Tag Archives: spiritual station

WHAT NOW? …ASKED GOD

ocean heart 2All I Want Is You

Health and wealth,
Spiritual station,
And good education,

Such needs make me turn to You,
Yet I am ashamed to ask such things,
When what I should desire
Should be plain to any fool,
And that is You…
You and no
Other.
……….

mikapapa 2 2“What Now?!” Your father might ask, in consequence of the millionth time you approach him for money / the car keys / a lift / a guitar. Then like a bolt out of the blue you unexpectedly say, “No, Papa. I don’t want anything. I just want to sit with you. Is that okay?” How pleased your father would be, as I would be if ever such a scenario played with my own son, Mikhail.

In my highly entertaining interludes with God that people normally call ‘praying’ I have thought of such a notion – Yes, indeed, my God, I do need a bit of money to fix my car. Yes, of course, I would really like to get well soon. And yes, I wouldn’t say no to a helpful intervention in my examination / election / court case. Take your pick for whatever you think you need.

So it is a revelation when we realise that while specific prayers are good (and necessary I guess), what we truly should desire, what we ought to most persistently pray for is actually for God Himself. And not to accept any substitute, nor artificial agent or instrument. To ask for the Divine – His presence, His company, His love and the Constancy of His Compassion.

And as Allah (swt) is the Source of all virtue, strength, beauty, forbearance, empathy, compassion, kindness in the infinite and incomparable shades of His Goodness, how would Allah’s answer be to us, if He replies in the affirmative?

For that, I direct you to our Beloved Nabi Muhammad (saws) in the apex of the Isra’ and mi’raj (the Prophet’s Night Journey), when he left the company of the Archangel Gabriel and passed through the final veil and into the presence of Allah Almighty.

With that last direction, I must bid you farewell, sunshine, and may God be with you always. NASA-SpiralGalaxyM101-20140505

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

I ASKED, LOVE ANSWERED…

sedih 2I Asked Love
Love, lead me to the very end, to You
Not to the path just to leave me standing there,
Not to the door but to leave the door unopened,
Not to the light but to leave me in its shadows.
…………

This prose came swimming through one day. But no sooner that this vessel anchored at the harbour of my consciousness that another ship, bigger and shinier came sailing over my horizon. It seems that the first poem has piqued an immediate response on behalf of Love. When it docked …

Love Answered
My beloved, do not waste the opportunity
After I have led you to my path
Only for you to stand there unmoving,
Thinking too long whether I am worthy of your love,

Do not waste your short time
After I have brought you to my door
Only for you to wait outside without even knocking,
Too engrossed by thoughts of what you will be leaving,

Do not think you have all eternity
After I have led you to the light,
Only for you to stand apart
To appreciate the light while
Remaining heedless in the dark!
…………

ocean heart 2Infinite Benevolence. And that just about sums up the general state of humanity. We cannot really blame God Almighty for anything, can we? He has given us everything – our bodies, our dazzling good looks, the natural world that we dominate, our intellect and senses to discern right from wrong (which alas we use mostly to discern frappe or latte). But ultimately, Allah (swt) has bestowed upon us our Prophets, the very best of His creation, from Adam (as) through to Abraham (as), right to Isa / Jesus (as) and … (drumroll please, maestro), the very best of the very best, Allah’s own al-Mustafa (the Chosen One) being our beloved Prophet Sayyidina Muhammad (saws).

Finite Time. And it is through His Prophets that God has laid down the syariat (the Law) and the tariqat (the Path) which is the best, safest and shortest way towards peace and eternal bliss in His Divine Presence. Yet we, the poor suckers that we are, we hesitate. Again and again we procrastinate and say “Oh… not today. Maybe tomorrow. Let’s see what’s on the next channel. There is still time. Loads of time.

IMG_20151202_210056But that is a lie. A cunning deception by our ego (who thinks we will live forever) and the world with all its temptations, ever eager to misguide us away from this simple truth – that nobody knows when they will die and time suddenly and inexorably terminates. When you add the accursed enemy, the Devil, as part of this terrible trio that has shadowed mankind since Adam’s days, no wonder mankind all too often sway and swing to his degenerate tendencies.

