Archive for the ‘Allah’ Category

Phew! There’s simply sooo much happening that I might just run out of blog space but not out of stuff to write. Sounds like a hyperbole? Well of course it is! But still, that still leaves me loads to key about. However, deadlines loom ominously as the end of the academic term nears and there are still piles and piles of answer papers to evaluate. Sigh. That means all I can possibly squeeze in here are a few random lines. Nevertheless, here they are:

What I did want to blog about was my birthday 😀 (Woohoo!) Actually more than that, about this amazing restaurant that hubby took me out for. It’s called ‘Sigree’ and it’s got some scrumptious barbecues! Unlimited juicy kebabs and an in-built ‘Sigree’ (or barbecue fire) on each table! Sounds hot? Well it sure was! Your kebabs can never get cold as you dig into one charcoaled delight to another! Umm yummm! More on this later if I can find the time.

But that’s not the crux of this blog entry, really. What is even more interesting than drippy chicken delicacies is attending Dr. zakir Naik‘s lecture LIVE at the Azam Campus grounds. For the uninitiated, Dr. Naik is a world renowned scholar on comparitive religion and can quote verbatim from the religious texts of almost all major religions of the world. And not just quote, he will give you, on the spot, without a sneak into any notes, the book number, chapter number and even verse number of the quotation he is discussing! Mashalah! It’s amazing to watch him give word to word references from the Bible, the Vedas, the Old Testament and so many more scriptures! You should have seen the crowds! Tens of thousands of people of all faiths have been thronging the Azam Campus grounds since yesterday to come listen to him and even more are expected tomorrow as he speaks on a topic the entire world would want some insights into: ‘Is terrorism the inheritance of Muslims?’ (Kya aatankwaad Musalmanon ki virasat hai?) Three people from the audience actually stood up and proclaimed Shahada (bearing witness to the oneness of Allah and to the Prophethood of Mohammed PBUH)! Mashallah!

You can watch tomorrow’s lecture LIVE on his Peace TV channel if you get it on your satellite connection. With affiliations to world famous Islamic scholars like Bilal Philips, Yusuf Estes and several more, his discussions on religion are something no intellectual would want to miss. Well, how can you refuse such engaging dialogs, even if you do not concur with the ideology of Islam? The process of inquiry is invigorating in itself.

Well, I for one will try to leave a little earlier for tomorrow’s lecture. I want the front seats and I know they aren’t easy to get. 🙂


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Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why DO bad things happen to good people, really now? I mean it all seems pretty illogical sometimes, no? There are these folks who are so righteous and pious and generous and all, and they still don’t seem to have all they should. And then again, we have another type of folks-the bad and the ugly. Think corrupt politicians, terrorizing mafia dons and most of the rest of the world. They all seem to be very cosily set in life. Mirth, moolah, muck- they’ve got it all. So has God been unfair after all? For some people, that seems like a valid question. For others, there seems to be a valid answer-somewhere.

The above mentioned question had been playing on my mind for sometime now. God couldn’t possibly unfair, that much I knew, Alhamdulilah. But I still wanted an answer. It’s such a universally ubiquitous question. ‘Why does God behave the way he does?’ I recalled Milton with some sympathy. The scene must’ve been pretty bleak even back then. The poor chap wrote 9 books of Paradise Lost only to “justify the ways of God to men.” Man, the skeptic. Sigh.

So why do bad things happen to good people then? I pondered again. How do you define ‘bad’? Accidents? Penury? Sickness? Loss? Of loved ones, prized possessions, oppurtunities? Life’s tough, some say. And tougher for the ‘goody-goody’ folks. Hmmm. Perhaps.

