Sunday, 11 September 2011

Remembering Anarchy..

“I wouldn’t just oppose Hitler for his massacre of 6 Million Jews, I would condemn him if he even killed one. Killing an innocent human being is never justified. Not even by religion.” – Ahmed Deedat


The above quote is not verbatim. But this was the essence of the words delivered by the Sheikh.


Why quote this?


Simple, Muslims and Jews have been at it for a long time. If its not the land, it’s the morals. If its not that, it’s the ideals and teachings. And people might think that muslims would have celebrated Hitler doing off with so many of the Jews in his Kreig across western Europe. Enemy’s enemy is a friend right?


Wrong !!


This is what Sheikh Deedat thought of that. It doesn’t matter who is the killer and who is the victim. Kane and Abel were both sons of Adam. One was a Murdered and One was the Murdered. One was the Oppressor and one was the Oppressed.

Throughout the past week, I’ve been getting consistent updates about the 10 years since the fall of the WTC. I still remember standing in my Nani’s place, packing my stuff to come home for holidays when the attack happened. I was watching live news on Star News and stood there agape. If someone would’ve asked me if 10 years later I’d have seen that one attack take more than 100000 lives in 2 brutal wars being fought World War style, I’d probably have said no. I’d no clue what the repercussions of the WTC would be. I’d no clue that 10 years on, muslims would still be asked to apologize for this.


Before you go wild on the comments, the above is not heresay. I’ve had countless arguments where I’ve personally apologized for the WTCs, only to have been laughed at, to have been insulted. I’ve had people throw insults at my faith, my belief, my history and all the respected people in my history because a few morons decided to go trigger happy on Uncle Sam. But I recently realized, its not Islam's mistake..Its not the mistake of the 99% of the Muslim populace that 1% of them are blood thirsty mentally deranged beasts who will claim everything an act in the name of God nauzubillah !!


As I was saying, throughtout the week, I’ve been seeing the WTC 10th anniversary being covered in almost every newspaper. Every website has some update or the other. And it goes without saying that the images of people dying in the 9/11 attacks hurt me as much as the attacks anywhere in the world, be it on Muslims or not. A life is a life. Beholding the ebbing life dying in front of your eyes on live TV does not make you question if that man is a muslim, christian or hindu. You just think… “OH GOD NO!!”


Agreed that I’m not the first person to agree to the official version or the conspiracy theories of what happened on that morning of September 11th 2001. But I know that neither versions are entirely true.


There is a famous saying that goes, “There are always 3 sides to a story…Your side, My Side and the Truth.”

Do you know the Truth? Do I? Your guess is as good as mine….


9/11 has been etched in each of our minds as the turning point in history when America turned from Bruce Banner into the Incredible Hulk. But how many such dates do you remember??


Do you remember Al Nakba?? Do you even know what that means??


Do you remember the Cave of Patriarchs Massacre? The Vietnamese My Lai massacre?


No !! of course not. The world forgets. Or does it?


The world has selective amnesia. Its fuelled by what the media deems sensational and what it doesn’t.


How many days of solidarity did the world hold up against the recent Gaza massacre? Heck amongst my friends, very few even bothered to look at the Carlos Latuff posters I’d put up.


Why doesn’t the world remember this? Why no worldwide solidarity campaign against the 3rd world??

Pop quiz….Do you remember Shock and Awe?

Sure you do….Bush Jr. stepped into a phone booth and emerged as Superman. And Despite the world’s top officials saying, “Yo Chill Dude”, he screamed “Charge” at Saddam’s stash of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

I was watching the Shock and Awe covered live by BBC. How many do you think died that night?

No no…not stupid saddam’s republican guards or army men…How many civilians died that night??

UK’s independent research organization states 6,616.


If there was a solidarity event for those people, I didn’t get the invite.


My point is not the eye for an eye story. No. Islam says you have the right to avenge the wrong done to you, but to forgive is better. I’m a purveyor of that teaching. As much as possible, I chose to take the peaceful way out.


"But if they (the enemy) incline towards peace, do you (also) incline towards peace."Qur'an, 8:61.


1 American’s death is NOT equal to 1 Arab’s death. Nor is it vice versa. Many people went gung ho about the status I put up where my friend showed a statistic which showed 29 Iraqis and Afghanis killed for 1 American life. Its true that statistic is a dangerous one.


We are not givers of life to take it away or value it. Its value is with its creator.

And that is the exact issue here.


The lives of the thousands and thousands of people who’ve died and are still dying in those warzones are also LIVES !!!!

Your heart should skip just as many beats when you see a drone attack as it did when you saw the planes attack the WTC

Your eyes should cry just as many tears whether you see the dust and debris covered faces of the WTC survivors or the Children’s massacred by the Kunduz strikes by the NATO (German) forces.

Your fists should clench just as much whether it’s the thought of the orphans of WTC or the orphans of Iraq and Afghanistan and Gaza.


My question is…..Do they???


Sunday, 26 June 2011

In the Shade of a Fruiting Tree


There is something about returning to the town where you spent your childhood.Even for a few minutes or days, it’s a visit that opens the floodgates of memories. Returning to Umm’Said, a once quaint little industrial town in the little country of Qatar, is just that for me. A dam whose operators decide its time to let the water flow. No I don’t mean tears. I mean thoughts.


