Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lovers and Friends

בָּ֣אתִי לְגַנִּי֮ אֲחֹתִ֣י כַלָּה֒ אָרִ֤יתִי מֹורִי֙ עִם־בְּשָׂמִ֔י אָכַ֤לְתִּי יַעְרִי֙ עִם־דִּבְשִׁ֔י שָׁתִ֥יתִי יֵינִ֖י עִם־חֲלָבִ֑י אִכְל֣וּ רֵעִ֔ים שְׁת֥וּ וְשִׁכְר֖וּ דֹּודִֽים׃

I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.
Eat, O friends, and drink;
drink your fill, O lovers.

אֲנִ֥י יְשֵׁנָ֖ה וְלִבִּ֣י עֵ֑ר קֹ֣ול ׀ דֹּודִ֣י דֹופֵ֗ק פִּתְחִי־לִ֞י אֲחֹתִ֤י רַעְיָתִי֙ יֹונָתִ֣י תַמָּתִ֔י שֶׁרֹּאשִׁי֙ נִמְלָא־טָ֔ל קְוֻּצֹּותַ֖י רְסִ֥יסֵי לָֽיְלָה׃

I slept but my heart was awake.
Listen! My lover is knocking:
"Open to me, my sister, my darling,
my dove, my flawless one.
My head is drenched with dew,
my hair with the dampness of the night."

פָּשַׁ֙טְתִּי֙ אֶת־כֻּתָּנְתִּ֔י אֵיכָ֖כָה אֶלְבָּשֶׁ֑נָּה רָחַ֥צְתִּי אֶת־רַגְלַ֖י אֵיכָ֥כָה אֲטַנְּפֵֽם׃

I have taken off my robe—
must I put it on again?
I have washed my feet—
must I soil them again?

 דֹּודִ֗י שָׁלַ֤ח יָדֹו֙ מִן־הַחֹ֔ר וּמֵעַ֖י הָמ֥וּ עָלָֽיו׃

My lover thrust his hand through the latch-opening;
my heart began to pound for him.

 קַ֥מְתִּֽי אֲנִ֖י לִפְתֹּ֣חַ לְדֹודִ֑י וְיָדַ֣י נָֽטְפוּ־מֹ֗ור וְאֶצְבְּעֹתַי֙ מֹ֣ור עֹבֵ֔ר עַ֖ל כַּפֹּ֥ות הַמַּנְעֽוּל׃

I arose to open for my lover,
and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with flowing myrrh,
on the handles of the lock.

 פָּתַ֤חְתִּֽי אֲנִי֙ לְדֹודִ֔י וְדֹודִ֖י חָמַ֣ק עָבָ֑ר נַפְשִׁי֙ יָֽצְאָ֣ה בְדַבְּרֹ֔ו בִּקַּשְׁתִּ֙יהוּ֙ וְלֹ֣א מְצָאתִ֔יהוּ קְרָאתִ֖יו וְלֹ֥א עָנָֽנִי׃

I opened for my lover,
but my lover had left; he was gone.
My heart sank at his departure
I looked for him but did not find him.
I called him but he did not answer.

 מְצָאֻ֧נִי הַשֹּׁמְרִ֛ים הַסֹּבְבִ֥ים בָּעִ֖יר הִכּ֣וּנִי פְצָע֑וּנִי נָשְׂא֤וּ אֶת־רְדִידִי֙ מֵֽעָלַ֔י שֹׁמְרֵ֖י הַחֹמֹֽות׃

The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the city.
They beat me, they bruised me;
they took away my cloak,
those watchmen of the walls!

 הִשְׁבַּ֥עְתִּי אֶתְכֶ֖ם בְּנֹ֣ות יְרוּשָׁלִָ֑ם אִֽם־תִּמְצְאוּ֙ אֶת־דֹּודִ֔י מַה־תַּגִּ֣ידוּ לֹ֔ו שֶׁחֹולַ֥ת אַהֲבָ֖ה אָֽנִי׃

O daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you—
if you find my lover,
what will you tell him?
Tell him I am faint with love.

