Wednesday, October 30, 2013

MY LOVE, MY GOD, MY LONELIEST - of God, the beggars and the destitute, and the circle of empathy that binds us all

My Love, My God, My Loneliest
I rejoice at the happiness of people,
Smiling like a fool,
Then God interjected and said,
"I want happiness for you too."

"But God..." I answered
"Forgive me, for my happiness is with You,
Many have betrayed their sense of loneliness,
But You stand out as the loneliest of all."

So here I am.

Let them enjoy their happiness...
In their marriages, trades, births and kisses,
My happiest time is my time with You,
My Love, My God, My Loneliest.

The Odd One Out. God is the odd one out. He says He is the One and Only. And there is nothing, nothing comparable or can be associated with Him. And He once said, "I was a hidden jewel and I wanted to be known."

I don't know if God can make it more plain and simple for us. He wants our company. Indeed, He created us that we might delight in His infinite facets as the hidden jewel. A jewel utterly unique and unlike any other on earth... That's God for you.

Our Community. But God also created us to be communal. And has created us to be a creature needing companionship. So we seek our family and friends, our lovers and spouses to share our life with. And this is our life.

If God wanted, He could have maintained a humanity of one race, creed and colour. But He has permitted the evolution of many races and creed, many nationalities and cultures. For what? To create conflict, bigotry and hubris? No... so that we might learn to understand one another, tolerate and love the things that makes us different, and the things that we all still share as humans... the need for love, security and prosperity.

And in the course of our life, if we do bump into a solitary figure, a lonely hermit living in the fringes of respectable society, I hope we will remember that he too shares a longing. A desire to be known and to not feel lonely. And in this way, God the Loneliest and Loveliest completes the circle of empathy that joins all of mankind together.

So do not turn away in disdain at the beggar, the alcoholic drifter, the street-walker peddling their weary wares. For somewhere in their hearts, there is God.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

LOVE IS BEST WHEN SHARED - you and the bird in the Conference of the Birds

All Birds Will One Day Fly Away
A little bird perched on my shoulder,
And he told me of things I never knew,
Of words and music, of knowledge and beauty,
And he said, "This is the world God has created for you."

As  I grew, from child to teenage turmoil,
Then to manhood and fatherhood,
I grew larger and larger,
And the little bird
Grew smaller
And smaller.

Until one day, the little bird said,
"What I had to share with you I have done so,

So now you must learn to carry on...
And to let me go."

Like a Bird. Don't get too attached to the birds that, for a brief while, accompany you in your life, sunshine. For as Nelly Furtado lyrically says... "I am like a bird, I will only fly away, I don't know where my soul is, I don't know where my home is." They cannot remain perched on your shoulder forever, not when the siren call of the Divine Presence resonates within them daily. And with each beat of their mortal heart the song becomes more urgent, ever more arresting. Until one day, the bird can't stand it any longer, and finally surrenders to the eternal song of the Lord, to close their eyes forever and to fly to Allah (swt).

The bird in the poem is in reference to my late brother, Saiful a.k.a. Poone. But we are all birds. And as a bird, we must always remind the person that we are with, of our own mortality. "I love you...", we might say to our beloved, but add this necessary truth, "But Allah (swt) and the Prophet Muhammad (saws) loves you best of all. I will one day die. But the Love of Allah and Habibullah will always remain your faithful companion. If I were to suddenly go tomorrow, do remember me in your prayers. But never forget God Almighty and your Master Muhammad Sayyidina Mutahharul Janan (saws), through whom you may love me forever!"

Love is Best When Shared, don't you agree, sunshine? And it is best when it is eternal. Our mortality? Mortality is only a technical issue to be sorted out as we walk along this path of love.

So don't worry. Be happy. Remember.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Sketch by Amir Adam Mohd Zahurein

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Thursday, October 24, 2013


God Knows I have Tried
I let go of God,

And I found Him waiting
Patiently for me,

I let go of God
And I found Him looking
Untiringly for me,

Friends, enemies and kin
Must one day leave me,
But He hasn't,

Only He is the true constant,
And He has made Himself to me
To be the truest friend of all,
The most loyal of all companions,

And He has adorned Himself with
Attributes that both assures me
Of His mercy and inspires awe
With His power and unpredictability.

I try to let go of God, 
But He refuses to let go of me,
And I cannot understand why,

For only He truly knows 
How hard I have tried.

