Saturday, March 31, 2007

Of Blessings And Salutations

Allah, The Almighty said in the Holy Quran: "Inna Allaha wamala-ikatahu yusalloona AAala alnnabiyyi ya ayyuha allatheena amanoo salloo AAalayhi wasallimoo tasleeman" [surah al-Ahzab 33:56] which in translation means: "For Verily! Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him, and salute him with all respect."

This is a much recited verse of the Holy Quran - particularly as it is being read in our Mosques whilst the Khatib makes his way up the mimbar every Friday and on every Tahlil recitation. Upon hearing this commanding verse, or what is known in Arabic as fi'il 'amr, Muslims will then respond by reciting, in the least: "Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad", which means: O Allah! Please send your Blessings upon Muhammad.

It is interesting that if we look at the verse above, whilst Allah declared that He Himself and His Angels sends blessings on our Prophet and after commanding us (as believers) to do so, we then ask Him to send His Blessings instead, and not ours.

Of course a complete explanation of this would require many months of studying the Qur'an, ahadeeth and the seerah of our beloved Prophet (saw), but it makes one wonders what blessings would our blessed Prophet (saw) require from us which we have and he has not? Is it not the reverse instead? And that whilst Allah, The Almighty Judges, showers His Mercy and Forgives us, it is our Prophet (saw) that we look for in the beginning to obtain his intercession on the Day of Judgement?

For after all, just to quote a fraction of those blessings bestowed by Allah, The Almighty to our blessed Prophet (saw):

"Verily! We have given thee (O Muhammad) a manifest victory: That Allah may forgive thee of thy sin that which is past and that which is to come, and may perfect His favour unto thee, and may guide thee on a right path, And that Allah may help thee with powerful help"
[surah al-Fath 48:1-3]

"Did He not find thee an orphan and give thee shelter (and care)? And He found thee wandering, and He gave thee guidance. And He found thee in need, and made thee independent"
[surah ad-Dhuha 93:6-8]

And when faced with adversities, Allah, The Almighty said: "Have We not expanded thee thy breast? And removed from thee thy burden. The which did gall thy back?" [surah al-Inshirah 94:1-3].

It now leads us to this:

1. "Allah's Blessings" would refer to all the blessings showered by Him on His Creations, and it is impossible to narrate them one by one. But, I would always love to look at foundational matters for example:
(a) the fact that we were resurrected from our death yesterday (was being grateful the first thing that occurred to our minds upon waking up this morning?);
(b) the fact that we can walk to purify ourselves and take the ablution to perform the dawn prayer (have we been grateful for that this morning? - as there are many in this world who are unable to get up from their beds to fulfil this obligation);
(c) the fact that we can eat, drink normally and discharge wastes those not required by our body (have we been truly grateful for this as there are many people in the world lying in hospital beds having to consume liquids through needles poked through their veins and can only discharge themselves through another tube annexed to those beds);
(d) the fact that we have a job to sustain our living (how many of us leave our homes every morning lamenting about our jobs instead of being grateful to Allah for giving us a job so that we can serve Him?);
(e) the fact that we have working colleagues and friends to provide us with human warmth in our relationships (the fact that there are so many people in the world who are so alone without friends that they become impaired mentally and need psychiatric treatment?);
and the lists goes on and on...

2. "Angel's blessings" are their praying to Allah to perpetually bless us and forgive us. Look through any compendium of ahadeeth collection and you will see that Angel's service to mankind is in their seeking Allah for our forgiveness - be it whilst we are in circles of zikr or knowledge, while we are on the way to seek that knowledge, while waiting to pray congregational prayers in a mosque, by coming early to the mosques, whilst working for the sake of Allah, whilst being kind to a fellow human being etc

3. What then are "man's blessings"? That is why, when commanded to send our blessings and salutations to our Prophet (saw), our response is "O Allah! Please send your Blessings upon Muhammad". Wallahu'alam

I wish to conclude by sharing the following hadith:

