Monday, August 31, 2009

Youshaa, Ilyas, Shamvel & Daud

After Moses’ (Musa AS) death, Joshua (Youshaa AS) was appointed as his successor to the prophethood. Joshua successfully led the Children of Israel into Palestine and by Allah’s command he divided the country among them so that they could live, govern ad abide by the true religion. Joshua’s Book, chapter 24 in the Old Testament mentions this in detail. Joshua spent his entire life reforming his people, looking after them and appointing judges to decide their mutual disputes so that they could follow this precedent long after he was gone.

This routine continued for about 350 years after the death of Moses. Throughout this period, the Israeli’s never had a king nor a single ruler over them because tribal and family leaders governed them while the Prophet supervised their decisions and actions. As a result of this, the Israeli’s were subjected to continued attacks from neighbouring nations like the Philistines (Palestinians), Midianites and Amalekites. The situation continued like this for a long time and even if their assailants were defeated, they would commit raids and loot the people.

Towards the end of the fourth century of the Christian calendar, the Palestinian Ashad and Havali tribes of Gaza made a fierce attack on the Israelis and having defeated them, they carried away the Tabernacle, which contained the original Torah, robes and staves of Moses and Aaron, and the jar of manna. The Palestinians placed and enshrined the Tabernacle in their favourite temple Dagon, named after their biggest idol. Dagon had a human face and the body of a fish. It has since been reported by Egyptian commentators that a habitation named Bayt e Dagon still exists near the town of Ramla in Egypt, perhaps where the temple once stood.

One of the successors after Moses and Joshua was Elijah (Ilyas AS), the successor of Ezekiel, known as Elojah amongst the Israelis. Both the Qur’an and the Gospel of St. John refer to him as Ilyas. In the Qur’an, Elijah is mentioned in the thirty-seventh chapter titled Surah As-Saffat (The Arrangers):

And lo! Ilyas was of those sent (to warn). When he said unto his folk, Will ye not ward off (evil)? Will ye cry unto Ba’al and forsake the best of Creators, Allah, your Lord and Lord of your forefathers? But they denied him, so they surely will be haled forth (to the doom), save single-minded slaves of Allah. And We left for him among the later folk (the salutation): Pease be unto Ilyas! Lo! Thus do We reward the good. Lo! He is one of Our believing slaves! [Qur’an 37:123-132]

Most historians agree that Elijah (Ilyas AS) was of Aaron’s lineage and that he was sent for the guidance of the people of Syria, the famous city of Baalbak being the center of his mission. The people of that time were devotees to the idol of Ba’al, the most well-known and popular of the gods of the Saami peoples in the East. The idol had been worshipped through the ages by the Phoenicians, Canaanites, Moabites and Midianites since the time of Moses, was a male, and the counterpart of Jupiter or Saturn. Ba’al was so highly revered that he was known by a variety of names. The Old Testament narrates his worship by the Saami peoples and mentions him as Ba’al Barees and Ba’al Phafur. Amongst the Jews and Israelis of the eastern parts great functions used to be held for Ba’als worship with magnificent sacrificial altars erected where humans were slaughtered in their offerings and incense was burnt.

After the time of Elijah, amongst the tribes of Amalekites living between Egypt and Palestine, a despot named Goliath (Jalut) arose. Goliath overcame the Israelis and held many of their leader’s captive. He also levied tribute on the rest of them and destroyed what was left of the Torah.

It was a very difficult time for the Israelis, during which one of the judges by the name of Shamvel AS (Christian suggested name is Umasel¹) was endowed with prophethood and appointed to guide them. Chroniclers say the Shamvel (AS) was of Aaron’s lineage. Shamvel or Shamveel is Hebrew translated in Arabic as Ismail², but long usage left it as Ashamveel or Shamveel.

Shamvel AS governed the Israelis through this difficult period but Goliath’s tyranny did not abate, and the people appealed to him to appoint a king over them, under whom they could defend themselves. The Old Testament gives the reason for the Israeli demand for a king:

When Shamvel AS became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of the firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. Yet his sons did not walk in his ways, but turned aside, after gain, they took bribes and perverted justice. Then all the elders gathered together and came to Shamvel at Ramah, and said to him, “Behold you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint for us a king to govern us like all the nations” [Shamvel 8:24].

Shamvel AS prayed to Allah SWT for guidance and appointed Saul (Talut), of Benjamin and Abraham’s (Ibrahim AS’s) lineage, as the King. The Qur’an mentions Saul as one who was in every way distinguished above the people of Israel. When the Israelis heard this, they expressed their disapproval, saying that Saul was not a man of wealth and that he was not one of them³, and could therefore not be their king. The Qur’an details this account in the second chapter titled Surah Baqarah (The Cow):

Bethink thee of the leaders of the Children for Israel after Moses, how they said unto a prophet⁴ whom they had: Set up for us a king and we will fight in Allah’s way. He said, Would ye then refrain from fighting if fighting were prescribed for you? They said, why should we not fight in Allah’s way when we have been driven from our dwellings with our children. Yet when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned away all save a few of them. Allah is aware of evildoers!

Their prophet said unto them, Lo! Allah hath raised up Saul to be a king over you. They said, How can (he) have kingdom over us when we are more deserving of the kingdom than he is, since he hath not been given wealth enough? He said, Lo! Allah hath chosen him above you and has increased him abundantly in wisdom and stature. Allah bestoweth His sovereignty on whom He wills. Allah is all embracing, All knowing! [Qur’an 2:246-247]

Israeli obstinacy went so far that they demanded of Shamvel AS, that if Saul’s appointment was from Allah SWT, some token had to be shown in support of him. Shamvel AS then assured them that a token would be provided in the way of the Tabernacle (which was seized from them & contained the relics of Moses & Aaron) being returned to them because of Saul; and that their eyes would witness two angels bringing it down on earth for their possession. True to his word, two angels of Allah SWT presented the Tabernacle to Saul and the Israelis had no alternative but to accept him as their king.

Saul proclaimed a general public order that the Israelis prepare themselves for battle with the Philistines (Palestinians). When they marched out under Saul for battle, he put them to test before the engagement so as to purge his army from any weak elements that would be detrimental to their cause. On coming to a river (said to be the River Jordan by some commentators), Saul ordered that no one should drink its water to his fill, and whosoever did, would be turned out of the group. However, in the case of severe thirst, a mouthful or two was permissible. The test was too see who in the army could not control ordinary thirst and hunger, for such a person could not be expected to remain steadfast in battle:

And when Talut set forth with his troops, he said, “God will put you to the test by a river, whoever, therefore, drinks from it shall not be of me, and who shall not taste it shall be of me except him who scoops up a handful in his hand”. But they all drank of it except a few of them [Qur’an 2:249]

When they crossed the river, those who had drunk their fill said that they did not possess sufficient strength to fight the might of Goliath, but those who controlled themselves announced that they would certainly fight the enemy. And so Saul’s army, small as it was, advanced to confront Goliath, who was a very tall and unusually built man, with a force much larger in number.

Amongst the Israelis was a young man who possessed neither fame nor valour, but was the youngest of a band of brothers sent by his father to report on the Israelis. Upon witnessing no response to Goliath’s challenges and the Israelis hesitation, he could not restrain himself and requested Saul to send him forward. But Saul told him that he was too young and inexperienced and would not be able to fight Goliath. The boy’s name was David (Daud AS). Bible chronology sets his life between the years 1037 BC and 970 BC. David kept on insisting until at last, Saul gave in.

David went forth and challenged Goliath but Goliath, seeing a youth confronting him, took no notice of him. But when the challenging words were expressed repeatedly, Goliath was impressed by the great prowess of the youth. David exchanged blows and taking his catapult shot three stones at Goliath’s forehead, splitting it into pieces. As Goliath fell, David stepped up and severed the man’s neck from his body. Immediately the balance of the war titled to the Israelis and they returned home triumphant. David’s valour was imprinted on enemy and friend alike and he became prominent and distinguished. It was not long after that that David was appointed a prophet and a Caliph for the guidance of the Children of Israel.

And Allah SWT knows best.

¹This is stated in some text although it remains unclear.

²Not to be confused with Ismail, the son of Ibrahim AS (Abraham)

³Chroniclers write that for a long time prophets came from the lineage of Levi, and rulers from that of Judah. When rulership appeared to be transferred to the lineage of Benjamin, they were jealous and could not tolerate the idea.

