Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Blessed Heart

LONDON, April 28 — Fashion designer Alexander McQueen hanged himself after taking a mixture of cocaine, tranquillizers and sleeping pills, the inquest into his death concluded-Reuters

I don't know who Alexander McQueen was until I read the above news. Apparently, he was a successful and famous personality in the fashion world. He committed suicide, what a tragic end..

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California. It is acclaimed as one of the most beautiful bridges in the world with an estimation of nine million visitors per year. Sadly, it is also the world's most popular place to commit suicide. The bridge had witnessed thousand of people jumped to their death since it's completion in 1937.

Switzerland, one of the most beautiful countries in the world, has made assisted suicide as legal.

How sad that is...

The pursuit of material gain has deceived many. Success is always being measured by our bank account, beautiful house, respectable position in society, children and families, good health and all other material and social achievements.
But there are many out there, whose success simply makes them suffer. The long journey towards success suddenly ends up in emptiness in the heart. They could not find what they are searching for.
On the contrary, a person with barely enough to make ends meet could be living a peaceful life.
Yes, money does bring happiness, temporarily that is.
Money gives us pleasure, but not peace.

We are created by Allah as a spiritual creature inside a physical body. We are created to serve a purpose, to worship Him. We could be tall or short, rich or poor, healthy or sick..but we are to worship Him. Only then we can find the inner peace.
Our soul would forever be in continuous search for peace.
And when we fail to find Him, As Salam,The Source of Peace, our hearts suffer and the deep inner pain become unbearable..
Peace does not depend on our life situation and our surrounding. Peace in the heart begins with sincere acceptance of what life has to offer and the deep understanding that life is a test.When a heart had been blessed with it, nothing in the world can destroy it. Our life will always be filled with happiness and sadness, but it will always be beautiful when our heart is at peace.

Ya Allah
Ya Rahmaan
Ya Rahiim
Ya Salam....
We came from You, and to You we shall return.

"O soul at peace, return to your Lord, well-pleased, well-pleasing, So enter among my servants, enter my paradise" ( Al Fajr:27-30)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

An Explanation

It happened again.
I attended a gathering last night and met a good friend who complained to me,
" I smiled at you just now but you did not respond, I thought you've already forgotten who I am"
I apologized to her and continued with my usual explanation about my eyesight.

You see, my optometrist said I belong to the 10% of the population with similar eyesight condition. I discovered this a few years back. I suffered some prolonged headache, and decided to check my eyesight after running out of possible options in finding the remedy. I never quite noticed that I have eyesight problem.
When my optometrist became silent and kept repeating the procedure of checking my eyes, I became curious. Why did he kept on repeating it, and not saying a word to me?
Then I remembered that he had that look on his face (which I can't find a word to describe it right now) and announced,
" You are far sighted on the right eye and near sighted on the left eye"
" Wow.. is that possible? "
" Yup... about 10% have this condition"
That's why I failed to notice it before, because one of my eyes will always remain clear whether looking at an object nearby or in a distance. But the blurry vision of the other eye disturb the focus point, hence the headache comes. Only when I put on that ugly test spectacles that optometrist usually give you in the clinic, then I realized how clear the world should be with a good eyesight!

I was near sighted (on both eyes) and used to wear eyeglasses during my student days, but I simply abandon it after I graduated. I admit I don't like wearing one and since my condition was not that severe, I survived.
But after many years, the condition changed and turned to as it is now.
What is the problem then? I have a problem in getting good eyeglasses. The few attempts that I had, ended up in frustration. And I am not just referring to the cost. The lenses are not comfortable at all. I failed to adapt to the opposite lenses on both eyes, and multifocal lenses are even worse, so I only wear it once in a while when I really need it.

And usually after I explained my condition to others when they were offended because I did not return the smile they gave me, they will ask,
"Why don't your wear your eyeglasses then?"
To lighten up the situation my usual answer would be,
" I don't look good wearing it lah..I look like a teacher,." and they would laugh at me. Yes, besides the eyesight problem, I also have a psychological problem of self denial, a teacher who doesn't like the look of a teacher.. no cure for that, I guess.

So, before you accuse me of being arrogant for not responding to your friendly gesture, have some pity on me please... I just don't clearly see your face, so just come nearer and there you are.. I might have forgotten names sometimes, but I am a visual person, I don't forget faces easily.
However, if you are caught in a situation that you most likely prefer not being seen by me, don't worry, if you are far enough, I won't recognize you. How far is it? That's for me to know, and for you to wonder...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We are Travelers

Eyjafjallajokull. That's difficult enough to spell, let alone to pronounce. But apparently, that name will be remembered by millions of people whose life went to a standstill or to a certain extent chaotic at this moment because of flight cancellations to and from Europe.
I couldn't help laughing when I read the following from CNN news website.

