Thursday, July 31, 2008
As much as I'd like to personalize everything I do, such as sending out cards, writing poems that fits the person's personality, I do not fully indulge in this arts & crafts world anymore. I have in the past, dedicated time to school projects at home - but since other interests have occurred in my life and I happen to be in a different phase & setting of my whereabouts and happenings, my trips to micheals or jo anne's fabrics have reduced considerably. Some unfinished projects still lure in my closet, looking at me with disapproval for my lack of interest and other ongoing rapid affairs.
One wouldn't know, but the back drop of my wedding stage; the "Alladin port" as I call it, was conceived and made by my very own hands with the help of my siblings and dear cousin. I had this idea of making a beautiful port, a gateway that would stand against the wall, with golden bronze scrolls inscripted into the door and a thin organza curtain falling right through the opening twinkling with lights as if entering Taj Mahel. Who knew that my perception would eventually become reality?
I remember being very adamant about my idea and I was carrying this idea in the back of my head for months. While making trips to Home Depot with my little brother Sammer, (who by the way was a great amount of support in fully backing my idea and understanding my concept, a nine year old you see!) my feelings of starting this project would grow only stronger. Sometimes, I'd have Home depot employees telling me to get supplies that I wouldn't like and at times some people would guide me through the right supplies, understanding exactly what I was looking for.
They had given me four wooden panels, a saw and some screws to attach it all together. I was easily lost in the big world of Home Depot, but also impressed by the gazillion possibilities of building something from scratch! I can understand now why some men would worship their tool supplies and make it their 'temple/garage of retrieve' in the manly world of "Bob the Builder".
My toyota corolla couldn't carry these panels, so the only option was to either tie down the panels on top of the roof or beg a neighbor to lend us his truck. We went with the first option... and for that, a rope was necessary to make this happen. At the time, my brother Sammer and cousin Zafar were present helping me out with my attempt to make the impossible, possible! We then purchased rope and tied the panels on top of the roof of my corolla, driving less than a mile to our residence on jenni lane. The kids made sure of holding on to the panels, by keeping the windows down while I was driving on turtle speed. Onlookers must have snickered at the scene we created; a bunch of brown people holding on to wooden panels as if their lives were depending on it, ha ha! The winds were quite gusty in the city of Tracy that day, but luckily we safely arrived home and immediately carried all the supplies into the garage. The project was finally taking form...
In both of these pictures you will see my sister Madiha working hard (and acting crazy, lol) - she was especially very good in sawing the round edges of the design. Zafar, my cousin was a major help to me! He made sure things were done correctly and worked hard in achieving my dream. I couldn't have done it without them, SIGH! :)
We had ordered some great looking wall paper to put on our Alladin door; the pic on the left shows me putting glue on the panels to eventually stick on 'the much sought perfectly - designed - golden scrolls - wall paper' that took us weeks in finding online before hitting all outdoor stores. I knew it was out there, it was just a matter of searching.
The Alladin port was ready, right before the month of February giving us enough time to concentrate on other projects around the house. The measurements of the port were precise and in accordance to the stage - my image, the idea of having such a port rather than renting one that's probably seen by everyone, became reality and I was happy to make the once impossible task, finally possible. We not only surprised ourselves in the pursuit of this mission, but also surprised each other in having a great time together imagining and working hard towards a beautiful wedding.
It took us to be crafty and artsy, but it was worth it.
We enjoyed the stage till the very end and the twinkling of the lights was exactly as I imagined in my thoughts. My visit to Taj mahel is definitely due after all this!
Its funny how a little bit of imagination, will power and dedication can make a person achieve his/her dream. There isn't much to it, whether its the making of a stage or the pursuit of a career, it all takes passion and determination. My arts and crafts skills have taken a different direction; a direction towards a more domestic and home making pursuit.
While the other day I was making spring rolls from scratch , following the every step off of a youtube video, I thought to myself; this isn't any different than sitting in a class of sculptures or making something out of clay - my concentration was focused on rolling the spring rolls into neat rolls while folding them properly with just the right amount of egg wash to serve as glue. This type of art however, can only be satisfying to the tummy! :)
Ready to mail!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Lately, I have been chilling in the mornings; after making hubby dear his breakfast (we're out of cereal and I don't feel like driving to the grocery store) , I have felt the 'need' lately to start off his mornings on a good Italian bread sandwich with a fried egg folded into a little bit of hummus, salt and pepper. The egg is a good protein to start off the day, topping it with a smile and a good amount of energy!