⁴Prophet Shamvel (AS)

Friday, August 28, 2009


So for this month’s challenge, I decided to go back to my roots…my garden roots. When I was a kid, and my parents weren’t divorced yet, my Dad was into the whole horticultural thing and was always planting or sowing some form of foliage or vegetation. In fact, he was so enthusiastic about it that he always tried to convince me that it was the greatest thing on earth since sliced bread. I was around 8 at the time and just couldn’t relish the idea of relentlessly digging into the ground with a fork or a shovel and pulling out weeds and stuff. Besides, the thought of earthworms and other gooey creepy crawlies grossed me out so much that I decided that I’d rather have my fingernails removed with a pair of pliers than go near his patches of vermin.

But I’ve since changed my mind. Almost 20 years later, this month’s challenge was to plough into a piece of the neglected and abandoned soil and sow some seeds of love. I’ve decided to start off small by only planting Coriander, Green Chili’s and Spring Onions because I use them often in my cooking and frankly, Rome wasn’t built in a day and I wasn’t about to become some kind of landscaper overnight. In addition to that, I wanted to plant a single Sunflower seed adjacent to the mother patch, because they're pretty (and apparently they take a lot of water and I didn’t want the Sunflower to rob the others of their nutritional needs).

And so, about 2 weeks ago, I set out and chose my derelict patch and begun digging. Man was that hard work! The top soil was rock hard so I really had to put my back (and my foot) into it. A mere 20 minutes later and there was a significant improvement. I then had to pull out all the weeds and parasitic roots, which meant that my thighs got more exercise in that hour than it did for the entire year (and I’ve been one active lady throughout this year what with putting in the hours at the gym and circumnavigating the UK on foot).

I then had to fertilize the ground somewhat…well let’s just say I tried my best *snigger*. We actually had a bag of fertilizer in the store-room, God alone knows why. I guess mother was optimistic and hoping for miracles. Then it was off to sowing my seeds and well, I’m not the most charismatic sower of seeds. I just plonked them into the ground and covered them up. I also fashioned a little fence of sorts from some discarded trellis to secure the perimeter of my little patch so that our weekly garden service guys don’t confuse my budding beauties for wicked weeds. Then came lots of water and a mere hour and a half after I began, I triumphantly stood over my little patch of this and that. It’s nothing glamourous, but it was a labour of love.

I’ve been watering it every day since, but I’m afraid that the erratic and unpredictable weather has been playing havoc and hampering the spurting progress of my lovelies. I hope that I wait not in vain. I’ll post pics if anything comes of it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gog & Magog And Dhul-Qarnayn

Most people have heard about Gog and Magog, otherwise known as Yajuj and Majuj. But like the story of Khidr, there are different accounts as to who they are and where they’re situated etc.

In the biblical sense, there is a reference to Magog in the Book of Genesis 10 which reveals that he was one of the sons of Japheth who was one of the sons of Nuh AS (Prophet Noah). Japheth (Arabic citation Yafeth ibn Nuh: Japheth son of Noah) is also commonly believed to be the father of the Europeans according to biblical genealogy; the main link stemming from Genesis 10:5 which states that the sons of Japheth moved to the “isles of Gentiles”, believed to be the Greek Isles. According to Josephus:

“Japhet, the son of Noah, had seven sons: they inhabited so, that, beginning at the mountains Taurus and Amanus, they proceeded along Asia, as far as the river Tanais (Don), and along Europe to Cadiz; and settling themselves on the lands which they light upon, which none had inhabited before, they called the nations by their own names” [Antiquities of the Jews, I.6].

Magog was an eponymous ancestor, meaning that he was the ancestor of a people or a nation, hence the denotation that Gog and Magog are a tribe/nation/community of people. There are other cryptic prophecies in the Book of Ezekiel which echo those in the Book of Revelation and the Qur’an. The prophecy itself places Gog and Magog’s attack in “the final part of the years (or days)” or “the time of the end” [Daniel 11:35; 12:9; Rev 12:12].

“Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel” …”And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that swell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the Lord” [Ezekiel, 39:1-6].

Most biblical commentators and scholars relate the time of the Messianic Kingdom to the prophecy. The Book of Revelation speaks of Gog and Magog as “those nations in the four corners of the earth” who are misled by Satan. They advance “over the breadth of the earth” to encircle “the camp of the holy ones and the beloved city” [Revelation, 20:8].

Gog and Magog appear in the Qur’an in the 18th chapter, Surah Al-Kahf (The Cave) [18:83-98] as Yajuj and Majuj. They are described as the progeny of Noah (AS). They are human beings and any reports or postulates of super-natural physical manifestations are owed to Hebrew myths and conjecture. They are also described as evil and destructive in nature and said to have once “caused great corruption on earth” [Qur’an, 18:94]. It has been established that they were the wild tribes of Central Asia and were known by different names: The Scythians, The Parthians, The Tartars, The Mongols & The Huns. They had been making incursions on various empires and kingdoms from ancient times and their destructive ways have been documented in the story of Dhul-Qarnayn.

Dhul-Qarnayn / Thul-Qarnain / Zul-Qarneyn (circa 561 BC) was a righteous king and an adventurer who ruled a large kingdom with an equally large army. He travelled the world from East to West, the Qur’an specifies three directions. There was not a country that was too far for him and his army, nor a climate too hot or too cold, nor an adventure too risky and he was victorious in all his battles. His travels took him to a place which he thought was the end of civilization. He discovered that the people did not have homes or shelter and that they were an ignorant lot. He stayed with them for a while and reformed them, taught them good conduct, how to provide for themselves and about God. After he established good government amongst them, he then travelled further north.

Dhul-Qarnayn and his army reached a country situated between two mountain ranges. The area was well developed and the people in a better condition than those he had encountered before. They begged the king to help them against their neighbours who often robbed, raided and pillaged their homes as well as killed their people. These neighbours were Gog and Magog, or Yajuj and Majuj in the Qur’an. The citizens offered Dhul-Qarnayn a tribute in exchange for his help and protection. He declined the tribute but agreed to help them by building an impenetrable wall to keep out the hostile nation.

It should be worth noting that the invasions of Gog and Magog during this time were not limited to the people of this country and had spread over a substantially vast region; the habitations situated beneath the Caucasus range were their victims on one side, and the inhabitants of Tibet and China were not safe from their oppression on the other side. So several walls had been erected at different times; one such wall being the Great Wall of China which is about 1000 miles long; built to keep the “barbarians” out.

Using a large quantity of iron and molten copper and the labour offered by the citizens, Dhul-Qarnayn raised a huge wall and poured metal over it, filling the space between the two mountains. The invaders could not scale the smooth surface or break through the wall and they remain trapped there until the last days before the Day of Judgement…“Until when Gog and Magog are let loose, and they hasten out of every mound” [Qur’an, 21:96].

They will ask thee of Dhu'l-Qarnayn. Say: I shall recite unto you a remembrance of him. Lo! We made him strong in the land and gave him unto every thing a road. Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu'l-Qarnayn! Either punish or show them kindness. He said: As for him who doeth wrong, we shall punish him, and then he will be brought back unto his Lord, Who will punish him with awful punishment! Then he followed a road. Till, when he reached the rising-place of the sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had appointed no shelter therefrom. So (it was). And We knew all concerning him. Then he followed a road. Till, when he came between the two mountains, he found upon their hither side a folk that scarce could understand a saying. They said: O Dhu'l-Qarnayn! Lo! Gog and Magog are spoiling the land. So may we pay thee tribute on condition that thou set a barrier between us and them? He said: That wherein my Lord hath established me is better (than your tribute). Do but help me with strength (of men), I will set between you and them a bank. Give me pieces of iron - till, when he had levelled up (the gap) between the cliffs, he said: Blow! - till, when he had made it a fire, he said: Bring me molten copper to pour thereon [Qur’an, 18:83-96].

