Saturday, 28 November 2009

is it really eid?

Sadly, eid was a bit of a non-starter this year. The last few weeks have been pretty disjointed for me: the new job, poor health (which is something of a regular feature these days), financial pressures and other assorted emotional drains, meant that I was never really in the zone to start with! Then, it all fell apart: I took a blinding migraine yesterday, (no pun intended!!). I went for my ritual acupuncture in the afternoon, which helped to some degree, but the stressed it induced, coupled with all the medication I’d had to consume to keep it at bay, left me exhausted, emotionally tired, mentally empty and extremely depressed! Despite my tiredness, I slept for a total of 3 hours last night, and woke up feeling worse than when I’d fallen asleep. In that condition, the last thing I wanted to do was eid!! Its not the spiritual part that was troubling me: I have written previously about my love for the reflection contained within this festival: it was the social aspect that was troubling me. I’d been asked over by one of my closest friends, her family are like my own family, and have been incredibly good to me! But somehow, I couldn’t face it: Lucky Fatima has written about how she couldn’t be bothered inviting guests this year, and I know I’m not the only one! But its little comfort when I feel so selfish and guilty for not going. I can’t quite explain my reasons: on the surface: I am genuinely not very well, tired and done in: but its more than that: when I’ve been low, very low with illness, I am incredibly self conscious about every thing: and even without being over sensitive, my weight gain means I look truly disgusting in salwar kameez, and there are those within my friend’s family who will make that known to me: joking or not, it still hurts! I figured that eating too much, and stuffing my overweight frame in to a too-tight kameez wasn’t quite the way I wanted to spend my day! Moreover, I have this issue with family at the moment: seeing Muslim families, all together, leaves me feeling so empty: for no matter how close you come to other families, they are still not your own, and there are still huge cross-sections of your being that remain void: and almost certainly will remain so judging by my life’s direction at the moment! Maybe its all me: even as I write this, I feel awkward, and aware of how wretched my words must sound, but this is where I am at, and I have little choice but to go with it for now: after all, why make others miserable when you can just avoid them? I sense a growing separation between those closest to me and myself: I think its about differing directions: like it or not, their direction is set by others, pre-destined and defined: few will fight against it, and even if they don’t like it, they know they are secure! My own life is pretty different! I have no complaints regarding rizq (my creator has been eternally merciful to me), but all the same, the reality is that sometimes, more energy is needed to fight than enjoy: and so when you do finally find some time for yourself, you are done in and just can’t face commonality, life, any thing!
May Allah (SWT) forgive me if I am in the wrong here: but I think this eid and I are destined to vegetate: I remember even when I was married, I’d almost always get ill on eid: one year, I bought a beautiful velvet lehenga to wear on eid day: I was obsessed with that lehenga: from the moment I saw it, I wanted it: eventually persuaded my x-husband to buy it for me, only to get sick and end up wearing it to eid prayer and spending the rest of the day in the bathroom being sick! Happy days!! Ah well: you win some and lose others: guess this one will also be added to the list of those that got away! (BTW, eid mubarak!!).

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Eid clean-out!

I know you’ve heard of spring cleaning, but this somehow feels like the eid version! Eid-al-adha, will fall on either Friday or Saturday Insha Allah (depending on your marjah), and while celebrating wasn’t, (and isn’t) really on my agenda this year, (first eid since Narjiss died, and just generally not feeling up to it!), this eid feels like the ideal opportunity to break free from the shackles of the year gone by! The week started with the long-awaited written confirmation regarding my new job! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put in to words how much relief this brought! I have longed for new jobs in the past, but have never desired to break free quite so much as I have from this situation at Inclusion Scotland, (will explain it later for those not across the case). So, was able to hand in my notice with a very cheeky smile and an air of “get it up ya!”, (Allah forgive me but it soo helped!). I’ve of course got a month to go before I quit, but I’ve told them that if they don’t want me to resign with immediate affect, they’ll have to let me work from home, (for once in my life I am calling the shots this time!). If they agree, (which in reality they’ll have to), I’ll be able to work to my own crazy insomnia driven time schedules (well, they work for me so who cares!), and generally wined down from the chaos and pain this situation has ensued!
Today I woke up, took a bath, did namaz, and set to work hovering and cleaning the house! When my health is poor the house work tends to be the first thing to go, taking my routine and order along with it. Being alone, I don’t tend to entertain over eid, (thankfully I’m still the one that gets asked out by folk), but the notice thing seemed to spark something within: if I’ve been desperately ill over the past year, its largely due to stress and the build-up of toxins, and if I don’t start putting my house in order (both physically and emotionally), I’ll never succeed in the new place.
In January, I’ll take on a poorly paid job and a fully funded degree course. Life will be taxing and busy and difficult, but I won’t be harassed, degraded and bullied by my boss, and I won’t feel like a leper just for being a Muslim! Challenge away! Challenges are healthy and stimulating: intimidation does nothing but queue the self-destruct button! And as an abuse survivor I need no help in that department! The reality is that I do struggle with conflict, and some might argue that all I’ve done here is run away, rather than look the problem in the face and take these people on! But when faced with a choice between saving your own sanity, or battling a racist, sexist asswhole, then sanity has to prevail: I might be able to fight him, and I might get him fired! But none of these will undo the hurt he has caused me, so best to walk away with my head held high, and use the eid/Christmas vacations to shake off the bitter and twisted undertones which lurk lasciviously below the surface!

There is another reason for an eid clear-out though. Until a few days ago, I never understood why for me, this eid always felt less about celebration than eid-al-fitr, and more about reflection and contemplation! This probably has more to do with my lack of knowledge than any thing else, coupled with the fact that I’ve never actually been to hajj! But in an interview for Radio Awaz, Shaykh Abdal Aziz Ahmed hinted at the reasons behind my response to eid: the answer is hidden in the day of Arrafat (before eid). Arrafat, (the day before eid), is the day when the prophet Adam (A.S), after 40 years of walking alone through the earth (both physically and emotionally!), arrived at the flat dry plane that is Arrafat near Makkah, and opened his heart to his creator, expressing his regret for disobeying his Lord, and his desire and need to reconnect with the creator in this new life of his, as he craved only to return to his homeland one day. Just as a refugee or an exile yearns for the familiar lands of his birth, so does the human soul (consciously or unconsciously), crave for closeness to Allah (SWT), and ultimately, to reaching the jannah!
Arrafat is signified by the fasting that most Muslims undertake, thus bringing about a turning back within the human psyche, recognising where we came from, the direction our lives need to take in order to reach our desired destination. This contemplation during Arrafat should, by nature of its practises bring about an eid that is more about reflection, self-discovery and rebirth than revelry! This doesn’t mean that eid cannot be enjoyed and celebrated of course! But when we look at the signature sacrifice of an animal on eid and what it represents, we realise just how close we are to a period of sorrow: (Prophet Abraham’s sacrifice of his son was not required: instead, the intention was what counted: the son, was replaced with a sheep for the creator new that a greater sacrifice was to save humanity: the sacrifice of course being, the sacrifice of Karbala). Realisation of this brings us even closer to muherram: not only in the time sense (less than a month away), but spiritually too. As far as possible, I like muherram to be a time when I can withdraw in to myself, drown in sorrow and pain, not only in order that I connect to the Ahlulbayt (A.S), but in order that I immerge from the suffering a stronger person, recharged and empowered, with a greater sense of being, direction and spiritual energy. So, when you tuck in to your eid dinners this year, and dress up for meetings with family and friends, try to take some time out, even if it be only a second. Think of the year gone by and the one to come, who you are, where you’ve been and where you are going: it might evoke some eid cleaning of your own! But if nothing else it will inspire you to strive further and further to attain the perfection that your soul deserves, Insha Allah.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Something of the Woman I was!!

