Take them for a spin

Know that not everyone is suitable to be your friend;

“Know that the greatest of losses is for you to be preoccupied with one who will bring you nothing but a loss in your time with Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – and being cut off from Him, a wasting your time with the person, a weakening of your energy, and the dispersing of your resolve. So, if you are tested with this – and you must be tested with this – deal with him according to how Allah would wish, and be patient with him as much as possible. Get closer to Allah and His Pleasure by way of this person, and make your getting together with him something to benefit from, not something to incur a loss from. Be with him as if you are a man who is on a road who was stopped by another man, who then asks you to take him on your journey. Make sure that you are the one who gives him a ride, and that he is not the one giving you the ride. If he refuses, and there is nothing to gain from travelling with him, do not stop for him, bid him farewell, and do not even turn back to look at him, as he is a highway robber, regardless of who he really is.

So, save your heart, be wary of how you spend your days and nights, and do not let the Sun set before you arrive at your destination.”

Ibn Al Qayyim
['al-Wabil as-Sayyib'; p. 45]

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Half:Past:Midnight- What I’ve learnt so far

You took the shahadah. You have no idea what that means.

Beards don’t run the show. Every Muslim is an ambassador of Islam. Work on it.

There are two types of gatherings: one that is surrounded by angels and one that is not.

Take that leap of faith. If you know you’re supposed to be doing it, then do it. There’s no “right time”.

Good people who die early sort of just “know” they’ll die early. Cause they were out there doing positive things while I wasted away before the TV.

Get together and start a good cause. No, it will not affect your studies.

Never underestimate the power of barakah.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not relationships that’s complicated- it is the affair of hypocrisy and mixed intentions.

No one blames time for being a control freak.

There’s no such thing as luck. It’s called the Divine Intervention.

Understand that being a perfect Muslim is a myth. It’s like talking of ideal gases.

Doesn’t mean you stop trying.

“The best of sinners are those who repent.” Sign up for the contest.

It is okay to cut yourself some slack. So long as you do the same for others.

There was a prologue to your story. This is the part when your soul took an oath to worship Allah long before you existed.
What you’re doing now is writing your main narrative. Try not to mess it up, cause a sequel will follow where you left off.

Pray for others what you want for yourself. You’ll get it faster.

You know you’re friends when you can exchange your contrasting religious opinions without getting into a fight.

Never forget favours, debt and names.

Help out people you don’t like. It kills all bad feelings when they thank you.

Disagree with others where you can. It’s another way of gaining knowledge.

We know black from white. Wisdom is in sorting the grey area.

To all Peeping Toms

Disclaimer: This does not generalize all male species. However, if you still take offense, then clearly you have the tell-tale signs of our average peeping Tom.

A furtive, sweeping look. It has the same effect as music. You like the opening beats- you’re going to listen till the end. You like what you see- you’re going to gawk till she remains in the vicinity. And then you can’t get it out of your head.

So just keep it down. Enough said. This is not going to be a long-winded rant about restricting your visual field nor a DIY-curb-the-inner-pervert-in-you. Resisting the temptation of checking out everything that moves is human. As Nouman Ali Khan puts it- “Lower your gaze because you become less of a human every time you stare at a woman…” Ouch. Male ego sliced and butchered in a single sentence.

And when Allah says “Lower your gaze”, then it is doable all right. And guess what else happens when you ogle- apart from losing all shreds of morality that is. You get discussed on the lunch table as “the creep” who has no life. Over giggles and biryani. And no matter what you do, the name sticks.

Worse- if you are that Jami’at guy (or apparently religious looking) caught glancing at a group of girls in your university, then there is no hope for you. They crucified you a million times over in the Girls’ Common Room.

And if on some fateful day, you catch female heads turned your way-

Something must be terribly, terribly wrong with your outfit.

PS: Another random guest-post I wrote for Youth Club Blog.

Broken Hearts and Picture-frames

I feel like Professor Snape toiling with an essay on “Being Unbiased”. Not that I’m at a loss for what to write but because- it is complicated. To break love into categories, to stop loving someone when you’re already in it, fall out of love… draft 11 discarded, crumpled and all thoughts brushed aside.

