Reclaiming our Humanity…

The countdown to the New Year has started…depending on our geographical locations, the New year is closer to some of us than others and as this year reels to an end, the heart is saddened at the manner and speed at which our humanity is plummeting to baser depths than the mind and soul can even begin to grasp! Reeling in shock the paradigm of human behavior seems beyond almost any…human dimension! How does one fall into such an horrific abyss of brutality… injustice…atrocities…flagrant wrongs…which are now taking place across borders and continents with impunity and a scary nonchalance…with non committal and apathetic stances and  insouciant nods and approvals from the “powers that be”…this is certainly not the man the Good Lord made in His image…

I realize it is easy to lay blame…randomly on circumstances…lack of education… poverty…mob frenzy…but do we not as members of a Civil Society have to own up to having failed on all these levels…and then some…because we are witnessing regular barbaric acts of inhuman actions in our milieu…with no end in sight…unfortunately the media does not always help and has to stop pushing the envelope of depravity and horror just because that garners more readership…

Where does all this behavior take root? In the mothers arms..the mother who is regularly abused by a system that gives her no respect or dignity…in an education system that is defective even in it’s eliteness…in imparting or rather failing to impart core values of substance…in daily social dealings that lay no emphasis on justice and rights…on a total  lack of a commitment and adherence to laws of basic human conduct. Responsibility and  accountability, two vital humane proponents seem not to concern us too much…they are not qualities we seem to pay much attention to…admire…or even try to inculcate…

Public and personal outrage is also not new…despair… remorse…sorrow…anger…grief is demonstrated as a collective outpouring…but more is required…much more.! We have to relearn core human behavioral tenets…We have to relearn to live them…We have to stand up to be counted in a commitment for change…starting from each and everyone of us! 

As always, I do believe, that it is the belief in a higher form of accountability, that more often than not propels us towards a more humane and just approach to all we do and say. A regular dose of personal introspection and critical self analysis is absolutely vital! When all is said and done , we need to be prepared to stand up to be be counted ! Reclaiming our humanity is where we have to begin…there is no doubt that the pockets and islands of excellence that abound around us are praiseworthy on all sorts of levels…we do however still need to aspire to making serious commitments for change in our bid to reclaiming our humanity across the board…

This blogging year has been one of much joy…encouragement…discovery and personal growth…my blogging ‘family’ is now a vital part of my being…and although this year I have been absent from it for long periods of time…it is now very much a part of me! 

As always, the Lord be praised , we had a family Celebratory Finale to the year…and my common and blessed refrain is…truly my cup runneth over…

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year….may it be one of much joy…good health…love and laughter….inner peace for each one of us as well as a collective one for our world….

I Believe…

As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use! 
Gustave Flaubert!

This is a hard  hitting and sadly little acknowledged fact of life. Whilst we all talk of our beliefs and freedoms and our levels of tolerance and understanding…we forget that freedoms are only safe when they are shared! As another wise man, Blaise Pascal said…Men do not do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it for religious reasons. This has sadly become a sad and vile aspect of our times, one that is talked about endlessly without any real and meaningful effort being put into addressing and solving this issue…which leads to the utterly devastating thought that “the powers that be” deliberately and insiduously turn a blind eye to this and let acts and incidents of this nature escalate to the levels of pure and unadulterated negation of all that is fine and moral and upright and worthy of being the Good Lord’s viceroy on earth…I believe we are continuously selling ourselves short on this exalted position, because I believe human beings have a unique place and responsibility among God’s creations…

