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A much needed advice: The unifiying principle of two lives


‘Work for your terrestrial life in proportion to your location in it, and work for your afterlife in proportion to your eternity in it.’
- Al-Ghazali, Letter to a Disciple.

This is the kind of principle i had been looking for these days as being perplexed by the duality of this life and that of hereafter, on the top of that - fraudulent Marxist interpretation of the notion of life after-death as a kind of pain-killer notion. The same idea has been propounded by Abdal Hakim Murad in his speech Seeing with two Eyes, in which he gives the scholars' interpretation of the one eye Dajjal as a singular perspective which ignores balance in the favor of going to (any) extreme, either good or bad. The idea of harmony, balance is without doubt one of the greatest ideas in Islamic discourse and metaphysics, but least actualized. O Allah! forgive us, and guide us, keep us on the right track. Aameen.

Let's pay thanks for the Ciliary Muscle


I came to know of this 'superb technology' man is bestowed with which the 'capacity of focusing is produced in the eye ball': Ciliary muscles. What it does, in short, is "that [it] permits the lens to change its shape in order to,' as we said, "focus on near or distant object." You can read Wiki article on it here and entry on it by so-called encyclopedia on anatomy here. And in medical books, or you can talk to some doctor to gain knowledge about it. You would find it to be unmatachable, do you not feel obliged to stop and pay thanks for it? I surely do to be just and gain inner peace.

End of times

How deluded the people of a society can be which even abhors the very symbols of piety! Alas! its here, perhaps, the end of times.

Sunna & The condition of Modern Society

"When we take on the Sunna, and reject flawed patterns of behaviour which have been shaped and guided by the ego and by fantasies of self-imagining, we declare to our Creator that we accept and revere the profound revelation of human flourishing exampled by the Best of Creation. Every act of the Sunna which we may successfully emulate declares that our role model is the man who had no ego, and to whom Allah had given a definitive victory over the forces of darkness. Modernity holds out lifestyle options centred on the self, and on the lower, agitated possibilities of the human condition. Every word of every magazine now breathes the message of the nafs: explore yourself, free yourself, be yourself. Buy a Porsche to express your identity; dress in a Cacharel suit to make a statement about yourself; be seen in the right places. The result, of course, is a society which pursues happiness with great technical brilliance but which puzzles over spiralling rates of suicide, drug abuse, failed relationships, and ever more aberrant forms of self-mutilation.It is a society in denial, a society in pain.

"By taking on the Sunna, a human being accepts a deep and total reorientation. For the Sunna is not one lifestyle option among many, simply an exotic addition to the standard menu. The Sunna tears up the existing menu by defying its assumptions. By living in the Prophetic pattern one pursues a paradigm of excellence that demonstrably brings serenity and fulfillment, and hence silences the babble of the style magazines. Living in credit, knowing one’s neighbours, and holding the event of the Mi‘raj constantly in view, confers membership of Adam’s family of khalifas. Living in debt, chasing mirages, and serving the nafs, renders the human being a definitive failure. We can be higher than the angels, or lower than the animals.
"

Abdal-Hakim Murad, Seeing with Both Eyes (Text of a Lecture given at a Cardiff conference in May 2000).

By modern society I mean modernity that which goes opposite to the sunna of Prophet, for it is not theo-centric, but anthropocentric, where man is the center of everything.

Chenab College Jhang: My sweet love, How much I still love you!



(a somewhat amorous view of girl's wing)

I spend some of the finest years of my early teenage life (age 10-14) years studying in this auspicious and graceful place, Chenab College Jhang (often term as thana CCJ by its notorious inhabitants), some 20 kms outside a small city in Punjab Jhang city. For 5 years, due to circumstances, I have not seen this, not only my teen age's, but my life's love. I revere it to the extent that it has kept visiting me in my dreams always showing how greatly it's progressing, touching new heights. And when I hears reports about its glory, its present, I find the visions of elevation it shows me as true. 'Departing' is a gloomy verb, at least for me. Waves of feeling of sadness overcrowd my heart when I think of it, dream of it, because I am away from it. Maybe it's just that CCJ wants me back. Maybe I want to reunite with it. It is not just a building, or a stately place with wondrous gardens and greenery. It is not a job-shop either where pupils are manufactured and sold to retailers or wholesalers. It is a ground for those with heart, a ground where minds nurture, where nature of man comes face to face with itself. May it achieve high ideals of man's khilafa. Aameen.

The Sufi Way


"The Sufi is he who makes God’s slaves love the Law."

Shaikh Abdal-Hakim Murad

Nowhere have I found a more accurate and real definition of Sufism than this. Sufis won't give you a list of dos and don'ts to attain God's love, which tends to be very long in case of Islam. Rather they make journey short for you by making you love Allah. Out of this love for Him, every rule looks attractive, as if filled with a gratifying and satisfying pleasure. I have experienced this myself. I, for instance, rarely was inclined to recite Quran for some 10 to 12 years. Now I burst forth to read even a few ayahs. Praise be to Allah!

