Living by It. One lesson a day…

… from Quran. Changing slowly, but surely.

Lesson 17 – The Depressing Twilight February 28, 2010

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Rabi Al-Awwal 13, 1431

“And from the evil of twilight when it becomes dark (or depressing).”

Surah Al-Falaq (Surah 113), verse 3

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After my last post, I had a eureka moment later when I realized that all of the four prayers in this Surah are so well-knit. The first prayer (2nd verse) is about asking refuge from all evil that has been created. We know that Allah is the Creator; by mundane logic, we could connect the creation of evil to Him… but let’s not forget that when shaitaan realized he could only ask Allah (because he’s powerless without Him) for time and leverage to corrupt mankind, he DID and he made it his mission to spread evil, and create evil. Sure, Allah Created him and we could again use that to distort our views of Him… but there’s obviously more to this than most of us want to understand.

The second prayer (3rd verse) mentions twilight and a tendency for depression around those times; I know for a fact, that depression does lead to feelings of envy and injustice. Of course I’m not the kind of person who’d go on to think about magic and voodoo dolls and whatever else that goes in the minds of freaks, but it’s understandable there are people who would.

The third prayer (4th verse) is what I covered in my last post… but I read a beautiful elaboration on how this “blowing of knots” encompasses more than just black magic. I’ve never read a more elaborate and thorough description of this Surah (alongwith Surah 114, Al-Naas and their comparitive study) than this, and I feel enlightened at best.

The last verse of the Surah has covered what most of us think consider to be the root(s) of black magic – jealousy and resentment. I remember the times when I hit the low points in my life how I was  “upset” with Allah and I could only think of people around me who seemed happy, content, lucky and all things positive. If I had had my faith in the right place, I’d have deduced certain things then that I have now and I’m glad I figured out things before I strayed any further. To be able to feel satisfied is dependent your frame of mind, not on your circumstances. If you knew the life of Sarmad Tariq, you’d think differently, if you knew somebody personally who struggles on a day to day basis but has hardly shown it, you’d maybe start feeling more content with your share. I was lucky to have met him at a conference and it’s not like I remember him every time I have an aura of negative energy around me, but that image of him amusing us with stories of using his wheelchair as an excuse to break queue lines is something that always knocks a bit of sense into me… and I try to use it as a way to counter shaitaan’s whisperings about my “deprivations”.

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Lesson 16 – Voodoo Child? February 24, 2010

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Rabi Al-Awwal 9, 1431

“And from the evil (of groups of those who practice occultism by) spitting on knots.”

Surah Al- Falaq (Surah 113), verse 4

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This Surah starts with a prayer asking for refuge; the above is just one of the 4 things one should ask refuge for.

Muslim matters did a wonderful article on this and I feel a little stupid and ignorant even attempting to write on this; nonetheless, here I go…

When we’re in the hospital (and we are working in Pakistan), no doctor ever thinks about occultism. Of course we need to have that frame of mind in order to get to the root of the person’s symptoms; nevertheless, it’s important to not discard concepts which have been mentioned in Quran.

We don’t know why people do what they do, we don’t know why mothers-in-law and other family members (I know somebody personally who’s a victim) want to cause harm to their blood relations and not-so-blood relations, we don’t know why it’s so satisfying to see somebody lose. Somebody I know who has been successful in worldly relations but has faced a specific kind of problem in her life that need not be mentioned, once said to me,”You know people want good for you, it’s not like they don’t… but only to a certain limit. They want you to be happy, but not too happy; they want you to be successful but not too successful.” And basically it comes down to what each person’s limits or criteria for success are. It’s unfortunate that envy is so deep rooted in us… and I have come to believe it’s our lack of faith and our lack of acknowledgment of His Power and His Being, what with us finding such little time to talk to Him, to pray to Him, to ask for help from the Ever Powerful, Ever Merciful Allah.

This one time I was working in the paediatrics ward (children) when a couple came in with their baby son and his X-Ray. The X-Ray evidently showed needles (or metallic objects if you must argue) in his chest and it was mind-boggling to say the least. The baby had an older sister and the doctors immediately started thinking along the lines of abusive family members (parents and relatives both) and/ or sibling, while the couple suspected black magic. Now I’m not saying the doctors were wrong and the couple right, but the fact that they completely discarded the idea of black magic now feels like they were denying its existence and power. I never got to see the end of the case because I was assigned to be in that ward for only a limited time, but a after discussion with a cousin whose knowledge in Quranic matters is splendid, I came to a conclusion that we should have at least suggested recitation of Surah Al-Falaq to them because the true knowledge of where the needles came from is with Allah alone and He has the Power to relieve the parents of this perplexing condition (?) if they were suffering through black magic at all.

