EVERYTHING IS A LEARNING EXPERIENCE – from despair to happiness

beautifulhorizon1The Lord of Seasons
I turn away from the kufr of despair,
For to despair of hope,
To despair of any redemption
Is to despair of Him and His Compassion.

I turn away from the kufr of happiness,
For to be happy for any other reason,
To find joy in any other season,
Is to deny the Lord of His spring,
His summer, His autumn and His winter.

From the kufr of my own means and ability
I return to the Truth and His Reality.
……….

Beautiful-forest-natures-seasons-17593939-1024-768Sorrow and happiness. It is easy to choose which we want, right? But for the Saliqas (Seekers of Truth), things are not so black and white, not so clear. A quintillion shades of grey divide good and bad.

For the Saliqas, while happiness is certainly the best way forward, it is the value of the sorrow and joy which matters to them. Value of any experience, be it a happy moment or a bad hair day is judged simply in this way – does this bring me closer to God? Does this disclose the true nature of my purpose? Does this make me feel love and gratitude for mankind and our Creator? Does this make me want to be a better human being? A better husband? A better wife? A better daughter or a son?

woman-umbrella-rain-art1Easier said than done, right? But all is good, sunshine …all IS good (I think I am one of those patsies who believe that repeating something often enough will make it come true. He he he). It is perhaps only a question of time that the lesson is revealed – waking up with a hangover from the party last night, or with weary relief from a tearful night mourning for our lost love. Good or bad, fun or hurtful, Allahu ‘Alim (God the All-knowing, the Omniscient) makes sure that we are given the opportunity to learn something new and useful, all the time.

For the truth is, insha Allah (Godwilling), everything is a learning experience. All this from the smattering crumbs let fall by the saints from their daily communion with the Beloved of Allah, Sayyidina Muhammad Habibullah (saws). Crumbs on the floor! Crumbs on the floor! Gather them while the gathering season is still here!230

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

TURNING TO GOD… (while stuck in a train between two stations)

226330_10150169952279023_4175171_nTURN TO GOD
It is the hardest thing
To see someone talk to his mum
To kiss and hug her,
To show respect and obedience
Knowing that i cannot.
Thus, I turn to God
Thus, I turn to God
I turn to God…
……

Abang ChikStuck in a train between stations. When will you realise God is real, o’ Notrumi? Perhaps, now? Now that you are torn between the souls of your dearly departed kin and friends and the life you still live? Every day, my horizon stretches across this world and the hereafter, between my living father, brother and son, to the souls of my dearly departed mother and my brother. Who is comfortable sitting here in this cosmic train? Stuck between two stations – between happiness and sadness, between sweet solace and a profound yearning? Who will keep me company in this lonely train carriage that is my conscience?

Remembrance of God as Your companion. It has to be God I guess. Separate as He is from all of His creation yet closer to us than our jugular vein (Quran 50:16) …Hidden but more apparent than the Sun, some mystics say. Easily His Presence and Vision transcends life and death, heaven and earth, between the living and the residents of the cemetery.

IMG-20130915-WA0006(1)-3Allah (swt) is there, sunshine, at your side, through your hours of tearful remembrance, through the lonely nights when you sit in your room, unmasked of the disguise you wear for people during the day. You need only say His name -

Allah… Allah… Allah… I turn to You. Hear the sorrowful words of Your servant… Allah… Allah… Allah… You made me, so You must know me best of all. Nothing is hidden from Your sight, thus you can see the bleeding wound in my heart for the compassion of my mother, for the empathy of my brother – so help me heal, my Love, help me understand, my Lord.”

We prostrate our akal (mind), our heart and our memories before you o’ Malikul Quddus (o’ Most High King Most Pure) in the name of Your Mercy to all the Worlds, Sayyidina Muhammad Miftahur Rahman (Key to Mercy) Miftahul Jannah (Key to the Garden) Abu Arwah (the Father of Souls) (saws). We come to You, o’ God. Seeking Your attention and intimacies through the one You and Your angels love and praise best in the heavenly presence.