It is simple really. It would be a fallacy to snort at love as a fool’s emotion. I do truly believe that at some point in your life, you will map out a new constellation in the sky. You will meet a person who will make you feel whole again. Who will make your world go bright and starry. The one person you would want to sit with on the patio all winter and drink coffee. When you can talk about anything and everything. Or maybe not talk at all, just being with them gets you through the day. Your outlet for crazy fears, wildest obsessions and nonsensical string of babble. Your impossible plans and initiatives, and this person will dream your dreams. When you actually get to sprinkle water at them to wake them for prayers. And night prayers will be ever more enchanting. You will have a skip in your step and a smile burning inside. Your fiercest loyalties will have a direction, your strongest of feelings, a rhyme and reason. You will feel an odd stillness when they are around. There is no guilt, no competition or even jealousy. Simple moments in life will become more special, and you will not deny yourself the pleasure of saying true things. You will feel emotionally secure. And this love in its raw form is so pure and true that it’s scary. That it will make you want to open up and give unconditionally. And this love doesn’t end at “till death do us part”. It will survive when the worlds collide and be raised again. It is truly magical. It will serve as a testimony and a cause for reunion in the afterlife.

And this is the Love that Allah has promised all those who keep themselves chaste and enter the covenant of marriage.

“And it is among His signs that He has created for you wives from among yourselves, so that you may find tranquility in them, and He has created love and kindness between you. Surely in this there are signs for a people who reflect.” (Ar-Rum : 21)

If you read the preceding verses before the quoted one, you will see that amongst His signs of creation, resurrection, and executing everything to ultimate perfection, Allah (swt) has actually included marriage and matrimonial love as one of His signs too. Now you can only go as far as imagining the sheer magnitude and beauty of it. It must be truly Divine for He creates that love and instills it between the couples joined in matrimony. And anyone who spends a considerable amount of time reflecting on life’s finer points is expected to understand this. That the only wise time to invest yourself emotionally in someone is after marrying him/her. Anything done before its due time is premature and dies prematurely too. More like a tale of mind games and hollow promises of “staying together forever” sealed with a false sense of security. Jumping on the relationship bandwagon is akin to courting pain and heartbreak, for neither end is obligated to try or work things out when the going gets tough. Only marriage brings that kind of certainty with it.

And it is awful really. Watching people write their own stories of unrequited love. Because loving is more painful when it is one sided; when you secretly harbour feelings for a person and fall in love with the idea of being in love. Or really get into a relationship that leaves broken hearts and scars in its wake. Horrible, is it not? To place your heart in someone’s hands so they can mess it up and toy with it and walk out whenever. So the choice is ours to make. Build sandcastles in the air, watch fantasies fall like house of cards or save all that emotional energy and channel it the halal way, which is guaranteed to be rewarding in more ways than one. The question was never to suppress or shut your emotions. It is to tame them. It is to wait for the right time and right people. Emotional wisdom, I like to call it.

I also truly believe that at some point in your not-recommended relationship (hypothetical or real), you are left with a philosophically messed up state of mind that makes you post gloomy, abstract statuses and turns you into a sad poet or worse- a stalker. There is unquestionable wisdom behind all the dont’s in Islam. They save you from ruining yourself, yourself. Makes sense? Crossing the red line may be fun for forbidden fruits are tempting- but the ride always comes with a price.

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This is a request post. Wrote this as a guest-blogger for Youth Club Blog.

PS: I owed you guys the flip side of the coin anyway, after a scathing post on this topic a year back, if you remember that is. Referring to this.

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Holier than Thou

Disclaimer: All events narrated are real, and based on my interactions with people not known to me, with the exception of the first narrated encounter. Any resemblance with your character is purely your own guilty conscience.

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Far as I remember, the first time anyone sent a fatwa my way was when I was in grade one. Music class was in progress, and I was completely indulged in singing a very pointless rhyme about a banana tree along with everyone else. A girl sitting in front suddenly turns around and says:

“Aren’t you the one who is memorizing the Quran?”

Me: *breaking off midway* “Er- yeah.”

Her: *in a condescending tone* “Then why are you singing? You shouldn’t! It’s so wrong!”

Me: *speechless and thinking- since mom hasn’t told me about this, it’s probably not true*

I continued to sing, louder than ever, also made a point to not like her for telling me off. She was one of those girls who are always prim and proper with airs and graces and a lot of giggly friends. I on the other hand, was rough on the edges so disliked her on principle. #childrenpolitics But later on in the same year, we had become very close friends, and this is probably the best part about being a kid: nothing really seems to matter.

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But this was ages ago. Last night, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and came across this post by a certain-important-somebody who had written a few words of praises about a Twilight soundtrack, played it on a piano and advised piano-enthusiasts to do the same because it is soul-soothing. I half moved on to the next update when a comment caught my attention. Apparently, there was a VERY heated, explosive debate going on- the usual showdown between “Fatwa Police” and the rest of the world. We had the preachers expressing their resentment against the post-maker to not encourage fans on “Haraam stuff”, and we had passionately pissed music supporters saying:“Qabeel ne Habeel ko music sun ker maara tha kya?!!!” To which the preachers retorted: “Phir janazey ke saath gaana kyun nahi chalaate? #SoulSoothing”

I allowed myself an inward snort of laughter and loaded the comment thread. Needless to mention, it was a very eh- “enlightening” discussion. Learnt loads about all sorts of preachers, most of whom are successfully driving everyone away from religion while they’re at it. The post is based on general observation but that comment thread in particular inspired the piece.