I believe that any one person’s death due to violence and aggression is a heartrending and heartbreaking occurrence…this should not be given meaning and importance based on nationality…creed…color…gender…or geography!
I believe every violent death tears at the very fabric of the human rights of ‘civil society’! 
I believe it is easy to spout and sow seeds of discord and venom!
I believe that defending certain freedoms in a discriminatory manner is unworthy and unwise “double speak”!
I believe it is each and everyone of our’ responsibility to defuse this and start dialogues in our own spaces!
I believe we have to be careful not to buy into all that is being thrown at us! 
I believe Life prepares us through trials and tribulations…ups and downs…so as to be able to meet the rest of Life head on!
I believe Life is about growing to your own personal best in your own space…and taking responsibility for that space!
I believe Life is a privilege not a ride!
I believe that every action of mine will have an opposite reaction…and that what goes round comes around!
I believe that I cannot always control things around me…I can however control my reactions and subsequent actions of thought and deed !
I believe great Nations like people need to commit to the tenets of justice…truth…peace…human rights…freedom…on an even keel!
I believe that it is in the heart that all wars are fought and won!
I believe that the ultimate wisdom of God is greater than ours…and that we have to trust this and follow His edicts !
I believe positive and definitive personal change and growth must be the essence of Belief!
I believe that a people full of national honor and no sense of ownership of the Nation cannot make a difference!
I believe we all have the potential to make a difference!
I believe we are not trying seriously…mere lip service does not count!
I believe we have to stop waiting for a miracle whilst refusing to help create one!
I believe that our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world…as being able to make ourselves as a people and as Nations!
I believe universal truths are embedded in all our souls like a common DNA…
I believe the time has come to tap into them!

My Beloved Daughter….

My two elder children celebrate what we now call ‘milestone’ birthdays this year…my lovely daughter today! A very dear fellow blogger, after reading the post dedicated to my son’s milestone celebration, asked what constitutes a ‘milestone’ age….a very valid and relevant question in this age of quantifying days, events and emotions into Hallmark occasions…often relegating to the back burner the true essence of such celebrations…

For a mother, birthdays are special days of the heart…purely because looking out from the eyes and heart of a mother, whilst Traveling down memory lane…every child of hers’ birthday is a ‘milestone’ celebration! A celebration of awe…honor…joy…fun…comfort…strength…support…care…pride…consideration…above all, Love! A celebration of the varied and rich tapestry of life and living…of rich and joy filled moments shared together…culminating in a day such as this…as an appreciation of the fullness of human happiness in the security of our love! The journey of motherhood, with all it’s ups and downs…it’s highs and lows…the magic…the angst…the fun…the fears…the love…the laughter…all comes together with the peace of looking out and seeing them exactly where they are supposed to be…firmly ensconced in the space they have carved out for themselves! This is the ultimate joy and pride…the humility and thankfulness…yes…birthdays are poignant reminders of this…milestone birthdays perhaps a little more…

My daughter…my eldest…celebrates one such milestone age today…blessedly happy in the circle of love of her parents and  siblings…her own beautiful family….her extended family and her family of friends! In my  mind’s eye I can still vividly picture my serious little girl…she who has now blossomed into a  young woman of substance…her gentle vulnerability, humaneness and compassion being the cornerstone of this beauty, strength and independence…surrounded by the Good Lord’s blessings and grace…her gentle and winning ways…the strength and support of a loving life partner…understanding and giving due deference and balance to the blessings and power of the Divine has all helped her on this journey of hers…all of this whilst keeping pace with her own young ones on the threshold of adulthood…doing it all with an ease, energy and grace that leaves me in awe…

The pride at seeing you fulfill all your roles to such loving excellence makes my heart sing Saamia! This comes with the prayer that God draw you near Him…richly bless you always…and shelter you at all times in His loving care…help you conquer the many horizons still out there…live your dreams and achieve all your milestones and more! With a special prayer that your beautiful self and smile will continue to bring love and sunshine to all who love and surround you…and help radiate your life always with it’s unaffected goodness and love…amen!

