Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Accept Me As I Am [a prayer for the profane]

Accept me as I am.

A liar, a fool, a pretender.
A profane obnoxiousness full of venom
and lies.
A soul refracted into many --
all reflections mere imposters --
pining for one.

Accept this.

See me
who I am.
See me.
See the filth, the lie, the shining heart
that yearns and yearns and yearns
even in its maddening forgetfulness.

This mad woman
with a tattered robe
and a mouth full of lies --
lies and venom.
Lies and venom.

Accept me as I am.

For I am a serpent,
I am a lie,
I am a masterful delusion
that children can see through for a laugh.
A cauldron bubbling, toads croaking in the silence
while some angels double over in laughter at the drama that this is.

Yes, it's a drama.
It's an expulsion.
It's a spitting of words jumbled, uncouth, unrelated that do not belong to my mouth.

I have drank venom
and I spit it,
I spit it,
I spit it.
Such a cad of a woman.

I am in tatters
but proud.
I am mad
but vain.
I have no reason,
no notion,
no not even bewilderment.

Just a load of hateful lies to spit out. Out and out.

I spit.
I spit out that I am other than who I am.
I am me.
I spit out that I must not will to live.
I live.
I spit out that another but You is the master of my faith.
I say, "No!"

I say no, no, no, no!
None of you fake imposters,
you oblivious beings
who do not find meaning within your wondrous existence, you!
You whose eyes are glued inwards,
looking into the back of their abysmal skulls,
watching your endless plays of misery or trivial happiness
are my masters.
You are liars.
You are liars.
You do not even know your fate.
You do not know what raced you to conception,
and what is guiding you swiftly towards your death
you self-serving dolls!

You are not my masters.

Alas! Alas! Master! They have held my soul by the throat.
They have held my soul by the throat and poured in me their vials of lies
suggesting that You are forgetful, that You do not love,
that we are not together, You & I,
living and breathing one another in one breath of

Breathe me.
Breathe me my Master.
I have become profane.
And You are Sacred.
I am a lie.
And You are the Truth.
I am a delusion, a whiff of dust.
And I take three spaces when I have but one for me.
Therefore You Are! You Are! You Are!
You Are.

Lead me.

12:48 am
Sitting in the lawn
legs folded
on the grass
under the moonlight, and the warming rays of a street-lamp
Karachi, Pakistan

Thursday, September 09, 2010

All The World, And I [a poem]

All The World, And I

As if of all the world, and yet of none of it. 

As if of the wind, the earth, the silent flowing water that runs beneath.
As if of fire that burns, and fire that kindles life. All if of all force on Earth.

As if of East, of West, of both polarities. 
As if of here, of there, of in-between, 
As if of in & out, off on.

As if in left, in right, in true & false, 
As if in up & down, yes no. 

I've found myself everywhere.

As if as far the glance stretches
and as far the ears can hear
As if wherever my sound echoes
As if in all far and all near --

I had found myself everywhere. 

I was all the world, 
and yet
none was I.

Until the instance
when my gaze met the world
and I saw I was that, 


the poem had arrived as I watched pigeons congregated on trees outside Jinnah's mausoleum in Karachi
december 21, 2009

(poem was left unfinished. perhaps I perceived nothing beyond that point that day. certainly, what I began to perceive was inexplicable back then. -- September 9, 2010)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Chocolate For My Soul

When I was a child, I was very still and quiet. But every now and then, I let out my disagreements with the world in One Giant Scream. 

I would go to the center of the house, which was an open space, and just SCREAM! AAAAAAAAA! 

My uncles were weary of this ritual. My youngest & dearest uncle once made a pact to buy me chocolate every Tuesday if I please did not yell. 

That was my first Faustian bargain. I sold my soul for chocolate. 


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Managing Attention: Tip #2

"Your opinion of me is none of my business."

—Just another wise saying

Monday, July 12, 2010

Great Person?

I was reflecting the other day that there is really no such thing as a great person. Whoever each person becomes was their within their potential anyhow. That was their mandate, their chance, their place in the scheme of things.