And Urdu couplet says:

One who is ready to destroy his persona in love one who is ready to perish will reach the destination

May our hearts remain attached to Him and nothing besides Him. Aameen.

Conduct Disorder

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans showed aggressive adolescents reacted strongly in two parts of the brain when watching pain inflicted on others. Arousal occurred in the ventral striatum, the area responsible for feeling empathy. But an even stronger reaction occurred in the amygdala, the area that responds to feeling rewarded. The scans caused researchers to hypothesize that aggressive youths may enjoy watching others in pain.
Credit: University of Chicago.

I came to know about child conduct disorder from some notes of my classmate on criminal psychology, and immediately I found it to be useful. I have some young friends who are like brothers to me, and whom I watch to recall my own near-past, always thinking how I can make their emaan and ihsan better than I had. Most people of my age seemed to have developed tastes and interests too vile, sterile, and loathsome in their speech, rhetoric, and actions that thoughts of associating myself with them seem to be remote - I look for innocence and above human fitra. And I sometime childishly wonder if it really exists? Alhamdulillah it does. I see it in these kids, free of all prejudices, hatred, skepticism, kufr, and what really not. However, some of these friends of mine seem to have symptoms of conduct disorder, which if persist can in later stages of their lives turn into a serious problem called anti-social personality disorder. Now I am up to detecting if they really have any kind of conduct disorder, so that they can be sent to some good psychiatrists, who believe in counseling (and not primarily in medication). People generally here are very ignorant of psychological problems.

I think of this activity as more important than my studies, which are concerned with my future. I like to think that I would be relieved to relive my brothers who are in grievances. I would be happier by making their families proud of them. I would be elated by freeing them from depressions. A momin feels the the pain of another as his own, so how can he let the pain cripple his own body. With these spirits our social life is regulated, based on mercy, compassion, care and profundity.

And. No appreciation of the matter, i.e., psychological problems, may be made if we do not show this version of classical school bullying...

The beauty of Muslims' prayer

"Last Friday, after the dawn prayer, I stood outside a mosque on a remote mountain in New Mexico. The planet Mars shone like an aircraft coming in to land. But silence reigned: the dawn was, as the Koran puts it, breathing. The trees and stars were, in its words, prostrate before God.

The Muslim life is shaped by acts of prayer which, in turn, are shaped by the movements of the solar system, and the rolling of the planet beneath our feet. A sense of harmony, we hope, is the result. Science can alienate us from the holiness of nature. It can teach us how to destroy nature. But we should thank it too, for giving us more reasons to feel awe, humility, and even gratitude."

Abdal-Hakim Murad

Religion and Social Change Debate

Despite the claims of those who say that religion is just status qua-est and always sides with the oppressors being an obstacle to social change, what is most interesting to notice is that almost all of the religious Messengers (or founders) of major religions were against the status-qua order, fought openly with the oppressors liberating the oppressed. Moses against Pharaoh. Hazrat Abraham against Namrood. Prophet Muhammad against Abu Jahal and company. The social changes they brought were perhaps the most stupendous and most enduring that history has ever produced.

Butterfly Design of Allahu akbar (الله أكبر) (God is the Greatest)


By Muhammad Younis Morty, Islamic Art by Morty.

Winter, Accounting, Jumma Sermon & I

Inner clarity is certainly a big think to have. What can express the beauty in it better than this piece of Islamic art you are seeing.

***

The winter is setting in, with Lahore's atmosphere appearing to be more vague and cloudy, than our skepticism of Pakistan's bleak future. Interestingly, such an atmosphere may in fact contribute to more inner clearness, and of ideas as well (that's my romantic notion of winter). Nonetheless, the trouble is coming for me: The brain-drying assignments of accounting. And accounting is the right kind of subject to talk about when thinking of 'clear thinking' (don't confuse it with Dawkin's "clear-thinking oasis" for 'mentally incapacitate' people).

The study of this subject, i.e., accounting & finance, should be encouraged among Muslims on a general plane, for it is an "exact science". Right now in Pakistan, according to our (simply) brilliant, highly-experienced professor, managers are all idiots. Managers here just don't care about from where a cost comes, i.e., what are the cost-drivers, they themselves being the best example. Resources are being lavishly raped, because no control is in effect. There's a lack of technical bent of mind and expertise, as a well a loss of religious sense towards one's duties. This situation is evident in almost all departments of our society - government departments being the supreme and the "noblest" example. And the only exceptions are people like my professors, who while consulting the companies are trying to teach them sanity.

I have to depart now for jumma sermon and prayers. Sermon is most looked-after commodity for me. It is purifying bath for my heart and mind, whenever I return from diving into university education.