I had an Email yesterday from a reader of the old blog (perhaps THE reader: as apposed to A reader!), but hey! Its about quality not quantity and all that! I was amazed by this person’s observance and attention to writing style (or maybe lack of it, I don’t know!). They didn’t write to complement the blog, but neither did they put it down in any way! instead they just asked “are you Deeya?”, this might seem like a strange random question to some of you, but Deeya was in fact an identity I used to write under shortly after returning to Pakistan. I don’t really know who/what Deeya was: suffice as to say she was a confused, torn, romantic and angry creature who just wanted to express her feelings: good and bad, painful and indifferent. She helped me through some dark days, the darkest of my life in fact, which proceeded my return to the UK in 2005. Deeya kept me sane through those days and provided me release through her existence, but shortly after securing a new job and a house and a new life for myself, Deeya was quickly forgotten! For reasons unknown to me, people seemed to like this disjointed Zany form of writing she produced, and many asked me to continue with it! but I never could quite get back in to that zone, which is for the most part, a good thing! Deeya drifted quickly and quietly in to some storage volt in my past, moreover, the site that supported my writing (the ground Under, …, any one recall it?), shut down too!! It seemed only fitting that the site should disappear along-side Deeya’s departure, but even more bazaar where the Emails I received asking for copies of Deeya’s work!! I don’t know what exactly people wanted to do with them, read them, reflect on them or pass them off as their own, I just don’t know! But I only hope they brought joy to people rather than negativity, as believe me: they weren’t very cheerful!
Back to the present: you can imagine my amazement after all those years, some one remembered Deeya! The Email author (who didn’t give his/her name), also requested me to post some of Deeya’s old wisdom up here! I struggled allot with this: Deeya’s writings were cold, crude and left little to the imagination. They had a certain charm perhaps, but I wasn’t sure I wanted people to see me in that light over here! But then, on further reflection I realised I was being unfair: sure Deeya had her emotional issues, but she is as much a part of me as Ruth/Roshni are, and to deny Deeya ever happened is like trying to deny the rest of my past as well: (much as I wish I could do that, it is impossible to do so: and rightly so!), the good, but more so the bad, is what makes us the people we are today!

So, in honour of my past, my present: what I was and what I aim to be: here is one of my favourite short Stories composed by Deeya back in the darkness! …, make of it what you will!

Holding it down,
By Deeya.

"But I am already late, very late!" protested Afshan screeching wildly in to the receiver poised in her hand. Her words echoed oppressively through the
long since quietened air of the office. "shouldn't you be going too?" my PA's hand on my shoulder:
"Oh, I have a few things to finish." I offered weakly still staring vacantly at the blank computer screen in front of me. I was devoid of inspiration,
the drive, or the inclination to write, to create, even to copy or paste.
"And they have no driver"; I blurted out clutching at straws now.

Its 11 PM, and I am still at my desk, with every thing and nothing to do. Loads I need to say yet my lips remain still, subtly parted, lost in dreams of
last night. Life always seems cold and uninviting the morning after the night before, only, one night on I had anticipated on regaining some degree of
composure to get through my daily tasks, only I remained transfixed by his scent, each atom of his being as he past over me, his words, his essence, treasuring
and savouring every moment like priceless joules and for all the wrong reasons.
"What is the matter?" Afshan stood red faced in front of the control desk, waving a pen franticly in the direction of the studio window to add extra weight
to her every expression.
"Its the third time this week" she complained.
"they know our position, they know my mum is alone, but still the driver does not come, why won't he come!" I looked around the tiny room slowly slipping
back in to my conventional authoritarian pose:
"can't you take her?" I asked Fesil; a senior producer hailing from the UK who was too up his own ass, too European to integrate in to this so obviously
Asian landscape:
"na man, am about to go on air!"

"I can't do it!" I told myself as I swung on my long, black coat. I performed each action with painful accuracy and calculated movements: dragging the brush
seductively through my long hair, pulling it up quickly and sticking a colourful hair clasp sharply and aggressively through it.
"Get the keys" I called to Afshan, "will be down in a minute."
I collected my bag, organiser and work files, while on the way past the library, carefully selected a few good CDs to drive to. Just as I rounded the last
flight of stairs my mobile sounded a message had arrived:
"am recording all night, see you tomorrow; probably in the evening?" so there you had it, Ali would not be coming home to me. I shouldn't be doing this,
but already tiny beads of sweat were forming on my back and the intoxicating kick of adrenaline had begun its slow and exhilarating takeover of my soul.
Sure I felt guilt, but it wasn't all my doing: I would have done the right thing, but he had done me wrong again and again. Here was another example, I
needed an excuse and he had given it to me gold plated!

I swung the van skilfully out of the parking lot and began cruising down familiar routes. I selected my journey map carefully: avoiding check points, police
hangouts and heavily populated domestic sidewalks.
"You are so brave"; marvelled Afshan:
"I would never drive, doesn't your husband mind?" oh why the fuck had she reminded me! But then it wasn't her, it was me who was at fault. She was in the
mood to talk and I would not, could not hear! I slotted in my Indian remix collection and wound down the window letting the crisp and vibrant air of the
night caress my hair. I jerked the vehicle to an abrupt stop a few yards from her front door, she looked at me quizzically as she slowly stepped in to
the road:
"why don't you come in for tea, you can always stay here tonight?"
"no, thank you" I said hurriedly.
"are you sure your husband won't..." Her voice trailed off as I raved the engine and took off again, I knew exactly what I was going to do.

I hurtled through the defence housing authority and the posher ends of town. I past the tower blocks, the elitist meeting points and the exquisite marble
architecture of the newly erected rich mens villas. I didnt have to ring, to make an appointment: it was a casual passing by and it had paid off. He raised
one finger towards me and slipped comfortably in to the seat beside me. I drove on blindly, enjoying the feel of his arm around me stroking my back, the
scent of his freshly showered body, shining hair and gleaming white teeth. I was thinking on and on, light years ahead of any thing he could have anticipated:
as I drove along the beech front he indicated a perfect concealed space for me to store the van.

I surveyed our options, why did he want to stop here? Surely he wasn't expecting a horizontal collaboration here, in the back of the office van? We got
out, and began walking down the cool tiled steps towards the water. We walked along hidden paths and water channels infested with rubbish and hissing mosquitoes,
saying nothing until suddenly we came across a clearing festooned with a few stand-alone beech huts. Right on queue, he produced a rusty key and opened
the door.

Wordlessly we undressed, and began the violent and urgent erotic rituals of consuming and absorbing each others passion. Sex with Ayaz was good, his physique
was an instrument of wonder and he knew how to use each inch of it to pleasure me and take me higher. He was a Grosse departure from the traditional Asian
male who wants it all and recoils at the idea of surrendering himself to a woman's desires. I gave in, gave all that I had unashamedly seduced by his unassuming
demeanour: laying back contented, satisfied as he flowed in to me nuzzling my neck: this, this was all.

He got up suddenly:
"Get dressed" he said sharply. were those the first words he had uttered all evening? I wondered as I, shaken, trembled to my feet and fumbled around in the
darkness for my crumpled clothes.

Outside all was quiet, still, accept for a single tiny search light casting shadows through the huts and in to the clearing. I began walking urgently and
mechanically towards the van. The passion had left now and the melancholy was starting to erode my glittering fleeting fantasy. Ali was recording, he would
be working till dawn while I had purged myself on a tall, dark handsom stranger whom I barely knew! I would go home, raid the fridge and take a bath, scrubbing,
washing, scrubbing till I bleed and removed each and every trace of my sinful interlude. Drowning in bubbles and fresh water till every trace of Ayaz was
gone from my person.
"I guess I'll see you around" I said collapsing exhausted in to the driving seat.
"oh? And how the fuck did you suppose I would get home?" he demanded. This was a side to him I had not witnessed before; he was trying to get me off guard,
just like he had charmed me the first night I gave myself up:
"I can drop you at your office?" I volunteered still shaking in the late night chill. I would not take him home, to the house he shared with his mother,
small son and kid sister, surely even he could see that this was too much to ask. He climbed in to the van and shut the door surveying my dishevelled hair
and fading exterior:
"you think too far ahead jaani" he smiled playfully running his fingers through my loose hair. I turned the key in the ignition, and caught a glimpse of
2 perfectly positioned scratches flanking the knuckles of my right hand. Ali would notice; he was a stickler for detail and regularity. Any thing remotely
out of the norm was scrutinised to the point where he freaked if he did not shit his morning load at exactly 8.35
Ayaz kissed my hand:
"honey, you don't look up to driving, should I get you a cab?"
"Oh no, no!" I said flailing around to regain my grip of the situation. We drove off wordlessly, again, and as he left the van a few minutes later, the
horrid realisation of our unions began to hit home. This was who I was and what I wanted. This was all it meant, and all it would ever be: a senseless
screw, a fucking stab in the dark, hidden deep within the night for fear that day light would reveal its true colours for all to see. The gilt would be
just the beginning and it was up to me to work hard, play good and keep it under wraps.

I sat in the dimly lit flat still revelling in the after glow and munching cake as I contemplated my deception some more.
I said out loud licking the chocolate from my long fingers:
"it really was that good"

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Random: why I Love apnay!!

