Author: therealshard

The Adab of our Teachers

Yesterday at the Maulid Nabi and Haul of Habib Noh al Habsyi i got to see how respectful our teachers are of their teachers, or even those more senior to them.

The two things i observed and learnt:

  1. When a teacher or elder instructed them to do something, they complied, despite their great shame e.g. to address the congregation on their behalf.
  2. When someone spoke they sat respectfully, faced them, and paid full attention.

That’s just like the TIP of some huge iceberg. The adab of our teachers is really something amazing and something to strive for.

We are not even worthy of carrying their slippers yet by the great Mercy of Allaah, He has allowed us to benefit from them, and it is also from His Mercy that is reflected in their hearts, that we feel at peace around these blessed people.

May Allaah preserve our teachers and envelope them and their families in His Mercy forever, and gather them with our Beloved Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him. And through His Mercy may we be with them, for we will be gathered with those whom we love.

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More not less

If you want to know my spiritual state then look at how much salawat I make. When the number is low I can guarantee you I’m not in a good place.

And it’s not that I’m good that causes me to do more, but more salawat makes me good.

I am utterly helpless and powerless in all matters so why should I pretend to be otherwise.

More clarity

It’s been a depressing few weeks (months? year?) but i think i’ve finally stumbled upon some stuff that kinda helps me point myself in the right direction. I think i’m just gonna list them, maybe without much explanation, mostly because this is for myself. I need to write this out to help it sink in to my brain or something.

This post will contain elements of the spiritual, psychological, behavioural patterns and i don’t know what else. It might be off-putting for some and i don’t blame you if you skip reading it because it’s just not your cup of tea or if it seems like total hoopla. But if you do read, then i ask that you do so with an open mind and do it till the end. Then think and judge for yourself, and maybe you’ll agree with some of the things i’ll say.

  1. “Satisfaction with one’s achievements is from the shaytaan and nafs”- paraphrased from a quote by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus (2011)

    This seems to be something big which has been secretly plaguing me. For some time i’ve been asking myself ‘why do more when it doesn’t really matter?’ Why should i build my body when no one really cares if i’m fat, thin, strong or weak? Why do anything more than the basic requirement when in the end death will overcome me and everything here will be gone?

    I realize now that’s probably the trickery of shaytaan and the laziness of the nafs (ego). The nafs will always want to take the easy way out, seek pleasure, even if the means are wrong. Shaytaan will slowly and subtly egg a person to do less and less, wrong and more wrong, till they are on a path of damnation.

    To overcome those two i must do several things:

    – bring my dhikr back to its original pattern even if i don’t feel like it, even if i’m sluggish about it, even if there are other things i feel i want to do. I have to do this even if for months i have to sacrifice the things i like. Because this temporary pain or suffering or difficulty is what will, in shaa Allaah, cleanse my heart and push the shaytaan far away from me. I guess he’ll still be whispering but then instead of following it, i’ll be doing what i’m supposed to do and what is right. That way he will eventually lose more and more of his hold over me (yes i have to say, in much shame and disappointment, that he has increased his grip over me. I have let it happen that way due to both my own inaction and decisions).

    – do other things that i must even if they don’t seem so ‘fun’. That includes going back to the gym and a proper frequency. I stopped going for some time because of fatigue and no drive. I can’t say i’m totally cool with that because i’m still not happy with what i see in the mirror. And yes, before i was married, i must admit there was a certain vain glory in having members of the opposite sex be impressed or maybe even attracted to me because of my physique. I enjoyed walking through crowds and meeting people because i guess there was a thrill of the unknown, the excitement of possibilities. Who might i attract with this body? In a way i was also getting to terms with and pushing myself to accept my new self image. Prior to the university i was only teased for my looks and it hurt a lot. I know some of my friends did it in jest but i could see for myself that they were right. There was nothing at all attractive about my appearance and i discuss this a lot in one of my older posts. I really went to great details then so i won’t repeat myself.

    But all of a sudden in uni i was somehow ‘good looking’ and ‘popular’. I once bumped into an old senior and he honestly and in some shock remarked that i was really handsome now. Wow. In so many ways hahaha. So i had somehow gotten not-ugly, and my body was taking shape, so in my head i was like ‘i’ll go after the hottest of girls, especially the ones people say are ‘out of my league’ and prove that there’s no such thing really.’ Did i do that? Nope. For a few reasons. After talking to a few people i got really disappointed at the people i met. I know i didn’t actively go out and talk to more people but that’s cos of the second reason. I automatically hold back because in my heart in know it’s wrong and i’m not supposed to do it even though i have the desire to. Again this has to do with what Islam teaches and i had finally reached a point where i knew WHY my teachers told us not to date and i had fully accepted it, having understood deeply how something seemingly innocent or simple can, with time, turn into a thing that you could be ashamed of or land you in a spot of trouble. I’d seen it happen to many people and i didn’t want to be there myself.

