‘a few gems’

I hope you are all well, in an excellent state of health and more importantly well being. Unfortunately I am fighting a tiredness bug that keeps escalating in to something worse so a lot I wanted to share has been put aside. This brings on thoughts of how really all our thoughts and ideas are not much when in our human form itty bitty viruses can bring us to our knees/mess up all our organs/even wipe our brains! How great then, Allah azza wajal, who never tires, never in need of (nor does He) sleep, and is always constant, there. Subhahana wa ta’ala! So then foolish is the one who looks to help anywhere else and happy is the one who puts his entire hope ONLY in Allah.
This perhaps why the scholars call this single ayah (verse), the fourth in Surah al Fatiha (opening chapter in the Quran, composed of 7 sentences), ‘the declaration of independence’. Scholars have also said half the meaning of the Quran is wrapped up in it. It is only four words!

Iyyaka nau’budud wa iyyaka nasta’een
(Only you do we worship and only your aid do we seek)
Quran 1:4

Subhahanallah! Allah forgive my faults, they are more than the snow flakes falling outside (not said to sound pretty).

Here are a few gems shared by a dear sister that I wanted to post here to share with more people inshaAllah. The source is not given for all of them.

* Imam Shaf’i – “All humans are dead except those who have knowledge. And all those who have knowledge are asleep, except those who do good deeds. And those who do good deeds are deceived, except those who are sincere. And those who are sincere are always in a state of worry.”
* Ibn Qayyim – “Truly in the heart there is a void that can not be removed except with the company of Allah. And in it there is a sadness that can not be removed except with the happiness of knowing Allah and being true to Him. And in it there is an emptiness that can not be filled except with love for Him and by turning to Him and always remembering Him. And if a person were given all of the world and what is in it, it would not fill this emptiness.”
* Rasulullah saws said, “A person is upon the religion of his close friend, so let one of you be careful about the person with whom he establishes friendship [with].” (The Book of Manners, 134)
* A friend cannot be considered a friend until he is tested in three occasions: in time of need, behind your back, and after your death.- Ali ibn Abi Talib (r.a.)

What a billion Muslims Think – The Gallup Poll in Documentary

Many many thanks to Seeking Hidaya for posting this on her site. I stumbled across it and wanted to share it here. It’s the documentary showcasing the Gallup poll of Muslim countries. Well worth the watch, don’t miss it. Many many points in it ring true and are all topic headings of their own, inshaAllah one day to return to.

But in light of what is going on in the Muslim world now (and coming from just as much an ‘outsider’ as the average non-Muslim, in so much that I too have never lived in a Muslim majority country, and I too practice my faith almost as if I came to it as a ‘convert’ i.e., no family background of Islam in any serious sense etc) I think its most topical to watch this. We seem to be witnessing the truth of it coming out; that most Muslims want democracy, the right to self govern, human rights, free speech and human dignity upheld. May God almighty help us all.

I cannot insert it embed it here. So the links are below.

Source video at snagfilms
http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/inside_islam_what_a_billion_muslims_really_think/

And twitter link
http://bit.ly/e8oQqe

On Leaders

How quickly the world is changing. It seems there is hardly time to take in one reality and then another unfolds, or breaks down, whichever way you want to look at it. First, the fall of one dictator in Tunisia in four short days. Hardly reported by the International media until it was over. Perhaps the pace of it all was too much to catch the attention of the air-wave controllers. Then the long protracted battle in Egypt. Seemingly long when it was going on as we all watched the news endlessly and felt the length of the days in empathy with those camped out in Tahrir square. Only then when the ‘Pharoah’ fell, to realize it was only 18 days. 18 days to end 30 years. Subhahana wa ta’ala. Perhaps Mubarak too celebrated the advent of 2011 without an inkling as to where he would be scarcely two months in to the new year. And now the situation in Libya.

Libya is shocking. One felt one could identify with the people on the streets of Egypt. Not only because I too come from a country with complex power politics and a long (too long) history of corruption, but because I think the world could identify with the ordinary people on Cairo’s streets. But then again we also had a better idea of what was going on in Egypt. And so it was an immense victory and a lesson, a deep lesson to a watching world. But Libya, Libya is so painful it almost numbs the mind. This type of killing of the innocent, that it takes place is numbing, that no one does anything to stop it (myself included)…is this forgivable? God forgive us all. If all we can do is pray, let us raise our hands and pray.