 מַה־דֹּודֵ֣ךְ מִדֹּ֔וד הַיָּפָ֖ה בַּנָּשִׁ֑ים מַה־דֹּודֵ֣ךְ מִדֹּ֔וד שֶׁכָּ֖כָה הִשְׁבַּעְתָּֽנוּ׃

How is your beloved better than others,
most beautiful of women?
How is your beloved better than others,
that you charge us so?

 דֹּודִ֥י צַח֙ וְאָדֹ֔ום דָּג֖וּל מֵרְבָבָֽה׃
My lover is radiant and ruddy,
outstanding among ten thousand.

 רֹאשֹׁ֖ו כֶּ֣תֶם פָּ֑ז קְוּצֹּותָיו֙ תַּלְתַּלִּ֔ים שְׁחֹרֹ֖ות כָּעֹורֵֽב׃

His head is purest gold;
his hair is wavy
and black as a raven.

 עֵינָ֕יו כְּיֹונִ֖ים עַל־אֲפִ֣יקֵי מָ֑יִם רֹֽחֲצֹות֙ בֶּֽחָלָ֔ב יֹשְׁבֹ֖ות עַל־מִלֵּֽאת׃

His eyes are like doves
by the water streams,
washed in milk,
mounted like jewels.

 לְחָיָו֙ כַּעֲרוּגַ֣ת הַבֹּ֔שֶׂם מִגְדְּלֹ֖ות מֶרְקָחִ֑ים שִׂפְתֹותָיו֙ שֹֽׁושַׁנִּ֔ים נֹטְפֹ֖ות מֹ֥ור עֹבֵֽר׃

His cheeks are like beds of spice
yielding perfume.
His lips are like lilies
dripping with myrrh

 יָדָיו֙ גְּלִילֵ֣י זָהָ֔ב מְמֻלָּאִ֖ים בַּתַּרְשִׁ֑ישׁ מֵעָיו֙ עֶ֣שֶׁת שֵׁ֔ן מְעֻלֶּ֖פֶת סַפִּירִֽים׃

His arms are rods of gold
set with chrysolite.
His body is like polished ivory
decorated with sapphires

 שֹׁוקָיו֙ עַמּ֣וּדֵי שֵׁ֔שׁ מְיֻסָּדִ֖ים עַל־אַדְנֵי־פָ֑ז מַרְאֵ֙הוּ֙ כַּלְּבָנֹ֔ון בָּח֖וּר כָּאֲרָזִֽים׃

His legs are pillars of marble
set on bases of pure gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon,
choice as its cedars.

 חִכֹּו֙ מַֽמְתַקִּ֔ים וְכֻלֹּ֖ו מַחֲמַדִּ֑ים זֶ֤ה דֹודִי֙ וְזֶ֣ה רֵעִ֔י בְּנֹ֖ות יְרוּשָׁלִָֽם׃

His mouth is sweetness itself;
he is altogether lovely.
This is my lover, this my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem.

Song of Solomon V Solomon, son of David 931BC.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Beginning of Love

Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat. Famous quotes of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu later known as Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta, the Founder of Missionaries of Charity. Born in 1910 in Uskub, Ottoman Empire, Theresa was internationally famed as a humanitarian and advocate for the poor and helpless. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1980 for her humanitarian work.

Works of love are works of peace:Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Missionaries of Charity : a photographic record Mother Theresa, Micheal Collopy, 1996.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Great Debt

A man once approached a wise sage complaining of poverty. The sage asked him: “Would you sell me your eyesight for 100 thousand gold coins?” The man said no. The sage continued: “Would you sell me your hearing for 100 thousand gold coins?” The man again said no. The sage then asked the man about his hands, his feet, his sanity, and his other limbs. To each question the man replied that he would not sell. The sage then pointed out to the man that he had valued himself to the tune of a few million gold coins.

The sage then declared: “You have a great debt upon your shoulders. This great wealth you possess places demands on you. When are you going to show thanks? Instead, you complain that you want more. Your Lord is truly forgiving and generous.”