Was just listening to the radio and munching some secret midnight cake!! (as you do!), when I heard an add for a new 99P shop to be opened this Monday on Wembly High Street! “Excellent!”, I hear you cry! Even better when you hear about the free gifts and offers awarded to the first 499 people entering (what did the 500th person ever do to them I wonder!), but! (and here’s the random part!), they will be serving free samosay and pacoray and desi chai from 7 AM!! Who in their right mind (and stomach!), would want to eat samosay for breakfast! Forgive me, but unless you’d done a night shift, or had a night on the tiles would you desire such a start to your morning!
This reminded me of other random issues involving apnay which I thought would bring a smile to your face, or, if you are not familiar with the desi Diaspora, will simply make you go, …, HUH????

Me and Sangeev, (remember Sangeev?), used to make a habit of chatting for 30 minutes or so around 6 AM (before he went to do his breakfast show at the old ‘Asian gold), and we used to always see this apni Auntie, clad in a sari, walking around with a small container of what looked like rice (I later thought it might have been bird seed), and she then proceeded to sprinkle it along King Street while mumbling franticly to herself! (either King Street has become a nature reserve for creatures other than mice and cockroaches, or the rice helps her find her way back!) (its been known!).

I do know that there is such a thing as distance heeling, and I know that technology has worked to bring us closer to one another than ever before! But only a money spinning molvi would have thought of this one: a TV channel (which shall remain nameless), employed a molvi who used to come on every afternoon and run a phone-in programme (callers paid £1 per minute to talk with him), they called in mainly to talk about nazr and related personal/financial difficulties: his advice? Take a bottle of water, and one of oil: sit them in front of the TV, and he’d do ‘dum (bless them) for you!! Nice one! May the force (or the tayl!), be with you!

The last time I was in Birmingham, I actually saw bottles of ‘cow urine, all brightly coloured, complete with pictures, branding and instructions which pertained to using the aforementioned waste product as a medicinal cure for every thing from lice through to hypertension! (sick bucket, any one?)

Finally (my favourite piece of desi randomness of all!), a local desi politician (who again, shall remain nameless!), has just employed a photographer to accompany him to any important events involving more senior celebrities/politicians than himself: the idea being that he can have the photographer picture him next to the unwitting “known” others, and have the pictures displayed in his office/home, giving him an increased sense of self importance, generated by his visitors! (I want some of that man’s ego!). I also learnt recently that this man is referred to by his family members as ‘shaadi wala uncle! The title came from the fact that owing to his status (self proclaimed or not!), he is constantly receiving invitations to desi weddings from those he knows (and those he doesn’t!), their aim: to invite a politician and start the whole ego game for themselves!
Naturally, such a pillar of the community has no time for all these frivolities, so he dishes out the invites to his friends and relations based on their locality, and they get to go along, enjoy a free meal, and do a bit of PR for their favourite uncle! (I guess if you don’t get out much, attending a wedding ceremony for a couple you don’t know beats ‘strictly come dancing any day!).

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Here Awards, ..., There Awards!

As most of you know, I’m not a huge fan of awards! (especially the largely tokenistic kind that disabled people like myself tend to receive for achievements such as remembering to pick our noses at a given time of the day!). That said, I’m here to tell you about 2 particularly special awards running right now, in which you really should participate in order to encourage, motivate and empower the brightest and best among our activists today.

Beginning at home, the ‘young Scottish Ethnic Awards exist to promote leadership, citizenship and achievement among young minority ethnic people in Scotland. If you know some one who’s hard work, passion and talent warrants rewarding, surf on down to where you can download a nomination form! Do get them in ASAP in order that your chosen nominee gets counted!

Further afield now, yet so incredibly close to my heart! Are the Brass Crescent awards! I stumbled across these just the other day purely by accident: a blog that I truly adore has been nominated for one of these, so I took a look at the website and the concept behind the awards. The Brass Crescent awards (quoting from the website),
“is an annual awards ceremony that honours the best writers and thinkers of the emerging Muslim blogosphere (aka the Islamsphere). Nominations are taken from
blog readers, who then vote for the winners.

What are the Brass Crescent Awards? They are named for the Story of the City of Brass in the Thousand and One Nights. Today, the Islamsphere is forging
a new synthesis of Islam and modernity, and is the intellectual heir to the traditions of philosophy and learning that was once the hallmark of Islamic
civilization - a heritage scarcely recognizable today in the Islamic world after a century's ravages of colonialism, tyrants, and religious fundamentalism.
We believe that Islam transcends history, and we are forging history anew for tomorrow's Islam. These awards are a means to honour ourselves and celebrate
our nascent community, and promote its growth.”
How awesome is that? Interested? Then surf on down to to vote for your favourites: you have about 14 days left to nominate and counting! Be warned though: you need to take a day or so out for nominating: the blogs up for awards are simply too good to pass by, and deserve your time, pondering and deliberation before casting your vote! Not that I’d try to sway you in any way, but keep an eye open for ‘a slice of lemon, ‘the Gori wife life, Muslima Media watch, and my all time favourite blogger, Lucky Fatima!

Honouring the marriage Anniversary of Imam Ali (A.S), and Fatimah Zahra (A.S).

My greetings and congratulations to you on this most auspicious of days, the anniversary of the marriage between amir-al-mohmineen, Ali ibn Abbu talib (A.S), and saeeda Fatimah Zahra (A.S). My greetings to you on this day worthy of your smiles and celebrating: this day, that focuses on the sacred nature of not only the institution of marriage, but the indispensable nature of a true life companion, who is as the qur’an states: a garment for you: and you a garment for them. There are many examples from the lives of these 2 sacred and blessed personalities for us to meditate and reflect on. Today also marks the celebration of my dear friend and sister, Rizwana with her husband-to-be, Rizwan. From childhood, Rizwana desired that her marriage be held on this date, but of course she had no idea that her life would take her far across the world to find the man of her dreams and her reality too: now those dreams come true for her mashallah, and here I sit in a dark damp Glasgow wishing I was there to hug her tight and share her happiness on the most special day of her life! For now, I can only make dua, and ask you to do the same, for Rizwan and Rizwana, for your own married life and for the lives of those of us yet to find that person who completes our reality.

I leave you with a beautiful account of the most perfect marriage of all: between Imam Ali (A.S) and bibi Fatimah Zahra (A.S), May All our marriages contain even a fraction of the humbleness, dignity and pure divine love that governed their relationship Insha Allah.

When Hazrat Fatima(s.a.) attained the age of maturity and was ready to get married, the Prophet Mohammad(sawaw) started receiving proposals from various
people for his daughter. Hazrat Salman Farsi(r.a.) and Hazrat Umm-e-Salma(r.a.) narrate that "When Hazrat Fatima(s.a.) attained the marriageable age, the
important people among the tribe of Quraish started sending proposals to the Prophet Mohammad(sawaw) but the Prophet (sawaw) did not accept any proposal
saying that he was waiting for the order of Allah(swt) to decide this matter". Among the aspirants for the marriage was Umar ibn-e-Khattab as well but
he received the same reply.

<< Imam Ali(a.s.) makes the proposal >>
Hazrat Umm-e-Salma(r.a.) narrates that : One day Imam Ali(a.s.) approached the Prophet Mohammad(sawaw) at his house. Imam Ali(a.s.) entered and greeted
the Prophet(sawaw) and the Prophet(sawaw) replied in the same kind manner. Imam Ali(a.s.) sat down and he was so much shy that he continued staring at
the ground and could not utter a word. The Prophet(sawaw) smiled and said to Imam Ali(a.s.) that he knew what Imam Ali(a.s.) had to say but he wanted to
hear it from him. He told Imam Ali(a.s.) that he does not need to be shy and to say whatever he wanted to say.

With this encouragement and soft tone from the Prophet(sawaw), Imam Ali(a.s.) said "My parents be ransom for you, you know that since my childhood, I have
dedicated myself for your service. You have educated me from the beginning and brought me to this status. It was because of your influence and training
that Allah(swt) saved me from all sins and guided me to the Sirat-e-Mustaqeem. It is because of your encouragement that I feel this courage in myself to
express my heartfelt wish that you give me the honor of becoming your son-in-law. I have concealed his wish in my heart for a long time thinking that this
might not be according to your wishes. Is there a possibility that this could happen?".

<< Proposal accepted >>
Hazrat Umm-e-Salma(r.a.) narrates that "I was watching this affair from a distance and I saw that as soon as Imam Ali(a.s.) completed his request, the face
of Prophet Mohammad(sawaw) lit up and he asked Imam Ali(a.s.) - what have you got to realize this act?". Imam Ali(a.s.) said "O Prophet of Allah(swt),
you know my condition very well, I have only a sword, an armor and a camel". Prophet Mohammad(sawaw) said: "Ali, you definitely need your sword for fighting
Jihad and camel for traveling, however, you armor could work. O Abul Hassan(a.s.), I want to give you the good news that Allah(swt) has made the decision
and already recited your Nikah with my daughter Fatima(s.a.) in the Arsh. Just before your arrival, Allah(swt) sent an angel to give me this good news."