A couple of years back, I would have never thought that I'd be wanting to make breakfast and lunch for my loved one, but I have come to the discovery and surprisingly so, that I like waking up early and taking charge of the kitchen. I find my kitchen to be my "lab" of experimental culinary adventures; I am nothing like a stepford's wife or martha stewart and neither would I like to be, but to become a "caring factor" to someone you love and respect for all the hard work he/she puts in, is far more satisfying than sleeping in -- so I've decided that it has rather become more of my "want" than just a "need" to prepare breakfast and box in some lunch all handy with plastic utensils, napkins and a sliced apple for the after taste. The mysterious brown bag he carries with him is nothing less than a box of pandora! ;)
Maybe it is the 'traditional-self' in me who loves taking care or the fact that I was brought up in a (liberal) Pakistani household where my mom would lovingly take care of not only her spouse, but her children as well; so effortlessly, so beautifully. Although, I have never felt the pressure to perform; there's days when I just lay back and am not in the mood to even enter the kitchen, let alone cook. At times like that, eating out becomes a luxury. I would never make it my neccesity, since the less I eat out, the more I enjoy the occassion of doing so. :)
In Europe the notion of eating out, is still considered 'luxurious' whereas in America eating out is just a form of grabbing dinner. I'd like to remain a little bit European and make fresh food at home; knowing that it is far more nutritious and healthy than any restaurant or cafe. The need to do what I think is right, easily becomes a 'want' in no time when you are aware of the amountless advantages that are associated with the benefits you gain at the end.
My benefit: I feel blessed and useful in my very own household, plus I like to copy all the dishes I try out outside, giving it my own twist and flavor; I can claim it as MINE than Joe's crab shack's fast food version.
The need for having cable for instance; wouldn't it be nice to zap through all the channels and have my favorite tv shows right there at my service or do I really want to? Have I ever considered the need for it? Looking at it from a more mature and productive perspective: no I perhaps don't need to have all the channels to my convenience, but my "want" can always overpower my "need". That is when I re-think, re-evaluate the situation;
Living in an apartment, having busy lives, trying to work hard to one day afford our own home and make our dreams come true; how much time do we actually spend watching TV anyways? At night, there are a couple of programs I like, apart from the news -- I like watching the usual King of Queens and Seinfeld, but missing out on Food Channel or the National Geographic Channel is definitely felt by husband and I, however the 'need' for not having it is stronger than the 'want' in this matter.
Life's control on things alone, is actually a good practise for keeping our humility and basic needs intact. With internet streaming into our household, all favorite episodes can be seen online and therefore 'technology' that is within our reach, is fully utilized, making the world a much happier place! :)
It is important to keep your wants and needs in alignment of actual reality. As humans, we'd obviously want more and more, but do we ever stop to think whether our neccesity of wanting is more of an unfulfilled desire that we are desperately trying to fill? Are desires the only focus of our happiness and self-fullfilment? I am asking myself here. I love beautiful things around me and I am guilty for wanting the best, but I will certainly wait for the best to come along, until I know the 'need' for the product or service and fully, consciously understand my 'want'.
Until then, my battle with 'wants and needs' continues to be my ying & yang of life; I hold on to to what I hold precious; the very best of everything, even if time challenges me of my patience...
I will wait.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
My body is trying to recuperate after a good, intense game of soccer last Friday. The event was hosted by a college friend of my husband's as he discovered a soccer field on the grounds of the University; hidden behind a street overlapping big gigantic trees -- providing shadow to Rice Blvd and its many joggers, nature lovers and dog walkers.
As an adventurer myself, I was immediately drawn to this street and felt as if a pivotal part of Houston was deprived of my compliments and recognition. I am sure there are many more beautiful "undiscovered" spots that need an eye for appreciation. This time however, I was in awe with the overpowering presence, yet the utilizing factor to what Mother Nature does as time goes by. Trees, in all their majestic postures, may cover a street with their coolness and beatifications; they are in fact alive and I truly believe in their very own characters, moods and growth forms. The neighborhood of Rice Blvd is exactly the place where one would love to have his/her home, going back into the cozy environment of old homes surrounded with trees older than your own existence. It surely has a "winnie the pooh" joyfulness I find; hopping down the street, making a tree house, holding bar-b-q's, inviting all of your family and friends onto your terrace overlooking trees to climb on and claim as your very own... :)
We arrived precisely on time for the game. I was unaware of how the proceedings would take place, as it was my very first time taking part of a soccer game in Texas and meeting the people who'd organized this event. My husband Azam, had in the previous week laid his ground stone by scoring a couple of goals and impressing his fellow players with all the tricks he's been carrying in his hat. The game was fun, spontaneous and in the preparation of selecting team mates, the 'left overs' which included me (since no one was aware of my soccer talents yet!)stood facing the two team captains with merciful eyes and hopeful face expressions which I thought I'd left behind in High School. The same feelings still made their way through adulthood while I was standing there nonchalantly thinking to myself that I've been there once before, in the past. During the 45 minutes of "gym" as we'd call it, the brown girl with glasses was chosen until the end, ha ha and deja vu, here we go again. :)
Oh no hard feelings, I am just reminiscing classic high school moments I am sure everyone must remember; to each their own.
So at last I am chosen into the opposite team of my husband's, which is better since I wanted to show him off anyways; let the challenge begin hubby dear! Through poking Azam and making faces of superiority I felt as if this time I was the one who could reign on the field and he could have his way at home. What a better battle field to choose than a game of soccer!
As a defender in front of the goal keeper, I kept my pace steady and concentrated on all the dangerous players who were tricky with the ball in passing through, some of 'em I managed to tackle and some of 'em were too fast to stop.