Some secular commentators, including some ancient Historians infer that Dhul-Qarnayn (which means ‘he of the two horns’) was Alexander the Great because of his two-horned helmet. Other more contemporary scholars and historians disagree citing that Alexander was a pagan and a worshipper of the Grecian gods whereas Dhul-Qarnayn was a monotheistic believer. Contemporary historians suggest that Dhul-Qarnayn was more likely to be Cyrus the Great, the famous Persian king of the Achamenid Dynasty (600 BC – 530 BC), and many contemporary Islamic scholars agree. Cyrus was a God-fearing and just ruler who had the respect and praise of his entire kingdom including his enemies. He was also a believer and worshipper of God. Many of his personal characteristics as well as the activities he engaged in throughout his life closely resemble that of Dhul-Qarnayn’s.

Where is the wall? Several walls have been identified throughout Asia. One such wall is that of Derbend, a high wall built from iron mixed with molten copper, with iron gates, between two mountains and a ditch of substantial depth, which is situated on the coast of the Caspian Sea in Caucasus. However, many authors, historians, commentators and scholars offer differing opinions about this wall since details about its width and breadth do not match the Qur’ans specifications of the wall of Dhul-Qarnayn. A more notable wall closes the pass to the west of Derbend (Qazween). This pass is situated in the inner parts of the western side of the Caucasus range, runs through very elevated parts of the Caucasus range and is naturally surrounded by two high cliffs of the mountains. This is known as Daryal Pass, also known as “Darra Ahni”, The Iron Pass in Persian. The wall at this pass was found to be built entirely with iron and molten copper. Detailed research was conducted into the construction of this wall and it was established that in fact, it was Cyrus the Great who had erected it.

And (Gog and Magog) were not able to surmount, nor could they pierce (it). He said: This is a mercy from my Lord; but when the promise of my Lord cometh to pass, He will lay it low, for the promise of my Lord is true [Qur’an, 18:97-98].

It is said that when the time draws near, as one of the major signs of the Day of Judgement, Gog and Magog will eventually demolish the wall, with the Will of The Almighty, and spread quickly throughout the world. They will wreck havoc once more, bringing catastrophe and devastation with them. It has been reported by Abu Hurairah (RA) that the Prophet SAW said:

“Gog and Magog dig this wall daily…but when they return the next morning, they find the wall in its original position, rather even more firm. It continues to happen so. But when the prescribed time would come, and Allah SWT would desire that they should come out, it would happen…they would come out (in huge numbers), drink the entire water of the world and people would hide themselves in forts and fortifications.”

Allah SWT will eventually destroy Gog and Magog by either causing glands to develop in their throats or by sending worms that will eat away at their necks. Thereafter Allah SWT will send rain to wash their bodies into the sea and cleanse the earth. No one knows when this will occur, but one day the Prophet SAW was said to be engaging in conversation with his companions when he stopped abruptly. He then said: “Doom for the Arab by the approaching evil. Today the wall of Dhul-Qarnayn has been opened” (Prophet SAW made a round shape with the aid of his thumb and finger).

And only Allah SWT knows.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Al-Khidr: The Guide

Of all the stories told in the Qur’an, this has to be the one that fascinates me the most. Al-Khidr is a mysterious figure in Islam; some say he is a saint and others say he is a prophet. Khidr (pronounced Khee-dir) is best known for his appearance in the 18th chapter of the Qur’an, in Surah Al-Kahf (The Cave) [Qur’an 18:65]. Although not mentioned by name in the ayah (verse), Khidr is assumed to be the figure that Musa (AS) [The Prophet Moses] accompanies and whose seemingly violent and destructive actions disturb Moses into breaking his oath of silence.

The story begins one day after a fiery sermon, when someone in the audience asked Moses if there was another man on earth more learned than him. He replied no, believing that Allah SWT (God Almighty) had given him the greatest knowledge through the power of miracles and the honour of The Torah. It was then revealed to Moses that he would meet someone wiser, possessing more knowledge then he.

Moses then met Khidr, referred to in the Qur'an as "one from among Our servants whom We had granted mercy from Us and whom We had taught knowledge from Ourselves,"[Qur’an, 18:65] at a place where two oceans met and greeted him with Salam (Peace be upon you) to which Khidr replied that there was no Salam there. Moses then introduced himself as the Prophet of the clan of Israeel and asked for permission to accompany him so that he could learn that which he did not know. Khidr, aware of Moses’ divine knowledge of the Torah, warned him sternly that their knowledge and wisdom differed significantly. He warned Moses of his impatience and set a condition that if Moses was to accompany him, that he had to remain silent and ask no questions; whereupon Khidr would undertake to explain his seemingly irrational behavior and actions at a later time.

Moses agreed and they set off together. They boarded a boat and Khidr removed a few planks from the side of the vessel, making a hole and damaging it. Having forgotten his oath, Moses said, "Have you made a hole in it to drown its inmates? Certainly you have done a grievous thing." Khidr then reminded Moses of his warning, "Did I not say that you will not be able to have patience with me?" and asked Moses not to be rebuked again.

On their journey, they encountered children playing in a town. Khidr called one of the boys aside, and then murdered him. Moses again interjected in astonishment and dismay, and again Khidr reminded Moses of his warning. Moses apolgised and promised that he would not violate his oath again, adding that if he did he would offer no further excuses and Khidr could then part from him.

They then proceed to a town where they were denied hospitality and were forced to continue on their journey. On passing a wall about to collapse, Khidr set out to restore and reinforce the decrepit wall. Again Moses was amazed and violated his oath asking why Khidr did not at least exact "some recompense for it!" since the townsmen were so unwelcoming, did not deserve his help and they would have at least had some money to buy food.
Khidr then replied that it was time for them to part company. The Qur’an described these events in these words:

He said, This is the parting between thee and me. I will announce unto thee the interpretation of that thou couldst not bear with patience. As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working on the river, and I wished to mar it, for there was a king behind them who is taking every ship by force. And as for the lad, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief. And We intended that their Lord should change him for them for one better in purity and nearer to mercy. And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city and there was beneath it a treasure belonging to them, and their father had been righteous, and thy Lord intended that they should come to their full strength and should bring forth their treasure as a mercy from their Lord; and I did it not upon my own command. Such is the interpretation of that wherewith thou couldst not bear. [Al-Kahf: 78-82]

Not much is known about Khidr other than his encounter with Moses, after which he hastily walked away into the unknown. However, in Islamic lore, Khidr is associated with the Water of Life. Since he drank the water of immortality he is described as the one who has found the source of life, 'the Eternal Youth.' He is depicted as the mysterious and enigmatic guide, an immortal saint in popular Islamic lore and the hidden initiator of those who walk the mystical path.

There are many disputes amongst contemporary Muslims as to Khidr’s supposed immortality. To Sufis, Khidr is highly revered and venerated. Even though there is a difference of opinion about him still being alive amongst most Sunni Scholars; amongst the Sunni Sufis there is almost a consensus that Khidr is still alive, with many respected figures and sheikhs, and prominent leaders claiming having had personal encounters with him.

Among the strongest transmitted proofs about the life of Khidr are two reports, one narrated by Imam Ahmad in al-Zuhd whereby Muhammad SAW is said to have stated that Ilyas (Elijah) and Khidr meet every year and spend the month of Ramadan in Jerusalem and the other narrated by Ya'qub ibn Sufyan from the 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz, whereby a man he was seen walking with was actually Al-Khidr. Ibn Hajar declared the chain of the first fair and that of the second sound in Fath al-Bari (1959 ed. 6:435). He goes on to cite another sound report narrated by ibn 'Asakir from Abu Zur'a al-Razi, whereby the latter had met Khidr twice, once in his young age, the other in his old age, but al-Khidr himself had not changed.

Islamic tradition¹ sometimes describes al-Khidr as Mu'allim al-anbiya (Tutor of the Prophets), for the spiritual guidance he has shown every prophet who has appeared throughout history. It is said that the one Prophet whom Khidr did not teach is Muhammad; significantly, it is Muhammad who taught Khidr. This is an unsurprising reversal of the master-disciple relationship exemplified by Khidr and Moses. Having the young, unlettered Muhammad teach the wise, ancient Khidr underscores the superiority of Muhammad's prophet hood and the fact that he too is a repository of divine knowledge (ilm ladunni):

When Allah made His covenant with the Prophets, (He said): Behold that which I have given you of the Scripture and knowledge. And afterward there will come unto you a messenger, confirming that which you possess. Ye shall believe in him and ye shall help him. He said, Do ye agree, and will ye take up My burden (which I lay upon you) in this matter? They answered we agree. He said, Then bear ye witness, I will be a witness with you. [Aal e Imran: R9] 

This verse has been subject to interpretation, with some believing its reference to Khidr, and others claiming its reference to Jibrael AS (Gabriel, the archangel). However, Sunni Scholars including Imams’ Bukhari and Muslim refute the claim that Khidr is still alive.