Pray for tyranny to end. For old men to be able to see past their own crusty and old perspective, that has rotted in to a putrid mess long past the time it was cast out. For the bloodshed to stop. For people to stop giving themselves the right to kill other people. What a great sin, are they not afraid? Allah protect us all. I do not know much of the politics of Libya, so I am afraid to comment further. But I do know that what is happening there is a great wake-up call. Not just that it seems these type things can take place. But as to the state of the people of the world.

When the revolution was ongoing, a dear Egyptian friend posted this on facebook, ‘if we are good, we will get good leaders’. A sweet sentiment that holds a very very deep truth. As Allah says to us in His immense communication, in His Holy book
“Truly, God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Quran 13:11)

So this then what my friend was saying. And how beautifully the people of Egypt upheld that.

Today in the news, we hear of many Libyan top brass, ambassadors, emissaries, army colonels, ministers… all resigning. God bless these people of conscience. It takes great courage to stand up to tyranny anywhere, but more so in a country as autocratic as that, knowing there is not much hope of a way of escape from retribution should it come (God forbid!). May we all be of those people of conscience and join our voice to the voice of reason.

Many great people have said, that the only reason evil triumphs is because good is silent. 2011 seems a year, when Allah azza wa’jal is sending us wake-up call after wake-up call, in the natural world and the working of the human sphere. Sending us opportunity after opportunity to stop being silent and to join our voices to those who need us. One way of doing that is to join your voice to AVAAZ, the global online community. But more so than the outer manifestation of doing our part. I think what we really need to do is to examine our inner beings at this time. After all Allah won’t ask us about why we didn’t solve the global financial crisis or some such, we will only be asked as to our own self. Therefore all that is going on seems to be a great and urgent reminder that we (especially us Muslims, in whose lands all the present tumult seems to concentrate) revisit all we believe in and really make sure we are living in tune with our beliefs. This then a reminder first to myself, for I need to ‘clean up a lot in my cupboard’. Allah help me and help me keep my intention pure.

On another note, but related (to me at least), is a great lesson in how ignorant I am. Today I’ve learned how deeply the tribal system is still rooted in some parts of the world. And I wonder at it. Today I understand once more what a marvel it was that one man, could unite all these tribes under one banner in such a short time. Allah bless and elevate our beloved Muhammed.

May Allah help and guide us all.

Our Beloved

There were many things I wanted to write of today. How glorious the sun was in this stunningly beautiful city I am very blessed to call home and then how peaceful to walk to my car with a dear colleague as it set, a long day’s work behind me. Was it hard to spend a Sunday at work? Yes (no false pretense here)! But then a satisfied peace to finish a project and a gladness knowing the blessing of having the time to spend in such mashaAllah. But I doubt the day would have been as peaceful and purposeful except for listening to a beautiful youtube video from a dear sister I ‘follow’. She was posting a give-away from her business to honour the prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as this is the month of his birthday. The give-away was two CDs, one of which is the poem of Imam Busari, the ‘Burdah’. Famous in the Muslim world it celebrates the prophet in beautiful poetry and repeats many times the refrain translated

‘O my Lord send peace and blessings upon your beloved
The best and perfect of creation that you’ve created’

She mentioned a particular rendition of it, that by the Fez singers in Morocco and mashaAllah it was that beautiful feeling of sharing something precious, rather of being reminded of something precious by a dear one, when she spoke of the peace she felt in her heart listening to it. I then realized I had it all along with me and instead of the barrage of other music I listen to while I work (big lover of music here mashaAllah:) ), let me soothe my heart listening to this great work and drawing close to our beloved Muhammed today.
MashaAllah the entire day was good after that and what could have been a disastrous time after a very hard night before turned in to one of beauty.

As our beloved master taught us ‘God is beautiful, and He loves beauty’. That perhaps why, great music, like great art, beautiful surroundings, draw one closer to God.