"Abdallah Jones and the Disappearing-Dust Caper" by D. Abdul-Hayy Moore

What Daniel Abdul-Hayy Moore calls as "the Sufi version of Harry Potter" he wrote back in late 80s is this book, "Abdallah Jones and the Disappearing-Dust Caper" :: More than a decade has passed since I heard a bed-time story from my mother. i can still cherish the merriment and pleasure i used to get from the soothing voice of a heavenly gift called maa - ah! those bed-time stories. Abdul-Hayy in the following video has read out the first chapter of his book for 5 mins for us, rekindling the forgotten warm memories of the experience of the kindness of humanity's milk.

Books!

"The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall; nations perish; civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead.

And even the books that do not last long, penetrate their own times at least, sailing farther than Ulysses even dreamed of, like ships on the seas. It is the author’s part to call into being their cargoes and passengers,—living thoughts and rich bales of study and jeweled ideas. And as for the publishers, it is they who build the fleet, plan the voyage, and sail on, facing wreck, till they find every possible harbor that will value their burden.


- CLARENCE S. DAY,
The Story of the Yale University Press Told by a Friend,
pp. 7–8 (1920)

These should not sound like "confessions"

As i grow mature, both physically and intellectually, i am becoming somewhat apprehensive of the "possibility" of a more wider application of my intellectual tradition in my life in this age of post-modernity. I am troubled especially when i come, as our ulema did when colonization entered Muslim lands, face-to-face with modern realities. Modern realities of life tend to overwhelm my sense of tradition. Perhaps there may be a problem with my very sense of it, yet the questions it poses to me are profound. Like, should we really study & develop Islamic economics or not? Would it be sane to develop Islamic marketing theory, or apply Islamic principles of mutual business transactions to sophisticated "Business Game Theory & Strategy" - (my university offers a high-level course on the latter subject in which i had the opportunity of playing my part of the game as TA)? Or, should we altogether leave the matter to the experts of these fields of human research? But what's interesting to note here is, why am i bothered about all this? Anyone who has a basic knowledge of Islam and these branches of knowledge can better understand.

I have no particular doubts so far about the social sciences in which religion and Tradition is scrutinized at most, not at best (not at best because scrutinizing Religion, especially the religion of fitra Islam is a clear sign of hatred of wisdom); not that i have resolved all problem, or perhaps none so far. And, certainly there is also no doubt about the comprehensiveness and broadness of Islam, its law (fiqh) and message. What is missing, however, is the lack of a spirit of accpeting its book (Quran), its way (sunna) and its interpretation (four madhhabs). Weak minds and souls like me are confused, for there is no solution evident to them which they can accept and live accordingly which is mutually shared in a social system. We are too lazy now-a-days to love our theology.

Even as I have tried to explain the causes of my apprehensiveness in the preceding para in a most random rumble-some, matter remains and is destined to be unresolved. For they will keep coming. And I will continue to threaten the basis of my belief with all sorts of theories alien to it, until I overwhelm them. Doubts will keep surfacing, and they'd keep challenging me. All I am telling myself is to love the fiqh, for he who doesn't love fiqh has no body; to walk on the tariqah; and continue facing the burdens of being vicegerent of God, since I pray: O Lord! don't make me a zalim or a jahil (one who is ignorant). Make me amongst those who are adil (just) and alim (knowledgeable). Aameen.

The fact of my obsessions with these inquiries may be estimated with the academic jargon i have stored in my sub-conscious, only to pop anytime i am taking lectures, on bed trying to sleep, and in many like pensive situations. the machine within keeps reminding me: You are to have a broad understanding of everything about business and markets; the waters of philosophy are yet to checked; you give no attention to your prose - eat one prose essay daily in the morning; no one is going to let to love yourself until you have known political and social theories of West; a crude understanding of fiqh won't be enough at all, spend 6-7 years at Al-Azhar; the ocean-like vast Arabic has yet to be learned; a critique of modern cultures, you are most concerned with it - the voices go till ∞.

* * *

For me, from the beginning and in the end its all about and its all from the prayer Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to pray constantly: 'God! grant me knowledge of the ultimate nature of things!'

Religion on quality time with children

The greatest Muslim theologian, al-Ghazali, who died in the year 1111, taught as follows:
"A child is on loan from God, entrusted to its parents. Its pure heart is a precious uncut jewel devoid of any form or carving, which will accept being cut into any shape, and will be disposed according to the guidance it receives from others."
A traditional, yet a modern father, who sometimes has to leave home while his children still asleep, reflects on the al-Ghazali's quote as: "So faith is big on quality time. Believing that one's toddler is potentially a saint is, I confess, not always easy. But if I think that he, or she, is the vessel of a vulnerable but immortal soul, the consequences for my commitment, and my parenting skills, should be enough to outweigh even my material desires."

