I’m in Sydney, Alhamdulillah and a poem by Rumi, as a reminder to myself

Subhahanallah for travel and the wonder of time. That we can cross entire oceans in a few days and the body can adjust to these immense changes of circadian rhythm with a few hours of sleep. I am in Sydney, Australia for a conference mashaAllah and then on my way back hope to stop at my island home and see my beloved grandmother. I know it is a very long shot, but if any of you my beloved friends on wordpress are here, I’d love to see you!

I am here on work and there is much to do. But to remind myself of the why and wherefore that really matters, here is a poem from Rumi that I wanted to copy out. It is ‘A real gem‘ from the Mathnawi

 

Until the gem surrendered itself,

when did it ever become a jewel set into a ring?

 

To keep being stony,

and to say “I” is crazy-

it’s time for you to die to self; let go.

 

Pride always grasps after power and riches

because the bath furnace burns perfectly with dung.

 

These two nurses just plump up the skin-

they stuff it with fat and flesh and arrogance and pride.

 

They focus on the shell, thinking it’s the kernel;

and they don’t raise their eyes to the kernel of the kernel.

 

May Allah always be with us and guide us and help us to keep our focus on ‘the kernel of the kernel’. It is good to start this way, with an urgent reminder. A four day conference of scientists can be a pretty ego-full event! ;). But it is why we do the work that counts. As the prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) said in a sound hadith, and it is the this hadith that Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim and Imam Nawawi (raheemahullah alai) chose to open their great collections of ahadith with… ‘Innamal amali- bi-niyaath’, ‘actions are but by intentions’. This hadith is considered half of the religion, or a third of it, by our scholars, testifying to it’s immense importance. So may God make my intention to be here and how I deport myself here pure and pleasing to him. And may He make my travel enlightening and rewarding. This prayer I make for myself and you all. May we all be here (this world) with purpose and a great peace!

 

InshaAllah I’ll post some pictures later on. That’s it for now from this mesmerized wanderer, the slave of the one God and your beloved sister.

 

Peace be with you all, Assalamu alaikum warahmatullah

‘What a Nourisher’ from Rumi’s Mathnawi

Peace be with you all,

It is a beautiful morning here in Vancouver. MashaAllah it snowed last night (we have had hardly any snow this winter) and the earth covered in its white mantle suddenly seems a different place. How amazing it is that something so simple as crystallized water on the ground can completely change one’s perspective. But nay, I am wrong to say ‘ice on the ground’ is simple. Indeed water is one of the most amazing creations there is. From a scientific point of view it’s shear brilliance is astounding. It is the perfect substance and the perfect matter to bear creation. Indeed, in the Quran, Allah says He created every living thing from water;

أَوَلَمْ يَرَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ كَانَتَا رَتْقًا فَفَتَقْنَاهُمَا ۖ وَجَعَلْنَا مِنَ الْمَاءِ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ حَيٍّ ۖ أَفَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ

Quran (21:30)
Transliteration
Awa lam yara allatheenakafaroo anna assamawati wal-ardakanata ratqan fafataqnahuma wajaAAalnamina alma-i kulla shay-in hayyin afalayu/minoo
Yusuf Ali Translation
Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?

The above verse is precisely what science understands of the process of creation. Isn’t it amazing to have the Big Bang Theory and even the evolutionary origin of life theory in one simple sentence! As a scientist, this excites me to the heavens and humbles me to the dust! Subhahana wa bihamdihi (Glorios is He and all praise and thanks is his). I could go on and on about water, but I really began this post to copy Rumi’s poem. So here is a link to a post on the mention of the water cycle in the Quran. And here are excellent articles about why water is so miraculous-
The source of the water miracle: hydrogen bonds
The design in water
By the way, to my non-Muslim readers, water is one of the most often used words in the Quran and discussed in a very many varied contexts and instances.

