Unforgettable Turkey: Sultanahmet, Istanbul (Part I)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A seagull overlooking the Rüstem Pasha Mosque, Istanbul

Like my late father used to do, I would encourage anyone to travel. To see a different perspective. To experience other cultures as they could make you a better person while teaching you to appreciate the culture you grew up in. To humble yourself. Our 11-day trip to Turkey in August was not without drama but it was no doubt one of the most memorable holidays we have ever been on. It's safe to say I'm very much in love with Turkish food, architecture, Islamic heritage, culture and landscape. I love the fact that  traditional mosques are scattered everywhere around Istanbul. Some were obvious, others inconspicuous. 

Can I be honest? I have dreamt of visiting Hadramaut far more than I have of any city in Turkey. Why Hadramaut? I'm on a spiritual quest. I'm always on a spiritual quest and I believe people who lead simpler lives have better character. I want to learn from them and I need to restore my faith in the Muslim community. But God is the Best of Planners. Turkey is where He led me in the end and I couldn't be more thankful. Alhamdulillah.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

I have been a fan of Sufi Comics ever since I stumbled upon their website less than a year ago. I was more than happy to write a review of their previous books, 40 Sufi Comics and The Wise Fool of Baghdad, and now I'm pleased to introduce you to their new book entitled Rumi. It's a wonderfully crafted 142-paged compilation of a selection of Rumi's soulful poems in visual form. I adore the work that Sufi Comics does and I admire their talent, passion dedication, ma sha Allah.

Rumi (1207-1273) or Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi (rahimullah) was a poet, theologian and jurist from present-day Afghanistan. He is often quoted in books, movies and the social media for his poems on life, love and longing by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, although many might not be aware that when he writes about these things he does not mean them in a literal sense. In fact, here's an article explaining how Rumi's poems are often misappropriated:

The misappropriation of Sufi poetry can be seen as resulting of unfamiliarity with how Sufis made their indications. For example, the intoxication of wine refers to the loss of one's sense of rational self in the sea of Divine Love. The tavern is the experience of being overwhelmed from being surrounded by Divine Presence. Layla is an Arabic female name that linguistically refers to the darkest night of the month, and in Sufi poetry refers to the hidden realm that lies behind outward appearances of this world.

Sufi Comics, on the other hand, has captured the essence of Rumi's message in their latest book in which there are many thought-provoking reminders for us to reflect on. In the chapter titled 'False Thinking', we are reminded that sometimes the thing we are searching and pining for is right under our noses and we can be completely oblivious to it because we fail to immerse ourselves in the present reality and the blessings found within it.

"The whole of life is now, is today, is this eternal moment." — Rumi

Mantanani Island Holiday (Part II)

Monday, September 08, 2014

Before I blog about my trip to Turkey I need to do this. I promised you guys another post about Mantanani Island, Sabah so here it is. If you haven't read Part I, check it out because there's a video for you to get a gist of how our holiday went.

While the beauty of Mantanani Island is undeniable it saddens me to see the condition of the villagers and the way tourism and negligence will lead to the deterioration of the natural environment. As an island that was only recently made accessible to tourists around 6 years ago, its cleanliness is reflected in its pristine waters and white sandy beaches. On one side of the island, a few types of accommodations have been established to cater to the tourists. While I was there last year, they were in the midst of completing a five-star resort. This part of the island is pleasant and you will hardly find any litter or rubbish lying around. I was shocked to see the contrast between the side where I stayed and the other side — the village. 

One day my siblings and I decided to venture into the village on the other side of the island with a hotel staff cum tourist guide. We wanted to meet the locals, especially me, as it was my first time in Sabah. Of course, I knew they would be different from the urbanites who lived in Kota Kinabalu and I was looking forward to this new experience. While they weren't from the Bajau Laut tribe (sea gypsies) they led a somewhat similar way of life in the sense that their lifestyle revolved around the sea.

Remembering Ramadan: A Collection of Photographs from Around the World

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Do you ever find yourself missing Ramadan during random moments throughout the year? When this happens to me I browse through International Ramadan Photography Competition's photo albums on Facebook. Isn't it amazing that we can have a glimpse of how Ramadan and Eid was celebrated around the world? 

Here are some of the photos that were submitted this year. I took the liberty of captioning them. Although these pictures can never replace actual experiences I hope you find inspiration in them, nonetheless. It is nice to be reminded that despite our differences we are one Ummah and we  are all seeking His love and forgiveness. 

Age is not a barrier to knowledge. (Sanaa, Yemen by Abdul Wahab Ahmed al-Banaa)

Allah listens to our every prayer even though we are like a grain of sand in the vastness of this universe. 
(New Mexico, by Lisa M Vogl)