May I be allowed to draw a little analogy here? Every nation requires a well maintained army. It’s crucial to national security, even when you are not in war. It’s a matter of being prepared. Being a soldier for the nation’s defense is a challenging job, but also one with great amount of honor and prestige attached. Yet, all the soldiers, especially the ones in training, have to lead an arduous lifestyle. I am not sure what kind of regimen they follow exactly, but I am sure of one thing-it’s tough. Tough as hell. In fact, quite a few army regimens across the globe have been categorized as “brutal”. Why? These young soldiers are apparently all good people; law abiding, patriotic citizens who are ready to give up their lives for the cause of the country. And yet bad things happen to them too. At least tough ones do. ‘That’s because the army heads want to test their endurance and toughen them up’, you may reason. Well, I take the same reason when it comes to God’s role in our hardships. Easier said than done, you say; and I agree with you wholly. There never comes a calamity in which we don’t exhibit at least some amount of despair. And that includes me. Objectivity is always the first casualty then. The bigger picture doesn’t matter, it’s just my overwhelmingly big problem that does. Oh well, that’s what makes us humans, doesn’t it?

I came across this verse in the Quran, in chapter 3, The Family of Imran (Surah Al-Imran, Verse 26):

Say: “O Allah. Lord of Power (And Rule), Thou givest power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off power from whom Thou pleasest: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest: In Thy hand is all good. Verily, over all things Thou hast power.”

As one established commentator says, prosperity alone is not the criterion of honor. Allah has supreme authority over all things, and that includes wealth, wisdom, etc. The dispensation of these are his prerogative. The believer shouldn’t get flustered by the apparent disparity in their distribution.

The Hadeeth (traditions/sayings of the Prophet Muhammed PBUH) has much to console the striving soul too. Narrated ‘Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) Allah’s Apostle said, “No calamity befalls a Muslim but that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it, even though it were the prick he receives from a thorn.” – Sahih Bukhari: Volume 7, Book 70, Number 544

Abu Yahya Suhaib bin Sinan (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “How wonderful is the case of a believer; there is good for him in everything and this applies only to a believer. If prosperity attends him, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is good for him” (Sahih Muslim).

Seriously now, do I need to say anymore?

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Life, again

Ah, the monsoons. How can you not love ’em? Especially if they are the Pune monsoons. The ‘not-sticky, not-relentlessly-rainy, not-hot-humid’ monsoons. Very unlike Mumbai, my former home town. In short, it’s heavenly. How else can you describe it? Cool breeze to caress your face. Fresh greens that dance lushly all over. Water that quenches the summer charred earth. Bulbuous clouds pregnant with soothing benedictions. Ah, it inspires poetry, all of it.

After an oppressive summer come glad tidings. What would we do if it weren’t for these cottony white messengers? Their beauty is alluring enough, but collocate them with a summer that threatens to dry up every water molecule in your body and you begin to appreciate Allah’s gifts even better. 🙂 Sub-hanallah.

Here, a few verses of the Quran that talk about the rain; the first one in particular made me smile, I so identified: 🙂

  • It is Allah Who sends the Winds, and they raise the Clouds: then does He spread them in the sky as He wills, and break them into fragments, until thou seest rain-drops issue from the midst thereof: then when He has made them reach such of his servants as He wills behold, they do rejoice!- Surah ar-Room(The Roman Empire), Chapter 30: Verse 48
  • And He it is Who sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings, going before His mercy, and We send down pure water from the sky,- That with it We may give life to a dead land, and slake the thirst of things We have created,- cattle and men in great numbers. – Surah al-Furqan (The Criterion), Chapter 25: Verses 48- 49
  • And We send down from the sky rain charted with blessing, and We produce therewith gardens and Grain for harvests – Surah Qaf, Chapter 50: Verse 9
  • (He) That sends down (from time to time) rain from the sky in due measure;- and We raise to life therewith a land that is dead; even so will ye be raised (from the dead) – Surah az-Zukhruf (Oranaments of Gold, Luxury) Chapter 43: Verse 11)

Ah, the monsoons. How can you not love ’em?

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A lot of people ask me if it’s not tough to wear the Hijab. Or on how I bear the heat in the layers of cloth around me. And I agree. It is not the easiest of things to follow. No it is not. But I only reason that not all ‘right’ things are necessarily ‘easy’.

