Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Animals Lawsuit Against Humanity

I will be bringing some of my students to the Zoological Gardens this morning as they lamented the no-class policy over today's public holiday. As such, this book came to my mind: The Animals Lawsuit Against Humanity. Interesting to ponder about while we are at the zoo later...

In this fable, eloquent representatives of all members of the Animal Kingdom – from horses to bees – come before the respected Spirit King to complain of the dreadful treatment they have suffered at the hands of humankind. During the ensuing trial, where both humans and animals testify before the king, both sides argue their points ingeniously, deftly illustrating the validity of both sides of the ecology debate.

Animals in Islam

Within the tenets of Islam are found strong support and guidelines for the protection and treatment of animals.

In the Qur'an and Hadith (sayings of the Prophet), it is emphasized that animals be treated as humanely as any other of God's vast creation. The Qur'an goes as far to say that cruelty to animals is equivalent to cruel treatment of a human being. Kind treatment of animals is considered a good deed in the same sense that good conduct and treatment between human beings is deemed a good deed. The following Hadith illustrates this point:

The Prophet said, "While a man was walking he felt thirsty and went down a well, and drank water from it. On coming out of it, he saw a dog panting and eating mud because of excessive thirst. The man said, 'This (dog) is suffering from the same problem as that of mine.' So, he (went down the well), filled his shoe with water, caught hold of it with his teeth and climbed up and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for his (good) deed and forgave him.'' The people asked ``O Allah's Apostle! Is there a reward for us in serving (the) animals?'' He replied: ``Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate (living being).'' (Narrated by Abu Huraira -- Volume 3, Book 40, Number 551)

God created man to be the guardian of the Earth and gave him dominion over its inhabitants. Therefore, mankind is held responsible for an injustice he has done to any of God's creatures. The Qur'an specifies that animals function as a community in the same way that human beings do, and all creatures have their place. The Qur'an also shows that it is not only human beings that give praise and worship to God through prayers but animals as well, as evident from this passage.

"Seest thou not that it is Allah Whose praises are celebrated by all beings in the heavens and on earth, and by the birds with extended wings? Each one knows its prayer and psalm, And Allah is aware of what they do.'' (Qur'an 22:18)

It says in another Hadith narrated from Ibn Abbas that the Prophet said “Do not use anything in which there is a soul as a target.” –Narrated by Muslim

In Islam, the Qur'an and Hadith give clear guidance on several matters concerning animals, aside from their treatment and roles. Another issue which is carefully described in the Qur'an and Hadith is the slaughter of animals for food. In Islam, one must follow strict guidelines from the Qur'an and Hadith on the process and proper way of slaughter.

Central do Brasil

Was fortunate to have been able to watch this beautiful 1998 Brazilian show tonight entitled: Central do Brasil. Not that it matters, but this show was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actress in a Leading Role at the Oscars. It went on to win 29 other awards (including the Golden Globe) at other film festivals and 9 other nominations.

It is an emotive journey of a former school teacher, who write letters for illiterate people at Rio de Janeiro's central train station, Central do Brasil; and a young boy, whose mother has just died in a car accident, to Brazil's remote Northeast in search for the father he never knew. While he was looking for a father he never knew, she was looking for a second chance in life.

Central do Brasil
is a beautiful film about the human spirit, not a quickly paced movie, but a rewarding one. The film is a journey undertaken by the unlikely pair - a crotchety old woman who, before now, happily inflicted harm in others' lives (you've gotta see the movie to know why), and an innocent child who tries to peel away the callous shell she has erected. Naturally, a friendship blossoms between the two, and, at some point along the way, she becomes likeable to the viewer. Her conversion is a gradual one, however.

Central do Brasil also does an excellent job of showing the poverty and underdevelopment of central Brazil. The desolation evident during Dora and Josue's journey lets us focus not only upon their desperation, but upon their relationship and Dora's softening, which is really the focus of the film, not Josue's search for his father - for we never knew whether his father indeed returned home. And even if you don't feel warm for Dora's change of heart, her metamorphosis certainly makes this movie an emotional, enjoyable watch.

There were many quiet scenes in this movie that speaks volumes of emotions. For example, when she woke up in his lap left in the middle of the streets, or when she walked away after the brothers reunite. But the ending, I am sure, will touch you - in many ways than one. I watched this from a little gem of a shop very near where I teach on Tuesdays. You may wish to check out their other foreign movies' gems by clicking here.

This movie does not pretend. It is afterall, a story about life's journeys - celebrating our strengths and our weaknesses but yet despite that, persevering to better ourselves from time to time, even though so excruciatingly slowly. Dora, in the end, turned out to be the winner, as much as Josue as well. Definitely worth a watch.

Where was I in 1998?

Thank You!

When I made an entry as my Blog reached its 1,000th visit, I was asked whether I was gonna do the same with the 2,000th visit. My reply was in the negative. But ... I just have to do it:

It has now passed its 2,000th visit and all I can say is merely a humble: "ALHAMDULILLAH!" I wanna say a big THANK YOU to my dear readers for your support, for dropping by and leaving your comments behind. Not that I am obsessed with figures, but as any humans are, it sort of sends a note of validation to what I do and an encouragement for me to persevere in my contribution in this Blog. I hope it has also been beneficial to my dear readers. It has certainly been useful to me in my journey as it helps to clear the muddled thoughts in my mind as I write or as I share portions of books which I read. Alhamdulillah!

Coincidentally, there was a series of correspondence between my students and me on the concept of "staying around" tonight. I thought it may be useful if I share snippets of it here, without relating fully the context as it may be confidential in nature:

"In life, its sweetness and its essence lies in the staying, not the running away...

To stay is more difficult and it takes the whole of our being in applying all that we learnt during the easy times and all that we talk cheaply to ourselves and to others.

It is the flying away which is the easier part. Staying requires commitment, flying away merely requires excuses to do so.

Staying requires Faith and if there is no Faith in one's life and one's journey, how can one claim "Faith" in an 'abstract' thing such as God."


