Wednesday, January 30, 2013

THE PILGRIMAGE - an epic 30 postings travelogue of a sinner dressed as a pilgrim

You must forgive me. I did not plan to procrastinate so, but between my work and my play, my friends and my family, I have had little time to organise this almanac. But since arriving home from Singapore late Sunday night, I was committed to set up a page about the pilgrimage (umrah haj) I undertook in 2011. You can get there by simply Clicking Here, or going to the astutely named 'THE PILGRIMAGE' on the pages list on the right hand column of the blog.

There is enough to read and see in the thirty specific postings listed in that page, so I shan't trouble you with too many words here.

God bless you!

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Between Rumi and Avatar - poetic divinity and over-design

The Wings of My Soul
I would spread the wings of my soul
But even the vast expanse of this universe
Will not be able to contain them,

I would wear the crown of my soul
But the light would blind the rest of creation
And leave them stumbling in a formless world,

I would walk around with the slippers of my soul
But I am not used to walking on air,
Accustomed as I am to the earth
Of my being.

I would unmask my soul
But the mirror of this world
Is held up by my own hands,
And the contradiction of my existence
And my non-existence
Would annihilate my world,

And I would come to be to myself
An unknown, anonymous thing,
To be drawn and written and composed
As God deems fit, as the Prophet instructs.

And even this is not the complete truth!

AVATAR. I don't have time for spiritual poetry. For I find this physical world manifest already with the poetic symmetry of creation that can come from God alone. If you do not believe me, look at man's own attempt at creature design... from 'scientific' television documentaries which depict animals and plants dug up from the imagination and tenuous rationalization of scientists (who really ought to know better than go for this 'pop' pseudo-scientific fiction) to mega gazillion movies like Avatar and Prometheus. Not one or two, but all the man-designed creatures somehow appear to be contrived and fictional, lacking the symmetry and asymmetrical cohesiveness of this real world and real creation, registered and copyrighted by our one God. 

Oh my God... you are ugly. I would now normally say,
"Prepare to meet your Maker..." but I know for certain God didn't make you.

And almost all fictional creatures end up with
this one singular fault - over design.

RUMI. Err... I appear to have deviated somewhat from today's topic. So back to poetry and poets. I have assiduously avoided reading poetry, because I don't really enjoy language for language's sake. And even that most celebrated poets such as Rumi and Hafez I evade from reading. But sometimes life moves in its twists and turn and you cannot avoid bumping into these spiritual luminaries. As in a little book Heche acquired for me entitled Rumi - The Fire of Love. This book turns out to be a biography of sorts covering Jelaludin Rumi and his muse, Shams of Tabriz. The book is the creation of Nahal Tajadod, a Teheran born scholar and sufi now residing in France. What makes this book very accessible is that it is written from the point of view of a Rumi mureed (student), but composed in a modern novel language. Nicely done.

I am still reading the book, and slowly devouring the stories and history of Rumi, his family, companions and mureeds, all living in that age under the shadow of the rapacious Mongol hordes from the east. Of the many books I have acquired or been given over this past one year, I think this will be one of my favourites! I will share with you my conclusions upon finishing the book later.

But before I leave you (and leave I must), I recall a prose I recorded many years back. It is kinda funny...

1.      Rumi Freak
A friend once said that
I am a Rumi freak.

But the truth is
I don’t read Rumi.

I am holding his beard
And he has his hands
On my head.

Have a thoughtful day, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Monday, January 28, 2013

TEN THOUSAND - the endless journey to cross the endless ocean of Muhammad Habibullah

Ten Thousand
I dream of you
And ten thousand moons,
Reflecting upon you skin
Of infinite sea,

I dream of you
And ten thousand skies,
With ten thousand meanings
Like stars clustering
In your eyes.