1- Mufti Wayne (read Vain)

This guy preaches through music and singing. Though there is nothing wrong with singing in itself (as long as it is only vocals with good lyrics and no instruments), this guy’s compositions are backed up by drums, piano, violin… the usual pop rock. Tell me again- why should I ever listen to you? Archuleta makes better music. And even Rebecca Black’s “Friday” track would do, if I give it Islamic connotations. One can argue Friday is a celebratory day for Muslims so we can/should/must party within limits. * License to Oh-so-halaal entertainment.* And considering the ridiculous comebacks music fans come up with, I won’t be surprised if a lady gets up and says Bieber sounds like a girl so there’s no “fitnah” if I listen to him. So no audience for Mufti Wayne. He has only given people another good reason to go back to their celebs, cause his music is no different (or probably just sucks. Who preaches pop-style anyway?).

#DawahFailed

PS: Some Islamic musician (if there’s ever such a legit term) has even sung a “Islamic” version of Rebecca’s Black’s “Friday”, with the instruments of course. Goes something like “It’s Jumuah Jumuah…” Guy needs help.

2- Sheikh Hudood bin Niqaab

This is the one we all fear. This guy has taken it upon himself to tell, no hound all women to cover up. He is the one with fake IDs and inboxes people on social networks to cover up or remove their profile pictures, or he suddenly stops by you and goes on a niqaab spree. Creepy on so many levels.

Also, while giving dawah, this person focuses more on punishments and Hudood than on glad-tidings and incentives.

#DawahFailed Niqaab is a concept, not just an act. There are so many variables involved.

3- The Fatwa Police

These guys are everywhere. Even if they aren’t, their ghost lingers. In fact, it’s usually just people’s paranoia that makes them assume the worst. You see this person or a group of people in university with properly kept beards and trousers hitched up to the ankles and they’re secretly labelled “Al-Tableeghi”, or women clad in all black- “Al-Extreemiee”. Most of the time, your fears really get confirmed. These people go blaring “Haraam” or are found giving unsolicited advice to almost anyone who breathes. The only thing wrong here is that they lack the tact to do so. The subtlety that dawah requires is just not there.

PS: A couple of months back, someone confessed that they thought I was an extremist before they had a chance to interact with me.

Me: O_o

4- Facebook Molvi

If he is the overbearing sort, this guy can be a real troll. This kind dominated the comment thread I mentioned earlier. When these guys talk, a clash of inflated egos ensues. Sorta great therapy for all parties to take out their frustration. The “Deviant Awaam” checks out FB Molvi’s profile and sues him for liking “Haraam music pages” himself. A wry twist in the tale, tables are turned and molvies get shoo-ed away. It’s chaotic. In every sense of the word.

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There are many instances and examples that I’d like to point out, but that would be exhausting. Personally, I think the best form of dawah is through your actions. Behave well publicly, and you won’t need to talk about it much. Some sane people in the Muslim Community should come up with Dawah101 for damage control. Really. It is the need of the hour. And I had a list prepared on the categories of audiences as well, and the way they respond to the call. But I will spare them the drawl. These unfortunate souls already have their ego tried and tested, and butchered all in a single comment. But let us just come to an agreement here- Enjoining good and forbidding evil is incumbent upon every Muslim (no endorsements required). And is effective only when done appropriately (this part needs serious polishing). There’s no “It is none of your business- keep away” in the equation. Read Surah Al-Asr and you will know. It is an extract of a Muslim’s life summarized so beautifully. What we all need is wisdom and rationale. One of the main reasons why people run away from anyone who “looks” Islamic is because they tend to get overbearing. And one of the lamest things that people come up with is to list down all the faults in the “preacher” and throw them in his face. Angels don’t walk this earth, folks. We are all found wanting. If you ever find yourself in a position of being corrected, accept it. Gracefully. Or look into it or whatever. Arrogance is just another form of vanity.

Last word- pray that you get endowed with wisdom and the strength to do dawah effectively. If you find yourself unable to right a wrong, then make dua for that person. It is difficult yes, to not snicker at the inappropriate things that people do. Passing by and smirking at a particular-someone is nothing but a reflection of your own self-righteousness. The least you can do is to make a silent prayer for that person. So what if he has a hundred noticeable faults, you probably got a million inside.