November 25, 2010

Threads of Thoughts

In our journeying, it is important to acknowledge all that is there to encounter, for these little encounters contribute in creating us. It is impossible to be aware of the many ideas, objects, people and happenings that surrounds us in this universe, like laser beams they struck and pass through, sometimes through these very thoughts that are developed out of nowhere. Like light beams, these thoughts, come to enlighten our darkness, before which we knew not that such darkness exists, within us. At some point, these threads of thoughts create the body of knowledge and these threads of light come together so beautifully creating a body of wisdom, to be sought after until eternity. Afterall, the world's knowledge is nothing but a collection of these cumulative threads of thoughts, but only if they are coupled with light will they contain wisdom. For, knowledge and wisdom are different matters, withouth the former, the latter will not be achieved, but with the latter, surely the former will, eventually perhaps.

November 17, 2010

A State of Nakedness

To know the value of people, try loosing one.
To measure the treasure of a relationship, try breaking one.
To treasure a relationship, anticipate a return, and return.
To realize the miracle of life, try witnessing birth.
To experience love, listen to your heart in silence.
To learn the meaning of perfection, watch nature.
To learn how to succeed in life, strengthen the stamina
To assess the power of the stamina, simply undress.
Stripping down those protective layers is an unrivaled challenge.
Undressing is an awkward situation altogether
it starts with dreadful embarrassment,
Picturing the end result makes it daring.
Requiring a sense of self worth,
a consciousness of confidence
and an aspiration for bold adventure.
Venturing forward at a state of nakedness is half the test,
Eventually, the embarrassment vanishes
Some of the fears are blocked and filtered out
A focusing device to create a solitude of aloneness
Realizing that it is the situation and oneself
Holding the hands of The Divine while abruptly surfing the waves
Helplessly beseeching steering direction
Fear must persist and the yearning to a comforting becomes natural.
This very journey relinquishes all that was once a comforting
Learning from the past
Leaning on the past
Easy it is to simply dress again
To embrace what you had and live it all again
Yet, a new meaning emerges audaciously
Freedom justifies all means and ends
Undressing becomes a sweet temptation
Rising the self to a new challenge to stand still
Creating that sense of an obscure thrill
Submission to the hands of fate is no longer the only way to serendipity
Because dreams do not accept injustice
and injustice to oneself is the greatest sin of all
Resilience therefore becomes  a matter of survival,
The ability to stand winds, waves, and hurricanes
Standing to defy all conceptions and misconceptions,
It is one's own conception of self is all there is
with a sense of daring adventure, it is all there is
For, a person is all that he's got
Fear will be there and passion shall help overcome
A passion that is strong enough to lead through 
To enable the birth of faith that shall breed endless miracles.
A passion that makes an odyssey ever so lucrative.

November 6, 2010

Inception into Dreamscapes

Inception as it was perhaps intended, has left a lot of 'space for thoughts' and also a useful desired reflection. It was indeed coupled with a mystified ending that introduced a new level of daunting amusement of a seemingly appalling 'false' construction of reality. It has succeeded in captivating the viewer into reflecting on one's own journeys of understanding, escaping and perhaps at times 'constructing' one's own reality(ies).

The movie may have put these often thought-of thoughts and 'journey less travelled' into act in a bold yet timid perception. Visited viciously countless times in a time, reality and the escape into little compartments of memories, dreams or hopes are resurrected. It exhibited both the abundance of inspiration and the power of imagination - together hold the capacity of creating Utopian dreamscape(s).

The very idea that 'reality is constructed' is revisited over and over in the past and it seldom feels as though the reasoning is over, conceivably due to that fact that it simply reflects a journey. Although could be named differently, the Islam [submission] to Allah, law of attraction, NLP, metaphysical occurrences, energy healing--seemingly speak an understandable language, things are not so unfathomable anymore, the material with which things are made of, or rather not made of, is invisible!

That may be why it is particularly challenging to understand a world of mystery, it becomes almost impossible to materialize such an invisible world, and speak the unspoken and see with a soul that is not universally the same. This dark side of the universe, or as a matter of fact, the 'light' side of the universe is what makes the journey in this world both bemusing and amusing!

October 5, 2010

The Pursuit of Being

How convenient it is to find excuses for 'not being,' simply because we lack the courage to face our struggles and acknowledge our shortcomings. It is human nature to slow down, it is in fact important to slow down in the race of living. These are all a part of the reasons of our existence and threads of the pattern of our living. Whether we (partially) accept it, understand it, celebrate it, embrace it or simply NOT (yet).

