Tuesday, July 31, 2007

How High The Moon?

Now for some music: slightly different genre from the past posts of music in this Blog by one of my favourite artiste with such heavenly voice - First Lady of Song or Lady Ella - as she was affectionately known.

Ella Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996) is considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th Century. With a vocal range spanning three octaves, she was noted for her purity of tone, near faultless phrasing and intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.

Over a recording career that lasted fifty-seven years, she was the winner of thirteen Grammy Awards, and was awarded the National Medal of Art by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H. W. Bush.

She was also notoriously shy. Trumpet player Mario Bauza, who played behind Ella in her early years, remembered that "She didn’t hang out much. When she got into the band, she was dedicated to her music… She was a lonely girl around New York, just kept herself to herself, for the gig." When, later in her career, the Society of Singers named an award after her, Fitzgerald tellingly explained, "I don't want to say the wrong thing, which I always do. I think I do better when I sing."

Ella's most famous collaborations were with the trumpeter Louis Armstrong, the guitarist Joe Pass, and the bandleaders Count Basie and Duke Ellington - names all must be too familiar to us. She had a number of famous jazz musicians and soloists as 'sidemen' over her long career. The trumpeters Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie, the guitarist Herb Ellis, and the pianists Tommy Flanagan, Oscar Peterson, Lou Levy, Paul Smith, Jimmy Rowles, and Ellis Larkins all worked with Ella mostly in live, small group settings.

Perhaps Ella's greatest unrealized collaboration (in terms of popular music) was a studio or live album with Frank Sinatra. Unfortunately, Ella and Frank were to appear on the same stage only periodically over the years, in television specials in 1958 and 1959, and again in 1967, a show that also featured Antonio Carlos Jobim. Pianist Paul Smith has said, "Ella loved working with [Frank]. Sinatra gave her his dressing room on A Man and His Music and couldn’t do enough for her." When asked, Norman Granz would cite "complex contractual reasons" for the fact that the two artists never recorded together. Ella's appearance with Sinatra and Count Basie in June 1974 for a series of concerts was seen as an important impetus upon Sinatra returning from his self-imposed retirement of the early 1970's. The shows were a tremendous success.

Already blinded by the effects of diabetes, Ella had both her legs amputated in 1993. In 1996 she died of the disease in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 79. Several of Ella Fitzgerald's awards, significant personal possessions and documents were donated to the Smithsonian Institution, the library of Boston University, the Library of Congress, and the Schoenberg Library at UCLA.

The following are 3 wonderful songs from the Lady. Her technical capabilities in singing her songs and emotional mastery of those tunes are truly incomparable - exquisite, sharp but immensely enjoyable:

How High The Moon
(Sung in 1966. Noticed how mesmerised the audience were. Listen till the end - it is worth your while!)

I'm Beginning To See The Light
(Sung in 1977. Dinah Shore gives a glowing intro to the "First Lady" of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald, as Lucille Ball enthusiastically agrees.)

Love Is Here To Stay
(Here Ella sang a Gershwin's number: With all the best people in the business - Ella the singer, Gershwin the composer and Nelson Riddle as the arranger - what a perfect combination!)

The Bridges of Madison County

On my leave day, one book led to another re-reads of books from the shelves of my personal library. Picked this one up - The Bridges of Madison County - by Robert James Waller. I remembered long ago while I was still an undergraduate when I heard of the phenomena of this book - how it swept Japan, Europe and of course, the US - where it had millions around the world in romantic grief. People were crying in public reading this book and it was even featured on the local news of that day.

So I went to the book store the next day to find out about this phenomena and bought the book. Although my lectures then started at 10am, I was normally very early as I was driving an off-peak car. So, I remembered... there I was sitting on the cafeteria overlooking West Coast beach with my coffee and began to read the book - And I understood why.

I finished it all in 2 hours and without embarrassment, admit that I belonged to the millions who were in romantic "grief." I remembered I missed my lecture on that day as I was not in the mood.

Some years later, Clint Eastwood made this book into a movie with Meryl Streep and himself in the lead. The book went on to make the New York Times Best Seller List for three years or 156 weeks!

The Bridges of Madison County describes the profound love between a photographer and an Iowa farmer's wife who, together for only four days, never lose their feelings for each other. In August 1965, 52-year-old divorced Robert Kincaid packs his pickup truck and travels to Iowa's Madison County, the location of seven covered bridges he is to photograph for National Geographic . There, he asks directions of Francesca Johnson, alone at home while her husband and two children visit the Illinois State Fair. Initially, neither Robert nor Francesca expects their random encounter to lead to anything more, yet their mutual desire is undeniable.

Waller tells their story as though it were non-fiction, claiming to have heard about Francesca from her children after her death, read her journals, seen Robert's relics of those four days and interviewed a jazz musician who knew the photographer. Scenes between the lovers are movingly evoked and moments with Francesca, who celebrates her birthday 22 years later by reflecting on her brief time with Robert, are particularly poignant.

They are, like Romeo and Juliet, star-crossed lovers who will only remain in each other's hearts and minds for all of their lifes, though they only shared four days. Her diaries indicate that for about thirty years Francesca maintained the emotional contact she committed to Kincaid by seeing his photography in National Geography, news clippings, and reading the articles written about him.

It is easy to be in love for four days. Anyone can. New love is exciting, romance is thrilling, and a new lover's touch is magical. Yet in this case, it went beyond that. It was simple to see this aspect of the enchantment about their story. Francesca wrote of the agony that she felt when choosing whether to go with Kincaid or stay with her family and her children. This was the crux of her story; to enliven herself within, and to make choices responsibly. We all face this sometime - and we are torn apart by some of the choices that we made.