Immersed in these thoughts I walked on, the bags gently rustling against my jeans. I saw a silhouette In the distance near the local masjid beside my home. The man was dressed in a white robe. Customary to the Arabs in the region, but he didn’t wear a gatra or the headscarf which told me he was probably an Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi man. When he came closer, I recognized the walk and it was my old Quran Teacher. My Ustaadji. When I say old, I mean he taught me Quran about 15 years ago. I had many Quran teachers and he was one of the most memorable ones. He recognized me and walked up to hug me and proceeded to ask how I was doing, how was my job and everything a teacher would ask. He asked me how many years since I was working and I replied, 3 and a half. The surprise on his face was evident as he said, “Really? It seems like just yesterday you left home.” I smiled and said I felt more or less the same. We spoke for a few moments more and then parted ways.'


Immediately the floodgates opened full capacity. Took me back to the time when I was a little boy who came from school at 2:30 pm, lunched and waited for my Quran teacher to come at 4 pm for the 1 hour session after which the playground would beckon until sunset. My first Quran teacher was a Pathan who was actually just a laborer. Sometimes I’ve seen him as a Gardner, sometimes a handyman or sometimes working off with construction equipment. He was strict and always brought a stick in case I hadn’t done my lessons and rarely smiled. But I have come to respect him so much more today knowing how much he gave me as a foundation in those early days of “Alif, Beh, Teh”


My second teacher was the opposite. He was a thin man with a smile on his face and loved to hug and kiss me when I did well and would reprimand me in the nicest manner possible when I messed up.My third teacher was the one I met today, who was the most inspirational ones I had studied under. He’d keep a sort of a Quran recitation competition in the nearby masjid for all the kids of the locality, prepare us for the competition and call a senior cleric to adjudicate the competition. And somehow, we all walked home with prizes. Now that I think of it, it was his little plan to get us all kids out of the summer sun which our moms couldn’t get us out of and occupy us with learning, practicing and memorizing a part of the Quran with a little bit of competition in mind. Eventually, everyone was a winner, who walked home with a brand new shiny Quran, or some books, or a stationary set. As small or inexpensive the gifts were, the feeling of having achieved something brought us closer to reciting the Quran in the most beautiful manner.I would say those days were the beginning of the ambition I had of always trying to recite the Quran in the most beautiful voice with the right rhythm and intonation so as to express and feel the message of the unmatchable verses.


My next couple of teachers held their posts for very short times. But my last one was the one who left the most lasting image on my heart. My last Ustaadji was a fair old man from Bangladesh who had a very handsome and smiling face. He tried to perfect my recitation better than anyone else before, made me repeat the parts I would go wrong in and helped me memorize the most important parts of the Quran. He would enthrall me with stories of the Islamic history. Stories of the Prophet PBUH, his companions, the older Prophets (PBUT) and the kings and caliphs of old, fallen empires, sinners and saints. He built my knowledge base which fuelled a desire to study and learn about world history and world religion, an endeavor that I carry to this day, having read as much as I could not just about Islam, but everything which makes the world as we see it, the history, the religious diversity, the cause and effect of superstitions, events of political chaos, wars, discoveries, inventions, knowledge and ignorance.Some of my closest friends know that I believe the first 8 grades of my school life were very bland. It was only in 9th and 10th that I truly started exploring the world, a result of dad sending me out there to see for myself what it was all about. But in the first 8 grades, I realize now, I was subconsciously being prepared to explore. And it was all these gentlemen who were preparing me.Which brings me to another realization. If Allah had not sent these teachers, and had they not taken the effort to put their heart into teaching me, I’d probably still be a bland old guy just existing. After these gentlemen, I really took to understanding and bonding with my teachers. At St. Joseph’s Central, Mysore, I found some of my most valuable teachers. In 2 years I made more relationships with my alma mater than in the 8 years in Doha.Which brings me to an apology I owe all these teachers. I realized, I never really thanked them for being the architects and masons of my mind. We all thank our friends and family for everything. True isn’t it, whenever something great happens to us, we share and thank our friends and family. When something bad happens, we look to friends and family for support. What about teachers? They aren’t friends because there is a code of conduct based on respect. They aren’t family. But then again, they are a bit of both. They are parents who give us knowledge and build our personalities with their artistic hands, yet as we grow older, they laugh and share their lives with us. Yet, few of us ever thank them.How many of us remembered our teachers in our prayers recently??How many of us visit our old schools??We all remember the school days and the fun we had and the teachers who were quirky and funny and plain ol’ idiotic. But do we remember the teachers who actually are responsible for who we are today?


This is my thanks to all my teachers. From my Quran Ustaads to my strict and stern principles, and all the way to my motherly class teachers and in special mention, Ms. Carmel, my English teacher cum inspiration cum stage musical director who made me fall in love with the language, not to mention made me believe that I could act in a musical and do that while sporting a faux French beard which is the inspiration to my current look.Today people say education is a business where teachers are not really bothered where you are headed, they are just there like a GPS guidance system which will chart you through your subject courses unlike the humane guide who takes you through the beautiful buildings of engineering, the amazing scenery of geography and ancient history, the trauma and tragedies amidst victories of history, the lessons in life which charted social studies and the pure artistic beauty of description of it all in the language studies.The parable being akin to a traveler who stops by to rest under a tree. A fruit bearing tree which unselfishly shades the traveler, providing a calm and cool rest, and feeds him with its precious, delicious and beneficial fruits, expecting nothing in return.This is my heartfelt gratitude to all my teachers. Whether I studied under you for years or whether you just taught me how to make an omelet, know that as long as there is air in these lungs, it runs a mind which is striving everyday to better its mental capacity in your honor, and a heart which is filled with gratitude, undying respect and unequivocal love for you.
x


Monday, 28 March 2011

Of Strength and Survival !!!