    So i always held back. And the strange thing was, i never regretted it. In the end i got married to a girl whom i didn’t date, who was also not willing to date, and who was on a similar path as me. Now that i’m happily married, that desire to ‘use my body’ to attract people is gone. In fact i don’t want it, it feels kind of disgusting and problematic. It can’t be helped sometimes, even with long-sleeved shirts and whatnot, people can just tell that you’re fit and strong and i don’t know it might also be my loud and confident personality, but i really don’t want girls admiring my body anymore.

    Strangely though my wife doesn’t really mind me, muscles or not, tummy or not. That’s just how she is and i guess that’s how a lot of women are really, just look at the number of attractive women with men who look like they just crawled out of a train wreck, and you’ll see what i mean. ‘I like him for his personality’ is what they’ll probably say and well that makes them happy so all is good. In short i guess you could say women do find a nice body attractive, but they’re really going after character and personality.

    That leaves me. I need to go back to the gym because like having a nice body and i PERSONALLY want to see myself look a certain way. I want to be able to look myself in the mirror from all angles and be satisfied. I acknowledge, even if i don’t fully feel the reality of it, that if i let this slip, bit by bit i will lose everything and eventually find myself in a place i never thought i would be. It’ll be really bad. I can imagine me, weak, with a tummy and small arms, panting as i climb a flight of stairs. I shudder. I cannot be weak. I HATE IT. I HATE PURPOSEFUL WEAKNESS.

    IF A PERSON IS WEAK DUE TO CIRCUMSTANCE I CAN ACCEPT THAT BUT IF THEY’RE WEAK BY CHOICE THEN I FIND IT ABSOLUTELY DESPICABLE AND I CANNOT, FOR THE LIFE OF ME, ALLOW MYSELF TO SINK THERE. I WILL HATE MYSELF SO TERRIBLY AND SO I MUST, SLOWLY, BRING MYSELF BACK TO WHERE I WAS JUST LIKE HOW, SLOWLY, I LOST WHAT I HAD GAINED THEN.

    I am not satisfied with the body i have now. I must put in the work.

  2. “A person is either in a state of blessing or tribulation, and the appropriate response is gratitude and patience respectively” – paraphrased from Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s lesson on Imam Ghazali

    In all honesty, i should not be complaining about anything. I have good health, my family is safe and alright, i have my own house, my wife and i make an awesome team, i have a good job that pays well and my students like me and i have colleagues who believe in me. How ungrateful and disgusting then if i were to complain about my situation. Embarrassing!

    Then, in my situation, i must respond with gratitude. Perhaps the fact that the heart doesn’t always automatically incline to what it should do, is the wisdom of the test. The struggle is to realize what you have and then act appropriately.

    Further, as mentioned in the lesson as well, the people of tribulation will be sent to those in blessing and it is their duty to help them out. That is what i must accept and do and it isn’t some real lofty ideal or unrealistic goal actually. Every little thing, like lending a listening ear, smiling at someone, a little bit of charity, counts. And sometimes, i just realized, these people might appear in a way that we don’t understand or recognize immediately. Maybe a friend calls me up to complain that this and that is happening at home or at work and they’re bothered. Sometimes these complaints might seem a nuisance especially if you know both sides of the story and can tell that neither are doing what they’re supposed to, but i guess that’s why it’s a test. You have the advantage or blessing of knowing what to do and then doing it, and perhaps even the others in your life reciprocate. But they might not have either.

    So i guess then in such situation it falls upon the one in a more blessed situation to be of some aid or at least provide some comfort to the one who is seeking it.

  3. “It’s all God, He’s doing everything. If you’re not pleased with your circumstances then you’re really not pleased with God” – same source as above.

    This is something i must constantly hammer into my head. It’s easy for me to say it on an intellectual level but i can tell i’m not doing so well in letting it sink in to my being.

    For example, yeah i’ve got a good job but yeah i also have to do things that i find to be meaningless, extraneous, even downright stupid. Policies don’t make sense, as teachers we’re doing less of helping students grow into their best selves and more of covering our own backsides whilst taking orders from overprotective and overstepping parents who really haven’t got a clue of what they’re doing.

    The frustration is real and the disparity between what i believe in and what i’m doing is glaring. I find no meaning in my job and it seems like my time is forcefully wasted on things i can’t easily say no to.

    But that’s the circumstance. I’ve been purposefully and intentionally put into this circumstance. What will i make of it? What is my response? Before i can live it, i can start by writing it out:

    – whilst some decisions on the part of the ministry or management may seem stupid, they might have pressing reasons for having arrived there. Maybe more and more people feel so insecure about things that they become very afraid to take certain ‘risks’. If that is the problem then what is the solution? How do we restore trust or calmness or peace to those hearts?

