Some Thoughts

It is amazing how the ache from our hearts reaches our eyes. Has that ever happened to you? It is strange how our heart and eyes are connected. An aching heart is never alone, the eyes take the burden. They shed some tears, they cry with the crying heart. Am I making sense?


Tears in eyes and conscience knocking at our hearts makes one feel wide awake. It is faith blooming like new spring leaves. Faith is like a new born child, weak and fragile but spotless, yet it needs constant care; a close watch so that it doesn’t get hurt. Sometimes, when praying, our cupped hands feel the heaviness of the pain, like some magnetic current travelling through the body. On other occasions the lightness of it all makes the hands in prayer feel empty.


I wish many wishes, as is the human nature. The desires and wishful thinking has deep roots within the human heart. As age takes its toll on the human body, the wishes center around nostalgia, the past, the frighteningly fast pace of time. The idea of time slowing down seems tempting. For some old souls, the time’s slow pace, the same mundane days, become an added pain in their already arthritic bones. The clock’s constant tick tock is a reminder of their fading life and vague memories.


I want to write the words before they dissolve into the dark humid night. The sweat beads on my forehead stick to the rubber end of my half chewed pencil. The silhouette of the trees on my beige curtains cast a ghostly impression. The grasshopper continues its benign but rhythmic sound. The friction between the paper and the pencil lead reaches a crescendo and then snap, the nib breaks. The words disconnect and finally dissolve into the quiet walls around me; some slip through the half open window, the rest too tame to escape, sink back into the dark recesses of my thoughts.

Find them if you may

Dust and smoke on some rusty roads.

The ghosts of writing spring out alone,

Near the dawn of the day

Or into the midnight fog

Mocking the shadows of my words;

Blow out the candles, Dark out the night. 

 

Find them if you may or better still,

Say rest in peace

To that what haunts you;

The silhouette of words,

The ghosts of writing,

The muses so shy.

 

If you then still persist;

Walk along the train tracks,

Run after the missed bus,

Hail loudly for a worn out taxi,

Board a plane or 

Adventure on a ship.

You will not find them.

Words lost aren’t meant to be found.

 

Lying on a charpoy

Hang onto the starry sky,

A moon will glow back at you.

Drink away the summer night

With thoughts of a rosy past,

With plans for a morrow not seen.

You will not find them.

Words lost aren’t meant to be found. 

 

Spiritual retreat part 5

Rush to do good deeds. Like everything in life is a competition, doing actions for the benefits of others around us should also be considered a competition.

One of the things I realised and would like to see it implemented in my life is my concern for myself in the hereafter. A selfish thought perhaps where I m concerned about my eternal existence. From another perspective, however, I would be selfless in my actions towards others.It is a clearly win win situation, unlike the conundrum that we as Pakistanis find ourselves in these days in regards to our political upheaval. It is peaceful to know that some things in life are still uncomplicated, still as easy as adding 2 and 2 together.

There is a constant reminder from Surah Al Asr in my mind that reveals the harsh truth of our existence that we, humans are indeed in loss. Loss to me is my ignorance or indifference of making a kind gesture, of doing a good deed; primarily so that I could earn something for my hereafter and secondly with the intention of helping others.

My long term goal should be to do as many good deeds as possible before I will be questioned for my time spent in this world. My short term goal should be to help those around me either directly through financial help or indirectly by manners that are inspiring, gestures that are kind, attitude that is unpretentious; constantly reminding myself that whatever good I m putting in this world is solely because I have gratitude towards my Creator.

But am I really grateful to Allah ?

Spiritual Retreat Project

Before I try to embark on this mini project/ blog series here on my mostly abandoned blog, I would like to take a moment and mention that I am partly scared as to how this will come out. Well I’m not an acclaimed writer or blogger and hence do not entertain a lot many readers; only a few stumble here once in a while. So I m not really worried about making an intellectual impression on anyone but on myself. Years or lets says even months from now I want to come back to something substantial, something solid that I would look back on and see this as a valuable addition to my life.

Lets begin without further ado!

It isnt really difficult to understand the term ‘spiritual retreat’ as I have chosen to name this blog series. To begin with spiritual retreat holds an important place in many religions. The general understanding of it is how Sufis in Islam have practiced it. In Ibne Arabi’s book “Journey to the Lord of Power” he discusses different stages that one experiences during khalwa or seclusion from everything worldly. This sufi practice usually lasts 40 days from what the accounts of famous sufis tell us which is based on the forty days that Prohpet Musa spent before he was able to converse with Allah. In this seclusion period one  tries to reestablish a connection with one’s Creator and usually the sufis meditate and spent their days and nights in Dhikr (in remembrance of  Allah) by repeating His names.

However, I happen to be no sufi though Shams and Rumi have been an inspiration for me this year. Now that I think maybe the reason I chose to sit alone for a number of days was that in the back of my mind I was  inspired by the great sufis. The interest in it was further triggered by my mother and I cannot thank her enough for guiding and motivating me.