I am surprised at my very own energy though; in Holland soccer was not only a sport but a passion. I grew up playing soccer with boys in the neighborhood and not once did I ever think of myself being different than the rest of the guys. Soccer was a mission, a beautiful footwork combination of the foot with the ball. I think the same feelings of dutch patriotism came back flowing into my physique past Friday and I enjoyed every bit of it, tasting my childhood while it brought back sweet memories of orange colored festivities all throughout the city of Purmerend, Holland.
The "orange" in me hasn't died, I suppose.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Allah had promised to those among you who believe and do good works that He will surely make them Successors in the earth, as He made Successors from among those who were before them; and that He will surely establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them; and that He will surely give them in exchange security and peace after their fear: They will worship Me, and they will not associate anything with Me. Then who so is ungrateful after that, they will be the rebellious.
(Surah Al-Nur, Verse 56)
The topic on Khilafat and its blessings is very near and dear to my heart as I have seen Khilafat, the Successorship of Prophet Hood, through the eyes of a simple, yet mindful girl while growing up in the
Khilafat, the continuation of Prophethood with our appointed Khalifa's - successors to this worldwide Community taking leadership, reach out to the corners of the earth with the true message of Islam, but Ahmadiyyat also advocates peace, tolerance, rationality and wisdom amongst followers, trying to change misconceptions about Islam in the West. Ahmadiyyat is the religion of Islam that was revealed to the Holy Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) and remains the peaceful Islam that was instilled into people's heart fourteen hundred years ago with love and affection, with logic and reason and surely without violence and terrorism. The bond of brotherhood and the uniqueness of gathering under one unified law-abiding community is crucial to any systematic structure of life, whether it be society in general or religion that is bound to sustain in harmony through unity and unity only.
In today's Muslim world, the agony of a disunified religion is visible amongst different sects of Islam. The disagreements, the hatred and the misconceptions have caused many to suffer and suffocate for the same God we worship and for the very same faith we so dearly believe in. When a foundation of a house isn’t built strong enough, the house will eventually collapse, either with a blow of strong gusty winds or with the pressure of heavy rains making the house, once called ‘home’, fall to its bits one by one. The same blow or push can also enter our lives as trials to challenge us of our strengths and faith, determined not to leave us alone, until we’ve proved ourselves worthy of living in total surrender to a power that’s higher than our realization. We must acknowledge and give in to the natural course of life and feel free of any imperfections we so deliberately try to hide as humans, as citizens to the country we reside in and as followers to our community.
The blessings of Khilafat are like a life saving rope for Muslims throughout the world to hold on to. Our tight grips will ensure us to be saved out of an ocean where confusion lies, where the waves of prejudice swallow us and make us drown into the whirlpool of distrust and separation. A separation so severe that it causes the morale of our beautiful faith to slowly disappear, judged to its entirety by the evil eye of the ignorant. To prevent such evil eye and to eliminate negative influences through media, the launch of Muslim Television Ahmadiyya on August 21st, 1992 in
In my household when growing up, we would sit together as a family and anticipate "Children Class" that was a great entertainment for all ages. "Mota bachcha" would have his innocent mishaps when conversing with Hazur and would challenge himself and others learning "Urdu" in this very comedic class of realism and affection. Urdu was taught not only to the children of the class, but due to the enormous popularity of the program, hundreds and thousands of kids became eager on learning Urdu watching it on their television screens. Soon, a whole generation of growing kids was saved in the hands of our very own Khalifa and wasn't deprived on speaking this beautiful language. In fact, our current Hazur still emphasizes on the importance of learning Urdu for the better understanding of Promised Messiah's books that are originally written in Urdu by himself. Translations have published in countless languages, but to truly understand Promised Messiah's writing, one must learn to read and write Urdu. The sought-after blessing behind this pursuit is that, not only will kids be able to understand religious literature, but the addition of knowing a second language will work in advantageous ways in attaining future accomplishments.
Personally, my ambitious competitiveness to learn and compete with my fellow group members at religious competitions for poems, speeches and memorization of the Holy Quran, has taught me to identify uncommon mistakes in my writing and speech and I have excelled as a student in all aspects of life. The singing of poems was invaluable to the pronunciation of my Urdu language and the in-depth meaning of the verses has helped me understand the innate love for God and His prophets, establishing a deep connection with poetry when expressing my inner-self. Memorizing Surah's in the Holy Quran with translation, either in formal English or formal Dutch, made me pass my dictation at school by making easy efforts and topping the class with excellent grades. I would frown upon the curious faces of my fellow Dutch students who could not understand the "variety" to my palette of intellect at such a young age and as usual they were left bewildered to my seriousness and wise mannerism in comparison to other kids my age. I was called "different" and the difference it was that made me hone my skills even furthermore with the blessings of Khilafat following my every step as a shadow in all other pursuits of life.
