29 October 2006

I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life!

Eid. What a happy day. Spent the day at home with family and friends! Nothing spectacular or out of the ordinary. No hummers or drives to the zoo lake:) In fact, the most exciting thing that happened to me was that I almost missed Eid Salaah! Good thing the Eid Gah was just down the road from home. Why must they make it so early! 6am start with 630am prayers- there is no way you can get to bed early the night before Eid- there’s always some big dinner that invariably gets dragged into the early hours of the morning! Then you have to wake up early to make Eid Salaah. Straight after is this humongous breakfast with the unhealthiest foods possible.

You’re now tired coz you went to bed really late and had to wake up really early- so have a ‘quick’ nap! Wake up from your nap and lo and behold, its lunch time! Once again, fitting for the occasion I suppose, the options are endless and unhealthy. That done, make a prayer and chill out for a bit. The heat is intense, so go indoors and switch the a/c’s on- within a few minutes there’s dozens of snoring cousins and uncles all over the show:) Eid- you gota love it!

The younger kids have it the best though- so much candy and cakes! Eidi from all the aunts and uncles, and now even the bigger brothers:( A jumping castle which they never seemed to get tired off- and with the help of a strategic placed hose pipe they managed to turn it into a wet, muddy play pen- much to the dismay of all the mothers who so meticulously picked out all those Eid outfits:P

What do we get for Eid? Beside well intentioned odd gifts; wacky tshirts, a roller massager and fancy pens! What I hate getting is those text messages- they usually start on the 27th night and carry on till way into the day on Eid. Must be putting big smiles on the faces of Vodacom and Mtn! What gets me is the perceptible insincerity- you want maaf for what?! And there are always one or two major versions that keep on getting forwarded around- this year it was something dumb about the moon and the stars! Oh well...

The drive back to Joburg was quite hectic- had to leave at 230am so that my bro could get to the airport in time for his flight. Good thing that I know the road so well and quite enjoy the drive. Driving long distance can be quite a pleasure- gives you time to think and ponder- almost like spending time in a cave or other seclusion. That’s probably the purpose of Itikaaf- would love to sit some time. But having almost 200 others in the Musjid with you kinda defies the purpose if you ask me- as a friend once said, in that case it seems to be a massive pyjama party with Debonairs pizza and Milky Lane milkshakes:P

What really got my attention this past week was the taxi drivers strike! From riots in Cape Town to blocking off the entire highway and attacking people with knobkerries, isn’t this a sign of alarm bells that should be taken notice off?! An interesting poster for a business magazine said this,
The Left is Rising. Should you be worried?
I’m kinda looking forward to the “Rise of the Left”- maybe a sharp pull to the opposite extreme is necessary to offset the past 12 years of gross capitalism. Maybe that will also give Muslims a wake up call- should we stop being ‘Capitalist Muslims’ and start striving for the Quranic principles of social justice, equality and equilibrium around us?! Just a thought...

Experienced real raw in-your-face Capitalism this week. First at The Palms- a venue frequented by the bourgeoisie of Joburg- read drug dealers and others with inexplicable sources of funding! Real stuck up dump- hated it! The type of place frequented by Investec private banking clients.

And then yesterday had lunch at this other amazing place called Design Quarter somewhere in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. This mall seems out of place in Africa- seems like a piece of Europe plonked here! 90% of people there either have Investec or RMB private bank clients. The women all have had plastic surgery or boob jobs. They all wear oversized glasses and sit outside the restaurants drinking oversized cocktails. The waitresses are all super models and the waiters all body builders. The only non-white faces are BEE recipients, politicians or relatives of some African dictator. Even the trolley guy wears a top hat and pin stripe suit! The car park is full of Lamborghinis, Porches and Hummers. The food looks too good to eat and tastes too bad to justify the exorbitant prizes! But the best part of the experience was that there was no water- in the restaurant bathroom, the centre bathrooms, nowhere! So much for bourgeoisie- this IS still Africa after all:-P

This is my younger sisters henna do for Eid. I’m going to get area Henna tattoo next Eid:)

A passing thought on the subject line- not that we don’t make the most of now, but rather not let anything now mess up the future - pretty obvious, I know- but we do tend to forget quite often.


22 October 2006

Ramadaan Unplugged!

Ramadaan is over:( It’s been a power packed last few weeks and while, with a heavy heart, I say farewell to these blessed days I do look forward to a slight slowdown in the pace of things. Not all fun and games now thought; four weeks of study left for the board exam so need to ensure that the Ramadaan instilled discipline holds on for a while...
A mere few hours before it’s all over and now a perfect time, I guess, to sit and take stock of the recent past and impending future. Need to deflate this major ego I have but its hard- especially with things like this* Have I really made sincere repentance for my misdeeds? Have taken concrete steps to improve my life and actions? Or have I let this amazing opportunity pass by without being able to take maximum advantage of it? Could I really be so unfortunate to miss out so severely!