To Sir With Love

Just had lunch with a primary school teacher of mine last week. Have not meet since I was a young boy and he seemed very proud to see me what I am today.


It is often that we forget who helped to shape and mould us to be what we are today. These kind souls have sacrificed much of themselves, way beyond the call, to ensure that we receive the proper moulding - not only in terms of our studies, but they also dispensed wise advice and became a role model for us - such a thankless task!

A friend was sharing something via email about my classes and it inspired me to write this entry. Being grateful to them requires very little from us. After all, we benefit from their teachings, their guidance and their love for us. Sure, we look at it differently when we were young, but as we mature, our emotions and mental faculties are more matured and developed to enable us to see things in this perspective.

So, THANK YOU to all my teachers who have made me the person that I am today. Without your guidance and love, I would not have been what I am.

And for my friends, go forth and look for people who have been instrumental in shaping your lives - and if nothing else, give them a big hug and a big Thank You!

I am reminded of a song based on a movie starring Sidney Poitier, To Sir With Love:

"But how do you thank someone, who has taken you from crayons to perfume?"
"What, what can I give you in return?"

To Sir With Love - Lulu

Those schoolgirl days, of telling tales and biting nails are gone,
But in my mind,
I know they will still live on and on,
But how do you thank someone, who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn't easy, but I'll try,

If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters,
That would soar a thousand feet high,
To Sir, with Love

The time has come,
For closing books and long last looks must end,
And as I leave,
I know that I am leaving my best friend,
A friend who taught me right from wrong,
And weak from strong,
That's a lot to learn,
What, what can I give you in return?

If you wanted the moon I would try to make a start,
But I, would rather you let me give my heart,
To Sir, with Love

Self-Reflecting Mirror

In our book-reading club yesterday, we touched on the topic of self-reflection, of looking within ourselves for our strengths and our weaknessess, and I wish to share in the hope to benefit others as well in reflecting upon this.

"To share His hidden glory you must learn
That others' errors are not your concern -
When someone else's failings are defined
What hairs you split - but to your own you're blind!
Grace comes to those, no matter how they've strayed,
Who know their own sin's strength, and are afraid"

"You cannot love, and this is why you seek
To find men vicious, or depraved, or weak -
If you could search for love and persevere
The sins of other men would disappear"

... Conference of the Birds,
Farid ud-Din Attar

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

One Jar of Mayonnaise and 2 Cups of Coffee

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day isn't enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

The sand is everything else--the small stuff. "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first--the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked."

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Concept of Fitrah

"According to an ancient and still recognized legal principle an accused man cannot plead, in his defence, ignorance of the law; and since in the older civilizations the temporal and the spiritual were organically connected, this principle may well have originated as a prolongation of the dogma that on the Day of Judgement it will not be possible to plead ignorance of the basic truths of religion.

The dogma in question is to be found expressed, implicitly or explicitly, in various ways. Islam, for example, is particularly explicit: in the Quran, God is said to have taken to Himself, out of the loins of Adam, the seeds of all future generations of men and to have put to them the question: "Am I not your Lord?", to which they answered in the affirmative. The Qur'an adds that they were made to testify, "lest ye should say on the Day of Resurrection: 'Verily, of this we were unaware'. (al-'A'raf 7:172)

In other words, every human soul is imbued with what might be called the sense of the Absolute or of the Transcendent, the sense of a Supreme Power that is both Origin and End of the created universe which It infinitely transcends."
... Preface, The Eleventh Hour, Martin Lings

The Muse

Many have sought what now I seek, and few have won;
Yet not the less I am driven to pray: pause in thy fleeing
While I have breath; and call to me, and lead me on
Into that garden where the Muses sing and dance,
That I may fill mine ears with sound, mine eyes with seeing,
And make for men some deep enduring utterance.

... The Muse from Collected Poems, Martin Lings

Being Muslims

I have been slow in making any entry this week for a few reasons: Many have commented that they are unable to "catch-up" with my Blog. Another reason is that I wanted readers to be absorbed by the entries made, and to leave constructive comments on those entries. I love reading your comments.

Trust me, it was not easy not making any entry. And now, due to the non-entry, I have more things which I needed to say which was postponed by that policy. And I think it has created more muddled thoughts. Already as it is, I think I am now an addict :-)

I cannot imagine I would be in this state when I started this Blog a mere 2 months ago.

One of those "postponed" thoughts was based on the Friday sermon last week where I was struck by the all-encompassing single hadith which was recited at the pulpit. I have always given lectures or classess on what being a Muslim mean, or how Muslims should conduct themselves and yearly, on the topic of Hijrah (migration). But I was unfortunate to have missed this beautiful hadith which is so comprehensive in its content which I would have used in those lectures would I have remembered it.

In this modern working environment where KPI (key performance indicators) are so prevalent in what we do, this hadith gives us an idea what our KPI should be as Muslims. But most importantly, it also tells us the contextual meaning behind the great event of Hijrah - it is not merely a physical hijrah (at least not in our time), but it is about our framework of mindset, our being as individuals, as a human being, as a member of a larger community and as a Muslim. It talks about the essence of our journey towards being a better person.

This is the comprehensive hadith narrated by Bukhari, Muslim & others, which means:

"A Muslim is someone whom others are safe from the actions of his tongue and his hand. And the person who commits hijrah is the one who leaves behind all that is forbidden by Allah"

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Father And Son - Dance With My Father Again

Its a strange weekend: nothing really happened as it was spent mostly sleeping to fight this bout of flu, but the few things that occurred were worth pondering about. Yet, as much as I know I have many things to write but do not know which one.

The entry by Ghoose for my "Oh Very Young" triggered this response. It was a quotation from the song "Father And Son", but as it turned out, while writing this entry based on that song, another song came to my mind. For good measure, this is Yusuf Islam singing "Father and Son":

A father's role is often forgotten in our development - probably he is seen to be the disciplinarian at home whom we always try to avoid, for not being home often as he had to earn a living to put us through school and giving us a standard of living we currently enjoy etc.