It is no greatness to be who you are -- it is exactness and circumspection. Therefore a person who is truly noble is not one that is rising above or expanding beyond their natural space (and different people have different natural spaces), but the one who restrains themselves exactly to their natural space. This makes them 'disappear' in a sense for they are part of the same fabric that everyone else and everything else is a part of, too. Thus by way of being part of the same, we become invisible to each other. Visibility, then, is akin to the visibility of a wart on a flawless skin -- it garners immediate attention. But it is truly great?

This brings me to the case where we seek greatness by way of extending beyond ourselves. First, we must note, that a thing or a person may be stretched beyond themselves temporarily, as some kind of structural adjustment. This is not desirable and it points to something that is not working somewhere, yet it happens. It is not, sometimes, a deliberate decision. The kind of extension-to-greatness that is to be warned of is.... seeking significance. Being 'great' by being more than oneself, handling more than one can honestly deliver, consuming others' space to be, to work, to exist.

This is, oddly, considered noble. There is nothing noble about it. It may be something that arises out of a deliberate need to be a giant, or out of an inability to make decisions and keep life in perspective, or sheer ignorance of one's scope and limitations. In any case, this is tiresome. It also costs one's relationships, drains one's world, and, even, cost the planet in tangible terms. For instance, such a person would be traveling all over the town doing 3 jobs, one of which they can give up if they so choose.

It is said in Islam, which is the way I subscribe to, that true greatness only belongs to Allah: Allah being All-That-Is. Allah is not just greater or the greatest. Allah is Great.

What does this mean? It means that there is a gestalt of being. That the whole is larger than the sum of its parts, that it has an energy of its own that cannot be accounted for by the sum of parts. It is that which is great, truly more, truly creative, truly the Source. It is the creator of potential.

A human being -- or any other kind of being -- is not. It is only itself: good, bad, ugly, or beautiful -- anything, but not great.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Managing Attention: #1

I'm not interested in that which doesn't work for me. 


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Life vs. My Smarter Ideas

Woke up this morning and had an instant, clear realization: clever, smart ideas can become the inverse of Life.

'What do you mean!?', you ask. 

Very well. Life comes to one, in-flowing, every moment. Our choices are at our end: how seamlessly and fluently can we accept what comes our way and act appropriately upon it? The more fluidly we do it, the more we walk far and deep into this vastness called LIFE. 

Ever played a video game? This is exactly what I am talking about. It throws a reward at you, and you accept it. It throws a challenge at you, and you accept that, too. The only difference is that the appropriate thing to do (enjoy/ fight) is different in each case. But you don't resist the very act that something has come your way. Neither do you develop a smarter idea on the lines of, "OK, I got to eat a banana. How about I got an apple instead? What else can I find? Oh, not this banana, ya know!" (I am visualizing, of course, a childish video game in which you're a  monkey or some such furry thing. Indeed, a real-life monkey would not go on if it decided to have better ideas about food.)

Sometimes I am with the flow. In such moment, inspiration flashes within me, and I follow it without regards for ensuring perpetuity or security. 

This morning, I realized, heck! Sometimes I tend to get back to resistance. To better ideas. To try and be smarter. I stall projects with this attitude. I take longer to do a simple thing. And I give not days but years of my life away. 


What else could I do? I raised my hands in prayer and wished: May I surrender! May I go with the flow! Amen! Amen!


Thursday, May 13, 2010


Excerpt from a note to a friend

Since last night, I have started experiencing the presence of a new feeling in my heart: a love for life. 

The strong dis-interest -- the nihilism -- that I had develop seems to be dissolving. 

I want to do things for myself, with myself. I want to play



Early this morning, I had a strange wish: I wish to be amongst humans who have evolved. For I am tired of cloaking who I can be, and I wish to see who I am. 

And this miracle of being who you are can only occur in like company. 

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Keep Walking

It doesn't matter if no one believes in you, or all do. 
It does not even matter if, somehow, you do not believe in yourself. 

You must keep walking. 

Remember: anyone can walk with belief. The real test of keeping on walking is when you have lost belief. When you have lost a sense of direction, a purpose, and even a sense of being. 

For eons, this is how those who were 'lost' in the desert (literally, 'desert-ed') found their way back & out: they kept walking. It doesn't matter if you have no direction, no compass, and nothing to go on. It doesn't matter. What you are is larger and beyond belief and directions. What you are is life itself. 