The Greeks call Al-Khidr, Hormux (Hermes) the adept and Initiator into the Temple Mysteries of the Great Pyramid. Isaiah 19/2 of the Old Testament refers to this Pyramid Temple as the "altar to the Lord in the middle of Egypt". Hermes, known to the Arabs as Idris, was called Enoch by the Hebrews.

The Spanish Arab historian Said of Toledo (d. 1069) said:
“Sages affirm that all antediluvian sciences originate with the first Hermes who lived in Said in Upper Egypt.”

There are other stories too, one that indicates that Khidr was a servant of Dhul-Qarnain (Alexander the Great) and that both crossed the “Land of Darkness” to find the “Water of Life” where Alexander gets lost looking for the spring but Khidr finds it and gains eternal life.

And only Allah SWT really knows.

¹ Islamic tradition and culture does not necessarily denote Islam's religious standing

Thursday, August 20, 2009

An Auspicious Time

Confession time. When I was a kid, I used to hate Ramadan. Actually, hate is a strong word but I recall disliking it immensely. I was always petrified during the entire month. I can’t quite explain it, but I always saw 'things' or felt some kind of a presence around me and because I couldn’t identify it, it scared the shit out of me. One fears what one doesn’t know. The evenings in Ramadan used to be eerily silent and it was like I could hear the Universe pulsating. It used to freak me out!

Around the same time, I attended Madressa with my sister (which is like Sunday School, only every afternoon for those who don’t know) every day after school and I hated that too. I hated Madressa because our teachers weren’t educated, they were volunteers, so they tended to favour those kids they liked or knew from associations with their parents and I struggled a lot during my years there. I was very intelligent, but only when I applied myself. The problem was I had no incentive to apply myself in a society where bigotry reigned and one’s self-worth was determined by how much money your parents make.

It didn’t help matters that I struggled to read the Quraan, while it seemed effortless for everyone else. It wasn’t that I couldn’t read, I was actually quite fluent, if I read on my own. But every time I was required to read aloud in the classroom, it’s like I got stage fright and would start trembling and the words would abandon me. Most of my uneducated teachers were ruthless and instead of encouraging me or helping me through this traumatic experience, I was ridiculed incessantly. This did nothing for my self-esteem, already fragile by the onset of a disease everyone calls adolescence and it wasn’t long before I complained to my mother, utterly miserable about my circumstances. Mother, in true form, went to set all the teachers right by threatening to relieve them of their limbs and giving them free ‘facials’ if they so much as looked at me cock-eyed.

The years seemed to fly by, I eventually graduated from Madressa, and as I grew more confident and inquisitive, I began doing my own research into Islam. “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”, that’s what we were taught. I had already memorised several chapters of the Quraan by the time I left Madressa, and then sought to learn several more, with the intention of understanding whatever I had learned in both Arabic and English. I began learning from all kinds of sources, reading up as much as I could and found many inconsistencies between the various schools of thought. At one point, highly confused, I asked Mother what to make of it all and she said that I should use the Quraan and authentic Hadith as my guide. I then rejected every school of thought for what I call, True Islam. True Islam is beautiful, peaceful and loving. It’s not ugly and destructive.

I’ve learnt so much inside and outside of the Madressa. I've learnt that in Islam we are instructed to respect all religions and ridicule no one, because only The Almighty alone is allowed to judge. I've learnt that we can respect others regardless of their opinions, beliefs and practices, without necessarily accepting their opinions, beliefs and practices to be our own. I've learnt that Islam literally means “Peace” and that any transgression against that, including terrorism, goes against the very nature and laws that govern Islamic practices no matter how fanatics try to justify their actions. I've learnt that Islam advocates moderation, because anything in excess is detrimental to the soul. I’ve learnt that Islam isn’t this big bad wolf that everyone makes it out to be, and that most people are indoctrinated by leaders who believe that they know best. I’ve learnt that Islam is uncomplicated and effortless but people’s agendas and ulterior motives have transformed what is supposed to be beautiful into something that seems menacing and hostile to the outside world…much like the way the Church tried to govern its people during the Middle Ages. Politics and Religion aren't a good combination.

It's that time of the year again, when roughly 1.6 Billion of the earth’s population observe the holy month of Ramadan on the Islamic calendar. These days, I welcome Ramadan with open arms and become so enthralled through the days that I never want it to end. I find a lot of peace in the stillness of the night, when everything seems to stop momentarily. Sometimes I almost feel like I can climb outside our stratosphere and marvel and the wonderment beyond this world. And when I read the Quraan and my eyes sweep through the words, I can hardly believe that I am actually reading it. The power encapsulated in the words wrap around my soul like a sheath. It’s like the real miracles of life and this world are revealed to me during this propitious month.

During the next month, I will be uncharacteristically subdued…which is not a bad thing. I use this month to immerse myself in all things religious and reflect on my life and purpose on earth. I will continue blogging, although my posts will be somewhat different, of a different nature. I want to wish all the Muslims a blessed Ramadan filled with Taqwa and Yaqeen. May Allah SWT grant you strength and Sabr and may His infinite mercy be with you always.

Being forever mindful of everyone else, I’d also like to extend my well wishes to the Jewish community, for Rosh Hashanah commencing after sunset on the 18th of September and the Fast of Gedaliah on the 21st of September. And well wishes to the Hindu community, for those who celebrate Krishna Janmaashtami on the 24th of August and Onam on the 12th of September.

An auspicious time indeed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What Women Really Want

*Sigh* So I don’t want to be a traitor to my gender and all that…but what the hell, this needs to be said. I don’t get some women. No, I don’t get MOST women.

I don’t get those women who don’t respect themselves enough and are so DESPERATE for attention that they would do ANYTHING for it. Things like strip down naked on Facebook and call the guy 600 times a day and make themselves so available, that they’re not even hookers because at least hookers get paid. She enjoys strange men looking at her half naked body and sending her ‘mwahs’ and ‘hugs’, telling her that she’s ‘cute’ because she doesn't love herself enough. She needs their validation and approval because quite obviously, she doesn't feel worthy.

I don’t get those women who have no conscience and run after married men, knowing he’s married and has a family. I mean, what part of MARRIED don’t they understand? Can’t they get their own men? Must they resort to stealing someone else’s? And if he can leave his wife for her, what makes her think he won’t leave her for someone else? One can never build happiness on another’s pain.

I don’t get those women who want to be in control; they want to be the head of the house and have all the say; be in charge of everything. Then they want to complain that their men don’t do anything. WTF? She didn’t want him handling the finances; then she complains and resents the fact that he never goes out to do the grocery shopping and that he expects her to do everything. If she wasn’t such a control freak, she would have recognized that he should have been the one wearing the pants in the first place.

I don’t get those women who know that their men are lying and are completely oblivious to it. Those women who know he’s cheating because they actually saw the text messages, but are in complete denial about it. If she caught him the first 12 times, what makes her think there isn’t going to be a 13th time? Instead she isolates herself from the rest of the world…ignores all those friends that have warned her about him, because of her stupid pride. Pride never got anyone anywhere.

I don’t get those women who get married, knowing who their future husbands are, and then spend the rest of the marriage trying to change him. He never liked going out on Sundays and always preferred staying in and preparing for the long week ahead. Two years into the marriage, she complains that he never wants to go out on Sundays. She knew that about him before they were married, what made her think it would have changed two years later?

I don’t get those women who have the attention and amor of someone wonderful…but refuse to see or acknowledge it because of their vanity and arrogance. They assume that person will always be there, forever showering them with attention and affection, when they themselves give nothing in return. And the day he decides to walk out and move on with his life, she cries like she’s the one that’s been wronged oblivious to the fact that she could have had it all if she wasn’t so bitchy and arrogant.

I don’t get those women who compromise who they are when they get married. They have no lives of their own. Everything becomes about him and the children. Their hopes and dreams and identities cease to exist. They isolate themselves to the point that no one else matters. Then the day he leaves, or kicks her out she wants to cry because there’s no one to help her. She has no social network of her own, no one to support her because she made her whole world his.

