Friday, March 28, 2014

SCOUT JAMBOREE LITE - fathers and mothers, sons and daughters...

Mikhail and his tent mates...

Jamboree Lite. Last weekend Mikhail went on what I might define as a scout jamboree 'lite'. From what I could reckon, there was no hikes, no campfires or anything too arduous for these primary school kids. I am not complaining, as like Mika, many of the children were just 10 years old, and possibly their first night ever under a tent. A tent, in a school field in Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, a prosperous suburban neighbourhood not far from my own neighbourhood. In fact, the school field is just across the road from a restaurant that I often go for dinner. So I wasn't too worried. He he he.

Mikhail and his huge orange suitcase. Just what you need for a camping adventure.
I can assure you that Mika's luggage was the biggest at the jamboree.
I saw some other scouts arriving carrying only their every day school bag and a humble plastic bag. 

Delinquent Parents. In the three days and two nights the scouts were at the "camping site", hilarious and almost unbelievable stories started to turn up on the school moms Whatsapp group. There were some parents who continued hanging around in the school compound way after the scout program officially started. Other parents trotted off to the (conveniently nearby) shops to buy additional food and drinks for their kids, whom they fear would possibly starve or become severely malnourished during the weekend. But perhaps, the most amazing story involved a parent who was seen to actually helping his/her son to shower and change. I put the words 'his/her' to be polite, but I bet it was the mum. He he he.

Finally, unable to stand the interfering parents any longer, the scouts' working committee from Mikhail's school issued a warning to all parents to stay away from the school and camping ground until they are suppose to pick their kids up on Sunday afternoon. If any parent is spotted in the school compound, the committee warned, their child will be asked to immediately leave the program.

I don't blame the committee, because, after all, Mika's school is only one of 5 (I think) schools that sent their scouts for the weekend camping program. I think most of the delinquent parents were from Mika's school. Oh the shame of it all... 

He he he.  
Exhausted but exhilarated. I can still recall such childhood feelings.

But most importantly, despite the attempts by mum and/or dad to totally sabotage the scout camping weekend, I think it went well. When I picked up Mikhail, he was tired and hungry, yet I could see he was also exhilarated by the experience. "I really enjoyed sleeping in a tent, Papa.", he said. "We slept at one in the morning and got up at five!", he added. "I liked the chicken rendang (a very rich coconut based chicken dish... so much for the threat of starvation) that we ate!" And happily, Mika is keen to go for more camping, perhaps next time, at a proper camp site somewhere in the forest. And I bet for that one, the parents won't be furtively keeping watch in the bushes nearby. 

But then again... you never know what mums can get up to when they think their offspring are at risk! 

God bless the patient teachers and scout masters, and God bless all crazy parents.

MH370, a Postscript -We all know the news surrounding the tragic event of Flight MH370. May all friends and kin of the missing passengers and crew of that plane, find the courage to persevere with hope and faith as they pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. And for the rest of us, we who mourn with them in this difficult times, we can only pray to understand the lessons from this incident, that it may make us a better human being, and a better Christian, Buddhist, Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Atheists or Agnostics

Because, after all... whatever the nature of your belief or disbelief, we are all still part of one humanity.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

THE BROKEN ARROW - the ego and surrender to the Sunnah of Muhammad (saws)

The Broken Arrow
My Lord is there across the field,
My body takes the physical form of a bow,
It is my Prophet that draws the bowstring,
As he holds my spirit as an arrow 
Between his thumb and index finger.

Lo, how beautiful I would fly to my Lord,
But I am overcome by my ego
And my flight is turning ugly!
Thus you found me, my master,
Lying on the ground, 
A broken arrow.

In need of your Love
And your Mercy.

Recycling Love. Yesterday, my nephew was practicing archery at my house. He was taking a break when he noticed a broken arrow on the table. He asked me if I can repair it, and I said no. There is a hairline crack running through the shaft that is beyond my limited understanding to remedy. Then he inquired if he could smash it with a hammer. Kids... I remember being just as strangely destructive in my younger days.