20151229011502_resizedwa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

The Sciences, the Saliqas & the Blessings of the Prophet (saws)

C360_2013-01-06-19-17-58Science of Blessings
Science is wonderful because it reveals the inner working of the Universe,
Science is an answer to the mystics’ persistent prayers to the Almighty;
“O’ Lord, before I seek more blessings from Thee,
Unveil what is hidden and awaken me
To the Reality of Your Blessings
That is already surrounding me.”
………

Oak_Tree_ComboSCIENCE. Notrumi wrote this observation many many years ago, ‘Some scientists utilise their talent and science to explain God while other use science to explain away God.’ And I think this is true now as it was then. What do you think, my love?

LIMITATIONS OF PHYSICAL SCIENCE. Of course, physical sciences may only go so far to illustrate Allah’s amazing handiwork. The science of understanding Allah’s plans is a matter for the spiritual ‘metaphysical’ sciences, that subtle and highly nuanced area of inner knowledge that exists within and gives real meaning to the outer reality of our shapes and forms. People generally call such knowledge and practices as religion.

The Saliqas (seekers of Truth) call it life.

IMG_20150824_184434How do you pray, sunshine? Is it a peaceful blissful moment? Or are you often harangued in mid-prayers by a disconcerting voice -
O’ beggar! There you go, pleading and begging Allah (swt) for more and more blessings. O’ ingrate, think for a moment and ask Allah (swt) to reveal to you the truth of His blessings that are already benefiting you without you even being aware of it! O’ ignoramus, this is enough for you! Your feeble consciousness is simply unable to comprehend the sheer quantity and quality of His blessings that courses through the very sub-atomic particle that forms your body! O’ sinner, Allah’s (swt) all-encompassing love and compassion for His creation precedes you in the past, in the present and in the future! That is why your thankfulness and gratitude must be accompanied with a conscious seeking of His forgiveness and His mercy!”

311766_10151127343404879_1431177460_nThe Blessings & the Grace of Muhammad (saws). For most of us we dwell somewhere between these four polarities. But wherever we are, however high or low our state, we are, in truth, forever in His keeping, in Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful God’s good grace. And it is in this realisation that all Saliqas pray, plead, beg and cry to be guided by Allah’s own Beloved and Mercy to Creation – our Sayyidina Muhammad (saws), the Arch-intercessor & Seal of the Prophets.

For you see, the Prophet (saws), through the service of the saints and sainted ones, is the blessing that just keeps guiding and guiding, and a mercy that keeps giving and giving – the abiding assurance to the faithful, and a stern warning to all that prostrate in fearful awe of God the Most High, the Most Pure!

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

MANKIND THE NUANCED, THE HIDDEN … a reminder

Slide3Misunderstandings
How will you understand my words
When my silence is incomprehensible to you?
How will you navigate my infinite oceans
When my sea is only a rumour to you?
………….

Unity of Man. If you look at the petty arguments on Facebook, you will find that when you dig a little deeper into the debate, you will find that the two adversaries are not opposites in fitrah (essence). After all, we are made of the same elements, red blood courses through our veins, whatever our skin tone or religion.

befriend yourself 2Contextual. The argument normally arises, because although we may be talking about the same thing, you may have a different audience in mind, while I have my own. Also, you are brought up in different climes compared to my cultural and social norms. Add to that the prejudices and biases we pick up along our way from purity of childhood to the cynical hardness of adulthood and I think you will see where and why we end up  arguing and spitting vitriol at each other, to the aghast of the Angels that observe us (from afar).

Nothing is Random. You are such a complex entity, my love. Perhaps you may not think so, yourself, being the humble man / woman that I know you are. But each of your action or omission, every word, gesture or thought does not occur at random. Indeed, in the spiritual world, randomness does not exist because nothing happens in a vacuum. Every breath you take, every step of an ant, every splitting of a single-cell organism, every supernova of a dying star somewhere in the night sky occurs within the completeness of Allah Almighty’s plan. It is random to us simply because of our very finite level of knowledge.