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Apostle (saw) as saying Allah has mobile (squads) of angels, who have no other work (to attend to but) to follow the assemblies of Dhikr and when they find such assemblies in which there is Dhikr (of Allah) they sit in them and some of them surround the others with their wings till the space between them and the sky of the world is fully covered, and when they disperse (after the assembly of Dhikr is adjourned) they go upward to the heaven and Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, asks them although He is best informed about them: Where have you come from? They say: We come from Thine servants upon the earth who had been glorifying Thee (reciting Subhan Allah), uttering Thine Greatness (saying Allah o-Akbar) and uttering Thine Oneness (La ilaha ill Allah) and praising Thee (uttering al-Hamdu Lillah) and begging of Thee. He would say: What do they beg of Me? They would say: They beg of Thee the Paradise of Thine. He (God) would say: Have they seen My Paradise? They said: No, our Lord. He would say: (What it would be then) if they were to see Mine Paradise? They (the angels) said: They seek Thine protection. He (the Lord) would say: Against what do they seek protection of Mine? They (the angels) would say: Our Lord, from the Hell-Fire. He (the Lord) would say: Have they seen My Fire? They would say: No. He (the Lord) would say: What it would be if they were to see My Fire? They would say: They beg of Thee forgiveness. He would say: I grant pardon to them, and confer upon them what they ask for and grant them protection against which they seek protection. They (the angels) would again say: Our Lord, there is one amongst them such and such simple servant who happened to pass by (that assembly) and sat there along with them (who had been participating in that assembly). He (the Lord) would say: I also grant him pardon, for they are a people the seat-fellows of whom are in no way unfortunate.

SubhanAllah walhamdulillah...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Prayer

“If Allah desires the best for man, He makes him totally concerned with
what will be praised tomorrow, in the Next World, and not be censured.
On that Day, there will be only the radiance of Bliss or the punishment of Jahim
Allah is the One who mends our broken hearts, forgives the immensity of our wrong actions. Lets us make all our preparations for our return to Him, gives us many reasons for doing things that will save us and bring us near to Him and bestows His Favour and Mercy on us” ...

Qadi ‘Iyad ibn Musa al-Yahsubi,
Ash-Shifa’ Bi-Ta’rif Huquq Mustafa
(Healing By Recognition of the Rights of the Chosen One)

Of Knowledge

“Knowledge saves only on condition that it enlists all that we are: only when it is a way which tills and which transforms, and which wounds our nature as the plough wounds the earth” ...

Frithof Schuon, Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts

Loving Our Beloved Prophet (saw) Part 3

The heart of Islam is the Love of Allah, the Almighty and His Beloved Prophet (saw), of one's fellow human beings, and of all creation. More than any of its predecessors, Islamic spirituality has charted the map of the human odyssey - a spiritual journey, the goal of which is to become a perfect human being.

This perfect human being must not only manifest his love of his Creator and His Beloved (saw), but by natural extension, he must also love His Creator’s creations – be they human beings or otherwise. He does not truly love Allah, the Almighty if he cannot love His Creations. We cannot keep this Love to ourselves: we need to show for it here and now and share with others.

One of the manifestation for the Love of Allah, the Almighty and His Beloved Prophet (saw) is in our service to mankind. The verse of the Holy Qur’an, which so comprehensively covers this concept of service to humanity, reads

“You are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind: enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah” … ‘ali-‘Imran 3:110

We will remain the best as long as we are service-oriented: promoting goodwill and welfare of society. If we fail to do this, we no longer have a right to boast of the superiority of Islam and of being Muslims. A Muslim who does not contribute goodness to other creations of Allah, the Almighty and is not inclined to serve the cause of humanity cannot be said to be a true Lover of Allah.

The fundamental qualities that we must all acquire to serve mankind or to develop a passion to serve mankind are: love for humanity, kindness in our hearts for others, a charitable disposition, humility, honesty, a thirst for knowledge, a desire to share knowledge with others and a constant desire to strive in the cause of Allah by doing good. We must be a people from whom goodness flows towards others. We must be the tree that give others shade from the sun.

Loving mankind in general is irrespective of their race, religion or creed for they are all creations of Allah, the Almighty. There is no place for violence, prejudices or bigotry for a loving servant of Allah, the Almighty. We are familiar with a hadith where the Prophet (saw) stood up in respect to a funeral procession of a Jew saying:

“Is it not also a human being?” (Bukhari)

We should do good to everyone, irregardless of their physical and outward manifestations as all judgments only come from Allah. Another familiar hadith of a prostitute and a dog where the beloved Prophet (saw) said:

"A prostitute was forgiven by Allah, because, passing by a panting dog near a well and seeing that the dog was about to die of thirst, she took off her shoe, and tying it with her head-cover she drew out some water for it. So, Allah forgave her because of that” (Bukhari, Muslim)

“Is not Allah the Wisest of Judges?” … at-Tin 95:8

It is with these little threads of individual change that Islam weaves the wool of social fabric. It brings to life the delicate feelings of brotherhood and of belonging together. It designs a beautiful pattern of empathy, gentleness and goodness in the hearts of people. It smoothes out all the wrinkles and rents that ugliness and injustice pull in the fabric. The result is a harmonious whole like that of the most exquisite garment - radiant in its colour and majesty. This is the dress we must wear when we present ourselves before Allah, the Almighty.