As a teenager, our father went through the same jitters about that first date, about that day when he popped the question to our mother, the anxiety to build a family, yet making do for himself whilst sacrificing for us - he is as clueless in these matters as we do now.

As a husband and a father, we see him as the one who is slightly more detached with our daily problems - always asking mom to deal with it, as the one who is non-emotional to issues, as the dictator perhaps for some. But in effect, he is the silent pillar in our family, and if we are brave enough to admit, the silent pillar in our lives.

I cannot say much about when a father is of old age as I lost my father in my late teenage years - and that lost is still fresh in my mind, even today. It was as if yesterday, that my father carried me in his arms or put his over my shoulders as we walked in the park. It was as if last night that he read me to sleep...

I always remembered him as a loving and doting father who thinks more of us than of himself. One that lives forever in me... as most fathers do.

One can never describe a lost which is part of oneself. Yet, Allah the Almighty said: "Every living soul shall have a taste of death, and in the end to Us shall you be brought back" ... al-Ankabut 29:57

I am comforted with the fact that he has left us for a better place which he justly deserves. Amin...

So, this is a tribute to my dad, to new and old fathers, to fathers-to-be, and yet even to those who guides, teaches, and mentor others: you are fathers too ... at least in my eyes. You are the unspoken heroes in our lives. You are the inspiration when we ourselves become fathers, eventually.

Al-Fatihah ...

"I'd love to dance with my father again ..."

Dance With My Father Again

Back when I was a child
Before life removed all the innocence
My father would lift me high
And dance with my mother and me and then

Spin me around till I fell asleep
Then up the stairs he would carry me
And I knew for sure
I was loved

If I could get another chance
Another walk, another dance with him
I’d play a song that would never, ever end
How I’d love, love, love to dance with my father again

Ooh, ooh

When I and my mother would disagree
To get my way I would run from her to him
He’d make me laugh just to comfort me, yeah, yeah
Then finally make me do just what my mama said

Later that night when I was asleep
He left a dollar under my sheet
Never dreamed that he
Would be gone from me

If I could steal one final glance
One final step, one final dance with him
I’d play a song that would never, ever end
‘Cause I’d love, love, love to dance with my father again

Sometimes I’d listen outside her door
And I’d hear her, mama crying for him
I pray for her even more than me
I pray for her even more than me

I know I’m praying for much too much
But could You send back the only man she loved
I know You don’t do it usually
But Lord, she’s dying to dance with my father again
Every night I fall asleep
And this is all I ever dream

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Oh Very Young

On the occasion of the 2000 re-release of his Cat Stevens albums, Yusuf Islam explained that he had stopped performing due to his misunderstanding of the Islamic faith. "This issue of music in Islam is not as cut-and-dried as I was led to believe . . . I relied on heresy (sic), that was perhaps my mistake."

In a 2005 press release, he explains his revived recording career:

"After I embraced Islam many people told me to carry on composing and recording but at the time I was hesitant for fear that it might be for the wrong reasons. I felt unsure what the right course of action was. I guess it is only now after all these years that I've come to fully understand and appreciate what everyone has been asking of me. It's as if I've come full circle - however, I have gathered a lot of knowledge on the subject in the meantime."

This song, "Oh Very Young" taken from the album "Tea For The Tillerman": we get to see the other side of Yusuf Islam being passionate on stage. This song asks how you would feel about your life if you knew you would be gone tomorrow. Just as well, this question is as good as being asked and answered by us now, perhaps on a daily basis...

Oh Very Young

Oh very young
What will you leave us this time?
You're only dancing on this earth for a short while
And though your dreams may toss and turn you now
They will vanish away like your daddy's best jeans
Denim Blue fading up to the sky
And though you want him to last forever
You know he never will
(You know he never will)
And the patches make the goodbye harder still

Oh very young
What will you leave us this time?
There'll never be a better chance to change your mind
And if you want this world to see a better day
Will you carry the words of love with you?
Will you ride the great white bird into heaven?
And though you want to last forever
You know you never will
(You know you never will)
And the goodbye makes the journey harder still

Oh very young
What will you leave us this time?
You're only dancing on this earth for a short while
Oh very young
What will you leave us this time?

Peace Train

Been in a musical mood these last few days and will feature some songs. But if you prefer, read the lyrics and the message behind the songs. In addition, this is also in response to some queries from my students about music - the answer lies within.

I first present you a song entitled: "Peace Train" by Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens). Yusuf Islam performed live at the Nobel Peace Prize 2006 Award.

That day was a special event. In my measure two of the greatest Muslims of the world in the same place - both of whom have done more for more people that we can imagine - one empowering the poorest of the poor to break their chains of despondency, the other illuminating the hearts of the lost and wandering to find their way to everlasting Love and Happiness.

"I feel right about making music and singing about life in this fragile world again," Yusuf says of his return to the pop music world. 'It is important for me to be able to help bridge the cultural gaps others are sometimes frightened to cross.'

"Peace Train is a song I wrote, the message of which continues to breeze thunderously through the hearts of millions of human beings and there is a powerful need for people to feel that gust of hope rise up again," he said.

I only hope Muslims can work towards making positive changes for ourselves, our community and the world-at-large rather than be critical of other people's works, such as these men. Existing in such a fragile world, this is such an apt song of positivity.

[His life performance at the Nobel Peace Prize at YouTube has been blocked. So, please enjoy this album version.]

Peace Train - Yusuf Islam

Now I've been happy lately,
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun

Oh I've been smiling lately,
dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be,
some day it's going to come

Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again

Now I've been smiling lately,
thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be,
something good has begun

Oh peace train sounding louder
Glide on the peace train
Come on now peace train
Yes, peace train holy roller

Everyone jump upon the peace train
Come on now peace train
Get your bags together,
go bring your good friends too

Cause it's getting nearer,
it soon will be with you
Now come and join the living,
it's not so far from you

And it's getting nearer,
soon it will all be true
Now I've been crying lately,
thinking about the world as it is

Why must we go on hating,
why can't we live in bliss
Cause out on the edge of darkness,
there rides a peace train

Oh peace train take this country,
come take me home again

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Purity of Thoughts

A man rose up where Junayd (Junayd al-Baghdadi) was preaching and began to beg.

