Tag Archives: family

THE PEN OF GALLANTRY

artflow_201602091201Punctuality & The Pen of Gallantry
Am I too late?
To taste tea in the morning,
To find roses peeping in,
To hear the tiny toes
Of who knows who
Coming down the gravel walk?

Am I too late?
To put fairness before self,
To close my eyes to the whisperer
But gather instead, with the other moths
In a falling orbit
Around the Sun?

Am I too late?
To put manners before passion,
To place goodness before gratification,
To swell the sea of hopeful pearls
Enchanted by the Moon of Mercy?

Am I too late?
To write my book?
To finish my drawings?
To begin and end the story
Of the elephant, the cat
And dear old Mr. Ali?

Heaven knows, as I do not.
The answers to my punctuality
Rests at the Throne of God
In the Antechamber of Mercy
Before Whom prostrates
The Pen of Gallantry
……..

Abang ChikIRONY. we are not good at saying goodbye, are we, sunshine? Not to our office and friends, not to anyone that we love and care for. Take me for instance, today my late brother’s friend remarked on my recent picture on Facebook that from a distance, I kinda look like him (like my late brother, not his friend). This pleases me no end, to be quite honest as I like to be reminded of him. The irony is that when he was still clowning about in the physical realm, Abang Chik used to annoy me to no end with his eccentric but undeniably insightful view of the world.

IMG_20170310_072726THE END. If you follow my rather quiet and uneventful life, you may know that last week, me and my partner handed over the keys of our 13 years old office back to the landlady. It was a deeply melancholic moment for us, having sifted through thousands and thousands of documents of our past decade’s work, smiling, pondering and sometimes laughing at all the memories we made in the office.

THE BEGINNING. Which brings me to the beginning. And to what I shall do now that my legal practice will take a back seat in my daily life. Truth be told, I am still weighing the possibilities but at 47 years old, I am not in a hurry to make a hasty decision. I am looking a the clouds in the sky, I am feeling the tremor of the air that surrounds me, I am listening to the birds singing outside my window, and I am turning my eyes inwards, to the remembrance of God Almighty and His Beloved Muhammad Sayyidina Habibullah (sws), hoping for a hint, a sign.

Pray for me, sunsine. And may Allah bless you always.

donkeywa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

“Is Mika here?” He would ask

30082011706 2-2

Questions
“Is Mika here?
Can I borrow some money?”
The familiar head would suddenly appear,
And I would reply, gruffly,
Yay or Nay, to the speaker,
Abang Chik, my brother.

Now as I sit in my room,
Sifting through his notebooks
And scribblings that I have saved,
My eyes sometimes drift to the door,
Half expecting him
To poke his head in,
And ask, for the thousandth time…
“Is Mika here? Are you done with the book?
Have you seen my car keys?
Do you have the time?”
…….

Not a day passes, that I am not thankful for this life, this world, and for you, sunshine. And not a day passes that I am not thankful that this world shall not last but one day end, and that we, you and I, shall take leave of this reality and return to the possessors of our memories, our dearly departed kin and friends. And to meet, Godwilling, in a congregation blessed to be in the Divine Presence.

My brother is not here. The odour of his presence, made astoundingly apparent by his Indonesian clove cigarettes is absent. But his writings and drawings, his artistic, musical and literary tastes, his quiet devotion to Shaykh Nazim Adil al-Haqqani (qs), are present in my life and animate my thoughts. And he is doing it all over again – bothering me, popping his head into my loneliness, asking for the millionth time… “Is Mikhail here? So what do you think of the movie? Doesn’t the minister drive you crazy?”

Abang Chikwa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

My father, my son and the true constant of change

artflow_201610032223_resized_1CONFUSING TIMES A’COMING. My son Mikhail is going to be thirteen in January 2017, and I wait for that day with a certain amount of trepidation – worried about how he will change, as he certainly will, becoming a teenager with the hormonal angst and chemical overdrive making him sprout up by a couple of inches, body hair growing in the most inconvenient of places and his voice evolving into a deep growly bass. A daunting prospect for my son? Positively terrifying for his father.

MY DAD WOULD AGREE. There is no doubt that growing up can be a highly confusing period in one’s life. But I do think it is too easy for us to imagine that this period of physical, mental and spiritual confusion abates when we enter our twenties. No such luck, sunshine. I myself am comfortably in my forties, and I can assure you that change occurs to me every challenging day, sometimes smoothly, but mostly, changes comes with doubt, uncertainties and unexpected complexities, no matter how well rehearsed I may be to meet them. I bet if I asked my father of 82 summers, undoubtedly he would nod his agreement, having to pass through the crucible of two significant deaths, that of my mother and my elder brother…

DIVINE LOVE. You know what? I just realise that 70 years separate my son and my father. And I guess I am the bridge between them, but Lord forgive me that I do not think I am doing such a great job bridging the gap. May Allah (swt) bring us closer together, under the guidance of Nabi Muhammad Sayyidina Harisun Alaykum (sws), the Last Messenger of God and the One Who is (Constantly) Watchful Over Us. This is my only hope, truth be told. For I am informed by sound sources that Divine Love crosses infinities… so what is a paltry 70 summers?