Remember: it's all about the walk. The circumstances of the walk, favorable or unfavorable, are mere illusions that fold the core within them. They are here to attract and repel those who are taken by illusions. 

Discard the illusions of favor or the lack of it.

Just keep walking. 

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Wise Self-Advice

My darling:

No one can make you do something as long as you have the courage to refuse. Put all concerns aside. Put popularity and endearment aside. Consider only the truth of your heart. 

Follow it without regret. 



Sunday, March 21, 2010


Where, then where, is my miracle?
.of dreamed have I something is ,see I Everything 
.before known I've ,told ever am I that Everything 
.reverse in life my living am I that feeling distinct the have I Sometimes


Monday, March 08, 2010


By Golly!

It is not-doing that requires more struggle than doing.

Doing is obvious to the five senses, and it is expedient. It is witnessed by the other, it is a form of affirmation.

Not-doing is witnessed by the self alone. Only you know what you could do -- well or ill -- that you chose not to do. Not-doing is never manifest, never experienced by the senses, never registered by memory. It is a kind of hollowness that few can cope with.

Yet it is in not-doing that one's self truly grows to its full potential.


I've met people in the East, and people from the West. People who are educated, and people who are illiterate. People who are conservative, and people who deem themselves liberal. People born in caring families, and people born in disrupted environments.

And through all these encounters, one observation stands true: adulthood has got nothing to do with how one is born or raised. It's a choice.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Wish: One Week of Peace. Absolute Peace.

One week, when no one asks me for anything -- anything! -- that I haven't given already out of sheer joy.

A week when I am in communion with myself. Giving out of love and joy, not compulsion and extortion.

Enough of this extortion, this manipulation! Enough of my patience with the self-centered ways of the world!

Enough! Enough!

All I want is stillness. All I wish for is Peace ~

Within, Without: Peace ~

Friday, February 26, 2010


Be silent! 
Listen to Rumi.
Hold still that quivering soul. 

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Here is a wish: 

I wish to connect with some of the best minds of the world -- masters and innovators in their area of attention -- who also possess a selfless, well-intentioned heart. That rare, rare combination!


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Thursday, February 04, 2010

To Give You What You Want

To Give You What You Want
A writer's story

A long time ago, perhaps a year earlier, I wrote a mail to someone -- but I never posted it. In it was a tale too difficult to write, and yet so silly upon reading. 

I wrote it in the story of my deepest-entrenched dream: I wanted a room of my own. Not just any room. There would be, in my room,
bookshelves. Ceiling-high bookshelves, at least on two of the four walls. Filled with books, the only things in this world that I love. Books, books of all kinds. 

The days in which I first dreamed this, shelves had begun to carry more than books. They would have TVs and other multi-media accessories. Perhaps in some places in this world, this has been the case for long. Where I lived, however, there used to be only one TV in the house -- shared by the entire family in the lounge or an open courtyard. And all TV programs had to be friendly to all ages. 

One's own TV in one's own room was a unique thing. And modern bookshelves had come to incorporate that in my part of the world. 

Well, above all, I wanted a BOOKshelf. One with books. Paper books. Of all kinds.

I estimated, somehow, that the cost of such a contraption for both my walls would be sixteen thousand rupees. Perhaps I had seen a bookshelf at someone's house, covering one wall, and it cost rupees eight thousand. 

Mine, through simple multiplication, would be sixteen thousand. 

I was in my early teens in those days and I determined: I shall have this bookshelf. Not just that, I will EARN it. 


I decided that in a society where it was common practice for elders to dismiss the dreams of children -- or contort them to such an extent that nothing of the original remained -- I was better off not exposing my dream to adults. What would they do? Indulge in great mathematical details, arguments over proportions, and finally present an argument about the futility of all enterprise. 

"Something else will do," they'd say. As long as it is something I do not want, or naturally wish for -- that would do.

After all, the test of each absolutely sound, reasonable, and good idea was that it did not appeal to the heart. The more cumbersome, painstaking, and negating of all tender senses it was -- the more 'reasonable', 'long-lasting', and 'mature' it would be. 

And the society would approve. 

I would not expose my dream to such notions. For though they sounded frighteningly right -- they were frightening. And a child calls fright, fright. Not 'society', not 'God's will' -- but  just plain fright. I would not expose my dreams. 