"This man is perfectly healthy,'' thought Junayd." He can earn his living. Why does he beg, and impose on himself this humiliation?"

That night Junayd dreamed that a covered dish was set before him. "Eat," he was bidden. When he lifted the lid, he saw the man who had begged lying dead on the dish. "I do not eat the flesh of men," he protested. "Then why did you do so in mosque yesterday?" he was asked.

Junayd realized that he had been guilty of slander in his heart, and that he was being taken to task for an evil thought.

"I woke in terror," Junayd recollected. "I purified myself and prayed two rak'as, then I went out to search for the beggar. I saw him on the bank of the Tigris, picking out of the water scraps of vegetables people had washed there and eating them.

Raising his head, he saw me approaching and addressed me. "Junayd," he said, "have you repented of the thoughts concerning me?" "I have," I replied.

"Then go. It is He who accepts repentance from His servants. This time keep a watch over your thoughts."

... Tadhkirat al-Auliya', Farid al-Din Attar

Purity of the Heart

Once Hasan al-Basri went to Habib al-'Ajami at the time of evening prayers. Hasan heard al-'Ajami mispronounced a word during the prayer. He considered it improper to do his prayers with him, and therefore did them separately. During the night he dreamt the Lord spoke to him: "Hasan, if you had stood behind al-'Ajami and performed your prayers, you would have earned Our Pleasure, and that single prayer of yours would have borne thee greater benefit than all prayers taken together that you have offered in your lifetime. You found fault with his pronunciation but ignored the purity and excellence of his heart. Know it that We cherish a contrite heart much more than the correct pronunciation of words."

... Tadhkirat al-Auliya', Farid al-Din Attar

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Goethe's Wanderer's Nightsong

In exploring German's literature, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, stands quite familiarly with the rest of the world. He was a German poet, dramatist, novelist, theorist, humanist, scientist, painter and polymath. His most enduring work, the two-part dramatic poem Faust, is considered one of the peaks of world literature.

Goethe is also the originator of the concept of Weltliteratur ("world literature"), having taken great interest in the literatures of England, France, Italy, classical Greece, and Persia, among others. His influence on German philosophy is virtually immeasurable, having major impact especially on the generation of Hegel and Schelling.

The Wanderer's Nightsong is the title of two poems by him. This second poem is considered by some as the most beautiful lyrical poem of the German language.

Wanderer's Nightsong Part 2

Up there all summits
are still.
In all the tree-tops
you will
feel but the dew.

The birds in the forest stopped talking.
Soon, done with walking,
you shall rest, too.

Tribute to a Friend

A few years ago, something wonderful happened as I was crossing the junction of Bugis Street on my way to perform my Asr prayers. A German guy asked for directions to Sultan Mosque. What happened thereafter was bizarre: not only did he go to Sultan Mosque, but also Malabar Mosque, we had dinner, we attended a religious talk by one of the Shaykh in Singapore - all within the same evening!

He returned to Germany eversince, but we kept in contact. He sent me a poem today by his favourite poet, Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff, (inserted picture) as follows:

Moon Night

It was as though the sky
had silently kissed the earth,
so that it now had to dream of sky
in shimmers of flowers.

The air went through the fields,
the corn-ears leaned heavy down
the woods swished softly—
so clear with stars was the night

And my soul stretched
its wings out wide,
flew through the silent lands
as though it were flying home.

I thought it wonderful and decided to return him an extract from a play by the same poet. It is particularly relevant to him as he has travelled almost all the world, and still is:

From the Life of a Good-For-Nothing

When God will show a man true favour,
He sends him into distant lands,
Where wood and mountain, field and river
All show the wonder of His hands.

No rousing flush of morning glows
On sluggards who remain in bed;
Their thoughts are filled with cares and woes,
With little mouths and little bread.

The runnels from the mounts fall springing,
Up high the darting larks rejoice;
Now what’s there to stop me from singing
Full-throated airs with heartfelt voice?

I leave dear God to rule and reign;
Who brooks and larks and wood and lea
And Earth and Heaven can maintain,
I’ll say he knows what’s best for me!

The Lone Tree

A boy was extended an invitation to visit his uncle who was a lumberjack up in the Northwest . . . [As he arrived] his uncle met him at the depot, and as the two pursued their way to the lumber camp. The boy was impressed by the enormous size of trees on every hand. There was a gigantic tree which he observed standing all alone on top of a small hill. The boy, full of awe, called out excitedly, "Uncle George, look at that big tree! It will make a lot of good lumber, won't it?"

Uncle George slowly shook his head, then replied, "No, son, that tree will not make a lot of good lumber. It might make a lot of lumber but not a lot of good lumber. When a tree grows off by itself, too many branches grow on it. Those branches produce knots when the tree is cut into lumber. The best lumber comes when they grow together in groves. The trees also grow taller and straighter when they grow together."

It is so with people. We become better individuals, more useful timber when we grow together.


After about one year and a half, my class on Introductory Islam at a local mosque was completed today. After spending every Saturday morning for that period, a bond has surely developed between my students and myself.

Despite having taught for years, there will be some classes which you feel for and despite the years of experience, you still feel melancholic at the conclusion of any class. I go through this all the time. I am sure every teacher does too.

But, we rest easy at night because we as teachers always pray that those lessons imparted will be beneficial to our students. And we hope that after us, they will move on to higher things in life and will fly higher than before. At the end of the day, their success in life is the intangible reward to us that made us smile, and convince us to pursue moulding yet another group of students again, despite the challenges that we face along the way. Seeing one student succeed is our validation to our commitment - not that we need one, but being human, it motivates us to strive harder. For students and teachers with a long-term perspective on education, such relationship is like a parent and a child. They go on, and on for some ...

As such, in this entry, I wish to dedicate my most favourite part of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran to my students, whose lessons with me may have just ended, or to those students whose lessons with me have ended long ago. Thank you for the journey together.