I dream of you
And read your ten thousand books,
And every beginning has another beginning
And every ending has another ending,
As if God never tires of writing about you,

I dream of you
Dreaming of me,
And were it not for your lessons, o' Prophet
I would not allow myself anywhere near you
Even if my journey is illuminated
By the light of the ten thousand moons,
By the stars of the ten thousand skies,
By the wisdom of the ten thousand books
Bearing your name, your stories and your life.

While in Singapore I chance upon a polite company of Sufis discoursing about saints, books and divine knowledge. And stupidly I felt a pang of jealousy, for I cannot speak of Allah(s.w.t.) and His Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) in that scholarly manner. I love books, and am a bookish man, but what I learn I often learn from the pain in my feet, the illness in my hands, the joy in my child, and the deep fathom waters of an eastern sea. I learn through hard painful lessons and the happiness of smiles and laughter that our spirit shares with us, in those rare quiet moments when the physical world blurs into the background and divine love manifests as the true guiding power of not only the spiritual world, but also the material world. 

And our ego becoming nothing but a beast of burden of our soul.

My friends, I would not suffer the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) my own company, in my worn and shabby piety, my sickly and diseased spirit, my bitterness and my jealousies. Were it not for his calling, "Come, come, come..." I would not even speak his name. I am like a stray dog outside the Prophet's home. 

So listen not to a stray dog, sunshine. Listen to the Prophet. Indeed, only in him is the surety for your safety, happiness and success in dunya (this world) and akhirat (the world hereafter).

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I do not understand... but I understand love

I Do Not Understand, But I Understand Love
I do not understand the world sometimes,
Because the language most natural to me is love,
I do not understand the news sometimes,
Because the only news I know is love,
I do not understand people's anger and hate sometimes,
Because the only emotion I understand is love,

And by God, because of this
I sometimes do not even understand myself
And the angry and despairing creature
Standing in the mirror in front of me.

I am leaving for Singapore again today. But I would have no problem speaking there because almost all Singaporeans can speak English. And of course there are also Malays there who can speak Malay, although some of them tend to speak in a lingo or dialect a little strange to us Malaysian Malays. A little bit 1970s era kinda lingo. He he he.

But Chinese or Malay or English, everyone can speak the Language of Love. It is manifest in our attitude and character, our patience and fortitude, our mercy and compassion. As a sinner, I fear that despite my 42 years of life, I am still in the Kindergarten of Love, and it is unsafe to leave me to my own ego and its cunning devices - often I caught myself speaking and thinking in another language. The language of the ego. I pray always to God to guide me, and to take me closer to His anointed Master of the Language of Love, our  own benevolent and loving Muhammad (s.a.w.s.).

Geo-politics and the geo-politicians of this world like to paint the world of despair and confusion. But that is simply because they are painting their global perception with the ego. I often do this and hope to lessen my addiction to this most foul of habits.

So pray for me always, sunshine. And I shall pray for you.

Let us endeavour to always converse in the Language of Love.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Gathering of the Birds. Happy Birthday to the Prophet! Happy Birthday to You! - 12 Rabi ul Awwal

The Gathering of the Birds
Tired and listless,
Before arriving home
I wandered to the home
Of the nightingales,

And there I saw the gathering,
Not only of nightingales...
But I saw owls and falcons, 
Budgies and sparrows,
Ravens and eagles,
Crows and Mockingbirds,
And even an assortment
Of Ostriches and Dodos.

God bless the birds!
God bless them all 
Of whatever hue and colour,
Singing or silent,
Flying or earth bound,
Wise or foolish,
Beautiful or less so,

For it is the Twelth of Rabi ul Awwal,
And Mercy made manifest in Muhammad
Whose Love shall forever more flow!

It was a tiring day yesterday. But in the evening I dropped by the Naqshbandi Zawiya nearby. And there I saw the gathering of those strange Sufis. I could not stay long, but I did spend some time talking to them. It always stirs my curiosity to see such a mingling of people of different colours and races, vocation and age, nationality and culture, wealth and educational back ground, all drawn to this place of worship, as is happening in the whole Muslim world today, to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.), when God made His mercy for all creation manifest in the clearest sign possible.