Years passed. I excelled in school. I excelled in non-academic activities in school. I had dreams, dreams of being an artist, a designer, or an actor. I had dreams of making the world beautiful with my dreams. 

And through all these dreams, I held onto the little dream of my own bookshelves. I also wanted a writer's desk, a painter's table, and all forms of stationery. 

Some of the artwork that I created, like landscapes on eggshells, were routinely destroyed through negligence of those who visited or cleaned my room. Unfamiliar with the techniques of storing and preserving such art, I wished I had a way to secure them. A box, perhaps. Something. 

I also wrote -- and wrote honestly, perhaps naively. My teenage writings were influenced by pop culture and sometimes the angst-ridden rhetoric of rock musicians and art critics. That was fine. I poured all that on the page. Nothing came in between me and the page. Once written, however, those pages needed to be hidden. 

Because it was inappropriate -- nay, scandalous -- for a young girl to have such free thoughts. I had sense enough to not act upon all the wanderings of my mind, but I wanted to wander freely in the mind if only to.... well who knows why? It just seemed right. Letting the world that inevitably enters the folds of my being pass by was far better than to battle every thought, every influence, every guest who entered my being. 

I knew I'd grow out of it. That it was a learning process. One that may become rubbish in a few years, but one that was worth it. 

But I also knew it was not safe for my pages to be discovered. That I would warrant anger, punishment, or looks of concern if my writing and the hidden meaning of my art were discovered. 

I needed a place to hide it all. 

I never found any. And thus I carried with myself, over the years, a deep anxiety. A macabre little secret of a child who took to burying her journals in secret corners for fear of discovery. 

There was no honor, no nobility. No glorious bookshelf. 

And all I needed, I knew, were sixteen thousand rupees to make a bookshelf. In that, somewhere, could be a place where I'd file and store my art, ensuring that it was properly dated and chronicled so eternity would know how I lived my life and what dreams I dreamt. In that, I will stash away my journals -- 'cleaning them up' and selectively burning them some day when I have grown out of them. 

It was well-known that a woman grew up to marry a man who is intolerant of who she was, especially if she had any secrets or dreams. I thought I would not marry such an immature man. 

Certainly, there is a man in the world who is a human. Who knows that the world is here to be seen, not to be gnawed upon. And he would see me. He would see my dreams and my nightmares with just as much cool detachment and yet the utter fascination of a wondering, curious human eye -- as I do. That neither he nor I would own my history. Because I always knew, I always knew that my history is the history of a human, a female human -- and that eventually I have no 'right' upon it. Storing this history is to return that history to the world which endowed my being with these stories, this history. 

Yes, I would marry such a male human, such a man. He deserved me. He deserved participating in the history of the world as I was observing it, from my little viewpoint. 

It all tied up, this plan, this underlying sense. 


I grew up. I finished university, which was a difficult time for me. I went in as a bright, lover-of-life on one side whose few words would infect others with hope and light. I came out on the other side catatonic, frightened, and battling the now festering multiple inner realities. My writer, my reformer, my kind inner woman, my iron lady, my little dreaming girl, my priestess and teacher -- they clashed with the pathetic slave, the soon-to-be ruthless business machine that four years of abysmal business education tried to make me. Glimmer of life left my eyes. I saw the world with hollowness. 

Time for school was over. Time for lofty, tender dreams, for loving the world and its people with incredible compassion was over. Time to lift the head at night and watch the canopy of stars was over. Time to live and time to love was over. 

It was time to get out and get

As fate would have it, strange, sudden 'misfortunes' had arrived in my life. Death, dis-ease, loss of wealth visited our house again and again in rapid succession. 

Actually, if it weren't for the word F-A-I-T-H that I had once carved upon my inner stone tablet, I would not have survived. I said to myself then, "All things end, and there is forever a new beginning!" And I moved on. 

Yet the weight of duty replaced dreams. I got to work. 

Then I don't know what happened, for it all happened too quickly -- it all happened as if orchestrated by my many inner realities which fought with each other. 

I progressed quickly at work, securing one of the best jobs someone my age could have. I sought the prestige and yet I wanted to contribute through this job to the world, to all that I loved. I saw that as my passion, and my duty, and a form of love. I wanted to be a speaker, an actor, or a producer -- but fulfillment of educational degree came first. 

