Sunday Musings

Why we do the things we do? Hmm… probably a wrong question to start with. We do a lot of things subconsciously, a lot of things because they are part of what we reflect outwards, few things deliberately. The things I am referring to here are our thoughts, actions and emotions. Right now I am trying to meditate with my eyes closed, breathing and searching through these past two weeks. Why? Because I said a lot bad things to someone I know- retaliating. A few years back or maybe more, it’d be fine and it wouldn’t upset how I act or what I say. Even now sometimes I do think that dropping to other person’s level and lashing out can be a good way to deal with certain individuals- especially narcissists and individuals that exhibit psychopathic traits or are perhaps psychopaths.

Obviously it is better to keep away from such people, however, we cannot always choose who we encounter in our lives and if I were to personally take a long look back, I think I have learnt a lot from some of the people I wish I hadn’t encountered. These individuals can be a good test of character and resilience. People are tested through other people. It’s part of human society. Life is not a bed of roses… certainly not for me in the present haha… but this doesn’t mean that there is nothing in life to be grateful for. Rather gratitude should always be first… we are always blessed with a lot of good. We just have to open our eyes and mind, feel the gratitude in our hearts. Life is not easy… life is a challenge and if you are not challenging yourself, you aren’t living up to your potential.

Every time I start writing, my mind just tries to delve deeper into the philosophy that has shaped my thinking so I have to take a step back and refer back to what I am trying to write instead of what I want to write. Would it be a good thing to just write out all my thoughts and how they are layered? It’s what I do in all my blogs… perhaps because of few recent encounters I am unable to. What gets to me is the fact, that I let my ego and old behaviours control me. It’s easy to drop to other person’s level, especially when other person is mean and malicious. I retaliated because I was perturbed. I was mean and harsh, said a lot things that I didn’t want to or think of. The blog sometimes is a cool way of letting out what’s going through my mind… let it all out and re-centre myself so that I can focus on the process and not outcomes. Our thoughts, emotions and behaviours our intertwined… how we act out is what gets filtered into other aspects of our lives. For example my writing and thoughts right now, in the present moment are distressed by recent encounters. This will filter into other pursuits if I don’t examine it and let it settle in my subconscious. So hence why, before it happens… I address it. I have given myself enough time to feel whatever happened. In the last 3 weeks or so… I cannot say that I have been focussed on following the process, routine and staying disciplined. So perhaps these are the reasons why my behaviour during the encounter though somewhat calm initially, couldn’t remain so.

When things go awry… it is time to take a step back, look at the discipline, routine and practice. This is what I am always to trying to achieve more in… measure myself against. A quote I love says, be grateful for the blessings you are blessed with and be grateful for the blessings you are denied. Therein lies divine wisdom.

Here one might think- am I denied a blessing because I don’t deserve it? This is surely a wrong way to think about it. A better approach would be to think, what would I be like had I been blessed with those things? Recognising the extent of evil and chaos that I could perhaps fall in, …. if I invert this, the way I am currently thinking about it or what I mean by it is, “You don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.” (J Clear) In trying to take a step too many, there is a greater chance of temptations and evil within us side tracking us or make us shoot for the wrong goals. Hence why, before we set out to create order, we create order within ourselves.

I cannot take back the words I said, however, in future I can show better display of character. That would be a good step forwards… in the present moment, I can show and feel gratitude, cherish the good people. Most of all… staying focussed on the process and routine.

Ramadan

أعوذ بالله السميع العليم من الشيطان الرجيم. بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

ياايهاالذين ءامنو كتب عليكم الصيام كما كتب على الذين من قبلكم لعلكم تتقون. أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ ۚ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۚ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ ۖ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ ۚ وَأَن تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ [البقرة : 183-184]

O ye who believe, fasting has been prescribed upon you, as it was prescribed upon those before you. So that, you may learn self-restraint. [Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.

رمضان كريم وكل عام وانتم بخير. تقبل الله منا ومنكم صالح الأعمال.