The journey with me may have ended, but your journey with others is just beginning still.

Yet, my prayers for you have never stopped despite...

"Fare you well, people of Orphalese.

This day has ended.

It is closing upon us even as the water-lily upon its own tomorrow.

What was given us here we shall keep,

And if it suffices not, then again must we come together and together stretch our hands unto the Giver.

Forget not that I shall come back to you.

A little while, and my longing shall gather dust and foam for another body.

A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me.

Farewell to you and the youth I have spent with you.

It was but yesterday we met in a dream.

You have sung to me in my aloneness, and I of your longings have built a tower in the sky.

But now our sleep has fled and our dream is over, and it is no longer dawn.

The noontide is upon us and our half-waking has turned to a fuller day, and we must part.

If in the twilight of memory we should meet once more, we shall speak again together and you shall sing to me a deeper song.

And if our hands should meet in another dream, we shall build another tower in the sky."

... The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Same Old Lang Syne

My earlier entry on "The Remains of the Day" rekindled an old beautiful song by Dan Fogelberg that seemed to suit this novel perfectly:

We drank a toast to innocence,
We drank a toast to now.
And tried to reach beyond the emptiness,
But neither one knew how.

The drink was empty and our tongues were tired,
And running out of things to say.
She gave a kiss to me as I got out,
And I watched her drive away.

Just for a moment I was back at school,
And felt that old familiar pain ...
And as I turned to make my way back home,
The snow turned into rain ...

... Same Old Lang Syne, Dan Fogelberg


People are all speech,
So be the best words heard.
When a thorn pierces you from them,
Be the strongest shield in repelling it.

When you are like that with them,
Then you, by God, are a beneficial leader.

The candle harms itself
While it is a blazing light to the onlooker.
The blame which you recognize
Is a blessing in the hand of a person who is deprived.

... Muhyiddin Ibn al-‘Arabi

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Remains of the Day

84 Charring Cross Road led me to another old favourite: The Remains of the Day. Exceptionally poignant and thought-provoking, I remembered being extremely amazed at the "English-ness" of this Japanese authour. And as other great books have been, this was translated into the silver screen starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thomson in the lead, supported by the late Christopher Reeve, Hugh Grant and Ben Chaplin. But as all adaptations go, reading the book is my recommendation. It won the Booker's Prize in 1989.

Kazuo Ishiguro once said the following of his desire to write: "I'm always trying to remind myself that while we may be very pleased with ourselves, we may one day look back with a different perspective and ask whether we may have acted out of cowardice or failure of vision. What I'm interested in is not the actual fact that my characters have done things they later regret. I'm interested in how they come to terms with it."

The above is an excellent description of what's going on in The Remains of the Day: Mr Stevens, a repressed butler in post-WWII England, is forced near the end of his career to re-examine his entire life. Although there are certainly a number of interesting subplots that keep you asking "what happens next?," the central action of the story revolves around Stevens' attempts to salvage for himself some of the 'dignity', 'greatness' and 'satisfaction' that he had, until recently, been so sure he had achieved over the years - both on the professional and personal front. He was advised by his new employer to have a vacation and while Stevens sets off on a journey to the West Country, intending to visit one Miss Kenton, his colleague on the house staff for many years before the war, the story began its narration in the first person, with Mr Stevens recalling the whole breadth of his career.

It is made more poignant when Mr Stevens, so wrapped up in ideas of 'duty' and 'dedication', speaks much about his career but little of the actual events that he has gone through. His love for Miss Kenton is deduced only through the actions and words of characters around him - and he relooked back with regret.

(1) On his unrealised love of Ms Kenton

She has aged, but very gracefully, and he is extremely pleased to see her again. It strikes Stevens that Miss Kenton seems to have lost the spark that used to make her so lively; when her face is in repose, he thinks that its expression is sad. Stevens and Miss Kenton filled each other in on their lives over the last twenty years...

The meeting goes on for two hours before Miss Kenton says she must return home. Stevens drives her to a bus stop a little way outside the village. While they are waiting at the bus station, Stevens asks Miss Kenton a question that he says has been troubling him for some time: he asks if she is being mistreated in some way, as her letters often seem unhappy. Miss Kenton says that her husband does not mistreat her in any way at all. Stevens says he does not understand why, then, she is unhappy. She tells him that for a long time, she did not love her husband, but that after having a daughter and going through the war together, she has grown to love him. However, there are times when she thinks she has made a great mistake with her life. She even says, "For instance, I get to thinking about a life I may have had with you, Mr. Stevens." But then she says that it is of no use to dwell on what might have been.

For the first time in the novel, Stevens appears to realize how much he loves Miss Kenton. Upon hearing her words about the possibility of a life they might have had together, he says that his "heart is breaking." He does not speak for a moment, but when he does, he only says that Miss Kenton is right: one cannot dwell on the past. He says that she must do all she can to ensure many happy years ahead with her husband and her grandchildren. Then the bus comes, and Miss Kenton leaves. Stevens sees that her eyes have filled with tears.

(2) On spending "what remains of the day"

Stevens says that Lord Darlington at least made his own mistakes, but says that he himself cannot even claim that, because he trusted Lord Darlington so completely. Stevens does not think that there is much dignity in such an action—not even being able to say he has made his own mistakes. The man seated next to Stevens tells him not to look back so much because it will only make him unhappier. Then he says that the evening is the best part of the day for most folks. Stevens agrees, and apologizes for crying. He decides to make the best of "what remains of my day."

(3) On bantering

The first thing he will work on upon his return to Darlington Hall is bantering: he hopes, when Mr. Farraday comes back, that he will be able "to pleasantly surprise him." "Perhaps, in bantering, lies the key to human warmth"

This final section of The Remains of the Day is incredibly sad, as Stevens never tells Miss Kenton that he loves her because he feels that it is too late. This meeting is the climax of this novel. Listening to her talk about her husband and her daughter has made him realize how much time has passed, and how much opportunity lost. Stevens does ask Miss Kenton if she has ever thought of working again; she replies that she has, but now that she is going to have a grandchild, she wants to be nearby. Though Miss Kenton's words crush Stevens's last hope of her ever returning to Darlington Hall, he, of course, never even says to her that he was hoping she would do so. Stevens's last and largest hope has now been shattered, compounding the other losses and regrets that seem to have characterized much of his life.