I became a manager, always brushing past the chance of being who I wanted to be. 

Such is the attachment that I would still call it 'a best job', and 'a degree from a prestigious school', and I identify myself, by a slip-of-tongue, as not the holder of my degree, but that degree itself. "I am an MBA," I say. Not realizing, in those slippery moments, that I "have" an MBA and that's not a problem. The problem was that the MBA had come to have me

Wait. Where did the bookshelves go?

Exactly my question. 
Where did the bookshelves go? 

Buried somewhere in the DNA of all my achievement was this li'l dream, with my tenacious determination that I would fulfill it myself. With my money. 

Yet all my life had shifted away from books and shelves. True, I had topped most exams in my university. True, my knowledge or rather the ability to acquire it became agile and formidable over time. True, that the more advanced form of' book', a computer, had entered my life and introduced me to the wondrous, dazzling world of Internet. 

But that damned bookshelf! That wooden writer's desk! That tilted painter's table! That freedom to write exactly what I thought, that ability to journal exactly what I felt -- all without fear of persecution, without critique. 

Where did that go?

I earned more than rupees sixteen thousand in a single month at my job. My dream was within my reach, even after inflation-adjustment and given the new styles of bookshelves, the IKEA knockoffs. 

But I was too busy, too out-of-touch. To be honest, I did not even remember. 

I forgot to dream, to live the dream. 


There is no conclusion to this story. I have written three 'epilogues' so far, and they are all but platitudes. 

I am a writer, I am not a liar unto myself. If not to be honest on the page, then where? Then when? 

Only now

There is no conclusion. 

For the record, I got my bookshelves. I designed an elegant set of twin bookshelves some three years ago, and got them crafted, fitted with expensive glass. They are beautiful. I never got to pay for them -- never fully, at least. My father paid the larger part when he discovered this project that I was carrying out privately. I felt a pang, but I knew that he had been aware of my wish to install bookshelves. It was his moment of fulfillment too. I don't know. 

I am a writer. I think about these kinds of things when some people would simply install a damn book case and get on with their lives. But then I don't think about the things they think about. And perhaps we all think about some things, some unfulfilled promises, some luring visions of the future until we 'deal' with them. 

These things, these feelings, these childhood wishes and plans -- they are guests. But they can reside in our hearts for month and years if unwelcome, unmet, unintroduced -- for time is of no matter to them. Once arrived, they stay. Until we meet them, acknowledge them, shake their hands, and then finally take our leave to set off, again, on the long road glorious of life. 

-- End -- 

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


That which makes a writer cry is fodder for the writer's page. Write!


Friday, January 29, 2010

اخیر نصیحت

!پاگل دی پتر
! دل دی گل سن

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"No further Shall You Go!"

What a moment it is when one realizes that at the end of the path, they meet none other than one's own self.

That one's self is vulnerable, open, truly bewildered, and utterly not-in-control. That one is sustained in a fascinating way with a threadbare yet potent connection that grants one all life.

There is no mastery of the affair, and no end to further comprehension. At the end, one is only left in a state of not-knowing. "I know that I truly, really, do not know."

Answers vanish.

Notions dissolve.

There is no mastery of the future. There is no way that the past can be erased such that it is not a living part of one's self. One comes only as far as the Present.

Where one is one. One is whole. One is complete. One is as one is.

One is brought back to the center, to the self, to a state of necessary obligation and acception, for beyond that circumference is a raging fire -- a friend that defines the parameter of one's being.

One is no one.

Thus far one comes, and no further shall one go.

And Allah knows best.



Oh dear.

New Earth has arrived. Suddenly, after generations of waiting and anticipation and tribulations on the way, it has arrived.

And what do I have to offer? A reluctant hallelujah!?


It is time to open the heart anew, to connect, to sing, to praise.
It is time to welcome the New Earth.
It is time for hallelujah!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The First Statement

Note to self:

I had been reflecting about the first statement, the first declaration that makes a person a Muslim. It is:

No god
but Allah;
Mohammad is Allah's Messenger.

There is a reason why I have broken this statement down in essential phrases. I think it is possible that a person progresses through the various stages of this statement; and as they do, they are still, consciously or unconsciously, believers in this declaration.