I don’t get those women who are so in love with the material aspects of this world, that they will marry a man for his money and believe that money is enough to sustain the marriage. They have no moral compass and no conscience. They just ‘want, want, want’ and the more they have the more they want because they don’t recognise that even if they owned everything the world has to offer, it won’t rid them of the empty voids in their souls. She thought that if she marries the rich guy, her life would be bliss and she’d have everything she’s ever wanted. She didn’t need to love him because in her mind, having ‘things’ meant that he loved and respected her. Until he started bashing her head into the cupboards and becoming paranoid about her activities during the day. There isn’t enough money in the world to save her from her woes.

I don’t get those women who are willing to sell their souls, just so that they can be in a relationship. She can never say ‘no’ to him, because she’s terrified he’ll leave her and that she’ll have to be alone because she’s never been alone. She’s always jumped from one guy to the next, so she doesn’t know how to exist on earth without being in a relationship. And now she drinks because he drinks and she becomes him by morphing every characteristic of hers to suit his preferences. She forgets that she was born alone and that she’ll probably die alone too.

I don’t get those women who are so insecure that the only way to feel better about themselves is to verbally shit on everyone they come into contact with. Every beautiful woman is a whore and every child is a brat. They treat their husbands like shit, belittling and emasculating them…making them feel worthless and unappreciated, just so that the massive void can be temporarily filled with a false sense of superiority.

I guess at the crux of it all, every woman wants the same thing. That is to be loved and appreciated unconditionally. It really is as simple as that. But some (most) women need to re-evaluate the way they go about attaining that love and appreciation whilst still maintaining their dignity, integrity and self-respect. After all, if you can’t love and respect yourself, who’s going to?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Living Consciously

We received a phone call from Spain late last night. It was FC, Mother’s youngest brother and my uncle-cum-cousin. He’s been working in Spain for the last month or two, living in a house on the beach near Almeria and will be returning ‘home’ to Amsterdam this coming weekend. Green like an ever-green Christmas tree I was.

Now THAT’S the life! If there ever was anyone I’d want to emulate, it would be him. He’s barely 30 years old, very handsome (ladies he’s still single *wink* *wink*), very Islamically inclined, very successful (too bad there aren’t many available men like him) and is based in Amsterdam but travels/lives all over the world, wherever his work takes him…Spain, Germany, Singapore, Argentina, London, Chicago…ugh everywhere. He called to say that he might be able to make a short trip to South Africa for Eid-Ul-Fitr with the family. Hopefully he’ll make it iA.

Speaking of Eid, Ramadaan is almost upon us and I’ve been manic busy with preparations. We’re not the conventional family when it comes to food in Ramadaan. Heck we’re not the conventional family period. Mother is a fantastic cook, the best in the land…when she has the time or energy, which is usually every second Sunday. Her idea of making savouries is throwing all the ingredients together on the stove and letting us do the rest. My Mother is a Forensic Data Analyst. She doesn’t have the time (or the patience) to put sesame seeds on little itty bitty bite-sized pies. And unlike many of the lucky females out there, I suffer from MIL-less-ness.

I don’t have a Mother-in-law that prepares everything, boxes it up and sends it over. And so the task rests with me and my sisters. I’ve been cooking since I was 9 years old and can make everything except Peking duck and Prawns…because I don’t eat duck or cockroaches from the sea.

That said, I’ve been quite busy because in our family, we’re the only ones who make our savouries. Everyone else buys them (lazy gits). In fact, aside from my mother, I’m the only one who will and can make the Samoosas and Spring rolls. My sisters usually help out with the pies, meticulously handling the sesame and/or poppy seeds that embellish the glazed pastry tops. My aunts and cousins are burdened with the task of baking or frying the goods and eating them.

On the subject of eating, we don’t make copious amounts of savouries in twelve thousand varieties (another unconventional family trademark, Copyright All Rights Reserved :P). Mother believes that we should honour the month and what it represents and not feast every night until the cows come home.
During Ramadaan, we eat quite healthily for sustainable energy; with loads of fresh salads, fruit, vegetables, chicken, fish, yoghurt followed by lots of water. We usually only have 1 type of savoury per night…maybe 2 on the weekends.

Not wasting or over-indulging is a rewarding experience. Excess defeats the purpose of this auspicious month. I’m very Anti-Wastage and I’m constantly reminded of how others starve while we stuff our faces like greedy maggots. So I want to take the opportunity today to plead Anti-Wastage. Think of all the food you waste on a daily basis, and how that could contribute to feeding a starving nation. We need to live more consciously…conscious of ourselves, conscious of each other and conscious of our Creator, then maybe this God Forsaken place called Earth won’t be half that bad.

Can't remember Photographers name.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Quais De Seine

Recently, on a whim, I bought a DVD of a movie I’ve never seen before. I never buy movies that I’ve never seen, merely because I don’t want to risk wasting my money on something that may turn out to be crap. But a few months ago, while strolling through the aisles at ASDA, something caught my eye.

It was a movie titled Paris Je T’aime (Paris, I love you). Up until this point, I had vaguely heard about it somewhere (my memory only serving to recall a thread of positive sentiment) but I had no idea what the movie was about.

It turns out that Paris Je T’aime is a collection of 18 short films by notable directors like Wes Craven and Gérard Depardieu. It really is a piece of art. There’s one particular short film (has to be my favourite short film of all time) titled Quais De Seine, directed by Gurinder Chadha who’s more famous for titles like Bend it like Beckham.

This story makes me wish I could meet a Frenchman that says InshaAllah too. I would urge everyone who has the bandwidth and 6 minutes to spare to check it out if you haven’t already seen it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Pen, Paper & Post Project

I’ve been invited to participate as a lab rat in the OH’s latest experiment. We are required to pen a letter (yeah, just like the old days circa 1999) to the person we’re paired up with, and post it. We’re also required to give feedback documenting the experience and our thoughts and opinions on the experiment etc.

I’ve been paired up with the ever elusive jetsetter-slash-blogger, and a really cool guy, UJ. At first, I didn’t know what to make of it, because what exactly do you say to someone you kinda know but don’t really know, y’know? Anyway, deliberation lasted all of 2 seconds and once my pen was on that note pad, I couldn’t stop. It resulted in a 3 page letter…poor UJ. He’s going to have to take time out from that hectic schedule of his to actually read my letter, maybe even take half the day off from work.

I like writing weird and spunky letters and well, there are a few surprises in that envelope. I won’t divulge all the details here (not until he gets the letter), maybe UJ will blog about it or give the necessary feedback to the OH, and then everyone will know. I had a lot of fun doing it, and purely because I didn’t want to overwhelm the poor guy, I decided to keep my weirdness and spunkiness to a minimum.

The whole process reminded me of how much I love writing letters. In high school, and university as well, I had several pen pals from all over the world. I used to love writing and receiving their letters, hearing from them, being a spectator in their lives. I used to get so excited to see post with my name on it. Ah, the good old days.

Even today, I still have one pen pal (even though I have her mobile number, her email address and we’re friends on Facebook)…I met her in London in 2004 and I knew her for all of 2 weeks before she left to go back home to Germany (I love the Germans, they’re always so engaging, friendly and polite and every German I meet wants to be my friend). She’s an artist, a painter and violinist and has since moved to Italy, then to Iceland, then back to Germany, then to Austria, back to Germany again etc. Our letters follow each other wherever we go and it’s been like that for the past 5 years.

So far, this experiment has been a very enjoyable and gratifying experience. So much so, that I’m welcoming anyone who’s interested in writing to me to send me their postal details on email. I’ll return the email with my postal details.

I look forward to the day I get to write a love letter, sappy poetry and all. But I’d have to be married first because there’s no way in hell that I’d take the risk of having my innermost thoughts and feelings exposed on every major networking site because of some disgruntled moron. Marriage means that love letters can be written and shared and that the only people who will uncover your secrets are your nosy teenage kids whilst rummaging through your drawers and cupboards looking for money to go to the movies while you’re out...or your nosy adult kids who have the miserable task of packing away all your belongings after you’ve passed on. But by then you’re dead, so who cares.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Other Epic Conversations

Azra arguing with Jazz and a 4 year old Talia
Azra: She hid your Barbie away, I don’t have it.
Talia: No she didn’t. I know you have it.
Azra: I’m telling you. I haven’t seen it, Jazz hid it away!
Jazz: No I don’t have that stupid doll (laughing).
Azra: Stop lying to the child.
Jazz: Talia, I didn’t hide your Barbie. Azra has it.
Azra: No I don’t have it. Jazz took it.
Jazz: No I didn’t (still laughing).
Azra: (To Talia) Who are you going to believe? Me or That Liar?
Talia: That Liar.