Camera 360Nuanced Beings. Err… I appear to have been distracted. Ahem. Now where was I? Oh yes, this is a reminder to myself – To not be so quick to judge and anger. To be much more tolerant and mild to the subtle nuances of my fellow human beings. For we are undoubtedly highly nuanced creatures. Allah (swt) made us so, and created us thus so well that even His Angels grew concerned that they asked their Lord why He created such ill-tempered beings who will spread corruption and destruction on earth. We know Allah Almighty’s answer… He replied to His celestial hosts, “I know what ye know not.” (Al-Quran 2:30)

So who are we to say with certainty what we know? When even the Arch angels themselves could not decipher the great riddle that is Allah’s creation known as Man. The answer to His puzzle, as always, is with the Maker of the Puzzle, a.k.a our Creator, Allah (swt). And the best one to guide us to Allah (swt) and His answer is none other than our beloved Arch Intercessor Sayyidina Muhammad (saws). He he he. Don’t you agree, sunshine?

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

ASTAGHFIRULLAH, THE FRUIT FROM HEAVEN

Beautiful-forest-natures-seasons-17593939-1024-768Astaghfirullah is a common expression oft repeated daily by Muslims, often in the hundreds and not uncommonly in their thousands. If you were to google (and come on, who doesn’t?) its meaning, you may find these common translations: “I seek forgiveness from Allah“, or “I seek (the) forgiveness of Allah“, or “God, forgive me…” But our betters have unearthed from their toil more meaning of the phrase. Like a fruit of heaven that gives a different aroma and taste every time you consume it, the meaning of astaghfirullah is subtle and nuanced and many, many layers deep.  These are just some manifestations -

Astaghfirullah, the Fruit from Heaven
Astaghfirullah is the change of cloth after your attire is stained
And torn, not befitting who you truly are.
Astaghfirullah is the compass in your hand, the iron conceived in a star.
Astaghfirullah is the congregation who abide by you
No matter how lowly you secretly are.
Astaghfirullah is the God-given familiarity with sin that you have earned.
Astaghfirullah is the camel that finds you
Alone and lost, friendless and thirsty.
Astaghfirullah is each step that the camel takes, bearing you to safety.
Astaghfirullah is the task God sets you to,
From selfish piety to Godly charity.
Astaghfirullah is the cleansing Fountain of Kawthar
That purifies your action and omission.
Astaghfirullah is to learn of good and evil,
And to taste the difference.
Astaghfirullah is to see kindness in illness,
And goodness in every moment.
Astaghfirullah is to bear the burden of living,
The pain of separation.
Astaghfirullah is to learn what needs to be learned.
Astaghfirullah is to forget what needs to be forgotten.
Astaghfirullah is to be pleased with Him
And to love Him unconditionally.
Astaghfirullah is to believe in His promises and His vows.
Astaghfirullah is to adore He Who is always present,
But Who is apparently absent.

Astaghfirullah is to have a little cry,
A quiet lonely sigh.
Till He breaks the silence
And asks;

“Oh my servant, why…?”
………….

26062011446 2And finally, my love, what is astaghfirullah, but our turning to God Almighty and seeking His forgiveness for our utter inability to recount the many, infinite aspects of astaghfirullah in all its wondrous glory, beauty and mercy?

We are weak and helpless, sunshine. And thus we seek His inspiration and guidance, through our blessed Prophet Muhammad (saws) to give us the means to learn and be thankful for the countless manifestations of His Love, of which astagfirullah is but one.

wa min Allah at-taufiq.

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Death & Life in the Garden of Forgiveness, Love & Kinship Everlasting

IMG_20160712_105919Gladness in Death’s Embrace
In their life, our understanding never encompassed them,
In their death, our mourning will never encompass them,
Only He who created them knows them completely,
And after years of misunderstanding and confusion,
Is it any wonder that they greet death’s embrace so gladly?
Done with this world that once treated them so niggardly?
…………

IMG-20130915-WA0006(1)-3Ajal. My love, you think your mother is not so old? You reckon that your brother has not been sick a day in his life. You think your friend is the fittest person you know. But what do we really know of our Ajal (the predestined moment of death that comes to all children of Adam). You think they may outlive you, but for all you know they are not stars that will shine over you for too long. Perhaps it is destined for them to fly like comets through your night sky, brightening your life with their love, knowledge and compassion, but to vanish much too soon into a darkening horizon. They came, they shone their light on us, then they returned to God Almighty.