By any chance, sometime during the last week of February this year, you happened to be in the Karamah area of Dubai, near Lamcy Plaza, you would have seen me.

I was waiting for a friend. Karamah is usually a very busy place and the area near Lamcy is more so. So it is pretty evident that I whiled away my time observing the multitude. A gentleman caught my eye. He was dressed for a meeting, but his behaviour in one word was Haywire. He was on the phone, walking from here to there, walking into a financial institution and then out, walking towards the shopping centre and then out and so on. He was on the phone and his manner was hurried as if a train was going to leave.

And then he met a person (presumably the one he was waiting for so anxiously), exchanged a quick greeting and a few notes and he ran into the financial institution. In the meanwhile my friend came, we spoke a while and were about to move to my car. I passed by a car and the man was sitting inside. I’d missed his coming out from the building. He sat still in the car’s driver’s seat. My car was parked opposite his and I just observed him for what seemed like a couple of minutes. His expression was what caught me.

His window was opened just a little and he was staring out of the opening at the sun setting behind Lamcy. His fist on his chin, an upturned face from Rodin’s Thinker and he had a painful look in his eyes. I wouldn’t be guessing if I said that I saw his eyes were glistening with tears but he wasn’t crying. His lips quivered as he tried to maintain a straight face, closed his eyes and mumbled to himself which I’m assuming was a prayer. My friend called me and I realized I’d been staring as he waited to get into the car. We got in and drove out. So did that man. I’d swear I could see him wipe his eyes and smile deeply but then……..

The above is just another episode from any crowd in any city of the world. If you are keen to observe, you will see how we’re part of a world where everyone is alone in the crowd.

Reminds me of a piece of wisdom which goes, “Be nice to everyone you meet, they are all fighting a tough battle of which you have no idea about.”

Take a look around when you are free and waiting in a crowded area. You will see what I mean.

I guess February – March was a tough month for most, no clue why. But most of the people I met had something going on. Some near and dear ones too. Proud to say that all of them have hung in there.

That’s when I realized that the human spirit is an unfathomable thing.
People ask what is the purpose of life. As a muslim, I know that the purpose of life is to Worship Allah.

Hold on though, Worship does NOT mean living an ascetic life. Worship in Islam means doing everything as it is supposed to be done. It goes to the extent where looking at your wife with love is also considered a worship (to Allah not to her ;))

And Worship also means, taking everything that comes at you as you walk through life, EVERYTHING.

No matter what life throws at you, you take it head on, never look away, never back down and absolutely never give up.

Suicide is a cardinal Sin.

And Despairing is as good as going into disbelief.

Allah says in the Holy Quran,
“Allah burdens not a soul beyond what it can bear….” (2:286)

In simplistic terms, it means that if you are given a tribulation, from a thorn prick to a paraplegic body, you are given the mental strength and the grit to bear see it through. It is just a matter of believing it.

These are not just words pulled out of a Motivational speaker’s hat. Nope.
I’ve lived this, but more importantly, I’ve seen people live through worse. I’ve seen my parents grit and bear stuff which would have probably killed me. I’ve seen my best friend give life a run for its money. I’ve seen my brother bear pains too great for his young and confused heart. I’ve seen my sister fight destiny with tears in her eyes and prayers on her lips. I can go on and on about the inspirations in my life. Their strength is something they themselves cannot see, but I can.

The man in the car by Lamcy could not see the transition of helplessness to pain and misery to relief back to helplessness and then to a nervous smile of hope. I could.

I don’t believe strength comes from having resources to take care of your problems.

Strength is something much more deeper, much more complicated than that.

I believe, that it is in your weakest moment is when you actually define the strongest you have in yourself to be. It is in your most helpless situation that you define how much are you going to help yourself.

It is when you are left with no options from life, that you decide that it’s time to make your own options. The realization that you’ve hit rock bottom and the only way is Up. If not directly upwards, then sideways and THEN up!

At the risk of sounding repetitive, The strongest steel is actually forged in the hottest of fires !!

If you’ve followed the Adidas Campaign with Mohammad Ali, you’ll know this bit from the marketing quote: “Impossible is not a fact, it’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration, it’s a dare. Impossible is potential, Impossible is temporary, Impossible is nothing!”

Now re-read that statement, only this time, replace Impossible with Weakness ;)

See what I did there??

It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, it only matters how many times you get up again.

In mathematical terms, in life, you are not a failure if you fall “X” number of times.
You are a failure only if you do not get up “X+1” amount of times.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Criterion - Part 3

The year is 570 C.E.

