By Mehreen Mushtak Nazarali
Image Source: http://thejourneytraining.com/
“I can’t do this”, my mind shouted as the road ahead came to sight. I cannot see an end to it, I will never get there, and the mind continued whining. The heart slowly whispered, “come, I will show you the end”. The mind drifted off to see how beautiful the end looked, and in awe, the mind happily said, “we must do this”, but I don’t know what is along the way. The heart assured the mind again, WE CAN DO THIS. And so, the journey began.
The beginning was tough, as there was no direction, but the heart and mind together figured it out after constant battles, debates and arguments. Yes! Never take decisions solely with your heart, likewise, do not take decisions solely with your mind. A combination of the two with a right balance is what paves the way to success. So as we remember, the heart never showed the mind the journey, but only the end. How was this possible? Did any of you ask that question?
The mind had the power to visualize it, but somewhere was not too sure that it could actually work. All the heart did was to recreate the picture the mind had first created and push it towards that journey, because the heart knew, it was definitely worth it.
Similarly, we all have dreams, some we accomplish, but some we are afraid to even start. Isn’t it that the mind puts forward so many questions that we feel we’re okay with not achieving the dream. Always remember, you are the master of your mind, never let that change. If you show it negative thoughts, it’ll reflect the same back to you. And how beautifully it is said in Islam, that “do unto others what you would like for yourself”, similarly, if you want to succeed, don’t think of a million excuses why you can’t, but think of one strong reason of how you can, and you’re already many miles ahead from the beginning, bringing you closer to see your goal getting accomplished.
Well, once this journey starts, each step you take will be worth it, it will be a milestone that you build as you move forward to the end. But is that actually the end? Or is it the beginning of a new journey? A wonderful example is of education. You keep completing prescribed levels and you graduate. You graduated primary and waited for that day for years, but only to start high school. You waited to graduate high school and celebrate that day beautifully, and then you begin university. And you want to do that over and over again. You start a new journey just waiting to see how beautiful the end is. How many of us actually cherish the journey there. It may not always be easy but its definitely beautiful, filled so many emotions of joy, laughter, tears, and yes, the amazing friends and people you meet.
By Abida Ali (Kampala, Uganda)
The greatest virtues that one should try to cultivate are the habit of self-reliance. A man who relies upon himself wins a sort of glorious independence. For he has not to wait to be helped by others. To depend on others is to build on sand. Life to him is a great adventure, full of interest and excitement. He never feels dull and dispirited. “Most happy is he”, said Cicero, “who is entirely self-reliant, and who centers all his requirements in himself.” Thrown upon his own resources, he accepts the challenge of life, and develops new virtues and new qualities. His latent powers awaken and flourish. He is ever ready to take the initiative, always confident of finding a way out of difficulties.
In our country, the lesson of self-reliance is particularly needed. We are by nature fatalistic in our attitude. Our tendency is to depend too much on fate or change, or some other person to help us and to pull our chestnut out of the fire. This habit destroys the springs of action. But if we have courage, and initiative, we may become the masters of our destiny. There are many who make their fortune by their own efforts.
If it is God who has given us strength of body and power of mind, he surely expects us to help ourselves with these. It is our duty to develop the gifts that God has given us.
The carter who started cursing Fate when the wheels of his cart fell in a rut is a typical example of this attitude. He should have applied his own shoulder to the wheels to lift his cart from the rut. The sleeping faculties of a man come out and bear fruit when faced with crisis.
Self-reliance is the parent of many virtues. The self-reliant man is patient and persevering. He does not envy others, nor does he think of begging favors of others. He faces his misfortune with a quiet courage. Therefore, Emerson Calls self-reliance ‘the essence of heroism’, ‘the first secret of success’- The self-reliant man feels neither fear nor shame to labor with his own hands, if necessary. He is always learning new lessons, gathering valuable experience. His example is an inspiration and his achievement is an example to others. This confidence in him wins him the confidence of others.
Image Source: http://www.elainebaileyinternational.com/wordpress/2013/09/how-being-persistent-can-help-you-to-get-what-you-want/
By Mohamedarif Suleman (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
There is so much that goes on in a person’s life span, excruciating downfalls and ecstatic rises, and everything in between, and as the series of events take place, they systematically mould the personality and value system that we endear. One value replacing the other, a new persona effacing the old one. Certain events are so powerful in their impact that they actually shake the atomic core of a human being, sending him or her into a seismic pattern of behavioural changes, that at times remain inexplicable for life, but for the mere comprehension resembling an after shock.