اللهم إني أعوذ بك من الرياء و رء وأعوذ بك من شر ما خلق ومن شر النفوس

I said those prayers ☝️because I am not a knowledgeable expert or a scholar and lest I fall into the trap of رء and رياء.

To listen to the experts and people of knowledge and to especially understand the context of the current circumstances and how it relates to Fasting watch this lecture.

These are the verses commanding Siyaam (fasting) for the month of Ramadan. In this month was revealed the Quran. From Loh-e-Mafooz (The Preserved Tablet) to the lowest heaven. Then from the lowest heaven it was revealed part by part through Angel Jibreel عليه السلام (Gabriel) to the heart of Prohet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم. May God bless us with hearts that preserve the Quran.

Once more, I do not intend to preach. Rather just wanted to share something good I stumbled upon. Found this biography of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم by Martin Lings. It’s also available on Amazon in hard copy and audiobook form. Sussex university library and Leeds have a copy available too. The reason I am sharing it, is because Shaykh Hamza Yusuf has delivered lectures on this book covering the seerah(life) of Prophet Muhammad pbuh. I ask Allah for sincerity and lasting guidance so that I can study this book with lectures this month.

It’s a blessed month in a blessed time. Although, we cannot gather for Taraweeh, Itikaaf and other community worships this month. The practice continues in the homes of many muslims. The practice continues for the individuals and families. It’s a great time to meditate more, reflect more, ponder more, study more, memorize more, read more, recite more. Listen to this lecture on 17 benefits of tribulations.

With quarantine measures in place, it’s a perfect opportunity to cleanse our hearts. Cleanse yourself from the diseases of the heart; anger, rage, resentment, envy, jealousy, lying, foul language.

One of the reasons we have been ordered to fast is, so that, we can feel the suffering of the poor people. There will be many people struggling all over the world because many people live pay cheque to pay cheque. The labourers, the daily wage workers, and they will not be able to benefit from iftaar (breaking fast) gatherings in the masjids(mosques). How will those people get by and have enough to eat without the generous support that’s provided every Ramadan? These times are full of blessings and trials. Make sure you go out of your way to donate to charities who are on the frontline providing the necessities and food supply to the needy. Feed as many people as you can around you. Check on your neighbours if they have enough. Remember the best of us are those who feed others, and the best of us are those who are most beneficial to others. Keep others safe from your tongue and hands.

It’s a great start to Ramadan as the first day is Friday. A blessed day and a blessed month. We may be missing Friday prayers. However, there are still many acts of worship that we can perform on a Friday. Make the most of them. Recite the story of people of The Cave سورة الكهف Send صلوات وسلام upon the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. Remember ساعة استجابة: أي الوقت بعد العصر (time of supplication after Asr). Pray for the whole world and that we may find peace and ease.

Until then,

Receive a light till following Friday.

A Drink from the Cup of Knowledge

Long ago in a distant land, a boy was looking to find something to give him purpose in life. He searched and searched, but then everything changed, when he decided to go at war. War within himself. He set on a journey to travel within. 

He decided to walk down the same path of overcoming the ego that many great people had tread before him. 

Once when Rumi’s Friday procession was marching towards the masjid to deliver the Friday sermon. On the way, he encountered a mystic, a wanderer. The wanderer stopped his horse by getting in the way, looked at Rumi and asked him this question. Shams [(sun)-the name of the wanderer)] asked of the scholar, “O you who are as knowledgeable in meanings as a money-changer is with coins, tell me who was greater, Muhammad, the Elect of God, or Bayazid?”

“Muhammad is the Prince and the Commander of all the Prophets and all the Friends of God. All power and greatness is his.” Rumi Replied. 

Shamsuddin asked, “In that case, what does it mean that the Prophet said, ‘Glory be to You! We have not known You as You ought to be known,’ while Bayazid said, ‘How great is my glory. How exalted am I, the sultan of sultans.’”