Of Loving End

Love is one of the greatest blessings Allah, the Almighty has bestowed on humanity. Allah exists with or without our love, but we will perish without His Love. Allah has created human nature in such a way that a person will take pleasure from loving and being loved, from friendship or from intimacy. As a servant of Allah, the Almighty, it is not enough to worship and obey Allah. Rather, worship and obedience should be tempered with genuine love for Allah. For without love, worship and obedience may degenerate into hypocrisy, which is not acceptable to Allah. From a personal struggle, that Love must then radiate to touch and affect others in a gracious and most beautiful way. Just as the sweet smell of attar affects people around you, a Muslim must do the same. We beautify this precious gift of life, we do not destroy it.

The same point is reiterated in the hadith narrated by Anas (ra):

“None of you will taste the sweetness of faith until he possesses the following three qualities:
(a) when Allah and His Messenger becomes dearer to him than anything else;
(b) when he loves a person and he loves him only for the sake of Allah; and
(c) when he hates to revert to disbelief as he hates to be thrown into the Hellfire”
(Bukhari, Muslim)

Believers, who have great love of Allah, make sincere endeavours so that they might please Him and He might be pleased with them. Due to these superior moral values, they also love the things that Allah has created, feel affection and compassion for them, and wish to protect them and bring goodness and beauty to this earth. For that, He will reward them with Paradise, the most beautiful sphere of love and faithfulness.

If Man knows his Lord, he loves Him; and if he loves Him, he seeks His Good Pleasure, complies with His Commands and does good righteous deeds for His Sake – and this is the key for his reunion. Allah, the Almighty, says in a Hadith Qudsi:

“My servant persists on seeking My Nearness through voluntary worships until I love him. When I love him, I become his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. If he asks of Me, I shall give him; and if he seeks My Refuge, I shall give him My Refuge” (Bukhari)

Loving Our Beloved Prophet (pbuh) Part 2

On Love’s Sacrifice

The famed Persian poet, Hafiz of Shiraz, said:

“Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth:
‘You owe Me.’

Look what happens with
A love like that:
It lights up the Whole Sky.”

Among the indications of 'Love' or 'love' is the sacrifice required of the believers – many of which can be found in the books of Sirah. Farid Ud-Din Attar in his book Mantiq ut-Tair, loosely translated as The Conference of The Birds, used the Hoopoe to try and convince the birds to make the journey to Simurgh. In the Hoopoe’s opening speech at the meeting, he said:

“Many lands and seas are on the way,
Do not imagine that the journey is short;
And one must have the heart of a lion to follow this unusual road;
For it is very long and the sea is deep.
One plods along in a state of amazement;
Sometimes smiling, sometimes weeping.

As for me, I shall be happy to discover even a trace of Him.
That would indeed be something, but to live without Him would be a reproach.
A man must not keep his soul from the beloved;
But must be in a fitting state to lead his soul to the court of the King”

Among Allah’s special beloved servants, did He not have Prophet Zakariah (as) cut up with a saw? Did He not have Prophet Yahya (as) cut to bits? Did He not have Prophet Nuh (as) scourged? Did He not have Prophet Ibrahim (as) cast into the blazing fire? Did He not have Prophet Yusuf (as) thrown into the well and have him sold as a slave in the market? Did He not make them intend to crucify Prophet ‘Isa (as)? Did He not subject Sayyidatina Maryam (as) to slander and calumny? Did He not have Prophet Musa (as) separated from his mother and thrown into the river Nile? Did He not have them smash the tooth of the blessed Prophet Muhammad (saw)? Did He not make a thirsting martyr of Imam Hussayn (ra), along with his seventy-two friends? Did He not make martyrs of Sayyidina Abr Bakr as-Siddiq (ra) by poison, Sayyidina ‘Uthman (ra) by the dagger and Sayyidina ‘Ali (kw) by a poisoned sword? Every men of love have been subjected to tests and tribulations – and this is indeed a Mercy from Allah, the Almighty. Allah, the Almighty had earlier reminded us the following:

“And we shall try you until We test those among you who strive their utmost and persevere in patience; and We shall try your reported (mettle)” … Muhammad 47:31

“How many of the prophets fought (in God’s way) and with them (fought) large bands of godly men? But they never lost heart if they met with disaster in God’s way, nor did they weaken (in will) nor give in. And God Loves those who are firm and steadfast” … ‘ali-‘Imran 3:146

Such sacrifices teach us that this world is a battlefield between good and evil, truth and falsehood, justice and oppression. But Allah, the Almighty also promised that in the long run good, truth and justice shall prevail. Patience and perseverance is the key towards achieving this – and such efforts run thin without Love. Love is the state of being, whilst such sacrifices is the proof of that state of being – just as our acts of worships (Arkanul Islam) is a manifestation of our faith (Arkanul Iman) – for without those physical acts, an empty declaration of faith will not save us. Allah, the Almighty has promised in the Holy Qur’an:

“Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your labour): but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere, who say, when afflicted with calamity: ‘To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return’: - They are those on whom (descend) blessings from Allah, and Mercy, and they are the one that receive guidance” … al-Baqarah 2:155-157

So, if any of us is inclined to offer an iota of excuse against this journey of Love towards Allah, the Almighty, just examine closely the trials set upon our beloved prophets that came before us. Such sufferings are vivid reminders of the tremendous potential for goodness and evil within Man. The prophets represent the ultimate in human potential for goodness for us to emulate.

The sacrifices of our beloved Prophet (saw) are a symbol of our hope and humility. He (saw) sacrificed so that we may discover the depth of potential within us for goodness and the danger to us due to our ignorance and obstinacy. The former gives us hope in our destiny and in the destiny of man generally, whilst the latter increases our humility. The best way to overcome our animalistic desires will be to increase in our love for Allah, the Almighty and our love for the Prophet (saw) as this will strengthen the element of goodness within us.

Loving Our Beloved Prophet (pbuh) Part 1

In this blessed month of Rabi'ulawwal and in honour of our beloved Prophet (saw), I found an old presentation which I delivered at a conference a few years ago. The following 3 entries are excerpts of that long paper:

Of Acquiring Love

Anyone who hopes of acquiring this Love for Allah, the Almighty by his own means continues to only dream. We all need guides in our life – and those guides become the essence of our journey – just as when Galadriel gave to Frodo the light of Earendil in The Lord of the Rings, saying:

“May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out”

Before Allah, the Almighty revealed His ultimate guidance in the form of the Qur’an, he chose the man first – in the form of our beloved Prophet (saw). Without the man to explain, to teach, to exemplify – it may not effectively serve the purpose intended. To reach this station of mahabbah, we must find that key – as the perfection of our faith depends on it:

“Say (O Muhammad, to mankind): If you do love Allah, then follow me! Allah will love you and forgive you your sins; for Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful” … ‘ali-‘Imran 3:31

“Whosoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah” … an-Nisa’ 4:80

“None of you is a believer until I become dearer to him than his father, his children and all mankind” (Bukhari)

Love for the Prophet Muhammad (saw) is a measure of one’s faith. Love of the Prophet (saw) is love of all the beauty and nobility of character, truthfulness, justness, humility and inner strength of which man is capable and which the Prophet (saw) as the perfect man (al-insan al-kamil) possessed in the utmost degree. Love of the Prophet (saw) also means to acknowledge, cherish and glorify all the potential of goodness and greatness that Allah has created within Man.

It also means the love of humanity, not just in regard to its potential of perfection, but also despite its general inability to realize that potential through all kinds of imperfections and weaknesses from which it suffers. Thus, the love of the Prophet (saw) on the one hand puts us on the road to reach that perfection yet it also helps us to accept our imperfect humanity and in this way to live in peace with ourselves as repentant servants of Allah, hopeful of His Mercy upon us.

These are two interconnecting sides of faith: one is divine and consists of recognizing Allah and being at peace with Him, whilst the other is in recognizing one’s own self and being at peace with oneself. If one is unable to love and obey the Prophet (saw) - a physical man like himself, he will never be able to fathom Reality through his false perception of his love for his Lord.

The love of the Prophet (saw) represents the human side of faith – as a man, the Prophet represents a believer’s own true self. His love for the Prophet (saw) hence means that he has recognized his own true self and is at peace with himself, which in turn means that he has recognized his Lord and made peace with Him by absolutely surrendering to Him.