Before she died, she left her children the story of her life - in the hope that they will understand her and not love her less. Her last wish was for her ashes to be thrown on the bridge that she and Kincaid used to spend those four memorable days - many years ago, yet the memory still lives in her.

"After reading all this,
I hope you can now understand my burial request.
It was not the ravings of some mad old lady.
I gave my life to my family.
I wish to give Robert what is left of me."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Pleasure in Pathless Woods

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824) was an Anglo-Scottish poet and a leading figure in Romanticism. Among Lord Byron's best-known works are the narrative poems Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and Don Juan. The latter remained incomplete on his death. He was regarded as one of the greatest European poets and remains widely read.

Lord Byron's fame rests not only on his writings but also in the very colourful life in which he led. Lord Byron, by all accounts, had a particularly magnetic personality – he obtained a reputation as being unconventional, eccentric, flamboyant and controversial - all adds up to the colourful legacy of works he left behind.

The re-founding of the Byron Society in 1971 reflects the fascination that many people have for Byron and his work. This society has become very active, publishing a learned annual journal. Today some 36 International Byron Societies function throughout the world, and an International Conference takes place annually. Hardly a year passes without a new book about the poet appearing.

There Is A Pleasure In The Pathless Woods

"There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can never express, yet cannot all conceal."

... Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Lord Byron


Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

The Secret Of Happiness

A certain shopkeeper sent his son to learn about the secret of happiness from the wisest man in the world. The lad wandered through the desert for forty days, and finally came upon a beautiful castle, high atop a mountain. It was there that the wise man lived.

Rather than finding a saintly man, though, our hero, on entering the main room of the castle, saw a hive of activity: tradesmen came and went, people were conversing in the corners, a small orchestra was playing soft music, and there was a table covered with platters of the most delicious food in that part of the world. The wise man conversed with everyone, and the boy had to wait for two hours before it was his turn to be given the man’s attention.

The wise man listened attentively to the boy’s explanation of why he had come, but told him that he didn’t have time just then to explain the secret of happiness. He suggested that the boy looked around the palace and return in two hours.

“Meanwhile, I want to ask you to do something,” said the wise man, handing the boy a teaspoon that held two drops of oil. “As you wander around, carry this spoon with you without allowing the oil to spill.”

The boy began climbing and descending the many stairways of the palace, keeping the eyes fixed on the spoon. After two hours, he returned to the room where the wise man was.

“Well,” asked the wise man, “did you see the Persian tapestries that are hanging in my dining hall? Did you see the garden that it took the master gardener ten years to create? Did you notice the beautiful parchments in my library?”

The boy was embarrassed, and confessed that he had observed nothing. His only concern had been not to spill the oil that the wise man had entrusted to him.

“Then go back and observe the marvels of my world,” said the wise man. “You cannot trust a man if you didn’t know his house.”

“Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration of the palace, this time observing all of the works of art on the ceilings and the walls. He saw the gardens, the mountains all around him, the beauty of the flowers, and the taste with which everything had been selected. Upon returning to the wise man, he related in detail everything he had seen.

“But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you?” asked the wise man.

Looking down at the spoon he held, the boy saw that the oil was gone.

“Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give to you” said the wisest of wise men. “The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.”

... The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

The God Of Small Things

This beautiful book was a huge buzz when it was first released. I was reminded of it by a friend today.

The God of Small Things (1997) is a semi-autobiographical, politically charged novel by Indian author Arundhati Roy. It is a story about the childhood experiences of a pair of fraternal twins who become victims of circumstance. The book is a description of how the small things in life build up, translate into people's behavior and affect their lives. The book won the Booker Prize in 1997.

"To love.
To be loved.
To never forget your own insignificance.
To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you.
To seek joy in the saddest places.
To pursue beauty to its lair.
To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple.
To respect strength, never power.
Above all, to watch.
To try and understand.
To never look away.
And never, never, to forget."

... The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The First 3 Valleys

As we journey on the 7 Valleys in Conference of the Birds as a summary of the journeys taken throughout the book, I feel it necessary to capture the essence of the first 3 Valleys which we have read together. It was a nice and cosy session yesterday, Alhamdulillah.

Valley of the Quest
"He will ask of his cup-bearer a draught of wine, and when he has drunk it nothing else will matter except the pursuit of his true aim. Then he will no longer fear the dragons, the guardians of the door, which seek to devour him."

Valley of Love
"He who undertakes this journey should have a thousand hearts so that he can sacrifice one at every moment."

Valley of Understanding
"Understanding, for each traveller, is enduring; but knowledge is temporary.

There are different ways of crossing this Valley, and all birds do not fly alike. Understanding can be arrived at variously - some have found the Mihrab, others the idol.

When the sun of understanding brightens this road, each receives light according to his merit and he finds the degree assigned to him in the understanding of truth.

He who is striving will be able to see the almond in its hard shell.

In each atom he will see the whole; he will ponder over thousands of bright secrets"

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Shine Your Light

Thanks iefuM for this song...

Shine Your Light - Robbie Robertson

These are the streets
Where we used to run where your Papa's from
These are the days
Where you become what you become
These are the streets
Where the story's told
The truth unfolds
Darkness settles in

I thought I saw him walking by the side of the road
Maybe trying to find his way home

He's here but not here
He's gone but not gone
Just hope he knows if I get lost

Shine your light down on me
Lift me up so I can see
Shine your light when you're gone
Give me the strength to carry on
Carry on

Monday, July 16, 2007

No Grief

The wise Prophet has said that no one who dies
and dismounts from the steed of the body
feels grief on account of departure and death,
but only for missed opportunities and having failed in good works.