By the time I reached my teenage years, my involvement with the community had increased and I felt blessed to participate and volunteer with dedication towards the mosque and the people. During Khalifaye Rabay's visits to Nunspeet Holland, people would line up at the entrance of our mosque and reside at the mosque, sometimes a week or two weeks in advance to help out with the preparations of Hazur's arrival with his family. Hazur would stay in his bungalow overlooking the beautiful woods of Nunspeet where Hazur would relax and vacation; enjoy horse riding, camping, long walks with his crew members, conduct in conversations with farmers and other Dutch residents of Nunspeet. A pictureristique location in a heavenly setting of Hazur's presence and blessings was a celebration Ahmadi families couldn't resist to miss. Urdu Class was loved and excitedly embraced by all the community members of
My sister Madiha and I had prepared a welcome song in English and we sung our hearts out when seeing the sight of Hazur. The song was very much liked by everyone and till this day, the lyrics and the enthusiasm that rushed through my head, is still felt in the every inch of my consciousness. Another song/poem composition took place in my very own room, during my finals at High School when my mom urged me to write a Dutch La ila ha poem. The la ila ha poems are composed in different languages and sung by sisters of our community either at Jalsa's or MTA programs. It struck to me and my mom that a Dutch version of the poem was never composed and written. During the very stressful nights of studying for my exams, I took it upon myself to write a couple of verses and the rhythm of the sounds were automatically revealed to me as I was trying to compose a unique piece. Unique it surely was; our Dutch la ila ha poem became an instant hit with the witnessing eyes of the entire Urdu Class being present from the UK and amongst them our very beloved Khalifaye Rabay listening intently and praising our creativity. Surrounded in nature at a park, the kids sitting on the ground were waving their green la ila ha flags to the tunes of our singing voices. That day I knew heaven had descended to earth. My heart was overflowing with love for my Khalifa and the blessings were in some ways surreal, yet so powerful and glorifying to my soul and existence. I was assured of Ahmadiyyat, of the truthfulness of our religion and more so, I was determined to live my life on the path of Ahmadiyyat. I knew my dedication and utmost love would be rewarded by Allah and the blessings kept on multiplying as the years went by. Blessings have poured down onto our laps in many forms such as the unlimited talent that has our community up and running with the very hard work of our professionals and aspiring achievers.
The Ahmadiyya Community has built over eight thousand mosques worldwide, including the first mosque in
The Ahmadiyya Community is also proud to have built the first purpose built mosque in the
Our community is also generous towards students who need supplemental funds to afford their studies such as to cover the cost of their books etc. Grants are provided to those students who fill out the required information and provide transcripts approved by the local Jamaat office holders. The addition of two thousand dollars in the pocket of a student given by the Ahmadiyya Community is very valuable when indeed; the money is used for investment purposes. Only a student can understand the aggravation of being low on cash while keeping his/her head low and deep into the books of theory and subjects. How wonderful it is to have pride in a community that stands strong to its morals and supports those that are the future, the champions of tomorrow's world and the blossoming seed to the Jama'at (Community) we so passionately belong to.
The blessings of Khilafat are clearly visible in the system that is set up for the people that can use the extra help. Such as the Mariam Shaadi Fund which helps families to support their finances when planning to marry their daughter. The Marital Fund is a great way of providing basic needs to families who may be shameful for not matching up to their children's expectations or perhaps their very own. The truth of the matter is that the world we reside in is valued and measured by money and this very 'currency of purchasing' has a certain power to provide for basic necessities which one should never be ashamed of. The Ahmadiyya movement and our beloved Khalifa understand the importance and the burden that may lie upon the family's shoulders when arranging a wedding in today's rising expenses. The Jama'at has simplified and logically approached these realistic issues one can face in life with much care and dignity. The system is based on office holders who carry responsibility and are accountable towards one and other and above all, to Almighty God.
The Waqfe Nau Scheme allows parents to dedicate their children to the cause of Islam before their birth; raising their kids with the highest level of education and the desired expectation to excel in all venues of life. Waqfe Nau kids are given a more detailed curriculum to study and expect to perform with outstanding results for the betterment of their upbringing and to raise young, intelligent minds that will live in the cause of faith and strive to become successful while remaining in humility and Taqwa (Fear of God). Without the self -consciousness of God, one can not comprehend the intensity of God's existence and therefore our placement on earth. Our purpose is to serve the God we know and in return,
Both of my brothers are Waqfe Nau kids and as an elder sister I am proud to have them serve mankind with the true concept of Islam, at an age they fully understand and are able to imply the importance of this beautiful religion into their lives and that of the lives of others. Work needs to get done in order to wash away all the misconceptions, the hatred and the ignorance that is thrown at Muslims as they are to blame for all the extreme terrorist activities this society has blindly pointed its finger to. Without knowledge and confrontation, it is easy to alienate oneself from a world that may seem distant, but so recognizable with the every 'hijab' (headscarf) you spot on a girl's head or when striking a casual conversation with your next door neighbor about his family's preparations for Eid Day festivities.
