Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Little Black Dress ... By Naima Alam

Deadly sins put out the Light within
And slice off the goodness in our souls

Like an operation for conjoined twins

We all desire to make others envious
Love to show off some skin 

Our bodies are little black dresses 
Cut above the knee

The spaghetti straps
Covered by our long flowing tresses

We borrowed our dresses from our Friend

Have worn it to parties to make the other girls jealous 

To leave the boys impressed

But they reek of cigarette smoke 

And in more places than one 

We've spilled a few drops of alcohol

By the smell of it too 
It's evident we've been a little bit intimate 
With the strangers we've been eyeballing after all

Where the heck did we go ???
What kind of wild party was this ???

The scent says it all 

And among many others
It's one gathering we'll wish
We missed

Whose perfume have our dresses been doused in ???

Don't answer 

It doesn't matter  

It's a scent we weren't supposed to leave this world in (c)

(Written By My Little Sister)

How Should We Pray ... Abdullah Adhami

There are two forms of "prayer" in Islamic tradition ... 

One is the realm of remembering and exaltation of the Divine 

This can be a continual process 
That only requires the presence of heart and mind ... 

The other is the SALAH ... From the Arabic "to connect" ...
It is akin to the Aramaic (Shelayvah) and Hebrew (shalah) 
For "to be at ease, to have quiet, [and also] to prosper" ...

It is the distinctive physical act of kneeling and genuflection at prescribed times of the day .... 

It is a cosmic "connection" with one's world ... 

It involves the same physical limbs that one utilizes 
In her earthly, temporal world ... 

These faculties are gifts that one is entrusted with 
And how one chooses to use them can either honor or debase ... 

The ritual washing preceding the Muslim Prayer 
Is a spiritual cleansing of one's limbs to prepare the mortal human 
To connect with the eternal, heavenly realm ... 

Women are endowed with a spiritual preeminence 
That stems from their devotion to genuineness and belonging ... 

It is a yearning for what is viscerally authentic 
In all their connections and relationships 
Especially with God ... 

It is this very essence that makes woman profoundly soulful 
In her giving and at once so insatiable in her yearning ... 

It is also what makes her so bewilderingly enigmatic
So disarmingly incomprehensible
Even to herself ... 

Ironically, it is also this gift that makes her appear tentative
Often uncertain
When all that she wishes 
Is for everything that she ever does to be 
And pure  

Women usually need privacy when they pray 
To replenish their formidable repertoire of giving
Though their very essence is a form of prayer 
Their speech is prayer 
And (as distinct from their whims)
Their feelings are prayer too ... 

Devotion is the secret behind a woman's eloquence 
And the essence of her virtue ... 

This is epitomized by Mary in the Quran 
And Fatimah in the prophetic tradition ...

Excerpt from Star Jones Reynolds, Shine: A Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Journey to Finding Love (New York: HarperCollins, 2006), 270

Monday, April 28, 2008

Once a Sheikh (Sufi Master) came to Istanbul 
And went to the governing authority 
To ask permission to open a tekke or sufi lodge ... 

The Sheikh was asked how many dervish members he has 

And the reply was only one dervish, and the master himself ...

The authority found it odd
Yet an old rundown building was available and given to them ... 

The Sheikh with one dervish accepted it with open heart ...

Very soon there was enormous light coming from within the building 
Sound of dhikr could be heard every night and crowds would attend ...

The governing authorities wanted to know 
What this man was doing to draw so many people to him 
And what was this light that was reported coming from the old building ...

So the Sheikh was summoned ...

The officials said: 

We are the educated ones 

And we want to question you 
To make sure you are doing things correctly

 "All right", was the humble answer ...

"What is the meaning of la ilaha illa Allah ???" they asked ...

"Do you want the meaning as you understand it 
Or do you want the meaning as I understand it ???"

"We know how we understand it ... Tell us how you understand it"

"For this I need my one dervish 
The one I brought with me first time I came to this building"

They agreed and sat down as he and his dervish begin to make the dhikr ... 
When he said, "la ilaha", his dervish disappeared ... 
When he said, "illa Allah", he appeared ... 
When he said, "la ilaha" again, they both disappeared ... 
With "illa Allah" they reappeared ...

The last time he said, "la ilaha", the entire room disappeared ... 
And when he said, "illa Allah", everyone appeared ...

He turned to face the officials and said: "This is how I understand the dhikr"

When You Hear Hoofbeats Think of a Zebra 
By Shems Friedlander)

La ilaha (There is no God)  
If there is no God ... Then we do not exist 

illa Allah (But Allah) 
And if Allah exists ... He has created us and we appear ...

