Tag Archives: this world

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

BE SILENT, BE NOTHING … listen and obey

IMG_20160829_125219_resizedBe Silent
A mureed (disciple) approached his Shaykh (master) with a problem, ”O’ Shaykh! I have difficulty being humble. Can you help me?
The Shaykh said, “Yes. Remain silent.”
Okay.” Answered the mureed. After a few awkward moments he then said, “And…?

And what?” The Shaykh was surprised, seeing the mureed was still looking at him attentively.

I am still waiting for your advice, o’ Shaykh!

The Shaykh clarified, “That IS my advice. Remain silent. Easiest thing to do.
…………

Silence. The Shaykh may have been a little disingenuous. More often than not keeping quiet is not the easiest thing to do. Not when our ego is baying to bark, to cajole, to argue, to whine, to gossip, to generally stake our presence in the stage of egos that is this world. Our ego demands for us to be heard and recognised. But the spiritual path in almost all religion is to stay silent, to listen and to obey. In other words, to be nothing.

Be Nothing
Be silent, listen and obey
And be akin to nothing
In this crowded world
Where every human ego
Is crying for attention!

Be silent, listen and obey
And see how the Lord of Everything
Attends to the one
Seeking to be
Nothing.
…………

This was the silent prayers of Mary, the Mother of Jesus (a.s.) and that of Sayyidina Abu Bakar as-Siddiq (r.a.), the devoted companion of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.). It must mean something then, desiring to be nothing.

The Golden Silence Sometimes though remaining silent does not mean our ego is not expressing itself, because the human ego can also work in the opposite way – for instance, when we refuse to greet someone whom we dislike. In that way, breaking the silence with a kindly greeting of salam (peace) IS the way to overcome our ego. Renewing friendship and bonds of kinship… all these are wonderful exercises in overcoming our ego!

81915029_5fbaab5a64So you see, the Shaykh is not simply advising us to be mute and silent like the grave. It is rather to permit our ego no means to express itself, either by our words and action, or through our silence and inaction. This is the golden silence which we may find through listening and obeying God, His Messenger (s.a.w.s.) and those that has been charged with authority over us.

Think about it, sunshine. Let this dwell in the savanna of your consciousness and we will see what sort of Moon now rises over the horizon of your secret contemplation.

wa min Allah at taufiq

hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

THE ZEN OF IRON … between supernovae, faith and black magic

metals1The Zen of Iron
The molten iron filling into the mould
Asks no questions as to the form
It is taking.
……

Explosion of planet or starSUPERNOVAE. Do you know that not a single atom of iron can be produced by any natural event on this spaceship Earth? Yeah, every single atom of iron in whatever form it is in, many, many, many eons ago was born in the super hot centre of a star, just prior to the star perishing in a supernova explosion, scattering radioactive nickel (nickel-56, which decays into the most common isotope of iron) across the universe.

Iron is the most common element on Earth, forming a large part of the Earth’s outer and inner core, and the fourth most common element on the planetary outer crust (courtesy of Wikipedia), it is therefore not surprising that iron also exists in large amounts within bio organisms. And when you escape out into space, there is no escaping iron, for the terrifying meteorites flying perilously close to your spaceship are also made out of predominantly iron and nickel, in a very dense mass. That is why a meteorite will be a lot heavier than a similar-sized rock or stone.

IRON & ISLAM. The close relationship of the element iron in islam is exemplified by the 57th surah (chapter) of the Holy Quran being named as surah al-Hadid (The Iron). It is not a very long chapter, totalling only 29 verses. But in the oft-quoted 4th and 25th verses of the chapter, the celestial origin of iron is elaborated, many centuries before modern scientific understanding of iron;

“He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in Six Days, and is moreover firmly established on the Throne (of Authority). He knows what enters within the earth and what comes forth out of it, what comes down from heaven and what mounts up to it. And He is with you wheresoever ye may be. And Allah sees well all that ye do.” (al-Quran 57:4, Yusuf Ali)

“We sent aforetime our messengers with Clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that men may stand forth in justice; and We sent down Iron, in which is (material for) mighty war, as well as many benefits for mankind, that Allah may test who it is that will help, Unseen, Him and His messengers: For Allah is Full of Strength, Exalted in Might (and able to enforce His Will).” (al-Quran 57:25, Yusuf Ali)

BLACK MAGIC. Iron forms an important part of our diet, an indeed it is present in almost all living organisms (Wikipedia). It is used as tools, cutleries and ultimately as weapons and defence not only against physical attacks but also metaphysical interferences through black magic and the use of djinns.suit_of_armo_27358_md

May we be guided to remembrance and fealty to our Lord and His Messenger. Like iron, our origin is far, indeed much further than the most distant supernovae that created the element of iron in the universe. For even the furthest stars at the edge of the universe are still within the territory of this physical ego-centric world, while our origin and our home is in a wholly separate plane of ‘existence’. Perhaps in the hereafter we shall have no further need for the worldly raiments and accessories made of iron. But until such day comes to pass when we leave our physical bodies, iron will undoubtedly continue to play a key part in our every day life.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the way

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

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