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Only when the souls depart….maybe that too for only a short while….

June 23, 2010

By: Shazia Yousuf

Day begins, day ends. Time is running fast; so much to do but such little time. There’s hardly time for anything. We are all the time busy in a race against time. It seems as if life would come to a halt if we stop doing all those things that we are busy with. Without even stopping for a while to realize what we are doing, we go on with that daily rut.

There are so many people around us, who we take for granted. We think we’ll talk to them tomorrow, but tomorrow never comes. We plan to visit them, but something or the other which is more urgent comes up. We do think about them, but blame the busy schedule for not being able to give them our precious time. Some of our dear ones, we don’t even find time to think about. Let’s face it, we do this.

Only when our loved ones depart, and we are struck with the pangs of sorrow, everything comes to a sudden halt. Life comes to a standstill for us. The rest of the world goes on with the same speed but we are excused from it. Everyone understands and does a workaround without us being a part of it. We are left to come to terms with the sudden sorrow that life has thrown at us.

But time has slipped out of our hands. All we are left with is memories accompanied with pain and regret. We will regret not being able to spend quality time with our loved ones. The heart will ache with the burden of all those words that remained unspoken. The sorrow of not being able to absorb all the wisdom that died will drown us.

But time heals. Gradually the rut of life will resume with the same speed and fervor, but that empty space will remain forever in our lives. What a pity, we realize this only when the souls depart…..maybe that too for only a short while and then get back into that same rut, till life comes to a standstill again…

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Love

June 11, 2010

By: Shazia Yousuf

Love is, when a father gets angry at his daughter for forgetting to tell him that she’ll be late from work. He is not angry because she did not inform him, but because he is concerned for her out of love.

Love is, when a wife is upset with the husband when he forgets to take the lunch to work, that was so lovingly prepared for him in the morning. Not because she had to get up and go through the pains of preparing it, but because she is concerned about the health and the well being.

Love is, when a poor maid beats up her daughter for not working as hard as she does because she loves her and wants her to learn to earn her own living and not depend on anyone once she’s gone.

Love is, when a mother takes away a toy from the kids fighting over it. She’s doing it not to punish them, but out of love for both the children. She wants them to learn to share and care and to grow up learning to compromise.

I felt loved whenever I got that sweet reminder to have “a cup of milk” whenever I had that appetite loss.

It is not important to say ‘I Love you’ to actually love someone. It is an emotion that can only be felt and cherished. Sometimes, these three words when said may not convey the emotions that they are supposed to. At times ‘I hate you’ may actually convey true love. It is meaningless what is said. The energy released is what actually matters. Any form of positive energy depicts love.

Divine love can be felt in the pattering of the raindrops, the soft humming of the birds, the cool shade under an oak tree, in the smell of the freshly cut grass, the first rays of the rising sun, the waves thrashing the shores, in the blossoms on the trees, in fact in just anything that you see around you. This is God’s manifestation of love. 

According to Rumi, human love is but a pale reflection of the Divine love. It is also supposedly involved with pain and suffering. This is because of the human resistance to the Divine Call to abandon the self and become reabsorbed in the Divinity.

As Iqbal says: “Love solves all the mysteries of the world; it is at once an ailment and a matchless cure.”

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Speak your heart out

June 9, 2010

By: Shazia Yousuf

There he was, standing beside the grave, as he would every Thursday. Another Thursday, one more rose on the grave and yet another hour or two of silent memories and flashbacks. He would stand there, not utter a single word, say a few prayers, and just shed a few uncontrollable tears that would lift the burden off his heart of losing her forever. His heart would feel lighter but also emptier than before. But this much would only be sufficient for him to live for a week more, to come back and visit her again.

But what’s the point now? This is not what she had wanted. She doesn’t even care if she gets a rose every Thursday on her grave. It doesn’t make her happy. It makes no difference. She has already attained the everlasting happiness that she deserved, and had hoped for just a glimpse of it in this world. It would have made a difference when she was a part of the living world, before her soul gave in and departed for the eternal peace. Yes, that rose would really have brightened her days, lifted her heart and she would have found some reason to smile.