A major sufi practice is the dhikr or remembrance of the Divine 
By repeating the Divine Names/Sacred mantras such as 
La ilaha illa Allah, there is no reality except the Real

The reason underlying all reasons is to come to closeness 
Or nearness of the Divine ... 
And conscious remembrance is a path that brings to closeness ... 

There are people of higher stations 

Who while doing dhikr 
Have been transported from the Namer to the Named ... 

We have to become like the boat of Noah 

So that anyone who comes near us 
Anyone who touches us
Can be helped ...

Imam Shafi' said: 

All humans are dead except those who have knowledge ... 
And all those who have knowledge are asleep
Except those who do good deeds 

And those who do good deeds are deceived
Except those who are sincere 

And those who are sincere are always in a state of worry

The problems and worries besetting Muslims often seem so enormous 
Complex and inter-connected that there just does not seem any way out ... 

Solutions offered by experts 
And well-meaning people 
Seem sketchy or impractical ... 

Still, the range and enormity of our problems is no excuse for inaction ... 

Staying paralyzed is no way to conquer the tall mountain looming ahead ... 

We have to start scaling the mountain 
The only way we can 
One step at a time ... 

Every step, however small, however simple, 
is one step closer to the goal, InshaAllah ... 

What is the one small step we could take to restore faith 
In the universal principle of justice for all 
And in creating an environment that not only treats everyone 
With respect and dignity 
But offers equal safety and protection ??? 

In the aftermath of recent mayhem in US
And the ongoing slaughter in the 
Occupied Lands of Palestine
These are concerns that mock us ... 
Fears that agitate us ... 
Despair that threatens us all ... 

One solution
And it is not "the" solution
Is small and a simple one 
"A Heart That Feels For All" ... 

When the world becomes a seething cauldron of blood and hate 
Conscientious people must lead the voice of justice and reason 
And uphold the timeless rule of "Speak The Truth" ... 

This must be done not to demonstrate valor 
But as a matter of duty ... 

Our allegiance is only to the One Creator of all
And our duty is to "Proclaim The Good And Forbid The Evil" ... 

Far from being rewarded for proclaiming good and forbidding evil 
One must expect punishments from detentions to life threats ... 

The degenerated culture of double standards justify baseless accusations 
And secret detentions to those calling for justice and reason ... 

And when these honorable people are detained or threatened 
We again respond with our predictable insouciance and without an outrage ...
Why ??? 

Why cannot we, the so called enlightened citizens, erect a wall of protest 
Making it impossible for expedient politicians to push through such arbitrary 
And unjust laws ??? 

The way politicians today blatantly use and abuse the constituents 
As lackeys is appalling ... 

Even worse is the brazen impunity with which the injustices are done 
And without any accountability ... 

If citizens do not band themselves into vigorous, active lobbies to stop such offensive actions of the political establishment, legal bandits also known as armed agents will be at your doorstep soon ...

The biggest mistake is to assume bad things happen to other people in other places ... 
If this curse is not stopped today
Tomorrow it will be stones smashing through your window 
Your daughter's being handcuffed or shot at 
And your son's being bulldozed alive ... 

There will not be a Suraida Saleh 
Or a Mohammad Durra 
(May their souls rest in peace) 
To save you 
Because when they were being kicked out and shot at
You did nothing ... 

Humanity's greatest strength is that despite much that goes wrong in the world
The glimmers of hope lies in your action 
And not in-action !!!

May Allah fill our hearts with the Nur of Muhammad (SAW)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Worship ... Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

The person who prays 
Is conversing with his Lord

Advice From The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ...

Never get angry 
For anger contains opposition to your Lord 

Beware of making excuses
For they contain hidden polytheism 

Say your prayers like someone saying farewell 
For it contains a link to God and nearness to Him 

Be modest before God 
As you are modest before the righteous among your neighbours 

For this contains increased certainty

Affliction ...

Affliction is an adornment for the believer 
And a mark of honour for the man of intellect 

Because facing it directly needs steadfastness and firm-footedness 

Both of which confirm belief

The Prophet (PBUH) said: 

We, the company of the prophets, are the people who have the hardest trials ... 
Then after us come the believers ... Then the others like them ...

God praised none of His bondsmen
From Adam (PBUH) up to Muhammad (PBUH) 
Until He had tested him and seen how he fulfilled the duty of worship 
While in affliction ...

Patience ... Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq

Patience reveals whatever light and purity there is in the innermost being of God's servants. While anxiety shows up the darkness and bereftness inside them. Everyone claims to be patient, but only the humble are firm in it. Everyone denies his anxiety, although it is quite obvious in a hypocrite. Because the onset of trials and afflictions tells you who is truthful and who is a liar.

