We begin again …

It is an appropriate day to renew my resolve, and encourage my friends to write more. This blog has shown very weak signs of life in the last year, and even in its youthful days it was not a head turner. Let us hope for a better year!

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A budding writer needs your feedback

The Story

Every story begins with a story – there always is a story of a story. So it began with thoughts in my head, thoughts about life and love.

Questions – confusing, confounding and suffocating.

I decided to give my thoughts a concrete form – the only way I know is using words. But is it not so that words are not sufficient, are never sufficient. They have never been able to paint thoughts in their sublime beauty – but today they must suffice.

What should I write about? I asked myself.

Life, but I don’t know its’ meaning, its purpose – and so it began.

A city of busy streets and busier people.

Streets full of people. People who are frustrated with life – life for them has lost its eternal

spiritual beauty, what remains is ugly with no signs of its’ beautiful and rich past remain, no memories of its’ deeper shades survives. Every day these people unwillingly carry the burden of life, only to put it down for the night, and continue the toil the following day.

The day is like most days in this city and the street like most streets.

He glanced at his watch impatiently and then slammed at the horn. He was running late

and was stuck in traffic. Dark grey clouds hung low in the sky, threatening a heavy downpour. The day was breathing its’ last breaths and the night was impatient for its’ first.

He was not supposed to be stuck in traffic, he had to be somewhere else.

The first few drops came reluctantly, one splashed against the windshield; another

caressed his arm, rested for a second and then continued its descent. He rolled his window and lit a cigarette. The rain started coming in sheets now, big drops pounding against the car. Smoke rolled upwards in a slow circular movement, hovering infront of his eyes for a few moments and then disappearing. If only he could burn his

worries at the tip of his cigarette and then watch them disappear into nothingness.

The rain continued to hammer down.

He took a left turn into a sideroad hoping to find a less traveled road to

his destination. This road looked unfamiliar, but he carried on.

Heavy rain is always followed by a blackout in this city. Now, the city was enveloped in

darkness, the only light coming from cars speeding towards their destinations. Darkness has a very strange effect on this city. It swallows the sounds of the city – all one can hear is the sound of the rain. The most effected by this darkness though, are the people of this city you see a few walking around in a daze and a few not moving at all. The darkness just hits them like lightning and they become totally disoriented – with glazed eyes and suspended limbs they wait to be enlivened by electricity – always reminding me of my laptop that some years ago refused to operate on batteries and only works when it is connected to a live source.

It became impossible for him to find his way now, so he stopped. He lit another cigarette

and closed his eyes.

An old woman saw the car parked on the curb. All she could see was the burning tip of

the cigarette, slowly moving towards darkness, glowing, and then falling towards darkness. She slowly walked towards the car and rapped at the window.

He was shaken out of his thoughts with a loud rap at the window. He reached for the light

in the car and rolled down the window. There stood an old woman in the rain. She had long white hair that stuck to her scalp, the patched clothes she was wearing were clinging to her frail body. She stuck a boney hand out and asked for some money. He mumbled something and handed her some loose change lying on the dashboard.

A young, weary man stared at her from the dimly lit car. He had a soft face – like all rich

people have she thought. The young man handed her some loose change that had been lying on the dashboard.

The old woman took the money. Then she stared at his face for a few seconds. Although,

her face was typical of poor old people, her eyes were different. There was strength in those eyes, and when she stared at him he could not turn his eyes away from her.

His eyes caught her attention. There was no spark in them, they were sad and lost. He

was so young in appearance but his eyes were old. His eyes had seen too much, they were searching for answers. Age will teach him, she thought, teach him to be patient and wait for the answers to find him.

She smiled and walked away.

The old woman walked away in the rain and disappeared in the darkness. He rolled the

window and lit another cigarette. What a strange woman, he thought. Dressed in patches, with probably no shelter for the night but how beautiful were her eyes – peaceful, content, smiling. As if she had everything one could wish for. As if none of the external difficulties in her life had affected her. Her body had suffered but her soul had not – was that possible?

The rain kept pouring down, occasionally the sky lighted up followed by a nerve racking

thunder clap.

He rolled down the window and lazily stuck his arm out, rain drops gently kissed his bare

skin. He felt a sudden urge to walk out in the rain. He deposited his cell phone and wallet in the dash board and with sleeves rolled up stepped into the rain. He was overcome by a combination of sensations. His short, dry curly hair quenched their thirst on the drops; his closed eyelids felt its coolness; his open lips tasted its sweetness; thin streams curled down his chest and his spine simulating every nerve. It felt like music.