But what stopped him? Nothing at all. He never realized how easy it was to put a smile on someone’s face. Only a few words of appreciation and just a few gestures that would simply reinforce the fact that he cared. Yes, he cared, but never understood how important it was to express.

Now, that she’s gone, he just wonders if he had ever told her what she meant to him. He keeps going over the past, just to remember if he had ever made her realize how much he cared. If only he had expressed his feelings!

True love needs nothing in exchange, no great demonstration of devotion, nothing but knowing that the other person loves you too. It only needs a heart in exchange. So, let your loved ones know how you feel for them, it will only lift the spirits, give more meaning to your life and bring happiness to those you care for…before it is too late.

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How God talks to us

May 31, 2010

By: Shazia Yousuf

I was sitting alone at the dining table, trying to push the food down forcibly, finishing off the last few bites of my lunch. Everyone else had finished off and left the table for something or the other. The only other person still sitting with me was an aunt who lives with us, who cannot hear or speak by birth, and can hardly see clearly due to her deteriorating glaucoma. She is almost nonexistent, living in her own world, doesn’t interact much with anyone.

I was feeling low and extremely tired after working all day, preparing the meal for the entire household and then eating alone, that too, on a day, which was supposed to be a holiday. Putting in so much effort, from cooking to cleaning, washing the dishes, setting the table, serving lunch, and in a matter of a few minutes, the entire show was over. Life appeared to be too mechanical and robotic.

A train of useless depressing thoughts was crossing my mind. The mess on the dining table that needed to be cleared was adding up to my lethargy! I was feeling so drained. My efforts I felt had no worth. Sitting, playing with my food, thinking, depressed….

All of a sudden, that aunt, with the gestures of her hands draws my attention. When I look at her she tells me that today’s lunch was extremely delicious! For a second I was unable to really assimilate as to what she had said. Appreciation coming from a person who hardly interacts was quite surprising. I then realized she was smiling to me and praising the food that was just so ordinary and regular!  

She said what she had to, and left the table back to her usual routine, but it interrupted my train of depressing thoughts. I did not actually believe that the food was delicious, as I know it was not, but this gesture brought spontaneous tears to my eyes with my heart so overwhelmed! I realized she was a medium and that God spoke to me through her. I could suddenly feel The Divine Presence. I just now received a pat on my back from the Divinity, telling me to stop bothering about anything else, to keep it up and keep going!

Through the perfect harmony and the beauty in nature God manifests His existence. Through small signs and gestures that touch your heart, He communicates…yes this is how God talks to us.

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Happy Mothers’ Day – Today and Every Day

May 7, 2010

By: Shazia Yousuf

Mother’s day, a day when children try to make their mothers feel important and loved. They remind her of her greatness and the love that she has been imparting to her family. A happy mothers’ day greeting followed by a card or some special gift is usually what children do to make their mothers feel loved.

Different websites have special offers especially for this special occasion. Barnes and noble, for example has this special “Create Mothers Day book” offer which takes a few minutes to make and bingo! A personalized gift is ready for a very special mom! Other websites, like Blue Mountain and Hallmark have great cards available. Shops are full of “for a very special mum” gifts. Newspapers have special arrangements for publishing personalized messages for this special occasion. Some of the very creative local salons have special package for mothers’ day to let the children pamper mothers by gifting them with a very special manicure, pedicure or a nice hairdo or a relaxing massage. A very nice and creative way indeed to let your mum know how much you love her!

Just for a day, the mother is made to feel special. She definitely needs that expression of love, that special feeling indeed. But a mother is only content when she sees the love, hidden within her bosom, finding expression through the role models she aspires to create. Her soul is peaceful when she sees her children become what she wants them to be. Her seemingly endless efforts of cuddling her child through the night, maybe all alone, payoff when she sees her child grow up to be a person with the moral values that she tried to cultivate right from the roots of childhood. Her heart blossoms when she sees her child gain respect among colleagues, when her child learns to stand upright through every thick and thin, rise up after falling, and stand right beside her holding her hand like she would hold when the child was just learning to walk!