Muslims are visible, but not under one distinguished organization, they are living in a safety net of their self defined anarchies, but to whose success? Are we really a part of a great faith that underwent challenges and suffering to prove itself in front of disbelievers? The deliverance of a faith that suffered the loss of lives to prove its authenticity, is now not up against its opponents of different religions, it is up against its very own people who continue to live in a disconnected pattern, a broken system that is called the "Tragic Muslim World" or a Shariah (Islamic Law) that has been modified and taken out of context by extremists whom claim to know Islam, whom claim is to utter the Greatness of God whilst justifying their wrongdoings by holding themselves superior to the rest of the world. The Shariah of those is to bend laws to their conveniences and gloat, reeking of self-satisfaction when looking down at the weak and the poor, the illiterate and the pompous.
Abdullah related to us from his father, he from Aswad bin Amir, he from Abu Bakr, he from Asim, he from Abu Salih, and he from Muawiyah, that the Holy Prophetsa said: 'He who dies without [recognizing] the Imam dies the death of ignorance.' Page 96 vol. 4 Musnad Ahmad. This [Hadith] is also recorded by Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn-e-Khuzaimah and Ibni Habban. Al-Harith Al-Ashari gives another version of this Hadith: 'He who dies without [following] the Imam of a Jama‘at certainly dies a death of ignorance.' Hakim reports this from Bin Amr, he from Muawiyah, he from Bazzar, and he from Ibni Abbas. [Publishers: The Need for the Imam]
This Hadith (The Saying of the Holy Prophet) clearly indicates that the person who dies without acknowledging a leader as an Imam, he will die of ignorance. A righteous believer will seek its leader and will prevent on all accounts to die in such misfortune. The Holy Prophet's words count heavily and are incumbent upon every seeker of truth to persist the search for his Imam. Now, the Imam is not just a believer who sees true dreams or receives revelations, or else an every ordinary person would become the Imam. The Hadith is true in its every context but it needs to be acknowledged and well implemented into the thinking of the Muslim World that God has established Prophet Hood to establish spiritual relationship among the Holy Prophet's continuation in Khulafa's (Imams). Therefore the same continuation has taken place with the Promised Messiah and its Imams, a system that is destined to mankind to follow with a structured approach of centralizing one religion with the guidance of leaders. The Imam must possess the following qualities in order to benefit mankind;
The very first quality is moral strength, since Imams come across mean and foul-mouthed people, it is important for them to possess moral strength in all given situations and remain immune to rage of all sorts and kinds, whether it be egoistic or out of vengeance. Secondly, the Imam should have an eagerness to excel in good deeds, meaning in acquiring Divine blessing and his love and knowledge for God. The third attribute that the Imam should have is immense knowledge and the passion to pray for the improvement of such. There are multiple attributes acknowledged and stated in this very interesting book called; The Need For The Imam. However, the need for the Imam plays a crucial role to society's enhancement for morality and peace. This very subject takes me deep into thoughts of the importance of Khilafat and how deprived one must be without the guidance of an Imam.
Walking on a dark road without a light in sight, is hard when one is trying to reach his destination, but even harder when the light is seen through the blind eyes of ignorance. An easily solved solution to this matter is knowledge and the right surroundings to fully understand the very essence of Khilafat. Blessings are life's gifts that require no payment upfront and aren't refunded once received; as blessings are little joys of miracles and are granted to us to better ourselves as human beings, to look into our souls and find forgiveness towards all the cruelties. The sadness that deprives people from cherishing the challenges in a positive manner, making them feel unsure of life's struggles, is an indication that God is surely testing his people of all obstacles. The misfortunes people encounter, they may encounter by not fully appreciating their blessings when they are there in actuality. Therefore the misfortune or the bad luck is laid upon them to recognize God's Glory and surrender themselves to the natural course of living rather than trying to prevent and hide. God's love must transcend all the negativity of the world, such as a mother's love for her child. An instinctive love that is indescribable to anyone who hasn't experienced the joys of motherhood. The unconditional love towards your child will send every mother to the limits when protecting her child, her sweetheart from the evil of the world. Like wise, Khilafat is a protection for our souls, it feeds us when we are hungry for spiritual uplifting and it grabs us by the finger when we are trying to stand up and walk. Khilafat is like the parental supervision of all forces combined into one entity, a community that unites under one roof with the message of love and compassion.
As for my last personal experience while witnessing blessings of Khilafat in the
"Jalse to mai waari, mai kurri Ahmadi yaa'n Jalsay to na Haari"
”I am utterly in love with our Jalsa convention, since I am an Ahmadi girl after all!”
"Jalsa Holland da bara pyaara, Hazur de aawan nal, jag mag hoya jag saara"
”The Jalsa Convention of
All the poems are captured on video and one day Inshallah I will retrieve this video from
The tune to this poem was inspired from a traditional folk song that is usually sung at weddings. The fusion of mixing culture and religion into a poem was at first a bit challenging to reveal, but with everyone's approval and excitement we couldn't hold back onto our creativity and performed with a laud applaud of compliments in front of Hazur, Khalifaye Rabay back in 1998. My sister and I were thriving on the fame and the appreciation that we received was more than any materialistic dream we may have had at that age. Our Jama'at took precedence over all our desires and the blessings became tangible as we could taste the bliss around us. The taste of bliss was in literal form when Hazur, Khalifaye Rabay's (Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmed) left-over food was presented to the rest of the crew at some nights, including our humble selves who would be eager to get a bite or just a mere crumb off of the same plate Hazur and his family ate from. The gratefulness on everyone's faces for an opportunity of such small scale, yet containing life's tremendous happiness, was inevitable to every single girl, every single auntie’s expression. The bond of sisterhood in a sphere of epiphany was understood even when everyone was silent. Our prayers weren't.