    – if the situation is uncomfortable then it must means i’m heading in the direction of growth. That translates to increasing my patience, learning to do new things, and doing those things efficiently and well so that it doesn’t seem a chore anymore. This i can tag to my job as a certain coordinator, and having a hand in organizing some things. I don’t like doing all that but i have to be honest, i need to learn to. It’s the same reason i opted to study physics in upper secondary even though i wasn’t good at it: i just felt a man had to know some of it. Maybe i always liked it deep in my heart or maybe the experience itself made me like it but i do like physics now. I’m probably not very good at it (rusty, very rusty) but because i like it i can do well at it if i want to. That’s probably the same with the work i have to do now. It’s good to know and learn so that when i really really have to do it one day for something that i believe in, i will be able to.

  4. I still haven’t fully wrapped my mind around the fact that our perception of reality is all like a chemical cocktail. Based on your hormone profile and whatnot, your brain responds to situations and stimuli in different ways.

    I can imagine a different me, looking forward to it all, waking up with a smile and breezing through my work.

    There are many ways to make that happen, many might have to be done concurrently, but i can tell with some confidence that my first step is to get back to the gym and get my food on track.

    I need to be a bigger and healthier person and i think that the exercise and proper nutrition will have a good effect on my brain, and then the benefits will continue in a cycle.

 

That’s a lot of typing for a day. Things are starting to look a little brighter and i’m happy. I was worried that i was depressed, don’t know if i was right, but Alhamdulillaah ‘alaa kulli haal.

Through his Grace and Blessing i’ve been shown my flaws and bad decisions, and i have a path in front of me that i must now walk through with purpose. This is up to me now.

I wish you all peace, and the best in all you endeavour.

Some days

Some days, like today, are empty. I have no reason to get off the bed except to pray or maybe go to the bathroom. I’m not hungry, I was thirsty last night and presumably as I slept given the dreams of drinking several chilled, sweet beverages, but when I woke up I desired none of that. In fact the thought of cold water going down my throat and sending jolts through my body seemed especially unpleasant.

We’ve spent the last few days going out, being with people, exercising, eating well, reading and being with family. Yet the feeling persists.

Why am I alive? What is my purpose?

‘ to worship’ is what I’ve been taught, and it’s what’s in the Noble Book.

I’ve thought about it much. I can’t deny the simple beauty of it. In fact it makes sense and I accept.

I just finished an incredible book, A History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, and it made me feel disappointed in mankind and what we supposedly do on this earth: live, and reproduce.

The living part I can understand. I mean we’re already here, might as well make the most of it. But to continue our bloodline? What’s the point of that? The universe got on just fine before we came along and although we’re hurting the earth a lot, in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t actually matter. Species go extinct all the time and the earth repeats the extinction cycle every now and then. Our era of existence is not even a blip in the earth’s history of doing its own thing.

In short life makes no sense to me right now, I’m only taking care of myself because a very loud voice in my head just cannot bear to see me looking pathetic or small like an insect. It’s got an overwhelming desire for me to be big and strong and powerful and I can’t help but placate that part of my brain.

So on the surface I look healthy, active and I’m cheerful with people (that part I can’t really help either, it happens automatically) but inside I have no desire for anything much at this point at least, and I’m disappointed that I don’t even look forward to or enjoy engaging in worship and remembrance.

It’s like I need to come out of the closet but instead of announcing to the world that I’m gay, it’ll be more like ‘I’m actually a rock and I just want to stay here on this spot forever and not move. Sorry guys but that’s just who I am’.

Something tells me this haze over my brain will pass, and I’m sure there are times in my life when things are a lot clearer and I feel a drive to do things.

But it’ll be back, and I’m worried that I know it with such certainty.

Hmm ok new point of introspection: I know I’m in a specific state of mind now and although I can rationalize and justify my feelings and thoughts now, it’s still something I don’t enjoy and I want to get out of it.

My mind tells me now ‘i want to escape this, this is reality, and be invested in the illusion of doing things that ‘matter’ and chasing some goal that ultimately has a high chance of being quite pointless really’.

It’s all so perplexing I think I need to shower now.

I imagine it might sound like this

‘Have you read such-and-such book?’

No, it is filth.

‘How can you say so if you haven’t discovered it for yourself?’

Life is a journey. If those before us warn of excrement on a part of the road ahead, it would be foolish for us to tread that way. It has been identified and established that it is dirty, so why busy ourselves with rediscovering the discovered?

schlert

i realize why i’ve stopped using social media:

i don’t care what people have to show/say, and nobody cares what i have to show/say

i feel like talking about how dumb and mindless it all is but it’s not worth the time

it’s important to take some time every day to count our blessings

the syaitan and nafs are relentless and endlessly crafty; you can make one right decision and they’ll play out an entire drama scene in your head where you are the hero and you start doing greater and greater things

some cats look so adorable and have that ‘help me i’m lost face’ that i can’t accept it in my head that they’re excellent hunters and killas

i’m learning to cross over from barebones to minimalism to minimum-efficient-dose-functionality. also, it’s pretty fun to decorate a home i realize. such serendipity to realize my cat’s potty matches the blue of the candle in the living room. i think a sofa of that shad would look good too

mind away from this world, come on STICK TO IT ALREADY