In such slowing-down, it is important to be attentive to our changes. Indeed, 'we are a product of our surrounding,' no matter how strong we feel about how we are built, and no matter how entrenched, we wish to be, to that 'original soul' - the unique instinct of our character, the very material from which we are made of. After all, we are all born free, from every 'shaping' pressure, whether interior or exterior. Living, an ex ante estimate, shall contaminate this virgin originality. I say it is rather an estimate because we are alive and therefore unable to verify the results. Yet, the heart (soul) knows the answers and remembers the true meaning, therefore, it celebrates with overjoy the warmth every time we become nearer to to the truth of being.

It is being oneself that I seek. Standing still to defy the winds of change, resisting the currents of 'temptations' which is bound to push one astray. By simply being surrounded by an environment does not necessarily invites one to examine it - hence, it is ever so important to be awake, alert and open to verify such stagnant abyss of boredom, or an otherwise, animation of thrill!

To be, is to test and then testify.

May 29, 2010

Reflections on "Rethinking Islamic Reform"

Attending such a large-scale conference in Oxford immediately puts one at an intellectual mode, especially in Oxford University’s prestigious Sheldonian Theatre. The Conference, organized by the Islamic Society (ISOC) of Oxford University, welcomed the audience with great speeches, including two by its current and former presidents, they instilled a sense of nostalgia from the Golden Era of Islam. I was particularly intrigued by an extraordinary mentioning that the black graduation attire, the formal dress code of Oxford University, is in fact rooted in the Islamic tradition, it imitates the jobba, and the square-shaped graduation hat symbolises the Qur’an, placed upon the heads of students whom as graduates are now worthy of such an act. It is perhaps also interesting to mention here, from a great Muslim Heritage work, that the word Bachelor degree comes from the Arabic word "بحق الرواية" that is granted to graduates. An astounding reminder of the richness and greatness of our Islamic tradition.
It was heart-warming to see a 'full house' in the beautiful huge hall all eagerly awaiting its inception; the conference was set to address: "What type of reform is needed, and how should this reform come into effect?" The two guest speakers were Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson and Professor Tarik Ramadan, although different in their approaches, both tackled the subject from somewhat different angles yet on unified stance which calls for ‘reform,’ or rather ‘renovation’ or ‘transformation,’ as better terms selected by the speakers as we shall see next.
Sheikh Hamza Yusuf started by describing the context of a timely and much-needed topic 'Islamic Reform', "in a post-industrialisation, post-modernism, post-western liberalism world that does not comprehend how physical activities of human behaviour have metaphysical impacts". He called for contextualisation and internationalism when attempting to comprehend the Qur'an and also to perceive it as a 'living' text. "Sharia gets corrupted by being misunderstood," he states, and therefore shows the importance to rectify, a better word than the Christian-term reform which implies restructuring when Islam does not need that. To rectify and to renovate "تجديد" is a constant need, he explains. He focused on how such an approach to rectify is in fact rooted in the Islamic tradition, if one is to look deeply into the literature, for example, ibn Taymiyyah has allowed a female to lead a prayer when she is the most qualified for it. In addition, he gave an example of jurisprudence and how it is not 'absolute', in fact, and also that very few are the verses in the Qur'an that shows an absolute meaning, there are many open spaces and flexibility in Islam. These are all people's effort to understand the rulings of God, most of the time these efforts are constrained by time and place, he added.
Elaborating on the entrenchment of reform in the Islamic tradition, Yusuf gave the example of Wahhabism as an attempt of reform, the statement "a reformed Islam is not Islam" could be true and also untrue depending on the situation, he stated that Islam by itself is a reform movement to the Abrahamic tradition. He emphasized though that people go through soul-searching and pursue reform but do not necessarily reach it, he gave an example of reformist, Irshad Munji, a lesbian Muslim, however, it is important to have a Sheikh and a teacher, he noted, without which one may be bound to go astray. He explains that there is a loss of authority today, many Muslims beseech fatwas from 'Google Sheikhs'! They do not have intellectual tools and often times go wrong. "Governments never do that out of their gracious well" said Hamza Yusuf, discouraging scholars to associate themselves with governments. He concluded with a recent example of reform at the Mardin Conference, which has revealed findings by Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah for the first time attributing the killings of non-believers to a misprint in textual sources that read "يعامل" as "يقاتل". It has been covered in the press and discussed in programmes. A misprint that costs hundreds of lives.
Professor Tarik Ramadan approached the topic from a somewhat different perspective in that he touched upon its philosophical and ontological underpinnings, and called for transformational reform through institutional structures. He started by explaining the difference between jurisprudence (فقه) and the origins of jurisprudence (أصول الفقه), where the former changes with time, space and context, and the latter enables reform keeping the intention intact and faithful to its very essence; His new book, Radical Reform, questions the methodology by which we derive our rulings of Islamic law and jurisprudence.
Ramadan continues to emphasize the need for reform, not of Islam but of our understanding of Islam and therefore reforming the Muslim minds. He makes it clear that by simply sticking to rigid text we can only achieve adaptive reform when what we need is transformative reform without touching the essence of the religion. There is what is changeable and what is not (ثوابت ومتغيرات), he invites Muslims to rethink the understanding (تجديد الفهم) of the text whilst keeping a faithful intention, not only in the heart but also the mind, actions and society as a whole. He explains that one must understand oneself and reform it (إصلاح النفس) to come to a sound mind to then reform, or rather revive, the society (إحياء وتجديد وإصلاح). There is no other way to be faithful towards humanity.
On the importance of spiritual learning and Sufism, Ramadan explains the meaning of Islamic law (الشريعة) and the framework as a way towards the source. He focuses on the heart-mind-society triangle, and how that is being faithful to the essence of Islamic law. He elaborates that Jihad is in fact the struggle and the strife to resist in order to reform, to resist what is inside to reform (تطبيق الشريعة في قلبك), then be able to deal with the outside world. Knowing the people and how they think and live, he explains, is an essential requirement for an Islamic ruler (مفتي), because it is important to consider the psychological side of a ruling (فتوة).
No body is happy with the state of the world today, Ramadan states, he calls upon Muslims to reform it towards more justice and dignity to humankind. There is a need (حاجة) and there is a necessity (ضرورة); Islam offers flexibility to adapt, and Muslims could contribute in reform via two tools (1) Knowing the principles and objectives of God and (2) Knowing oneself (ظلمنا أنفسنا). Radical reform has been entrenched in the history of Islam, examples include, Al-Jawzi, Al-Ghazali, Al-Shatri, and the school of thought about sought objectives (مدرسة المقاصد).
In a world with authority for the textual scholars (علماء النصوص), as opposed to contextual scholars (علماء الواقع), any attempts of reform are merely adaptation, for example, the economic crisis - embedded in a global system of non-Sharia compliance, cannot be reformed with a small window for Sharia compliance, he explains, this is but one step to reform though should not be considered an 'end' by itself or a reform. Alternatively, there is a need for a transformation of the entire system; Accordingly, there is a need to reduce the gap between science and text (العلماء والخبراء). He adds, a vision for the future must be coupled with applied ethics where both the text and the environment are brought together, and a shift in the 'centre of gravity' from the authority on text to that on context. For a contribution in reform, he explains, Muslims must take part in civic engagement and should not remain isolated in ghettos.
The floor was open for Q&A with more emphasis on the role of citizens and the methodology of participating via votes and rights in the shaping of governance. In addressing the question which this conference was set for, "What type of reform is needed, and how should this reform come into effect?," both guests brought important insights and provided intellectual challenges especially to the realm of mainstream textual authority, this is especially true in countries that pose a threat to Islam, as was mentioned by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf in the beginning of his speech, these are: Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Yemen.
I walked away with many jewels and buoyant hopes for a world with better engagement on the part of Muslims. However, I was left puzzled as to how to define my role and identify means by which I could, as a Muslim citizen in a Muslims-majority country, participate in shaping and making reform, when there is absolutely no participating mechanism established, especially not for women.