Azra and T, playing/fighting from London, England to Dublin, Ireland
On the Train:
T: Stop pinching me.
Azra: (pinches her again)
T: I said stop it!!
Azra: (tugs at her shirt)
T: (through clenched teeth, holding up her fist) If you don’t stop it right now I’m going to box your fucking ears in!!
Azra: (*frowns* small whiny voice) Please don’t box my fucking ears in.
(T & A laugh hysterically)

In Ireland:
T: What?
Azra: Nothing.
(A few seconds later)
T: What??? Why do you keep looking at me like that?!?
Azra: I’m NOT looking at you, I’m not even looking behind you! I’m NOT EVEN THINKING OF YOU!!
T: (quiet...*frowns* small whiny voice) Why you not thinking about me?
(T & A laugh hysterically)

Neighbour complaining about her inlaws, asks Mother, T and Azra for advice:
Neighbour: They are impossible! I don’t know what to do anymore.
Azra: You have to address the issue outright with all of them, tell them that this is what’s happening; and that if they have a problem with you, they should tell you, so that you can deal with it and move past the issue. Tell them that you won’t stand for their abuse anymore. If they can’t respect you, then they shouldn’t bother coming to your home and using you etc.
Mother: Call your Mother-in-law and explain to her that there was a mis-understanding.
T: I think you should tell your sister-in-law that she can’t accuse you of things you never did.
Neighbour: I can’t take it anymore, every year there has to be some issue.
Mother: Look, I understand how you feel, and personally I would feel the same way. But you have to do what’s right here. You’re not the bad one.
Neighbour: And everytime I’m the one who gives in so that there can be peace in the family.
T: Yes, but you’re the better for it. It makes you a better person. Don’t stoop to their level.
Azra: I know, call them over, pretend that nothing is wrong. Then when everyone is happily fed after dessert has been served, call them all into the lounge and then say “Ok, now that we’re all here, who the EFF has a problem with me, speak now or forever hold your effing peace” (laughing).
Mother: Don’t listen to her.
Neighbour: I think I should do that.
Mother: No don’t listen to her.
T: Yeah don’t listen to her, Azra is crazy.
Neighbour: But seriously, I can’t take this anymore. If I was the one that was wrong, I’d understand.
Mother: You have to talk this through with oyur Mother-in-law, otherwise you’ll never have any peace.
T: I think you should call them over and get to the root of the problem, because it’s like they’re trying to find any excuse to fight with you.
Azra: Ok wait, I know what you should do! So call them over. Then you cook their favourite food and dessert right. Then you poison the food! I’m sure you’ll have a lot of peace after that (rolling-on-the-floor-laughing).
Mother: No No No. Don’t listen to her. This child is evil.
Neighbour: I think I should do that. I should poison the food.
Mother: NO!
T: NO!
Azra: (laughing hysterically)
Mother: When the dust settles, sort it out with all of them under the same roof. Tell them you’ve been accused of all of this, and if it continues, you want nothing to do with them but you won’t stop your husband from going.
Azra: But that’s what I said in the first place!!!!

G-Chat with MJ
MJ: hello cock muncher :)
Azra: hello monkey fucker :D hows it going?
MJ: its all good, i want milkshake
Azra: don’t you always? You're going to have to wait until your wife is pregnant hahahahahaha :D
MJ: after how many months do chicks start lactating?
Azra: Have no idea. Do men lactate…like ever?
MJ: mANMILK when we have wet dreams
Azra: oh geez, you had to take it there. eewwww
MJ: i got olives and chocolate. not a good mix
Azra: you’re like a pregnant chick. lactating yet? Hahahahhahah UBER-LOL… LOLLING for dummies
MJ: LOL the beloved country
Azra: LOL, where’s my car?
MJ: LOL we Met
Azra: LOL of the Caribbean
MJ: LOL of the rings
Azra: A LOL Tale…Kingdom of LOL…The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to LOL
MJ: we can turn this into a lame post ;)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Different Roads For Different Folks

I got a phone call from my cousin Jazz the other day informing me that I’m about to be an Aunty. We are all ecstatic since the doctors told her that she can’t conceive (see why I hate doctors, negative pricks). Jazz and I go way back…like WAAAAYYYY back. I’m three months older than she is and can confidently state that I’ve known her (literally) her entire life.

Long before I had sisters to annoy me, there was Jazz. We had loads of fun…we loved decorating her mother’s carpet with paint, writing on the walls with crayons and throwing our toys down on people’s heads, from our flat on the 11th floor. I was a prankster way back then too, and Jazz was my accomplice. Between the two of us, we were a force to reckon with.

We use to play mindless games well into our teens…House was one of them. Jazz was always the one who was never interested in marriage or children. When her sister Shan paraded around with a pillow stuffed under her shirt pretending to be pregnant and waiting to give birth, Jazz sat in the corner puffing away on her cigarette while we all howled with laughter.

So when Jazz met her now husband and they were talking marriage, we were all shocked to the core. This was the last person on earth we ever expected to go down that route. A month before she got hitched, I went to live with them and slept beside her every night, reminding her that even though it was torture for her to share a bed, she was going to have to get used to it.

She’s been married for nearly 3 and a half years now. And while I am ecstatic for her, I can’t stand everyone else’s constant barrage of questions about when am I going to follow in her footsteps. We all have our own roads to walk...I wish people could respect that fact and understand that our destinies do not have to echo each other. I hate that other people use her success as a yardstick to measure my shortcomings and what I'm lacking. Being married does not make you a better person. And it does not give you some sort of superior status in society. We are different people and we both lead very different lives. I’ve come to recognize and accept that my path is different. I wish others could too.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Nothing Really Matters

What a crazy weekend. It’s like everyone I’ve ever known decided to drop by unannounced this particular weekend. Not that I’m complaining because I know I’m blessed and it turned out to be an awesome few days.

I finally watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button last week and Wow, what a beautifully depressing story. And that Cate Blanchett is the most beautiful ugly woman I’ve ever seen. She’s the kind of woman who looks horrendous in certain angles and angelically amazing in others. She has that chameleon-morphing-thing going on. Anyways, the movie resonated with me, particularly because I feel like the issue of ‘Time’ is a recurring theme in my own life.

Time. Either wasting it, not having enough of it, identifying the nothing-ness of it, wanting it to be perfect or trying to grasp the concept of it.

The movie also highlights that life is a series of new life and deaths, which is very true. For example, every new friend you have breathes new life into your existence. Then when the friendship runs its course, the death of the relationship is marked either by its end or by a metamorphosis of some kind. Then there are those relationships that never end…instead they change. Like with your parents, brothers and sisters…and one or two really special people in your life.

Everything in life is a series of life and death. New hobbies that are discarded in favour of more interesting ones, jobs that come and go, birthdays, friendships, relationships, good times, bad times, eating your favourite food, pain, grief, happiness…everything has a time span, even this blog. We give birth to new ideas, adopt older ones, re-evaluate them, change our minds and may even discard them altogether. We grow constantly and our growth is determined and measured by the number of lives and deaths we have had to encounter or experience.

Mother always told me “This too shall pass” and I used to get annoyed whenever she said that because I felt like she never understood what I was going through. Of course I always knew it was true, but I could never completely appreciate the gravity of this proverb until now. This perpetual cycle of life and death makes us who we are and we’re the sum of our experiences.

I still hold true that Time is a concept that only exists for Mankind. Time is irrelevant to anything outside our atmosphere. I’ve mentioned St. Augustine and his views on Time before too. The only real meaning our existences have is to our Creator. The One whom we all have to answer to one day. And Time means NOTHING to Him.

So at the crux of it all, I’ve realised that no matter what happens, eventually it won’t matter courtesy of Time’s healing properties. Two hundred years from now; unless you made some significant contribution to this earth through some form of Greatness or by adopting Hitler’s policies on devastation; no one will even know you existed. Your own family won’t even give you a second thought. We will all become, like our forefathers before us, little specs of dust in Time and history and eventually fade into oblivion. We will all be but numbers, faceless names that wander through eternity, marked by nothing of significance, along with the Billions of souls that have left before us.