I said no. The arrow has sentimental value, for it is the first one that I made with help from Enda and Pak Din, my archery-mad friends. And the arrow served me well when it was whole, and even upon being irretrievably damaged, I was able to recycle the notch and arrow head for two other arrows that had lost their parts. 

The Broken Arrow. I am utterly convinced of the perfection of Islam, in the words of the Book of the Universe, known as the Holy Quran, manifested in the Sunnah (traditions) of Muhammad Habibullah (saws), known as the walking, living embodiment of the holy book.

And I am also utterly convinced of my woeful neglect and sin. And how I allow my ego and nafs (base desires) to gain ascendancy over me, until I find in my life, across this archery range, many, many broken arrows... a testimony of my own broken promises to God Almighty and to myself, of my many broken breaths wasted in pursuit of worldly, temporary gratification. 

But God the Most Compassionate and Merciful... through the ministration of His Beloved Muhammad (saws)... He does not leave me there. God picks me up in my moment of greatest despair, He studies the hairline cracks running through my soul and attends to my smallest errors. 

Through our Prophet (saws), God has never forsaken me... 

Not while there is still any sinew in my mortal coil 
To release my spirit-arrow from Muhammad the Beloved (saws) 
To God the all-loving One.

Archers of Malaysia and others... in Amman, Jordan, 2011. Including my late brother
Arwah Saiful Bahri bin Abdul Khalid (sitting 2nd row, 2nd from the right)
al fatiha... 

You understand, sunshine? 

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Thursday, March 20, 2014

HAPPINESS & THE SWEETNESS OF SERVANTHOOD -being a slave to God all-Eternal vs being a slave to logos

Happiness & the Sweetness of Servanthood
Why pursue happiness,
When happiness itself will pursue you
If you devote yourself to
The sweetness of servanthood?

Slave to the Logos. I have been selling myself short, sunshine. The fool that I am, to be hoodwinked by this world, and by the wasteful consumer society that we have become. To become a slave to the logos, brands, trends, fads, and the illusion of human progress. 

A very, very smart lady who has written a best-selling book on
advertising and consumerism. Worth a read, I reckon.

The Meaning of Happiness. So we seek happiness by buying whatever Madison Avenue advertising companies are selling, and by voting whatever faddish trends are being promoted by politicians. But what is the happiness we find? Is the happiness being sold by the corporations and politicians permanent and completely fulfilling? Or is it really a temporary form of self gratification?

As one servant to another, help me...
Transient Nature. By the nature of everything conceived in Creation, it is all transient. So your feeling of joy at getting the latest iPhone, or satisfaction by voting in the most attractive candidate into office are both transient, temporary emotions. 

In this World and in the Hereafter. If we seek contentment (as opposed to gratification), it is useless to try and plant our hopes on our turbulent emotions and feelings. For they rise and ebb according to our circumstances at any given moment. That is why, our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (saws) has brought the ideal of servanthood into our central core of living - servanthood to humanity, animals, the natural world and ultimately, to our One Creator, God.

As a typical consumer, I am greatly distracted from servanthood by my own selfish need for gratification. But then, I am not the sort to leave 'civilization' and bunker down in some cave up some lonely mountain. So a sense of proportions and balance must be achieved. This, I cannot do alone...

Help me and pray for me always, sunshine. I am in need of your good wishes and good examples.

I ask this of you, as one servant to another...

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Sunday, March 16, 2014

COFFEE, COMPANY AND A HAPPY ROUND OF ARCHERY - 4 observations on traditional archery

"Dammit... Papa is taking another picture!"
Struggling with Father. I found it absolutely confounding why my 10 year old son, Mika, is so disturbed if I am better than him in archery. Given that we are both novices, perhaps my (temporary) ascendancy is contributed by the simple fact that I train more (there is no place for archery at his mom's place). Yet he seems positively insulted if I were to suggest ways to improve his posture and shooting. So I backed down, and let him find his way, and during moments of his exhilaration during archery, I would (very nonchalantly and without seeming to be 'instructing') throw in a word or two of useful observations.  