When we take the Bai'at (The Pledge) at the hands of our Khalifa whether it be as converts or as a re-pledge while attending the Jalsa Convention, Bai'at is taken with the ten conditions we promise to adhere. The beautification of the occasion is the simplicity and the proper procedure that is followed for everyone, of all different language speaking countries to be a part of. I become awe-struck every time the Bai'at is taking place on the hands of our Khalifa. The experience of seeing it LIVE at a Jalsa Convention when the ladies' side also puts their right arm onto the right shoulder of the person sitting in front, we all become connected even though the segregation of gender, men and women in different halls- does not take away the enormity of the event. While television screens are set up at the ladies' side to witness it live, the emotions of that particular moment, knowing that people who weren't a part of our blessed community before have accepted Ahmadiyyat, the True Islam, into their lives makes the occasion even more so special. At last, the analysis on the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet (saw) in perfect alignment with the continuation of Khilafat;
The Holy Quran was the knowledge and the Holy Prophets(saw) was its true personification.
It was not merely the grandeur and majesty of the eloquence of the Holy Quran, or its erudite style, that overawed the hearts in such an extraordinary manner. Rather, it was the practical example of the Holy Prophets(saw), his unique moral qualities, accompanied by the constant manifestation of heavenly signs, that made an indelible impression on the hearts of his Companions. Since Islam was very dear to God Almighty and He wanted it to live to the end of time, He did not wish that it should become, like the other faiths, a relic of outdated legends and myths. In every age this blessed religion has had living exemplars who, by their enlightened knowledge and example, made people remember the time of the Holy Prophets (saw), to whom the Holy Quran was revealed. In our own time, and in keeping with this His practice, God Almighty has raised the Promised Messiah (as) among us, so that he should be a witness to the age.
(The Need for the Imam, page 58-59)
The passage above states the exact importance and brings out the logic that I certainly hope to have conveyed. Khilafat has surely had an interesting road to pave and it still has an entire future to carve out; a future where there is place for Ahmadis to perform pilgrimage to Mecca and not be restricted by their beliefs, a future that holds faith in Pakistan's political policies towards Ahmadis in un declaring Ahmadis non-Muslim and giving them their rights of expressing freedom of speech and religion, a future where there is no imprisonment & persecution of innocent followers, a future of pious and peaceful living and hopefully the future holds a fast growing number of Waqfe Nau kids becoming the gem that shines even in the piles of dirt, when it remains unclear to see the logic and determination is tested severely. May the upcoming generations be born with golden hearts of good intentions and souls that are made of angelic material beating down the evil of society; Prospering towards a more progressive, a more accepted concept, staying true to its originality is what the world is hopeful for an Islam that carries solutions to problematic issues with the guidance of the Holy Quran, Ahmadiyyat and Hadith.
Blessings of Khilafat can be instilled anywhere in the world as long as the household holds a moral standard of righteousness and obeys the simple rules of modesty and morality within the beautiful teachings of Islam. It is not necessary to obtain blessings from one particular country or it should not be used as an excuse to escape oneself from responsibility, since the country you reside in may come with its complexities and lack of modesty, but the main objective should remain to live in the cause of faith, live in humility and taqwa to attain life's joys.
Muslim Television Ahmadiyya is a great source of welcoming blessings into our very home as it creates an environment for kids and adults to learn. The technology of today may change in rapid speed, but the advantages to the Ahmadiyya Movement are even more attainable as the world and its knowledge has embraced an electronic way of creeping into people's minds, such as with the internet and the Ahmadiyya website, one can not be far away from a Friday Sermon or the Holy Quran as all literature, all the needed information is captured just a click away to our conveniences.
The Ahmadiyya Movement has quickly adapted to the growing changes of technology and it surely is a blessing to see that volunteer work has delivered resources of high performance and efficiency on International level. The quality of work is praiseworthy and surprisingly professional looking. The impression one gets when browsing onto the official website is that of admiration and sincere interest. The availability of literature and sermons is of great use and can be listened to anywhere in the world, thus a blessing that is hidden in the chaotic world of Internet generally creating destructive minds, however alislam.org is a mental relief to those who are in quest for rational reasoning from a logical standpoint and declarations, on atop of my lungs;
Love For All Hatred for None!
Monday, July 21, 2008
I have decided to make a couple of changes to my blog, such as the slow and steady changes I am about to make to my life. Not the "eat smart, move more, sleep well"...changes, but the changes that will allow me to become more focused when trying not to procrastinate in achieving life's goals. A more inner-change that is needed an abrupt make-over through the heart of an innocent, but the eyes of a fiercer, much faster world.