mountains-landscapes-fields-california-meadows-blue-flowers-wildflowers-2400x1350-wallpaperWe are always endeavouring thus, in our piecemeal and stumbling ways to try and be worthy of the Love of Allah and His Habibullah (sws) and to connect to the Divine Presence. It is never enough, my love. So please keep us in your prayers.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

DON’T DIE, STAY AWHILE

Song at a Death Bed
Don’t die,
Stay awhile,
Let me tell you
In a clear rendition
Of a song,
Why you matter,

And when my song has ended,
Then, you may do as you wish,
But until then, stay awhile
And listen…
……

IMG_20160916_062850My dear sunshine, how many times in our life have we wished that God would afford us the time to distill the goodness of a person’s life at the death bed, and proclaim his or her goodness in clear unequivocal affirmation of a life well lived, a battle well fought and a journey well travelled?

But regrettably, such occasions are far and in between, life often coming to an end suddenly in the blink of an eye, before the hour, and thus the servant has return to his / her Lord.

So what shall we do then, my love? Not knowing when the Angel of Death may come to take our beloved kin or friend for that not-to-be delayed appointment?

Then we must sing that song, that liturgy of love right here and now – for our father and our mother, for our brother and sister, for our kin and beloved friends. While they are with us still let us not allow a moment go to waste. While life still animate us, let us show by deeds and words just what they mean to us.

Do you not agree, sunshine?

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

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

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

Poon’s Room, The River & The Ocean

My Brother
Breathing in the room he once breathed in,
Walking upon the floor he once walked on,
This room, this space of certain memories,
The walls speak to me of my brother,
And the constancy of his love
For his family and his friends
Who misses him so,
And dare I say it…?
Of his love
For me.
………

229752_1879889790685_5877716_nThe Room. Ramadan Mubarak, sunshine. This year’s blessed month of fasting is a little different, as I have a small project to complete. I am turning my dear brother’s small bedroom (see above pic) that has been left unused for almost 3 years into a prayer / guest room. I have tentatively test-driven the room… first with a little dzikr and salawat (remembrance of God through the recitations of His Divine Names and greetings of peace and praise upon the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s.) and then, with a little prayer.

How did it feel? It felt good. So good that I cried.

River HeartThe River & The Ocean. It is funny to use the term for a room – to test-drive a room. But it was really that, for in that preciously short time, I left on a journey, leaving this world, leaving its cares and distractions, its poor illusion of happiness to seek solace with my Lord, with the memories past and the new memories to be made with my departed brother, Saiful Bahri (known to me as Abang Chik and to the rest of the world as Poon).

“After all, why ought death be a barrier in creating new memories between us and our dearly departed kin and friends?”, an ancient friend urgently assures me this morning, “After all, death is not a divide but a river communicating us transients of this world to the eternal Mercy Ocean of God, our true home”.

I shan’t tell you much more as there is nothing more to say. Only that this little labour of love will, insha Allah (God willing), keep me occupied until the Lord God brings me home and (again insha Allah) back to His Heavenly Presence with our Prophet Muhammad (saws), His blessed Family and Companions, my masters of the tariqat (the Path), my dear loving mother, my brother, my aunties, uncles, cousins and so many more of my other kin and friends who have all already left us for the Mercy Ocean.

What a day that would be!

Have a wonderful Ramadan, my love. Pray for me please and May Allah (swt) bless you always, and may Allah (swt) forgive me always.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

3 FLINT RULES… how to identify peace breakers and lessons on avoiding being one

maxresdefaultMy Companion the Flint
My house is on fire,
My forest is ablaze,
My world is black coal,
A dark ember, a hole,
My love is in exile,
Leaving me with my lies,
Did the flint struck sparks of truth
Only to waste and burn
Great swaths
Of my home,
That now
I dwell
Sadly all
Alone?
…….

Fire from blmFlint Rule #1. A Flint is someone you ought to be careful of. But Flints tend to be quite sociable and exceedingly charming, disarming people with their appearance of candour and humour. Just be careful when you hear something negative about anyone from another perdon – and ask yourself why in God’s name did the bearer of bad news need to trouble you with such information about that person, even assuming it is true. Let me tell you a little story…

A couple of years ago, poor dumb Notrumi became a victim of a Flint. What is a Flint, you say? Flint, or flint stone has been used by mankind to make fire since year dot. In the context of this prose, Flint however refers to the human flint stones who instigate discord between people, between brothers, between kin, between husband and wife, between friends and colleagues. In my language Malay, the word is ‘batu api’, literally meaning fire stone. It is a good word I think because of the terrible damage it does to kinship and friendship. 

Because of the Flint, my caring friendship with my old friend ended in acrimony. Poor Notrumi was accused of terrible backbiting and placed before a sort of kangaroo court. I was so dismayed that my friend actually believed the Flint that I didn’t argue or fought back. Teary eyed and broken-heart I simply walked away.

