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Happy New Year…Happy New You!

January 1, 2011

By: Shazia Yousuf 

A new sunrise, a new dawn, a new beginning, a fresh start, a new year…

The Sun rises every day, and it sets with the hope of shining on a better world, better people when it rises again the next morning. Sets again but rises…yet again, each day… every single day, with new hope, same shimmer, not decreasing in strength nor losing even a single ray of glimmer.

Every second, every minute is new and fresh. Resolutions could be made each day, each hour, every minute. Change is good; it needs not a new year or a special day. Positive change needs a warm welcome with open arms, every single moment of our existence!

Each day we rise from our sleep, we are bestowed with the divine gift – the gift of life! Each day awaits in hope for something worthwhile. It could be just a small deed, maybe just a small kindness, comforting words of encouragement, or simply a pleasant smile that may mean a lot to someone in dire need. Small deeds may actually be huge.

Live every moment like it’s new, breathe every breath like it’s the first fresh breath, live a life like you’ve never lived before. Be the lamp that glows, spreading the divine light (Nur) from within. Don’t wait…just be!

“You are doing something very sacred here, something very daring, during your life upon the earth. You are defining yourself and then recreating yourself anew, in each golden moment of Now” (Neale Donald Walsch)

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Consumed by the self

December 4, 2010

By: Shazia Yousuf

When the hearts turn that of stone, frozen, solid, nothing seems to be able to penetrate into it or even out of it. What remains inside sinks deep within, trapped, concealed, secluded, excommunicate – “Consumed by the self”!

This is the ailment that appalls the heart and devours the entire soul slowly and passively, leaving it in a solitude, surrounded by the mound of distress seemingly so enormous, more towering than the small heaps of problems of all the others! And apparently you are alone, left to cross over the mound all by yourself. The ailment of not being able to see beyond your own self leaves you in a solitary distress, anticipating support from those around, but unable to actually feel the presence of all the love that surrounds; the arms that are stretched out, awaiting to be held, but all in vain. The soul is blinded, trapped within the frozen heart, sealed and bolted in the locks of the self!

If only a small spark could kindle that flame, which would melt the heart, to be able to feel that which lies outside it, to be able to feel the warmth that surrounds, to be able to see the hands that are stretched out awaiting to be held firmly through the deluge, but only before it is too late.

Alas, this plague which is devouring the soul can only be cured by the spark that is kindled from within. Only the flame that burns from within can melt the heart, to be able to see and feel that which is obscure.

This spark can only be kindled to let the flame burn, by burying the ego and annihilating the self. And this is achieved by drowning in the Divine Ocean of love and spreading His love to all who are around. By being the cure to someone else’s ailment, the Divine being automatically cures you. Even bringing out a bright smile or just sharing the weight of the burden buried within an aching heart cures all ailments that lie within; the rest is taken care of by the Deity! 

But only if that spark is kindled from within so that

“…He cleanses them from all defilement that nothing may remain in them except Himself…that they may adore none beside Him.” (Al Ghazali)

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Happy Fulfilling Birthday!

October 15, 2010

By: Shazia Yousuf

 This day marks the Birthday of two most beautiful people who created us, and made us who we are today.  A very strange coincidence, they were born on the same date, 15th October! (that’s what has been told to us) but with a difference of a decade.

This is not to wish them a Happy Birthday, since the abode they live in is far beyond the boundaries of time and counting of days. But this is to wish all those who were connected with each other through them a very “Happy and Fulfilling Birthday”

It is a reminder for all of us to walk on the footsteps that they left on the sands of time, and try to leave our own everlasting marks.

Happy Birthday Ammie and Abbu, and a Fulfilling day to the Ummat-e-MuslimaH

You will live on in the hearts of those whose lives you touched!

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Predestination versus Freewill

October 9, 2010

By: Shazia Yousuf

Mankind, a marvelous creation of God gifted with wisdom and knowledge, is a free soul, capable of doubt and disobedience. God’s gift, the free will or the freedom to choose, is the basic differentiating factor that raises man above all other creations. Whatever good that comes to us has already been given to us by God. Whatever misfortune comes our way is our own doing. With the ability to use the power of wisdom, the inner divine guidance, and disobedience, it is up to us to smoothly tread the path predestined by the Divine being or to go astray.

According to Neale Donald Walsch:

“You are what you experience. You experience what you express. You express what you have to express. You have what you grant yourself”.

Predestination, in some ways could actually be the fate or in other words, what has been destined for us by the Divine being. Does this mean that whatever happens to us has already been decided? Then what’s the point of free will? When everything is predestined, then why is it said that the Divine being has given us the freedom to choose? Is this really freedom or has mankind been restricted by predestination?

A verse from the Quran:

“Whatever misfortune strikes you is what your right hand has earned”

quite clearly reveals that it is up to us to choose whatever comes our way by making use of the divine gift of free will in an appropriate way.

 Yet another verse:

 “God misleads and directs as He chooses”

makes us feel that it is totally against the concept of free will. This “Free will” versus “Predestination” gets really mind boggling!

In fact, it may make one wonder that humans are powerless! Everything that happens whether it is good or evil, positive or negative, is all God’s prerogative. Poor human has no role to play in the course that life takes. He is just a puppet obeying all that has been destined for him! Then why should there be a concept of reward or punishment?

If we look closely, this verse in essence emphasizes the fact that those who are able to invoke their inner divine guidance are eventually directed on the correct path predestined by the Divine being.

As explained in “The Confessions of Al Ghazali”, the light of the Divine guidance is present throughout. God sheds it in the hearts of those who open up their hearts by detaching themselves from this world of illusion and drawing themselves closer to the eternal world which is the true destination. Man has to ceaselessly make effort to receive that light, which God sheds when He finds earnestness of the seeker’s desire for the Divine guidance. This does not in any way mean that God is waiting to see that earnestness. Through predefined system, that light begins to glow within the hearts of those who are able to achieve that state.