After this world’s topsy turvy morality and distractions, we must not begrudge their return to Allah (swt). But we do miss them so, don’t we? Missing the smile, the gentle assurance and easy charity that they exemplified every single day of their life.

Abg Shem2 Balqies picPost Ajal. Perhaps we should not be so melancholic. After all, what is left of our own life is barely a footnote in the tale of this Universe. Our masters tell us instead to focus on eternity – and pray to God Almighty to accommodate our kin and friends in the sanctuary of His Divine Presence, in the best company of the Prophet Muhammad (saws), his family,  companions and inheritors. And we also ask God that when the time of our own Ajal comes, that He will unite us once again with our beloveds there in the garden of forgiveness, love and kinship everlasting.

Hmm. Maybe happiness and/or sadness is just a question of waiting, my love. To be patient here in this world whilst waiting for Ajal, with perfect adab (divine decorum) towards the Ever-Living One and the facsimile of life that He sustains in this brief reality that we accept as our temporary abode. And I think we need not wait to be sickly to apprehend the coming of our Ajal. In fact, our waiting often begins the moment we realise the impermanence of this world, made cruelly apparent to us by the passing of someone so dear…

Slide2

What do you think, sunshine?

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

OH, DID YOU SAY SOMETHING, GOD? SORRY. I WAS BUSY RECITING PRAYERS AT YOU.

TALK TO ME
Talk to Me,
Don’t talk at Me,
Many people do that,
Talking at Me,
But I want you
To talk to Me
And to actually care
About what I think…

To consider My views,
To listen to My replies,
And heed My assurances
And My admonitions.

You will find Me
To be the best listener
And your most trusted confidant.

So talk to Me.
………

You know this story, because you have experienced it before. Someone collars you into a private conversation. Oh, he wants to have a dialogue, you think. An exchange of ideas and experiences. What fun!

Slide3But you are sorely mistaken. The other party (be it a relative, friend, colleague or even an absolute stranger) is not actually interested in a dialogue. No, instead he begins a monologue, chattering at you about some topic or other, perhaps sharing stories of his miserable love life, or his amazing skill playing the bassoon. So you kindly respond, telling him that his body odour is a major issue, or perhaps that you don’t know a bassoon from a baboon. But his eyes glaze over, his attention apparently focused on something other than what you are saying. If you are lucky he will then leave you alone, but no, luck is not on your side today. Instead he insists on continuing his monologue, talking at you while totally disinterested with whatever reply you may have to his dissertation on romance, bassoons and other wind instruments.

This is what I am guilty of, sunshine, when I am seeking God’s attention. Many a days and nights, I have been talking at God, not to God. Chattering the verses of the Holy Quran, prayers and salawats like a spiritual gatling gun. In between the hail of hales, I thought I heard something -

“Whaa..? Did You say something, God? Oh sorry, I was too busy reciting prayers at you.”

See what our God has to deal with? Impertinent souls like your Notrumi here.

20151229233705_resizedThankfully, I am assured that God responds to our imperfect piety the way He does with every other of our imperfections – with infinite mercy and patience. With sublime gentleness and tolerance as only the Creator has for His creation. So no problem, right, amigo?

But a 70-year old friend of mine advised me; “Talk to God. It is very important, before or after or during prayers. At home, in bed, outside working or playing. Whatever you are doing at any time. You have to open a dialogue with God and keep the channels open.“ I listen to his wise words because the first time he ever really spoke to God was when he was lost adrift at sea, off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. A sudden storm at sea capsized the boat he was on and left him all alone in the big blue, far, far away from shore. He assured me that he spoke to God then. Perhaps for the first time ever in his life.