A person who is free from worry, secure in home and health, takes greater pleasure in food and drink and life in general. The simple everyday enjoyments are savored, like time spent with one’s spouse or children and in partaking of even the simplest meals. The happy atmosphere that comes from being relaxed, feeling safe, and having one’s health makes one’s enjoyments all the greater.

By contrast, if someone possesses a variety of food and drink and wealth in abundance, but lives in a constant state of fear, anxiety, and stress, what that person possesses will be of little real value. The same can be said for a person who is stricken with a serious physical or mental illness.

This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Whoever is secure in his home, has his health and enough provisions for a day, it is as if he has everything in the world.” 

[Sunan al-Tirmidhi (2346) and Sunan Ibn Majah (4141)]

It is a great blessing to have enough food, clothing, and shelter to satisfy one’s needs. There is nothing wrong with desiring more than that, as long as one seeks it by lawful means, since Allah apportions His bounty among His creatures as He pleases. Some people are better off being wealthy. If Allah gives them wealth, they spend a portion of it on the poor and needy. Moreover, they feel humble before Allah in recognition of what He has given them.

We should never forget that Allah provides us with our health, our minds, our food and drink, our children, our good appearances, our strength, our vitality in youth and our good sense. Many of us take these blessings for granted and fail to recognize them as Allah’s gifts. Only those whose hearts are alive with faith recognize the blessings in everyday things. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“Allah is pleased with a servant who praises Him when he eats something and praises Him when he has something to drink.” 
[Sahih Muslim (2734)]

We show our thanks to Allah for all of His blessings when we praise Him. Is it a small thing to have your health and strength? Is it a small thing to live assured of enough food and drink, a home to live in, clothes to wear, and the means to get around?

”Glorified be He who has subdued these unto us, and we were not capable (of subduing them); and surely to our Lord we must return.” 

[Surah al-Zukhruf: 13-14]

The water we drink, the air we breathe, the ears we hear with, the eyes that allow us to see, the minds we reason with, the hearts by which we feel – these are all enjoyments that Allah provides for us, whether we realize it or not. We should make ourselves aware of this fact, thank Allah, and avoid ingratitude. When we show thanks for Allah’s blessings, they grow stronger in our lives. When we are ungrateful, those blessings abandon us. Allah tells us: “…proclaim the favor of your Lord.” 

[Surah al-Duha: 11]

One of the best things Allah can provide us with is a contented heart. We are also blessed immensely if we have stability in our lives, harmony in our homes, and peace in our hearts.

Be Thankful for the Simple Things King 2010.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Peace Will Come to the World

"Peace will come to the world when the people have enough food to eat."

Wu Pai-fu (1910-2007) later known as Andō Momofuku, a Taiwanese-Japanese, inventor of Instant Noodle and Cup Noodle.

The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life Andy Raskin 2009.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Living Martyr

Whenever the battle of Uhud was mentioned to Abu Bakr [ra], he would say, 'It was a day that belonged all to Talha'

Talhah left Makkah in one of Quraysh's trade caravans between Makkah and ash-Sham. Although he was younger than the other merchants and lacked their experience, his wit and cleverness permitted him to surpass any of them and succeed in acquiring more transactions.

When the caravan reached Busrah, a town in Syria, the ciders among the merchants rushed towards its busy market buying and selling. Talhah was coming and going in the marketplace which was crowded with people coming from all places, when he heard a man calling, "O merchants is there any one of you coming from Makkah?" Talhah turned around and saw a monk. Being the one closest to him he answered him. The monk asked, "Has Ahmad appeared among you?" "Who is Ahmad?" asked Talhah. "He is the son of Abdullah," replied the monk, "and this is the month he is due to come forward. He is the last of the prophets, and he will appear from your land, the land of the sacred House. He will emigrate to a land of black rocks, that has date palm groves, its salty soil oozes water. Do hasten to believe in him young man." This conversation with the monk was to change the life of Talhah.