Any society by virtue of the fact that it does not exist exclusively on an island, has examples in plenty of extreme experiences that have not just redefined who they are but has perhaps and in actual fact, robbed them off their real selves. Such examples could be as a result of political disturbance, natural disasters or even socially microscopic issues such as broken marriages or the death of a beloved person.
The Irish novelist, adding charismatic allure to this predicament says ‘Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor’
Unmistakably however, the species has suffered most at the hands of its kind rather than through cruel divine intervention and much less from the takeover bid by some Martian extraterrestrials. Humankind, has been inhumanely unkind to its own people while vehemently pursuing self fulfilling goals of power, fame, wealth, or just greed and lust. With every step taken in the direction of meeting one’s own desires and wants, there is an inadvertent effect on the lives of several others. Whether this comes from a national leader or a famiky head, the consequences are there for all to bear.
But as we tread on these paths of worldly gain, in abject incognizance of our responsibility to others or of their rights unto us, we methodically trample upon the brazen but subdued souls, which are in fact the real us. Whether it is with a clouded judgement or through a confusion of our real identities that forever suspends us in a gross misunderstanding about our true identities, about our origins and our destinations, all the actions performed minus an accent on the effect of our souls, eventually enslaves us to the very soul that we moulded to be cruel and unceremonious.
In the theosophical masterpiece “The Voice of the Silence”, translated and annotated by H.P. Blavatsky, we are advised “The Self of Matter and the SELF of Spirit can never meet. One of the twain must disappear; there is no place for both.”
Kahlil Gibran, a celebrated Lebanese poet and philosopher, in his own portrait of the battle between the soul and the body, triumphantly but somewhat with utter resignation, implores as follows:
Why are you weeping, my Soul?
Knowest thou my weakness?
Thy tears strike sharp and injure,
For I know not my wrong.
Until when shalt thou cry?
I have naught but human words,
To interpret your dreams,
Your desires, and your instructions.
Look upon me, my Soul; I have
Consumed my full life heeding
Your teachings. Think of how
I suffer! I have exhausted my
Life following you.
My heart was glorying upon the
Throne, but it is now yoked in slavery;
My patience was a companion, but
Now contends against me;
My youth was my hope, but
Now reprimands my neglect.
Why, my Soul, are you all-demanding?
I have denied myself pleasure
And deserted the joy of life
Following the course which you
Impelled me to pursue.
Be just to me, or call Death
To unshackle me,
For justice is your glory.
Have mercy on me, my Soul.
You have laden me with Love until
I cannot carry my burden. You and
Love are inseparable might; Substance
And I are inseparable weakness.
Will ever the struggle cease
Between the strong and the weak?
Have mercy on me, my Soul.
You have shown me Fortune beyond
My grasp. You and Fortune abide on
The mountain top; Misery and I are
Abandoned together in the pit of
The valley. Will ever the mountain
And the valley unite?
Have mercy on me, my Soul.
You have shown me Beauty, but then
Concealed her. You and Beauty live
In the light; Ignorance and I are
Bound together in the dark. Will
Ever the light invade darkness?
Your delight comes with the Ending,
And you revel now in anticipation;
But this body suffers with life
While in life.
This, my Soul, is perplexing.
You are hastening toward Eternity,
But this body goes slowly toward
Perishment. You do not wait for him,
And he cannot go quickly.
This, my Soul, is sadness.
You ascend high, through heaven’s
Attraction, but this body falls by
Earth’s gravity. You do not console
Him, and he does not appreciate you.
This, my Soul, is misery.
You are rich in wisdom, but this
Body is poor in understanding
You do not compromise
And he does not obey.
This, my Soul, is extreme suffering.
In the silence of the night you visit
The Beloved and enjoy the sweetness of
His presence. This body ever remains
The bitter victim of hope and separation.
This, my Soul, is agonizing torture.
Have mercy on me, my Soul!
As we continue to pray and fast in this Holy month, imaginably, our indulgence in matters related to the soul may give us the keys to understanding our lives through a periscope otherwise if we squander the good fortune, then we may just remain embattled for the rest of our days, but with an improbable chance for the soul to have its rightful life and preparation for the after life.
By Mehreen Mushtak Nazarali
Walking in and seeing new faces being all nervous and excited! At that point in time, we did not even know what mixed nerves were. Yes! It was the first day of grade school. As we walk in and embrace the surroundings, try to familiarize the new faces and the look forward to the day that lies ahead. We soon get used to it and make tons of friends, and the seven-year journey comes to an end. Then comes a new school, maybe with the same people or perhaps new ones. This cycle goes on and on in life.