For that I draw on my childhood experiences in the examination halls. Cheating and copying (in exams) were never like ‘BIG’ sins. It was the unsaid rule that while you nobody ‘copied’ for the entire paper, a sneak or two here and there was after all, only human. Many times the examiners also shared the same belief. So cheats usually ruled the roost during the exams. And no, you didn’t have to be a ‘poor’ student for that. The good students joined in the party; the right answer to a ‘fill-in-the-blank’ question could get you that precious one mark needed to top the class. Well that was the story always, year after year even through college.

But you know what? Alhamdulilah, we siblings RESISTED. Mum always told us that Allah was watching and while she was the toughest taskmaster when it came to academics- always RIGOROUSLY pushing us to reach the top, she despised dishonesty. She made it loud and clear: her children weren’t going to be paltry thieves, selling their souls for a few marks. (Of course she made life tough if we missed those marks because of lack of efforts though! lol)

But does it become ‘easyto be honest about your work “JUST BECAUSE MOM TOLD US TO”? Darn, it’s the TOUGHEST thing! When all around you people are sneaking, whispering, passing little ‘chits’ with answers in them…sigh! It is confounding. And then the mockery: “Oooooh! Miss Goody Two Shoes! Raja Harischandra’s heir apparent! What’s God gonna punish you for just a mark?”

And oh, God save you if you refuse to ‘help’ someone during the exams!
Scene One
Girl:”What’s the answer to Question number 3?”
Me:”Don’t know.” (Returns to own work)

Scene Two
I will cut it short: you are the VAMP of the class- selfish, proud, unhelpful and then some more grudges against you.

Scene Three
You try to make sense to your friends. Try telling them that you are NOT all that prepared yourself, but would rather not cheat. And then they come up with theories like ‘God will bless us if we help each other’, ‘God understands; he will forgive’, ‘Between justice and mercy you must choose mercy’, blah, blah, blah. Did they not hear of the Quranic verses that God will punish them if they construe a lie about him?

As a teacher I am faced with more than just raised eye brows when I snatch away the answer papers of kids caught cheating. Sigh. As I said, the ‘right’ thing is not necessarily the ‘easiest’.

I draw this analogy whenever I am asked about the difficulty level in donning the Hijab. Oh yes, it does get hot. And yeah, I feel like showing my designer outfits, dangling chandelier earrings and done up hair at social dos too. Sometimes I even given in to the devil, I must confess; but I try to do as much as I can. But there are other benefits too. When we sacrifice something for Allah, he sends mercies on us in ways we least expect. And it ain’t THAT difficult either. After a while you get used to it. And there is the satisfaction of having done the ‘right’ thing. Plus, who says you need to look ‘bad’ in a Hijab? I take active part in designing my stuff and I think it’s pretty elegant and dignified (not to mention smart), Alhamdulilah. So there. I will end with this beautiful little poem that I found on the net. Don’t know the source, but so endearing, and I guess it pretty much sums it all 🙂

You look at me and call me oppressed,
Simply because of the way I’m dressed,
You know me not for what’s inside,
You judge the clothing I wear with pride
My body’s not for your eyes to hold,
You must speak to my mind, not my feminine mold,
I’m an individual, I’m no mans slave,
It’s Allahs pleasure that I only crave
I have a voice so I will be heard,
For in my heart I carry His word,
“O ye women, wrap close your cloak,
So you won’t be bothered by ignorant folk”
Man doesn’t tell me to dress this way,
It’s a Law from God that I obey,
Oppressed is something I’m truly NOT,
For liberation is what I’ve got
It was given to me many years ago,
With the right to prosper, the right to grow
I can climb moutains or cross the seas,
Expand my mind in all degrees
For God Himself gave us LIB-ER-TY
When He sent Islam,
To You and Me…