This event has been narrated in "Maarij an-Nabuwwah" of Moeen Kashfi, "Sifwatul Safada" of ibn-e-Jozi, "Madarij an-Nabywwah" on 2:75 of Shah Abdul Haq Dehalvi.

<< Nikah recited on the Arsh >>
"Maarij an-Nabuwwah" also states that Hazrat Jabreel(a.s.) narrated the story of the Nikah recited on the Arsh. He said "O Prophet of Allah(swt), Allah(swt)
has chosen you and made you the most respected and high among his creatures and has selected Ali(a.s.) as your brother and has decided that the Nikah of
your daughter and the servant of Allah(swt), Fatima(s.a.) would be with Ali(a.s.). Allah(swt) arranged for their Nikah in such a manner that he addressed
the dwellers of Jannah to dress themselves with ornaments of Jannah and then ordered all the angels to assemble together on the 4th Sky. He then filled
the 4th sky with Noor and then appointed Hazrat Adam(a.s.) to recite Khutba to begin the Nikah ceremony. After khutba of Hazrat Adam(a.s.), Allah(swt)
ordered an angel named Raheel to recite Hamd. Raheel is the most beautiful of angels and possesses the most beautiful voice. After recitation of Hamd,
Allah(swt) informed me (Jabreel(a.s.)) that He has performed the Nikah of His servant Hazrat Fatima(s.a.) with His chosen person Imam Ali(a.s.) and that
I should spread this news among the angels. I acted accordingly and made all the angels testify the event. Allah(swt) then ordered me to write all this
event on this silk cloth of Jannah and present it to you."

After mentioning this event, Prophet Mohammad(sawaw) said "O Abul Hasan(a.s.), the order of Allah(swt) has been served and I invite you to come to the mosque
so that this Aqd should be formalized on the earth as well among witnesses."

Such was the importance of this marriage that Allah(swt) arranged the ceremony on Arsh and then Himself decided and recited the Nikah of Imam al-Muttaqeen,
Amir-ul-momineen Ali ibn-e-Abi Talib(a.s.) with the leader of the women of this world and in paradise Hazrat Fatima(s.a.).

The above event has been mentioned in various other books as follows:

- Muaraj an-Nabuwwah
- Al asaba fee tameez as-Sahaba
- Sawaeq-e-muharriqa by Ibn-e-Hajr Makki
- Al Bayan wal Bateen by Allam Jaahiz
- Nuzhat-ul-Majalis by Allama Abdur Rehman Safori
- Riyaz un-Nazrah fee Manaqib-ul-Ashra by Allama Muhib Tabri

<< Nikah recited on Earth >>
Prophet Mohammad(sawaw) led Imam Ali(a.s.) into the mosque and asked him to sell off his armor and present that money to the Prophet(sawaw). The dress was
sold in 400 dirhams according to some traditions, and the proceeds were presented to the Prophet Mohammmd(sawaw) who gave them to Hazrat Salman Farsi(a.r.)
and Hazrat Bilal(a.r.) and asked them to buy some articles of use from the market. They went to the market and bought the following items as jahez (dowry)
of Hazrat Fatima(s.a.)

- Two mattresses made of Egyptian canvas. (One stuffed with fiber and the other with sheep wool).
- A leather mat.
- A pillow made of skin, filled with palm tree fiber.
- A Khaibarion cloak.
- An animal skin for water.
- Some jugs and jars also for water.
- A pitcher painted with tar.
- A thin curtain made of wool.
- A shirt costing seven (7) dirhams.
- A veil costing four (4) dirhams.
- Black plush cloak.
- A bed embellished with ,ribbon.
- Four cushions made of skin imported from Ta ‘ef stuffed with a good smelling plant.
- A mat from Hajar.
- A hand-mill.
- A special copper container used for dyestuff
- A pestle for grinding coffee.
- A (water) skin.

When the items of Jahez were received, Prophet Mohammad(sawaw) went to Hazrat Fatima(s.a.) and said "Your Nikah has been recited on the Arsh by Allah(swt)
with my cousin Ali(a.s.) and He(swt) has ordered me to recite your Nikah on the earth as well. I have gathered my companions to do so and now seek your
agreement and permission to recite this Nikah." Hearing this, Hazrat Fatima Zahra(s.a.) bowed her head with shyness which indicated her agreement. The
Prophet(sawaw) came out of her hujra and ordered Hazrat Bilal(a.r.) to gather all Ansaar and Muhajireen. Once the companions were gathered, Prophet Mohammad(sawaw)
recited Hamd of Allah(swt) and narrated to his companions that Jibreel(a.s.) had informed him that Allah(swt) has performed the Nikah of Hazrat Ali(a.s.)
with his daughter on the Arsh and has ordered him to recite the same on the earth as well. He asked Imam Ali(a.s.) to formally request for the marriage
in front of the witnesses. After reciting greatness of Allah(swt) and presenting his profound gratitude to him and reciting darood for Prophet Mohammad(sawaw),
Imam Ali(a.s.) formally requested for the marriage. Prophet Mohammad(sawaw) accepted the request and made all the companions witnesses. Upon hearing this
all the companions greeted Imam Ali(a.s.) and the Prophet(sawaw).

Prophet Mohammad(sawaw) recited the Nikah himself and asked Imam Ali(a.s.) if he accepted the Nikah for a Mehr of 400 Misqaal of Silver. Imam Ali(a.s.)
accepted and then the Nikah was formally concluded. Both offered Sajda-e-Shukr to Allah(swt) and all the companions present there congratulated and greeted
both Imam Ali(a.s.) and the Prophet Mohammad(sawaw).

<< Marriage and move of Hazrat Fatima(s.a.) >>
A non-planned period of time elapsed between the nikah and the wedding ceremony, because Imam Ali(a.s.) was too shy to ask the Prophet to assign a day for
the wedding, while He(sawaw) wanted to protect Fatima’s pride by refraining from asking Imam Ali(a.s.) to do so.

A month or more passed by before Imam Ali(a.s.) said anything regarding the wedding. Aqeel (Imam Ali(a.s.)’s brother) asked him about the reason for the
delay in holding the wedding ceremony and encouraged him to prepare for the wedding and to ask the Prophet(sawaw) to assign a date for it. Despite Imam
Ali(a.s.)’s shyness, he accompanied Aqeel to the Prophet’s house to fulfill his wishes. On their way to the Prophet’s house, they met Um Ayman(r.a.) who,
when told the reason for their visit, asked them to leave the matter to her. She, in turn, informed Um Salama(r.a.) who brought the matter to the attention
of the Prophet(sawaw) who called for Imam Ali(a.s.) and asked his opinion. Imam Ali(a.s.) expressed his desire to bring Hazrat Fatima(s.a.) to his home
which was donated by one of his followers. The Prophet(sawaw) asked Imam Ali(a.s.) to hold a dinner (walima) because Allah(swt) is pleased with those who
do so; for the social good it does-such as bringing people together and implementing love and harmony among them.

Imam Ali(a.s.) arranged for the dinner and invited the people to the feast. Men and women from all around Medina gathered in the house. They ate, drank
and even took food to their homes. The blessings of the Prophet(sawaw) were obvious on that day, for not only the food was enough to feed everyone, but
also it did not decrease at all. The Prophet(sawaw) asked for food containers to be brought and filled them and sent them to his wives and left a special
container for Hazrat Fatima(s.a.) and her husband.

By sunset, the wedding night had begun; it was time for Hazrat Fatima(s.a.) to depart to her new home. Everything went well, for the Prophet(sawaw) had
made all the necessary preparation for the wedding. Despite the simplicity and modesty of her wedding, Hazrat Fatima(s.a.)’s marriage ceremony was surrounded
by signs of greatness, excellence, and beauty.

The Messenger of Allah(sawaw) ordered his wives to embellish Hazrat Fatima(s.a.) before the wedding; they perfumed and dressed her with jewelry. They all
helped her to get ready; some combed her hair while others embellished and dressed her in the dress brought by Gabriel from the Paradise. Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdadi
in Tareekh Baghdad V.5, P.7, Al-Hamvini in Durar Al-Simtain, Al-Dhahabi in Mizan Al-Etedal, Garani in Akhbar Al-Dowal, and Qandouzi in Yanabi’ Al-Mawaddah
have narrated that Ibn Abbas said:
‘When Fatima was taken to Ali’s house on her wedding night, the Prophet(sawaw) preceded her, Jibraeel was on her right, and Mikaeel on her left, and seventy
thousand angels followed her. These angels praised and glorified Allah(swt) until dawn!