Truly everyone who dies wishes
that their arrival at their destination might have come sooner:
the wicked: in order that their wickedness might have been less;
and the devoted: in order that they might have reached Home more quickly.

... Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi

I And Thou...

Blessed time! when we are sitting,
I and thou,
With two forms and only one soul,
I and thou.

Fragrance, song of birds, they quicken ev'rything
When we come into the garden,
I and thou.

All the stars of heaven hurry
to see us,
And we show them our own moon,
I and thou-

I and thou without words, without
I and thou-
In delight we are united,
I and thou.

Sugar chew the heaven's parrots
in that place
Where we're sitting, laughing sweetly,
I and thou.

Strange that I and thou together
in this nook
Are apart a thousand miles, see-
I and thou.

One form in this dust, the other
in that land.
Sweet eternal Paradise there...
I and thou.

... Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi

Go Not Without Me

Sweetly parading, you go, my soul of soul, go not without me;
like of your friends, enter not the garden without me.

Sky, revolve not without me; moon, shine not without me;
earth travel not without me, and time, go not without me.

With you this world is joyous, and with you that world is joyous;
in this world dwell not without me, and to that world depart not without me.

Vision, know not without me, and tongue, recite not without me;
glance behold not without me, and soul, go not without me.

The night through the moon's light sees its face white;
I am light, you are my moon, go not to heaven without me.

The thorn is secure from the fire in the shelter of the roses face:
you are the rose, I your thorn; go not into the rose garden without me.

I run in the curve of your mallet when your eye is with me;
even so gaze upon me, drive not without me, go not without me.

When, joy, you are companion of the king, drink not without me;
when, watchman, you go to the kings roof, go not without me.

Alas for him who goes on this road without your sign;
since you, O signless one, are my sign, go not without me.

Alas for him who goes on the road without my knowledge;
you are the knowledge of the road for me; O road-knower, go not without me.

Others call you love, I call you the king of love;
O you who are higher than the imagination of this and that, go not without me.

... Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Gone Without Goodbye

This would probably be the most difficult entry for me to make. My close first cousin left this world in a tragic accident yesterday.

I remembered being awoken at 3:30 am with my aunt's cries and sat there trying hard to digest and decipher the news. We rushed to the site of the accident and was met with a scene I never thought would happened to someone dear I know. My beloved cousin has passed away by the time we arrived - his familiar body still laying on that road - without any goodbyes, without any warnings.

When the policeman brought us to the small tent used to cover his body, I broke down even before I saw him. But, Alhamdulillah, it was a serene face that greeted me and I know that he is in a better place, Amin.

Everything thereafter was an emotional series of events - from both within me and from those around me. After I gave him my last kiss before he was totally shrouded, I was honoured to be able to do one more last thing for my beloved cousin: to lead the jenazah prayers. I broke down... and so did the congregation.

We used to do so many things together, spoke of so many things that only both of us shared. We had many secrets together that no one will know - and now, no one will ever know. I was never 'lonely' with him around.

And now, although I am left without, I know his love within. And today, as I watched the sun go down, watching the world fade away, the memories of him come rushing back to me one by one.

I can't have those secrets with him anymore, I can't hang out with him at Starbucks either, I can't have that 4 hours weekend lunch with him now. And then, I can't scold him about riding too fast or about him smoking, nor can I 'beat' him up for sleeping at all those movies that we watched together. I can't have him cook for me anymore nor can I hear his jokes as often as he always did. I can't hear the whisperings of the new 'friend' he is seeing at the moment nor can I see his excitement of introducing me to his new 'friend' for my validation, nor can I hear of his laments and of his dreams...

We were close, very close... And so this loss is painful to my heart. There is now this sudden void left behind...

His beautiful soul left me at a tender age of only 26 years old. There was so much that he wanted to do with his life and I was going to be there with him by his side. He was, after all, my buddy in our family. It was to be a beautiful life ahead of him...

And now, he is no more...

And I am left wandering with so many questions left unanswered of that fateful morning...

How does one write an entry of this nature? How do I even begin to express the emotional chaos of loosing someone whom I love? I am left awake in the wee hours of this morning trying to grapple with those feelings, and I supposed for many mornings thereafter.

I can't even begin to remember what we did together and what was said over all those years. In my lapsing memory, I am trying to sort those things out and have it rest in peace within me. I pray that those memories will not fade away.

But I know that The Almighty has a better plan for him, and I am heartened and grateful for that. I will keep the memories of you, my dearest cousin, and will always keep you in my prayers. You will always live in my heart, insya-Allah.

There will indeed be many beautiful memories of him to last me by. And whenever I close my eyes and see the sky, there will always be visions of him. For the many other lives whom he has touched and left behind a smile, he will always remain in their hearts.

My heart is achingly missing him...

It won't be long too, that I will be gone from this world. And I look forward to meeting him again.

I remembered him just like yesterday. It is not easy to embrace the fact that he is now gone. But until I am with him, I will carry on...

My dear friends, let's join me in reciting Al-Fatihah... May my beloved cousin rest in peace and tranquility, at a better home with his Lord.


For A Friend - The Communards

Gone Without Goodbye - Brian Littrell

Friday, July 13, 2007

Supplication At Hijr Ismail

Missing it all and remembering Hajj ... and praying I will be back there again soon - and hope the beauty will inspire others to fulfil their obligation as soon as they practically can. Amin.

