June 24, 2017

Life’s journey

Eid Mubarak to every one of you! As we say goodbye to another Blessed Ramadan, we are returned again to the task of regular daily living. But something must have changed in us for the better, for that is the stuff of Ramadan; and life's journey continues. Ramadan refreshes our minds of the essence of this journey. metaphorically we reflect. Here is a peek into my thoughts of this. 

From the moment we are born to the moment of our death we are on this journey of life. It is interesting to note that when we board the ship we are crying (perhaps because we already know the hardship of life) and others are laughing. And when we disembark at our death, others are crying and we are laughing (if we have lived a good life).

So how do we live a good life? How do we make that happen? One approach to living a good life is the worldly one. We can do so by accumulating wealth and indulging in the pleasures of life with not a bit of thanks given to the Provider of all this bounty. We indulge in this kind of hedonism when our eman is low and we have no thought given to the advent of the Hereafter. Some of this group actively believes that there is no Hereafter. What we have is here and now. Still, those that believe so know they are on a journey but for them it is more a cruise-ship of fun than a moment's ride to a destination. The other way is to balance this worldly comfort without forgetting the merits we need to accumulate for the Hereafter.

Metaphorically, our ship of life, as is any ship, is guided by two very important groups of people; the captain of the ship and the crew of the ship. If we can imagine our body to be the ship, the captain is our conscious mind and the crew is our subconscious mind. Whatever command the captain gives, the crew follows because the subconscious mind does not evaluate the command and give a feedback to challenge the captain’s command. It follows the orders. Now, we must know that our subconscious mind is the confluence of such commands it has received over time from the time we wore born to this present time in our lives. It has defined our personality, our habits and our values and our assumptions right or wrong. So we guide our ship in this collective consciousness imbued by this historical and cumulative experience which we call our basic wisdom framework. So we are wiser than others. And yet others are more creative or compassionate or cruel or deceptive or resentful than others; all based on how our captain has commanded the crew of our body.

But Allah is wise and so he created us not in complete hard-wiring but with the ability to rewire and become different as we wish. But the change has to be based on changing the captain’s command. When the captain can be made to change the command for some length of our temporal time we can change old habits and beliefs. Our power of self-will and choice is what gives the responsibility for ourselves. Yes, this world is a test, and each one of us believers in a Supreme Being, must pass the test to achieve the Hereafter  Just like our achievements on our school prize giving day or winning a trophy in game of physical endurance, Allah will handover to us our report cards on the day of judgement. Some will be enthralled in joy while others will have their share of tears. We can ask Allah to give us hidayath, for in the asking is the answering. When we don't ask we don't get. That is the power of dhua.

Yes, now is the time to struggle and accumulate the goodness we need for the prize of the Hereafter. We need to fill our baggage with the right goods we can use in the land of the Hereafter when we get there, and we are sure to get there no doubt. This requires a conscious packing of our baggage with the right kind of clothes and adornments and also ensure that the Captain gives the right orders right from the beginning of our journey.

Our short sojourn in this world is to accumulate the goodness that will be the investment for the Hereafter. Selfish action does not give us merit. It is social good that we do that adds to the merit. See that we do no harm to others. It's not enough just to focus on doing good, but quite as important also is about not doing harm to others. Allah SWA counts this also as merit.

Allah SWS calls on us to enjoy this world even as we seek the Hereafter. But why is it that some people commit suicide? Some want to leave the ship even before time. They don't want to be with the ship. Why? Much research shows that they left in dispair because of another person's hurtful action. Otherwise no one will leave this ship by themselves. So don't hurt others to the extent of pushing them off the ship. We may not be doing it in awareness but in ignorance. Still it is our action. So let's not make that happen to others. When we don't engage in hurting others, we do a great service to mankind.

So, as we board the next leg of our journey, let us fill our bags with the best of what we can use in the hereafter. And that is the best of deeds; not money or wealth or fame or position in this worldly society. Surah -Takasur attests to the folly of being distracted from the Akhirah in our desperate accumulation of worldly wealth.