For the Muslims, the birthday of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.), Beloved of God, Mercy to all the world(s), is intimately linked to their own. For naught is the reason for their lives, for each waking hour and sleep, in work or in play, in sadness or joy, were it not to be lived in their love and devotion for Muhammad (s.a.w.s), Prophet of God.

We have all our own birthdays. But our soul all share one birthday in that of Muhammad (s.a.w.s.). For it is not for nothing that he is also known as Abu Arwah (The Father of Souls).

So happy birthday, sunshine! Keep your smile on, always.

wa min Allah at-taufiq.

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

101-Year Old Man, a Home Coming, an Uncle and Friendship

In the firmament of my sky,
In the questions and answers
As to who am I,
In the light of my day,
And in the rising of the Moon at night,
Verily, I know God chose my friends right,

No matter where we are, no matter what we do,
I know God bequeathed
Unto me my faithful,
Loyal friends,

...To overcome all tribulations,
To make good our place on this Earth,
As the Race of Adam and Eve,
As the Nation of Muhammad,
As a servant of God...

... He who dwells
In the infinite horizon
Of every man's heart!

My long standing friend, partner and founder of our law firm is leaving Kuala Lumpur. He is going home with his wife and three kids to Kuching, Sarawak (in the Island of Borneo) to devote his care and attention on his ailing father, Abang Bohan.

ABANG BOHAN. Abang Bohan is an exceptional man of 101 years, if Allah permits his coming birthday this year. He has 12 children and heaven knows how many grandchildren. As another exceptional (if somewhat awkward) tribute to Abang Bohan, is that he is probably the only human being, apart from my blessed late mother, and my dear auntie Sophia (Makndak) to have actually bathed me. But my mum and auntie bathed me when I was a little toddler, while Ariffin's father once bathed me 4 years ago. It was a spiritual shower of sorts, to cleanse me of some dodgy karma that has dogged my life up to then. In his nonagenarian frame (in his late 90s back then) was a light of knowledge and piety, and with some chalk, lime, water and a blunt butter knife, he administered me. He gave me some blessed oil, and a talisman of tin to arm myself, tied in a knot around my waist. For all these medicine and care, my love and respect for this ancient man is sincere and real. 

Mika. In frustrated tears trying to master cursive writing under the watchful
help of Herman. Later Mikhail complained to me, "Mummy was not
positive. She just laughed, Papa. Then she took a picture! But later
I went into her room, and I found a book. It was called
"Why Men Marry err... the bad 'b' word
(Bitches, I think. he he he)"
Why did she buy the book, papa? Is it about her??"
UNCLE H. In an additional twist of fate, another man has come into my life, albeit indirectly through my ex-wife, Gina, and his name is Herman, her new husband. I had little doubt of his character even early on, but through my son Mikhail and his mum, I have heard nothing but good report about him over the years. He dots over my 9-year old son as if Mika is his own, checking on his internet usage, helping with his homework, ironing my son's school uniform and even cleaning his school shoes. And last weekend, when I had to miss my son's early birthday party (his birthday is actually this coming 31st January) as I had to go to Singapore for work, it was Herman who was running about getting the balloons, food and presents sorted. I have often asked Mika to call him Dad or Daddy, but Mika still insists on the formal prefix of 'Uncle'. Perhaps one day he will realize what a bargain he got when his mum married the 'Uncle'.

I want to share these stories with you, because I think it is important for me to spread a little cheer. We cannot really tell how God, in His Sublime Mercy may reward and bless our lives. Through a  centenarian or the new husband of your ex-spouse.

May Allah(s.w.t.) bless them always. And may the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) guide my friend Ariffin in his return to his hometown. He cannot imagine how much I shall miss him.

Have a lovely day, sunshine. 