A person who knows the value of patience cannot bear to be without it

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ...

The best thing in the Garden 
And the sweetest 
Is love of God 
Love in God 
And praise for God

Love of God ... Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq ...

When love of God 
Takes possession of the innermost being 
Of God's bondsman 

It empties him of every preoccupation 
Except remembrance of God 

The lover is the most inwardly sincere 
Of all people of God 

He is the most truthful in his words
The most faithful in his pledge
The most astute in his actions 
The purest in remembrance
And the greatest in devoting his self in worship

God Fearingness ... Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq ...

Close the gates of your limbs and senses 
To all that will harm your heart 

Remove your standing with God 
And bring in its wake 
Grief and Regret on 
The Day of Judgement 

And shame about the evil actions you committed

The scrupulous person must have three principles: 

He should overlook the faults of all people 
He should avoid offending them 
He should balance censure with praise

The basis of God fearingness is constantly 

To take the self to account 
To be truthful in one's words 
And pure in one's transactions 

To leave every doubtful thing 
To abandon every defect and doubt 
To seperate oneself from all which does not concern you 
And not to open doors which you will not know how to close 

Do not sit with anyone who obscures what is clear for you 
Nor with someone who takes the faith lightly 

Do not question knowledge which your heart has no capacity for 
And which you will not understand 
Of whoever said it 

And cut off anyone who cuts you off from God

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Imam Ali (ra)

He who truly remembers Allah is the one who obeys Him 
Whoever forgets is disobedient 

Obedience is the mark of guidance 
Disobedience the sign of misguidance 

The root of both states lies in remembrance (dhikr) and forgetfulness 

Make your heart the focal point of your tongue 
Which should not move unless the heart indicates
The intellect agrees 
And your tongue accords with belief

Allah knows what you conceal 
And what you reveal

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ghazali's Last ...

Imam Ghazali, one of the most celebrated mystics, saints, scholars and philosophers of the Islamic world, woke up one early morning in December, in the year 1111 and as usual offered his prayers and then enquired what day it was. His younger brother, Ahmad Ghazali informed him about that particular day and date. He then asked to bring his white (burial) shroud, kissed it, placing himself properly and saying "Lord, I obey willingly", and breathed his last. And underneath his head rest was found the following verses; composed by him, probably, during the night.

Ghazali's Last

Say to my friends
When they look upon me, dead
Weeping for me and mourning me in sorrow
Do not believe that this corpse you see is myself
In the name of God
I tell you, it is not I

I am a spirit
And this is naught but flesh
It was my abode and my garment for a time

I am a treasure
By a talisman kept hid
Fashioned of dust
Which served me as a shrine

I am a pearl
Which has left it's shell deserted
I am a bird 
And this body was my cage
Whence I have now flown forth and it is left as a token
Praise to God 
Who hath now set me free
And prepared for me my place in the highest of the heaven
Until today I was dead 
Though alive in your midst
Now I live in truth
With the grave 
Clothes discarded

Today I hold converse with the saints above
With no veil between 
I see God face to face
I look upon "Loh-i-Mahfuz" and there in I read
Whatever was and is and all that is to be

Let my house fall in ruins 
Lay my cage in the ground

Cast away the talisman 
It is a token, no more

Lay aside my cloak 
It was but my outer garment

Place them all in the grave 
Let them be forgotten

I have passed on my way and you are left behind
Your place of abode was no dwelling place for me

Think not that death is death 
Nay, it is life
A life that surpasses all we could dream of here

While in this world 
Here we are granted sleep

Death is but sleep 
Sleep that shall be prolonged

Be not frightened when death draweth night
It is but the departure for this blessed home

Think of the mercy and love of your Lord
Give thanks for His Grace and come without fear

What I am now 
Even so shall you be

For I know that you are even as I am
The souls of all men come forth from God
The bodies of all are compounded alike

Good and evil
Alike it was ours

I give you now a message of good cheer

May God's peace and joy for evermore be yours

Entering The Rose With Rumi ...