When Miss Kenton voices regret at not spending her life with Stevens, it makes him realize how much better it would have been for both of them if they had been the ones to marry. It is at this point that Stevens tells us that his heart is breaking—an astounding revelation from a character who gives virtually no evidence of any emotion at all during the course of the novel.

Stevens finally breaks down during the evening when he is sitting on the pier, reaching at last the realization that he has deluded himself throughout his entire life. It is in this part of the novel that Stevens's role—his mask as a perfect, poised butler—crumbles, and his real self—a sad, disillusioned man—takes over the story.

It is not clear, in the end, the extent to which Stevens realizes he has deceived himself. After all, as he never has known anything outside of his own limited existence, it may be difficult, if not impossible, for him to fully appreciate what he has missed, just as someone who is born blind would never miss seeing color. Indeed, despite its slightly optimistic ending, The Remains of the Day remains, on the whole, a tragic story of regret and missed opportunity.

Have you had missed opportunities in your lives?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Full Circle in Morocco

As one of the birds is currently on honeymoon in Morocco, it brings to mind an exquisite song written by Loreena McKennitt.

It was in 1993 in the month of Ramadhan, as she was flying out of Morocco, she heard the faint sounds of the azan and wrote this song. She described it as "one of the most moving and primitive sounds I have ever heard." With this as the background, as she sat near the Algerian dessert and woke up to catch the sunrise, she said: "I don't think I have ever felt something so simple and yet so powerful, I wondered if the first sunrise was just like this."

Although she never was a Muslim, that experience must have been absolutely awesome, watching the sunrise in the dessert and hearing the call to prayer and submitting oneself under the vast open skies. This very scene must be the reason why many have embraced Islam through the blessed sound of the azan. SubhanAllah!

Perhaps, the bird concerned may wish to share this beauty as he will be staying in the open dessert for 4 days in this period.

Stars were falling deep in the darkness
as prayers rose softly, petals at dawn
And as I listened, your voice seemed so clear
so calmly you were calling your god

Somewhere the sun rose, o'er dunes in the desert
such was the stillness, I ne'er felt before
Was this the question, pulling, pulling, pulling you
in your heart, in your soul, did you find peace there?

... Full Circle, Loreena McKennitt

On Giving Counsel

"You must be of good counsel to all Muslims. The highest point of this is that you conceal nothing from them which if made known would result in good or preserve from something evil. The prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said, "Religion is good counsel" Part of this is to support a Muslim in his absence as you would in his presence, and not to give him more verbal signs of affection than you have for him in your heart. It is also part of this that when a Muslim asks you for advice, and you know that the correct course does not lie in that which he is inclined to do, you should tell him so.

The absence of good counsel is indicated by the presence of envy of the favors God has given other Muslims. The origin of such envy is that you find it intolerable that God has granted one of His servants a good thing whether of the religion, or of the world. The utmost limit is to wish that he be deprived of it. It has been handed down that "envy consumes good deeds just as fire consumes dry wood". The envious man is objecting to God's management of His dominion, as if to say "O Lord! You have put your favours where they do not belong."

It is permitted to be envious without rancour whereby when you see a favor being bestowed on one of His servants, you ask Him to grant you the like.

When someone praises you, you must feel dislike for his praises within your heart. If he has praised you for something you truly possess, say: "Praise belongs to God who has revealed the good things and hidden the ugly things." And if he praises you for something you do not possess, say "O God! Do not call me to account for what they say, forgive me what they do not know, and make me better than they think."

In your case, do not praise anyone unnecessarily.

When you wish to give advice to someone regarding any behaviour of his that you have come to know about, be gentle, talk to him in private and do not express explicitly what may be conveyed implicitly. Should he ask you to tell him who told you that which you know, do not tell him lest it stir up enmity. If he accepts your advice, praise God, and thank Him. If he should refuse, blame yourself.

If you are given something as a trust, guard it better than if it was yours. Return that which was entrusted to you, and beware of betraying trust. The prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

"He who cannot keep a trust has no faith" and

"Three things are attached to the Throne of God: Benefaction which says "O God! I am by you, therefore let me not be denied!" Kinship, which says "O God! I am by you, thus let me not be severed!" and Trust, which says "O God! I am by you, so let me not be betrayed!".

Speak truthfully and honor commitments and your promises, for breaching them are signs of hypocrisy.

"The signs of a hypocrite are three: when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise, and when he is trusted, he betrays that trust."

Beware of arguments and wrangling, for they cast rancour into the breasts of men, alienate hearts and lead to enmity and hatred. If anyone argues against you and has right on his side, accept what he says for truth must always be followed. If on the other hand he is wrong, leave him, for he is ignorant, and God has said

"And turn away from the ignorant." [vii :199]

Renounce all joking, if very occasionally you do joke to assuage a Muslim's heart, then speak only the truth. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has said:

"Neither argue with your brother nor quarrel, and do not make him a promise and then break it."

Respect all Muslims, especially those deserving of merit, such as the scholars, the righteous, the elderly.

Never frighten or alarm a Muslim, never mock or ridicule them, or despise them.

Be humble for humility is the attribute of believers. Beware of pride for God does not like the proud. Those who humble themselves are raised up by God, and those who are proud are abased by Him.

There are signs that distinguish the humble from the proud:

"that God may separate the vile from the good" [VIII:37].

Signs of humility include a liking for obscurity, dislike of fame, acceptance of truth whether it be from a lowly or noble person, to love the poor, associate with them, to fulfill the rights people have upon you as completely as you can, thank those who fulfill their duties to you, and excuse those who are remiss. Signs of pride include a liking for positions of most dignity when in company, praising oneself, speaking proudly, open haughtiness, arrogance, strutting, and neglecting the rights of others upon you while demanding your rights from them."