Happy Birthday Saamia…

The Glory and Joy of Ramadan…

The glory and joy of finding oneself once again, in the blessed month of Ramadan starts well before the actual month…the anticipation and preparation of an internal and personal journey is a step by step trek, and then before you know it Ramadan has flown by and we are in the last ten days of this month…within which falls Laylut-ul-Qadr…The Night of Power/The Night of Destiny …the night when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad…a time of harnessing great blessings! We approach these last ten nights with an heightened awareness of the gates of the grace and mercy of Allah being flung wide open for those found on this path…a culmination of the vigils of worship…

Ramadan comes with a host of glories…above all, that of a personal search, and…relating the fasting, the abstinence of the outer and feeding the inner…to an ultimate form of worship and connection between the self and Allah, with the sole purpose of attaining His pleasure and grace!  Ramadan starts out in an anticipatory mode…filled with a hunger to find new meanings for the self and personal growth through a form of pruning the extra leaves of your life…almost, as someone said, a ‘personal  body and soul detox’…pushing the envelope of the inner self in this deeply spiritual time of year…with a sense of joy to recharge the battery of your spirit and soul! More specifically, this time of year has a direct co-relationship with the space you occupy at the present point of time in your own life and through it, to come to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the Divine…a journey of better understanding and experiencing the purpose of the connection of submission to Divine Will…

On another level it is also finding new meanings in the fellowship of the family…community and society at large…finding harmony in the bigger picture…consciously increasing justice, charity and compassion in the spheres of daily routine…a continuing search for equity…fairness…empathy…patience…brotherhood…mindfulness…and personal excellence! Definitive in this process is internalizing to understand and carrying this personal and spiritual discipline beyond this blessed month…to raise personal awareness and consciousness of the Divine to an heightened sense of being…

His mercy and generosity spills over in a celebratory culmination of this month of devotional abstinence, search and worship…to the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr…a three day celebration of kith…kin…joy…sharing…color…food…love…laughter…manna for the heart and soul…the Good Lord be praised…

Today we also celebrate 65 years of my home counry…Pakistan! It was the month of Ramadan when we celebrated the establishing of this new homeland and identity all those years ago…the need of the hour is a collective will and consciousness to renew those vows of sincerity…honesty…determination and hard work and re-establish ourselves as stakeholders in this wonderful land of ours…

I have been away from the blogosphere and missing it…am now looking forward to reconnecting with my blogging family…stay blessed!

A Son’s Milestone Birthday…

Some favorite lines of mine from poems about sons are from A Soldiers Prayer for his Son by Gen Douglas MacArthur and Abraham Lincoln’s My Son…both these poems are poignantly definitive and have always resonated with Prayers for Children as also the prayer that I have been able to truly help my Children walk through life with the inner strength and integrity to do the right thing…knowing that nobody is going to know you did it or not! These cherished lines are from a treasured poem plaque my eldest once gave me
…sometimes when I think of Mom
I think of what she Took
She took a child and taught it how
To live this life with pride
She took the hands that longed to hold…
Her child and not let go
Used them to push her child along
The way to thrive and grow….

My two elder Children are celebrating what we now call…’milestone’ birthdays this year…my eldest son celebrates his today…and even though for me all their days are such…my thoughts go back to search…recall…review…tear over…reminiscence…with awe and a deeply felt sense of pure happiness at the wonder that has been my life as my children’s mother! This journey has been one of such incredibly powerful experiences in all aspects of my being…that it is by far my life’s greatest joy and blessing and gives me a sense of ‘non pareil’ accomplishment…and although I do believe that ‘having a child is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body’…often in far away lands…my children are all truly the joyous mainstays of my life…

Seeing this beloved son of mine live his life in a matrix of the search for excellence in all he does has been a learning experience for me too…his focus…commitment…hard work…humility…strength…choices…faith….accompanied by a compassionate and loving heart…has made mine sing so very  often…seeing some of his goals coming to fruition, specially now at such an opportune time in his life, makes my heart swell with pride and thankfulness…above all, his gentle concern…care…and love for all of us has truly been the icing on the cake…Khalil Gibran said….your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you, as by the attitude you bring to life…Not so much by what happens to you, as by the way your mind looks at what happens to you…I feel so very thankful to the Good Lord that you have understood this Usman…and pray you will always work to being the best that the Good Lord meant for you to be…believeing that the ultimate Wisdom of God is greater than ours and that we have to trust Him to guide and help us…Amen!

