowledge and the path of servanthood

1.      The nature of knowledge
All knowledge is contained
In the Ocean of the Lord,
And if perchance, I appear
To name different types of knowledge,
Know that it is merely because
I have taken a cup from the Ocean,
And man, in their foolishness,
Keep asking me,
“What are you talking about?!”

Universities have deigned to separate knowledge between faculties - the faculties of medicine, physics, biology, history, law, social sciences, astronomy... and the list goes on and on. And further out into society, we are wont to divide between the physical and the spiritual, the material and the metaphysical.

I suppose it is part of the continuing specialization of mankind's knowledge, and the accepted rule that we cannot be a jack of all trades and a master of none. We must be a master of something. We have to master something...


The answer is blowing in the wind, as an ancient friend tells me...

To be a master 
Is to be a servant
To acquire knowledge
Is to dispossess yourself of yourself
To understand something
Is to become nothing,
Not even a leaf
Blowing in the wind,
A story with no beginning
With no known ending.

Hehehe. Life is full of irony sometimes. 

Have a lovely day, sunshine. May your path take you to the honour of servanthood, an award granted to you that is higher than the highest PHDs available in the divided faculties of our limited human knowledge. For that little prize comes from the treasure trove of the Divine Presence itself.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way