According to Anas, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also said: "The person who offers 40 prayers consecutively in my mosque, without missing a prayer in between, will secure immunity from the fire of Hell and other torments and also from hypocrisy." (Ahmad)

And supplicating at Hijr Ismail after tawaf:

O Allah, You are my God there is no God but You. You have Created me, I am Your servant, and I observe Your Command as well as I can. I seek refuge with You from the evil of what I had wrought. I turn to You with Your Favours to me, and I turn to You with my sins, so Forgive me for none can forgive sins except You.

O Allah, I ask of You all Good which Your righteous servants begged of You, and I seek refuge with You from the evil against which Your righteous servants sought Your refuge.

O Allah, with Your Beautiful Names, and Your High Qualities, Purify our hearts from all qualities that alienate us from You and Your Love. And let us die following the Ways of the followers of Sunnah and Jamaah, yearning to Meet You, O Possessor of Glory and Honour..

O Allah, enlighten my heart with Knowledge, enable my body to do deeds in obedience to you. Save me from trials in my secrecy. And let my thoughts be busy contemplating and learning from the examples of others. Safe-guard me from the evil of the whisperings of Satan and Protect me from him, O Most Merciful, until he has no authority over me.

O Allah, We have indeed believed, so Forgive our sins and Save us from the torment of Hell-Fire.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Truth and Falsehood

"I will walk a thousand leagues in falsehood, that one step of the journey may be true" ... Junayd al-Baghdadi

Grave of Love

This grave is situated on the outskirts of Makkah by the side of a highway - it is an isolated area, almost in the middle of nowhere. It's a starkly simple white wall which most people pass, not knowing who is buried there.

Sayyidatina Maimunah, the wife of the Prophet, became ill in Makkah and instead of being buried in the city, she insisted she be buried at this site. This was explained later to be the place where Sayyidatina Maimunah spent her wedding night with the Prophet.

Out of her intense love for the Prophet, she chose it to be her final resting place.


Missing My Beloved

Missing my dearly beloved and remembering my prayer there 2 years ago ...

Farewell O RasulAllah! O beloved of Allah!
May Allah not make this visit to you the last one; except with goodness, security, health and peace.
If I live, by the will of Allah, I will come again, and if I die, then I keep in security with you my witness, my promise and assurance from this day, to the Day of Judgement, that ‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah, the One who has no partner and I witness the fact that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger’.
Praise to the Lord, the Reverend, Who is free of what the infidels ascribe to Him, and peace be upon the Prophets, and All praise is to Allah, the Sustainer of the Worlds.

RasulAllah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Whoever visits my grave, his intercession becomes compulsory on me” and the Prophet, peace be upon him, also said, “Whosoever visits me after my death, it is as if he visited me during my life.”

If It Be Your Will

If It Be Your Will - Leonard Cohen

if it be Your will
that i speak no more
and my voice be still
as it was before
i will speak no more
i shall abide until
i am spoken for
if it be Your will

if it be Your will
that a voice be true
from this broken hill
i will sing to You
from this broken hill
all Your praises they shall ring
if it be Your will
to let me sing
from this broken hill
all Your praises they shall ring
if it be Your will
to let me sing

if it be Your will
if there is a choice
let the rivers fill
let the hills rejoice
let Your mercy spill
on all these burning hearts in hell
if it be Your will
to make us well

and draw us near
and bind us tight
all Your children here
in their rags of light
in our rags of light
all dressed to kill
and end this night
if it be Your will

if it be Your will

The Story of al-Qumasi

Nasr ibn Muhammad reports that Junayd related that there was a shaykh in Damascus called Abu Musa al-Qumasi who was a man of Futuwwah (Chivalry); everyone praised him.

One day, the shaykh's house collapsed on top of him and his wife. When people began to dig in the ruins, they found his wife first. "Leave me," she said. "Go and try to find the shaykh and save him. He was sitting in a corner over there."

They left the woman, dug where she had pointed, and found the shaykh. "Leave me," he said. "Go and save my wife."

Each wanted the other to be saved. That is the state of those who are together for the sake of Allah and who are friends and brothers in the name of Allah. They are in that compassionate state at all times.

Discourses of Rumi

Jalalludin Rumi is usually known for his exquisite mystical poetry, but I wanted to share with you some of his prose work:

"Man is the astrolabe of God; but it requires an astronomer to know the astrolabe. If a vegetable-seller or a greengrocer should possess the astrolabe, what benefit would he derive from it? With that astrolabe what would he know of the movements of the circling heavens and the stations of the planets, their influences, transits and so forth? But in the hands of the astronomer the astrolabe is of great benefit, for “He who knows himself knows his Lord.”

Just as this copper astrolabe is the mirror of the heavens, so the human being---We have honored the Children of Adam---is the astrolabe of God. When God causes man to have knowledge of Him and to know Him and to be familiar with Him, through the astrolabe of his own being he beholds moment by moment and flash by flash the manifestation of God and His infinite beauty, and that beauty is never absent from his mirror."

"In this world every man is preoccupied with a separate affair. One is in love with women, one is in love with wealth, one is engaged in acquiring possessions, one in acquiring knowledge. Every single one of them believes that his cure, his joy, his pleasure and his repose consist in that one thing. And that is a Divine mercy. When he proceeds thither and seeks, he does not find; so he returns. When he tarried for a little he says, “That joy and mercy must be sought after. perhaps I have not sought well. I will seek again.” When he seeks again, still he does not find. So he continues, until such time as Mercy shows its face without a veil. Then he knows that that was not the right way."

"In man there is a passion, an agony, an itch, an importunity such that, though a hundred thousand worlds were his to own, yet he would not rest nor find repose. These creatures dabble successively in every trade and craft and office; they study astronomy and medicine and the rest, and take no repose; for they have not attained the object of their quest. Men call the beloved “heart’s ease” because the heart finds ease in the beloved. How then should it find ease and rest in any other?"