A young girl stood under a tree, her gaze rested on a beautiful young man standing

motionless in the rain. She started walking towards him.

He had never felt like this before. His whole being was full of life and he felt light. He

slowly opened his eyes and noticed a young girl walking towards him. She was beautiful with large innocent eyes that stared out of a small radiant face.

The young man opened his eyes, they were beautiful. He looked back at her

effectionately, this gave her confidence. She walked up to him and looked at him shyly. She wanted to touch his face, so she motioned him to lower his face.

A little hand peeked out of the sleeve of the loose garment and invited him to come

closer. He sat down to bring his face to the level of that of the young girl. The young girl stroked his face with her small hand, their eyes locked for a moment – her soft eyes reassured him that everything was going to be alright.

She slowly withdrew her hand and with a nod walked off in to the rain.

His eyes followed the girl disappear into darkness; his thoughts followed their own path.

He started walking aimlessly through narrow streets. He was oblivious to his surroundings, too occupied with his own thoughts. He started thinking about the problem at hand – a problem that moments ago had felt too heavy to shoulder, it was breaking him down emotionally and physically – but now when he thought about it again it seemed as if he had given it unnecessary importance. People had endured problems much worse

and had not let those problems weaken their spirit. Life had offered him so much and so

little to many others but they were grateful for the little they had and he was ungrateful for the little he did not have.

He had never believed in coincidence. Meeting these people was no coincidence he

thought. Someone was out there who was closer to him than he ever thought, and that someone had sent him a message. Yes, God did answer when one asked for His guidance with sincerity.

Presently, he found himself standing infront of a mosque. He had taken a random path,

without any thought and this path had brought him here. All paths in the end bring you infront of God. He walked in.

The mosque was lit with candles. The candles burnt silently in niches, the light from one

candle spread for a few feet, reaching out as far as it could, illuminating walls adorned by ayahs of the Quran. The dieing light from one candle embraced that of the next candle – thus forming an intricate pattern of light and darkness throughout the mosque.

An old man stood in a corner of the mosque giving the Azan, his words deeply touched

him, the words made a connection and something within him recognized and acknowledged a timeless pact.

He made his way towards a square pool of water, surrounded by people making ready for

their prayer. With unsure movements he sat infront of a tap of water and started washing his hands, trying hard to recall the sequence he had been taught when he was a young boy. A young man came and sat next to him, he started copying the movements of the young man. By the time he washed his feet he was surer of his movements and when he got up he got up with a sense of purpose. He was aware of the significance of his actions. He walked to the place where the imam was sitting and squatted behind him in the first row.

The imam proclaimed in a strong voice, Allah u Akbar and started reciting the opening

surah of the Quran. The words fell upon his ears, melted and flowed towards his heart, he was unaware of the meaning of what was being recited but was sure as to what they meant. With a second proclamation of Allah u Akbar the imam went into ruku’ and the with the third into the sajdah’. His forehead gently kissed the rough skin of the saf’. A cool and calm feeling flowed from the ground through his forehead and into his heart. From their mixed with his blood and his heart pumped that blood to every limb of his body. These feelings did not go even after the imam had finished the four rakats’.

In a state of rapture he got up from his sitting place and started walking about the

mosque. He walked a few feet and then stopped his attention caught on an inscription on the walls of the mosque; walked again and then stopped again oblivious to the aged eyes following him around from the corner of the mosque.

The old man sat leaning against the wall of the mosque, he was staring at the young man

standing infront of an inscription on the wall. The old man had never come to this mosque until today, but the rain had brought him here. The young man noticed the old man looking at him from the corner of the mosque. He walked up to him and sat beside him.

The young man and the old man sat and talked for a while. Then the young man got up

and walked out of the mosque. The rain had weakened and the city was alight once more. The man, absorbed in his thoughts, stepped on a slippery patch of soil; he lost his footing and stumbled on to the busy road.

Time stopped. Warm blood and cold rain drops flowed down his face. He knew that he

had reached the end of the road. It was only appropriate. The answers had found him and his search was over. He did not feel sad, he just felt light – he closed his eyes.

The young man closed his eyes without a sound. He had not tried to hold on to his last

moments, he had not fought death and instead had willingly returned what was always not his. A crowd was gathering around his broken body.

