Archive for September, 2009

The sanctuary

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

I started reading Quran. I’m not going to say I started reading Quran again, that’s not true though I wish it was and wasn’t. Reading Quran again implies that you used to do it regularly. It also, sadly, implies that you stopped at some point. Clearly, not an easy statement to make.

I’m reading Quran nowadays and I’m trying to learn more about this guidance from Allah (SWT). And in it, there are signs for those who believe. I’m all for logic so yeah, most of it seems powerfully evident to me. SubhanAllah.

I’m thinking a bit more about Quran nowadays and I realize that every time I do, my worldly matters start becoming trivial. He said, she said, he did, she did…all fade away. You fade away. Your stings fade away. I still have to struggle to focus on what I’m reading but insha-Allah I’m getting better. I open up a translation of the Quran that I can follow easily and every page/surah I read.

It’s an easy to get to sanctuary, this Islam of ours. It’s safe and it protects us immensely. The guidelines within are written for mere mortals to follow. And every single guideline in there protects us. Safeguards us. Constantly. Without fail. Just think about that for a second: I’m going to give you an amazing system that will help protect you every single second of your life. And if you’re good with it, it will protect the people that you love too.

We’ve forgotten the Quran very largely in our lives. We read up rulings and fatwas and he said this and that speaker gave a fantastic lecture and i feel so inspired and we need to change the world. That’s great Alhamdulilah. Change the world. Amazing. How can you change the world when you haven’t changed yourself or equipped yourself?

So, where does it all come from? From Allah (SWT). And then where next? His Quran. Then next? His Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

I know you, smart reader, know all this. Sure you do. If you know this so well, then do you know where your Quran is right now? I didn’t. I had to go find one.

Please go pick up your Quran.

Lessons from ’97

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

The year is 1997 and I am new in college. I’m awe-struck, going from store to store, amazed at being a young adult with a few dollars in my pockets and amazed at the “huge” variety that the on-campus stores were offering. I’m in love with something invisible. It’s not the materialism and it’s not the shopping. I think it’s being independent that I started falling in love with. Years later, this desire to be fully independent has to be carefully balanced with my family philosophy.

I walked a lot those days and that’s how I slowly developed my love/hate relationship with walking. I understood its intricacies and its beauty. I also understood why we rarely walked in the Middle East. (12 years later, I am in Singapore and end up walking 7-9 kms on a two-day trip. I now love walking in the right conditions).

Football season is coming soon and I’m learning how intensely passionate Americans are about their football. Store walls are covered in posters of the players. Hallways in every building have them pinned up to any open space available. This year they are marketing a new message: Family comes first. It puzzles me at first. This is something you need to be told? Ofcourse it comes first. I walk away amused.

In 1997 I lived with my sister and brother respectively. Their house was basic yet full of love, constant wisdom and lots of dishes to wash. I was, as my brother used to kid, his intern and at his beck and call. I never ever minded that – not even the time he asked me to walk across town, go up the street, buy him food and deliver to where he was studying. Or the time he promised to study Arabic with me but had other things to do. I have stories. My brother did things that back then blew me away and today, he is one of my role models in life. May Allah (SWT) guard his heart, make his ebadah sincere and give him/his children characters that He loves. Ameen.

Time and time again bro has demonstrated what it means to be family to me. He’s been there for me when I was being blatantly jaahill (ignorant). He was there for me when I accepted my Islam again. And he was there to pick me up by the freezing curb in winter 97. He’s maintained communication and applied PMP techniques to make family relationships work. After years of seeing him in action and integrating my own skillsets, I understand, though not fully, what family means.

I’ve told these stories a few times over the years – the ones about walking and the ones about my brother. Walking, everyone gets. But as time has passed by I’ve come to certain conclusions about how family is perceived by others. And I guess I’ll learn more as time flies by. That’s OK because it has merely firmed my faith in how I want my kids to be. It’s a simple and powerful philosophy I think. The evidence of its application are in abundance – the outcomes are amazing. Either way, you need to remember the cost and consequences of your actions. As an adult, I’ve managed to muck up a few things with family and have paid the price. Cost and consequences + foresight = deep aha moments.

I know I’m not alone in thinking about family as such. I’ve met countless people who have acted similarly. Family comes first – it’s a no brainer. And yet, to some this is news. SubhanAllah, may Allah (SWT) protect us all.

These are some lessons I remember from my college years. I’m not always good with them but I think I try. Walk whenever you can. And family comes first.