Faith Friday: Walking in Peace With Those Who Haven't Found It

Friday, October 30, 2015

The mind 
                        can go in a thousand directions,
                                but on this beautiful path, 
I walk in peace. 
             With each step, 
the wind blows. 
             With each step, 
a flower blooms.”
                                         ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

I truly believe in the power of walking in peace. Everything we do has an impact on others. A thoughtful gesture can create ripples of kindness. But what others do has an impact on us too. How do we continue to walk in peace when those around us are not doing the same? Perhaps there is no simple answer but these verses come to mind:

"Seek Allah’s help with patient perseverance and prayer. It is indeed hard except for those who are humble, who are certain that they will meet their Lord and that they will return to Him." (2:45-46)

May we continue to walk in peace or at least, create a pathway of peace for others so they can use it when they are ready to do so. Jumaah mubarak everyone. 

Sacred Love

Monday, October 26, 2015

sacred love

in a world filled with egocentricity,
it is easy,
to fall in love,
with a person of humility,
again and again. 


"There is a difference between loving for the sake of your own self and loving for the sake of Allah subhana wa taala. There is a very subtle difference... The stronger one's iman becomes and the more these meanings become rooted in the heart the closer it gets to being connected to the sacred type of love. Which is, in a sense, the goal because love is the most powerful emotion of the human being." - Shaykh Yahya Rhodus in 'Imam Al-Ghazzali's Book 36 on Love, Longing, Intimacy and Contentment'

I have been reflecting on Shaykh Yahya Rhodus' contention on the difference between loving a person, be it a family member or  a friend (or any of His other creations), for the sake of ourselves and the sake of God. I suppose when we love a person for the sake of Allah, we love them because they possess the qualities that He loves or we are aware of our amanah (responsibility) to love them. When we love God we love what He loves and when He loves us He makes our hearts drawn towards what He loves. 

"My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him so, I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks." - Hadith Qudsi

Loving someone for the sake of Allah could also mean that even when the situation becomes difficult we will do the right thing, be it to show compassion and patience or speak up against injustice, despite what our nafs (ego) tells us to do. To love is a courageous act, especially when it is done for His sake and not merely our needs and desires. الله اعلم.

'In Times of Terror, Wage Beauty'

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The moment I saw this book I knew I had to have it. I had been following Mark Gonzales on Twitter for a few months at the time and I was looking forward to reading his contemplations and elaborations on how to love, heal, grow, communicate and inspire. So much has happened and so much will happen. Such is the nature of this worldly life.

Out of all the things that have happened so far this year it was the news of Elizabeth's suicide that shook me the most. I regret not taking her public confessions of suicide attempts on Facebook more seriously. I regret not being a better friend. Until this day, Facebook reminds me of our friendship and her sad demise. I think that is one of the reasons why I often associate the social networking site with negativity these days. As soon as I found out about what happened to Elizabeth I contacted her sister. She informed me that Elizabeth had registered herself as an organ donor and that she had saved the lives of four people. I thought it was inspiring, poignant and ironic all at the same time; a girl who ended her own life had saved the lives of others. 

Inspiration is an Oddisee

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

It's been a tumultuous week for me. With so much going on, it's easy for me to lose clarity, focus and balance. Today, Sarina and I were talking about feeling uninspired when I said, "Inspiration: Let it come naturally or seek it".

I was casually browsing Instagram when I found Justin Mashouf's account and I eventually stumbled upon his inspiring video of Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) discussing the significance of the late Malcolm X.


The video of Bey led me to the aptly-named Oddisee (a play on the word 'odyssey', if you didn't catch it).

Mind blown.

Oddisee says: "Belong to the World" is a song about making a transition from feeling like I didn't fit into anything, into understanding we belong to everything. It is a song about understanding that the world is bigger than the small things we want to be a part of.  
About the video: Director Zack Kashkett worked to provide a sense of isolation and introspection that often accompanies the physical and metaphorical idea of being inside and alone juxtaposed against spacious shots of Oddisee within the larger world outside. The sense of isolation goes away when the scope gets large enough and the world's size becomes encompassing not enclosing. This is similar to the sense one gets when they realize they are part of something greater.

'Belong to the World' is one of his songs from his latest album 'The Good Fight' but I listened to 'People Hear What They See' and an older instrumental album 'The Beauty in All' which I found to be reminiscent of Jhene Aiko's beats. I was mesmerised. Truth be told, I'm really feeling his recent work too. And guess what? He's coming to Auckland and Wellington this December :)

Music, when done right and when it fits, can move, uplift and inspire you.

Moral of the story?

Inspiration: Let it come naturally or seek it, but most of all, be open to it.

Inspiration. Sometimes serendipity but always an odyssey. 

Faith Friday: Dear Anonymous

Friday, October 09, 2015

Recently, an anonymous Australian Muslim woman commented on a few of my blog posts. I was particularly touched by what she said on my post entitled 'The Struggling Muslim: Hijab and Modernity', not because she said kind things about me but because she reached out to me with sincerity. She shared her struggle with me and it was something I could really relate to.

It's been a while since I wrote a 'Faith Friday' post. I have had my apprehensions on writing about Islam in the last one year or so because I don't feel I have the authority to write publicly about something as beautiful and nuanced (and to some extent, contentious too) as the Islamic faith. But even as a flawed Muslim I still love discussing about Islam and asking Muslims how they reconcile their faith with culture or with their line of work. Contemplating and discussing about Islam brings me peace and as much as the stubborn side of me tries to argue against it at times I have found this ayah to be true: "... truly it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find peace" (13:28).

Not too long ago, I received a comment that bothered me.

Critiquing Freedom and Islam in Malaysia

Monday, October 05, 2015

Today The Malay Mail Online published an article called 'For some Muslims, life in Malaysia is like living under a microscope'. As one of the people interviewed for the article I could tell from the journalist's questions that she was going to frame this issue in a manner that could make Malaysia sound like a difficult and intolerant country for some Muslims to live in. In fact, one of the reasons why I was selected as an interviewee is due to my status as a Malaysian Muslim who is living abroad. There is truth in the perception that Malaysia can be a restrictive country. I admit I often disagree with the way a number of Malaysian politicians or leaders tackle certain religious issues based on what I understand of Islam.

I also don't always agree with the news framing of some articles by The Malay Mail but I'm usually up for a challenge and I was happy to answer the questions. I saw it as a chance to share my perspective with others, including the journalist herself, who may have strong beliefs about Islam based on the very extreme and/or controversial cases involving Shariah law in Malaysia.