As a sinner, I have tried, again and again to exile myself from the Kingdom of God. But however far I have wandered off, however lost I have been, I cannot escape from His Kingdom of Mercy. Again and again, through circumstances, through friends, family and strangers, He would speak to the lost and the broken-hearted, "Have no fear, for I am here". In the harshest desert of our ignorance and forgetfulness, there is an oasis, a tributary bearing healing waters of compassion leading you back to God's Mercy Oceans.

So have no fear, sunshine. Wherever you may be and however you may be dressed for the world. Because for Allah (swt) you shall always be His creation and beloved servant. And for the Prophet Muhammad (saws), you shall always be under his care and guidance.  

For within the Robe of Muhammad, as affirmed by Sayyidina Ali (ra), exists all of Creation. And the Love Allah (swt) encompasses the Prophet (saws) completely.

If you are heart-broken, let your tears flow like ink across the Cosmos,
writing a plea for help in star-like brilliance... "O' Lord, your servant needs You!"

Have a lovely day, and God bless.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

BEAUTY . MUSIC . GENEROSITY OF SPIRIT - following the Scent of the Sunnah

What Innovation?
There is no innovation in worship,
There is no innovation in music,

So sing!
Move you hands!
Move your legs!
Sway and whirl!

Do not let polite society
Writhing in some obscure regret
For some ancient sin not of their making
Dampen your expressions of love
In the prison of their posturing!

I am getting old. Too old of a dog to be chained to pretensions and acquired postures of piety. Let me free, and let me sniff out the trail through the witch's forest and find the Divine Presence. Tucked away in some sinner's covert sorrow or a street-walker's hidden tears. 

I love beauty. And I love beautiful things. The high minarets and the palatial domes draws our eyes up, higher and higher to the sky and beyond. "Look unto us, o' Man!", the celestial heavens seem to speak to us at night... "How small and petty you appear to be." , they abjure us. "But remember your smallness, for therein is the sign of your nobility.", as they point us towards submission and total servanthood to God, our common Creator. 

I love music. And I am taught by a gentle, sensitive spirit to love music. And once there was a time, when saintly speech, beauty and music seem to work hand in hand. Connecting humanity, through all shades of creed, race, nationality and colour.

Music. Beauty. Generosity of Spirit. These are the virtues that give me the greatest succour in these strange days of ours where wealth, hubris and hate has possessed a large swath of mankind. So if you find me with my eyes closed during the daytime, do not think I am asleep. I am listening to the symphony of love, I am walking through the temples of beauty, following an enchanting scent. The scent that is the words, the life and the wisdom of Allah's (swt) Mercy to all the Worlds, Muhammad Sayyidina Miftahul Jannat (saws) . 

You have been there, sunshine. I have seen you. 

Hey! Hey! Let me in! You are my heart and I demand to be let in!
Key? What key? What in God's name are you talking about!?

We are taught that to gain entry into our own hearts, and into the heart of our heart, we shall need a key. The Sayyidina Miftahul Jannat, the Key to the Garden, that being none other than the one most honoured, yet most humble of all His Creation, the Prophet Muhammad Habibullah (saws).

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place
Love will show the Way

Monday, October 21, 2013

GOOD ATTRACTS GOOD - now that you are not here...

Now That You Are Not Here
Dear gentle soul,
Now that you are gone,
I constantly pray for you,
As I know you are constantly praying for me,

Dear gentle soul,
You were not meant to be long here,
Beneath the eaves of this forest of trees,
And the tall roofs of the minaret spires,
Where are you walking now that you are not here?
Now that you have nothing left to fear?

Dear gentle soul,
The middle child of two beautiful souls,
Will you give my greetings to our mother,
Now that you are with her and not here?

Dear gentle soul,
You shall now never grow old,
And your love will never grow cold.

My late brother, Saiful Bahri, whom I call Abang Chik (meaning, literally older younger brother) and you call Poone would undoubtedly say to me, "Enough already laaa with the poems (us Malaysians like to say laaa at the end of everything to stress a point)". But if he took such an unexpected and discourteous exit from this world (well, God fated his passing, but I am still going to blame Poone), I think I deserve as much time as I want to write about him. Because, frankly, I won't be posting anything at all here in the Almanac if I am not writing about my dear brother.

Mak Ndak, my auntie sitting near the foot of Poone's grave.
Well, that's what I call her. My brother called her Mak, meaning mother, for
she cared for him when he was just a baby, as my parents
had to travel overseas for my father's further studies.

Last week, a very excellent friend of my brother called Boy (though he is not a boy anymore) dropped by the house to ask for directions to find Poone's grave in the cemetery. We did not talk for very long, but I was deeply touched by what he said. "You know..., if I get to heaven, I would wish my father and mother to be there, my wife, my children... and Poone."