Talhah prepared his mount, rounded up his camels, gathered his goods, and hurried back towards Makkah, leaving the rest of the caravan behind him. There, he asked his wife, "Anything new had happened while I was away?" "Yes," she said, "Muhammad ibn Abdullah has come forth, pretending he was a prophet, and Abu Bakr has followed him." Talhah knew Abu Bakr well. Abu Bakr was a merchant of easy going nature, much beloved by people, and of the most praised manners. He went to him inquiring about the matter. Not only did Abu Bakr confirm the news but he also called Talhah to Islam and suggested that he meets Muhammad, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam. It did not take long for Talhah to realize that indeed Muhammad was the foretold prophet and that his name and description matched the one given by the monk. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam, explained Islam to him and recited some of the Qur'an to him. Talhah narrated to the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam, what he has heard from the monk, then he pronounced the shahadah and joined the small group of Muslims. He was the fourth person to accept Islam.

The news of Talhah's acceptance of Islam hit his parents like a thunderbolt. His mother was especially afflicted for she had hope that he would one day be a leader of his tribe, given his fine character, and wealth. In vain did his people try to convince him to abandon his dee'n. When they gave all hope they resorted to harass him and torture him. One of the Prophet's companions narrated, "I was one day walking between as Safa and al-Marwa when I saw a large crowd following a young man, his hands tied to his neck, pushing him in the back and hitting him on the head. Behind him was an old woman who was cursing him and yelling at him. I asked what the matter with the man was and I was told that he was Talhah ibn Ubaydillah who forsake the religion of his forefathers for a new one. Then I asked who the old woman behind him was? I was told that she was his mother." Things got worse for Talhah as time went by. One day, Nawfal ibn Khuwaylid, nick named "Quraysh's lion", took hold of him and tied him up. Then he tied Abu Bakr up and bounded them together, and delivered them to the mob of the tribe to be tortured without mercy. For this incident, Talhah and Abu Bakr were nicknamed the Qareenayn (The two linked together).

Talhah migrated to Madinah with the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam, when the order came to migrate having no doubt in his heart that this was the fulfillment of what the monk in ash-Sham informed him. He witnessed all the battles with the Prophet and passed all the tests with success to the point that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam, nick named him Talhah the generous, the open-handed, and the living martyr. Each of these attributes was earned by Talhah following events where he alone stood up when others fell.

He earned the title of The Living Martyr on the battle of Uhud. Many Muslims fled the battlefield that day leaving the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam, with only a handful of his companions. The Prophet and the companions climbed the mountain when a group from the pagans followed them seeking to kill him. He asked, "Who can drive those men away and he will be my companion in Paradise?" "I can O Messenger of Allah," said Talhah. "No, stay where you are," replied the Prophet. Then a man from the Ansar offered to be the one, and the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam, said yes. The man fought until he was killed. The Prophet asked, "Who can drive those men away and he will be my companion in Paradise?" Again Talhah said, "I can O Messenger of Allah." The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "No stay in your place," And another man from the Ansar offered to fight. He fought until he was killed. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam climbed the mountain with those with him, and the pagans were still following them. He continued asking his companions to drive them away and each time Talhah offered to help, but the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam, would allow another Ansari to fight instead until all the Ansar around him were killed, and only Talhah was left with him. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wa sallam, then said, "Now you can." Talhah sprang like a lion chasing away the enemy, and protecting the Prophet who was by then exhausted from fighting, his front tooth was broken, his forehead was gashed, blood was running all over his blessed face. Talhah would charge at the enemies keeping them away and then he would go back to the Prophet helping him climb higher. He would do this again and again until he drove away all of them and got the Prophet to a safer place. By that time Abu Bakr and Abu Ubaydah who were fighting the pagans in an area far from the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wa sallam, came up to him to help him, but he said, "Leave me and go help your friend," meaning Talhah. When they got to Talhah, they found him bleeding profusely; his body pierced in more then seventy places by the swords and the spears of the pagans, his hand was severed and he was laying unconscious in a ditch. Later the Prophet sallallahu alayhe wa sallam said, "Whoever would like to see a man who is still walking on earth after he has met his death, he should see Talhah ibn Ubaydillah." And that is how he earned the title of "The Living Martyr". Whenever the battle of Uhud was mentioned to Abu Bakr, he would say, "That was a day that belonged all to Talhah (meaning that he had saved the day)."