If anyone ever doubts the Prophet’s (saw) love for us, rest assured he is in manifest error, for Allah, the Almighty has declared:

“Now has come unto you a Messenger from amongst yourselves: it grieves him that you should perish: ardently anxious is he over you (for your good): to the Believers, he is most kind and merciful” … at-Taubah 9:128

And the Prophet’s (saw) love is not limited to the believers, but to all creations.

“We have not sent you (O Muhammad!) but as a mercy to all the worlds” … al-Anbiya’ 21:107

The famed Persian poet, Hafiz of Shiraz, said:

“Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth:
‘You owe Me!’

Look what happens with
A love like that:
It lights up the Whole Sky.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Modern Man

Modern man always starts from the idea of his axiomatic innocence: he is not the cause of existence, he did not want the world, he did not create himself, and he is not responsible neither for his predispositions nor for the circumstances that actualise them; he cannot be culpable, which amounts to saying that he has unlimited rights. The consequences of such an attitude are evident: it opens the door to all the vices of human nature and unleashes the downward force of its fall; this is enough to prove it false.

Every man who is injured in his elementary rights admits the existence of responsibility and culpability in others; he should therefore admit the possibility of culpability in himself; he should also recognise the existence of culpability as such, and so of guilt towards God. And such culpability incontestably exists, for every man freely does those things the responsibility for which he casts upon Heaven; every man, within the limits of his freedom, does what he reproaches God for having done in the universe. The opposite attitude is to ask pardon of God; the response, if one may put it thus, is that God asks pardon of man: this is salvation.

Spiritual contrition - the moral form of emptiness - has its full justification, not in the moral and relatively superficial idea of remorse, but in the essential nature of things, in our metaphysical knowledge of the universe and in the empirical consciousness of our destitution. God alone possesses Being; He alone is Plenitude; if man asks pardon of God, it is, in the final analysis, an order to conform to normative reality, or simply to truth; it is because man exists without being able to move the sun or create one grain of dust, because he usurps the existence that belongs to Him who creates and who orders the stars, because he desires and accomplishes this usurpation within the limits of his freedom and on the plane of his life.

The fear of God is not in any way a matter of feeling, any more than is the love of God; like love, which is the tendency of our whole being towards transcendent Reality, fear is an attitude of the intelligence and the will: it consists in taking account at every moment of a Reality which infinitely surpasses us, against which we can do nothing, in opposition to which we could not live, and from the teeth of which we cannot escape.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Known and The Unknown

Here were are... It is all out. A friend did a search and within the minute managed to track me down. There goes the ironic "needing time to be comfortable to be known". My blog is now known and in today's class, I was left with no more barricades left to defend. I was defenseless.

It is a matter of time really, but would have preferred if I could "gradually" let it be known. So, when another fellow blogger and a colleague asked for my blog's name (again) tonight via sms, without much reservation, I gave it to him.

When it boils down to it, it was a mixed feeling of excitement to have other people read my writings (particularly since I love writing and reading) and perhaps share some of their thoughts along with it, and not knowing the unknown out there (particularly since I have been proven, time and again, how information technology and me are poles apart).

I shall not whine further and bore myself to death. Move on ...

Prior to class, I was at the bookshop and was reminded by a paragraph in the book written by Frithjof Schuon entitled: "Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts" in which this great man gave what is still to me one of the most enlightening perspectives on "Prayers":

“Man prays and prayer fashions man. The saint has himself become prayer, the meeting-place of earth and Heaven; and thereby he contains the universe and the universe prays with him. He is everywhere where nature prays and he prays with her and in her: in the peaks which touch the void and eternity, in a flower which scatters its scent or in the carefree song of a bird. He who lives in prayer has not lived in vain. Prayer in the widest sense triumphs over the four accidents of our existence: the world, life, the body and the soul; we might also say: space, time, matter and desire. It is situated in existence like a shelter, like an islet. In it alone are we perfectly ourselves, because it puts us into the presence of God. It is like a miraculous diamond which nothing can tarnish and nothing can resist”

Intellectuality vs Intellectualism

Had a conversation with an undergraduate over breakfast over the weekend and she kept lamenting about the conversation sliding into being non-intellectualised. I shall try not to be judgemental over the event but it reminds me of some wisdom - along theological lines.