From Abdual-Hakim Murad's Thought for the Day, on BBC, 26 February 2003.

Emptiness

What is all about this emptiness I am hearing these days? I first heard it from a professor at my university who was an atheist and then came back to Islam, or perhaps converted to it. When he was asked why did reverted to islam? He had everything, he studied at oxford, was a Marxist activist and all that. What he said he did not have was peace. He said he felt "emptiness". Then I heard from him the testaments of other converted Muslims who re-uttered the same word: emptiness. Today, I was hearing to Imam Suhaib Webb, the lecturer at Al-Azhar, also himself an Al-Azhari. He says, "I had success, in material terms, but internally i was very "empty". So i was asking to myself, "Why do you feel depressed? Why do you feel sad, if you have girls, the money, the DJ, the clubs, everything is going well but why do you feel internally this "emptiness"?" These are all his words. However, he searched about 'who his Creator was' and came to accept islam.

where do i learn self-control?

i can't make a guess about what i am going to end up doing with my life. i am one who can't make any routine, let alone following one. self-control, if it is anything, then it's the most difficult task for me to imagine doing. hard work - that's a thing which is in our hand, naseeb is in Allah's. i can only fear treading on this path of hard-work.

they'd preach, "self-restrain, self-restrain" - where is it? where do find it?

no problem... guide me so that i can self-restrain. help me take steps, if you know there's value in it. teach me of its efficacy. show me its worth. but don't leave me alone...

Bashing religion with Marxism

Today we made an advancement in our search of truth, which in reality is anything but truth :) :: We bashed religion through the Marxists, only to prove its (i.e., Marxism's) true worth on which we are still working in our Sociology of Religion course. here i want to distract from the theme of the post as religion has distracted humanity from the achievement of a Communist society it has been eternally destined to achieve - i don't know if there is any merit for a seeker of truth to approach Religion from sociological perspective other than to equip oneself with the weapon to defend religion from Satan (for its de-merit, although we are not the one to propose it, however, it is enough to point out the lack of beauty in its angle of vision). Nonetheless, let's allow a few quotations to battle with each other and we would deserve a leave:
Karl Marx:

"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature. Heart of heartless; just as it is a spirit of the spiritless situation. It is the opium of the masses." (Perhaps you can appreciate why I have left the last part un-bold for the whole quote is least mentioned but the last part only. And there are certain minds among the ranks of Marxism who say that Marx did not say that we should discard religion. It may be, but there are many who say religion should be discarded. We have to know the difference between what Marx said and what Marxism says.)

Shaykh Abdul-Hakim Murad:

"Opium is the religion of masses."

(Wait a second! What on earth does opium look like, i was wondering?)

Human Nature and Quran


"'Everyone is born on fitra'. If you combine this human nature (fitra) with the light of Quran, it's teaching - you become a walking tafsir, embodiment of, 'Light upon Light,' verse of Quran." (Imam Suhaib Webb, from his lecture, Way to Approach Quran.) It's like nur on nur.

Similary, the wudu we do has such a spiritual value that if you do wudu on wudu (do it two times), you multiply the light (nur) you attain.

Avoiding the "Mindless"; Becoming the Mindful

Going through P. Berger's article The Easiest Way to Change People's Behavior I have come across something that has testified some subtle intuitions I happened to intuit. When you have more books on interesting topics around you, scattered everywhere in the room, you can really become mindless shuttling around them: you leave the room for something with one book, you enter and catch eye of another and it's easy to get lost with human temptations. At the end of the day, the seeker of knowledge gets nowhere, exhausted - V. Woolf said it correct, "Reading is dangerous." It's a big risk.

Bigger than which is the problem of crazy 'mindless eating' - much more a feature of moderns than ancients, although the latter had some fat stomachs but they nonetheless cared to disdain the uncontrolled habit of eating, and considered it to be spiritually harmful. Peter berger and Brian Wansink the author of Mindless Eating, however see it as a problem of our enviornment. Who can deny the overwhemling influence our enviornment exerts on us? Just read the following advice of Hazrat Ashraf Ali Thanvi (ra) gave to those who tread the path of piety:

Hakim al=Umma Shaykh Ashraf Ali Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) said,

If someone fears that if he becomes pious (muttaqi), he will lose out on the worldly pleasures, then I say; “Make the intention that I do not want to become pious. However, for the sake of Allah spend some time in the company of the ‘ulama and the masha’ikh and understand the din. The result of this will be that you will not experience any difficulty in becoming pious. On your own accord you will build up the interest to practice (on the din) and you will experience such joy and pleasure in practicing on the din that you will forget about all the worldly pleasures.”

Advices of Hakim al-Umma: Part Six

The ways to change can be be many, but a change in the conditions we live and breath in is only rudimentary. (Do take the Mindless quiz by Brian Wansink to find out your eating patterns here.)

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