The tasbih’ caught my eye. It was lying only a few feet from the dead man next to a bunch of keys. I looked around and slipped the tasbih into my pocket, and with his keys walked to my car.

Here it ends. Here it begins again .. !!

Posted in Books | 3 Comments

Read a novel1

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/brain-function-boosted-for-days-after-reading-a-novel-9028302.html

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Reflecting on Conversion in the UK

Reflecting on a recent study carried out by Cambridge University, to shed light on the converts in Great Britain, the Project Leader and Director of CIS, Yasir Suleiman, said:  

“White converts can be regarded as ‘trophy’ Muslims and used in a tokenistic fashion by various sections of society, including the media. African-Caribbean converts remain largely invisible, uncelebrated and frequently unacknowledged. They can feel like a minority within a minority and this is something that must be addressed. I found this part of the conversion narratives hardest to bear.”

I could have misunderstood, but I surmised from his comments that even Muslims treated white converts like trophy converts. It made me think how Muslims have yet to recover from the inferiority complex. The ‘white’ man is superior, and so too, the ‘white’ convert. The actual conversion becomes a side story, while the ‘whiteness’ of the convert takes center stage.

Compare this to how Abu Bakr took the conversion of Bilal:

News of the slave who cried out ‘God is One!’ even in the midst of torture soon reached Prophet Muhammad and his companions.  Abu Bakr, Prophet Muhammad’s closest friend and a wealthy trader of equal status to Umaya was sent to investigate.   He came upon the open field where Bilal was being tortured for amusement. Abu Bakr did not lose his temper, for that was not his way, but he remonstrated with the torturers.  He said to Umaya, “Have you no fear of God that you treat this poor man like this?”  He replied saying: “You are the one who corrupted him, so you save him from his plight!” Abu Bakr replied: “Then sell him to me, name your price.” Umaya, was a businessman and could not give up making a profit, so he sold Bilal for a good price. To humiliate Bilal, he added: “I would have sold him to you even if you had offered me only an ounce of gold.”  Abu Bakr answered: “I would have bought him even if you had asked for one hundred ounces.”

It is interesting to note the difference in how Umaya evaluates Bilal’s worth, and how Abu Bakr does.

 

 

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Starting a Change Program

Here are some practical ideas for starting a change program

It is guaranteed that if one is able to stick to at least 5-7 of the below points, he/she can bring a change in the current status of the affairs

  1. Lay to rest/Bury all your guilt/regrets. Time gone is GONE
  2. Give up TV, Serials, Talk Shows
  3. Give up online forums, especially if you feel you’re becoming forum addicted. This will help break the addiction and give you a clearer sense of how participation actually benefits you (if at all). Just keep yourself away from the ‘social media’ for 30 days and then feel the difference
  4. Shower/shave every day. Wear the best clothes available to you. Think as if you are invited by your ‘special friend’ or company MD
  5. Go out every evening. Go somewhere different each time, and do something fun — this will be a memorable month. Actually, while bringing a change in our life, we make a blunder that ‘we put too much structure’ and try to get ourselves aligned with that. It’s next to impossible. Spending a SMALL chunk of the time with no set purpose has its own benefits
  6. Spend 15 minutes cleaning up and organizing your home or office every day. You will reap the benefits of this later on and once it becomes your habit, you will start enjoying a clutter free life
  7. Give up cigarettes, soda, junk food, coffee, or other unhealthy addictions
  8. Become an early riser. A tough call
  9. Write in your journal every day
  10. Call a different family member, friend, or business contact every day. This will make your life more dynamic
  11. Write a new blog entry every day
  12. Read for an hour a day on a subject that interests you
  13. Meditate every day
  14. Go for a long walk every day (30-45 mins)
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Funny Letters

Job Application

Any one who wants to learn how to apply for a job or leave, learn from the
classic examples below.

1. A candidate’s application: “This has reference to your advertisement
calling for a ‘typist and an accountant – Male or Female’…As I am both
for the past several years and I can handle both, I am applying for the
post.

Request for Leave
2. An employee applied for leave as follows: Since I have to go to my
village to sell my land along with my wife. Please sanction me one week
leave.

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Following our Desire

 

 Desire for food, sex, money and power often define our lives and remain the subject of our daily routines. One desire however remains murky to many of us. This is the desire to do something in life which we truly love, which also suits our aptitude and with which we feel a sense of deep emotional attachment. It seems that fulfillment of this desire will give us that missing sense of achievement in our lives.