The Night of Power, which is somewhere in the last 10 nights, is popularly believed to be on the 27th eve of Ramadaan. I don’t believe that this one night is definitely it- as I said before; we should have sought such on every one of the last few nights. But this 27th night of Ramadaan is one that I will remember for a long time. Not because of any spiritual or sacred reasons, but because I once again found myself on the extreme wrong end of the luck stick! Not going to go into details for now- but really testing times and Allah says that on no soul will he place a burden greater than can be borne! For now I try my best to bear and request continuous prayers for all and sundry...

The last Friday of Ramadaan is Al-Quds day. A day to create awareness and remind people about the continuing suffering of the Palestinian people. South Africa usually has a major crowd pulling march in Cape Town and, I think, a community event in Pretoria. Johannesburg, with its thousands of Muslims, has nothing! This year, the MSA and a few hard-working students put together a bumper program of poems, videos, pictures and talks. I hope the first of many events aimed at educating our largely ignorant communities and society about what’s happening in Palestine and how we should help. May Allah reward them all for their efforts.

Hope everyone has a blessed Eid. In pretty much conformation with previous journeys, we embark on such quite soon- last year this time I said: the short, bumpy road bids our welcome to Newcastle- a place to congregate and cover up on eating for the entire month:) Should be fun catching up with the entire clan, strengthening the bonds that bind, and making merry while we do so- I see my pennings may have taken a dip, albeit temporary I promise you- look out for renewed vigour in days when I’m adequately nourished!

Hmm. It will be good to be home for a while and celebrate a bit. Seriously undernourished right now, so more on Eid celebrations in Newcastle next week! For now, see this pic, probably the only one most of you would see of me and my family! Taken about 14 years ago [not too sure] probably on Eid day as well! It’s me, two brothers and four cousins- 7 brats:) Any guesses?

What else I would like to know is, looking at the site counter on the bottom right of the blog, I see there are people from so many different countries visiting this blog and most of the countries and understandable. But if you are from any of the following countries and read this, then let us know. Even if its just greetings for blessed Eid: Norway, India, Australia, Indonesia, China, Croatia, Mexico, Singapore, Luxembourg, Latvia, Morocco, Puerto Rico, Russian Federation, Jamaica or anywhere else for that matter…


15 October 2006

We must accept finite disappointment, but we must not lose infinite hope!

I guess there’s not much to add to, as someone suggested, my Taraweeh Tributes! But just as a closing I must add this:
Having to recite the popular verses can be quite intimidating at times! It’s just that most of the crowd knows these verses as well and while reciting, should you be unfortunate enough to experience a blank, there are going to be 30+ people trying to correct you from the back!
Leave making a mistake; it’s been experienced before, even if you are too slow in catching your breath or taking a pause, the often well intentioned worshippers may be quite quick in offering you some assistance!
If not that, then just listening to the chorus behind you following the recitation under their breaths is fairly intimidating;) But with that said, the recitation of the most popular of the well-liked verses went off pretty well...

The end of these blessed days is fast approaching- time flies when you being pressurised with work, studies and all the other blessed activities of these great days!
To find the ‘Night better than a 1000 nights’ is now the mission of most, and regardless of the differing opinions of which night be it exactly, the wonderful atmosphere in the air at the moment is most 'tasawuffically enhancing'!
Personally I believe the crux is searching for the night, every night of the last ten, because God knows most of us could really do with some soul cleansing and sin absolving!
So once again I would appeal to be considered in those late night and/or early morning supplications..

In tune with these blessed days, the gruelling exam that was written this past days, proved not as gruelling as expected at first! Towards the end, the lack of nourishment and moisture did take a tad of a toll, but all in all I stand hopeful of a satisfying result.. The major hurdle [board II] still looms, the countdown ever so daunting, and to get it over and done with, once and for all, needs to be made primary focus of the coming weeks*

The multi-denominational prayer room is a superb idea; offering a place of spiritual recluse deep in the recesses of the ugly corporate arena- devouts of all flavours- Muslims in prostration, Bible touting Christians, meditating Hindus and others all sharing the same space! “a symbol of humble submission to the All Knowing within the proud world of commercial ignorance”
Ironic as it is, that this particular facility is to found on the penthouse level in the headquarters of one of South Africa’s major conventional banks, maybe it is a sign of possible change. While I abhor the effect of the protocol of institutions the like thereof, maybe a heightened spiritual conscience, in the cogs of these huge financial wheels, could begin to see more socially just changes appearing in the fabric of its operations!

This may sound very cryptic so an equally cryptic response will be tolerated: Looking at the quote of this week, ‘We must accept finite disappointment, but we must not lose infinite hope!’
What if, in accepting such finite disappointment, one is forced to change paths to a totally different expectation, so much so that there comes no longer a desire for there to even exist any hope, infinite or not! Am I making any sense whatsoever?!
Looking back at what has materialised from my keyboard, would I be accurate in saying that- the scenario I describe is one in which, finite disappointment was accepted with a definite lose of hope?