Among the arabs of Makkah it was known as the Year of the Elephant. For a good reason. A king of Abyssinia, rode into Arabia with the intention of demolishing the Kabaa. And he brought along the world’s earliest weapons of mass destruction.... Elephants.

The Makkans were stumped. They’d never even heard of bloody elephants, much less seen one.

But the Kabaa isnt the Arabs’ property. Its called the BaitAllah. The House (of worship) of Allah.

So Allah would protect his property. He sent a counter attack to stamp out the Abyssinian army.

Birds.

Little swallow kinda birds decended from the heavens (Ababeel in arabic). Flocks and flocks of birds. And these birds launched the first aerial military offensive in the history of the world. To be precise, the first carpet bombing technique.

These li’l things carried li’l rocks which were thrown at the army. Literally millions of rocks rained down on the conquering Army. Killing everything !!!

The arabs just stood there, stared at the destruction of the massive army.

Then they looked at each other, shrugged, and went back to eating dates and reciting poetry.

In this year, in the house of the Chief of Makkah, Abdul Mutallib, a boy was born. The Boy was the Grandson of Abdul Mutallib. The son of his youngest son, Abdullah.

Abdullah had passed away a couple of months before the birth of the boy. Aminah, the widow of Abdullah gave birth to a boy. And on that night, it is said that light shone from her womb, illuminating castles far off. A sign that this was no ordinary boy. He would be the change agent of the entire Arabian peninsula. He would bring the arabs out of barbarism, and make them a force to reckon with on an international scale. He would take these lazy lumps of traders and turn them into scholars, educated rulers, judges, philosophers, warriors, scientists, legendary polymaths and make them the first generations of a ummah (nation) which would be known as “Khairal Ummati Uqrijat Lin’naas”... or The Best of Nations evolved for the benefit of Mankind.

Ladies and Gentlemen.. Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (PBUH) had touched down on planet Earth.

SubhanAllah.

Fast-forwarding the narrative, Muhammad PBUH’s mom Aminah died when he was 8.

After a few years his grandfather passed away. The orphan was taken into the house of Abu Talib. Where he grew up a normal boy.

As he grew, his beautiful nature became the talk of Makkah.

In his youth, he was known as Al-Ameen. The trustworthy. He never passed anybody without a smile. He helped anyone and everyone. He was thoroughly honest in anything he did. All in all, one of the most perfect characters in Makkah.

There are many tales of his growing up but will take up quite a lot of time.

So to get to the point, when Muhammad PBUH was in his 20s, he did a trade run for an affluent businesswoman of Makkah. Her name was Khadijah Bint Khuwailid(r.a.). She was a widow, running her own businesses. So he did the trade on her behalf, and her hand maiden, who saw him during the entire trade caravan, was majorly impressed with his honesty and his mannerisms of dealing with people. She returned to Makkah and unloaded the entire report to Khadijah (r.a.) , who fell in love with this man. The proposals ran out, and Muhammad PBUH,aged 25 years old, married Khadija (r.a.), which was to be one of the best wedding couples ever.

Polygamy was a common thing in Makkah those days. But Muhammad PBUH never took another wife. Many years later after Khadijah (r.a.) died, he re-married. But until his death, he never loved any lady as much as he loved Khadijah (r.a.).

What’s that thing about your first love being eternal?? Right??

So well, rewind a bit from her death.

When Muhammad PBUH was 40, he had an event. He was a sort of a recluse. A very kind and loving person, but every once in a while, he would make some food and go into the mountains to meditate. There were small caves in these mountains and he would stay there, sometimes for 3-4 nights in a row, praying in his own manner, thinking, pondering and in general, meditating.

One night, I cannot tell you which night, it was one of the last 5 Odd nights of this month (Ramadan). So it could’ve been the 21st night, 23rd,25th, 27th or like tonight is....the 29th, he was sitting in the cave of Hira on Jebel Al Nur (the Mountain of Light) and he was approached by someone.

It was Gabriel (Jibraeel). The Archangel. The biggest of all angels, the Mr. President of Angels in fact.

And Jibraeel said, “IQRA” (Read)

Muhammad PBUH said, “I cannot read”. True this was, as he was illiterate. He couldnt read or write.

The Angel once again said, “IQRA”. Muhammad PBUH replied the same.

The Angel grabbed him and hugged him tight and squeezed the living daylights out of him. So much so that Muhammad PBUH felt he was gonna die. Just then the angel released him and repeated his command.

“IQRA”

Muhammad PBUH tried resisting it. The Angel did the bear-huggy-squeezy thingie again.

And then finally the angel said

“Iqra bismi Rabbik allazee qalaq. Qalaqal insaana min Alaq. Iqra wa rabbukal Akram. Allazee allama bil qalam. Allamal insaana ma’lam ya’lam”

“Read, in the name of thy lord. Who created man from a clot. Read and your lord is most generous. Who has taught (by the) pen. Who has taught man what he knows not”

This is the first revelation of what will become a guideline for mankind. A book so perfect in its revelation that even the arabs were mystified by its literary awesomeness. A book which is the Word of Allah, as given to his noble messenger and prophet, whose coming was foretold in probably every culture preceding his birth. This was the first revelation of the Holy Quran.

Armed with this, Muhammad PBUH would change the face of Arabia. This would in turn change the face of the world.