Russ Byer was supposed to fly to Los Angeles, California, on Saturday after a two-week vacation in Berlin, Germany -- until he found out about the cancellations.

"This is surreal!" he said, recalling his first thought. "Stranded by a volcano? Particularly one with an unpronounceable name."

As an occasional air traveler I can't imagine how the stranded passengers must have felt, I have never been stranded more than 9 hours. Whereas the airport closure in most European countries has caused them to be stranded for at least four days!
I am not really sure what is the situation right now, just as the authorities are deciding to open up some air space, today another eruption occurred with massive new ash.

The weary travelers, whether on business or on vacation, all long to get home. It's not about the physical condition of our house, a home is where the heart is. Each time we went away, no matter how much we enjoy our journey, in the end we will miss our home.

We are all travelers in this world. Our journey begun in the soul realm, followed by the nine months in our mothers womb. Now we are here, in this physical and material world. One day without any warning, we would be taken to another world, six feet underground. That's when the waiting start, like stranded passengers we will be waiting and waiting.

One day we will be awaken from the grave, gathered together in the field of mahsyar. We will be kept waiting, until we are given the book of our deeds. The waiting continues until the time for the meticulous judgment. We will definitely be at His mercy. Facing Him alone with our limbs as witnesses but no defense lawyer.
Like a weary traveler, in the end hopefully we will reach our home, the place that we longed for. InsyaAllah.

We build beautiful houses here in this world, with gardens of flowers, fruits and flowing water features. Why? Because we longed to go home to that garden of paradise.
But do we deserve that place of absolute beauty and tranquility?
It all depends on our deeds now, in our short stint here.

We are travelers in this world, but we are not on vacation.

Friday, April 16, 2010

It Will End

Today is especially mind blowing to me. What I thought could only happen to others, some unknown strangers out there, can actually happen to a dear friend. I pray that she will be strong in this trying time.
The ups and downs of life is a set of tests in this ephemeral world. Nothing last forever here, in this current world we are living.

There was a story about a wise man who helped a king. Despite his wealth and power the king failed to find peace in his heart. The wise man gave him a ring with an inscription that says, "This, too, will pass". He told the king, " Wear this ring always. Whatever happens, before you call it good or bad, touch this ring and read the inscription. That way, you will always be at peace"

This, too, will pass. The phrase is a reminder of the temporary nature of our life. Whenever we are facing difficulties, always remember that it will end, sooner or later. No matter how tough the situation is, tell yourself, "This, too, will pass".
Yes, indeed it will. That's how everything has always been, isn't it?

When we are in a happy situation, always remember that it will end too. How do we find peace there? It is a reminder not to be too attached to the situation. It gives us the right perspective about life, that everything belongs to Allah. We have nothing in this world, don't attach our self to this world. It is a reminder for us not to fall for temporary happiness.

The real happiness, the real peace can only be found by sincerely accepting whatever tests, good or bad, that Allah has planned for us. He is Most Merciful, the All Knowing, everything that happens in this world is a manifestation of His wisdom and mercy.

(He) who created death and life to test you (as to) which of you is best in deed - and he is the Exalted in Might, The Forgiving. (Al-Mulk:2)

To my dear friend, be strong. It will end, InsyaAllah.
Our prayers are always there for you.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Leader

Three leaders in three different parts of the worlds.

After a month of protest, the red shirt protesters in Thailand continues to remain defiant with their demand for earlier election, they want a new Prime Minister.

In Kyrgyzstan, after the uprising that last for just a few days, the new interim government is now in predicament over refusal of the ousted president to resign. The president warned of a bloodshed.

Whereas Poland mourns the lost their president and other top civilian and military officials in a plane crash.

A lot of chaos is happening around the globe, but the events that happened in past few days in the three countries has brought me into deep contemplation.
While the people in Poland are grieving over the loss of their leaders, the people in Thailand and Kyrgyzstan struggled to remove theirs.

What makes a good leader?

Prophet Muhammad SAW, climbed the ladder of leadership with honour and dignity of the highest level. He lead his followers by first winning their hearts. He was very much loved and cherished by his followers because he was able to develop a strong sincere relationship with them.
Prophet Muhammad was also a person with integrity in his words and actions. A trusted person since his younger days who deserve the title of Al-amin, the trusted one.
A person who won the love and trust of others would automatically be followed. He was the teacher and motivator. He was able to create loyalty among the followers, they are willing to sacrifice their own life for him. And among the followers, he developed excellent potential successors. Good leader is ineffective without good followers.