Alas, let’s move on! Meet my family:

this is a most recent pic of my siblings and I. Your eyes deceive you not- we ARE quite, almost, a handful! Those familiar would know which position I hold- would be fun to see how accurately you not-so-familiar acquaintances can point ME out:)

Peace & Blessings!

08 October 2006

'Protect your possessions by payment of Zakaat.'

This picture of weird cloud cover was taken in Durban, from room 402 at the Hilton Hotel on the 30 August at 6:48am. Really odd how only half the sky was covered!

Continuing my discourse on the Taraweeh Prayer:
The feeling you get, once you begin and the sailing is smooth, is virtually beyond description! It feels like you flying- not because your words are spewing out at rate that leans towards supersonic- but due to the fact that you are in control and words materialise on your lips like magic. Maybe I shouldn’t say flying. That’s too difficult to imagine. Try riding a motorbike at full speed. The wind in your face. Raw speed causing some traces of contentment and enjoyment to engulf your entire body.
And it notches up a level- stand up on the bike while it’s careening down this straight smooth road. Smooth sailing. But those blanks sometimes still crop up. There you are, standing on the motorbike going full speed down its smooth path, when it hits a small stone! Two things could happen-
A small wobble, few quick breaths coupled with an audible sign of nervousness- but that’s short-lived, and stability and comfort swiftly reign!
Or, on a bad day, that small bump throws you completely off track! Its like you fall off your bike, the lights have been switched off and you now need to navigate your way through the darkness, mount the bike once again and be on your way.

My parables probably do no justice in conveying the actual experience, but this is the best I can come up with in my short study break. A matter of hours before I’m faced with a stacks of paper to process for many an hour while I keep abstained from all desperately required nourishment! I go in there praying for divine assistance and I hope that the same could be requested of you all.

The relevance now of the advice on Zakaat, being the month of giving and caring. Due to precious remaining moments, a direction to timeless advice will be made: prior year’s equivalent.

Interesting map that highlights the countries you’ve visited. See:
Someone recently told me- you should rather be saving now coz you can always travel later in life.
No! I say travel now, especially if there be purpose to your travel, coz you never know when you will get the chance again. But travel smart and you can still save a bit:

Yes. What you learnt in school was wrong! This is how the world should be viewed- Africa on Top:)

My version is made green by, in order of departure, the following:

Saudi Arabia

South Africa

Remember me in your prayers.
Peace & Blessings.

01 October 2006

Donning the headgear and robe is expected. It’s part of the uniform that goes with the role. Your turn comes up. You look around before taking that step forward. All eyes are on you. You can feel those eyes on your back when you step up from the ranks. The comfort of the ranks. Now there are rows of eyes burning holes in your back. And a few more rows from the ladies section as well.
In the name of God, you begin. God the Most Beneficial, the Most Merciful. Now is when you seem to relinquish control. Your legs take over first. The knees have some sort of intermittent magnetic quality that makes them want to knock against each other. The butterflies appear and seem to seize all traces of moisture from your lips downwards.
You close your eyes, expecting to have this picture of black and white guidance there to assist you in this mammoth task. Alas, your mind is blank. Open your eyes. The wall in front of you is also blank. Oops, forgot to breath! Take in a deep breath. Here goes. This is only Day 1...

The Taraweeh prayer [nightly prayer in the month of Ramadaan in which the entire Quran is recited from memory] is one of the highlights of Ramadaan. Men, women and children stand obediently and pray- a heart warming sight.
May God accept our prayers and sacrifices. May He grant us knowledge and wisdom.

In preparation for the looming boards, had to write another day long mock exam. Not fun at all, but hopefully makes a less of a mockery of me than previous ones. Trying to study, perform and work in Ramadaan is proving to be quite a difficult task!

As a replacement for Lucy, acquired a tazz- not nearly as much fun or spunk but will have to do for now. Guess it’s responsible to choose reliability and efficiency and if it’s taking me from point A to point B that’s good enough. So don’t be surprised when you see me crawling along in future:(

There are two shows, most of you probably don’t know about, on every morning. Ramadaan at 4 and Ramadaan Kareem. You will have to watch both for yourself to know what I now speak about. Knowing Khaleel, I find his Kareem variety more bearable, but on the whole, both shows are mostly side splitting. Before I say anymore, watch them and let me know what you think!
Also, South African Muslims must be really advanced to have, not one, but two shows on during Sehri for the entire month. Is this a sign of progression and organisation? Or is it just an insight into how our largely middle to upper class bourgeois community is viewed as a highly lucrative niche market. There could be traces of both. Debatable I think.

This weeks blog pic is of a wooden wind powered sailing dhow, taken from another, while island hoping in Zanzibar.

Peace & Blessings.