That Pakistan mostly comprises of uneducated, poor, basically illiterate people doesn’t help matters. It’s easier to think that black magic is talked about by this set of people only, so obviously its root is in the ignorant minds. That the human race has come such a long way, anything remotely retardive or supernatural is but a figment of our imagination. That we have discovered and invented once-unimaginable things, that we have improved people’s lives remarkably… all help us push aside the concept of things we have little understanding of. So what do we do? Essentially, we need to believe His word.

Another thing that happens that I’ve seen too often now (because I’m training to be a doctor, my interaction will mostly be with a limited type of professions) is the God complex some people develop. Not all do. Just the ones who’ve received immense success, a consequence of their knowledge and training combined. What they have forgotten is HOW they started and Who Allowed them to enjoy that kind of success. This is a bit tangential for my current post, my point though, is just that we cannot deny things we don’t understand and we must admit to our ignorance on a myriad of subjects to keep our arrogance in check.

 

Wait a minute! February 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Saima @ 10:25 pm

So I’ve realized I can’t do this on a day-to-day basis. A post every alternate day seems more practical, as it’ll allow me to look up some of the things related to my posts, something I haven’t even attempted yet, but want to. It’ll allow me to tend to other things in my life, some of which seem to beg to be done… I was beginning to spend less and less time with the people I want to spend time with, and much more time online… wasting most of it.

Hope to see you back, imaginary readers!

 

Lesson 15 – Wait, Don’t Pay Me!!! February 22, 2010

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Rabi Al-Awwal 8, 1431

“And I do not ask you to recompense me for this (work), there is no recompense for this, except it is (obligation) of Rabb of all creation.”

Surah Al-Shu’raa (Surah 26), verse 127

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This was Hazrat Hud’s (raw) clarification to his people upon his role as a messenger to them, but it holds true for all of us still – a reminder of the timelessness of Quran.

On a personal level, this seems to be the perfect tagline for my blog!

Things to note:

  • When one person is making an effort to guide somebody, believer or not, it’s not a favor he’s doing that needs to be compensated with things tangible. Sure, if you want to send back a prayer for that person, it’ll just be the goodness of your heart (and maybe gratitude) working… but basically these are duties we have to perform for our fellow men; spread the truth; help out in small ways and big; ignore the vices, better yet address them only to improve things, if you can; keep the individual efforts persistent, that’s the important thing to realize. You are not accountable to the people around you (a-t  a-l-l) and it’s hard to break out of that shell if you’re caught up in it.
  • Obligation – to obey. You don’t have a choice. The question now is how much effort are you going to make to seek the truth? Sift the made-up stuff from the truth? Check sources? Because, frankly, when you’ve decided you’re going to obey commands you need to be sure you’re doing the right things, and not just those that look convenient because everybody’s doing it.
  • All creation!!! I’ve always found the idea fascinating. That all His beings worship Him. We can’t see most do because we haven’t been granted that sense but it’d be humbling (for lack of a better word) if we could.
 

Lesson 14 – Aaah The Original Sin February 20, 2010

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Rabi Al-Awwal 6, 1431

“But shaitaan seduced him by saying: “O Adam! Should I inform you of a tree that gives eternal life and a never decaying kingdom?”

Surah Taha (Surah 20), verse 120

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A lot of people would like to live forever, or longer. There’s so much to do, such little time and it takes so much before you reach the point when you CAN do what you want to do. If you’re lucky. Travel, learn, research, discover, party, create, run a business… how much CAN you do? You’re always short on time if you’re the kind who truly feels like there’s a need to do everything that’s possible for you… which is why so much research goes on to prolong an average person’s life, to find out what keeps one younger regardless of the years, to make clones, to improve an average person’s lifestyle so he can achieve things at a younger age thus allowing him to live his dreams more.

I might be in the same category of people one day. Until then I’ll base my monologue on the stories I hear and see.

Here shaitaan taps on this apparently inherent desire man has for an eternal life. First man on earth, has everything he could ask for, was asked to stay away from just this ONE tree, has everything else at his disposal… so shaitaan does what he knows best: pounce at the opportunity of a curious mind. shaitaan asks very cleverly as he pulls Adam in, into his idea of an “exciting” adventure. he asks Adam if he wants to know about the tree that’s already been described to him. Interesting… Manipulative.

Two things are working here: shaitaan’s manipulation and Adam’s curiosity. Forbidden sins are made to look especially exciting by shaitaan and so was this one back when only two humans existed. The glaring message here is to think through all that’s going through your mind when you’re beginning to waver towards decisions you feel are wrong or have the potential to be wrong.

