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


1 comment:

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