This is the last and final word of Allah. The essential guide to living. As was the nature of the arabs, when they loved or adored something, they gave it many names. Allah has 99 other names which are his excellent attributes. They had hundreds of names for camels, swords, dates etc. And so did they name the Quran.

One of the names of the Quran, as it comes within it too, is Al-Furqan.

This means, the Criterion.

It is the criterion of judgement between what is right and what is wrong.

The Quran is not just a play of rhyming words and narratives of yore. It holds the guidelines for a society within it. It holds the guidelines for human beings to be more than just animals. It holds the guidelines for not only muslims of arabia. But for the entire humanity which came after it.

Until Jesus PBUH, all messengers and prophets were sent to a particular nation or tribe. Muhammad PBUH was sent as a messenger and prophet to ALL of mankind. Massive responsibility that.

That night, in the cave of Hira, was the revelation for all mankind. The Decree for all mankind. It is known as Layl atul Qadr. The night of Power, The night of Decree.

Tonight might very well be that night. But we will never know for sure right now. The Prophet PBUH asked us to be awake and in the mode of worship in the last 10 nights (specifically the last 5 odd nights), seeking the night of decree, as praying in this night would be equal to praying the same prayer for a 1000 nights. Do the math. Its a mother load of blessing concentrated into one night. May Allah accept the prayers of all of us who seek it, and guide us, and bless us with this night.

From that night, it took 23years for the Quran to be revealed, bit by bit, verse by verse, into its complete form.

I wish I could tell you what the Quran is. But its an ocean with unfathomable depth. You will have to read it yourself to find out.

What I can tell you is this.

This book, brought by this excellent man, changed the face of Arabia forever. It brought them knowledge, wealth, power, sophistication, and led to the dawn of the golden age of islam. Which many scientists till date regard as the best part of the middle ages.

This book contains information of science which wasnt even known until recent to be accurate. That is standing proof that this book was not written by any human mind. No sir. The Quran contains descriptions of geography, astronomy, biology, the animal kingdom, the plant kingdom, our atmosphere and most awesomely, the human body. One of the most signature aspects of the Quran’s definition of science is the sheer accuracy with which it describes Embryology. The growth of Human beings from clots into full functional crying, cooing and pooing bits of cuteness.

The book contains the rules of behaving and running a society. I can go on and on about why and how it is so awesome. But you will never get its awesomeness until you read it for urself. This book is like swimming. I can give you lectures and demonstrations forever on how to paddle, stay afloat or the different strokes involved....but you will never get anywhere near understanding me unless you step into the water for yourself.

Misconceptions in the world think that this is a book of hate. Its a book teaching how to systematically murder and conquer. Its a book on how to beat and subjugate your women. Balderdash !! This book is a book of truth, justice and love. It is a book which teaches you how to bring social order and discipline in a world of chaos (and trust me our world is in absolute chaos right now). Its a book which liberates women and gives them rights much before anyone else did. Its a matter of perception how you look at it. You will ask me, There is no smoke without fire dude, so if the people say all that about the Quran, there is gotta be something there that talks similar stuff right?

And i’ll say, of course there is. But you will never hear it from what the world talks about it in the media and the papers. You will learn if you open the pages and read. And dont stop at reading. Question the book. The book is a challenge for everyone on the planet to take up.

This is my invitation to all of you to give this book a read. It will challenge you, it will make you think, it will surprise you, it will astound you, it will make you question, it will make you seek answers, it will make you wonder and it will not stop at that. It will change your life...... FOR THE BETTER !!!! There are not many things I can promise you in this world, but the thing about this book changing your life for the better.....Thats a Sureshot promise.

Just read it with your heart in the right place ;)

All Questions welcome

If not, then Thanks for reading May Allah bless you.

Monday, 13 September 2010

The Criterion (Part 2)


So,

Where were we.

Right, the Arabs and their language skills.

So here we are in present day Arabia, (we’ve just time travelled back to about half a century after Christ’s time)

And well, the Arabs in Makkah were really doing great. They were following the Abrahamic creed and all was fine. But then something went wrong.
They lost the creed and went bonkers. For your reference, the abrahamic creed as it is known as is the monotheistic creed.
Abraham PBUH, the grand papa of the Arabs and the Jews, struggled to find truth in his life, and he ended up finding it (Good for you Sir, and might I say thank you so much)

He realized the reality of One God. Allah. The supreme ruler of the universe. Wasn’t easy dawning on him, but the story of how he found his path is a long one, and it would be a tangent. But bottom line is that he realized that it is One Allah who created and controls the entire universe, and we’ll proceed with that.

So among the arabs, there is brought forth a new idea which sort of destabilizes the whole idea of monotheism.
Islam says, One Allah. One God. Whatever you want, ask HIM. No one else. Direct line of contact from the heart of the being to Allah.
But one trader comes along and says Nooooooo. Here’s another idea. There are angels who are daughters of Allah, and they are your intercession to gain his favours. So worship them, and they will lead you to Allah. Slowly, the worship split between Allah and his so called daughters, who were idolized. And idolizing was not part of the Abrahamic creed. So in effect, the whole creed and ideology was falling apart. So were the rules and regulations of society.