Much more to say on that note, but before I go on too long, I wanted to share this poem, written a long time ago, close to or during one Ramadan. But perhaps apt to share now as it was inspired by listening to the Burdah of Imam Busari (raheemahullah). Also last night the moon was full and beautiful and I remembered the prayer of the prophet of God that he would say whenever beholding the moon, ‘O Moon, as thou dost worship Allah, so do I’. What immense love our prophet must have exhibited for Allah, and how immensely Allah did and does love Him back. This then perhaps the reason for the Quranic command upon the believer to send salutations upon the prophet. And so I thank my dear sister, so sharing her thoughts, Alhamdulillah the barakah has spread very far!

Here is the poem, it is written as one feels, a child by the Messenger, a wise and beautiful loving Guide. May we all be blessed to meet Him one day in peace. Allah Kareem!

O My Lord send peace and blessings on your Beloved

Maula ya salli wasallim Muhammed

‘O my Lord send peace and blessings upon your beloved
The best and perfect of creation that you’ve created’

Ramadan approaches and I remember my prophet,
More than ever, he walks with me
In front of me and I trot to keep up with his stride
So fast and steady, going to meet his enemy
Walking upon your work. O My Lord, send blessings on your beloved.

Ramadan is nigh and I remember my prophet
His hand is on my head, and all my pain has disappeared
I close my eyes and a great peace enters my heart
As his hand strokes my hair, I raise my eyes to his kind face
And everything is alright. O My Lord, send peace on your beloved.

Ramadan is here and I remember my prophet
He jokes and gently laughs, in breaks in the long night prayer
His feet swell as the hours pass and his beard becomes soaked with tears
I follow him in the prayer and stand with him. My soul in salaam
A great joy in worshiping Thee. O My Lord, elevate your beloved.

Elevate your beloved, my beloved Rasullullah. How I miss him.

Copyright 2011. JoyManifest’s Blog. F R Zahir.

And one rendering of the Burdah, a very short part of it, below. For your listening pleasure! 🙂

Struggling for patience

A little gem of a talk after a hard day, nay, many hard days (:) ) struggling for patience as I hope in the promise of my Lord. I want to keep that hope strong so I do not despair. Despair leads to depression and then an easy entry for the whispering devil. The believer is strong in belief and therefore never despairs. What a glorious state to be in!

Patience is so hard to achieve isn’t it? It’s so easy to be excited about something and go rushing in and then so hard to keep at it and persevere. Is that why ‘patience and perseverance’ often come in the Quran together. Our merciful glorious Creator who knows human kind well, Subhahanata’ala!

MashaAllah another reason to admire and learn from the recent happenings in Egypt; 18 days is a very long time to maintain a struggle, and that too against such seemingly insurmountable odds! Allah is Great. Victory truly is with the patient. I will try harder. Keep me in your du’a please, in constant need of it. My du’a for you all too. Allah help us be patient

By the way, the scholars classify the root virtue of patience as being courage. Isn’t that very wise. It takes great courage to be patient. In fact all the lives of the prophets (peace and blessings be upon them all) is a testimony to patience. All of them toiled hard against many obstacles and all of them mashaallah ta’alah saw their reward toward the end (and we believe this will also be for Jesus, upon whom be peace and our beloved, who will return to live a good life and see great success)

ar-Rahman!

MashaAllah just completed this for a dear Auntie… who looked after me through many years of study. Not knowing much English, she’d say ‘eat eat’ as she served a hot plate of food for me when I got home from school/work. Never a requirement, just being generous. Now she is abroad and hopefully she will like this. May it will get to her safe inshaAllah!
How much there is to learn from those giving souls around us. Somehow this gets me to thinking about the immense generosity of our Creator…and indeed all good qualities we have are but a poor reflection of the divine. For example how much an act of pure generosity the creation of flowers is! I can never have my fill of contemplating the beauties of this world, flowers, birds…Subhahanallah the sheer range of colour, texture, shape, fragrance is mind-blowing. And this too by the limits set upon our senses by which we understand them. So God is ar-Rahman. The compassionate, also meaning loving, kind, eternally merciful, nurturing. Taken from the root word ‘r-h-m’ which means ‘womb’, symbolizing all the love, protection, nurturing, care and cherishing that sacred place we all sojourned in holds. Subhahanallah! Glory be to God!
This painting is a pretty poor capturing for all the above. In all truth it can hardly be called anything close to that. But mashaAllah it is done finally (months after doing the background, did the foreground tonight…I think the background was literally done about a year ago?!) and thought to post a picture up here. InshaAllah you will like it.