Strive for the Greatness in the way of Goodness. Live your life so that you never have any regrets. And remember nothing REALLY matters.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Soap Junkie

I was explaining to Daniel, (you know Cane Ashby from The Young and Restless?, yeah him) the meaning and the sentiment behind the phrase Masha’Allah (don’t ask, long story) when it suddenly dawned on me that this guy acts in a soap opera, how gay is that? And yeah I’ve always known he acts in Y&R, but it never really occurred to me that it’s a soapie until that moment. It’s like a light went on.

Ordinarily, I hate soap operas. I hate Days of Our Lives. I hate The Bold and The Beautiful. I hate Passions and All My Children…including the local soaps, Egoli and Isidingo and whatnot. To me they’re all mindless crap and I would lose less brain cells if I sat around and smoked weed all day. But for some reason, I seem to tolerate The Young and the Restless…I don’t know why. I suspect it’s because they move at a pace…unlike Days and Bold where you’ll hear Brook and Ridge or Sammy and Lucas in the same conversation for the entire month. I think that soaps actually compete to see who can spin the same lines in a myriad of ways. Here's an example:

Monday: (Brook to Stephanie): I can’t believe you said that!
Tuesday: (Stephanie to Brook): How dare you accuse me of saying that?!
Wednesday: (Brook to Stephanie): Just admit it, admit that you said that!
Thursday: (Stephanie to Brook): You can accuse me all you like, but I said nothing!
Friday: (Brook to Stephanie): Why Stephanie, Why would you say that?

And it goes on and on and on and on. Makes me sick. I’m usually in the study or the kitchen but the TV is always loud enough to follow this preposterous conversation audibly.

Another reason Y&R stands out for me is that they’re a little more ummm, realistic. I stopped watching Days of Our Lives after Marlena became the Devil in the early 90’s. I just couldn’t take her seriously after that. People die and come back to life significantly less in the Y&R too. The creators and producers of Days and B&B are avid believers in re-incarnation of the Jack Sparrow kind. Although I have a hard time consolidating real life with make-believe.

Don’t get me started on the local crap that we’re fed every evening between 6pm and 7pm. Between Scandal, Rhythm City, 7nde Laan etc, I don’t know which is worse. Sometimes I actually wish that a gargantuan tidal wave of some sort could come and drown everyone in “The Deep”…that would be the end of Isidingo.

And I’m convinced that these soaps can NOT be good for the youth that are drawn in to watch them. I blame the lack of activity of our youth, not enough homework, as well as a limited amount of brain cells which makes this kind of shit interesting and tolerable. My sister insists that its mind numbing qualities are used as a form of escapism. I’m not buying it. I’d rather watch Pirates of the Caribbean for the 6523rd time.

The number one reason I like Y&R? They have the most gorgeous men acting in a soap, hands down. What I especially like about the Y&R guys is that 90% of the time, they’re clothed. For some reason, whenever I pass through the lounge from the kitchen and Days is on TV, I always seem to get a glimpse of at least three different shirtless men. WTF is up with that? Its not sexy at all…they look like freaks who can’t keep their clothes on.

Sure every now and then I get irritated with most of the characters on Y&R too, and I want to slap or kick all of them…but who can resist watching this:

But despite the eye candy, when it comes to incest, I don’t know which soap is worse. I’m sure B&B takes the cake with everyone else coming a close second. I don’t get why they can’t just find their partners and get on with it. Why must everything be a love triangle and why must every single character have a love child or three. Apparently monogamy is against the law in Salem and LA and Genoa City etc. etc.

That said, here are the top five ingredients to ensure a successful soap opera:

1.Incest. The more the merrier. Only biological sons and daughters are off limits, unless their Maternity/Paternity can be proved otherwise.

2.Love Triangles. Also, the more the merrier. It is imperative that when the Guy likes the Girl, that she be in love with someone else, who’s in love with someone else, who’s in love with someone else and so on.

3.Witchcraft. Any kind is welcome, although a special appearance by The Devil himself is always advantageous.

4.Half naked men and women. Because in real life, people walk around in their underwear and lingerie all the time. And a bottle of Baby Oil or 10 as well as a hose is very handy so those pecks and abs can glisten all day long.

5.Murder and Re-incarnation. What kind of life is it if there are no murderers? How else are the residents going to die? And if they can come back to life because someone kidnapped them and took them to a strange man-made island for decades at a time, all the better.

It’s so absurd, outrageous, unrealistic, ludicrous and daft that it’s beyond description. Exactly when did TV deteriorate and disintegrate to this level? I think around the time The Devil guest starred in Days. Even some of the reality shows are better, and I regard most of reality television (with the exception of Survivor and Amazing Race) with an equal amount of contempt and disdain. Buffy and Angel were more believable. I’d rather watch Desperate Housewives and Prison Break in those time slots, thanks.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Life According To Madonna

I told Waseem I'd do this tag. It originates from Nafisa (or thats what I'd like to think). It really is alot more challenging than it seems. There were places where I couldn't decide, and ended up using more than one song as an answer, although I haven't repeated any titles.

Using only songs from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Pass it on to whoever you like. You can’t use the artist I used. Try not to repeat a song title. It’s a lot harder than you think! Repost as “My Life According to (ARTIST NAME)”.

Pick Your Artist: Madonna

Are you male or female? Who’s That Girl?

Describe yourself: Beautiful Stranger

How do you feel? Die Another Day

Describe where you currently live: Miles Away

If you could go anywhere, where would you go? La Isla Bonita

Your favourite form of transportation: Spinning / Swim / Jump

Your best friend is: Ray Of Light

Your favourite colour is: True Blue

What is the weather like? Frozen

Favourite time of day: Bedtime Story

If your life was a T.V. show, what would it be called? Live To Tell

What is life to you? Like It Or Not

Your relationships: Love Profusion / Sanctuary

Your fear: The Power Of Goodbye

What is the best advice you have to give? Nothing Really Matters

If you could change your name, you would change it to: Rain

Thought for the day: Get Into The Groove

How I would like to die: Let It Be

My soul’s present condition: Survive / You’ll See

My Motto: Nothing Fails / You Can’t Hurt Me Now

I tag anyone and everyone...especially the lazy people.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Of Mice & Men

I don’t know what happened to my PC, but it’s translating everything into Spanish. I guess it’s not a travesty or anything like that, since I can understand most of it, but I still don’t know how to fix it. On the subject of Spanish…on any normal day I can’t sing to save my life…like seriously can’t sing for shit. But for some reason I can sing very well in Spanish and Italian. I can belt Celine Dion’s “Aun Existe Amor” and “Sola Otra Vez” and “Amar Haciendo El Amor”. Or Josh Groban’s “Si Volvieras A Mi”, “Oceano” and “Per Te”. No one knows that about me. Well, now I guess everyone knows.

I was divulging this information to an acquaintance, Sandra, a 20 year old pixie-like Portuguese girl at a mutual friends house. Sandra, with her mop of curly brown hair and hazel eyes commented on my curls, much longer than hers and pitch black; a feature, she said, that made me look more Spanish than Asian. I wasn’t surprised, people tell me I look Spanish all the time but I gave her a brief breakdown of my heritage and we got chatting on all sorts.

At some point, Sandra confessed to me that she was in love and that she wanted to get married, but that he didn’t want to commit. She went a step further and told me that he is from the Indian community and that he’s Muslim. At this confession, I sighed and rolled my eyes heavenward, shaking my head. “He’s using you”, I told her. “What?” she asked incredulously. “You’re he’s white trophy”…I continued. She looked at me like a pair of horns just sprouted from my head. I had a feeling this was going to take a while, so I suggested we make some coffee and have a chat somewhere else where we didn’t have to scream at each other over the boisterous crowd.

I didn’t beat around the bush. I told her EVERYTHING. Every sordid detail…how a staggering 80% of the South African Indian (Asian) Muslim male population (have to be specific here) are made up of pure shit. I told her about all the guys I went to school with, how every one of them got 'white' girlfriends because they were the only ones who would sleep with them…how they promised heaven and earth to these girls, and then passed them around to their sleazy friends like cheap cigarettes.