There came a point when they had ignored the holy laws and made up their own laws entirely. Sorcery was rampant. They made important decisions based on how arrows would fall out. Casting the arrows, was a mystic tradition which came from some guy who smoked too much of desert grass. They had 3 arrows in a basket, one had the word YES, other had the word NO, and the third one was 50-50. So if the third one came up, it meant you had to cast the arrows again until you got a definitive Yes or No. (Frankly I dunno why bother with the 50-50 in the first place). Anyway, major decisions were made with the help of these arrows. The “Priests” would cast them for the decisions after conferring with their mystic imaginary God of arrow casting.

Imagine this, you are a trader with 5 kids, and business is bad. And you go to the priest to ask for divine help. Islamic wisdom says, Call onto Allah. But then, it was easier to have faith in a guy who sits in the Kabah and casts arrows than believe in something you haven’t seen right?? Well thats what Faith is. And that is what the Arabs lacked then.

So you, the trader tell the priest, “Holy Dude, my business is screwed up majorly. Halp !!!”

The priest, says, “Sure thing, give me a donation” (wait where’ve we heard that before)

And he would draw arrows, and say, “Arrite, sacrifice your third son at the altar of so-n-so god and your business will pick up”

And trust me, if you really were the trader back then, you’d do it. Else you’d be annoying the God. And trust me you don’t want that.

Here’s a few more small points you might want to consider.


You have about 50 camel right? You’re a millionaire in arab terms. And one day, one camel of yours, whom you have lovingly named Camel, grazes into another guy’s land. I mean, come on, Camel doesn’t know which grass belongs to who right?? He’s not read the power of attorneys and the legal docs??
So what happens, War breaks out.

No seriously I kid you not. War would break out between the guy who’s field had been defiled by the innocent camel and he’d choose to drag his entire clan against you in battle.

Think about this in your terms, here and now. You have a pet chicken who pecks in the farmhouse of your neighbour and voila, before noon you’re having gun fire and mortar fire with Mrs. And Mr. Happy Couple next door.

Jokes apart, The society had come to such a despicable position where it was considered a major shame to have a daughter born in your home. It was considered a matter of pride to bury your infant alive.


The mother of a companion of the Prophet PBUH, Sumaiya her name was. She narrates how lucky she was to be born. How she was supposed to be buried like the 2 sisters before her. She narrates how her father, while mercilessly putting the 2nd daughter in the grave, (still alive mind you), began putting the sand over her. And the li’l infant, reached out and grabbed the father’s finger. You’ve all been there right?? You’ve held a fragile baby in your hand, you’ve heard it coo and make those loving sounds you cant describe and how it tugs at your heartstrings. And you’ve all, i bet, have had goosebumps all over you when you gently nudge her hand with your finger and she grabs your entire finger in that teeny tiny hand of hers. You have wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. Even you, the GUYS, you’ve also wanted to go all mushy, don’t deny it.

So the baby in the grave held on to her murderous papa’s finger for dear life. And for some reason, the arab, he couldn’t pull his hand away. He just knelt there, having thrown dust over his daughter’s face, and letting her grasp his finger in her fist. And slowly, that grip, weakens.....and finally loosens away.

Take a moment and imagine the monstrosity of this event.

Imagined?? You see what I mean here. You see why this period was called the Jahilliyah (The Barbaric era)??

You waged wars with someone who pricked your inflated ego with a pinch because the social norm dictated it.

You didn’t bend down to pick your fallen brother because the social norm dictated it.

You enslaved POWs in your home to bathe you and cloathe you and literally worship you because the social norm dictated it.

You sacrificed your kids at the altars of man made laws because social norm dictated it.

You usurped the properties of orphans and widows because the it showed how big a daredevil you were, which you had to show off, because the social norm dictated it.

You sold women in marriages to each other because social norms dictated it.

You didn’t give women any rights of inheritance and treated them like a piece of garment to be worn and discarded because the social norm dictated it.

You didn’t let women live, killed them at birth................because the social norm dictated it.

For the record, the father of Sumaiya (R.A) didn’t bury her, he ran out of the house when she was born, screaming that he couldn’t do it again. That he would NEVER do it again. Sadly, not all arabs melted like that.

The society in Makkah was shambles. And thats when Allah decided.

Enough.......is Enough.

“I’m sending in the Best of the Best.”

- To be Continued

The Criterion (Part 1)

Disclaimer, This is not an intended Religious Sermon or a book-thumping session of any sort. This is just awareness which I’m encouraged to bring out in response to the call of the times.

From ever since man has existed, Religion has existed alongside.

There can be long debates as to which one was the first and which is the latest or whatever. But I’ll give you an Islamic perspective of things.

Allah (God), created man from clay, and from his rib, fashioned the woman. Which is why in Islamic wisdom, a man is told not to put a woman on his head (to rule him) nor at his feet (to be a slave to him), but to be treated in the rightful manner as to her origin, under the protection of his arm, and closest to his heart (RIB PEOPLE, NEAR THE RIB !!), So this is a metaphorical slap-answer to the super-feminists and the weirdos out there who say Islam calls for the subjugation of women.

Okay back on topic.

So ever since man was created (not evolved from Monkeys), its been a constant development phase (read GROWTH). You know the route it took, stone age, metal age, feudal age, imperial age, industrial age, information age etc.