The first stage of this statement is: "No god".

It is then followed by: "But: Allah".

Then: "Mohammad is Allah's Messenger."

This is all I wish to say at this moment as I begin to research what the Qur'an has to say on the matter of "god", or "no god".

(Pulled from the archives. Written on 17 January 2010. Published on 29 December 2011.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

To Banish Ignorance

To banish ignorance with ignorance is compounded ignorance. 

Yes, yes, banish ignorance if you will and if you're drawn to it. However, banish it with its opposite: create knowledge. Use hikmat, wisdom. 

This way is what differentiates the wise from the unwise and from the ill-disposed. You cannot carry out a deed for the world with an ill disposition without making the world worse for your touch. Therefore, be careful. 

Give time to your thought, your method. 

Let me tell you what is the aim of ignorance: ignorance. Ignorance is to create chaos in the organized ways of Man. 

You are very concerned with "rightful space on Earth," with what constitutes an elegant, straight path. One of the aspects of that is to keep your path once you've been set on a correct course. Keep your course. 

Lover -- a poem


What is a lover 
who did not
one day (or night)
declare the Love?

What is a cloak
which was not
one night (or day)
torn and shred? 

You hide 
and hide and hide and hide
'Til the core of your heart 
is infused with the secret. 

What perfume is this
that which not
day and night 
escapes its folds?

Declare the love!
Declare the love!
Oh you lover, 
declare the love!

What is this life?
Which is not
at this moment
put aside. 

Make way for Love!
Make way for Love!



2:12 AM
January 15, 2010
At the writer's desk

Dedicated to Nimra Amjad-Archer. 

The "People" Illusion

Dear Prophecy:

Almost invariably, when a person says "people:, they are indeed referring to themselves. You can judge what a person thinks of their own self by listening to what they think of "people".

Indeed, by this word, the person is referring to an inner entity. 

So what's the use of knowing this? The use is this: understand that each time you pose a question about "people", you are indeed posing that question about yourself. 

Therefore: if you ask, "Why don't people learn?" 
Then you real question is: "Why don't I learn?" Or, it is: "Why don't I teach?"

If your question is: "What do people think about this celebrity?"
Then your real question is: "What do I think about this celebrity?"

The fact is, the people illusion serves to hide our questions from ourselves, allowing us to dodge ourselves. 

Beware of this. 
Clearly be you. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

40 Days of Transition: December 06, 2009 - January 14, 2010

On my 30th birthday, I began a period I called 40 Days of Transition

There are essentially two practices that formed the 40 Days: journaling and offering gratitude. 

I bought a new journal and gave myself the task to write three pages, each day, for forty days. Ideally, I would write the pages in a stream-of-consciousness fashion, early in the morning. The idea was to communicate to my soul and find out exactly what it wanted. 

I wanted to catch myself just as I woke up from sleep, with the most honest feelings brimming from my being. 

The other practice that marked the forty days was a twin-fold gratitude practice: as soon as I get up each morning, I would offer Sura-e-Fatiha -- the prayer that the Qur'an begins with. It is primarily a prayer rooted in gratitude, a prayer for a new beginning, a prayer that brings one into the present. Aptly, its name is translated into English as "The Opening". 

Immediately after Fatiha, I would offer gratitude for 7-10 specific things. I have kept a gratitude journal as far back as in 2006. The practice is immensely helpful, especially in a world that is populated with bad news that can rapidly replace one's beautiful memories. 

I wanted to anchor myself to my reality by pinning my memories down to paper. This time, however, I offered verbal gratitude, and then got down to journaling. 

"What is the aim of this journal?" a confidant asked. 

I was gagged. I had no idea. I confided the truth: I want the journal to tell me what it's for. 

That was the whole point -- for there indeed was a point --: to be able to communicate with my authentic self by getting past all the noise. 

Tomorrow is January 14th, 2010. It will be the last day of this period of transition. I managed to offer the gratitude practice almost each day, without fail, though sometimes well after waking up. I managed to journal almost 80% of the days -- mostly skipping on the days that I was extremely fatigued. Surprisingly, there were many such days. I consider that a part of becoming conscious of my own pattern. The key is that I am the book that I am writing on the Page. Therefore what transpired in and on the journal is what my inner pattern is. 