From all these unnecessary accolades about my brother, I rather take it that my brother was a jolly good fellow. And I think in his all-too short life, Poone also collected a bunch of jolly good fellows as friends.

Good attracts Good. That's what I think. Don't you agree, sunshine?

Have a lovely Monday now.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Saturday, October 19, 2013


The Past
Do not look to the past,
And do not ask,
Could I have said this instead?
Could I have done something else?
Why did I not simply wait?
Could I have spared that dime?
Could I have made amends,
And said I am sorry a thousand times?

Perhaps this would be what my late brother would tell me now. And I think I must agree with him. I am not interested to live through the past regrets and wasted opportunities of my life (I am too lazy). But I think we can change the past by learning to apply it in the present. Let me explain...

Oranges. Yesterday, while having an after dinner cigarette with my dad (who is turning 80 next year), he passed me a plate of sliced oranges. "This is good..." He said. I balked, because I actually stole a slice earlier from the fridge, and oh boy, was it sour. But then I recall the last conversation I had with Abang Chik (whom you call Poone). He was asking me (for a second time) to eat the tuna sandwich that he bought earlier that afternoon. And for a second time I said no - first I declined because I just had lunch, and I said no for the second and last time because we were already going out to dinner. A dinner which we were all destined not to have when arwah Poone suddenly passed away just as we were about to leave our house on that rainy evening on 14th September. 

"So what if this is the last orange that my father might offer me?" The thought crossed my mind. After all, if Poone could go so suddenly, why not me, and why not my dad. "Perhaps this would be the last dinner we shall ever have together in this life?". Oh boy, the drama, the weighty issues at hand.

So yes. I had that orange. A couple of slices actually.

And yes. It was still damn sour.


Appreciate every second of your life, sunshine. And every second of your kin and friends' time here. It will not last forever. Don't be like me and take everything for granted.

A Caveat about the Sinners' Almanac - Just a short reminder before I leave you... You know, I often share stories about my life here. And some of them appear to make me out to be a decent sort of fella. I am not sure I am. For just like the man who posts on his Facebook wall, pictures of him going to the gym, you must ask yourself about the number of times that he hasn't actually gone to the gym (he he he). He is not going to post pictures of him lazing on the sofa in front of the TV. I think I am like that man.

But you know... I am trying.

Have a lovely sabbath.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Thursday, October 17, 2013

TALKING GOD AND DOING GOOD - something worth talking about...

Let's Talk About Something Worth Our Time
O' Love, O' my Lord,
I am not persuaded,
Neither by distraction
Nor by passion,
Not by the possession
Of any knowledge,
That there is anything
Worth talking of,
Better than You,
And of Your 

No political debates,
No scientific discourses,
No gossip about ghouls or djinns,
No tattletale stories about friends or kin,
No condemnation of people or nations
However persuasive or strong,
Nor any dissertation on right and wrong.

What is the ebb and tide of this world
When in your mind's eye is 
The vision of the Luminous Pearl?

Oh Love! Oh Lord! 
Oh the Beloved of Love!

Three Ifs. If you are given the opportunity (and who has withheld this from you?), is there anything better to reflect upon than God Almighty and His Beloved Prophet (saws)?

If you are given friends (and certainly you have them!), what is more worthy of your time to discuss than the Divine Attributes of Allah (swt) and the Prophetic Attributes of Muhammad Habibulah (saws)?

If you are given a mind to think with and a heart to love with (and who hasn't?), is there any subject more compelling than the discourses upon your own place in the divine plan of God the Best Planner? And how everything that happens to you, must by its occurrence, necessarily bring you closer and closer to God the Most Compassionate and Most Merciful?

This is all good. But truth be told, you must be patient with people and their dialogues. And you must let people unburden their troubles on you, and if you are able to, you must help them. Help them with their financial problems, their relationship issues, their angst and complaints about people and society. At the very least we can give encouragement.

For even if you then cannot talk about Allah (swt) and Nabi Muhammad (saws), your ready ear, your consoling words and generous charity will be spoken of in a divine congregation more noble than any convened in this world.

For God Himself, and His Seal of the Prophets, Prophet Muhammad (saws) shall speak your name... 

So speak of God and His Goodness whenever you can. And do good whenever God sends you the opportunity to lend aid to the weary. Do this so that God in His Goodness will mention you in a celestial company at the head of whom is His Own anointed Mercy to all the Worlds... our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saws).

Remember me. This is the easy formula for you, and insyaAllah, you will be raised higher and higher. But however lofty the station where you will be, do not forget me. This poor, poor sinner. Ask God to bring me, to you. For I cannot get anywhere without your prayers, nor will I ever be saved without the unimaginable mercy and compassion of Allah (swt).