So well, Allah sent guidance to Man through all these ages. He didn’t just put us on the planet n say, “Go wild guys !!”

Nope, every age had guidance, in fact the Islamic wisdom goes to say that every tribe, ever community had guidance. These came in the form of messengers, angels etc. These people were special clues which helped man to understand many things.
The type of guidance came according to the age and developmental stage of the human society.

For example, in the time of Moses (PBUH), Ancient egypt was full of mystical growth. Royal Magicians would turn crocodiles into soft fluffy blankets, and turn a camel into a vase of mayonnaise, that sort of thing. So what was Moses’ (PBUH) weapon of choice. A staff which turned into a snake. When the Royal magicians saw that, they handed in their resignations to the big kahuna (Pharoah). I’m guessing their resignations in hieroglyphics were on pink sheep skin, and looked like a man setting himself on fire (Oh yeah he was fired big time)

In the same manner, in the time of Jesus (PBUH), the language of Miracles was profound, and Jesus (PBUH) performed some real awesome miracles. I mean he conducted a grand luncheon out of a handful of bread and fish. Event organisers of the day went insane trying to figure it out.

Likewise, when the time of Muhammad (PBUH) dawned, the arabs of Makkah, to whom he was sent, were a totally chillaxed (chilling and relaxed) tribe. They spent their days letting someone graze their camels and sheep. And since Makkah was the hub of the peninsula, the yearly caravans passed through the city, so business came to them, and if you hear the tales of the caravans consisting of hundreds of camels, you can assume that Makkah was home to the Warren Bin Buffets, the Anil Bin Ambanis and the Bill Bin Gates of the day and age. So they had a lot of time on their hands. And trust me when I say A LOT. They had so much time, that they sat around and developed Language.

Try that, develop a language, it takes hell lot of time to decide upon words and usages and grammar, and these guys were masters of Arabic. And well, it goes without saying that as far as expression was considered, Arabic was right up there with the best of the languages.
One of the arabs most prominent skills was Poetry and memory. It was not just a skill, it was a super skill. Check this out, you could sit down under a cool tent, sipping date juice with your pal and go, “Hey Bro, lissen to this awesome verse I just heard.”

And you go off rattling a 100 verse poem, at the end of which your pal would go, “Woah… that’s real sweet bro, mind if I use it in my next school reunion??”

And you’d go, “Fo Sure bro, go on ahead.”


And he would.
Just like that, he’d remember the 100 line poem just like that, after hearing it once, and will recite it with amazing flair.


Here’s another one. A group of highway robbers (sort of arab cowboy outlaws) stop a travelling old merchant and tell him, “Ol’ pardner, yer time’s up, hand over yer money bag n yer fine camels n we givez you time to sez your las prayers before ye meet yer lord”

The merchant sighs and says, “Arrite take mah money ye evil and vile scumbags, but do me a last favour, a dying man’s last wish should be fulfilled right? Its only fair”
The robber thought for a moment and goes, “Arrite we can do that, name it ol fruit !”

(Many historians like Albert Shakespeare, Happy Singh and Aalo Bin Par- Hatha believe, this highway robber began the tradition of asking a person’s last wish before execution.)

And the old merchant said, “Deliver this verse of poetry to mah daughter who lives near the flowing river under the shades of mountains yonder”
And he narrated the single verse of poetry. I don’t know the exact verse but for illustration this might be it,

“The old and dying camels chew grass watching in the pond a floating bobber”

The highway robber went like O_o (HUHH??)

And he scratched his head, asked the old man if he was sure, and the old man replied in the affirmative.
So the robbing and the killing and burial was done.
After which the robber felt obliged to go pass on the message to the old man’s daughter. Oh that’s another thing, the arabs held their oaths in the highest of regards. And sure as hell there was some honour in this thief. So he went in search of the daughter, knocked on her door, and waited. She opened the door, he gave his best possible smile, handed her a small packet of dates and said in a sombre tone, “Ah be yer ol dad’s business partner, unfortunately he passed away ta his lord on our way back. The trip was a failure, all I has for ye from his left overs are these dates.”
The daughter burst into tears.
The imposter then said, “He did ask me to deliver a verse of poetry to you, said it was a family tradition and blessing and whatnot.”

“The old and dying camels chew grass watching in the pond a floating bobber”

The girl went O_o (HUHHH??)

And then she gave a smile, and told the imposter, “Please uncle come on in, make yerself feel at home. I’ll go fetch my ol mother, so she can thank you for your generosity, and I’ll bring some food for you.”

The imposter, pleasantly surprised but also happy for the free meal, walks in and starts making up stories of his “business partner” and himself to narrate over the meal.

The girl, walks back in with the cops,

TADAAAA

Who place the big oaf under arrest for murder.

Apparently, the daughter figured out the 2nd line of the poetry couplet which the father sent. This (for illustrative purposes) might have read as follows:

“The old and dying camels chew grass watching in the pond a floating bobber,

This fat sonnofa gun my darling daughter, killed me, he’s a highway robber.”

I.e. the Arabs just had to hear one part of a poem and complete the other part purely because they had owned the skill. They were the Zidanes and Schumachers of poetry, and not just one or two, almost every one of em.

So I guess it would be safe to say, that the stupid highway robber, carried his own death “sentence”. PUN INTENDED !!!!