... The Book of Assistance, On Good Counsel

May God guides us all.

Modern Man

"The problem of the devastation brought upon the environment by technology, the ecological crisis and the like, all issue from the malady of amnesia or forgetfulness from which modern as well as post modern man suffer.

Modern man has simply forgotten who he is. Living on the periphery of his own circle of existence, he has been able to gain a qualitatively superficial but quantitatively staggering knowledge of the world. He has projected the externalized and superficial image of himself upon the world. And then, having come to know the world in such externalized terms, he has sought to reconstruct an image of himself based upon this external knowledge.

There has been a series of ‘falls’ by means of which man has oscillated in a descending scale between an ever more externalized image of himself and of the world surrounding him, moving ever further from the Center both of himself and of his cosmic environment. The inner history of the so-called development of modem Western man from his historic background as traditional man — who represents at once his ancestor in time and his center in space — is a gradual alienation from the Center and the axis through the spokes of the wheel of existence to the rim, where modern man resides.

But just as the existence of the rim pre-supposes spokes which connect it to the axis of the wheel, so does the very fact of human existence imply the presence of the Center and the axis and hence an inevitable connection of men of all ages with Man in his primordial and eternal reality as he has been, is, and will continue to be, above all outward changes and transformations."

... Islam and the Plight of Modern Man, Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Ayyuhal Walad al-Muhib

"Know O beloved and precious disciple—may God prolong your days in obedience to Him and travel with you on the path of those He loves—that public advice should be quoted from the goldmine of messengerhood [the Prophet, ie hadith]. If you have received advice from him, what need do you have of my advice? And if you have not received it, then tell me what you have achieved in these years gone-by!

O disciple, included in what God’s Messenger (God bless him and give him peace) advised his community, is his statement, ‘An indication of the withdrawal of God the Exalted from the worshipper is his busying himself with what does not concern him, and if an hour of a man’s life slips by in other than that for which he was created in the way of worship, then it is proper that his affliction be protracted. Whoever passes forty without his virtue overpowering his vice, let him get ready for hellfire!’

This advice contains enough for people of knowledge."

Dear Beloved Son: On Knowledge

"To counsel others is an easy matter, the difficulty is accepting advice since it is bitter for those who follow their own inclinations and desires. They love the forbidden from the depth of their hearts. This is more applicable to seekers of knowledge and students of learning, those of them who are busy in the grace of spirits and the benefits of this world.

They believe that mere abstract knowledge, without proper action, will rescue them. This is the belief of the philosophers. Praise and Glory be to Allah, The Greatest of all. They do not know this much, that when they acquire knowledge, if they do not work according to it, the indictment against them is certain.

The Messenger of Allah said: "The person most severely punished on the Day of Judgment is the learned one who did not follow Allah's guidance and did not benefit from his knowledge."

It has been narrated that someone saw al-Junayd after his death in a dream. Al-Junayd was asked: "What news do you have Abal Qasim?" he replied: "Perished are the speeches and vanished are the allusions, nothing benefitted us except the prostrations which we made in the middle of the night."

The Romance Of Letters

When I reached home from teaching about Sayyidina 'Umar tonight, a book on my shelf was screaming to be read - 84 Charing Cross Road. Took it and devoured it within an hour. This is indeed one of my favourite books and I was so grateful to have been acquainted with it many years ago - with all its charm, and with all its romance. It is, after all, a story about a relationship begun because of a mutual love of old great books.

This book was also marvellously made into a movie led by my favourite actors: Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft. But, the book really speaks to you. It is about a loving relationship built over 20 years between 2 friends living across the seas through old-fashion mails: Helene Hanff from New York and Frank Doel from London. The whole book constitutes only the letters exchanged between these 2 friends - and as fate decreed, they never met. It is a real story based on the author's personal experience.

"Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out-of-print books. The phrase 'antiquarian book-sellers' scares me somewhat, as I equate 'antique' with expensive. I am a poor writer with an antiquarian taste in books and all the things I want are impossible to get over here except in very expensive rare editions, or in Barnes & Noble's grimy, marked-up schoolboy copies."

So begins the delightfully reticent 'love affair' between Helene and Frank - and for 20 years the outspoken New Yorker and the restrained Londoner carried on an increasing touching and emotional correspondence. Contently and confidently married, Frank responds as an older brother might, and the two grow to cherish each other despite the distance. As they care for each other, and slowly, their local friends and family become aware, we see how love transcends the great physical distance.

Like so many of today's e-mail and chatroom-only friendships, this romantic pen-pals learn to appreciate each other, though knowing only the other as they choose to describe themselves. This isn't a story about books or bookstores, despite the honest representation of their demeanor and personality. Any book-lover knows the search for a book, and the texture of a bookseller's knowledge and connection with his books. This is a book about the depth, trust, and love of one unexpected relationship. Book-lovers will enjoy the context, and good friends will smile knowingly.

Told with such poignant charm through those beautiful letters, Helene's long-distance friendship with Frank is a bittersweet one, and one that will remain with you long afterwards. Helene's love of books is infectious - and this book is therefore a must for anyone who feels strongly about the books in their home.

Yet it is one that bears much re-reading, as it seems that somewhere between the lines there lie more than a few life-lessons for us all.

No doubt their letters would have continued, but in 1969, a letter informed Helene that Frank Doel had died. In the collection's penultimate entry, Helene Hanff urges a tourist friend,

"If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me.
I owe it so much.''

Having always adored England - and in particular, London, Helene had always seen her letters to Marks & Co (Frank's bookstore) as her lifeline to a country she always longed to go to but would never be able to afford to visit. With the publication of 84 Charing Cross Road in the UK, Helene was finally able to visit London, a year after the bookshop that had inspired her so much had closed down. There, she was treated like a celebrity and was able to finally meet old friends such as Nora, Frank's widow, and their daughters. She also met Leo Marks, the son of the co-owner of Marks & Co. Leo and Helene became fast friends and on subsequent visits to the country, Helene would always stay as Leo's guest.