I am the broken dervish, sunshine. And I am knocking on the door of your heart.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

WHEN WE FORGET, WE FALTER - remembering God and His Goodness

When the One
How happy am I to be sad,
When the One to make me happy is You.

How healthy am I to be ill,
When the One to heal me is You.

How joyful is my broken heart,
When the One to mend it is You.

How wise am I to be foolish,
When the One to teach me is You.

How contented am I to be lost,
When the One looking for me is You.

How victorious am I to be defeated,
When the One to conquer me is You.

How unworried am I to be broken,
When the One to pick up my broken pieces is You.

How beautiful am I in my plainness,
When the One to blush my cheeks,
To comb my hair, to hold my hand
And lift my veil Is You 
And none but You...

When we forget, we falter. Someone told me a little while back that we make mistakes, we commit sin unto ourselves and others, simply when we forget. We forget that behind every sadness and happiness, success and failures, calamities and joyous surprises, behind the veil of our supposed knowledge and certain ignorance, there is none there but God Almighty. So we overreact. We lose our balance. We do an 'oopsie'.

The Beautiful Symmetry. When the truth of it all is that there is only Hu (meaning He), who is none other than God Himself planning the ebb and rise of our fortunes, our birth, marriage, work, illness, children and death. If we remember this, surely there is nothing to despair for us, once we realise we are nothing in His Loving Embrace... so that we might finally see the beautiful symmetry of His Works, the infinite beauty of His Creation, and the unimaginable mercy of His Compassion.

Have a wonderful Eidil Adha, sunshine. Don't forget. Try to remember. And if you see me falter (as I surely will!), help me and remind me of His Goodness.

Our greeting of peace unto the Prophet Muhammad (saws), his noble family and companions ,and unto the saints for the sinners... alive and living in the grave.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Monday, October 14, 2013

ONE MONTH ON... Saiful Bahri aka Poone (1964-2013)

A Stranger, A Wanderer
The more this world becomes familiar,
The more I feel like a stranger,
So let me leave this world
As I came into it...

A wanderer.

Today marks the first month of my brother's passing. He died in my arms on that rainy evening on 14th September 2013.

I could tell you how much I miss him. How so many things remind me of him. How I miss our conversations and arguments, even our awkward silence. But if I was to do that, this posting would go on and on. So let me leave you with the above prose, cast into a sea of memories, as fresh and green as the new grass laid upon his final resting place.

God bless all our dearly departed friends and kin. May they be in the noble company ennobled by Allah (swt) and His Muhammad (saws). And at the end of our own restless wandering, may we be gathered there in Love's eternal solace.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Poone, the Humble Shovel, Suzanne Vega and the Garden of Stones...

The Humble Shovel
You may have ridden in the finest horse and carriage,
You may have feasted from plates of gold and silver,
But to me will you come at the end of your world,
I am your ready servant, whatever your tone,
Me, beside the waiting gravedigger,
Me, your humble shovel
In the Garden of Stones.

The Best Time to Go. I am so at home at the cemetery, especially now that Poone (my late brother and the one I call Abang Chik) is laid to rest there. The only issue I have is the buzzing mosquitoes that insist on accompanying me wherever I am, at whichever grave I visit. It crossed my mind that the safest place from this annoying insects is to be six feet under. But thank God that my own passing is not mine to choose the time and place. Are we not lucky that the circumstances of our passing shall be in the hand of He Who Created us? He Who knows us best (and despite knowing all our filthy secrets), Loves us best of all? 

It will be the best of time for us, and for those we will leave behind.

Obnoxious. I have no doubt of this, because God has promised us... Sometimes, we living inevitably sigh and yearn for the company of our dearly departed kin or friend. However happy, angry, sad or irritating our relationship with the deceased may have been. One of my brother's closest friend said to me, as we were burying Poone, "Oh my God, he is one of the most obnoxious person I know!" And I agree with him. But he would also agree that we would give all our worldly treasures to have just one more obnoxious moment with him. 

He he he.

Poone's musical taste. Before I leave you, let me leave you with what my brother has left me. A taste in some of the great musicians of our era. In the early eighties, Santa Monica-born folk singer and songwriter Suzanne Vega made a bit of name in England, captivating audiences with her haunting prose and magical guitar. This is one of our favourite(est)... its called 'Cracking'.  

God bless you, sunshine. Be happy and assured of love from God, a love infinite in its breadth and deeper in its solace than your most intimate dreams...

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way