There is a secret path to the heartwinding through a rose
Where deep betweenthe layers of roseness
A lover can find the way to the embedded clues of the truth
Hidden there by the warriors of love

There is no battle cry 
No army
No weapons
No flag to carry
For the wayfarer must enter the deep jungle of fragrance
And alluring silken beauty 
To find the heart within the rose

Enter the rose with Rumi
And he will show you the way
Spinning you around 
And dancing you into laughter and wonder

The mystics know the way of the heart
And guard the secrets well

No map exists 
And no words can describe
The alchemy of the journey
That turns you into light

Fall out of your well laid plans
And fall deeply into love

Love will meet you inside the rose
And you will awaken
In the beauty of your heart

The Quran 18:28

And keep thy soul content with those who call on their Lord 
Morning and evening seeking His Face 

And let not thine eyes pass beyond them
Seeking the pomp and glitter of this Life 

Nor obey any whose heart We have permitted to neglect the remembrance of Us 
One who follows his own desires 
His case is one whose due bounds are exceeded

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Those who danced were thought to be quite insane ...
By those who couldn't hear the music ...

Rumi ...

One drop of that Wine
And you'd never go back 
To these wines
That's why God gave them
So you can imagine the other

Every single one of us lived our lives a different way

Some of us grew strong 
While others grew weaker by each day

Some of us were healthy 
While others were sick

Some of us flew through the day
While others watched the minutes tick

Some of us ran to help those in need
While others took advantage and strengthened their greed

Some of us were wealthy 
While others remained poor

Some of the diseases destroyed lives 
While scientists searched for the cure

Some of us were fair 
While others were not

Some of us got away 
While others got caught

Some of us were athletic 
While others remained still

Some of us treasured life 
While others searched for a way to kill

Some of us were not afraid 
While others remained meek

Some of us were popular 
While others were named as "The Geek"

Some of us believed in God 
While others didn't care

Some of us believed life was cruel 
While others believed it was fair

Some of us lived life to the fullest 
While others threw it all away

Some of us gave up 
While others seized the day

Though we all lived different lives 
We have not lived them in vain

All we were given was a life to live 
With everything to gain

Ask yourself
What am I going to do with my life ??? 
Live with purpose and meaning ???
Or live with no purpose and no meaning ???

Friday, April 18, 2008

RESILIENCE ... Bruce Lee

Defeat is a state of mind ... 
No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality ... 
To me, defeat in anything is merely temporary ... 
And its punishment is but an urge for me to greater effort to achieve my goal ... 
Defeat simply tells me that something is wrong in my doing ... 
It is a path leading to success and truth ...

On Being A Warrior ... Heraclitus

Out of every one hundred men 
Ten shouldn't even be there
Eighty are just targets

Nine are the real fighters 
And we are lucky to have them
For they make the battle

Ah, but the one
One is a warrior
And he will bring the others back

Thursday, April 17, 2008

How Do We Recognise Goodness ...

The seed of goodness is always fighting in man's heart, even when it is covered with layers of whims and desires. When Allah wills good for His slave, He causes the light of guidance to shine in his heart and guides him to the path of those who are guided. 

Allah says: 

[Therefore (for) whomsoever Allah intends that He would guide him aright, He expands his breast for Islam, and (for) whomsoever He intends that He should cause him to err, He makes his breast strait and narrow as though he were ascending upwards; thus does Allah lay uncleanness on those who do not believe]

(Qur'an 6: 125)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) ...

There are ten virtues to be practiced 
By those engaged in spiritual struggle and self-examination

If they keep them up and master them by Allah's leave 
They will attain to noble stations

The servant should not swear by Allah,whether truthfully or falsely, deliberately or absentmindedly. If he exercises this kind of self-control and trains his tongue accordingly, it will bring him to the point where he can give up swearing altogether, with or without premeditation. Once he has become accustomed to this, Allah will open a door to His lights, letting him experience the benefit thereof in his heart, and raising him in rank and strength, in his resolve and his patience, in the approbation of his brethren and the esteem of his neighbors, so that all who know him will regard him as a good example, and everyone who sees him will hold him in awe.

He should avoid lying, whether in jest or in earnest. If he practices this self-control and his tongue gets used to being restrained, Allah (Exalted is He) will thereupon expand his feelings and purify his mind. It will be as if he had no knowledge of lying, and when he hears it from another he will reproach and rebuke him for it within himself. If he prays for the person to be rid of it, there will be a reward for him.

He should beware of promising something to someone and then failing to keep his promise. He would do better to stop making promises altogether, so as to gain strength for his task and to keep his sense of purpose, since breach of promise is tantamount to lying. If he acts on this advice, the Lord will open to him the door of liberality and the degree of modesty, and he will be granted love among the truthful and higher esteem in the sight of Allah.

He should avoid cursing anything in the realm of creation, or hurting anything from a mere atom upward. This is one of the moral standards of the pious and the champions of truth. It yields a good result for one who observes it, in that he enjoys Allah's protection in this world, along with the spiritual degrees He has in store for him, and He delivers him from the pitfalls of perdition, keeps him safe from people, blesses him with human compassion, and brings him near to Himself.