I told her about Adil*, who went out with Yasmin* for 7 years, and then dumped her because he claimed he didn’t want to get married, then married someone straight out of school 6 weeks later.

I told her about Suhail*, who was living with another woman for 2 years, then proclaimed his innocence when he wanted to get hitched to Naseema*, pretending to be the angel he never was.

I told her about Husain* and hundreds of men like him, who had fathered children from the surrounding poor neighbourhoods, yet vehemently deny it and refuse to acknowledge the existence of these children.

I told her about Ashraf*, who was caught red handed with his long-time mistress, parading around in another Province by a family friend, and lied outright about it, even going as far as isolating those friends that knew it to be true.

I told her about Riaz, the legendary asshole, who bides his time ensuring that all the lonely housewives aren’t so lonely when their husbands are away at ‘work’ aka with other lonely housewives or mistresses.

I told her about Shuayb*, the local drug dealer that got married to a lovely lady who had no clue about his narcotic inclinations, and only really found out the first time he struck her with his fist when he was high, a blow hard enough that it left a permanent scar on her face.

I told her about Faraaz*, an acquaintance of the family whom we’ve known practically forever, who felt it necessary and appropriate to hit on my 18 year old sister, hoping to ‘get’ something out of it because, and I quote, “he can’t do that to the woman he wants to marry”. So my sister wasn’t deemed ‘marriage material’ because her parents are divorced, and he just had to take advantage of that fact…until she threatened his life if he came within 10 feet of her.

I told her about the men who only get married to 'white', fair women…because any woman with any kind of hue is considered unworthy, like she’s ‘dirty’ or something.

I told her that I have thousands of similar stories…of so-called Muslim men…overgrown pond scum masquerading like men more like it.

I told her about those repressed men Justin was talking about, the ones that go on like they’ve never seen females before…some of whom come and read my blog, then feel it necessary to send me emails asking me how can I speak like that…how can I 'perv' on men and say things like 'screw around' and how can I go on cruises and how do I expect to get married etc. It’s so 'unbecoming of a Muslim female'…while they have their drug dealers on speed dial and hide their subscriptions of Playboy under their beds and their porn on their PC’s in a folder named Templates or something like that…and get off on my uncouth language.

I told her about those men who think it’s ok to call me ‘sweetie’ and ‘baby’ because they reckon that I curse and use bad language and say things like ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’, so I deserve to be spoken to that way…much in the same tone that they justify that a woman wearing a skirt deserves to get raped.

I told her about that fucked up mentality that most of these men have…that it’s ok, perfectly fine for them to go on like animals, it’s justified because in their fucked up minds, only women get punished for these sins…not men. For men, it’s a rite of passage.

I told her how most of these men lack basic civility and are naturally rude to everyone, including their own parents. Their wives are their possessions, and the world their slaves…so words like “please” and “excuse me” are exempt from their vocabulary.

I told her about another kind of fucked up mentality, one where these men believe that they have no control over who they are because they’re men. We’re not supposed to walk past them or go to mosque because they can’t control themselves or their gaze…they give themselves so little credit because they’re so ‘weak’. No man with real Imaan (faith) acquiesces that easily, or is that ‘weak’.

I told her that even though some of these activities are prevalent in other religions, cultures and faiths, I’ve never come across such depravity in all my life; and the fact that they call themselves Muslims, makes it even worse because they should know better.

I told her that strangely enough, many of the British, American, Canadian and European Asian Muslim Males are not that bad…that it only seems to be an epidemic in South Africa.

I told her that even if her beloved did commit, that she only faced uphill battles…that it would most probably be met with contempt and hostility from most of his family members, his mother in particular…who would most probably seek the help of any witch doctor in a desperate attempt to destroy the relationship.

I told her that despite all of this, that there is still some hope by way of the 20% of decent South African Indian Muslim males out there.

I told her that a lot of women were just as responsible in perpetuating this fucked up cycle by accepting these pathological behaviours from these so-called men and even endorsing them. A lot of women are responsible for the trash that they call their sons.

I told her that she was contributing to the cycle too, by staying in a relationship that has no future, with a man that has no respect for her, and that she was better off with another Portuguese bloke who would at least open the door for her wherever she went.

After my tirade, Sandra looked at me positively HORRIFIED and was speechless. When she managed to gather her wits about her, she asked me about me and how I intended on going about finding someone in the proverbial sea of shit…what was I going to do? I smiled at her enthusiasm and told her that I have faith.

I told her that I will just know. See, my husband is the type of guy that isn’t hypocritical, in fact he hates hypocrisy. What’s good for the goose is equally good for the gander. He respects me for who I am, and isn’t trying to mould me into this perfect little being that he can parade around like an Olympic gold medal. My husband knows who he is. He knows his strengths and weaknesses, he knows his quirks and issues and he works on them for HIM, not for me. He knows he’s not perfect and he owns it. He’s confident enough not to mentally, emotionally or physically abuse me so that he can feel like a man, because he knows he’s already the man for having me in his life, and he knows what I’m capable of :D

My husband is not arrogant and has equal respect for everyone around him; everyone from his brothers to the men who pick up the trash. He’s not insecure and doesn’t need to compete with other men to ‘prove himself’ to anyone. He doesn’t care if I curse out of frustration or anger or if I tell the taxi-driver to “fuck-off” because he’s driving like an ass…because he knows that I will never direct the sentiment at him, because I respect him too much. He doesn’t care that I go out with my girls, because he knows he has ample time to do what he likes with the guys when he wants to.

My husband respects all women, regardless of their rank and status, with the same reverence he has for his mother. He doesn’t lust after other women, because he knows he has all the woman he needs. He knows he’s the man and he knows that he can control himself. He knows that I have no reason not to trust him, and that I won’t be needy, clingy or suspicious, simply because there’s no reason to be. He knows that once we’re married, every other male ceases to exist for me and that only people roam the earth. And when he talks to me, I listen intently, hanging onto every word…even when I don’t agree with him.

My husband is intelligent and educated and constantly seeks knowledge, he doesn’t just accept things to be doctrine. He is religiouslu inclined, but not fanatically or dogmatically so. He knows that most people have been brainwashed and make up their own rules and regulations to suit themselves or their cultures, and prefers to search for the truth himself. He is knowledgeable and always aware and conscious of God.

My husband knows that every single thing I do for him and our household is out of my own free will, he does not expect it of me and he’s grateful. He knows that I have my own interests and goals that are apart from our shared interests and goals and he supports that. He respects my independence, yet knows that I still want to and can depend on him. He listens when I speak and is my voice of reason when I’ve lost all hope in humankind. He knows I’m a tower of strength and likes that about me. He’s my comforter when I need a shoulder to cry on. He sometimes thinks I’m crazy, but will still indulge me and my antics.

My husband is not afraid to talk to me. He tells me when my hair looks like shit with a playful glint in his eye, and when he tells me I look beautiful, I know he means it. He comes to me when he’s plagued and needs someone to talk to because he knows that I will stand by him no matter what. Wherever he goes, I will follow. When he needs his space, I will wait patiently on the sidelines, until he needs me again. When he’s with the guys and they all mock their wives, he has nothing bad to say because he knows I’m not like them. I don’t have to nag him to get things done, he remembers and does them. I don’t whine about what we don’t have, I make do. I don’t demand material possessions because I’m indifferent. I don’t pick at his self-esteem and make him feel worthless or less than because I know he’s all the Man that I’ll ever need. I don’t expect him to jump hurdles for my affection, he has it unconditionally and the only thing I demand is his constant awareness of Us.

To my husband, I come first. If I’m not happy, then neither is he and vice versa. He knows that he comes first in my books too. I love and respect his parents and his family and treat them as my own…even when they drive me insane. We make each other laugh on a regular basis because we prefer to go through life grabbing the bull by the horns and actually Living. He knows that his job is to be the best father, husband and son that he can possibly be and he excels without even knowing it. He knows that beside him, he has my unwavering loyalty and more vigor than the Queen of Sparta. I know that he is a real man, not an imposter or a wannabe. I know that he is more than worthy of me, and I strive everyday to be worthy of him.

Sandra wanted to know who is he? I told her that I am confident that I will meet him if I haven’t already, either on this earth or in the Hereafter, and that he’d be worth waiting for.

*Names changed to protect the not-so-innocent.