Here is a gentle story on the life of this world

Assalamu alaikum, peace and the blessing of God upon all!

It is hard to stop thinking of Japan. My thoughts and prayers for all the beautiful brave kind people there. May Allah make it easy for them. Knowing that prayer is the greatest help one can give helps a lot, for otherwise how helpless we would be to help. These are the times I wish I had gone in to Med school after all. But wait, no, help is in holding the hand of the cashier stunned at the fallen goods and broken bottles when the ground stopped shaking. Help is smiling at one’s spouse when the anxiety of not knowing how we will get to where we must go makes one only want to snap. Help is in steadfastness and patience. Help is a cheery countenance and cracking a joke, giving a hug and gentleness in one’s touch. Help I hope, even if a little, is in me not wasting the precious time I have here to try and be a nicer person. More reliable, more trustworthy, more truthful and more cheerful. Indeed help comes from heaven simply at the moment somewhere in your heart you say ‘yes I’m going to help’ and that is all there is. And then somewhere, somehow joy explodes inside. Allah Kareem! 🙂

God is the protector of those who have faith. From the depths of darkness He will lead them forth in to light
(Quran 2:257)

Here is a favourite little hymn/song on those lines…easy to put in to a gentle tune, it always brings peace to my heart and reminds me of the rahma of Allah, and the rahma of our prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) how patient and gentle he was through numerous hardship

‘ I live for those who love me
for those who know me true
for heaven that watches above me
and calls my spirit too
For the cause that needs assistance
for the wrong that needs resistance
for the future in the distance
and the good that I can do’

MashaAllah I was sent this link today. It is a beautiful short video on one of the stories from the life of Isa (peace be upon him). A very telling tale… that reminds one of what is important in life. Great natural events such as what we have witnessed now, do that also. Back home in Sri Lanka seeing all it did and knowing how long it took to rebuild… Subhahanallah! A life lesson on what is important. Yet, how easy it is to forget. God protect us all.

‘O my Lord, do not leave me alone with myself even for an instant’

So then this temporary life, full of lesson in every second, in every heartbeat something to know and marvel at. As my dear sister, who is in Japan and shared these beautiful words just before the earthquake indeed, imaan is something that grows inside, flourishing it dispels all doubt and despair in its wake. Allah Kareem, may the growth of imaan be the only tsunami we ever face! And we trust in Allah’s infinite justice for those in hardship.

فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا ﴿٥﴾ إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا
For indeed with hardship will be ease. Indeed with hardship will be ease (Quran 94:5-6)

A vigil for minorities

Another day, another earthquake. Certainly not a hopeful way to start this post but indeed sometimes hope is hard. Perhaps that is why it is called ‘jihad’ (the struggle). The jihad to be steadfast, upright, positive, proactive, always working for a better world no matter what goes on around you. Yes, it is hard. Hard to smile, when you sometimes want to cry. Hard to keep believing and working when the mountain to climb is large and the way not clear. But then look at this wise saying from our beloved prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him);

“Wondrous are the affairs of the believer. His affairs are all good, and this is only the case for the believer. When something pleasing happens to him, he is thankful, and it is good for him. When something harmful happens to him, he is patient, and it is good for him.” (Sahih Muslim)

SubhahanaAllah! So then, true faith equates to an always happy disposition. You see, being patient is not a condition of worry and anxiety, rather it is the opposite, being a condition of joyful anticipation, a peaceful state of waiting. How can this be unless we completely believe in the justice, the ultimate justice and ultimate ‘rahma’ of God.

[Rahma is a fast becoming my favourite word and it’s meaning so deep it indeed begs the time to explain. Composed of the three radicals ‘r-h-m’, it includes all these meanings; love, mercy, compassion, nurturing, kindness, graciousness. In the Quran it is the first attribute Allah azza wajal uses to describe himself. Appearing in the second verse of Surah Fatiha, the opening chapter. One of the beauties of the arabic language is the root word system, where all the meanings of the derivatives of the root add to each word’s import. I am not doing a good job of explaining this so I’ll keep it simple and get to the point. One of the meanings of the root ‘r-h-m’ is womb. Yes, that beautiful complete-system-capsule we all spent the first months of life here on earth in! A safe, nurturing, loving, place where we are at complete peace, all our needs looked after. This meaning then given to the attribute of God. The Creator of mothers and source of ALL ‘rahma’ in the world. The scholars say that is why women are given such a high place in the islamic theology, as they embody this divine essence of Rahma. Indeed, of the attributes or ‘names’ of God we know in our tradition, about half are considered feminine while the other half masculine, for example, ‘jameel = ‘beautiful’, is feminine while ‘jalaal’ = ‘majestic’, is masculine. And that is why then God is beyond gender… what points these are to ponder upon…

