Aftershocks

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan – As rescue efforts gave way to aid relief, a strong aftershock shook Pakistan early Thursday morning, five days after an earthquake killed tens of thousands and left millions homeless. Still, miracles emerged amid the misery: A Russian team rescued a 5-year-old girl trapped for nearly 100 hours under the rubble of her family home…
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051013/ap_on_re_as/pakistan_quake/

This morning, I was called to the O.T.(O.R. in Ameri-speak) to assist a Lower Segment Caesarian Section (w/Post-Partum Sterilization). Since they already had an intern to do the suction and retract the incision, I was delegated to monitor vitals with the resident anesthesiologist.

After the delivery, the baby, a healthy girl(Alhamdulillah), was brought to the conscious mother as the attending obstetrician closed up. I was anxious to see the look on the expectant mother’s face, and when I did, I registered something in her eyes which I never thought I’d see.

Disdain. Disappointment. Disgust.

The new mother turned her head and wept silently to herself. Immediately I felt rage swell inside me. My fellow Pediatric Intern brought the baby around after the necessary OP suction, so I could get a look.

“It’s a Girl. Isn’t she cute?”, she said.

“Yes”, I replied, and swallowed down red, hot anger. There she was. The unwanted princess. Crinkly, soft, pink, and lovely, with eyes and fists shut as tight as the blanket she was wrapped with. Here, she was an intruder. An uninvited guest.

“She’s a Cutie Pie”, I said.

As a new father (My daughter’s only 6 months old), to understate, I was disturbed. Alhamdulillah, my fast reminded me to control myself, and I did. The lady is a patient of mine and I’ll have to write her orders tomorrow. Professionalism at all times, you know. But I couldn’t help but reflect on that new soul, brought into this world, blameless and beautiful and how I wouldn’t wish the reception she recieved on my worst enemies. And I couldn’t help but be reminded of all those childless parents who would give their right arm for an opportunity to hold and call a baby their own.

Then I read the news story from above. And the Miracle of Life was re-echoed into the chambers of my heart much as it was when I had my daughter, and, for my part, as it was when I heard the first cry from the baby this morning. Alhamdulillah.

There’s a lot I don’t know. Maybe it’s her husband who wanted the boy, and will now make their home atmosphere a living hell for this woman because she “failed to deliver”. But as shown in Muzaffarabad, sometimes it takes merely the prospect of loss to reaffirm the value of life. Why it must come to that is beyond me. All I know is, I hope that neither the mother nor the father ever has to learn this the hard way. But then again, maybe they need to. Then maybe they’ll never again take Allah’s mercies for granted.

“Then which of the Favors of your Lord will you deny? ”

(Surah Rahman)

P.S. – I must thank Umm Zaid, and others for adding me as a link. Jazak’Allah khair.

Branching Out?

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a close brother about the content of my last post. He replied that it was a good start, but also that we are not simply spiritual animals(bit of an oxymoron actually), and the blog must reflect the times as well. Ergo, I must dip into the secular as well, and branch out to keep a balance. At the time, I agreed whole-heartedly, and to be honest it was my original plan (I only have a total of two posts so far). Practical enough, no?

The same night, I went home for Iftar, following which I listened to a lecture given by Shaykh Mohammed Abu Shusha at Zaytuna( in Arabic, translated by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf), a Palestinian Shaykh, a Qari, who had been Grand Muezzin of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jeruselam in the 50’s and is now a Judge in many Quranic Hifz and Tajweed competitions in the area since then.

The areas the lecture delved into included how Shaykh Abu Shusha had seen Shaykh Hamza on a Ramadan program on television in the middle east and made dua to Allah(SWT) to allow him to meet this man before he parted the duniya(Mash’allah!) as well as advice on giving charity and visiting the sick.

One particular point the Shaykh made, which really hit home, dealt with how the Shaykh worries for his children. He is an aged man, and though he sees that his son is 35, knows the Quran, and is a man of good character, he still worries.