Eating smart, moving more and attaining more sleep are changes that I am already allowing myself and within myself to change as they have started to appear from all fronts, but the changes that I am mostly concerned about is the change in my focus. More than once have I allowed my mind and heart to wander or go off the path of direction when it came to MY life. MY life wasn't as important as yours, you see. I'd be doing all the right things and still at the end, I'd be the one either getting disappointed, let down or plainly upset with the behavior that was thrown at me. I have realized as I am growing, how less of an affect that should have on my own personal goals. The emphasis on "MY" or "I" isn't automatically understood by me, as I have always cared and taken care of other human beings surrounding my world of goodness and good natured people. Unfortunately, goodness is not always paid back with gratitude or appreciation and therefore I am here today, starting and realizing the 'reality check' that took me years of understanding in how the world revolves.
A family member in Europe may have said it right when he said and I quote; "There is no God in America". I often wondered what he meant and why a pious man like him would make such a big statement. I now fully understand his dismiss, which wasn't towards America itself but to him it was the experience he gained while being in America and the environment in households had made him say this. The approach of life in all its selfishness, the busyness and the disregard of basic human feelings as it all moves faster and faster. Progression, money, love, good looks; a beautiful presentation to the eye becomes a severe poison to the mind.
Now, I believe to be an optimistic person; you'll see me smiling most of the time and even if I don't feel like it, I will still make the effort of trying to remain pleasant outside. Inside, in my own world of comfort and trust...I question my living and criticize myself at times for not doing better, for not pushing myself or waking up during that one incident when all was well in my thoughts, but in reality when I came across evil, I was not able to detect it as clearly as others have/had. Loved ones may call this being gullible, but I have now come to a point where I find it enormously annoying to spend my time with an amount of good intentional 'heart and soul' and get ditched at the end either by a single comment, total ignorance or lack of appreciation.
An optimist like me is often struggling with challenges to differentiate the good from the bad, but can not fully comprehend the sake of cutting back on people that carry evil or have intentions of not seeing you succeed. ???. WHY? I ask? Would you say a cynic is far better off understanding the cruelties of the world residing in people's thoughts and daily activities? Or is it the optimist that is doing a far more better job in trying to change the situation or the perspective of such a person while spending an enormous amount of energy, just to do good?
Isn't the life of a realist conveniently stronger for him/herself? No explanations, no lack of self-esteem, just the pure intake of oxygen every day and the faith that there isn't a single person that would do good to you unless you do good to yourself.
Surprisingly, I am aware of all the different types of identifications, whether it be optimists, pessimists, cynics, realists, chauvinists; all of it. I am sure we've all had to experience them in our life somehow, one way or the other OR we became 'them' for a short period of our lives.
A period that we have either buried and decided to step away from or it's still haunting us, lingering in our minds, appearing in dreams or nightmares to be reminded of.
Ha! You see now that's life, they'll say. I am still asking though; what is LIFE? Isn't life the choices we make of adapting one of these identifications mentioned above? Aren't we fully in charge of our realism and living, knowing that this ID would fit our personality the best? Then why is it that along the way of 'living' we tend to change or perhaps consciously decide to change into someone else we didn't prefer first hand? Life can pressure you, it can force you into that change; humility becomes pride, generosity becomes greediness and innocence becomes harshness.
To give it a different twist, to get a taste of your own medicine, I would like to take all the elements and bring them into a more positive sunnier side. A side I so deeply believe in. If humility can become pride then why can't pride have the strength to become humble? Why doesn't greediness become more generous or harsh mindedness become more innocent-like? Because it does! Now, that's the optimist speaking in me and I tell ya this... it happens!
So as a conclusion to my very own thoughts that have been confusing me lately while I was completing my chores, taking care of my household, studying for an exam, I have finally come to an analysis that perfectly describes who I am and what changes are necessary to make in order to remain Positive, yet Realistic and yet Pessimistic when the need arises so that at least ACTION can be taken for the wrong doing of others to you! You see, seeing the glass half full is great, in fact it's wonderful and one should keep on doing so, but seeing it half full at all times, even when reality gives you a kick in the head, trying to desperately take you out of the GOOD, throwing you temporarily into the BAD -- it is about time to realize that GOOD still resides within you, but now it's time to take a step back, breathe and realize that not everyone is as good of a thinker, as good of a doer or as good of an intention holder as you are.
Therefore my friends, life is interesting. It's interesting to see the changes that take place in humans. I don't think that I can ever become the girl that walks into the room carried with pride and self-love, who does not open her mouth un til someone approaches her. I can never be like that. I am the girl that walks into the room with a smile (hopefully a white smile with the regular usage of crest whitening strips, ahhh!) and engages herself into conversations with people whom she finds real and interesting. A certain charm is lived through my eyes, a charm that I call 'the love for life' rather than constant love for one self.
I see them, I see them in corners and I see it in their acute observing eyes; the foxes that stand still and take in all you have; your body, your clothes, your jewelry, your body language...they take it, stare at it, read it and then perhaps either laugh at you inwardly or can't accept the envy that builds up within them. Them, I know.