ومن كل شئ خلقنا زوجين لعلكم تذكرون
And of every thing We have created pairs: That ye may receive instruction. (Quran 51:49)

But I have digressed a fair bit. My point was that sometimes grasping that immensity of love and mercy that is the divine attribute itself, is sufficient to rid the heart of anything but hope and joy. Talking about ‘rahma’ and its presence in the world though, one must comment on the sad state existent in some Muslim societies, where this immense source of ‘rahma’ in the community, i.e, women, are not given the place our beloved prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) gave to the fairer sex. As many have said, ‘if the women would play a greater part in world leadership many of the wars would have been averted’! Remember the story of Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba and the prophet Sulaiman (peace be upon him) in the Quran? Commentators on that story mention that it was Bilqis’s wisdom that averted a war and lead to harmony between their kingdoms. But I am in grave danger of another long digression, so inshaAllah more on this and other fascinating stories later on]

But coming back to where I began, then indeed an ‘effort-ful’ grasp of ‘rahma’ is sufficient to keep the heart full of hope. And we know that God is just. Completely just. So none will be wronged in the least. Our struggle then to be patient and wait that real justice.

And while we wait, our test is that we must remain true to what we know of justice. What for example, we learn in our holy book about justice. What the prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) taught us about justice. We have been taught, nay, commanded, that we must stand up for justice, for truth, even if it is against our own selves.

‘O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that ye do. (Quran 4:135)

This we as Muslims must do. So after this long preamble to come to the point of this post. We must protect the rights of our brothers, no matter what religion, creed or denomination. No matter if they don’t care much for us. The events in Pakistan with the so called ‘blasphemy laws’ (heaven only knows where these came from, I find the whole thing very mind boggling!) and the seemingly open support by many for who can only be called a murderer has been incredibly painful to witness. In fact it is one of those things that one intrinsically can’t stomach so one turns away from. However here are details of the incidents for those of you not yet aware of it.

And that is why I was so especially glad to hear of the candlelight vigil to be held outside the Pakistani embassy in this city organized by ad hoc groups protesting the state Pakistan’s christian minority finds itself in. These efforts need more press I think.

And of this by the good people of Egypt, Muslim and Christians protesting attacks on the coptic community.

So then there is indeed hope. And in whatever way we can, whenever, wherever we are, when we find injustice we must oppose it. Trusting in the rahma of Allah, that trust keeping our hearts full of light and patience. A good struggle, to purify our souls.

Consider this powerful hadith from the messenger of God (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him). What a constant barometer for the condition of our faith it is!

“None of you truly believes until you love for your brother what you love for yourself” (Bukhari)

Thank you for your patience with this long not very well penned piece. Sharing has helped me and I thank you for that help. God bless and help us all.

Peace be upon you.

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! 🙂

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

Happy times!

Assalamu alaikum! (Peace be upon you)

Alhamdulillah after a gorgeous restful day I was enjoying some beautiful pieces of music and thought I had better share it.. as ‘sharing is caring’ right 🙂

The first is Kareem Salama’s ‘A land called paradise’.. I love the video, its so representative of the Muslim community in North America and breaks down false preconceptions so well. Isn’t it amazing what art can do and how art talks to all people, so easily overcomes barriers. I also love the lyrics, its true that there is a great deal to thank God about for the place we live in. I grew up in the east and now call Canada my home. I feel so blessed… and I want to emphasize blessed… to be here. Subhahanallah, such a beautiful place and where there is social justice (I understand there are many issues yet to be worked on, but the emphasis is on the fact that there is a method allowing us to work on them. If you want to effect change, you are given the space to do so, this is precious). Before going on too long, I was walking in the woods and felt how grateful I was to be in a country with a serious Park Board that looks after these parks. Where people actually do pick up their own litter! Very ‘Muslim’ 🙂 MashaAllah
Here is the song.. interestingly Kareem Salama is an American of Egyptian parents who sings country music! He has a gorgeous song called ‘generous peace’ (the meaning of his name) and one on Mariam (alaihi salam), Mary, may peace be upon her. One of the best of woman-kind and our beloved, who according to the Muslim belief, will be one of the first women to enter Paradise. It’s a beautiful song called ‘Lady Mary’. Easily youtube-able.

The other song is ‘out seeing the fields’ by the time-less peace of Dawud Wharnsby Ali. I sometimes think if he hadn’t become Muslim early, he’d have been the new Cat Stevens! I especially love the line in this song where he says ‘I only feel guided when I’m free to question why’

Subhahanallah! and the best way to learn is to question is it not? 🙂