Clearly we need help, sunshine. I need help. So while breath still animates this sinner’s body, I hope and pray that Allah (swt), through the Prophet (saws) and our masters (qs) will hold me and guide me towards a better tomorrow, a better place and a better understanding of our long-sought maqam (spiritual station) as servants of Allah and of His Creation.

Tough Love. And when you see me still slacking, my friend, turning aside or making unnecessary detours, please grab old Notrumi and slap him about (gently) a bit, and point him back to the Right Path. For this act of tough love, I thank you in advance, my sweet.

wa min Allah at taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

SHOW ME HOW… when my vessel is full and fully formed

Slide1The Vessel 
My vessel is full,
How will I receive
Any more knowledge?

Thus I emptied
My vessel of all my
Preconceptions…
……

Ilm (Knowledge). And here we are, my love. At the beginning of the beginning. The threshold for all lovers and seekers of the true reality of Truth and Love. Here we are asked to set aside our preconceived notions of faith, of God and all other thoughts that have led us here to the door of a master. After all, why are we keeping the very things that we are running away from? May Allah (swt) show us the error of our rampant ego and guide us to distinguish our heart and akal (intellect) from the deceiving whispers of our ego, nafs (base desires) and the devil, cursed enemy of all humanity. May Allah Almighty accept our prayers as ikhlas (sincere) communion of our needs through our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saws) and through our Shaykh (qs). This is the beginning.

But my empty vessel
Already has a form,
How will any
knowledge I receive
Form me?
…….

River HeartAkhlak. But even an empty vessel has a form, an already shaped skin. Thus, water poured into a teacup takes the shape of a teacup, while water poured into a vase, will acquire the form of a vase. But what the lover seeks is not only to receive divine knowledge and love, but to be reshaped by such baraqa (blessings) that is coming to him by his association with a master. A deeply personal reformation towards the perfection of our akhlak (our disposition, nature, temper, manners and morals)

Then, I shed the form
And the shape of my vessel…

Thus I became a vessel without a form,
Ready to become, my Love
Whatever that You desire…
Dressed as a tempest,
A storm at sea,
A drop of water, a river
A rain-swept valley,
…….

We do not know what is best for us. Even when the best of knowledge is poured into our hearts, who amongst us can claim the intellect to choose which knowledge comes first, how such knowledge can be applied and where such spiritual practices will take us? My dear love, every step of the way towards Allah Almighty, we are in utter dependency upon our master, our Prophet Muhammad (saws) and ultimately upon the mover of all things, our Lord Creator Allah (swt) Himself. As a famous Sufi proverb says…

Only by the Sun can you see the Sun

2012-11-24_tr_GunesSo goodbye for now, sunshine. The ink is spent today. But rest not your conclusions at the doorstep of poor Notrumi, this wretched beggar among the alley dogs and strays of God (swt). Go find for yourself a master, an awliya (saint) of Allah, an anointed inheritor of the Habibullah (saws). There is always one near you. And when you are ready, he will be there for you.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

HIDDEN SAINTS… please help me off this damn merry-go-round!

Slide1Night Sky
My heart is a night sky, my Love!
Bring your hidden jewels to me
To hang like lanterns
In my twilight.

Bring your hidden pearls to me, my Dearest!
To string them across the
Constellation of my heart!

………..

HIdden Saints. Not all saints are known. Indeed, I have been informed that most saints are hidden, their reputation unknown to the vast majority of people. But you know, what the One who hides, He can also reveal. So do not be shy to ask Allah (swt) to disclose the identities of HIs saints to you (whether alive or dead, to use a generic mortal term). If it is good for you that you know, then surely Allah will not withhold His awliya (saints) from you.

escapeRabita. The presence and the rabita (spiritual connection) of a saint is important in the life of any saliqa (seeker). How well someone may know a saint is besides the point. For who can ever know the true state of anyone else, what more a saint of God whose secrets are protected by the Creator Himself? But even a little knowledge, a little association is enough to spark a divine fire of love. And it is this love that will carry the saliqa in his / her journey. The connection with a saint will give relief especially when one is torn between sincere worship and egoistic pretensions dressed in a spiritual mask – a daily regular test for everyone. And it takes someone who has overcome his own ego to be able to guide and assist us in our constant struggle with our egos. God has created the ego to be subtle and adept, able to disguise itself so well that we are often deceived, even falling so far as to believe the whispers of the ego to be our sincere heart! We would be taking one step forward to servanthood only to take two steps back. So you see, without the aid of masters, we would be stuck in an endless spiritual merry-go-round with our ego being at the controls. Forever we will be stuck ‘here’ at the cruel mercy of our ego.