Clearly, I was absent some days. On January 3rd, I finally collapsed. In what I experienced as a death-like condition, I finally made the transition that I was seeking: concern for the world left me, and I became who I am. In the silence that I felt when I thought I was going to die, I met myself. 


I wrote the above last night. Today, I have finished the 40 Days of Transition.

On the last day I wrote: I have turned up on the page -- with fail and without fail, but I have turned. Now, I hand this over to Allah. It is up to Allah to make what Allah makes of my journey within. 


07:34 pm
At the writer's desk

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What is Taqwa (تقویٰ)?

Dear Self:

You asked me, what is Taqwa (تقویٰ)? 
Answer: Taqwa is the art of managing one's rightful space on Earth.

Listen closely. 
The key words of this definition are: 
  • art of managing
  • one's (own)
  • rightful space on Earth
"Art of managing" implies that it is a constant, active job. It is not achieved once and for all, to be used up later in life from stored supplies. One needs to practice it all all living moments. One can, thus, act like a mutaqqi متقی (one who has attained to taqwa) in one moment, and unlike so in another. It is a living act and it is exhibited through action. It is not sufficient to understand or know a verbal definition of taqwa -- just as it is not sufficient to note down the recipe of a chocolate cake. The real task is to do it; just as the real task is to bake the cake. 

It is true, however, that one can develop an understanding of what taqwa is in stages. And it likely that once one has attained a degree of understanding, their practice will begin to reflect that. The practice may still falter, for it is a matter of choice. Yet one can evolve their understanding of the matter -- which in turn will improve the practice. 

"One's (own)" [place] is just that: one's own. Not another's. This is a key concept of taqwa. The person who entangles themselves into the affairs of the other with the belief that they can change the heart of the other does both themselves, the other, and all universe great harm. One cannot change hearts, hearts change themselves. One only has power to say, do, or enable the right thing, according to one's strength and domain. 

The one who aspires to attain to taqwa is one who is primarily concerned with managing one's own self, and of participating in enabling an environment where one's own self can practice taqwa (and others may do the same). Indeed, if one strives to create an environment for one's own taqwa, one will find that one has also enabled an environment in which others can attain to taqwa. This is because the environment is outside one's self, and thus larger. The example of it is this: if one plants a tree to purify one's breathing space, one also helps others breathe in a purified space, as the tree serves others, too. 

"Rightful space on Earth" is the heart of taqwa. This is related to accountability. Who is one accountable to? What determines one's rightful space? What is the key to managing one's rightful space? Who or what determines rightful space?

What faith or belief you have, whatever religion you belong to or not, understand this: the Earth is round, and your body is populating it with other bodies. No matter what the beliefs or lack of beliefs the people of the planet have, this fact is the common denominator of all humans. The Earth has a limit, and that limit can be exhausted. 

If one looks at the Earth and sees that one is here to take from the Earth, all Earth and the solar system would become insufficient. For there is no limit to "more", to "taking". This also immediately puts one in competition with the other. More so, one becomes accountable to the other. The person with such a way of seeing things will need to falsify their belief every now and then as existence will come to compete with and overpower such a person -- and this person will need to lie to survive. 

This way of seeing the Earth also establishes an outside-in ethic, where one is compelled by many. The person with this vision will be overwhelmed with choice because as far as his eye travels, he will wish to take. This will make him a poor decision-maker. 

To see the world this way is to become a slave of the world, even if "taking" and "more" appear to be a kind of freedom. One becomes accountable to many. Know that the definition of "god" is: "that which the self is ultimately accountable to". A person with an inclination to take, to have more will have many gods--- whether those gods be physical, emotional, or conceptual.

There is no limit to which this person is accountable or manipulable, for he wishes to overtake a planet full of billions of people. 

If, however, one looks at the Earth and sees that one is here to give, to contribute, then the extent of that person's accountability immediately shrinks to one, and that one is their own self. Giving is limited to the extent to which a person can give. Therefore, such a way of seeing automatically establishes a parameter for each person to operate within. 

The ethic of a person with this perception is an inside-out ethic. This means that such a person is introspective, aware of their being, and that their task is to live their own potential. This person is concerned with a constant refinement and cleansing and improvement of the self, aimed at becoming a worthier contributor to the world. 