Mothers are a very special creation of God. They definitely deserve all the love in the world, and that love cannot be given or expressed in just one day. She needs those mother moments, which would give her inner peace and a sense of motherly satisfaction. To all those mothers out there: Happy mothers’ day, today and every day!

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My life…my reality

April 16, 2010

By: Shazia Yousuf

I happened to visit Dubai last December – January. Seemed like a blessing, a long deserved break from work and the monotonous routine; indeed an oasis in the desert!

The shimmer and glitter of Dubai itself makes you forget for some time all the troubles, you leave behind your entire burden and soon get acclimatized with the air that is filled with glamour.

Driving on the seven lane wide roads, speeding at a regular 70 miles per hour, or mall walking, dazed by the luster and gleam, one slowly and gradually starts becoming a part of it. It numbs you, it encompasses you!

Initially everything appears to be expensive because you actually convert dirham to rupees whenever you try to buy something from attractive places like Life Style or Home Center. However, if your stay exceeds a week or so, you actually start believing the fact that 35 Dhs is is not that expensive for a simple shirt after all.

Dubai has consumed you!

And then you start longing for a life, where weekends are spent barbecuing at the beach, or mornings on Fridays starting off with a luxurious brunch at the Barbeque Delight at the Jumeirah Beach Residency, right at the sea shore which is not too expensive or unaffordable, of course according to the Dubai standards. A life where off and on you treat yourself with a latest blockbuster from either Hollywood or Bollywood, or an amazing live performance by Sonu Nigam, Jagjeet Singh or Rihanna. You gradually start forgetting the miseries of load shedding, water and sewerage or for that matter the life stagnation after rains. The towering masterpiece of Burj Khalifa, and the Burj Al Arab make you so numb especially if you spend the new year’s eve watching the extremely glamourous fireworks, they slowly make you start feeling at home and you feel like a part of the glorious glittering Dubai.

Anyways, my trip being a short one, all this glitter and shimmer had to be said farewell to and the journey back home had to be made soon.

Once at home, everything seems to give pain. The focus on life is not on quality. We are just leading our lives, flowing with the currents of mismanagement and disloyalties in each and every sector and organization. For a few days after coming home nothing seemed good. The roads, the litter and filth of pan, the frowning faces of the people on the streets, all were so depressing. I felt like going back.

But come to think of it, this is life! This is the reality that I have come back to. In fact, that life is so artificial – living for oneself. Here I am reminded time and again; my life has a purpose – serving the poor destitute souls…

Here back home, when I see those lined up outside Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s Mazar, waiting for the langar (free food) to be distributed, or those tiny hands begging for the Mc Donald’s take away that I couldn’t finish I feel my life has a purpose. Some say those beggars are lazy and they don’t want to work. But still.

I have opportunities here, to see God, to feel God, to strive in the way of God…

It is us who have to do something maybe not for the country, but for the poor deprived souls living in my country, who have no way to lift the standard of living in such a period of high cost of living. It is us who have to help those deprived souls. Some say, we cannot do anything while living in this country which itself is in such a mess. But so many institutions like TCF, Edhi Welfare Trust, Zindagi trust, Sasta Tandoor, Al Mustafa Welfare Trust, Alamgir Welfare Trust and so many more organizations are doing so much for the well being of humanity. We can also be a part of it.

Running away is not the solution. Living with real people, seeing and feeling their pain and then doing something for them is what is required of us. I feel going away, ignoring the problem that we are faced with is like running away from an old ailing parent.

The real attitude should be to be a part of it and take up the responsibility. It does not mean joining an NGO or doing anything big. Small efforts can also make a difference. Just by taking up the responsibility of the families associated with those who work for you, you can start improving conditions of families other than yours. Those 2.5 percent of the annual income if spent wisely can really do wonders! Starting with those closely associated with you and then gradually expanding your responsibility circle. Taking up this challenge, becoming the force of change is the essence of existence.