But about three months later, my friend sought me back and said that the Flint did the same thing to him and his other friend. But the warm caring connection we once shared was damaged so much that I found it very hard to accept my friend back the way we used to be. I guess we are polite, but up to this day the wound has not completely healed.

4877_79071_web_8columnFlint Rule #2. When you have to speak about someone to another person, exercise caution and sound judgement. In fact, the least we speak about someone behind his/her back, no matter how well-intentioned, the better. After all, as the saying goes… The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

This is important to realise because the easy truth is that any man or woman can be a Flint. They may be nice and generous at most times, but it doesn’t take bad intention for you to have Flint-like effect on people’s relationship. You may very well be sincere and simply transparent, sharing certain things about Mr.A with Mr.B. But we cannot be sure what is the underlying dynamics of their relationship, so an inadvertent remark that Mr.A joined you to the cinema may provoke silent ire of Mr. B. Why? Because Mr. A apparently had once rejected Mr. B’s invitation to a movie saying he never likes going to the cinema. Uh oh.

Slide6Flint Rule #3. This is perhaps the most important rule of all. It is actually an extension of Rule #2, and this is what it is – We in fact  harbour in ourselves a Flint. A Flint without compare in its subtlety and stratagem, a supreme expert in sowing discord in our most critical relationship of all. Of course you know what I am talking about – It is our relationship with God Almighty, our Most Beloved, Most Compassionate and Most Merciful Allah (swt).

Every emotion of dismay, every despairing sigh, every disappointment, every feeling of being let down, rejected, cheated or attacked… whether we directly attribute it to ‘fate’ (a.k.a God) or through the machination of an agent (normally human), at the conclusion of our contemplation it must necessarily end at the proverbial desk of Allah Almighty Himself, where all buck stops. After all, what can happen to us were it not permitted to occur by God? How could He?! This Flint hiding in the recesses of our soul  and making such observations is none other than our ego. Such is its nature, that our ego ever ready to lay blame on anyone and anything else rather than us for our perceived misfortunes. Even to the extent of blaming Allah (swt).

The Reality. But ego-centric perception is always deceiving. An illusion masking the true Reality of this world and this life – which is actually an intimate stage, a secret communion with our Dearest God. It is this realisation which Allah (swt) may bestow upon us that would ultimately render and tear apart the fragile veil of success and failure, this duo that humanity foolishly cling to to shape our daily sense of happiness and sadness.

So let us silence the Flint that is our ego, and turn away from its compelling ‘reason’ and persuasive ‘logic’. Let no fire spark, let no ember of enmity burn away the contentment that Allah (swt) and His Habibullah (saws) passionately desires for you – the abiding peace and love between you and our Lord and Prophet, and between us and our fellowman.

Don’t be like me, sunshine. Of disappointments, sadness and enmity, leave them be. And make peace… even with the peace breakers and friends that have been too quick to judgment. Surely, that is the only path open for me now. Pray for me, please.

woman-umbrella-rain-art1wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

THE DRAGON… Saiful Bahri (1964 – 2013) Part 1

SCAN_20151104_111716224The Dragon
It had come into my heart, that,
Somewhere, in this city,
There walks a dragon,

I had seen it’s eyes in
The glimmering lights of the city at night,
I had seen it’s scales in
The glass of the tall, faceless buildings.

It’s roar was heard in the infernal din
Of the city roads, that were ways to its lair,
I felt it’s scorching breath from
The numberless breaths of the city,
I found it’s track leading into the halls of Men,

Time after time, I found, men or women, mindless,
The light of madness in their eyes,
Who wander the streets,

I wondered on what had befallen them…

They had seen the Dragon, and it had burnt 
Their souls to ashes, by the flame of its gaze.

- Saiful Bahri bin Abdul Khalid (1964 – 2013)

……………

SCAN_20151104_111716224_001A Discovery - Two nights ago, while I was sitting at the landings, I thought I heard some noise in my late brother’s room. It has been left undisturbed for the past 2 years since his passing. I entered and found nothing amiss. But on a shelf I noticed a notebook. I perused the ragged old book and discovered it to be a scribbling-sketch book of Saiful Bahri (known to me as Abang Chik and to his friends as Poone), dating  back to 1992. Some of the writing appeared to be in my hand, so I almost took them to be my own . But upon closer examination, I am certain that these words and illustrations were all my brother’s – every single alphabet, every single stroke of the pen and pencil. Gosh. It was like receiving a letter 23 years late.

A Question Answered. Do you know that since my brother’s death I was constantly nagged by a question – why has he never published or blogged any of his drawings, prose or stories? He is a very talented and sincere artist and writer. Far more than I will ever be. What a shame, I kept musing to myself, that no one else will enjoy the product of his creative impulses.

But now that I have this notebook, I am presented with the opportunity to correct this unfortunate omission. And The Dragon will just be the beginning, insha Allah (Godwilling).

For all that Abang Chik has given and shared with me, from books to music, art, spirituality and mysticism, to the science of being calm and collected (which I constantly fail to imitate), I think I owe him at least this. Don’t you agree, sunshine?

1239623_10200377345066459_319749956_n

My brother in Jordan, 2012. Second from the right.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way