March 24, 2010

(Un)Bounded Rationality

The human rationale is said to be bounded. I may agree that the rationale as it stands may be bounded, but the potentiality of the unboundedness is infinite. Just like our infinite universe, what we know (i.e. what our rationale comprehends) and what exceeds that. We have an infinite capacity to everything - learning, knowing, understanding, feeling, and any doing, for that matter. The human mind is limitless in the same way that our universe is - we just see what we like to see. We draw the boundaries and decide that this sets the end of the world, our Solar system, our limits to the thinking, perhaps out of fear of being lost. As I have always believed, "everything in this universe follows the same pattern" and "everything comes in waves". So, if our capacity to learn is limitless, even so is our capacity to feel. The power of our consciousness is dynamic, just how our mind is dynamic. We live in an ever-changing world, nothing is constant, not even our bodies, Earth, heart, brain, thoughts, feelings, understandings. Every heartbeat is not the same, because there is a memory within every cell, which makes it accumulative this reflects our learning and experiences. Even our acknowledgement of the (living)things that surrounds us, it grows with us, but only if we decide to see it. The power of a pre-set mind is so strong that it could define your destiny. If we live free, we open our hearts to feel and our minds to see with no limit. We simply be! Without any fear or even hope - only then will we realize such a potential to undo the learned and unbound the bounded.