One must distinguish between intellectuality and intellectualism: intellectualism appears as an end in itself; it is an intelligence contented with its multiple visions of the true and forgetful that it is not alone in the world and that life is passing; it practically makes itself God. The intellectualist acts as if he had concluded a security pact with the Eternal.

Intellectualism cannot fail to engender errors. It confers self-complacency and abolishes fear of God; it introduces a sort of worldliness into the intellectual domain. Its good side is that it may speak of truth; its bad side is the manner in which it speaks of it. It replaces the virtues it lacks by sophistries; it lays claims to everything, but is in fact ineffectual.

In intellectualism, the capacity to understand the most difficult things readily goes hand in hand with an inability to understand the simplest of things.

Pure intellectuality, on the other hand, is as serene as a summer sky - with a serenity that is at once infinitely incorruptible and infinitely generous.

Intellectualism, which "dries up the heart", has no connection with intellectuality.

The incorruptibility - or inviolibility - of truth, involves neither contempt nor avarice.

What is the certitude possessed by man? On the plane of ideas, it may be perfect: but in the plane of life, it rarely pierces through illusion.

Everything is ephemereal; every man must die. No one is unaware of this, yet no one knows it.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Evolution ... It is nature's disposition to always go forward, and hence evolved. Such evolution need not neccessarily be physical, but emotional and intellectual as well. For as long as we do not evolve, we will never really reach our Destiny.

I have been teaching The Evolution of Jurisprudence over the last 10 weeks and tonight was the concluding lecture. Whilst teaching, I was inspired by a question which I posed to my students - and left them speechless. The question will be posed at the end of this entry, but meanwhile, the context ...

We have always pride ourselves as being way far more advanced and civilised a society than our predecessor(s) have ever been. But what exactly is it that validate our claims therein? Is it our intellectual prowess? Yet, we still cannot build marvels such as the pyramids. Is it our cultural and/or our moral development? Yet, we still have yet to create something really unique and original on our stage. The list goes on ...

But, what I have observed is this, and let us just take one example - clothing: the first people on Earth were running around almost naked - and they found ways to protect their modesty. As civilization developed, we wore more and more to cover our nakedness as we deemed that to be "civilised".

Then, a freak of nature occurred. As we became more developed as a society, we tend to wear less and less and then, almost nothing. Just take a walk in town one of these days (particularly in this scorching heat this time of the year) - you will see people practically wearing just their brassiere and skimpy jeans/shorts and parading around. Or for the guys, a see-through singlet that leaves nothing much to the imagination. For either sexes, it makes me wonder what must be going through their minds when they wake up every morning and watch themselves naked: they must have been so proud of what they saw. But I may have missed the point ... Someone please tell me!

Anyway, coming back: the more we are "developed", the less we wear? Can you imagine if at this same time, you meet the very same people of the stone age and he/she saw you dressed as you were. Guess who will be embarrassed and faint first?

Use this example and extend the logic to other subjects: for example our moral values - noticed how homosexuality/lesbianism used to be a crime and then slipped down the scale to just be something you do in the privacy of your own room to getting legally married and adopting children [God help those children - I'd rather Angelina Jolie adopts them]? Hey, you can even be a man of god!

I am not being judgmental of either - but you see my point.

Coming back to my lecture: Muslims belong to various mazhab for various reasons. Now, the question is:

"Since the world has gotten "smaller" or "flat" since the existence of the Maliki, Hanafi, Syafie or Hambali mazhabs (and there are more than these dominant 4) where your world in the East can "co-exist" with the world in the West at the click of a button - how relevant will the jurisprudential school of thoughts (mazhabs) be in, say 100 years from now?"

With all these fightings that we have amongst Muslims that kept us apart over these very mundane issues, this question is worthy of some serious examination.

What are we fighting for?!?!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Getting Warmed Up

I have told 2 of my friends today - these 2 are the most persistent - that I have finally set up this blog. As is expected, they were both bugging me for the blog's name.

Funny ... I was not comfortable enough even to these 2 pals to tell them about my blog's name. My response was that I was not ready to share my thoughts yet. Kinda like: are you ready to propose to her for marriage? Like as if this is such a world-shattering event. In any case, I hope to let them know soon, if God Wills.

Sent my friend's wife-to-be on her leisurely trip to Japan. It has been about one month now since I last travelled anywhere out of Singapore due to heavy work commitments and when I was at the airport, I realised that it has been about 3-4 months that I have not boarded a plane and just be somewhere else. This gnawing and distressing feeling is eating me up surely. I promise that once I am able to get out of work in April, I will fly to somewhere to recuperate. It is just not the same locking yourself up at Sentosa over the weekend to hope that you will recover from work - despite the foot reflexology sessions and body massage - for as long as you are within the country, then that stress and atmosphere lingers...