My jokes, my silliness and love for life will still carry on at the age of twenty six and you know what? I have changed. I have changed in my focus of life. Thanks to my husband, who has been a driving factor of realism for me, thanks to my sister who has been the inspiring factor of motivation for me and thanks to my lovely Ammi jaan (mom) who has been the living factor for my existence.
An existence that will never create an expense to someone else, but rather make profitable gain by adding good and 'good' is all it takes. No more.
Friday, July 18, 2008
KCC and not KFC is "Khilafat Centenary Celebration" ; a worldwide celebration of Ahmadi Muslims, commemorating and celebrating the existence of their Community for the past 100 years with their founder, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmed (the Promised Messiah), is what the title of this post stands for. I am one of the fortunate people who is proud to be a part of a community that preaches Islam with logic reasoning, rationality and truth. Please visit : alislam.org for more info.
I was extremely ecstatic to be a part of the celebration while our beloved Khalifa (the current leader of the Community) paid a visit to the annual convention in Harrisburg, PA. The opportunity of meeting him LIVE and seeing him speak to the audience as a person and leader, rather than just the leader we know of on Satellite TV broadcasting from London on MTA, was in itself a great experience to witness. My trip however, was blessed a thousand time more when I found out about the following;
My sister and I were given a great opportunity to sing a poem, called the Arabic Qaseedah at the Convention and we were more than excited to perform in front of such a large audience of almost ten thousand people. The ladies' side consisted of five to six thousand at the most. My part was to sing the Urdu translation of the poem, whereas my sister sung the actual Qaseedah in Arabic and beautifully mesmerized the whole audience with her nightingale voice. Later I heard, people would stand still and drop silent at what they were doing, listening to our Qaseedah as our voices were magnifying the walls of the convention hall, reaching into people's hearts and souls.
Unfortunately, this event was not shown live on satellite television as our poem was not scheduled to be performed in front of Hazur (our leader) which became a matter of discussion amongst people when we finished. They approached us and raved on our performances saying that we should have sang the poem in front of Hazur. :) Well, the opportunity itself was so large and just the chance alone to be a part of such a great event, that it never really bothered us, but we were rather humbled and gratified by the whole experience! It definitely brought back some beautiful memories of Holland's performances in front of the fourth leader, Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmed.
The experience of dedicating oneself to three days of 'moral cleansing' and 'spiritual healing' as we call it, is absolutely necessary in today's society. Our lives are surrounded with materialistic accomplishments and fulfilling of desires, that it's damaging our view points of life and the purpose we're here to serve, which in my opinion is God and Mankind.
My post today is very unconventional, yet clear to who and what I am; an Ahmadi Muslim.
The declaration of "Love for All and Hatred for None" is nevertheless a powerful quote to be revised and practically applied into our lives and the lives of others. Think about it, if we were literally about to follow this motto; vices such as jealousy, betrayal, lies, insecurities would most probably diminish (not vanish!) from the face of the earth and evil wouldn't have the chance to manipulate innocent beings. If only this motto was practiced, without the bias of following a religion, just the motto itself....I sometimes wonder how much love would transcend into people's lives and hatred be buried deep down, never to rise again.
I couldn't believe when I received an email a couple of weeks after submitting a 5000 word essay on the Blessings of Khilafat, stating that I was one of the winners of the essay writing competition! I clearly remember visiting Austin and residing at my husband's aunt place when I went downstairs to check my email. I had not the slightest clue that they'd chose my essay as a position holder, so it came as a total surprise when I opened my email and found this wonderful news. Naila, who terribly underestimates herself, pinched herself to reality and forcibly believed it to be true. Tears of joy ran down my cheeks as this "prize" represented almost everything I have been trying to achieve in my life; the perfect balance between Deen and Dunya (the material and spiritual worlds/realms). Soon after, it felt surreal and I knelt in front of God asking Him to give me more strength and 'intelligence' perhaps in achieving much higher goals than what I've set for. The tears ran out of joy, but also a bit out of sadness for the ones I've loved so deeply and aren't a part of my achievements and celebrations, today. The past was a build-up, a training field for all the awkward years of being a late bloomer, the kind of girl that wasn't into impressing others by materialistic approaches or advancements, but wanted to continue to do good, either by community work or plainly by making others feel good.
My sister Madiha, who is my right arm in all "our pursuits" of facing challenges and making the smallest of dreams come true, is without a doubt a vital part to my growth of love, intellect and achievements. Without her by my side, my inspiration would've lessened, my reflection would've died and perhaps my self-esteem would have still suffered. Our understanding of each other and the importance we place on such events in life, is by far the strongest relationship sisters can have with one and other and I am more than proud, eternally grateful to God, to have sent her as a beautiful gift to a needy sister like me who could have never honed the skills without her sweet presence and commitment. My very lovely Madhu Bala :)
It's funny how one always tend to prove him/herself through hardships and feelings of void, to cover the pains of loved ones or the ones that decided to drift apart...knowing that in the realm of 'living' they'd be somehow proud and grant upon a prayer or two for the betterment of our lives. Maybe those distant people aren't our inner-demons, but rather a driving force to do better and better...
My perfect KCC celebration, without the KFC, mind you! ;) All Hail the Chickens!!!