Towards the end of life – a thousand desires

Mohamedarif Suleman – Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Mirza Ghalib in his celebrated poem ‘A Thousand desires’ writes

Thousands of desires, each worth dying for…
Many of them I have realized…yet I yearn for more…

Although this composition was meant for his unattained paramour, the words depict the story of our lives.  The pursuit of our success in this world has in great measure taken us away from the main goal for which we came to existence in this world.  Yet I ask myself what have I gained and what have I lost.  The wail of the angel when I turned 40 reminding me to return (irji’) reverberates all around me and I see the manifest signs of the description of birth followed by infancy, then youth, then maturity and finally frailty,  As greys emerge in big numbers on my head, I remain torn between the life of this world and the pursuit if its luxuries and comforts versus the promised eternal life whose narrative begins with a daunting and mostly haunting entry into the graveyard.  Will I be next?

Reminiscent of the rules of going on a pilgrimage, my thought grimaces over the reality of whether I have left any provision for my kith and kin, or if I have amassed enough for the journey ahead.  ‘Hazaaron khwaishe aisi…’ portrays my dilemma.  I am surrounded by mischief makers, and I have been responding to them with resolute strength and steadfast courage despite my adversities.  I see men of apparent wisdom playing like boys would with toys, with their possessions – their large cars, their large residences and I want to say Alhamdulillah, but then it doesn’t end there.  As abundance comes with arrogance and before the eye can blink, I see these men of apparent wisdom, showing their brutality by engaging in public display of their strength and their might.  In the process, they belittle me – sometimes alone and at others in groups.  Is it not sufficient that they have been endowed that they choose to demand authority and forced respect? The human that I am, I keep reacting, sometimes defending and at others offending.

Then Mirza Ghalib comes to my further aid when he writes in The World is a playground:

I perceive the world as a playground
Where dawn and dusk appear in eternal rounds
In His Universal form is a plaything the throne of Solomon
The miracles of the Messiah seem so ordinary in my eyes
Without name I cannot comprehend any form
Illusionary but is the identity of all objects
My anguish envelopes the entire desert
Silently flows the river in front of my floods

Alas, I ask myself if I am now ready and prepared to migrate – not to USA or to Canada? But to that permanent abode which I was promised a return to even before I got here. I have formed so many attachments yet will I have enough time to bid farewell to each one of them? I look at the chaos around in the world today and I know that God alone is the Guide – perhaps there are some small good actions that have preceded my journey, I just wish that they have.  I still have time to seek the pardon of those I have hurt and forgive those who have destroyed me or have wished me annihilated.  For the remaining hours and moments, I need to have a big heart.

The celebrated poet Allama Iqbal in his remarkable poem ‘Sitaaron se aage jahaan aur bhi hai’ (beyond the stars, there are other worlds) offers solace with his poignant touch when he states:

Tu Shaheen Hai Parwaz Hai Kaam Tera
Tere Samne Asman Aur Bi Hain

Isi Roz O Shab Main Ulaj Kar Na Reh Ja
Ke Tere Zaman-o Makan Aur Bi Hain

In the end, I am persuaded that I needn’t worry about my fate as the events and episodes of my life, were not really the barriers, rather the actual challenges that I was meant to go through as part of my test.  And although I pray night and day for relief from the Lord Majestic, deep down I know that he will ease my pain and my anguish as long as I pay heed.

I now know that it is not important to show that I am a faithful but it is more important that I have faith.  Demonstrating in public is of no consequence apart from the cheer and jest of the people.  I now know that Jihad is that internal struggle which allows me to shine over others in my league to become a better person in this world and attain salvation in the hereafter.

And as I now prepare to give back to society despite the odds, in the hope that I attain the real purpose of my life, above the paying of bills and the securing of financial future, I pray for protection from the evil eyes from among the jinn and the men, who are casting their gaze to plant the path of my destruction, perhaps for their amusement or out of sheer envy.  Strange they should envy me for I am but an insignificant mortal subject to the Lord Almighty.

But this fitna is a part of the make of this world, revealed in a prophecy by the angels witnessing the creation of Adam (that the human will shed blood in this world).  And who knows what the hidden message of the response by Allah (SWT) of ‘I know what you know not’ may have been pointing to this very truth – this very struggle that you and I were supposed to take in the face of the world’s oppression.  So we must have faith in His wisdom.

I am now signing off, no longer weary of the atrocities I have faced in this life so far, with a couplet from Allama Iqbal

Allah Se Kare Dur To Taalim Bhi Fitna
Imlak Bhi Aulad Bhi Jaagir Bhi Fitna
Nahaq Ke Liye Uthe To Shamsheer Bhi Fitna
Shamsheer Hi Kya Nara-e Taqbeer Bhi Fitna


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About the author

Mohamedarif is a marketing professional and educationalist with a penchant for writing as a hobby since childhood. As he experimented writing about sporting events at first and then current affairs, he quickly developed a skill for observation of his environment and began to write on reform topics, especially in connection with the community. To further feed his pursuit of writing, he founded several newsletters and bulletins at his school and at the Husayni Madrasah in the 1980's, all the time learning from others already in the field not just about writing, but also about pre-press and production processes. He was also the editor-in-chief of the Knowledge Magazine in 1995–1996. A decade later, importing a flurry of ideas into his new home, Nairobi, he first founded a two page community newspaper then became a regular writer of the Friday Faculty before establishing the Community on Friday, a fully fledged Madrasah magazine in 1996. And while his writing at the community continued, he simultaneously started writing for a business weekly, pairing in with his newfound role as a marketing professional. During his time in Nairobi, he wrote several speeches for sitting chairmen and presidents while also giving some himself, developing his concurrent role as a public speaker and trainer.

With changing times and a decrease in advertising sponsorship, as well as a fall in overall readership, Mohamedarif transformed this publication into an electronic blog. Thus was born the Community on Friday in its present format.

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