"All these pleasures and pursuits are as a ladder. Inasmuch as the steps of the ladder are not a place wherein to dwell and abide but are for passing on, happy is he who the quicker becomes vigilant and aware. Then the road becomes short for him, and he wastes not his life upon the steps of the ladder."
... Discourses of Jalaluddin Rumi

Prayer for Forgiveness

‘O Allah, I seek Your forgiveness for every sin that You recorded against me because of my self-conceit, or ostentation, or desire to be heard, or malice, or rancor, or treachery, or pride, or exultancy, or intemperate mirth, or obstinacy, or envy, or insolence, or ungratefulness, or fervor for other than Your sake, or bigotry, or acquiescence to sin, or blind hope, or extreme avarice, or generous spending for sin, or oppression, or unwarranted cunning, or theft, or lying, or backbiting, or idle amusement, or fruitless talk, or calumny, or useless play, or any such activity that by doing it sins are reaped and in pursuing it there is destruction and grief’

(Prayers for Forgiveness, related from Hasan al-Basri)

My Chemical Romance

After a week's hiatus, this is going to be a refreshing return, and indeed it may surprise some. I am back with My Chemical Romance's "I Don't Love You".

MCR is an American rock band formed in 2001 and is recently known for their latest album Welcome to the Black Parade. Their music has been described as "a weirdly catchy hybrid of goth, glam, metal and punk". Their main influences has been Queen, Thursday, Iron Maiden, The Misfits, Morrissey/The Smiths and the Beastie Boys. In 2006, they played the main stage at the 2006 Reading and Leeds Festival — this was the largest show they have ever played in the UK.

All my doors have now been closed. Moving on ...

My Chemical Romance - I Don't Love You

Well when you go
Don't ever think I'll make you try to stay
And maybe when you get back
I'll be off to find another way

When after all this time that you still owe
You're still, the good-for-nothing I don't know
So take your gloves and get out
Better get out
While you can

When you go
Would you even turn to say
"I don't love you
Like I did

Sometimes I cry so hard from pleading
So sick and tired of all the needless beating
But baby when they knock you
Down and out
It's where you oughta stay

And after all the blood that you still owe
Another dollar's just another blow

So fix your eyes and get up
Better get up
While you can
Whoa, whooa

When you go
Would you even turn to say
"I don't love you
Like I did

Well come on, come on

When you go
Would you have the guts to say
"I don't love you
Like I loved you

I don't love you
Like I loved you

I don't love you
Like I loved you

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Legacy of Abu Hurayrah

"An Abi Hurayrah, radiyallahu anhu, qal: qala rasul Allahi, sallallahu alayhi wa sailam..."

Through this phrase millions of Muslims from the early history of Islam to the present have come to be familiar with the name Abu Hurayrah. In speeches and lectures, in Friday khutbahs and seminars, in the books of hadith and sirah, fiqh and ibadah, the name Abu Hurayrah is mentioned in this fashion:

"On the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may God be pleased with him who said: The Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, said... ".

Through his Prodigious efforts, hundreds of ahadith or sayings of the Prophet were transmitted to later generations. His is the foremost name in the roll of hadith transmitters. Next to him comes the names of such companions as Abdullah the son of Umar, Anas the son of Malik, Umm al-Mumininin Aishah, Jabir ibn Abdullah and Abu Said al-Khudri all of whom transmitted over a thousand sayings of the Prophet.

Abu Hurayrah became a Muslim at the hands of at-Tufayl ibn Amr the chieftain of the Daws tribe to which he belonged. When at-Tufayl returned to his village after meeting the Prophet and becoming a Muslim in the early years of his mission, Abu Hurayrah was one of the first to respond to his call.

When at-Tufayl visited Makkah again, Abu Hurayrah accompanied him. There he had the honor and privilege of meeting the noble Prophet who asked him: "What is your name?"

"Abdu Shams - Servant of a Sun," he replied.

"Instead, let it be Abdur-Rahman - the Servant of the Beneficent Lord," said the Prophet.

"Yes, Abdur-Rahman (it shall be) O Messenger of God," he replied. However, he continued to be known as Abu Hurayrah, "the kitten man", literally "the father of a kitten" because like the Prophet he was fond of cats and since his childhood often had a cat to play with.

Abu Hurayrah stayed in Tihamah for several years and it was only at the beginning of the seventh year of the Hijrah that he arrived in Madinah with others of his tribe. The Prophet had gone on a campaign to Khaybar. Being destitute, Abu Hurayrah took up his place in the Masjid with other of the Ahl as-Suffah. He was single, without wife or child. With him however was his mother who was still not a Muslim. He longed, and prayed, for her to become a Muslim but she adamantly refused. One day, he invited her to have faith in God alone and follow His Prophet but she uttered some words about the Prophet which saddened him greatly. With tears in his eyes, he went to the noble Prophet who said to him:

"What makes you cry, O Abu Hurayrah?"

"I have not let up in inviting my mother to Islam but she has always rebuffed me. Today, I invited her again and I heard words from her which I do not like. Do make supplication to God Almighty to make the heart of Abu Hurayrah's mother incline to Isl am."

The Prophet responded to Abu Hurayrah's request and prayed for his mother. Abu Hurayrah said: "I went home and found the door closed. I heard the splashing of water and when I tried to enter my mother said: "Stay where you are, O Abu Hurayrah." And after putting on her clothes, she said, "Enter!" I entered and she said: "I testify that there is no god but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger."