Happy Birthday Son…I feel so very blessed to have a son like you and in the language of your generation…you rock my world…

The Forty Rules of Love…(4)

As human beings our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world…as being able to remake ourselves…said Gandhi! Being in harmony with our hearts…beliefs…and Universal truths increases our ‘human’ potential and strength! Kindness in thinking…words…sharing…giving…allowing the laws of God to take precedence over the laws of man…creates profound pockets of love and confidence…and becomes a source of an exponential power! 

In this world of changing values…perceptions…priorities…we need to hold fast to the values we have grown up with…be unafraid to defend them…hold firmly to our tenets of belief and let them be our help and guide…but being able take the reins of our life in our hands requires a deep abiding commitment to stay the path…take personal moral responsibility for the space we occupy…believe in the ultimate wisdom of the divine…so that it can all come together to help us develop into our personal potential and greatness…

31. If you want to strengthen your faith, you will need to soften inside. For your faith to be rock solid, your heart needs to be as soft as a feather. Through an illness, accident, loss, or fright, one way or another, we are all faced with incidents that teach us how to become less selfish and judgemental, and more compassionate and generous. Yet some of us learn the lesson and manage to become milder, while some others end up becoming even harsher than before. The only way to get closer to the Truth is to expand your heart so that it will encompass all humanity and still have room for more Love.

32. Nothing should stand between yourself and God. Not imams, priests, rabbis, or any other custodians of moral or religious leadership. Not spiritual masters, not even your faith. Believe in your values and your rules, but never lord them over others. If you keep breaking other people’s hearts, whatever religious duty you perform is no good. Stay away from all sorts of idolatry, for they will blur your vision. Let God and only God be your guide. Learn the Truth, my friend, but be careful not to make a fetish out of your truths.

33. While everyone in this world strives to get somewhere and become someone, only to leave it all behind after death, you must aim for the supreme stage of nothingness. Live this life as light and empty as the number zero. We are no different from a pot. It is not the decorations outside but the emptiness inside that holds us straight. Just like that, it is not what we aspire to achieve but the consciousness of nothingness that keeps us going.

34. Submission does not mean being weak or passive. It leads to neither fatalism nor capitulation. Just the opposite. True power resides in submission –- a power that comes from within. Those who submit to the divine essence of life will live in unperturbed tranquillity and peace even when the whole wide world goes through turbulence after turbulence.

35. In this world, it is not similarities or regularitiesthat take us a step forward, but, blunt opposites. All the opposites in the universe are present within each and every one of us. Therefore the believer needs to meet the unbeliever residing within. And the nonbeliever should get to know the silent faithful in him. Until the day one reaches the stage of Insan-ı Kamil, the perfect human being, faith is a gradual process and one that necessitates its seeming opposite: disbelief.

36. This world is erected upon the principle of reciprocity. Neither a drop of kindness nor a speck of evil will remain unreciprocated. Fear not the plots, deceptions, or tricks of other people. If somebody sets a trap, remember, so does God. He is the biggest plotter. Not even e leaf stirs outside God’s knowledge. Simply and fully believe in that. Whatever God does, He does beautifully.

37. God is a meticulous clockmaker. So precise is His order that everthing on earth happens in its own time. Neither a minute late nor a minute early. And for everyone without exception, the clock works accurately. For each there is a time to love and a time to die.

38. It is never too late to ask yourself ‘Am I ready to change the life I am living? Am I ready to change within?’ Even if a single day in our life is the same as the day before, it surely is a pity. At every moment and with each new breath, one should be renewed and renewed again. There is only one way to be born into a new life: to die before death.

39. While the parts change, the whole always remains the same. For every thief who departs this world, a new one is born. And every decent person who passes away is replaced by a new one. In this way not only does nothing remain the same but also nothing ever really changes. For every Sufi who dies, another is born somewhere.