Why?

Simply for the Sheer Magnitude (Capitals!) of Fitan in this day and age that continuously bombard our senses from all* directions.

* (Point to be made here: Shaytan promised Allah he would tempt and deceive Bani Adam from all directions, except from above and below. These Allah did not allow to Shaytan, as these are the directions in which Salah and Dua are taken and Sajdah is made, respectively. – from the collection of Shaykh Muzaffer’s talks in America, “Love is the Wine”)

So it is not adequate that we must seek knowledge and BE knowledgeable. It is not enough that once a week we attend Jummah khutbahs and expect it to reinvigorate our iman for the coming week. Ideally we should strive to listen to wisdom imparted to us by the Shaykhs, advice to mold our lives to be in tune with the sirr EVERY day. What? Every day? Yes, and even that is only an open door situated in the right direction (that direction is AWAY). But again we have to walk through it. And walking aint enough when it’s a virtual landslide of degenerate and immoral persuasions that flood our lives day in day out. You have to run. Get in a helicopter and GO, more practically.

Even the most learned of scientists, the Nobel Prize winners if you will, would not neglect to don a protective suit or covering , before venturing out into irradiated lands, despite the extent of their expertise. Why? Because they Appreciate the Danger.

In essence, I acknowledge that from time to time I must dabble a little, be prolific and explore other interests here on this page. But I’ve made the intention that the mainstay of my blog, the focus, will be on the spiritual. The Nafs. The Self. The Soul. True, we are not spiritual animals. Honestly, I don’t think there is such a thing. But we do have the capacity to be spiritual as well as the potential to be animals. I choose the former, and not to illustrate wit, but as an actual conscious choice. I pray that Allah allows me to remain faithful to this intention, this choice, and to help us as an Ummah to prepare our homes and our hearts for the hurricane, and then read The Economist.

Because this IS the priority. If I had a color-coded alert system to assess the threat of fitan like the Dept. of Homeland Security, we’d be flashing Red perpetually, and I’m sure at least Shaykh Abu Shusha would agree with me. I admire those who can consistently maintain a balance in practice throughout their lives. I call such individuals enlightened and respect them, and am in awe of them. The number I’ve personally met who can do this, I can count on one hand.

Balance means to reach a state of equilibrium. If I write two posts on Spirituality, am I threatening to go out of bounds? Have I become a spiritual animal? I doubt I can ever balance the worldly, materialistic madness that has been my life, if I write on spirituality everyday non-stop till I’m 65.

I won’t apologize for my passion because I must use it while I still have it, lest it be fleeting. So here it is: Let’s not search for excuses to endeavor for the world. This is the world we’re talking about people. You don’t go to it. It comes to you. It’s everywhere! You couldn’t miss it if you tried. What we do need to endeavor for is our souls.

Let’s not succumb to the preventable diseases of the heart. Let’s vaccinate ourselves with Dhikr. Insulate our hearts with the *exo-suits of Salah and Fasting(*My brain is colored with memories of Metroid). Reboot the system so the OS it runs on is a composite of Divine Wisdom and the teachings of Our Nabi : humility, charity, brotherhood, love, patience, taqwa, generosity, sincerity and servitude, instead of ,…well, instead of Microsoft Windows šŸ˜‰ . It doesn’t mean to go and live on a mountain, literally. But to let your amaal become the mountain to create that distance from the fitan.

I don’t need to search my mind for quotes from movies or the names of characters from the latest sitcom. They’re right there on the surface. I can’t say the same for relevant Quranic verses and Ahadith. Obviously, there is a major imbalance here. But if we have the intention we can BUILD ourselves up to function at a level previously thought to be lofty & esoteric, but in actuality is not only attainable, but is the practical ideal we must all work for.

Maybe relevant but obscure movie quotes will do the trick.

” …You are executing his SOUL!!… And there is no cure,..there is no prosthetic for that. “

– Al Pacino’s Colonel Slade in the film, “Scent of a Woman”.

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