The Hashemite men, Abdul Muttalib’s daughters, and Muhajarin and Ansar’s women all accompanied Fatima’s caravan that night. The Prophet’s wives joyfully
led the caravan; they were also the first to enter the house.

Upon arriving, the Prophet(sawaw) placed Hazrat Fatima(s.a.)’s hand in Imam Ali(a.s.)’s hand and said:

"May Allah bless his Messenger’s daughter;
Ali! this is Fatima, you are responsible for her (or I entrust her to you)
Ali, what an excellent wife Fatima is!
Fatima, what an excellent husband Ali is!
O Allah, bless them, bless their lives, and bless their children.
O Allah, surely they are the most beloved to me from among your creatures, so love them too, and assign for them a guardian.
I place them and their progeny under your protection from the curse devil."

Monday, 16 November 2009

Reunited? ...?

Before I begin, forgive me if this post appears as nothing more than an emotional meltdown, but I simply felt the need to try and expel something of what I feel right now in actual words, that is, if I’m to get any sleep tonight, and if I want to save myself from simply dissolving in to a never ending pool of tears!

I’ve said it many times, but for good measure I’ll say it again: the best days of my life happened when I worked for the BBC! I was young, ambitious, driven, and passionate about media: my creator had blessed me with a career I never thought I’d ever have in my wildest of dreams: and there I was, working on a radio pilot project, making and shaping radio programming, meeting and rubbing shoulders with those at the cutting edge in programme making, people who, up to that point, I’d only admired from a distance or fantasised about, and here I was, in the thick of it, living my dreams and making new dreams happen!
The director general of the Beeb at that time had made that very catchphrase “make it happen”, his very own, and that’s exactly what I was doing, in every second of the day! Each moment held new opportunities for me, there was baraqa in all that I did, even though to a certain degree I took those moments of rapture for granted. Each apparent co-incidence held new promise and purpose for me, and that’s why, when I heard an Asian presenter on a little known Sky Satellite station presenting his drivetime show, (and was blown away by his phenomenal wit and skill) I knew I’d stumbled across this for a reason. What I didn’t know though, was that when I would subsequently summon enough courage to call the said presenter and share my admiration with him, that it would change both of our lives forever!
For the purposes of protecting his anonymity, we shall call him Sangeev (his own pen name). Sangeev and I were to hit it off instantly, and to become soul mates in a matter of moments! Caught up together in a connection so beautiful and so intense, neither of us were to understand it. Many people experience momentary infatuation, desire or other related feelings close to that, but this was something different. There was a sense that we had known each other forever, and more than that: there was a force that held us together: a drive and a passion that was greater than both of us, and greater than what we believed we felt for each other, and that was radio! Unless you work in radio, or are something of an anorak in this area, you will find the passion that governs the lives of radio producers very complex to understand. You may meet some of the most influential writers, TV staff and film producers of the world, but you will for certain struggle to see the spark in them that just emanates from a dedicated radio presenter. Radio has the power to reach out to people regardless of their age, race, state, class, religion and so on. It has the power to stretch the deepest darkest recesses of the idle mind, turning it in to something creative and active once again. Radio has the power to unify people, through audio pictures painted eloquently and with intricate delivery painted on the canvass of the airwaves, in a way that neither television, nor the written word can ever hope to convey. Both Sangeev and myself shared this passion in more than standard measures of enthusiasm: we could debate the inequality that governed the licence process, the decline of quality Asian radio and the hilarious idiosyncrasies displayed in our so-called seniors at the BBC! We became best friends, yet we were so much more than that: perhaps we were soul mates, perhaps we were just overactive enthusiasts lost in a bazaar mutual admiration ritual: I don’t know: and we didn’t know then either! At the time when we first met, there were many truths we omitted to share with each other, Sangeev “forgot” to tell me he was married, and I subconsciously created an identity for myself: who was beautiful, from a background other than my own, and certainly not visually impaired!! The later revelations of these truths sent our unique relationship in to disarray, but not ending it: rather it revealed just how intimately our lives were connected! We discovered that what we felt for one another was more than just friendship, was more than the facade we had tried to create around it in order to save face. The challenge however, was how to make that work in reality: we knew we could not be together: Sangeev had a wife, a young child and a strong moral code and a stronger Asian family! My own ethics did not allow me to ask him to leave his wife or to divide his family! What we soon realised was that we had to find a level at which we could retain the good that was in our connection, without upsetting his family, or unbalancing my own life’s journey. As you might expect, this became almost impossible! We spent nights on end debating, crying, breaking up and making up, but through it all, the sun seemed to shine, the days seemed full of joy and laughter, and the nights were long, decorated with love, longing and introspection (of the helpful kind this time), a powerful angry debate which left us both disagreeing passionately and making up aggressively!
Its true to say we were desperately in love, but desperately holding on to something so fragile, so great, yet so infinitesimally small, that containing it was like trying to hold the sky in your arms: trying to gather the sands of the world in the palms of your hand! Our moments of pleasure were somehow beyond the earth: it was as though we were living a Hindi film: complete with our own songs, our own laughter and tears and sayings: and those moments when it failed were like falling from the highest star in to the depths of the deepest hell!
But, as all juggling acts do, ours too fell apart! We went from being deeply in love, to regularly in love, then to indifference, and later to resentment! The resentment its self usually came from stupid things, but as every thing about us was so finite, so intense, that an argument about generic political issues or religious difference would usually result in us going our own separate ways! After all, when I met Sangeev, I was young, foolish and certain that I knew it all: and was stubborn enough to eternally hold my ground, even when I knew deep down I was wrong. Some of our arguments saw us out of communication for a morning, then a day, then a few days, then weeks and later months! I think in the end the longest we stayed without talking was 2 years! Usually I’d be the one to finally walk away, despite Sangeev indicating that he’d had enough: but just as I was the one to call time, I was also the one to call a truce: I was the one who’d call and make amends and the one who would try to put the past behind us and try again.
Until last Thursday, we’d not been speaking for around 18 months, after another non-descript row, the origins of which I still can’t recall precisely. In all this time, I’d never forgotten about Sangeev: how could I! He was my best friend and more! We’d shared what felt like a lifetime together, and more than that, we’d shared what I still believe were the best moments of my life, moments that will never come my way again! I often recount to friends those silly yet sweet moments we spent together, and they all comment on how sad it is that we parted ways, though they all seem to think it was for the best: I don’t know if its my arrogance, or just the way I tell it! but they always conclude that Sangeev was a complete waste of space: a no one that I was better off without! Though deep down I know differently!
As I said above, until last Thursday, we hadn’t been talking: it sounds thick, but it was ‘the family, on Channel 4 that finally broke the proverbial camel’s back! The hilariously funny eccentric Asian family from Southall featured in the documentary reminded me of Sangeev, his stories of Asian life, and all the fun and laughter that we represented: and before I gave myself time to think, I sent him a sms expressing the same! At first, he did not recognise my number, which in reality gave me time to pool out, but my heart was moving too fast for me, and I replied before I knew what I was doing, sharing my identity with him. Subsequent news filled messages were exchanged, filling in the gaps that the last 18 months had brought about! Sangeev ended by promising to call me this evening, and he did! His voice brought tears to my eyes (which I of course held back from him!), but there was joy too: all week I’ve fretted over how this conversation would take place: in the past, when we’ve made up, there has always been bitterness on one or both sides, and a knowledge that whatever we say or do now, it all only serves as a patch-up job till the next great bust-up! But there were no such feelings this time! There was a formality, combined with friendship, and above all, a sense of resilience that was new to us! The passion seemed as though it had gone, and despite my logical self telling me that’s good, I find it sad, (hence the tears). One thing we did talk about was how much we both seemed to hold on to from those days: for the first time, I told him that I believed what had ultimately broken us apart was our mutual earnestness in trying to hold on to what had gone before: a time, space and state of being which cannot be relived or recaptured, no matter how much we crave it to be so! The present is where we are, it might not be as we wished, but such is the reality and the irony of life. I heard my voice speaking, telling him that we must be content, give thanks for the fact that we ever had the chance to live those moments: we experienced friendship, and love too, (or something higher than love its self), emotions that very few in this fleeting world ever do! But deep down, I felt torn, lost in a space between what I know I should do to make our relationship work this time, and between what my lower self wishes would happen. Part of me cries, yearns for the past, another chance to love, live and be happy like I did back then, while part of me fears for the repercussions of sending that text message last week. Part of me analyses over and over what we said and didn’t say, while another part of me smiles hopefully, preparing to get out the nineties Hindi songs and smile just one more time: just for a moment, if only to depart the sadness that the last year has brought with it.
I really don’t know if Sangeev and I will ever find our place in this world (if we even have one!). Some relationships are to be cherished, others are to be thrown out with the trash: and in general terms I’m not very good at working out the difference! But as I was writing this post, ‘kabhi alvida na kehna was playing on the radio: I rather think that sums us up perfectly: too people who are not, and cannot be together, but despite the barriers of love, and life and family and circumstance, just can’t bring themselves to say the final ‘alvida!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Honouring the Shahadat of Imam Mohammed Taqi Al-Jawwad (A.S)