I reckon this son-father rivalry is partly because Mika is the only son from my former marriage with his mother. And with only a 6-month old half brother (Ian Emir) to contend with, I guess he finds me to be the only real challenge worthy of his steel. Oh dear.   

Surrender. I wanted to write about the archer's struggle to accept fate, wherever his/her arrow lands. But having started talking about my son, I am drawn to continue along the same line about surrender... For I can see now that Mikhail's willingness or otherwise to accept my suggestions are akin to him surrendering - i.e., submitting to the words of his father. And in a manner of speaking, 'freewill' should be adjusted here, because submission should come as natural as breathing. For that is the only way that I interpret Islam which of course, also means Submission or To Submit, to the will of God Almighty. For unlike me, there is no way God would be unfair and require submission from His servants, if such submission was not fitrah (natural) to our soul. That is the truth of our struggle to follow our heart and soul in love with Allah (swt), rather than the exhortations and persuasions of our ego and nafs (our base desires). 

Stopping the Noise. In archery I am also taught to quiet down and shut up. To silence (or at least to turn the volume down of) the noisy debate in our head, between our many headed ego (just like the hydra). You can hear their din because every miss or hit on the bulls eye draws a response - a sigh of disappointment or a gasp of hubris or simple mute indifference. I cannot deny that this is the most difficult thing to do. To treat success or failure as the illusions that they are, and to learn to surrender to the simple contentment and joy of being alive and doing the sunnah (traditions) archery of Nabi Muhammad Habibullah, the Beloved of God (saws). 

Win? Lose? Whaddaaat?? He he he. 

Blessing in Association. The way of Sunnah Archery is the way of blessing in an association. And I am saying this because I am naturally diffident. Not humble, mind you. I think it is a different personality trait because diffidence can (and in my case, is!) be attributed to some form of inferiority complex. On top of that, I also have a superiority complex (strange and contradictory, but true!), so I often find it hard to make and keep friends. My ego-spine is rigid and is excruciatingly painful for me to bend or unbend for someone.

But even with such character defects (which shouldn't be a surprise to you because, after all, this is the sinners' almanac), more people are coming by, sharing coffee and company, with a round of archery. Not just friends, but my own kin are pleased to join in the very visceral but deeply spiritual joy of traditional archery. I have come to meet and know very kind and generous people, skilled in the art of sunnah archery, tolerant and chivalrous. And strangely, some of them, I have in fact known for years.

I am grateful to my archery-mad friends, especially uberdervish Din Mahidin and Sheik Fuad Bajrai for handing me and Mika a pair of bow and arrows and saying, "Fancy a try?" It has been a compelling journey of a mere one and a half months, but most enlightening. Why, you get to even learn a bit about archery.

So, sunshine, how about it?... Fancy a try?

He he he.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Friday, March 14, 2014

FROM MORTAL TO IMMORTAL REALITY - the complete soul, the bridge and Adam's exile

I Have Come
I have come to lay to rest the lie,
I have come to bury the deception,
That there is any truth to you or I,
Nor any weight to this creation,

I have come to fish out pearls of heaven,
Deep in this infinite Mercy Ocean,
Trawling for signs of the Unique One,
More secret than a love potion,
More apparent than the rising Sun,

I have come bearing missives from heaven,
To you, to me, to anyone who would listen,
To remind us all of our final destination,
And why, in truth, 
Perhaps we have
Never left His 

The Complete Soul. It is good to recall an interesting Hadith (oral tradition) of the Prophet Muhammad (saws), when he said words to the effect that... "When I die, I shall ask God to return to me my complete soul." It is also good to recall that learned scholars have acknowledged this important message, that the soul we hold directly in our earthly experience in our body that we wear, is not our complete soul. Only a smattering of rays of the light of our soul animates our mortal vessel. Substantially, we still remain in His Presence, no doubt besotted by God the all-Besotting One! No doubt so utterly captivated and devoted to God the all-Attractive One, the all-Captivating One, the all-Beautiful One and the One Whom we cannot bear to be separated from.