It is hard to include Rumi or anyone else’s work in the same post that includes the words of our magnificent Maker. However, I am guilty of the same, mixing my words up with the Quran as I write this blog. So may there be some good in these poor words from a very faulty specimen of Allah’s creation and may my Lord be pleased with the effort. We Muslims say that ‘All good is from Allah’. For among his attributes is ‘The Good’… whatever is good in this too is from Allah and may our beautiful Creator make us more receptive to Divine grace. Rumi himself was an inspired person after all, and indeed it is amazing for I was only going to copy the poem when I began with the comment on the snow, and then that lead to thinking of water and this leads to thinking of how water is the source and nourishment of us all which perfectly ties in with the message of this peom, which is that if you have God as your source and well-spring, you have nothing to fear or grieve! Alhamdulillah! even my brain is wired and works as God desires! 🙂 yay 🙂

What a Nourisher

The sensible man doesn’t pay attention
to what increases and decreses,
since both pass like a quickly moving stream.
Whether the water of life runs clear
or is tumultuous as a flood,
don’t bother speaking of it-
it doesn’t endure more than a moment.

In this world thousands of animals live happily,
without throes of anxiety.
The dove on the tree coos gratefulness,
even though her food for the night has not yet arrived.

The nightingale’s glorification is this:
“I depend for my daily bread,
on You who love to respond.”
The falcon delights in the King’s hand,
and no longer looks at carrion.

Look at every animal from the gnat to the elephant:
they all are God’s family
and dependent on Him for their food.
What a nourisher is God!
All these griefs within our hearts
arise from the smoke and dust
of our existence and vain desires.

MashaAllah, on that note to end with one of my most favourite ayah from the Quran (ayah meaning ‘sentence’ but the root word means ‘sign’ or symbol or proof..a word rather deeper than sentece and used in many ways. Actually one of my close friends named her daughter ‘ayah’, I think that illustrates what I mean). It is the last ayah of a very beautiful short lyrical surah (chapter) called ‘Mulk’ (The Dominion)

قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَصْبَحَ مَاؤُكُمْ غَوْرًا فَمَن يَأْتِيكُم بِمَاءٍ مَّعِينٍ
Transliteration
Qul araaytum in asbaha maokumghawran faman ya/teekum bima-in maAAeen
Sahih International Translation
Say, “Have you considered: if your water was to become sunken [into the earth], then who could bring you flowing water?”
Yusuf Ali Translation
Say: “See ye?- If your stream be some morning lost (in the underground earth), who then can supply you with clear-flowing water?”
Quran (67:30)

What happened to Poetry…

It’s been a few days since I last wrote. The post Ramadan blues have hit and taken a few days to re-adjust to not having the disciplined ways that brought such closeness to the God-head. I see now the other realm of blessing in having the 6 days of fasting in Shawwal such a strong advice. Indeed, fasting again in Shawwal would remind what Ramadan was all about. And would help cement the (hopefully) newly found better habits of Ramadan.

But Alhamdulillah, today, while baking some goodies to take to work tomorrow (sharing Eid spirit..yay!) I came across this gem of a short talk by Hamza Yusuf. Talking about the place of poetry. It reminded me of the love of literature born in those long gone days of schooling when a teenager. Sitting in those classroom open to the breeze from the Indian ocean and listening to teachers from an old school, spinster teachers who dedicated their life to being ‘our second mothers’…beautiful generous souls whose piety transcended religion, who loved God, and loved humanity and served endlessly. How blessed I was to be taught by them. To have known them. I guess growing up in an island forgotten by the world (yes, even despite desperately needing assistance to end a brutal civil war) had its advantages. I may be old fashioned, but I sure do thank God for my old fashioned education! My English literature teacher, in her seventies at the time, still wearing frocks as they wore in the 40s… who used to walk about the school premises and feed the cats milk in saucers.. My English literature teacher, who taught me to be compassionate to prostitutes through a Beatle’s song, who taught me to see the love of a civilization in the music of a guitar, who taught me to love truth and be courageous in fighting falsehood.. how blessed I was to have her. Stumbling across this talk reminded me of those days, reading Shakespeare, reading the Quran slowly everyday, pondering deeply. How much poetry there is in the Quran. How much truth. Indeed it is all truth. And real poetry speaks universal truths.

The written word is magical. And so God swears by the pen, by language, by reading.. in the first revealed words. ‘Iqra’! Read!

I had many wise things to say, but rather than bore you with pithy cliches, let me just link here the fabulous talk and hope you all get to watch it. Please do.

And I’ll copy one of my favourite poems of all time too 🙂

‘I had no time to hate, because
the grave would hinder me,
And life was not so ample I,
could finish enmity.

Nor had I time to love, but since
some industry must be
The little toil of love, I thought,
Was large enough for me’
– Emily Dickinson