March 21, 2010

يا أمي




اشتاق لقدسية أمي
أتوق لدفء يؤيني
وحضن ينسيني همي
وكل ما كان يؤذيني

يا قصة خلقي
وطفولتي
يا راحة قلقي
يا بطولتي

أشتاق لريشة فنانِ
وحبر قلمك الأخضر
ورائحة قهوة فنجانِ
وتغاريد كنارك الأصفر

أشتاق لبرّك يا أمي
لرؤية وجهك الأرقى
وتقبيل يديك وقدميك
فعندها الجنة الأبقى

ألوذ بصلاتك
وبطهر دعواتك
أغدو بها إلى مطلبي
أقوى بها على ما لا يُغلبِ

يا أصلي
ومجدي
وتاريخي
يا أمي

بماذا نجزيك؟
وكيف نهديك؟
وهديتك لنا
هي أنت.. يا أمي

فأنت الأطهر
والأحن والأدفء
أنت الأجمل
والأعز والأغلى

أدعو الله أن يرضيك
ويسعدك ويؤيك
حتى ترضي.. لنرضى
ثم يرضى

January 23, 2010

يا هل ترى

افتقدتك كثيراً يا حبي الأول
تعال وانظر ومعنا هنا تجول
اشهد كيف الزمن حولنا وتحول

يا هل ترى... هل ترى؟

هل ترى مكاننا؟
هل تسمع كلامنا؟
هل تعلم آخر أخبارنا؟

ذهبت ولم تعد
تركت ولم تأخذ
صحوت ولم تنم

هل تنم؟
هل تفيق؟
أين هو الطريق؟
ومن الآن الرفيق؟
من منا المستفيق؟

يا هل ترى... هل نرى؟

قد جاءك جدي
وقبل التحدي
متبسماَ
مستسلماً
مستأنساً

كم كان يخاف الوحدة
وقد خاض حياته بحدة
ونادى في آخر الشدة
أن على الدنيا السلام
فلا يبقى كلام
ولا أنين آلام
فقد جفت الأقلام

يا هل ترى.. ما قد جرى؟

واكبنا عصرنا الحاضر
ومررنا وقتنا الهادر
وحلمنا
وعلمنا
وألمنا
فقد جرت المقادير
ورويت الأساطير

لن يبقى إلا ما خلد
في أبد الأبد
ولن يفلح إلا من اتقى
من عاش حياته في كبد
ومن استقام ومن عبد

What would you choose?

What should someone choose if faced with an ultimatum.. Love or Gift.. Fulfillment or Ambition.. Looking forward to Come back to home or Going out of home..
If we settle for less, if we accept to belittle ourself so that we could 'fit', if we 'go back' even though we are ready for 'more', even when we don't fit anymore and even when we are 'shooting' off somewhere far.. Will life be worth living? Will the excitement continue to come? Will that urge of achieving something grande sustain our living? will a 'meaning' manifest itself in our days to come? Do we automatically lessen our opportunities to become 'better'? How do we wish to be perceived and acknowledged? Why should it matter? Who matters at the end of the day? Are we limiting the dreams that we plot? Are we shortening the vision that we envision?

I believe the answer lies underneath.. there, in the heart!

January 22, 2010

Determinism

I often times wonder how one would end up if ‘things that happen for a reason’ went the other way around. If things, as they are now, would have actually went the way we wanted them to go. Or if a person that I randomly met, was someone else in that specific location and time, whom later ends up to be the husband. And if for some reason some decisions were delayed or left undecided, such as having a baby, or pursuing a degree. For these very reasons I thank God for every bit of my life. I am especially thankful for those moments that are unplanned for, unexpected to happen and sometimes to an extent unwanted. For, these seemingly random happenings make up who we are and contribute to what make our memories worth treasuring. I will continue to live my life as it is, appreciating the ‘random’ aspect of how things evolve and come my way. Knowing that every bit of such happenings are determined by previous occurrences in this universe..

January 17, 2010

Strangeness

Strangeness is defined as a situation where all strings are unattached. As time goes by we realize that each of us hold many strands that extend into strings that attach to other persons, places, ideas, things, etc. Some strings grow stronger, heavier and pulls us closer unconditionally. Other string may wear out eventually - I believe these strings never cut completely, they would still exist, only we would not feel them anymore. It is most frightening when all string are unattached. You will exist, alone. Sometimes it is important to develop such strength, especially when weak. Sometimes in the midst of weakness, you wish to cut off a string completely. Some strings are attached to the heart, though, and may really sting and eventually torture. Some strings are held in our hands, these are at best control, because you could control the strength at which these strings are held tight. In an ideal situation, you want all these strings to be at the grip of your hands. As my wise beloved Mother always says: Keep your relations with people like Mo'aweya's hair-like string - when people pull you let go a little and when they let go you pull just strong enough to keep that string.