Adam's Exile. Of course, all this high-fallutin' transcendental reflection does not mean that we should all simply let waste our life here and wait to die and rejoin God and our complete soul. For we are still experiencing our journey through the hardship and happiness of this world, the sweet and sour fruit of Adam (as)'s exile. Reflection upon our immortal spirit, its connection to God Almighty, and the spiritual bridge between us and Allah (swt) that is the Prophet Muhammad (saws) makes this life all too precious to ignore. 

The Song of the Habibullah. So let us tread the earth of this world firmly and with great resolution. But let us be guided by the moral and spiritual compass that Allah the all-Loving has left in all of us... our heart and conscience. And in our heart, have no doubt that there is no music more enlightening, no song more true than the words and wisdom of God's own mercy to all the worlds, our beloved Nabi Muhammad Habibullah (saws).

Have a lovely Friday, sunshine...

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

GOD KNOWS - concerning the missing Flight MH370, knowledge, human nature, speculation, and divine knowledge..

The missing Boeing 777, Registration 9M-MRO, picture taken
in 2011, at Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris.

God Knows
We don't know,
But God knows...
And that is good,
For God is good,
And knowledge is
Encompassed in
The Goodness
Of God.

Still Missing. As of today, there is still not much information on the Malaysian Airline System (MAS) flight MH370 which left Kuala Lumpur International Airport on 8th March 2014 heading to Beijing, China. With 227 passengers and 12 crew members. 

"No speculations, ma'am. Just the facts, please."
Speculations. From all corners of government, media, technical, religious and political circles, they have all weighed in with their observations, commentaries and worse of all, speculation. I recall Sherlock Holmes view on speculation - that it is a terrible habit especially when one is fatally hampered with very little factual information. As in the circumstances surrounding the missing Boeing 777.

Unknown Unknowns. From terrorism to the pilots' mental stability, to alien abductions or the plane disappearing into a cosmic wormhole... no speculation has been ignored, however lacking such speculations are, on real substantive evidence. After all, there are things about Flight MH370 that we know and we don't know... but there are also things which we don't know but are actually relevant to the incident...  As the former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld once clumsily observed in a press conference about the Iraq War... "there are known unknowns... and there are also unknown unknowns..."  

Human Nature. But I guess it is our own human nature (and our ego) to speculate. Especially when the incident involves the fate of hundreds of innocent lives and an enormous civil jet plane, and the authorities ranging from the FBI, Interpol and Malaysia's own Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) are all terribly flummoxed.  

His Perfect Knowledge. In any event, however mysterious and baffling, there is at least one assurance for all of us, and that is... whatever happened, or whatever is happening to flight MH370, God knows the truth of it all, in His perfect knowledge to an infinite decimal point. No sub-atomic particle, much less a human being, goes 'missing' without His all-encompassing knowledge of all causes, effects and consequences of such an event. After all, God doesn't 'miss'.

His Perfect Presence. But we, us mortals... we do 'miss'. And for those with family or friends in the fateful plane, they are all missing their loved ones with a yearning and sadness much too painful for me to contemplate. They miss the familiar faces, the smiles, the twinkle in the eye, the conversations and even the scent of their beloveds... But God is not 'missing' anyone. And wherever the passengers and crew of flight MH370 are now, God is attending to them. Just as easily as God is attending to us, 24/7, 365 days in a year. 

If only we would remember this priceless blessing, life would be so much better for us,... whatever happens. Don't you agree, sunshine?

The sky is filling up with clouds yesterday evening,
And with the growing anxious hopes of many, many people.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Thursday, March 6, 2014

THE WORLD OF LOVE - He is everywhere...

Love Found Me...
Love found me at the footsteps of the temple,
Love found me alone and lost,
Love found me asleep in my bed,
Love found me when I only knew hate.

Love found me, broken and discarded,
Love found me, unloved and unwanted,
Love found me like a letter in the mail,
Love found me every time I have failed,

Love found me, a beggar at His door,
Love found me, a believer on the prayer mat,
Love found me when I am wise and when I am foolish,
Love found me when I am polite and when I am boorish,

Love found me between the sigh of two lovers,
Love found me afraid and hiding under the covers,
Love found me when I am true and untrue,
How did Love find you?