Prophet Muhammad SAW was also a strong leader with tremendous self-discipline. When he was victorious in the conquest of Makkah, he exuded humbleness and self-restrain. Not a thing on earth can corrupt him. On his last days, he even surrendered his ailing body to his follower to take avenge for his wrongdoing.

Prophet Muhammad SAW showed us that a good leader must be loved and trustworthy in order to be followed. A leader must be able to train good followers so they can become good leaders in the future.

In the end, he became an eternal leader, a leader whose legacy remains until today, 1400 years after his death, and will continue until the hereafter.
Allaahumma solli 'ala Muhammad.

Anyone who aspire to be a leader must learn from him, the perfect model to look up to.

"Indeed in the Messenger of Allah, you have a fine example for he who hopes for Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah abundantly"
( Al-Ahzab:21)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gardening Tills the Soul

Most of the plants in my garden has been there for quite some time, like the rangoon creepers (right), kesidang (left) and the tiny pink rose (below).

The rose at my back yard has grown tall and flowering abundantly.
Such a pleasure to see the tiny bloom in bunches, and they smell so sweet.

The current weather with occasional heavy rain and hot sun is a perfect combination for roses, my favourite flower.
So, I decided to take a few days off from office to work on my garden.

It started with weeding and preparing the flower beds.
Then, a trip to the nursery to buy the plants including some new roses.
Experience taught me that yellow rose needs extra care compare to other type of roses, but I decided to try again this time.
I hope it will survive.

Gardening is a therapy for me. The beautiful plants reminded me of the place that I hope would be my permanent home, a blissful abode.
Prophet Adam lives in paradise before being sent down to earth, hence paradise is our home, the place that we should return to.

Looking at the garden send cheer to my heart, but sometimes it brought sadness too for I have not done enough to deserve a place in that eternal garden.
Forgive me, Ya Allah...

"Surely, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are signs for those with minds.

Those who remember Allah when standing, sitting, and on their sides, and contemplate upon the creation of the heavens and the earth (saying:) 'Lord, You have not created these in falsehood. Exaltations to You! Guard us against the punishment of the Fire.

Our Lord, whomsoever You admit into the Fire, You will have abased, and the harmdoers shall have no helpers.
Our Lord, we have heard the caller calling to belief, "Believe in
your Lord!" So we believe.
Our Lord, forgive us our sins and acquit us of
our evil deeds, and take us to You in death with the righteous.
Our Lord, give us what You promised us by Your Messengers, and do not abase us on the Day of Resurrection. You do not break Your promise. '
( Ali Imraan:190-194)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Let's Sing

How does it feel when after a long battle with illness, your doctor exclaimed happily,
"You are okay now!.."
If your doctor is happy, how about you?

Feels like singing, right? I am now singing my praise to Allah, The Most Merciful.
Alhamdulillah...All praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds..
Thank you Allah.
Words fail to describe the joy that I am feeling.
I guess that's why we turn to singing.

I read in a book entitled, "Sacred Space, Sacred Sound" that says singing is a natural urge that human has when confronted by a certain condition and music reflects an essential human hunger for spiritual sustenance. I don't fully agree with the book and to some extent there's a lot of issues that I found to be too complicated to be digested, but somehow I agree that human has a natural tendency to sing.

Susan Hale, the writer, is not only a gifted music therapist and an enchanting singer, she is also an exquisite listener.
She traveled to many sacred sites and places of worship, such as churches, cathedral, monasteries, and caves, to experience the effect of singing in those places. She discovered that not only human, our surrounding, rocks especially, do sing. She was able to hear them.

I don't know what to make of this book, it left me bewildered.

However, it is true that our surrounding 'sing'. The whole world is singing in praise of Allah. The sun, moon, trees, flowers, animals, they are all in constant state of zikr, remembering Allah.
It's just that we are not capable of hearing them.
If happiness leads us to singing, the reverse is also true, singing can induce happiness inside.
As Muslim, the best form of singing is zikr. Reciting the Qur'an is one form of zikr.
Allah has promised us that we will find comfort in remembering Him.

"And the faithful ones whose heart are comforted by the remembrance of Allah, remembrance of Allah certainly brings comfort to all hearts"
( Ar Ra'ad:28)

Is there any troubled heart out there?
Let's sing in praise of Him.