"I returned to the Prophet, peace be on him, weeping with joy just as an hour before I had gone weeping from sadness and said: "I have good news, O Messenger of Allah. God has responded to your prayer and guided the mother of Abu Hurayrah to Islam."

Abu Hurayrah loved the Prophet a great deal and found favor with him. He was never tired of looking at the Prophet whose face appeared to him as having all the radiance of the sun and he was never tired of listening to him. Often he would praise God for h is good fortune and say:

"Praise be to God Who has guided Abu Hurayrah to Islam."
"Praise be to God Who has taught Abu Hurayrah the Quran."
"Praise be to God who has bestowed on Abu Hurayrah the companionship of Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace."

On reaching Madinah, Abu Hurayrah set his heart on attaining knowledge. Zayd ibn Thabit the notable companion of the Prophet reported : "While Abu Hurayrah and I and another friend of mine were in the Masjid praying to God Almighty and performing dhikr to Him, the Messenger of God appeared. He came towards us and sat among us. We became silent and he said: "Carry on with what you were doing."

"So my friend and I made a supplication to God before Abu Hurayrah did and the Prophet began to say Ameen to our dua.

"Then Abu Hurayrah made a supplication saying: "O Lord, I ask You for what my two companions have asked and I ask You for knowledge which will not be forgotten."

"The Prophet, peace be on him, said: 'Ameen.' "We then said: 'And we ask Allah for knowledge which will not be forgotten, and the Prophet replied: 'The Dawsi youth has asked for this before you." "With his formidable memory, Abu Hurayrah set out to memorize in the four years that he spent with the Prophet, the gems of wisdom that emanated from his lips. He realized that he had a great gift and he set about to use it to the full in the service of I slam.

He had free time at his disposal. Unlike many of the Muhajirin he did not busy himself in the market-places, with buying and selling. Unlike many of the Ansar, he had no land to cultivate nor crops to tend. He stayed with the Prophet in Madinah and went with him on journeys and expeditions.

Many companions were amazed at the number of hadith he had memorized and often questioned him on when he had heard a certain hadith and under what circumstances.

Once Marwan ibn al-Hakam wanted to test Abu Hurayrah's power of memory. He sat with him in one room and behind a curtain he placed a scribe, unknown to Abu Hurayrah, and ordered him to write down whatever Abu Hurayrah said. A year later, Marwan called Abu Hurayrah again and asked him to recall the same ahadith which the scribe had recorded. It was found that he had forgotten not a single word.

Abu Hurayrah was concerned to teach and transmit the ahadith he had memorized and knowledge of Islam in general. It is reported that one day he passed through the suq of Madinah and naturally saw people engrossed in the business of buying and selling.

"How feeble are you, O people of Madinah!" he said.

"What do you see that is feeble in us, Abu Hurayrah?" they asked.

"The inheritance of the Messenger of God, peace be on him, is being distributed and you remain here! Won't you go and take your portion?"

"Where is this, O Abu Hurayrah?" they asked.

"In the Masjid," he replied.

Quickly they left. Abu Hurayrah waited until they returned. When they saw him, they said: "O Abu Hurayrah, we went to the Masjid and entered and we did not see anything being distributed."

"Didn't you see anyone in the Masjid?" he asked.

"O yes, we saw some people performing Salat, some people reading the Quran and some people discussing about what is halal and what is haram."

"Woe unto you," replied Abu Hurayrah," that is the inheritance of Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace."

Abu Hurayrah underwent much hardship and difficulties as a result of his dedicated search for knowledge. He was often hungry and destitute. He said about himself:

"When I was afflicted with severe hunger, I would go to a companion' of the Prophet and asked him about an ayah of the Quran and (stay with him) learning it so that he would take me with him to his house and give food. "

One day, my hunger became so severe that I placed a stone on my stomach. I then sat down in the path of the companions. Abu Bakr passed by and I asked him about an ayah of the Book of God. I only asked him so that he would invite me but he didn't.

"Then Umar ibn al-Khattab passed by me and I asked him about an ayah but he also did not invite me. Then the Messenger of God, peace be on him, passed by and realized that I was hungry and said: "Abu Hurayrah!"

"At your command" I replied and followed him until we entered his house. He found a bowl of milk and asked his family: "From where did you get this?"

"Someone sent it to you" they replied.

He then said to me: "O Abu Hurayrah, go to the Ahl as-Suffah and invite them." Abu Hurayrah did as he was told and they all drank from the milk.

Much of Abu Hurayrah's time would be spent in spiritual exercises and devotion to God. Qiyam al-Layl staying up for the night in prayer and devotion - was a regular practice of his family including his wife and his daughter. He would stay up for a third of the night, his wife for another third and his daughter for a third. In this way, in the house of Abu Hurayrah no hour of the night would pass without ibadah, dhikr and Salat.

During the caliphate of Umar, Umar appointed him as governor of Bakrain. Umar was very scrupulous about the type of persons whom he appointed as governors. He was always concerned that his governors should live simply and frugally and not acquire much wea lth even though this was through lawful means.

In Bahrain, Abu Hurayrah became quite rich. Umar heard of this and recalled him to Madinah. Umar thought he had acquired his wealth through unlawful means and questioned him about where and how he had acquired such a fortune. Abu Hurayrah replied: "From breeding horses and gifts which I received."

"Hand it over to the treasury of the Muslims," ordered Umar.

Abu Hurayrah did as he was told and raised his hands to the heavens and prayed: "O Lord, forgive the Amir al-Mu'minin." Subsequently, Umar asked him to become governor once again but he declined. Umar asked him why he refused and he said:

"So that my honor would not be besmirched, my wealth taken and my back beaten."

And he added: "And I fear to judge without knowledge and speak without wisdom."