A vast majority of humanity is lost in fulfilling our instinctive desires. Their careers, jobs and lives only serve this purpose. Yet there may be some, who realize that this life is a test, find the purpose of their existence and work towards emancipating their spiritual being. These are surely the blessed ones. However, this is not the end of the story. Only a very few lead lives which realize their true potential, unleash their hidden energies and give them the impetus to wake up every morning feeling good about what they are doing and finding happiness in those actions. Poets and philosophers call these people self actualized superhumans. These lives come about when desires are followed and dreams do not remain enchanting tales of a faraway wonderland.

Do we all have this desire to achieve something specific in this life? Some people may even be leading lives in which, although, they are able to sense a void, as if something is missing, but are never able to pinpoint the reason for feeling what they feel. Others may know the reason but neither do they possess courage nor are equipped to act. Often people end up achieving what they were never intended to achieve to fill that void.

Nature when left alone creates balance in this world. It follows a normal curve. Survival of our ecological system depends on this rule. It is only when external forces disturb this balance, that we see chaos and disturbance. Water, air, land, species and all resources are brought about based on this principle. God divides humans into males and females, engineers and doctors, philosophers and artists, carpenters and mechanics in just the right ratio. Therefore, this implies that all human beings should endeavor to discover their latent abilities and follow their desires. Pursuit of these desires automatically creates the harmony required to move this world and make it a peaceful place. And negligence in this regard creates imbalance which results in oppression, unhappiness and injustice on an individual and a societal level.

So life moves on and we remain unhappy. We move into shells and our self actualized being never gets born. In other words, we go down different paths to fill the void. Some work hard on their spirituality by improving upon their piety, helping others, becoming better human beings, acquiring knowledge, staying aloof of this dog eat dog world, shunning consumption and joining social organizations. But something still remains amiss. That sense of achievement is still not there. Many philosophers like Nietzsche and Iqbal exert to give birth to the superhuman within us; to become familiar with our ‘Khudi’. They want us to stop thinking about time in a linear way and to enter the world of Desire, Passion and Love. Pursuit of our desired goal in our life is the lost love that we must cultivate to rescue us from the vicious cycle we are in.

This mistake of not committing to the task of realizing and fulfilling ones goals and desires also has multiple reasons. Our nature, nurturing and opportunities, all play a role. We live in a capitalist society where our parents and the society expect us to earn money. Careers become important and only those careers are looked upon as successful which pay well. Hence, nurturing does not truly help us in discovering our potential and aptitude. We are not educated to think freely and out of the box. A curriculum is shoved down our throats and we are expected to perform in one of the preselected faculties, which may not be suited to us to start with. It is also true that lack of opportunities and resources play a vital role in us not being able to embark upon our desirable journey.  But is this always the case. Is this true in your case? Is it too late now? Perhaps our children deserve better. The decision lies in your hands. All you need to do is reflect and you will have your answer.

 

Salman Hafeez

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It’s ALIVE again ..

It seems I am in the mood to write again. And this time I have help; some of my friends have offered to contribute. Enjoy!

 

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Ascent of Humanity

An excerpt from Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein.

People who are firmly ensconced in a local, kinship-based community are less susceptible to consumerism and fascism alike, because both base their appeal on a need for self-identity. Therefore, to introduce consumerism to a previously isolated culture it is first necessary to destroy its sense of identity. Here’s how: Disrupt its networks of reciprocity by introducing consumer items from the outside. Erode its self-esteem with glamorous images of the West. Demean its mythologies through missionary work and scientific education. Dismantle its traditional ways of transmitting local knowledge by introducing schooling with outside curricula. Destroy its language by providing that schooling in English or another national or world language. Truncate its ties to the land by importing cheap food to make local agriculture uneconomic. Then you will have created a people hungry for the right sneake

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Online Arabic Courses

A friend of mine just returned from Damascus a few months ago – he was out there for about four years. Some of you will remember him from the ‘Advice for students going to Syria’, article I had posted a link to.

He’s set up a website with some online Arabic courses: http://www.arabic-studio.com/index.html

Here’s the first grammar lesson: http://www.arabic-studio.com/arabic_course_grammara_lesson1.html

– just a few courses up at the moment, but he’s hoping to expand it to include a complete online Arabic syllabus.

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A blog recommendation

Although, I have the link to this blog on my blog, I wanted to emphasize its’ brilliance; so here goes: CHECK OUT pakistaniat.com !!

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