Fast forward to 15 years later, when you set foot into your new office all ready to start off your dream career. You’ve definitely thought this day through a million times in your mind; having a wonderful induction and introduction, then being introduced to a team with whom you will work and learn from and probably being given some first day perks. Let me burst your bubble. It won’t go that way. Well, maybe some of it may be there, but not everything you imagined. Don’t worry about it. Every transition takes a while and getting used to and adapting to the new people and lifestyle can be a tedious and daunting process. The key to this however, is, try talking to the people around you, it really helps. Also prayer is crucial, as it helps boost your confidence. After all, you’ve just talked to your Creator – what better way is there to calm the nerves down.
You may also feel alien to something you’ve been passionate about and feel that you knew so much; you will never feel ready for the corporate life until you don’t step in to it. The transition from the classroom to the office will definitely take a while and each time you try, you may fall. You need to get up, and try harder again. It’s not enough to come into work and say “use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to motivate staff”, but if you suggest that, then also put how you are going to use it and when will you apply it, and how many people would fall under each category, and not forgetting the ‘budget’. Remember, once you graduate, learning does not stop there, it just ends one chapter to start another one, and as the Holy Prophet has emphasized on the concept of learning from cradle to grave, so don’t be afraid each time you try something new, as all of it is a learning phase.
Welcome to the real world! As scary as this may sound, it is the most interesting. You will grow the most and learn much more skills here than you were able to learn throughout the years you spent in classrooms and lecture halls. This transition however, is way smoother than it would have ever been because of the ever changing education system that makes an active effort in preparing individuals for the real world. From instilling the art of critical thinking to learning from case studies and actual business scenarios. These are all the small steps that we take from early years, which help, in the big leap. Furthermore, it becomes so much easier with self-discipline, which we definitely, definitely build through Islamic values and principles.
I hope this calms the nerves for anyone looking to start or soon starting a new job. Embrace all the challenges on the way and treat them as growing points. It may be easy for some and hard for others, likewise, growth is a life-long journey and only happens when we are ready to take in new things. Take every new leap in life with an open mind.
By Mohamedhusein Kara (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
Islam has constantly emphasized on the concept of modesty in religion. In chapter 24, verse 31, Allah commands the Prophet; “Say to the believing women that: they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts (by being chaste)…”
Islam introduced and made hijab compulsory on women as part of decency in the interaction between members of the opposite sex. Men, whether they confess or not, are slaves of lust. Thus, among the functions of hijab is to shield women from abuse and harm – which unfortunately is widespread in today’s society. Hijab sends a signal to such men that the wearer is a modest and chaste woman. It shows she is sanctified to one man and is off-limits to others. Not only that, hijab eliminates the chances of extramarital affairs, boosting the preservation of marriage.
Hijab isn’t just a piece of cloth on a woman’s head. It’s a way of life. It is an attitude in itself. It is how a woman presents herself, how she chooses to be recognized. Just because some women have their hair covered, they assume the requirement of Hijab fulfilled. Hijab actually requires more than just covering your head.
Some Muslim women believe that although the principles of modesty are clearly outlined in the Quran, they perceive the wearing of the headscarf as a cultural interpretation of these scriptures and therefore opt not to wear Hijab. Women may opt not to wear Hijab due to conflicting reasons, some may be uncomfortable, and for some it may be a personal choice. Islam does not permit Muslims to judge women who don’t wear Hijab as that is a grave misdeed on its own. The Quran clearly states; “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” (2:256).
Some feminists and the West have labeled hijab as ‘oppressive.’ You will find most of these activists are Christian and therefore say Mary is the mother of Jesus. In all of Mary’s pictures, she is seen with a veil over head, covering her hair. Looking at one owns religious history and then passing a comment about another is a miscalculation and very sad. Hijab is NOT a symbol of oppression. In fact, the display of semi naked women on commercials and in the entertainment industry in the West is a true sign of oppression. Neither does the hijab prevent a woman from acquiring knowledge nor does it prevent them from contributing to the betterment of human society. Historically, there are numerous women who wore Hijab and greatly contributed to Islam. Among them is Bibi Khadijah, who spent all her wealth to promote Islam. Lady Zahra, the beacon of light. She faithfully stood by her husband and also advocated for him during his struggle for his right to the caliphate – and I could go o n and on.
Hijab actually is a symbol of freedom. This is because women no longer have to comply with the expected standards of the society as they are glamorously showcased in the world today. Hijab gives women the freedom to set their own standards to live up to, without worrying about what the society has to say – which is clearly extremely liberating.
In Islam, women are considered gems. What do you do with a gem? Safeguard it. Similarly, women must be safeguarded too.