There were some books in Helene's life that she will never part with: the books that she'd bought from 84 Charing Cross Road, which she kept on a shelf alongside the old bookshop's sign which a devoted fan had 'acquired' for her some time after the bookshop closed for the last time.

Despite the fame and adoration that all of her books brought her, Helene was by no means a wealthy woman. Towards the end of her life, she was living off meagre royalties and accepting financial help for her medical bills. Helene Hanff died in 1997, aged 80 years old. She is, fittingly, commemorated at the spot where Marks & Co once stood by a plaque which reads:

84 Charing Cross Road
The booksellers Marks & Co
Were on this site which became world renowned
Through the book by Helene Hanff.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

As I Walked Out One Evening...

Felt slightly "literary" this weekend. Browsing some of my old favourites to share, although may not be consistent with the rest of my entries. The following, entitled "Funeral Blues" was featured in the movie 'Four Weddings and A Funeral' and most exquisitely recited by John Hannah in his Irish accent befitting this brilliant Anglo-American poet. Although it is slightly dark in tones and overtures, I remembered being so moved by the scene that I scoured immediately to find this poem and have since memorised it, particularly the third stanza :-)

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crépe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song,
I thought that love would last forever: 'I was wrong'

The stars are not wanted now, put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

... Funeral Blues, Wystan Hugh Auden

The Two Trees

Beloved, gaze in thine own heart
The holy tree is growing there;
From joy the holy branches start,
And all the trembling flowers they bear.
Remembering all that shaken hair
And how the winged sandals dart,
Thine eyes grow full of tender care:
Beloved, gaze in thine own heart.

... The Two Trees, William Butler Yeats

Unopened Letter to the World

If I died tomorrow would this song live on forever?
Here is my ... unopened letter to a world
that never shall reply

On random notes of parchment I'm scrawling my existence,
Dressed in white. This candle radiates throughout the night
And it's never burning out, Never burning out

If I died tomorrow
Would this song live on forever?

... Unopened Letter to the World, The Ataris

Born Into Brothels

A friend brought me to watch "Born Into Brothels" today - SubhanAllah!

Born into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids is a 2004 American documentary film about the children of prostitutes in Sonagachi, Calcutta's red light district. The widely acclaimed film, written and directed by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman, won a string of accolades (about 30 awards) including the Academy Award for Documentary Feature in 2005.

Briski, a documentary photographer, went to Calcutta to photograph prostitutes. While there, she befriended their children, and offered to teach the children photography to reciprocate being allowed to photograph their mothers. The children were given cameras so they could learn photography and possibly improve their lives. Much of their work was used in the film, and the filmmakers recorded the classes as well as their daily lifes in the red light disrict.

The movie began with Briski's voice-over on her documentary of those prostitutes. It was then that she met these children, and the photographs preceeding reflects the world as seen by these children. There were about 8 of them, and we were shown how they lived their lives before their exquisite collection of photographs were shown to us. Being an avid photographer myself, I was mesmerised by the quality of photographs taken by these wonderful children. Their innocence and artistic potential shines through despite the living conditions that they were raised: physical and emotional. One wonders how they managed to retain such innocence.

They all shared their aspirations of being somebody, someday. They all want to leave the area, but we saw how obligations made them stay behind: supporting their families, taking care of their younger siblings and even their parents while they 'work' etc. Life's lessons have taken away their childhood at such an early stage.

We saw some success stories: one of the children was even chosen to represent India in Amsterdam to showcase his works along with other young photographers around the world. Through an exhibition of their works in New York, about US$100,000 was earned to pay for their tuition and for other children of prostitutes to benefit the same. Most of these children were put up in boarding schools by Briski to keep them from being forced by circumstances following the footsteps of their parents.

Not all have fairy tale endings: half of them, over time, ran away and chose to return home. It will not be fair for us to sit in our ivory tower to judge the reasons why they turned back on education and returned home to their families in the red light district. It is also convenient for us now to pass judgements from our air-conditioned rooms with our laptop on our table and handphone an arm away. The fact remain that their lives were shaped so differently from ours. And for that, we have so much to be grateful to Allah, the Almighty. If during some moments we were faced with some challenges in our lifes, we should now look at them in a proper perspective. Alhamdulillah!

Turning to Briski, I cannot help but to think throughout the show, how many children she must have felt that she should save and how much more she could have saved. Whilst saving one group through the skills of photography, there are so many more needing her. During the show I was mostly quiet, yet I was mostly overran by emotions watching their lives unfold and suddenly being rendered helpless. And it brought me to another perspective: although I thought I understood how Mother Theresa felt then, I now see and understood more, and I guessed that was why she decided to make her mission her home. There was just too many lifes to mould and inspire to have faith in just living.

But I guessed I have asked the wrong question: it is not how many lifes Briski could have saved or should save, but the fact that she has already saved them, even if only one life. The fact that she used her profession to give hope to others of a better life to those children is a miracle enough. The fact that she did not give them fish to eat, but instead taught them how to fish.

This seemed to be a similar thread on Islamic principles that we have been talking about all these while: it is not the quantity of your service to God and mankind, but it is the quality that you offer. We may not climb a mountain, but at least we have began to climb a hill - and this small effort must persevere.

So, my dear friends, sometimes when we look forward at what we should be achieving in life, it over-awes us and it seemed impossible to achieve them - for it is seemed such a giant step forward and we wonder whether we can really make it. But in reality, the small efforts we make today which may seemed to us insignificant, is indeed a giant leap of faith towards reaching where we want to be. Sometimes looking at our journey of returning to Paradise may seemed like a hopeless task, but we dragged our feet ever the small inch everyday towards reaching it anyway. Because at the end of the day, it is through the Mercy of the Almighty that we eventually arrive - for our own efforts can never justify our penultimate desired destination.

We fear the repercussions of our deeds, but we hope for the Mercy of the Owner of our existence. We exist and we survive merely in the shadow of the Creator.

Do take time to watch this gem of a movie, soon.