And I am sure, this we do not want… So let us plan our escape, sunshine!bwdivp

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

HOLY HURT – The Illness of Existential Alienation

woman-umbrella-rain-art1The Real Illness
True sickness of humanity
Is when we do not yearn for God,
The absence of Divine Love
Animating our thoughts and deeds,
A malady that will test us
Whether we are
Sick or healthy,
Poor or wealthy,
Married or widowed,
Settled or traveling still,
White, black, brown or yellow skinned,
Famous, anonymous or a has-been.
…………

25 July, 2011 2Holy Hurt. Profound is the hurt of existential alienation, when one feels divorced from the Universal Love that is God Almighty. But alas, sadder still is when we are not even aware of the true cause of our sorrow and melancholy. Laying instead the blame for our world-weariness to material causes and consequences.

Material Connection. Often such factors do play a part in our current condition, a sickness and sudden poverty will put a severe strain on our grasp of happiness. But such conditions are in truth mere signs and signals, pointing towards the One True Source of Joy and One Sole Reason for Sorrow – the reason for our very creation, and that is our Beloved Allah Almighty.

311766_10151127343404879_1431177460_nThe Prophet. We are teetering on the precipice of the unknown, prostrate before True Love’s Attraction. Thus, we turn to God, as shameless delinquents of His Law, not on our own accord but under the merciful shadow of His Beloved Muhammad (saws). For God is  in truth, truly unimaginable, but God has blessed all of creation with the manifestation of His Mercy to the Worlds in the light, spirit and body that is Muhammad Habibullah (saws), that we might come to our Lord through his holy inspired guidance.

…Muhammad (saws), the calming breeze, the assuring hand, the guiding lantern, the merciful forbearance that is the Seal of the Prophets, the Master of Saints, the Father of Souls. May Allah the Loving guide us to His Own Beloved!

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

NO IF NO MAYBE – something in the air of Persia

20151229233159_resizedLove’s Treasury in the Ocean of Mercy
If you are given the key
To Love’s treasury,
You cannot claim poverty

If you are already swimming
In His Ocean of Mercy,
Forbidden to you
Are the words ‘if only’
And ‘if maybe’.
……………

20151229235222_resizedI have returned after a one week break in Iran, basically staying in Tehran and making short trips to Esfahan and Shiraz. After visiting the Maqams (shrines) of the sufi poets Hafiz and Ruzbihan, you may have expected words to flow like a flood. That however did not happen – On the first week of my return, poor Notrumi suffered from a lengthy fever. And on this second week, it is no physical fever that is consuming me, but something else. And it is unsettling my mind, because it is taking away from me the comfort of all the rationales, pretext and excuses that my mind has crafted for me all this while. What was it?

Something
There is something in the air of Persia,
Among the tombs of saints and poets,
Among the enduring roses,
There is something hanging in the air
Among the curious onlookers,
Among the distraught,
Among the believers,
There is something…, I just know it.
Is that You,
o’ God?
……

20151229011502_resizedYes, sunshine. Comfort of a deceptive and ultimately, destructive kind. But tell that to a drug addict. So pray for me, for I am in need of your prayers and best wishes like never before. I want to quit my addiction to my mind’s reasoned excuses. No more ifs. No more maybes. wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

TASBIH # 1 – children, remembrance and other lessons of love

20150801000400_resized18. Tasbih
Last night I could not sleep,
So remembrance came to me
And I stroke the prayer beads
Named Mikhail.
……

Many years ago, perhaps about a decade, I recall lying in bed beside my sleeping son. Restless and sleepless, I gazed upon his visage and muttered the little I know of dzikrullah (remembrance of God by His Beautiful Names and Attributes) as well as reciting salawat (greetings of peace and prayers of blessings for the Prophet Muhammad s.aw.s. and His Family and Companions).

C360_2013-08-17-23-04-52

Oops. Did I wake you up, honey?