Some may have called Bayazid’s statement/poetry Blasphemy, but Rumi knew what it really meant.
Rumi answered, “Bayazid’s thirst was quenched and the container of his comprehension was filled by a single sip, and he appeared to have been satisfied. The light entered in proportion to the opening of his heart. The Chosen one of God (peace and blessings upon him) had a profound desire that had yet to be satisfied. For the Prophet it was thirst upon thirst. His blessed chest had become God’s vast dominion… For that reason he said, ‘I have not known You as You ought to be known’.”

The cup of knowledge/wisdom and the thirst for knowledge/wisdom are directly proportional, the greater the thirst, the more it can hold. 

How big is your cup? How thirsty are you for knowledge and wisdom? Are you content with little or let ego take control and make you think you know it all. Or, do you continually learn and learn more because your heart and mind remain open?  This is a great reminder for a people who once sought knowledge even if they had to travel to far places, places as far as Fars and Cheen. In the medieval times, those were vast distances to cover. Have a listen to this lecture, thank you Youtube for recommending it to me. Spirit of Islam. p.s. I am not trying to preach, that is not my intent. I am not qualified to do so, neither do I have knowledge of such level. I am a firm believer of the teaching; practise what you preach! I struggle everyday. We bicker more than we do Dhikr. That made me laugh, listen for some good Islamic rhymes. Liquor conference and Dhikr Conference. Hamza Yusuf is one of my favourite scholars. To check out his work go to https://zaytuna.edu/ this is the college he has established for traditional Islamic studies in Amreeka. Check out https://sandala.org/ to access his lectures, recordings and explanation of many books. Amazing person(Tayyab, Mumtaaz) and very humble. So if you wonder, where does my knowledge of the self and Ruh(soul) comes from, it is Hamza Yusuf’s lectures and explanations of the many books he has delivered lectures on. While you’re at it, check out these lectures 17 benefits of tribulations.

In all chosen paths of enlightenment, be it the way of Buddha, the way of Moses, the way of Christ or the way of Muhammad peace be upon them all. Or even just a spiritual path to enlightenment. First, you measure your cup and see whether your thirst has already been quenched. Refill your cup over and over, the gems will hold, and the froth will be removed just like when a cup overflows with excess liquid. But once you find your chosen path and after many lessons you have learnt to hold more gems than froth. Dig down in that cup and turn it into a well. Perhaps something even magical that never seems to get full. This reminds of the scene when Dumbledore is drinking to recover the fake amulet (a Horcrux) already recovered by R.A. Black. No more Harry, please stop! That’s a little magical crazy. I am not talking in that sense. 

Hmm, talking about this and thinking of Dumbledore and his old friend the dark wizard, forgot his name lol and I call myself a Harry Potter fan. Oh yeah- Grindelwald. Grindelwald and Dumbledore once set upon a journey to become great wizards seeking power and motivated by greed. Don’t be the dumb Dumbledore. Be the wise Dumbledore, who upon realising that love is a stronger force than power, changed his ways, although only after suffering great losses. I don’t know why I even started comparing the path of righteousness and purification to the path of Deathly Hallows. I guess, some of you might find it interesting looking at it from this perspective. The path of enlightenment whether righteousness, gaining knowledge or whatever pursuit of happiness you choose to go after, they all have similarities. Principles, you find them take different outward appearances but principles hold through time. As Dumbledore says, “Love Harry, it’s love that protected you and shielded you. That’s how you got the scar on your forehead.” 

In all paths to greatness, the road is rocky, the path is difficult to remain steadfast upon. Grit, persistence, overcoming setbacks, abundance, believing in Providence are your tools through all thick and thin.
Grit, virtue, focus and drive
Resilience and persistence 
A thick skin! 

Found this through James Clear’s 3 2 1 Newsletter. An excerpt from the poem “Youth” by Samuel Ullman, a Jewish poet:

“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigour of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust. Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being’s heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what’s next, and the joy of the game of living.”

Source: Youth

Why am I linking what I have just shared with this poem? The way I see it is that, to follow the path of your choosing, you must live in your youth as Samuel Ullman mentions it is a state of mind, a matter of the will, a quality of imagination and the freshness of the deep springs of life.