Slide1So you see, sunshine, we are just like my good buddy there. Perhaps we are not presently half-drowning in the waves of the South China Sea, but spiritually we are beset by challenges just as my friend was. Exiled deep into this world of danger and distractions. Apparently so far away from the safety of the Divine Presence, and exposed to wolves and foolish preachers. But like most of our worldly perception, we are being deceived. For God IS near. As God Himself says in His Holy Quran:-

We verily created man and We know what his soul whispereth to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.
(Surah Qaf, 50:16 of the Holy Quran, Marmaduke Pickthall)

old_sailing_ship_in_ocean_at_night_biggerSo have faith in Him, my love. Speak to Him. Listen to His answers. Open a dialogue with God. This communication will be the ship that will bear your spirit safely to the sweetest homecoming you will ever experience – back to Allah Almighty, our Most beloved cherisher and sustainer. Just remember to make sure that the captain of your vessel is the Master Mariner of Mankind, the Father of Souls and Mercy to all Worlds – our own beloved Sayyidina Muhammad Mifathur Rahman (saws).

So set sail with the Prophet (saws), my friend. I will scrub the deck for you.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

RAMADAN WROTE ME A LETTER

Slide1Relationships. We have all had our difficult relationships. That odious bully at the playground. The teacher who seems to take delight in humiliating us. That colleague who just has a face that you want to give a tight slap for no good reason at all. We are built differently and it is thus not surprising that relationships can go south pretty quickly. But sometimes, amazingly, we can turn from mutual dislike into abiding affection. It can happen. It DOES happen. It happened to me recently.

A 70 stick zombie. You see, I have always had a love-hate relationship with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. I love it because even in my severe state of sin, I am aware of a lightness in the air, and a gentle calm at night. But for a 70 sticks of cigarette regular, fasting does put a cramp in my style – as in I become a complete zombie. A hypersensitive ill-tempered ogre from sunrise to sunset.

An intervention. Anyways, by the grace of Allah (swt), He intervened last year and took away my addiction, and I have been ‘clean’ for more than 18 months. So I found even last year’s Ramadan to be a breeze. I was a little light headed perhaps, but more-or-less fully operational and fit for human consumption.

229752_1879889790685_5877716_nRamadan Projects. This year however, Ramadan was welcomed with a little extra. For one, I started my project to turn my late brother’s room into a cosy little prayer nook. This, together with a commitment to perform some of the supererogatory devotions meant that we have been quite busy, especially at night. You know… getting to know Ramadan… to explore what it offers and just how far we may endeavour towards attaining the gifts and blessings contained within. Always, moving slowly but surely along the path treaded by our betters and above all, by the Master of the Prophets, the Beloved of God and Arch-Intercessor, Sayyidina Muhammad (saws).

Oh, please don’t get me wrong, sunshine. I didn’t exerted myself that much. I did a little, but I did it regularly and without fail. I read somewhere that God appreciates this approach, which conveniently suits a sinner as unambitious as me.

He he he.

Well, anyways, I guess you can read this as my reply to Ramadan Karim. And insha Allah (Godwilling) I hope to meet this blessed month next year to and share our experiences once again. Until next time then, may God Almighty bless you always, sunshine, as how He knows best for you.

Camera 360wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

TO GOD ALL LIFE IS PRECIOUS …but man is often forgetful

Sheep_with_their_shepherd,_mat01285The Lord of the Creatures We Eat
Thou think My love is only for thee?
For thy kin, thy friends and thy property?
What of the sky, the river and the valleys?
What of the birds, the earth and the trees?

When thou slaughter an animal
That I have made permissible for thee
That thou might eat and live,

How does thou think I feel?
Of all sadness am I free?
………..

The Zawiya. Last week I was at a familiar old zawiya (sufi tariqa establishment) in my neighbourhood. I am blessed that way, you see. I do not have to journey far to reach a zawiya, even walking would take me a mere 10 minutes tops. But I seldom go because alas, I am also lazy that way. May Allah Almighty cure me of this slovenly attitude. Pray for me, sunshine.