I felt I was not adding anything new nor doing anything particularly special or original. Just another random parent with his child, enchanted by a love passionate and visceral, in awe of the beauty predisposed upon his offspring and wondering as to its source, Allah (s.w.t.) the Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

For in the late hours of the night while our children sleep, the veil between this world and the Divine appears to be lifted a little, transforming our little son or daughter into a magical lamp – through which a little of His Light shines through, mesmerising us in the warm illumination of His Divine Love for His Creation.

2012-11-24_tr_GunesDivine love is the secret sustenance that gives us the ability to face the challenges of this life with hope. It is the reward that enables us to wear the scars of our ego-battles with honour – so long as we remember we are only the servant and not the master of Divine Love. And as weak servants we are constantly craving for such Love, emanating from our beloved family and kin, our friends and teachers, even from complete strangers and foes. We say this because in our experience we have found that things are often not what they appear to be, and that the lessons of love come in many guises!

Don’t you agree, sunshine?

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

1.1

My dad and me, on the Rhine.

YOU MATTER. YOU ARE NO AFTERTHOUGHT

IMG_20131111_205650Not An Afterthought
If ever you feel yourself
To be an afterthought,
Know that to God,
You are not.
………

SENSITIVITY. I am overly sensitive sometimes. When I get invited as an afterthought to a gathering or function, perhaps because someone else cannot make it, I don’t take such invitations very graciously. in fact I might feel secretly appalled.

Of course the invitation may have come only because the person inviting for some reason entirely forgot about me, which is an acceptable excuse. After all, I am not so hot in the memory department myself. But if I was never really intended to be part of the party, then I am sorry, I will in all probability not accept the invitation. For I will see it as a mere afterthought or perhaps even a slight (albeit unintended), depending on my mood that day. Not very Sufi, right? But would you react the same way, sunshine? Perhaps you won’t, which makes you a far better person than I am!

ocean heart 2GOD. So you see, that is why I am affectionate and intimate with my God, aka our Allah Almighty. For despite His apparent invisibility, He is the Lord God of everything, and I think considers me in all His plans. He never leaves me out, and though I may merit His censure at times (many times, to be very honest), one thing I know for sure is that He will never ever forget me. And I will never be a mere afterthought to Him. Such callousness is simply not the Sunnatullah (the Ways of God).

HIS  BELOVED. Despite my impertinent familiarity with God though, I do not approach Him alone. Perhaps it is my natural diffidence, but following the ancient rites of Islam I enter the Lord’s court with, through and for the sake of God’s own Beloved. For you see, if you desire the favour of the King, it is very smart to align yourself with the King’s favourite – and there is none closer, more favoured and more beloved to Allah (swt) than His Habibullah, Nabi Muhammad (saws). Even a sinner as thick as myself can understand this.

DIVINE LOVE. Can you see now that you are never an afterthought to He who matters most to you? And if God is not the one that matters the most to you, then perhaps it is time for you to realign your priorities. Because I believe with all my heart that the moment you have done so, divine magic will happen - which is realising the truth that you matter, you always have and you always will. And that is a joyous thought, indeed.

Wouldn’t you agree, sunshine?

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

TOWARDS YOU, O’ AHAD AND YOUR AHMAD

IMG_20151026_181514The Maze of God
The walls of my maze are paper-thin,
And the only thing that stops me
From breaking through to You, o’Love,
Is my continuing refusal to believe
That You are as how the Prophet says You to be,
As How You Yourself say You are and shall always be;

The Lord Most Compassionate, Most Merciful
Most Loving to all His servants,
However lowly, however beggarly,
However burdened with sin
Is he.
……….

We wrong ourselves, as we often wrong others because we are barricaded in our petty bias and knowledge, our little acts of charity and piety. Knowledge which should save us, become our own chains of hubris. Admirable deeds of faith become a prison from which we are unable to escape, as our own ego takes credit for our spiritual attainments, such as they are.

If I cannot come to my God as a saint, then I shall come to Him as a sinner, if I am unable to come to Him as the good, then let me come to Him as the sorrowful and wicked, but one way or the other, come to Him I must.

I shed my beard and my turban, my dress of piety and my trembling walking stick. Unfulfilled I beg to God, let me come close to the shadow, to the whisper of Your Beloved. To the hymn, to the song, to the praise sung by the lovers of Your Beloved. I am the broken chalice. I am the wandering mendicant, crying to come home, on the Peace Train towards You, o’ Ahad and Your Ahmad.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way