In order to understand this concept of Predestination and free will, we need to focus on the bigger picture. The beginning and the end, and the major milestones have been predestined. The remaining parameters are left to be handled or mishandled, by the permission of God. Man has been given the freedom to choose, by His will. So, making life heaven or hell is up to mankind!

Rumi has narrated this concept in the form of a story in his Mathnavi.

A man, who sees Israel (the angel of death) comes running to Solomon’s hall of justice. Upon inquiring, he tells Solomon about the angry gaze that Israel gave him and requested Solomon to use his special powers to send him to Hindustan. Solomon grants his wish.

The next morning, Solomon inquired Israel why he looked at that person with anger. Israel replied, that God had commanded him to take that person’s spirit yesterday in Hindustan. Israel was only wondering how that would be possible!

That which was predestined happened, but how it happened and the distress it created, was actually the choice of that man.

Pride of self negates the true effect of free will. However, aligning ourselves with Divinity smoothly leads us to the course that has been destined for us.

Both predestination and free will exist simultaneously!

“Belief lies between predestination and free will.” (Rumi) 

 

 

 

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Restless Soul

September 27, 2010

By: Shazia Yousuf

 

Standing alone, feet bathing in cool waves from the huge ocean that is stretched right in front of me.

My gaze fixed at the sea, as if in a trance, thoughts as deep as the ocean.

Staring at the waves making ripples, the ocean roaring so loud, yet it brings peace to the heart.

My heart is not here with me, it’s wandering, away from me, somewhere, where the sounds of the ocean reach, maybe the other end, where my heart actually belongs, where it rests in peace.

The soul is restless, there’s a desire burning, wanting to be where the heart is, desiring the union of the soul with the heart, wishing for the heart’s abode to be right next to it, wanting for it to travel all those miles, to be with the heart…wanting to drown in the ocean of Divine love, desiring to be where there is eternal peace…

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Remembering Ammie and Abbu

August 25, 2010

By: Shazia Yousuf

Muslima and Haris

Muslima, my mother, a symbol of sacrifice since her childhood but never for once complained. She was the source of strength when others felt weak. She always stood up for others when they needed her. A saint, so pious and pure, she never hurt anyone not even with a single word she ever spoke. Even when she was ill, she never let anyone realize what she was going through. A true fighter who fought against her ailment till the last and died like a martyr!

A great mother, the greatest chef, so fond of cooking, she even prepared a diary of recipes for us daughters to use when she is not there. Every Saturday, the day when all of us would visit, it felt like a grand party. Her koftas and aloo gobi with plain white rice shall always be remembered.

Haris, my father, so close to the Divine being! His every conversation eventually led to the true essence of religion. Every act of his was an act of worship. The conversations he had with the tanker walas, driver and maasi were enlightening. He even learned from these people, he would say. A very avid reader, he would finish off books on religion and philosophy in hours. The only book he read for his life time was the Quran. The only subject he spoke on was Deen. The only aim in his life was to be close to Divinity. His favorite past time was charity. This we found out after his sudden demise. There were so many people who mourned his death just like his immediate family members.

A very well organized person, everything that he managed at home was so well planned and sorted out. He has left small notes with explanatory comments in his diaries and phone books which have made things run smoothly even when he is not there! Ammie and Abbu are physically not there, but their presence can be felt in all that they have left for us. Most valuable asset is the lesson of love, tolerance and perseverance that they preached. They preached by example to live and let live, to forgive and forget.

August 25, 1963, these two great people Muslima and Haris tied knots. For over forty years, they lived a life that touched so many other lives in this world. They created everlasting impressions on the hearts of many. They are among the very few, who were able to leave their footsteps on the sands of time.

Happy Anniversary, Ammie and Abbu!

You will live on in not just our hearts, but also in the hearts of those whose lives you touched!

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Footsteps on the sands of time

July 27, 2010

By: footsteps on the sands of timeShazia Yousuf

I happened to browse through a photo album of a relative recently posted on face book and got to see a few faces after a very long time. It was quite pleasant to be able to see them after a long time. Flash backs took me down the memory lane.

I remembered those times when one of the uncles in that album was young and energetic. He was dynamic, and would take charge of every event in the family. His management was well known and his extremely good planning skills made all family occasions turn out to be perfect and dot on time! He had no formal degree of MBA or even management as such, yet his management and planning was no less than that of a formal degree holder.

Looking at his pictures brought tears in my eyes. His frail, old visage, with an innocent blank look in his eyes, reflecting questions unanswered, showing defeat and surrender. His inability to communicate what’s inside, all his emotions locked up within his bosom, everything so totally devoured by the Alzheimer’s disease. Once a symbol of strength, now a spiritless soul!

His pictures made me realize how insignificant Man is in the bigger picture painted by the Divine being but Man knows not!

Man feels so helpless at times…

I have seen helplessness quite closely, when my father was breathing his last few breaths. I knew the consequences, yet there was nothing I could do! The only thing possible for me to do was to surrender to the Divine will. Maybe that too to console my soul that it was the Divine will. And now all we are left with are memories.

But I have realized, these memories are an asset. The words, the actions and the deeds all leave an everlasting impression not only on those who are near and dear but all those who interact on a daily basis, be it the driver, or the gardener or the person who supplies water. The souls that these great people have touched will leave an everlasting impression in the hearts and they will live there forever!

Looking at life from a broader perspective, I have come to realize that what we are doing is not what we are supposed to be doing! The focus should be on making impressions not anywhere else but on the hearts. Our deeds should stir the souls!

People shall come and people shall leave, but what will remain are the footsteps on the sands of time.