My commiserations and condolences to you on the martyrdom of Imam Mohammed taqi al-Jawwad (A.S). Let us use this day to reflect on the life of the imam, attend majliss if we can, and take some time out to remember his life, and those invaluable ties that bind us to the Ahlulbayt (A.S), and make their sorrows our sorrows, and their happiness our happiness. In my experience, there are sadly too many of us who call ourselves shia, yet can only bring ourselves to cry in muherram, and put the rest of the pure Imams second. Whether we intend this or not, it not only gives a bad impression of us to our enemies, (those who see us as “muherram Muslims”), but it also distances us from the Ahlulbayt, their grief and their celebrations, which rightly should always be the cornerstone of all that we do in life.

Here I present a summary of the life sketch of Imam Mohammad Taqi (as).

His Parents & Birth.
He was the only son of the eighth Imam Ali Riza (as) The Prophet (sawaw) had said:.
"My father be sacrificed on the mother of the 9th Imam who will be a pure and pious Nubian.".

Imam Musa Kadhim (as) had told one of his companions that his daughter-in-law (Sabika) would be one of the most pious of women and to give her his salaams.
She came from the same tribe as the Prophet's (sawaw) wife - Maria Kubtiya who bore the Prophet his son Ibrahim (who died in infancy).

Imam Muhammad Taqi (as) was born when his father was 45 years old. Till then Imam Ali Riza (as) had constantly been taunted that he had no children. When
the 9th Imam was born, a brother of Imam Ali Riza (as) was angry because he would lose out in inheriting the Imam's property and in his jealousy spread
a rumor that Imam Ali Riza (as) was not the father. He was eventually proven wrong by a person who could tell parentage.

The 9th Imam was 5 years old when his father was called to Baghdad by Mamun Rashid to be his 'heir apparent'. When Imam Ali Riza (as) was leaving he saw
his son putting sand in his hair. He asked why and the young Imam replied that this was what an orphan did. Imam Riza (as) was fully aware of the treacherous
character of the ruling king and was sure that he would not return to Medina. So before his departure from Medina he declared his son Muhammad al-Jawad
(as) as his successor, and imparted to him all his stores of Divine knowledge and spiritual genius.

Imam Ali Riza (as) was poisoned on 17th Safar 203 AH and with effect from the same date Imam Muhammad al-Jawad (as) was commissioned by Allah (swt) to hold
the responsibility of Imamate. At the tender age of eight there was no apself chance or means of the young Imam reaching great heights of knowledge and
practical achievements. But after a few days he is known not only to have debated with his contemporary scholars on subjects pertaining to fiqh (Islamic
jurisprudence), hadith (tradition), tafsir (Qur'anic exegesis), etc. and outwitted them, but also to exhort their admiration and acknowledgment of his
learning and superiority. Right from then the world realized that he possessed Divine knowledge and that the knowledge commanded by the Holy Imam was not
acquired, but granted by Allah.

His titles, life & works.
The ruler of the time, Mamun Rashid, thought that as all the rulers before him had oppressed the Imams and their schemes had backfired that he would try
to bribe the Imams. He tried to make the 8th Imam his heir apparent and give him power and wealth but that also backfired.

He now tried to use power and wealth with the 9th Imam again but from a much younger age thinking that he would be able to influence him. His main purpose
was also to make sure that the 12th Imam (whom he knew would bring justice to the world) would be from his progeny and therefore intended to give his daughter
Ummul Fadhl to the Imam for a wife. Mamun still continued oppressing the family and followers of the Ahlul-bayt (as).

Mamun called the young Imam (as) to Baghdad from Madina and offered his daughter. This infuriated his family (Banu Abbas). To prove to them the excellence
of Imam even at a young age he arranged a meeting between Imam and the most learned of men at that time - Yahya bin Athkam.

It was a grand occasion with some 900 other scholars present. Imam (a.s.) was first asked by Yahya:.
What is the compensation (kaffara) for a person in Ehraam who hunted and killed his prey? ".

Imam replied that there were many more details required before he could answer the question:.
Did the Muhrim (one in Ehraam) hunt in the haram or outside?
Did the Muhrim know Sharia or not? Did he hunt intentionally or not?
Did he hunt for the first time or was this one of many times?
Was he free or a slave? Was his prey a bird or an animal?
Was it big or small?
Had he hunted by day or by night?
Was he baligh or not?
Was he repentant or not?
Was his ehraam for Hajj or Umra?

Yahya was stunned. He looked down and started sweating.
Mamun asked the young Imam (as) to answer the question, which he did, and then Imam (as) asked Yayha a question which he could not answer. Then Ma'mun addressed
the audience thus: `` Did I not say that the Imam comes of a family which has been chosen by Allah as the repository of knowledge and learning? Is there
any one in the world who can match even the children of this family?''All of them shouted, `` Undoubtedly there is no one parallel to Muhammad ibn `Ali
al - Jawad.''In the same assembly Mamun wedded his. daughter Ummul Fadl to the Imam (as) and liberally distributed charity and gifts among his subjects
as a mark of rejoicing. Imam (as) read his own Nikah (the khutba of which is used today) with the Mehr of 500 dirhams. Imam (as) wrote a letter to Mamun
that he would also give Ummul Fadhl Mehr from the wealth of Aakhira. This was in the form of 10 duas which were for fulfilling any hajaat (desires) [Chain
of narrators upto Prophet - Jibrail - Allah] *. Thus his title Al-Jawad (the generous one).

* These duas are found in Mafatihul Jinaan (pg 447 - In margin).

Imam (as) lived for a year in Baghdad with Ummul Fadhl. She was very disobedient to Imam (a.s.). When she found out that Imam (as) had another wife (from
the progeny of Ammar-e-Yasir (ar)) and that there was also children she was jealous and angry realizing that her father's plan had failed. She complained
to her father who also realized that his plan, to keep the 12th Imam in his progeny, had failed. He was enraged and in his rage he drank heavily and went
to the 9th Imam's (as) house and attacked the Imam (as) with a sword. Both Ummul Fadhl and a servant saw the attack and believed that the Imam (as) was
dead. Mamun, on waking next morning, realized the consequences of his attack and was thinking of arranging the disposal of Imam's (as) body when he saw
Imam (as) well without even a scratch on him. He was confused and asked Imam (as) who showed him an amulet which is called Hirze Jawad. Imam (as) told
him it was from his grand mother Bibi Fatima Zahra (sa) and kept the wearer safe from all except the angel of death. Mamun asked Imam (as) for it and Imam
(as) gave him one.

Now Mamun was scared and tried a new tactic. He tried to deviate Imam (as) by sending him beautiful girls and musicians. When he realised nothing was working
he let Imam (as) return to Madina.
Imam (as) used this time to prepare the masails of Taqleed and Ijtihaad in preparation for the 12th Imam (as) knowing that both the 10th and the 11th Imams
(as) would spend most of their lives in prison. He also prepared the people of Madina teaching true Islam knowing that this would be the last time they
would be able to receive guidance directly from an Imam (as) for a long time.
Ummul Fadhl continuously complained of Imam (as) to her father who sent her letters back.

Mamun died in 218 a.h. and was succeeded by his brother Mo'tasam Billah. He openly announced that all Shias were non-Muslims. He said it was required for
people to kill and prosecute Shias, and to destroy property belonging to Shias.

Ummul Fadhl now started complaining to her uncle who was sympathetic to her. Mo'tasam called the Imam (a.s.) to Baghdad. He asked him to pass judgement
of how to punish a thief. Imam (as) said only fingers could be cut as the palms were for Allah (as in Qur'an - it is one of the wajib parts to touch the
ground during sajda). As this decision was contrary to the decision of the other 'Ulema' it strengthened the position of the Shias. The other 'Ulema' complained
to Mo'tasam.