Talhah was no less known for his generosity, spending his wealth in the sake of Allah. He was a wealthy and successful trader, his caravans traveled north to ash-Sham and south to Yemen. One day he had received the revenue of his trade from Yemen, which totaled seven hundred thousand Dirham. He spent the night worrying, looking at the large sum of money sitting in his house. His wife Um Kulthoom the daughter of Abu Bakr came to him asking, "What is the matter, Abu Muhammad? Is there anything I have done that displeased you?" "O no," he replied, "But I was wondering about this money and said to myself, a man who can sleep with all this money in his house, while he does not know if he will be alive the next day, is really arrogant towards his Lord!" "Do not worry," she said, "Tomorrow, look for the needy among your people and friends, and divide it among them." "May Allah have mercy on you," he said, "you are a wise woman, daughter of a wise man." The next day, he divided the money into bundles and distributed it to the poor until not a Dirham was left.

This was not the only time when Talhah gave all his money for the sake of Allah. It was said that he did not leave a single poor person from among his tribe but he provided for him. Jabir ibn Abdullah said, "I never saw a man who gave more abundantly without being asked than Talhah ibn Ubaydillah". Another said, "I have accompanied Talhah in his travels and I was with him in town, and I have never seen a man more generous in giving money, food and clothing than Talhah."

Talhah lived a long life until he witnessed the great trials of the Muslim Ummah when the Khalifah Uthman was slain, and he was among those who asked for his killers to be executed. Talhah was about to participate in the battle of al-Jamal against the Khalifah Ali, but he turned away after he realized that it was a fitnah (trial), and that Muslims should not fight against each other. This did not deter one of the opposing parties to hit him with an arrow that left him dead. When Ali heard of his death, he cried and said, "I heard with my own ears the Messenger of Allah say, 'Talhah and az-Zubair are my neighbors in Paradise."

Talhah ibn Ubaydullah Alia Amer, Madrasah Al-Inaamiyah 2009.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Albino Buffaloes

There was once a herd of buffaloes, among whom were a pair of albino buffaloes. The pair had been born with red hides, and not the black hides of the other buffaloes in the herd.

Because their hides were of a different colour to the other buffaloes, the red buffaloes were shunned by the other buffaloes. The other buffaloes would not talk to the red buffaloes. They would not graze together with the red buffaloes. And whenever the red buffaloes tried to enter the buffalo pen, they were kicked and driven away by the other buffaloes.

“You do not look the same as us,” the other buffaloes said. “So you cannot stay with us. Go away from us and live somewhere else!”

So the red buffaloes had to live outside the buffalo pen, sleeping wherever they could find some shelter and grazing wherever they could find some grass. They were sad and miserable because they were hated and scorned by the other buffaloes. They so much wanted to belong to and be part of the herd.

One day, the farmer who owned the buffaloes told all the buffaloes that he was going to take them over the nearby hill in the evening, to a field where he would give them all the gift of a beautiful red collar. The buffaloes were all very excited to hear this news but could not go out of their pens to see this wonderful field over the hill where they would receive this gift. However, because the red buffaloes lived outside of the pen, they decided to go to this field and come back to tell the other buffaloes about it. Maybe then, they could be accepted by the herd.

So the red buffaloes climbed up the hill and over it and arrived at that field. To their horror, all they could see there were the heads and legs of hundreds of slaughtered buffaloes scattered all around, with the ground soaked in their blood. Unknown to the buffaloes, the field was an abattoir.

The red buffaloes galloped back to the pen and tried to warn the other buffaloes. But before they could say anything, the other buffaloes all bellowed: “You do not look the same as us - go away from us and live somewhere else!”. As much as they tried, none of other buffaloes would listen to or even go near the red buffaloes, and would only charge them with their horns and tell them to go away from their pen.

The two red buffaloes could only flee to the forest. And true enough, when evening came, the farmer came and led all the black buffaloes away over the hill and to the field, where they all had their throats cut and were slaughtered for the market.

But the two red buffaloes were safe in the forest and they became wild buffaloes, which could not be caught. They lived alone, but free, for a very long, long time.

Kerbau Balar Sabri Zain 2009.