Allah Kareem! (God is the Generous or God is most generous)

Peace be to all

One to one

Here is a very recent poem, speaking of an old truth; The beauty of unity and the march of time. Something I easily forget amidst busy days and the usual frustrations. What a gift it is to be ordered to pray five times a day, forced to be peaceful mashaAllah :). God forgive my forgetfulness

One to one
I sit before you
My Maker
Created to Creator
this bond
Oh, when I acknowledge it
I am the eagle that has soared beyond the heavens
I am the water circumambulating the earth
I am every particle of dust in a comet’s tail
I am home.
This moment I glimpse eternity
acknowledging, one to one
My Creator to Thee
I am hurtling through time.

***

Copyright February 2011. JoyManifest’s Blog. F R Zahir

Purifying my gaze…hijab

Found written sometime ago and posting now. A constant reminder to me inshaAllah

Purifying my gaze
No, I don’t mean not
looking at that half naked
figure on the billboard by the street
I meant inside.
That when I stand in prayer
I don’t see the carpet
But my Lord’s face.

That I don’t see the mistakes of the worshiper next to me
But only the angels on her either side.

That when I eat
I don’t see the food that makes my mouth water
But the baraka upon me, and my neighbour
who needs me to share it.

That when I teach
I don’t see the rapt attention on my student’s
face, swelling up my pride
But I see the deep truth of what I talk about
And I’m in sujood, inside.

So I purify my gaze
And the hijab on my head is simple
Sometimes it is nothing at all,
A head bowed low
Deeply ashamed of my weakness
Deeply grateful for Thy grace
I walk this earth in modesty
And purify my gaze.

Copyright- January 2011. JoyManifest’s Blog. F R Zahir

Salimhum (grant them peace)

The child is father of the man
Truth upheld
Patiently praying

Water canon roar
drenched backs
They prostrate, only prostrate, only prostrate

A great peace
Settled in the heart

Of a lion rearing its head
A great eagle has taken wing
A great dove above it

Upon this land
The mother of civilization

Salimhum, ya Rabb
Salimhum

Like Pharoah

This poem was a result of many musings stimulated by dear friend’s facebook status posts as the crisis in Egypt unfolded. While that in itself is something to blog about (and inshaAllah reflections on it to come soon) here is in verse form a few of those thoughts; on power and absolute corruption of it, and on arrogance and how it blinds one’s reason.

Dedicated to those beautiful people who have lost their lives being good citizens… God protect them, forgive them, and grant an eternal peace, and God help us be better and help those who need our help.

***
Like Pharoah

Like Pharoah
who knew the truth
But could not accept
Could not bow.
Shed arrogance for humility
Shed ego to say ‘forgive me’

That his people hated him
Oppressed their lifetime
‘enough’ they cried
‘justice’ they cried
Freedom. Now.

Like Pharoah
Sign upon sign
you ignored, and
puny waves of retaliation
you unleashed
Shock and awe
you thought would muffle a nation.

Like Pharoah
You were wrong.

Truth stands clear from error.
we all know
who read the signs in the times
Your people hate you and you will go.

There is no prophet to lead them
And there is no need.
Prophet upon prophet has come and gone
left history in people’s memory
established lessons in people’s conscience.

Stand up for what you believe in
Stand up. Now.

The world recognizes
Not only your bravery
‘O people of Egypt
Not only your truth,

But the hypocrisy
of those who cloak their tacit approval
in intricate phrasealogy
careful meandering words, that mean nothing.

Speak the truth. Be clear.
Learn a lesson

From those dying on the streets
In honesty.

We can bear no more
‘enough’ they cried
‘justice’ they cried
Freedom. Now.

****
Copyright 2011. JoyManifest’s Blog. All Rights Reserved