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

YA LATIF! THE GENTLE, THE SUBTLE, THE ALL-KIND! - illnesses, life and lessons to learn

Ya Latif
You are my Lord, ya Latif,
The Most Subtle, the Most Gentle,
Like the Rose in the Garden,
Most beautiful are Your petals,

You are my Lord, ya Latif,
The All-Kind, the Most Considerate,
And my desire to know You
Is a desire that cannot wait!

You are my Lord, ya Latif,
And unerring is Your attention,
Gentle and subtle in all Your ways,
How blessed are Your servants!
How nuanced are Your lessons!
How blessed am I
Since the day I was given
Knowledge of You
Till the day that I die!

And more thereafter!

And more thereafter!

Don't trouble Yourself, with me, God! If you have been reading my postings recently, you would have known that I have contracted some strange skin allergy. I was sad and rather depressed at the unsightly disfigurement of my hands. But I recall that I joked to myself saying, "Oh Lord! Oh such time and trouble You have taken to raise all these ugly looking poxes and scabs on my hands! Really, You ought not to have troubled Yourself with me!"

My poxy scabby hands! But fret not,
they are in fact getting better.
But that is not the nature of God. He does trouble Himself with you. Of course, it is no trouble to Him, really, but when you consider all of creation with its animate and inanimate creatures and things, there would be trillions upon trillions of divine management issues God has to deal with. But despite the things in His care and hands, He still concerns Himself intimately with us. Us poor neglectful humans...

Cleaning up the Temple. And in the difficulties that He sometimes lay upon our path, there is always (ALWAYS) a reason behind it. A clue and a hint for us to understand. And for me, this little allergic reaction was a visual signal to myself to stop neglecting my health. And because of my aversion to my illness, I have actually started to take better care of myself, cutting down my sugar and carb intake, and generally looking after the temple that is my body, as the Christians like to put it. 

Taufiq doesn't get the hint! It is not as if I didn't know about my diabetic condition. I have been suffering from it for more than a decade. But after a decade of continues misuse and neglect, I guess God figured He better send me a more graphic sign as to the illness ailing and hidden inside my body. And even then, He does so with a nuanced and subtle approach - Because only my hands and feet are affected. But I am a writer and a lawyer, I work with my hands, typing and sketching every day. So I cannot but notice His divine hints. This time.

So thank you God, ya Latif... for your continuing attention to me, in Your most gentle and personal way. I would want no other Lord over me than You. So thank God, that there is no god but God after all... ya Latif, ya Allah... by any name that You are happy to be known as... You are awesome to me.

Have a thoughtful day and take care, sunshine. Take care of your temple. 

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Monday, January 21, 2013

Baghdad in Singapore, 'Development' in Mecca - work, heritage, religion and of course... food!

I went down to Singapore again for some legal work last weekend. I may gripe and bitch, I may moan and sigh, but truth be told, I like working. It gives me a sense of purpose, an urgency that is sometimes missing in my life. Sometimes it is a telephone call from a customer that actually wakes me up from my mid-morning 'oh-what-am-I-gonna-do-now' procrastination. But don't tell my customers that... they might want a legal fee rebate.

We had problems telling the Singaporean clientele where to meet us. "700 Beach
 We said, and they would normally ask, "Yes la... but what is the name of
the building?"
 The name of the office tower is actually 700 Beach, being also the address.
Funny how things that should make life simpler ends up making it
a little more complicated. He he he.

But it was not all work of course. After a tiring but well-sorted day, we headed down to the Arab Street locality of Singapore. And I took some pictures also...