Martyrdom & Burial.
With instigation from both the 'Ulema' and Ummul Fadhl, Mo'tasam sent poison which Ummul Fadhl put in Imam's (as) drink and gave it to him. Imam (as) died
on 29th Dhulqa'ada at the age of 25 years and is buried near his grandfather in Kadhmain. His son the 10th Imam, Imam Ali Naqi (as) gave him ghusl and

Summary of Imam's Work.
It is he who prepared and wrote books for the "masail" of Ijtihaad and Taqleed which were essential to prepare believers for the ghaibat of the 12th Imam.

Friday, 13 November 2009

More Alex on the menu!

Well! It seems I’m not the only fan of Alex Riley and his exploits with disgusting food! Due to popular demand I’m posting some other videos from programme 1. Sadly, nothing from the new series is available for upload yet, but if you want more you can go to bbc IPlayer and watch the first 2 programmes of series 2 over there! For now, more Friday funnies for ya!

Really disgusting food part 2.

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Really disgusting food part 3.

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Really disgusting food part 4.

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Really disgusting food part 5.

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Really disgusting food part 6.

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Thursday, 12 November 2009

kitnay sheeps hi!!!

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I know this is random!! But I’m posting this add here as a Pakistani friend didn’t believe me about it! i.e., concept of sheep running for a train! Sheep feature quite heavily in my relationship with this person! We somehow also always bring in ‘counting sheep to our conversations, this came from the idea that he didn’t believe children in this country fell asleep by counting sheep jumping over a fence (so, you can but imagine how truly surreal the sheep and trains thing is to him), if you too haven’t seen it yet, enjoy! Its very baaa-zaaar!! (see what I did there!!)

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Rage against the Raffia

A story that shockingly made it on to the main Scottish regional news today was the demise of Blindcraft Aberdeen. The factory has fallen as a consequence of the credit crunch, and because for a number of years now, the public have opted to buy cheep beds from the likes of ‘the bed shed, rather than exorbitantly priced similar products from the aforementioned factory. Blind craft and other Remploy generated factories literally scraped through by the seat of their pants in my view, banking on the generosity of others, the sympathy born out of blind people making bed springs, and the licence they believed this gave them to screw money out of unsuspecting guilty subjects who were only too happy to part with unethical amounts of money for average products, pumped up in price simply by virtue of the fact that they were made by blind people!
Of course, the fact that this leaves around 30 so far out of work is most certainly a tragedy, and while other blind craft factories hold on for dear life they too shudder as reality dictates they will face a similar fate some time soon!
You might find my sarcastic look at this rather unfeeling: how would I feel if the shoe were on the other foot! (or the proverbial screw driver in hand!), well, pretty terrible! I’ve been there, to a certain degree I’m still there; I’ve been running the low budget treadmill for the past 2 years and its not pleasant by any means! The only thing I take comfort from is, not only am I no different to any other part time worker, I’m also doing a legitimate job, worthy of a salary, which is in no way impairment generated! If I wanted charity, I’d be sitting on the corner of Argyle Street, cap in hand! No, what I’m not doing here is decrying those amongst us blind folks who wish to make bed springs: whatever floats your boat and all that! But if that is really your thing, why in the world can’t you do it along-side your non-disabled counterparts? It horrified me to read that Aberdeen City Council have pumped no less than 7 million pounds in to this operation since 2007 alone! Wouldn’t they have been wiser to invest in making sure that visually impaired people have sustainable employment opportunities in mainstream organisations? Now that the factory is closing, their arm is being forced, and because of the media hype the current staff have generated, they’ll be forced to find jobs for the employees, either in or out of the council! But isn’t it too little too late?
I left school around 12 years ago, and first engaged with a careers guidance officer back in 1997, (just after I’d recovered from the reality that I wouldn’t ever become an aircraft pilot!) (relax, I’m kidding!).

I might as well have taken that thought with me though: my wanting to work in social work (you heard right! That’s where I wanted to be at that time!), was enough to silence the rather dull 40 something white middle class man in front of me! “certainly” he said, He’d heard of one blind social worker: she’d even made it to head of her section! But that was very much an exceptional case! After completing a successful work placement in Strategic services (which I created for myself), and securing a place on the social sciences programme at Stirling University, he shook my hand and offered a weak good luck! Doubtless praying he’d never see me again! …, he didn’t of course, by 18 I was married, after that, I was working at the BBC, then Pakistan, and the rest you know! And all that too without a degree! I’m not recounting all this to try and sound arrogant! Quite the opposite! What I’m saying is that with the right determination, passion and drive, you can make it in a sighted world if you really have to! And, if you do need a bit of help getting there, then what you want from the job centre and other career focused Initiatives are strategies that boost your confidence, increase your general skills and work readiness in order that you progress in to a fully integrated environment! One of the reasons why I campaign so vehemently against so-called “special Schools”, is because they simply give society the green light to segregate and separate disabled people from the Equality they rightfully deserve! And, While no research has yet been carried out in to this, I can almost guarantee you that the majority of those visually impaired individuals who are out of work are those victims of the “special system!”.
To be fair, the majority of related “special” workplaces, were ousted when work houses and Blind Works became a thing of the past, but Blindcraft remains as a thorn in the side of any genuine blind employee in the big bad real world who is simply existing while, at the same time, paving the way to equality for those who choose to opt out!
I know that not every one chooses blindcraft: my 40 something careers adviser doubtlessly indoctrinated many in to believing it was their only option! And if he couldn’t get around the young person, he joined forces with the school/college to work on the parents: so strong was his persuasion, that you’ll find many parents (my own included!), forcefully pushing for such institutions to be safeguarded. They are driven by a rock solid belief that basket weaving and piano tuning can be good for blind people, that not every one can cope in a mainstream work environment and so should be given a more cushioned work setting! Moreover, they brand people like myself trying to put an end to such prejudicial treatment as “political correct nutters gone mad!” do-gooders who are actually working against those who we claim we are assisting!

While I acknowledge openly that there are many in society today who are unable to work, and should be given financial/social protection and empowerment, I also believe that the decision about who is/isn’t able to work should be left with the individual. We have written people off in society because blindcraft is simply much easier! Integration, be it school, college or the workplace forces us to challenge our own stereotypes, and requires us to revise our work practises and invest in people through accessibility, belief changes and a whole lot of equality!
When I first got to know people like Zuhair, I was utterly aghast by just how well the states do disability! Quite simply, it doesn’t exist! Moreover, the government has whole departments who actually do create access to work (rather than the equivalent on paper version we have here in the UK!).
Doubtless Aberdeen city council have reams of Equality policies relating to employment which enable them to take blindcraft with one hand, and exclude blind people from their internal vacancies with another, simply by nature of the way they operate! Tonight, I am happy to see blindcraft go, and related projects like it, but I pray that its demise acts as a catalyst for local authorities, private manufacturers and others to employ people capable of carrying out the work (disabled or not!), under duress or other wise, rather than this closure simply leading to yet another statistical increase on the numbers claiming the dreaded “incapacity benefit!”.

A Dream to be Shared.

Salaamun Alaykum all, I had an Email today from SR Fatimah Ali (tahasajjad), that I thought I should share with you all. The Email reports that 2 separate individuals from Montreal had a dream in which saeeda Fatimah Zahra (A.S) told them that they must tell the believers to recite Sura yaseen over bread and eat it as a protection against the H1N1 virus (swine flu), and Allah (SWT) knows best. Please do this and pass it on Insha Allah.


Monday, 9 November 2009

King of Self

This weekend was the first in ages where I’ve been able to do absolutely nothing! The GCIL audit was done, most of the housework was up-to-date (well, to my standards any way, which are not visit ability standards; but then you cant win em all!), friends were mostly away: Asif and Rizwana are both off to Pak to get married (not to each other), Sonia’s mum was off to ziyerat, most significantly my own family were away; which meant no check-in phone calls, no visits (I love my parents to death; but we all need a break, hence them going away!).

