Friday, October 12, 2007

Being Thankful

On this last night of Ramadhan, I was flooded by a sense of lost.

I had a splendid time being invited to my Shaykh's house to break my fast for the last time this month. We prayed congregation together, recited the takbir as is the usual on the eve of 'Eid and, as usual between my Shaykh and me, bantered intimately throughout. Ummi was always lamenting how I should visit them more frequently - the fault is entirely mine. I am guided by two Shaykhs and in more ways than they can ever imagine (but being such noble and saintly men as they both are, I am sure they both know), both my Shaykhs are indeed father-figure to me.

As the call for Isyak prayers was overheard over the radio, I felt a sudden sense of lost. Lost as my established monthly routine has been 'dismantled': there was no more rush to the mosque to perform the congregational Isyak and terawih prayers, no more crowds to be found in the mosque, no more exquisite recitations of the Holy Qur'an by my favourite guest Imam, no more tea/milkshakes after prayers etc. When I was younger, I used to think it corny when my Shaykh told me how blessed and sweet food tasted when you broke your fast. To me, then, briyani rice, is, briyani rice. But, having matured over the years and hopefully obtained more understanding and insight to the knowledge given to me, I realised instead that I was the corny one: even a sip of mineral water tasted ever so sweet and appetizing, and a few handfuls of rice was sufficient to satiate my hunger.

The whole routine has changed tonight. On the one hand, it will be difficult to let those beautiful experiences wither away with the advent of the month of Syawal, but as the experiences of many other blessings, they sometimes have to be "lost" to enable their value be truly realised. New experiences will surface and new sweetness will be felt. As life itself, we will need to embrace new frontiers with the benefits of what this Ramadhan has equipped us for the coming months.

So this feeling of "lost" is diabolical: sad, yet inspiring. It reminds me of the consistent approach in Islam: fear and hope.

Another main lesson I learnt is that nonetheless, I should remain ever so grateful to The Almighty. A prophetic story of Prophet Yunus (as) came to mind: When Prophet Yunus departed full of wrath because his people would not believe, he neither sought Allah's permission nor did he fulfill his mission. He travelled by ship, but the ship was fully loaded and met with foul weather. The passengers decided to draw lots to see who would jump into the water. When Yunus drew the short lot, the other passengers stopped him due to his noble reputation and they drew lots again. The lot fell on Yunus. For the third time they drew lots, and it fell again on Yunus. The incident inside the belly of the whale is familiar to us, but Allah said:

"So We responded to him and delivered him from the grief, and thus do We deliver the believers" ... Al-Anbiyaa' 21:88

Prophet Yunus recognized his test as a blessing and was thankful that Allah, The Most High had blessed him with such a unique place — the belly of the whale — to worship Him.

Such stories in the Qur'an are lessons for us to reflect upon and learn from. In spite of Allah's giving us the Qur'an as a mercy and a guide, we are more often than not sometimes ungrateful. Through our lack of appreciation, we fall into lapses.

"Then I will certainly come to them from before them and from behind them, and from their right-hand side and from their left-hand side; and Thou shalt not find most of them thankful" ... Al-A`raf 7:17

So, let us all together be thankful to The Merciful for He said: "Therefore remember Me, and I will remember you: be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me" ... al-Baqarah 2:152


NunBun said...

Some years I feel it stronger than other years, but yes, the feeling is always there. It is one of "missing" Remadan, missing the routine that I've been accustomed to for the last one month. I used to get terawih hangovers in my Uni days where I never missed a single day. This year, my body felt the stretch and I missed quite a number of days. But I will still miss Ramadhan, and the breaking of fast, and the sahurs.

Like many things, many Ramadhans will come and go, Insha Allah. Of late, I've been thinking a lot on the very temporal nature of our lives, manifested by the very temporal nature of our experiences. (This was of course set off by the thought that 2 of the 3 musketeers would be disengaging from the very place that brought us together, in a few short months). Every second is fleeting, and sorrow and happiness lasts but for a minuscle unit of time, in relation to the Grand Time Frame of things.

This was when suddenly, the "slogan" or "catch phrase" of your blog clicked into my consciousness - Be in this world as though you were a traveller or a stranger. This seemingly simple phrase holds an entire universe of meanings. It is a profound state of mind which requires a strong constitution, will and most importantly, hidayat from Allah.

It is this state of mind, and the identity of being a 'traveller' that summarises all of human experience in this world in preparation to meet our Lord in the next. It is the compass that reminds us that whatever joy and sadness we experience, it should be moderated as it is a fleeting experience, and that the final destination is far more important and significant than most of us can ever imagine.

May Allah grant us the Light in our hearts to keep Him in our hearts till our last breath.

I think I have taken up too much of the comment space, so I shall go and do something else now.

saedah said...

Salam Ustaz,

Beautiful writing. And so lucky to have found your syakh at such tender age. Eid Mubarak. May Allah bless and protect you always. Ameen.