I have come to terms with the fact that those bumpy dug up roads are a part of my home, frowning faces are the souls I can relate to…this is what I am, this is my life – my reality.

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Prayer – Does it make God change His mind?

December 11, 2009

By: Shazia Yousuf

As a child, I had always believed in intense praying. I believed that I could achieve anything, and I mean anything, if I prayed hard enough. Of course I knew hard work was an essential ingredient for achievement but hard work without prayer was incomplete. A very traditional belief, this is what all of us know and have been taught at home and at religious classes and this is definitely the truth.

However, experiences in life gradually made me to scratch my head and compelled me to think and think harder. For instance, I had always desired to get straight As in O’ Level and A’ Level exams. I definitely worked very hard, I believe, and prayed harder. Yet I never got straight As. Anyways, my faith was strong, and I always believed God must definitely have something better planned out for me.

Other seemingly major, but actually minor events kept occurring in life. My belief remained unchanged. One experience, however shattered me, and left me in total dismay. That event was my mother’s sad demise. It was not sudden. She was ill for over ten years, and gradually deteriorating. But her two month long hospitalization in the ICU was a life changing experience for me. I had been by her side, saw her fighting her pleural effusion, gradually losing her interest in life and finally departing. The doctors made great efforts, the entire family prayed! Prayed in congregation, prayed in solitude, yet none of us could convince God to spare my mother’s soul. The doctors couldn’t save her with their effort and hard work and we couldn’t save her with our prayers and duas.

Maybe the effort was not enough or maybe we did not pray with the devotion that God asks from us. But this somehow did not convince me. I know how I prayed. I know how devoted I was. My mind simply could not accept this argument.

A restless soul within, I started my quest for an answer. I would wonder what God wants from us. Is He actually waiting for us to make Him realize what we utterly need.

I would wonder, when a person is ill, he turns to God in prayer. If the prayer is accepted by God, then the person recovers. Superficially, it seems as if God changed His mind, as if God can be “sweet talked” into backing down from a previously stated position, so to speak. It also seems as if God waits in heaven for our words of supplication, and, if they do not arrive, He wreaks His vengeance and wrath on us.

Furthermore, we are aware that God is an infinite Being who is by definition unchanging; if this is the case, then how can God “change His mind”?

All this somehow made me feel that God does not want anything from us! He has already given us all that He has! He created this universe and made us with all His attributes. He is Generous, Gracious, Merciful, Benevolent, and is recognized by more than a hundred attributes. God is all Love! And, He wants us to imitate His attributes.

God has also given us free will. By practicing this free will it is up to us now to decide which path we take. Whatever good that comes to us has already been given to us by God. Whatever misfortune comes our way is our own doing.

So the question arises, how do we decide which path to take? This is simple! Atonement with the absolute and aligning ourselves with the Divinity opens up the path that we need to tread upon, right in front of us. Sounds easy…right? Well it actually is!

This is where prayer comes into picture. Prayer is an awakening within us. Prayers are heard by the God within us shielded by the perishable body and selfish desires. So, what we achieve from prayer to God is not coming from outside anywhere but from within. When we pray, we pray to no one but to ourselves. There is nobody to listen to our prayers, not in sky or heaven or temple. When we pray, we forget for sometime our worldly affairs or existence. If we come in contact with God, our original form, even for a fraction of a second, our prayers are answered. God listens to us who is nowhere but within us. The guidance comes from within and the harmony in life is regained by aligning oneself with the Divine guidance.

With this concept, I now realize why God did not answer my prayers when I was begging Him for my mother’s health, and I am convinced. I am convinced that prayer is an essential ingredient to success and achievement, but I believe it is not the only one. I am convinced that I can achieve anything with prayer hard work and atonement with the Absolute being, but the reason why I pray is different. I pray because it gives me hope and courage to fight and work my way out of the turbulence and havoc that I create in my life.