IMG_20160703_060212_resized_1The Five Sheep. Anyways, after the morning prayers and assorted supererogatory devotions, the visiting shaykh (master) of the tariqa proceeded to slaughter five sheep made ready by our resident farmer and shepherd. Throughout the ceremony, the shaykh recited the dzikrullah (words of remembrance of God) and I was aware of a poignant moment – That within this next few minutes, the worldly life of a living, breathing creature would, Godwilling, be terminated. To cease to breath the air that we humans too share, to cease to look upon the world that we humans also dwell in, to end its life for the sole purpose of feeding mankind. The solemnness of this ceremony gripped me and I am afraid that I let a tear or two break free from my cold hard eyes.

Divine Mourning. For in the midst of this emotional ride, a thought crossed the wilderness of my conscience – ” O’ Taufiq. If you feel this way, how do you think God Almighty feels, loving not only humans, but all of His creation with a love you can only imagine in its shallowest human manifestation. Do you think Allah (swt) does not mourn the demise of these anonymous sheep? Surely, mankind reckons and judges things by what he knows personally, but do you think the Creator All-Knowing (al-Alim) does not know these sheep that are about to be slaughtered for your sake? “

Oak_Tree_ComboMortal Error. It is our folly we are rarely aware of the value in Allah (swt)’s gift – That He permits his most favoured creation that is Man to slaughter and consume another of His creation. This gift, like all of Allah Almighty’s blessings is not one to the taken lightly. Alas, I do not think there is much room for ceremony in the factory-like abattoir that now serves our consumption-driven society. This lack of respect for God’s creation and our fellow being is not without its karmic backlash. Ergo, the prosperous diseases that now afflict us like high cholesterol, diabetes, gout and the like.

If we learn to respect animals and the environment as Allah’s own property, will this world not be a better place, and us healthier physically and spiritually? In the name of God and by the guiding lamp that is our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saws), we can surely make good strides  by abiding to the holy Quran and the divinely inspired sunnah (traditions) of the Habibullah (Beloved of God s.a.w.s.) who wastes not and is hypersensitive to the smallest and meanest of God’s creation.

Shall we strive this way, sunshine? Is this month of Ramadan not  the best month to forge our intention?

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

A KING MOST PURE, MOST COMPASSIONATE… and a Prophet Sublime in the Art of Thankfulness

non1. You Write The Story
You write the story,
So write an end for me,
Good or bad.

Just promise never to leave me
To the coldness
Of Your indifference.
…………

Good or Bad End? *Gulp* That is a little worrying, is it not, my friend? But since when is God ever a bad writer? He cannot write anything bad, after all, the root word of good is God. It simply would not be in His character. As the Muslims say, “Subhana Malikul Quddus…” Glory unto the King the Holiest, the Most Pure, the One who is pure, spotless, without blemish or fault, the One whose essence and attributes are of unimaginable purity and perfection (al-Quddus is one of God’s 99 Names, the Asma al Husna. Credit to an elaboration at http://wahiduddin.net/words/wazifa.htm)

begging

Despite the arguments of the neo-atheists, indifference to human sorrow is not a Godly attribute.

Thank God for God and His Prophet. ‘Man is not an island’ that old saying goes. But sometimes we feel that way, normally after some sad ending of sorts – a break-up, a death, a notice to vacate, being fired from your job. Nonetheless, however foul we feel, there is at least one person who will lend an ear, someone who will never ignore us in our dire straits, who never tires to listen to our moans and woe begotten groans at our life’s pitfalls. Such is the attribute of the Lord Almighty, coming from the all-encompasing assurances and guidance contained in the holy Quran and the Sunnah (prophetic traditions) that is the faith of Muhammad (saws). So Thank God for God then, sunshine, and thank God for the Prophet (saws) who awakens the most sleepy soul into a state of sublime gratitude.

Now isn’t this a nice little tale to bring to the campfire of your conscience?26062011446-2

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way