- To be Continued

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Always Remember !!!!


I don’t know what it is about packing and un-packing which floods you with reminiscence which doesn’t span days, but years into history. Maybe your intangible attachment with those lifeless pieces of memorabilia which each carries a story with it is the reason.

Today is my last day in this office. No I’ve not quit nor have I been given the bullet/pink slip/or the bangalori “haath”.

No, we’re shifting base to a smashing office in Dubai. The entire team will have moved by the time I return from my short vacation. So everything will change when I’m back.

Rewind to the end of Nov 2007, when Mom dad bade me farewell at Doha Intl. Airport, as I took off to come to UAE, for my first job as an engineer. If I remember correctly, I was more or less a nervous wreck as the company was of German origins, and until then, almost all I knew about Germany was that they built awesome cars, got their backsides whooped in WW2 and their men wear leather pants and ladies dress as farmgirls. Oh and the misconception that their old Football goalkeeper was an Afghani Pathan (don’t blame me, the guy’s name was Kahn/Khan)

December 2007 I began my stint with my company, as a learning engineer. 2 and a half years later, I’m still learning, and growing, and yet I haven’t yet had the urge to scream at the employing powers. So not a bad run for a newbie engineers eh uncles?

A couple of weeks ago, for once I was in the passenger seat of my car, (which is my latest possession and means a lot to me) and my cousin was driving through a downtown suburb of Sharjah, called Rolla/Al Jubail. This is where the bus-stand for Sharjah was situated. And this was the area where I began my life in UAE.

I first lived in a hotel for a while, and then got accommodation with a family in Sharjah, which didn’t last long. I moved to Dubai, and travelled between my office in Dubai and Sharjah (about 30-50 kms) by buses,taxis and walks. For 2 long years I’ve done so. Today, after having a car, I’ve forgotten how it feels to be at the mercy of public transport. That day, as I passed by the bus stand, I got thinking of the seemingly difficult beginnings I had.
Of course, I don’t think I will ever work as hard as dad, coz his hard work has reaped rewards for me and my brother where we have an awesome education and jobs awaiting us. But the initial work we did put in, however infinitesimal, is dear to me.

Looking back, my day would begin at about 5:30 or so, when I got up, dressed and walked to the Dubai bus terminal or took a taxi. Then the bus ride to sharjah, after which I took a taxi to office which was on the outskirts of Sharjah, reaching by about 7:30 or 8 am. In the evenings, same routine in reverse, reaching home at about 7 pm or 8 pm, too tired to do anything else. Today, the same route would take me 25 mins or 30 mins maximum.

Is it a feeling of pride? Or a sense of achievement? Is it legitimate for me to be proud?

I abhor pride as it makes men feel like kings. I’ve seen success change people, and I’ve seen success humble people more. I like the latter. And I would like to be the latter. If I can call myself successful in any sense of the word, I want to feel absolutely insignificant. And that is exactly what I felt passing by the Sharjah bus stop. I asked myself who is really responsible for me being where I was….

The primary thanks goes to my lord and master, Allah Subhanawataala, for everything he has bestowed upon me. And I mean EVERYTHING. Even the trials and heartbreaks. They’ve been my toughest and most fruitful teachers.
Then, Mom and Dad, who I am and where I am, is a fact mainly due to their prayers and sacrifices. I’m incomplete without them.
And last but not least, those friends who have slowly owned my heart with their presence and absolutely adorable love. You know who you are.

And this just doesn’t go for me. Look into your lives; you may be a successful super-engineer, hi-fi doctor, jet setting business person or a highly promoted banker or whatever. You will loose all your credibility if you forget where you came from.

I’ve seen people forget their old friends when they get a better position than before. They don’t carry the images of their past into their present. And that’s just plain unfair, because who you are today, is a person made by the person who you were yesterday, and the people who were With you yesterday. Get me?

If there is one prayer I want to make right now, its that whenever I’m out cruising in my lovely car, Allah should not make me forget those long solitary walks in humid nights whence I arrived home with a shirt drenched in my own perspiration. And if there is one request I make of you, it is; do not forget the moments of sheer helplessness you faced once upon a time, be it in your exams, or episodes in your public or personal lives, or just plain moments when you’ve felt pangs of desperation…Remember those desperate moments.

Remember the time when you couldn’t walk because you were too sick
Remember the time when you wanted to laugh but you were busy crying
Remember the time when you heard yourself branded an utter failure
Remember the time when you cried bitterly amidst your incessant trying

Ambition brings you to greatness, but true humility keeps you there long after you’re gone.

As I pack my favourite coffee mugs and look around this old office one last time, I’m filled with awe at the way Allah has led me on this 2 and a half year old short path, how mom dad have supported it, how my friends have cheered it, and how I, with the little bravado I’ve had, have walked it….with never as much as a tear of regret…

The next time you look into the mirror and smile and are pleased with yourself, and the least hint of vanity strikes you, remember the time when your face had contorted into the most vivid expression of relentless pain and anguish, and in that one moment, be thankful you didn’t falter, be thankful you overcame, be thankful for your happiness. If you can master this, you will be ever so close to the closest you can be to a perfect human being.

Do you want to be remembered for what you are?
Then make sure, you do not forget what you were !!