Throughout his life Abu Hurayrah remained kind and courteous to his mother. Whenever he wanted to leave home, he would stand at the door of her room and say: As-salaamu alaykum, yaa ummataah, wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh: peace be on you, mother, and the mercy and blessings of God."

She would reply: "Wa alayka-s salaam, yaa bunayya, wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu: And on you be peace, my son, and the mercy and blessings of God."

Often, he would also say: "May God have mercy on you as you cared for me wh en I was small," and she would reply: "May God have mercy on you as you delivered me from error when I was old." Abu Hurayrah always encouraged other people to be kind and good to their parents.

One day he saw two men walking together, one older than the other. He asked the younger one: "What is this man to you?"

"My father," the person replied.

"Don't call him by his name. Don't walk in front of him and don't sit before him," advised Abu Hurayrah.

Muslims owe a debt of gratitude to Abu Hurayrah for helping to preserve and transmit the valuable legacy of the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace. He died in the year 59 AH when he was seventy-eight years old.

The Advice of Abu-d Dardaa

From the moment Abu-d Dardaa embraced Islam, he devoted himself completely to Islam. Belief in God and His Prophet animated every fibre of his being. He deeply regretted every moment he had served other than God and the opportunities he had lost to do good. He realized how much his friends had learnt about Islam in the preceding two or three years, how much of the Quran they had memorized and the opportunities they had to devote themselves to God and His Prophet. He made up his mind to expend every effort, day and night to try to make up for what he had missed. Ibadah occupied his days and his nights. His search for knowledge was restless. Much time he spent memorizing the words of the Quran and trying to understand the profundity of its message. When he saw that business and trade disturbed the sweetness of his ibadah and kept him away from the circles of knowledge, he reduced his involvement without hesitation or regret. Someone asked him why he did this and he replied:

"I was a merchant before my pledge to the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace. When I became a Muslim, I wanted to combine trade (tijarah) and worship (ibadah) but I did not achieve what I desired. So I abandoned trade and inclined towards ibadah.

"By Him in whose hand is the soul of Abu-d Dardaa, what I want to have is a shop near the door of the masjid so that I would not miss any Salat with the congregation. Then I shall sell and buy and make a modest profit every day."

"I am not saying," said Abu-d Dardaa to his questioner, "that Allah, Great and Majestic is He, has prohibited trade, but I want to be among those whom neither trade nor selling distracts form the remembrance of God ."

Abu-d Dardaa did not only become less involved in trade but he abandoned his hitherto soft and luxurious life-style. He ate only what was sufficient to keep him upright and he wore clothes that was simple and sufficient to cover his body.

Once a group of Muslims came to spend the night with him. The night was bitterly cold. He gave them hot food which they welcomed. He himself then went to sleep but he did not give them any blankets. They became anxious wondering how they were going to s leep on such a cold night. Then one of them said: "I will go and talk to him." "Don't bother him," said another.

However, the man went to Abu-d Dardaa and stood at the door of his room. He saw Abu-d Dardaa lying down. His wife was sitting near to him. They were both wearing light clothing which could not protect them from the cold and they had no blankets. Abu-d Dardaa said to his guest: "If there was anything, we would have sent it to you."

During the caliphate of Umar, Umar wanted to appoint Abu-d Dardaa as a governor in Syria. Abu-d Dardaa refused. Umar persisted and then Abu-d Dardaa said:

"If you are content that I should go to them to teach them the Book of their Lord and the Sunnah of their Prophet and pray with them, I shall go."

Umar agreed and Abu-d Dardaa left for Damascus. There he found the people immersed in luxury and soft living. This appalled him. He called the people to the masjid and spoke to them:

"O people of Damascus! You are my brethren in religion, neighbors who live together and helpers one to another against enemies. "O people of Damascus! What is it that prevents you from being affectionate towards me and responding to my advice while I do not seek anything from you. Is it right that I see your learned ones departing (from this world) while the ignorant among you are not learning. I see that you incline towards such things which Allah has made you answerable for and you abandon what He has commanded you to do.

"Is it reasonable that I see you gathering and hoarding what you do not eat, and erecting buildings in which you do not live, and holding out hopes for things you cannot attain.

"Peoples before you have amassed wealth, made great plans and had high hopes. But it was not long before what they had amassed was destroyed, their hopes dashed and their houses turned into graves. Such were the people of 'Aad, O people of Damascus. They filled the earth with possessions and children.

"Who is there who will purchase from me today the entire legacy of 'Aad for two dirhams?"

The people wept and their sobs could be heard from outside the masjid. From that day, Abu-d Dardaa began to frequent the meeting places of the people of Damascus. He moved around in their market-places, teaching, answering questions and trying to arouse anyone who had become careless and insensitive. He used every opportunity and every occasion to awaken people, to set them on the right path.

Once he passed a group of people crowding around a man. They began insulting and beating the man. He came up to them and said: "What's the matter?" "This is a man who has committed a grave sin," they replied.

"What do you think you would do if he had fallen into a well?" asked Abu-d Dardaa. "Wouldn't you try to get him out?" "Certainly," they said. "Don't insult him and don't beat him. Instead admonish him and make him aware of the consequences of what he had done. Then give praise to God Who has preserved you from falling into such a sin." "Don't you hate him?" they asked Abu-d Dardaa.

"I only detest what he had done and if he abandons such practice, he is my brother." The man began to cry and publicly announced his repentance.

A youth once came up to Abu-d Dardaa and said: "Give me advice, O companion of the Messenger of God," and Abu-d Dardaa said to him:

"My son, remember Allah in good times and He will remember you in times of misfortune.