Any way, the time gave me the opportunity to eat chocolate, watch pointless TV, and dig out some old music! While trundling through old alap and heera music and raising a few floor boards (thankfully no one was watching; my current size doesn’t make that a pretty sight!), any way, in the process I found some old Sajid and Zeeshan music from 2007. Old? I hear you cry? Not really! But given the speed at which Pakistan is churning music out these days, 2007 is like last millennium!
I don’t know if you are familiar with the guys, but they are a pashayvir based outfit, who perform light rock, mainly in English: read more at: -
Very few Pakistani bands can do English well, but these guys combined some of the most stunning guitar work I’ve ever known which subtle yet poignant lyrics! Sajid and Zeeshan always have this power to transport me right back to the days when I discovered their music (2007 its self!).
I do know that memories have a powerful art of saving the best and extracting the worst from their real content within the fullness of time! But 2007 feels like a year when I actually knew where I was going (the first of them since Pakistan). I had a decent job, wasn’t earning much but was happy in it. I was spending more time having fun than fretting: work was effortless, the sun seemed always to be shining, there were loads of good friends around (Maryam and I were close them), and Masooma, Anees and myself always seemed to be bunking work/university to go for lunch, or just drive around in the car singing silly songs!
You might be thinking me a bit too old for such nonsense at 25 as I was then, but having missed out on the bulk of my teenage years because of marriage and other forms of torture previously discussed, I figured I had lost time to make up on! Not only that, but I truly had not smiled since Pakistan: since returning, I had felt lost, unfulfilled, like I didn’t belong any where and that the best days of my life were gone! 2007 was not the best, not by a long shot! But it was as close as I was going to get! And, there was another reason for my happiness: Zuhair and I were together! I’ve written loads about Zuhair and I on this website, we had a very fleeting, very intense long-distance relationship: it was passionate, loving, all encompassing bliss which took us both over for months! We spent our days and nights together, talking, sharing more in our distance than most couples do when in close proximity and intimacy! It was incredible! Its not so much that I was in love with Zuhair (I’ve been in love before meeting him, and many times after), but it was the fact that we had such a seamless understanding: he could read my thoughts, finish my sentences and slip all my insecurities away from me without my even noticing: and the most surprising part is, I loved the fact that he could do it! I had none of the normal hang-ups and emotional desires to run which are characteristic of all my romantic connections: this was one I wanted to keep, this was a man who I wanted to marry and have children with! Fast-forwarding a few months: as fast, fleeting long distance relationships tend to do, ours fizzled out as well. I don’t quite know how it happened: we stopped talking, for a day or so, and a day is a long time when you are virtually glued to each other: a day turned in to 2, 3, 4, then a week, a month: and only a few non-descript Emails filled the chasms that were growing between us. Before I knew it, Zuhair had gone, without a goodbye, an explanation: for a couple who talked so much, I thought we might have at least analysed things! But I was left alone with the reality that Zuhair was the one to run this time, and I was left to deal with the debris I usually pollute other’s lives with! It wasn’t a nice place to be! 2007 ended badly: the house got flooded, my health deteriorated dramatically, and things were just never the same again! I don’t quite know what happened in the 2 years in between, time just went by: special things happened (ziyerat in particular!), I experienced happiness, but never quite on that same level. Not only that, but my personal relationships became more and more manic! People came and went, rishtay were investigated and polite declines were sent out (not by me but by them). Now, as 2009 draws to a close, I am left with more questions than answers: I may get married I may not, things may work out with Reza, they may not: my health may/may not ever get better, I might get a job: but if I don’t I’ll have to give up my home, and the freedom of movement that comes with it. On top of that, a significant other X from the past has suddenly reappeared out of no where, expecting that we can start over, as if he didn’t walk all over me and treat me like a vile piece of rubbish when he’d had his fill! All of this is disconcerting, it poses questions, the answers to which lie with the almighty I guess! But what worries me more than the questions, is the fact that I’ve almost perfected desensitisation to it all: I may marry: I may not, but I know I’ll be able to cope on my own, and in reality its probably better for me to be alone as my ability to deconstruct relationships is more powerful than my ability to sustain them. Most of my friends interpret this stoicism as strength: I don’t, I think it is the inevitable consequence of emotional damage: the only realistic recovery one can expect is to be able to box up your emotions and have them display themselves as cancers, migraines and lethargy, rather than emotional outbursts and childish fits of tears and tantrums!
None of my friends will ever have to contemplate being alone: they belong to massive families, and all will be forced in to some marriage or another whether voluntarily or under duress! Most of these marriages shall be tolerated: even if they don’t work, children will doubtless result from the unions thus dictating the patterns of their lives: my own reality is something very different: following my disastrous first marriage, my parents have made it clear they do not wish me to marry again (especially not to another Muslim overseas!). If I do, I’ll have to face their resentment and rejection all over again, which may end up breaking the relationship in the long term as it did first time around! (even though it broke the first time, I was still a stronger person the first time around, so, according to my calculated calculations the odds of success are considerably less!). Life in this strange no mans land of maybe/maybe not will be painful, but possible: if I have to, I will! I think this is also why I find it so difficult to get close to even my closest friends: I love them, and enjoy spending time with them, but there is a certain juncture at which our paths diverge: their lives are mapped out, clear for them, they don’t have to put much effort in to surviving or saving their souls from their own selves: life can be painful, but allot of the stress is taken out when some one else is dictating the direction for you, and when you know that even if you don’t like it, their chosen direction will only make you conform at worse, will not hurt you, alienate you or damage your emotional well-being.
I know I perhaps sound rather self-obsessed in this post, either that or I’m taking the bog-standard “grass is always greener approach”, but actually I’m trying to draw out something much deeper. There is in fact another way of looking at this: screwed though my head may be, emotional indifference gives you allot more freedom in terms of thought, creativity, action and commitment i.e., I want to get married and settle down, but my life won’t end if I don’t! I have no family limiting my movement: I can travel, study, work, hibernate or behave recklessly, and in reality, my behaviour will have very little impact on any one else (that is to say, a negative impact: only good can come out of it if any thing!). Why all this immerging from Sajid and Zeeshan I hear you ask! Well, their music heels me and stirs my thoughts; moreover, ‘king of self is a legendry track of theirs which explores that very concept! The idea being that it doesn’t matter what you achieve, (or not as the case may be), in the outside world, if you get there in your head, you’ve already achieved it! For if you are not there mentally, the physical achievements tend to drift in to insignificance (this has happened to me with too many things I’ve tried and failed to attain). From an Islamic point of view, elements of the inner self are to be looked down on, chastised and tamed, and in general I’d agree with that, but freedom of thought tends to let them blow themselves out: ask the questions, walk the walk and then tire of it, quickly returning naturally to where they were destined to be, but with a deeper sense of understanding the world. I’m glad I explored other religions, have a wealth of relationships behind me and did not metamorphosis in to a prood whenever sex or any thing controversial came up in conversation as many of my friends still do, for had I done so I would not know the human spirit (good and bad), as I feel I do now, and above all, I would not know myself!
Imam Ali (A.S) narrates in a hadaith that to know one’s self is to know Allah (SWT). I find myself meditating on this sentiment allot, and in general terms I feel much of it is concerned with not giving yourself such a hard time for being who you are! Sure we all strive for perfection, and rightly so! But continual fretting over appearances, past mishaps or unfulfilled ambitions is only to drive one’s self deeper in to depression: isn’t it more to do with embracing your lot and learning to love yourself, eccentricities and all! If you loathe your own inner self, then the desire to improve it, connect with it or build a relationship with it is surely going to be furthest from your mind! Mastery over the self takes time, patience, suffering, but above all love, and you can only reach out to others when you’ve reached in to your deepest recesses. So, just for today, kick back, have a huge bucket of coffee and a slice of cake, and throw off the shackles that stop you from being who you need to be: bow to be the king of self, and revel in the moment: if you are not utterly appalled by what you see, take the feeling with you: if the world gets on top of you, its always somewhere you can return to, and it’s the one thing that the world and all its finality can’t take from you, and it’s the one thing you will take with you in both worlds: so if you cherish it, you’ll nurture it: it might not be how you dreamed it to be, but one thing is for sure: it’s the only one you’ve got!

Friday, 6 November 2009

the food you don't want to eat!

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I’m sure like me, you were positively ecstatic to see the legend that is Alex Riley back on BBC 3 this week with yet more “disgusting food”. For those who know me well, you will be familiar with my outbursts of adoration for this man; and how much I wish he was a Muslim so that I could marry him and have lots of incredibly funny and bad ass activist children!
The new series builds upon the old one by getting to the heart of the Crap we just love to eat!! Vile though most of this is, Only Alex could make this topic utterly hilarious and incredibly sexy in places! Munching on fat, calories and rubbish may well be a factor of life around the world, but in truth we in the UK seem to take the biscuit (Enumbers and all!), in terms of masticating waste products!! If you missed the first series I’ve added a small section above which will really put you off your Friday night pizza!! What really got me about this though was, if we are serious about halal food in this country, regardless if how hard it might be to come by, is it really legitimate food stuff; i.e., junk, burgers with only 40% meat in; sweets containing nothing but chemicals and sausages filled with mechanically recovered meat (MRM). If you think the halal manufacturers are above such things, then check out the packaging of your next ready meal or instant parathas; why else do you think they last as long!
Moreover; you start to wonder about all the strange health conditions and rise of cancers we see these days; are we partly to blame? Because of all the crap we pour down our throats? Now! Theres some Friday night thinking for ya!