I must have said this several times already and I say it again: watch out for stupid shaitaan’s whisperings. he knows our psyche (individual and collective); presently, he probably works by making us think that our thoughts are our own, that our minds are superior with higher ability and logic, that his existence has little to do with how we live our lives. Don’t let him seduce you, like this verse mentions and don’t let the glitter and excitement of this life delude you about the real eternal life of the Hereafter. Read Surah Al-naas over and over if you must but work proactively in keeping yourself AWAY from his tricks. It gets tough to do so as the years add on but it’s something you and I must struggle with everyday and because we now have the knowledge of his mission, we can work on it a bit more strategically. A bit more concsiously.

 

Lesson 13 – Halal Earnings Or Eternal Burning? February 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Saima @ 11:26 pm

Rabi Al-Awwal 5, 1431

“In fact those who earn by wicked ways then their wrongdoing are ever around them, all such people will be companions of Fire, in there they will live.”

Surah Al-Baqarah (Surah 2), verse 81

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I’m fortunate enough to be working with a doctor who’s adamant on correcting the world. His subspecialty in that is making sure nobody gets the extra cut he/she’s ploying at the expense of the patients. Different hospitals/ clinics/ doctors have different things to say about a certain condition and that’s fine as long as there aren’t unnecessary (read: pricey) scans and tests and operations involved… But they are! They so are! So often! It’s a shame people in the profession of medicine are ready to scam patients who really don’t know any better. (Note how I said people in the profession of medicine, not doctors; because doctors live by an oath and these people live by moolah, if nothing else.)

Say, if I told you Pakistan is going to the dogs and you rebut with, “Nooo, we have Zardari,” does it change things? It doesn’t and you’re right, this has nothing to do with the current post. <insert smiley with the tongue out>

My consultant gave us an example that explains the concept of most of the current practice of medicine today: If there were an elephant behind the door you were pushing, can you do anything about it? No. Until you moved the elephant. So, sure you can get somebody to break down a wall and make you another door for you to exit, but the elephant still remains, right? The doctors who choose to practice this way are either being negligent or working actively for an exotic vacation they couldn’t afford otherwise

So if I were to count how many hurdles a patient has to cross unknowingly in terms of monetary gains (for others) and losses (for our hero of a patient), I’ll be embarrassed for where the Muslims are headed. 😦

Coming back to this verse, there are a couple of things to note here:

  • Getting an illegal, unethical cut is considered such a slight sin by most; people think of it as a means to survive in these difficult times and while I haven’t seen difficult time in its face I know it’ll always be wrong in my books. How can cheating and manipulating somebody right under his nose ever settle with you? This is why I absolutely love reading the word “wicked” for something considered so minor in our times by a majority. Drives home the point very well for me.
  • All will be companions of Fire. Yaayy party! A hot party… W00t!
  • When your finger (average 4 square cm) touches a hot pan accidentally, you shout out and rush to get something cold (or a toothpaste, there you go, I just fit in a tip there!) and you spend a good ten minutes just trying to numb the burn; for the next few days, it keeps smarting and you have a vexing awareness of a finger that you once took for granted. Now multiply that by 4325 (17300 square cm/ 4 square cm) to get your average BSA. Basically what I’m saying is, imagine that heat on every last bit of your body, imagine the frustration and the screams. Now the real cherry is to imagine LIVING in that fire, no you can’t die and just end the anguish once and for all. No, you must LIVE with your friends who used all possible means to earn and earn some more in this life. Live in that fire, day in, day out; your skin melts before your melting eyes, your nerves are shouting on their own, your whole life runs before your eyes over and over, you finally realize how worthless that 10% cut was to you… but you must continue to live that life, oh you must!
    It’s hard, but not impossible, to imagine a scene like that but you must – it should be a constant reminder in these times, when living it up is so important that everything else including morals seem to fade away.
 

Lesson 12 – I’m Too Good For Ya February 18, 2010

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Rabi Al-Awwal 4, 1431

“The arrogant ones said: “In fact the One you believe in is the One we refuse to accept.”

Surah Al-Airaaf (Surah 7), verse 76

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  • Arrogant – when you think you’re too good for somebody, too good for the situation; when you can’t accept the simplest of things because it’s tough to step down from the image/ illusion of having a “strong” personality; when you are regularly annoying to be around; when you would rather surround yourself with a certain kind of people and not give the “regular ones” a chance.
  • Humble – when people take you for granted but you still continue to feel an inner calm; when you have little care about what people may think of you as long as you’re doing the right thing.

It’s pretty amazing how He squeezed their personality into this little verse. It seems to say that these people know it’s the truth but they need to clear it out that they will… not… accept it.

Sometimes I wonder, there’s so much talk in the Quran about people who refuse to accept Allah, do we, the NON-atheists, fall into that category too every once in a while? We ARE pretty arrogant, sometimes without realizing it; we have our own ideas, our own common sense(s) that has, frankly, been moulded so much over the years I’ve begun to think our wiring’s mostly wrong now. We adapt to things that suit us, we thank Him for the blessings, crib about the miseries – that’s a whiff of refusal to accept His Might… no?