"My son, be knowledgeable, seek knowledge, be a good listener and do not be ignorant for you will be ruined.

"My son, let the masjid be your house for indeed I heard the Messenger of God say: The masjid is the house of every God-conscious person and God Almighty has guaranteed serenity, comfort, mercy and staying on the path leading to His pleasure, to those for whom masjids are their houses."

On another occasion, there was a group of people sitting in the street, chatting and looking at passers-by. Abu-d Dardaa came up to them and said:

"My sons, the monastery of a Muslim man is his house in which he controls himself and lowers his gaze. Beware of sitting in market-places because this fritters away time in vain pursuits."

While Abu-d Dardaa was in Damascus, Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan, its governor, asked him to give his daughter in marriage to his (Muawiyah's) son, Yazid. Abu-d Dardaa did not agree. Instead he gave his daughter in marriage to a young man from among the poor whose character and attachment to Islam pleased him. People heard about this and began talking and asking: Why did Abu-d Dardaa refuse to let his daughter marry Yazid? The question was put to Abu-d Dardaa himself and he said: "I have only sought to do what is good for ad-Dardaa." That was his daughter's name. "How?" enquired the person.

"What would you think of ad-Dardaa if servants were to stand in her presence serving her and if she were to find herself in palaces the glamour of which dazzled the eyes? What would become of her religion then?"

While Abu-d Dardaa was still in Syria, the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab came on an inspection tour of the region. One night he went to visit Abu-d Dardaa at his home. There was no light in the house. Abu-d Dardaa welcomed the Caliph and sat him down. The two men conversed in the darkness. As they did so, Umar felt Abu-d Dardaa's "pillow" and realized it was an animal's saddle. He touched the place where Abu-d Dardaa lay and knew it was just small pebbles. He also felt the sheet with which he covered himself and was astonished to find it so flimsy that it couldn't possibly protect him from the cold of Damascus. Umar asked him:

"Shouldn't I make things more comfortable for you? Shouldn't I send something for you?"

"Do you remember, Umar," said Abu-d Dardaa, "a hadith which the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, told us?" "What is it?" asked Umar. "Did he not say: Let what is sufficient for anyone of you in this world be like the provisions of a rider? " "Yes," said Umar. "And what have we done after this, O Umar?" asked Abu-d Dardaa.

Both men wept no doubt thinking about the vast riches that had come the way of Muslims with the expansion of Islam and their preoccupation with amassing wealth and worldly possessions. With deep sorrow and sadness, both men continued to reflect on this situation until the break of dawn.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The 7 Valleys of Love

Tonight, our book-reading club will embark on the next stage of our journey. We are 'nearing' Simorgh and will begin to journey the 7 valleys.

Attar's Seven Valleys of Love are:
-The Valley of the Quest
-The Valley of Love
-The Valley of Understanding
-The Valley of Independence and Detachment
-The Valley of Unity
-The Valley of Astonishment and Bewilderment
-The Valley of Deprivation and Death

A brief commentary on this journey:
Led by the hoopoe, the birds of the world set forth in search of their king, Simorgh. Their quest takes them through seven valleys in the first of which a hundred difficulties assail them. They undergo many trials as they try to free themselves of what is precious to them and change their state. Once successful and filled with longing, they ask for wine to dull the effects of dogma, belief, and unbelief on their lives.

In the second valley, the birds give up reason for love and, with a thousand hearts to sacrifice, continue their quest for discovering the Simorgh.

The third valley confounds the birds, especially when they discover that their worldly knowledge has become completely useless and their understanding has become ambivalent. They cannot understand why both the mihrab and the idol lead to understanding. Devoid of their earthly measures, they lose their ability to distinguish right from wrong.

The fourth valley is introduced as the valley of detachment, i.e., detachment from desire to possess and the wish to discover. The birds begin to feel that they have become part of a universe that is detached from their physical recognizable reality. In their new world, the planets are as minute as sparks of dust and elephants are not distinguishable from ants.

It is not until they enter the fifth valley that they realize that unity and multiplicity are the same. And as they have become entities in a vacuum with no sense of eternity. More importantly, they realize that God is beyond unity, multiplicity, and eternity.

Stepping into the sixth valley, the birds become astonished at the beauty of the Beloved. Experiencing extreme sadness and dejection, they feel that they know nothing, understand nothing. They are not even aware of themselves. Only thirty birds reach the abode of the Simorgh. But there is no Simorgh anywhere to see. Simorgh's chamberlain keeps them waiting for Simorgh long enough for the birds to figure out that they themselves are the si (thirty) morgh (bird).

The seventh valley is the valley of depravation, forgetfulness, dumbness, deafness, and death. The present and future lives of the thirty successful birds become shadows chased by the celestial Sun. And themselves, lost in the Sea of His existence, are the Simorgh.

What a journey... Attar, along with Sanai were two of the greatest influences on Rumi in his spiritual views. Rumi has mentioned both of them with the highest esteem several times in his poetry. Rumi praises Attar as such:

"Attar roamed the seven cities of love -- We are still just in one alley".

Monday, July 2, 2007


I am in your garden
beneath a tree that grants every wish.
I am so full of fire
that I dance without music.

I am a shadow
forever dancing with the sunlight –
At times I lie on the ground,
At times I stand on my head.
At times I am short,
At times I am long.

Don't try to find love
By leaning on the cane of the intellect;
that cane is nothing
but a blind man's stick.
One sign from you is all I want;
One "yes" from you
and my soul will be free.

I am not from this place.
I am a stranger here,
Walking blindly,
Hoping you will come and show me
where to take my next step.

... Jalalludin Rumi