Alex, our head of property and banking. Awake until 2.00am sorting out the
contracts and signing schedules for tomorrow's session. I could barely keep my
eyes open by then. Over the weekend we sorted out 39 signings with an approximate
contract value of a hair below RM40 million. Our client would be happy.
Next morning, if you are a local of Jalan Sultan, you would find me at a restaurant
called The Sultan's Kitchen. If it was anywhere else in the world, such an outlet
would probably be selling Indian Muslim, Arab or Turkish food. But as it turns out
it was entirely Chinese. I had a strong cup of coffee to wake me up. As I sat outside
I saw an old Chinese man making his round collecting cans of soft (and hard) drinks
at the garbage bins outside for recycling money. It is a poignant reminder that even
in this very rich city state, there is poor among us, always. I think Jesus said that.
So that is my Jesus thought for the day.
In the evening, we walked the famous Arab Street, and wandered into the small
alleys and side streets nearby. We found a Haji Lane. And it was one way, so
we made our way as per the arrow...
There appears to be something going on down there. House techno music were
booming and crowds of people were mingling. This calls for further investigation
of two men with some time to spare in this city of lions.
People (mostly young kids and two weather-beaten lawyers) were standing around
shuffling and dancing in that I-don't-really-know-how-to-dance-but-I-will-fidget
-a little-so that-people-will-think-I-may actually-know-how-to-dance sorta way.
I call it the zombie shuffle. There was also a depressing realization by myself that me
and Alex were probably the oldest geezers in the vicinity. But Alex didn't mind at all.
Alex is a man with no emotions whatsoever.
I really wanted to get up close to take some shots of that fancy turntable that
the DJs were playing with. But I was too shy and this is the closest I approached
the Red-Bull sponsored street music team.
Who says there is no old culture in Singapore? Alex reckon that this cozy little
neighbourhood would soon be demolished to build towering condo apartments,
shopping malls and office blocks. But I don't think so. I really don't believe that the
Singaporean government (being the overbearing super micro-managing behemoth
that is is) is the kinda of organization that would overlook a neighbourhood to be
developed. For what it's worth, they have actually encouraged (and enforced) a
time-capsule in this Bugis district. So you would still find quaint old shops with
quaint old entrance and grill. I like.
And in the centre of it all is the Sultan Mosque, a declared national monument
(and still operating mosque) since 1976. In Mecca, the Arabs have gone ahead to
annihilate the old hotels and small street shops around the Masjidil Haram (where
resides the Holy Kaaba) to build grandiose hotels, shopping malls and a gigantic
clock tower overlooking the Muslim world's number one place and focus of worship.
Again, ironic how the secular Singaporeans know better how to treat their Sultan Mosque.
We finally ended up here before heading back to the hotel. This little itsy bitsy
tea shop is reputed to sell the best cheap milk tea in Singapore. But I must report
that I cannot agree with such an assessment. The Kampong Glam restaurant across
the street serves better tea. But then again, that is my taste...
For supper I bought curry puff (or karipap in our dialect), a pastry
with curried chicken and potato fillings. It was a bit bland for our
Malaysian tongue. There is Alex, looking in disbelief at the size of
the karipap. And truly the proportion of this humble street food was
a wonder to behold. As we stood up to walk back, a stranger passed by and
said that we shouldn't waste food like that, because we still left some karipap
on the plate. Alex actually brought back the leftover to eat as
we walked back.
You dont' have to go to Baghdad to get to Baghdad Street.
On the way back to our budget accommodations to rest.
I haven't written for a couple of days already. Alhamdulillah, I am happy to be in Kuala Lumpur. Singapore was fun and interesting (which is good because it looks like I may have to go down again this coming weekend), but there is of course no place like home. 

Don't you agree, sunshine?

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Friday, January 18, 2013

FAITH HAS NO WEIGHT, LOVE HAS NO MASS - tea and the divine parables and metaphors

Faith Has No Weight, Love Has No Mass
Heavy books with heavy phrases,
Heavy looks on heavy faces,
Heavy thoughts in heavy hearts,
O’ scholars, what are you teaching yourselves!?

Heavy tents and heavy politics,
Heavy plans and heavy tricks,
Heavy words and heavy hubris,
O’ scholars, what are you teaching yourselves!?

Heavy pride and heavy fences,
Heavy fears and heavy defenses,
Heavy deeds and heavy offences,
O’ scholars! What are you teaching yourselves!?

In truth, faith has no weight
And love has no mass,
And the only thing heavy
Is a heart of both bereft.