40. A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western… Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water.

The Forty Rules of Love…(3)

The Roller Coaster of Life moves and changes at speeds that are often difficult to fathom much less understand…the perfect balance and harmony of the universe  however makes it all seem so effortless…and although many parts are often in motion and in a flux…the whole is exactly where it is meant to be and it is only we, who move in this perfect whole in a more disjointed and distressed manner who need to come to terms with this flux of life…time to understand and absorb…and take comfort in the reality that though physical links may be broken, it begets other links to help us continue in this circle of life and love…

This last week, a very dear Uncle of mine passed away…he epitomized  love of life , generosity of spirit, elegance, humor and a positive attitude in all aspects of his life. The heart grieves at the end of an era…but is comforted in rejoicing at the wonderful and personal Memories we all have of him! For me this Celebration of Memories is epitomized by the reality, that the mention of his handsome and debonair personality always brings an involuntary smile to all our faces…that is a commendable legacy…

21. We were all created in His image, and yet we were each created different and unique. No two people are alike. No two hearts beat to the same rhythm. If God had wanted everyone to be the same, He would have made it so. Therefore, disrespecting differences and imposing your thoughts on others is tantamount to disrespecting God’s holy scheme.

22. When a true lover of God goes into a tavern, the tavern becomes his chamber of prayer, but when a wine biber goes into the same chamber, it becomes his tavern. In everything we do, it is our hearts that make the difference, not our outer appearances. Sufis do not judge other people on how they look or who they are. When a Sufi stares at someone, he keeps both eyes closed instead opens a third eye –the eye that sees the inner realm.

23. Life is a temporary loan, and this world is nothing but a sketchy imitation of Reality. Only children would mistake a toy for the real thing. And yet human beings either become infatuated with the toy or disrespectfully break it and throw it aside. In this life stay away from all kinds of extremities, for they will destroy your inner balance.

24. The human being has a unique place among God’s creation. “I breathed into him of My Spirit,” God says. Each and everyone of us without exception is designed to be God’s delegate on earth. Ask yourself, just how often do you behave like a delegate, if you ever do so? Remember, it falls upon each of us to discover the divine spirit inside and live by it.

25. Hell is the here and now. So is heaven. Quit worrying about hell or dreaming about heaven, as they are both present inside this very moment. Every time we fall in love, we ascend to heaven. Every time we hate, envy, or fight someone, we tumble straight into the fires of hell.

26. The universe is one being. Everything and everyone is interconnected through an invisible web of stories. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in a silent conversation. Do not harm. Practice compassion. And do not gossip behind anyone’s back –not even a seemingly innocent remark! The words that come out of our mouths do not vanish but are perpetually stored in infinite space, and they will come back to us in due time. One man’s pain will hurt us all. One man’s joy will make everyone smile.

27. This world is like a snowy mountain that echoes your voice. Whatever you speak, good or evil, will somehow come back to you. Therefore, if there is someone who harbors ill thoughts about you, saying similarly bad things about him will only make matters worse. You will be locked in a vicious circle of malevolent energy. Instead for forty days and nights say and think nice things about that person. Everything will be different at the end of forty days, because you will be different inside.

28. The past is an interpretation. The future is an illusion. The world does not move through time as if it were a straight line, proceeding from the past to the future. Instead time moves through and within us, in endless spirals. Eternitiy does not mean inifnite time, but simply timelessness. If you want to experience eternal illumination, put the past and the future out of your mind and remain within the present moment.

29. Destiny doesn’t mean that your life has been strictly predetermined. Therefore, to leave everything to fate and to not actively contribute to the music of the universe is a sign of sheer ignorance.

30. The true Sufi is such that even when he is unjustly accused, attacked, and condemned from all sides, patiently endures, uttering not a single bad word about any of his critics. A Sufi never apportions blame. How can there be opponents or rivals or even “others” when there is no “self” in the first place? How can there be anyone to blame when there is only One?

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