To get dhuniya we have to do fikr and to get jannah we have to do zikr.


June 21, 2017

This blessed month of Ramadan

This is a very blessed month indeed! Just think of the blessings Allah SWA gave us! An opportunity to redeem our sins; accumulate huge multiples of merit for every good that we do. He closed the doors of Hell and opened wide the doors of Heaven. He gave us the opportunity to review our character and change our negatives into positives. In fact it’s our annual chance to cleanse ourselves from the grime of the past year. What benevolence and what mercy!  But procrastination may just bust that chance. Who knows if we will be alive for the next Ramadan. This is all the more reason we need to use the chance even now in these closing days of this holy month. In local Maldivian parlance we say “vehey iru fen nagaashey” yes, collect water when it rains (it will not be available when it stops).

What benefit of a cleaner soul did we get after all these years of fasting? What is the true meaning of fasting? It is a month of worship and the expression of our charity and a time to feel with the hunger of those not as fortunate as us so that we acquire some sense of humility and open our eyes to the blessings we have as opposed to the pittance many others have. It's certainly not one of fun and games (but Satan has left us deluded to its merits and so we stud Ramadan's days and nights with entertainment). Ramadan is also viewed as a month when we eat too much and waste too much of it and we waste the valued entity of time when we should be using this time to remember Allah and think of others and thus investing in the hereafter which by the way will get us fully assured dividends in the Hereafter like no worldly investment can. This is Allah's SWA guarantee. This is the month of charity and this charity must be like a breeze of fresh air that would affect everyone (as the Prophet SAW so cogently said.

Please realize that we will not even get close to what we truly want without making sacrifices in life. We must give and give of what we also still want. Giving old clothes does not constitute charity in Islam. What we give must be of good quality; those that we still find difficult to part with. Best of all, Ramadan has always been the month of personal transformation for the better. This month Shaitan has a lesser hold on us and so it should be easier for us to parry evil advances. Personal transformation comes in different ways. The following is a good vignette.

A Bulgarian couple touring Turkey in 1995 found themselves one day after missing their bus, in an isolated rural setting where there seemed no one within miles. It was just about sunset and soon to get dark. With no other option but walking on to see what they can find, they ventured along. As the light dimmed and darkness shrouded, they spied a flicker of light in the distance. With renewed hope they trekked towards it. Soon they came upon a poor dwelling; they knocked on the door; after a while the creaky door opened, doe-like pair of eyes peered, and was slowly invited in. Five members of a poor family - the parents and three children - sat in silence in the dimly lit room. The tourist couple explained their plight and sought to find a hotel nearby where they could spend the night. To their surprise the man invited them to stay the night and for them to look for other means the next day. With flowing gratitude the couple thanked the man but asked the man where the family would sleep instead. In the next room the man had said. In the morning the couple found that that the family was not to be found and there was no other room. This was just a one room shack of an abode. They opened the creaky front door to check the surroundings. What they saw moved them to tears. Under a tree nearby they all lay, the children still huddled in sleep and the parents waiting for their front door to open. They had given the relative comfort of their home to two strangers and roughed out the night in the cold.

The couple was so moved by this event that they reflected deeply about this bighearted sacrifice and the tenets of this alien religion to them called Islam. The poor man had shown the sample behavior of true god-fearing Muslims to some other human beings. After spending much research into Islamic literature and its teachings, their conviction was confirmed and they entered into the fold of Islam. Their more than two decades of work since has by now brought in reverts to Islam in several hundreds. This is the miracle of how Allah works to bring light into people's hearts. The good that people do makes its rounds in unending perpetual cycles.

With the waning days Ramadan, I hope every one of us has found in themselves a reform of sorts however small it might have been. Take heart, what remains will still be transformed. InshaaAllah we will see it in a next Ramadan. May Allah SWA bless us all!