Spiritual retreat that was practiced by Holy Prophet (pbuh) is called Aitekaaf. According to his sunnah he used to spend the last ten days of Ramadan praying to Allah with minimum contact with his family and friends, only conversing if necessary. In some of the Ahadith it is mentioned that he even sat for twenty days as well. Aitekaf  is a special part of the blessed month of Ramadan when Muslims around the world have to observe the obligatory fasting for 29 to 30 days. Muslims have a choice to isolate themselves from everything worldly in the last ten days of Ramadan following the sunnah of our last Prophet (pbuh). The highlight of the practice is also that one gets to pray without distractions from the daily routine especially in the odd nights when the Muslims are to look for the Night of Decree or as it is called Laylat al Qadr; the night when Quran was sent down from Louhe Mahfooz, the Preserved Tablet ( it has a record of all the knowledge about every object/thing/person in the Universe) down to Baitul Izzah, the House of Might in the first level of heaven. Furthermore the odd nights in the last week of Ramadan hold great value for us especially because in this night matters of our provision, health, year ahead are also decided and recorded in the Louhe Mahfooz.

The ten days I spent in seclusion was a time dedicated to myself and my relation to my Creator, praying to Allah swt without having to worry about daily chores, work deadlines or even to please society at large. It gave me time to breathe, reflect and  stay away from gadgets and social media ( the biggest distraction, yes more than TV I would say). It wouldn’t be wrong if I say that I was able to de-clutter my thoughts but more on this in the later posts.

Before I sign off from this unexpectedly long writing, I would like to add a little thing that happened the very first night of my Aitekaf. Since now the month of fasting falls during intense summers here in Pakistan, I decided to open a few windows for cross ventilation in my room, my abode for the next few days. Nothing strange right? Unfortunately, one of the three windows has always been broken. Once you open it, it dangles and it has to be closed with a long rod or danda (as we call it in Urdu) when someone stands in the lawn and pushes the glass of the window from outside as the room is on the second story of the house. Out of the three windows I had a difficult decision ahead of me, trying hard to remember which window was broken, I suddenly loosened the screw of one and exactly what I feared, it was indeed the broken window. I thought this is a perfectly bad start where I m supposed to avoid unnecessary contact with family or friends. Now I had to communicate with a member of my family in order to get it closed lest it falls or causes further problem. The window finally did get close with me pulling from the inside and my brother pushing it from the outside, down in the lawn. Phew.

It must be totally ridiculous an incident to most of you but for someone starting off something as special as Aitekaf I feared if I ended up doing something that would nullify my spiritual isolation. So moral in it for me was to NEVER do anything when in doubt. Instead of opening the window still in doubt I was supposed to either think clearly or leave it closed. In life in general we are confronted with small or big decisions where we  are either forced by others  or we find ourselves in a situation that requires us to  take a particular path on our own. Doubts, however, cloud our judgement and power of decision making. Hence we end up either opening the wrong window or staying within closed ones.

As the night layered on and the moon hung outside, I sat down to  pray, meditate and reflect; mostly in hopes of pleasing the one who controls the Universe.

 

 

Wasting time thinking on an appropriate title for the post

The ink has almost dried and the keys on the board need some tapping on them. There is a film of dust on the screen and a stain here and there on the sleeves. 2013 has also faded away.

Every day of 2014 so far has a been a struggle to pen down something. Something poetic, something realistic, something dreamy. Sleep glides over and fills the senses more than the desire to pour out the jumbled up load of thoughts and reflections out into the world.

Today one glance up towards the majestic winter sky  and I felt like life seeping back into me. Like someone doing CPR on my fragile soul. It was the pearly streaks of clouds in a beautiful rendezvous with the winter sun light. I closed my eyes for a moment and felt the placid, warm sun’s glow. Typical as it would sound, my life seemed to flash back at me rather dramatically. The sounds of the morning chaos of the office and school goers stopped reaching me.

It has to be painful, requires effort, demands exhaustion to push yourself out of the grave that you dig for yourself. There has to come a time to quit being an ostrich and look up, look at the world, to face yourself.

Tomorrow can be mundane, it can be exciting or it can be excruciating. It can also be simply beautiful like today. It doesn’t have to be grand, it doesn’t have to be insignificant either.  The past, the present and tomorrow will keep pushing us towards them. All one has to be do is find the balance.

A Summer Night

The dim neon glow of the time piece blinked at her in complete darkness like an admirer in a secret tryst. She twisted and turned on the warm sheets beneath her. The fan swirled a heavy air laden with 45 degree centigrade of warmth down at her. It kissed and patted her to sleep on her cold sticky cheeks. Her flowery kurta swayed against her olive skin. She looked far beyond the solid ceiling above at the navy blue night sky and the smoky clouds. Not a single star in sight but groups of grey clouds hung in the bland canvas giving away vague hopes of a long awaited rain. A sharp hollow voice penetrated through the speedy fans and walls and reached her while she lay there motionless, a statue with eye balls in restless motion as if trying to escape its confinement.

 Maulvi saab’s lips almost touched the rusted loudspeaker as he cleared his throat. His high pitched vocals broke the ominous night silence but delivered only an unintelligible announcement of a man’s death in the neighbourhood. The message lost its way into the thick veils of still air.  

Her dark pupils came to a sudden halt. She thought of the dead man, a faceless, nameless being who ‘strut and fret his hours upon the stage’ in Shakespearean style, in the end only to be consumed by a deadly life.  She let out a sigh and turned on her stomach. Sleep tried to steal away her insomnia. But she was waiting. Until then she would stay awake all the while absorbing the hidden pieces of peace dispersed by the sounds of fans and air conditioners. Just then the moment arrived. She put the twinkling thoughts in her mind to a hush. The fan above stopped rotating, nearby a generator’s hum tickled its way through the window. She took in the sweaty, humid air and went to sleep in a comfort that only her city could offer.