I was also supposed to be at an-Nahdhah Mosque now. The local university undergraduates will be having their examinations soon, and part of their preparation for it, they have organised a movie marathon and performing the night vigil at the mosque. I was to lead them in this congregational night vigil and to give a short post-Subuh lesson thereafter. I intended to remain secluded in the mosque the whole night but since showering after the airport, home seemed to be the more obvious choice for me to be - even if I am not sleeping. So, I decided to join the group and be back at the mosque by 4:45am, if God Wills.

al-Falah Mosque today held the first inaugural monthly talk prior to the Friday congregational prayers. I was honoured to be invited as the first person to deliver the talk. Hence, I was busy this afternoon - first giving that public lecture, then gave the Friday sermon and then the prayer itself. The weather was so hot today and my throat was so dry. Despite obtaining rave reviews of my talk and my sermon, I did not think that I recited well today during prayers as my throat was cranking up. With God's Will, I hope to do better next week.

I think my eyes are way too drooping now. So, before I began mumbling about things which I don't even understand, I guess I should take some winks now and wake up in about an hours' time to join the undergraduates at the mosque. Planned with my friend to try acupuncture for the first time tomorrow. Have no idea how it will feel, but the testaments of many ex-customers are too persuasive to ignore.

But, one thing is for sure: I will check into a decent hotel tomorrow to just sleep and do nothing. Besides, PB was just deposited.

Goodnight then ... my new friend :-)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

In The Beginning

I have finally, after much trial and error, set up my own blog. I have been asked to do so for the longest of time by friends but have never gotten to do it, until now. Prior to setting up this blog, when it seems that I have so much to say, I am now suddenly at a loss of words.

The idea of having this means to share my thoughts in the public arena is indeed mind-boggling. Is this voyeuristic? Whatever ...

This will be a new boundary for me to cross over - from an introvert by nature to actually having a blog.

I actually spent more time figuring out what should be the name of my blog that it had me pushed my dateline from one week to another. Tonight, after contributing my thoughts to a friend's blog, I have decided that I will just plunge into this for otherwise, this will never get done.

And so it goes ... The Odyssey was born. Obviously, most of you are familiar about this Greek epic poem attributed to Homer. The younger of the two surviving ancient Greek poems, traditionally ascribed to Homer but containing much orally transmitted material composed over several centuries, and concerning the adventures and ordeals of the Greek warrior Odysseus after the fall of Troy as he struggles to return home and reestablish himself as the King of Ithaca.

Now, I am not aspiring to be any King nor is my journey as colourful as Odysseus but tonight he just came to mind.

You will also notice my "name" - The Hoopoe. This was inspired by another great book entitled the "Conference of the Birds" by Farid ud-Din Attar. It is a book of 4500 lines poem which uses a journey by a group of birds, led by The Hoopoe, as an allegory of a Sufi Shaykh or master leading his students to enlightenment - towards reaching the Simorgh.

Neither am I a master or a Sufi Shaykh as I myself am wondering along this journey.

And so it has now come to pass ... The Odyssey is as a long wandering and eventful journey, an extended adventurous voyage and also symbolises an intellectual or a spiritual quest. The Hoopoe as a bird who is perpetual in its journey, despite the many challenges and doubts that Life offers. Sometimes it leads in its journey, yet sometimes it is being led.

I am in that journey called "Life". And I intend to persevere until this journey reaches its natural destination - whatever the Creator has planned for me. I am not fully-equipt for this journey, and mostly I look for fellow conscious travellers to give me a helping hand. Sure, I falter sometimes, but this journey must carry on. I merely seek the Grace of the Creator who has the Masterplan, to enable me to have an ending that is both blessed and beneficial.

For after all, did not the Master said: "The example of the world and I is that of a traveller. Travelling in the afternoon heat, he stopped to rest under the shade of a tree for some moments. Then, he rose and left it."

And he also said: "Should the Hour of the Day of Judgment arrive and you have a palm shoot in your hand, let him continue to plant it, if he can."

The message of continuity, perseverance even in the face of fierce vicissitudes and adversities in life - but mostly, the message of hope, shouts through these two sayings.

Hope is the Message of Faith.