Focus and enhanced decision-making is the outcome of this way of being. This is because this person deals with one unit of existence that is their own Self. Such a person is collaborative, and is able to discern their part of the larger task of life & the universe. 

This person's wants and needs have limits, for this kind of a person wants "less". While "more" has no limits, "less" has limits. Having less than a certain limit can cause hunger and death of the Self, therefore an automatic, rational limit is set. This person, then, also understands the very concept of rights. 

What are the rights of one who wants less? And how do they compare with the right of the one who wants more? 

The rights of one who wants less are essential rights, and they are also elegant. The best example of this is found in traffic. What kind of traffic behavior results from a mindset of wanting all the space? What kind of traffic behavior results from managing one's rightful space? There is only as much space a vehicle can take -- and it cannot go any less than that. So the one who maintains rightful space will use the space with elegance. There is no limit to running one's vehicle all over the space if one is focused on taking space. Anything can happen when a person decides to over-speed, under-speed, zig-zag, or otherwise attempt to snatch others' rightful space. It is chaos, while rightful space leads to organic design. 

The one who is answerable and accountable to their own self has only one God. This experience is only possible through one's own self. 

Finally, "the art of managing one's rightful space on Earth" implies that the one who practices taqwa is a being with an inner strength. By way of asserting only rights that pertain to the self, this person is also rightful, for what they wish for themselves, they can wish for the world.  


So this, my dear self, this is what taqwa is. 

I pray that may you attain to taqwa -- may you know and practice the art of managing your rightful space on Earth. Amen.

- END -

A backgrounder note for the uninitiated reader: 

Taqwa is one of the fundamental tenets of Islam. It is the only basis of differentiation and nobility amongst humans. Islam asserts that people are honorable not on the basis of their wealth, physical beauty, social status, pedigree, popularity, children, race, accumulations, ability to speak and overwhelm -- but on the basis of taqwa. The word is often translated in English as "piety". Its meaning is often said to be "fear of Allah". One must ponder, though, what is this 'fear' of Allah?

One of the statements that Qur'an makes it: "Wherever you turn, there is the Face of Allah." (Chapter 2: Verse 115). 

Must Man fear whichever way he turns? Yes, if he is looking at it with a view of taking it -- for it will take Man out. Those who attain to taqwa fear transgression beyond their limits. If wherever one turns is the Face of Allah, then to stop oneself from transgressing upon it all is the fear of Allah. 

It is thus that one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him explained Taqwa thus with an example: "If one is walking through a forest where there are many thorns, one walks carefully so as not to get pricked or get one's clothes torn."

Finally, it is said that Islam is not a religion, it is a way of life. (There is a parallel with "the Tao" here.) Islam refers to 'the way' of being and how to conduct oneself in the world. The fundamental of this way is 'taqwa'.

You are advised to do further exploration on your own, and consult your own heart and innate sense on this matter.  



Thursday, January 07, 2010

Triangulation -- a poem


You hear
What I say
You say
And I hear

You are
And I see
You see
Who I am

You know
And I know.
I know.
I know.

When I know
And I know,
this triangulation?

When I say
You hear
You repeat

So they hear
What you say

When I see
Who you are
Then you show

So they see
Will they see?

If they could
hear and see
then they would
hear and see

Why speak?

I am
And You are.

Let this be.
Let this be.

~ ramla

January 07, 2010
At the writer's desk

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Two Types of Advice I Ever Gave

There are only two kinds of advice that I have ever given.
The first kind is: "Follow your heart". To follow your heart, prepare yourself to be aware, to listen to yourself, to discern, to be truthful. Build courage through practice so that what your heart says, you will be able to act upon. Do not do ill to others for that, in the longer run, prevents you from doing the right thing for yourself. The illness you do to others builds a trap for you, through you, by entrapping you in your ill value.
In this advice is all the wisdom I have ever known, or can possibly ever know.
The second kind of all advice I ever gave was simply 'bad advice'.
I observed that the human soul is stirred by the first kind of advice, but people tend to solicit and urge the second kind. For the first is a silent kind, and the second is words.
And people choose to fill their life with words, with more.
May God lift the veils we willing put on our senses!