A good heart gives the fortunate owner a nimbleness in his thinking, his work, his play and his loving. A good heart does not see the world in the material and spiritual sense, knowing as he does, that there is in truth only one reality. Only that such reality can be read and understood in two aspects, like two sides of the same coin.

Tea and the Divine Parables and Metaphors. In the holy Quran, we are informed that God talks to us in parables and metaphors. And so He does, while we work out what He is saying to us through our physical and spiritual interpretation of the world. So, when you drink tea, it is not merely a temporal  action, but also a spiritual action. It's the same whether you are asleep or awake, working, playing or praying. 

And good heart is important for this sorta thing.

So I hope to one day gain a good heart. It is not a complicated concept. Just do more good than bad. But for myself, this has been the most challenging ambition of all. But I still have hope, and I pray. To gain that nimbleness of footing upon the mountain.

'Tis Friday. Have a lovely weekend, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam 

Love will show the Way 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Following the Wisest Path - the heart and the ego

The Wisest
Last night God made me blush,
And a couple of days ago
He made me feel like I could die,
An hour ago God made me hungry,
And five minutes later He fed me.

No doubt later this evening
He will give me a reason to laugh,
And a reason to smile,
He will give me a reason to cry
And a reason to love,

I reckon that not a moment of my life
Has God left me to my own devices,
And thus I know that those
Who know themselves, know their Maker
And amongst such wise men, I consider them wisest.

Inward with God, outward with men - such is the nature of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s), and to some degree, that of his Companions and the Saints. 

Know yourself / self-discovery - what a beautiful, profound and slightly fuzzy-wuzzy hippie goal to have. "Oh, she is taking a year away. To look for herself..." But the journey towards self-discovery is also a journey away from the ego, that malevolently cunning alternate personality that is joined to our body and often deceives us to think that it is us. But my ego is not me. Yet, if you find me in a foul temper, bitter or despairing, selfish, self-consumed and wasteful... I would not blame you if you think that my ego is me after all.

Thus, to reject the ego, to control and bridle it to your heart and your conscience is the way forward. I will not lie, it has not (it is not) easy for me, being a sinner and all, to quell the rampant rebellion of my own ego.

So the journey continues. It is a new morning here in Kuala Lumpur. One more step in the path of eternity, with God, the Prophet, you and me, sunshine.

*all pictures are from my recent trip with Mikhail
to Kuala Kangsar. Didn't want to waste them. He he he.

Have a beautiful day. Have a wise day.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tears and Fears - this time, I will be ready

Tears & Fears
My life is filled with tears
But I am not sad,   
I have no right
To be.

My life is filled with fears
But I am not done in, 
I have no right  
To be. 

For I know my Lord
Has allotted a certain 
Number of tears 
For me to shed, 
Not one teardrop more, 
Not one teardrop less,

And my Lord has allotted
A certain number of fears
For me to overcome,
Not one ghost more,
Not one ghoul less, 

Such thoughts comfort me
As I sleep in my bed.

And as I wake up each morning
With the Sun rising above the sea,
The same tearful and fearful thoughts
Drift away to the West,
Though I know that
With the setting Sun,
The same cloud of tears
And fears will be there
Waiting for me.

But this time,
I will be ready.

There are many things we cry over, and there are many things that sends a chill into our heart. Death and illnesses, poverty and bankruptcies - these are the stuffs that will turn our day grey, as we sigh "Oh dear me..."

In our conversation last night, Heche said that "Well, you gotta learn how to swing the bat every time God throws you a curve ball."

"Well, I don't want to play baseball with God. He plays mean!" I protested.

But of course, we have no choice in the matter. We have all the choices in the world, but not this one. And of course, God doesn't play mean. He lets me off so many times that I cannot even count.

In fact God has rigged the game for us to win. But to win, we must win over something - Which is to conquer our tears and our fears, and be that person God knows we can be, if only we would persevere.

So persevere, sunshine. Have hope always.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way