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I am not much of a politics person but I just happened to come across a recent article by Thomas Friedman. I usually avoid reading him-for several reasons. I find him blatantly biased against the Islamic world and well, he has a certain talent with the written word that makes even his ludicrous neo-imperialist ideology seem fair seeming to a naive outsider. But there’s something that we might learn from him. When he laughs at the growing divide amongst Muslims themselves, it’s time to sit up and take notice. Not because he’s saying so. But because our Prophet (PBUH) never meant us to be like this. We have Hadeeth quoting Muhammed (PBUH) that the whole Ummat should be like one single body-so that even if a finger is in pain, the whole of the body should agonize over it. It makes sense even if you are not much a believer of the Hadeeth tradition, doesn’t it?
Why are we are silent over the rising sectarian violence that’s raging in Iraq then? The problem is that we have divided ourselves-we have forgotten the Book and grabbed false messiahs for our salvation. Why the Sunni-Muslim divide in the first place? Both the sects believe in Muhammed (PBUH) and his Prophethood, but both fail to realize that he neither went by the name of either ‘Shia’ or ‘Sunni’. These are inventions of generations that came much later.
Why must we fall on innovative interpretations of Islam when it’s all so clear in the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet?
The question is: why are we searching for alternate identities when all they are serving is growing sectarianism? Is it serving any purpose? Why are we so skeptical about just following the Quran and the Prophet? Why do we need the ‘add-ons’ so much when Allah Himself proclaims in the Quran: “This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed MY favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion.” (5:4) Why the thirst for ‘improvisations’ in the divine message, when they can only imperfect at their best, because they are so human?
It’s sad how we divide ourselves over something as small as who was the Prophet’s successor AFTER his death-a time when Islam was already a complete entity, as we see from the verse from the Quran. While that may be a serious issue indeed, is it serious enough to demand a re-interpretation of our entire religion? Is it serious enough for us to be divided like this for centuries on end? Is it serious enough to give us the right to kill our own brethren? How can we allow the killing of either sect by members of another when Allah condemns the unjust killing of any life:
” For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.”
and elsewhere:
“…And that ye slay not the life which Allah hath made sacred, save in the course of justice. This He hath command you, in order that ye may discern.” (6:151)
and yet again:
“And slay not the life which Allah hath forbidden save with right. Whoso is slain wrongfully, We have given power unto his heir, but let him not commit excess in slaying. Lo! he will be helped.” (17:33)
We say we kill in the name of Islam when Islam requires us to have a VERY just cause to kill; we say we take the Quran to be the word of Allah and yet we flout it in the name of religiosity.
I admit these are tough times, but that shouldn’t be reason enough to forget the divine word, no? In fact this is just the time to bond even more firmly, to Allah and to all our brothers in faith. If Islam means ‘peace’ let us not violate it, except for a cause justified by Allah-for instance when one has to punished for murder or other such sin-and killing another because you don’t like him or his leader cannot in any way be defined as justice.
And may better sense prevail. And may Allah unify this broken Ummat again towards Him. Ameen.

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“The distance between us and Allah is the length of our desires; the shorter this length, the closer we are to Allah”

I quote my cousin here. Sometimes youngsters can amaze you with the wisdom they exhibit. My young cousin deeply impressed me with his ideas when we interacted last week. He told me to read some Quran-said that we soon realize then that if we have our Eeman with us, it is not the end of the world yet.
“Maybe some good will come of this.” That was the refrain in the story he narrated to me. An old farmer keeps telling that to himself every morning as his only sheep, only goat and only dog are devoured by a hungry wolf in three consecutive nights. The fourth night the entire village is raided by dacoits who rob all the villagers of all their possessions but spare the old farmer’s house thinking that since he had no live stock, he would be too poor to have anything worth robbing. There was some good in an apparent evil. But it requires immense amount of faith to believe in that till the good actually begins to show. Sub-hanallah. May Allah always give us enough patience to believe in His wisdom and power till the difficult times tide over. Ameen

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