Good day to you. Good day to me. Welcome to you! Welcome to me!

Do you know that the English word 'goodbye' is derived from the original Old English phrase meaning "God be with ye"? I think I learned that from one of Bill Bryson's book.

The World of Love. I reckon that much like me, Love have found you in the most unlikely of places. Not necessarily kneeling in the pew of a church, not while you are prostrating before God in a mosque, nor chanting prayers in a temple. For the world of Love is bigger than the man-made structures in which we seek to honour our God. The World of Love is chanting His Names constantly and clearly, each rock and river, every sea and tree, in the mountains, deserts and valleys, every living being, every thing created whether sentient or not... they all speak of God and His names in wonderous astonishment and awe...

There is no place on this Earth, on this dimension, there is no corner of any physical or spiritual plane, that Love does not exist. Wherever you may be, however sad you may be, Love will find you.

You cannot hide.

Believe me, sunshine.


 wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


27. Knots
Ya Maulana, what knots have you tied in my heart?
Ya Maulana, when you looked within me, what did you see?
Ya Maulana, though we met but for awhile

My heart, since then, has never been free.

Not too much thought to this posting, sunshine. Just a poem written almost 10 years ago. And I still do not know what knot he tied nor what he saw in me. But the journey of discovery has been, alhamdulillah, beautiful. And I pray and anticipate more and more beauty... of an inner and spiritual kind.

I know this, because though I am the reprobate one, my friends who have met him constantly show me their growing kindness, tolerance, mercy, generosity and patience. And they do this without even knowing it as they carry their faith lightly in their heart... 

Which kinda makes sense... because after all, light has no weight.

Have a good day, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Monday, March 3, 2014

WELL... WOULDN'T YOU? - Divine assurance, sunnah archery lesson No.1 and the delinquent arrow

I Know Nothin' about Nothin'
I don't know the time exactly,
I am not aware of the state of my body,
I do not hold in my head the entire corpus
Of physics, biology, chemistry and all other sciences,
Nor do I have at my fingertips all the laws of the land,

So I try to get help where I can,
And I try to get help from the One who knows it all,
Who I ask to cover my decisions in all that I do,
Knowing fully well how little I know about anything at all,

Well, if you are as empty-headed as me,
Wouldn't you?

Moses and Mustard Seeds. I spent some time with my friend Moses a couple of days ago. And he shared with me his attempts at making mustard from mustard seeds (makes sense). It was delicious. He also made a very good attempt at a Malaysian version of the Tabasco sauce, which was different but also very delicious. I neither had the vision nor the wit to try either. So I know... I don't know anything about most things.

Divine Assurance. I pity Atheists (may God bless their hearts) because they don't have the Divine assurance. That special mercy from Allah (swt) that covers all our acts and omissions, simply because our Creator knows fully well our limitations, and  as God as made unto Himself forbidden the nature of being unfair or oppressive, He guarantees His help to us poor sinners and malcontents - 

Thinking of Him
...think of Him and call unto Him by His many names, 
and He shall mention you in a company 
Infinitely greater!

Ask for His aid and His aid shall come to you, 
And none better! 

His divine plans cover all eventualities of our daily life... our happiness and sadness, our successes and failures. Thus, blessed are the believers who believe in God of Infinite Wisdom, Love and Mercy.

The Delinquent Arrow. I know I am posting a lot about archery. But in archery, my master teaches me to contemplate my form and the result of my form - my few successes and my many, many failures. And we are taught to try and maintain a peaceful contentment, the Qalban Salima (contented heart) that is the cherished aim of all men, women and children... An inner peace to be gained regardless whether we succeed or fail - no matter whether your arrow flies straight to the bulls eye or wanders off to have coffee at Starbucks. 

Sunnah Archery Lesson No.1
Wherever the arrow goes, that is where the Lord wills it to go.

He he he.

May God bless you this wonderful Monday, sunshine.  

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way