Wednesday, 3 April 2013

life lessons

Believing in divine decree makes it easier to accept your reality or those unfavorable situations that you are faced with because you understand it as Gods decision, however, we should remember that we have all been created as emotional beings and therefore it is natural to have an emotional reaction to these situations. On the other hand, we should also remember that from every situation there are vital life lessons to take with you. Maybe God has put you in a certain situation or allowed you to meet certain people because from both, though you may feel you gained only painful memories - you have also gained a number of lessons, whether you realise it or not.

From every hurtful situation you will escalate the ladder of wisdom, you will know how to act for next time if you're faced with a similar situation, you will understand how to shape and plan your life and you will adjust your views incorporating the fraction of wisdom you've gained previously. Sometimes you may regret a lot of your actions but really, if the situation has taught you lessons that can only be learnt first hand, then it was never a waste of time to begin with. You should feel privileged that by going through a unique situation, you will come out of it gaining a unique perspective and you will become wiser and stronger as a result.

Emotionally you may feel exhausted but your soul is strengthened through hardships, and what better of a result do you want. If our internal selves are strengthened through hardship, then it doesn't make sense to say that we have become bitter because of them. The most wise of us have gained their wisdom through tribulations because it is the trials you face that yield wisdom; would you rather face personal trouble and gain wisdom from it, or have it easy and limit yourself? We need to understand that we grow through calamity, we can develop both mentally and emotionally. Hardships are necessary.




You may feel that sometimes life has thrown too much at you or you have reached your absolute limit but God has given us His word; He will not give the human more than they can bear and we need to have full faith in His promise. What other promises could you rely on completely anyway? In fact this statement should prove to you your natural ability to endure trials because if you are faced with difficult situations then know that you are given these situations because you can handle them.

There are plenty of hardships you endure through life, and personally, what gives me comfort is knowing that any pain a believer experiences, ranging from a mental worry or something as small as a prick of a thorn will be acknowledged by God and written as a good deed. God does not give you bad unless He accompanies it with good, whether it's visible straight away or apparent in the next life.

What I hope you take away from reading this is if you're going through a hardship, a trial, a mental worry, stop viewing it so negatively. Is it really a negative thing or is it the way we view it that makes it so negative? We should re-evaluate how we categorise something to be good or bad; If a situation creates no benefit then I would personally categorise it as something disadvantageous but seeing as every hardship creates for you at least one advantage, you can not view it in the same way.
And lastly, to everyone out there, have patience. Verily, God is with those who are patient.

Monday, 11 February 2013

The winds that wept.

The Autumn leaves have descended occupying the fields and concrete grounds,
like soldiers silently taking over a territory whose presence establish a season of change.
The brown tarnished bench near a leaf-less tree may seem empty but existing in its constant surroundings are winds that weep throughout every season of the year.




The winds that travel to all stretches of the earth witnessing infinite stories untold and experiencing historical events first hand,
the winds that observe humanity from a view other than our own, watching our stories like a live documented programme,
the winds that weep from loneliness are unable to grasp the idea of division amongst mankind for whom company has been fashioned from the rib of man.
‘I’m lonely, I’m lonely’ it cries unheard.
If we but knew the story of the winds that wept, we would open our eyes to a different world.
Our perception of unity would grow in the right direction and the bond between humanity would flourish.



From the perspective of the lonely winds that weep, our division is a crime;
the wind is more appreciative of God’s favours that we continue to dismiss.
Just like a street lamp that flickers, the little light of humanity left will one day come to a halt and expose darkness leaving us with no view-able road to tred.
‘Save yourselves, save yourselves’ it cries unheard.
And the winds will continue to weep so as long as our destructive forces rip apart humanity, so as long as our common practice involves hatred, and banishes love.



We clutch tightly to our coats and scarves creating a defensive shell from its desperate cry,
but in the bigger picture not even shields and weaponry would create for us a safeguard.
We are more fascinated by the forbidden apple than the beauty of the tree that we pick it from,
and just like the core of the apple, the core of humanity has become rotten and dark.
‘Look further, look further’ it cries unheard.
But we have become a nation who speak violence and listen to hatred, so the cries of the wind do not penetrate our cores.
It is our hearts that continue to be ignorant to direction and though our eye sight is flawless, we are forever blind.


And the winds continue to weep.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

We Palestinians teach life, sir.

Before beginning this detailed blog post, I would like to share with you the video-clip that inspired me to write this post. It is a poem, written and preformed by a brilliant Palestinian spoken word artist named Rafeef Ziadah. As you can see, this is where the idea for my title also comes.



So here we go. This one is dedicated to the millions of murdered Palestinians since the occupation began, for the Palestinians who were forcefully driven out of their home land, for the Palestinians who continue to live under oppression, for the Palestinians who will not be forgotten. This one is for Palestine.



-Introduction-


When the topic about the history of Palestine and modern day Israel took my interest around the time of the most recent attacks on Gaza, I started searching the internet to educate myself further. Surprisingly, I found very biased information, especially Wikipedia articles. After digging deeper and inquiring further, the history of this topic became less grey. I realised that not knowing the history of Palestine but supporting the cause is not doing complete justice to it's people. This blog post will be a detailed, but not a full, history of Palestine which I hope you'll read to gain an understanding about this subject that you may previously not have been exposed to. I've acquired the information from documentaries, videos, trustworthy websites and word of mouth.



-The ancient history of Palestine-


From 578 BC-1914CE, the land was conquered by various empires. The first empire to conquer was the Babylonian empire from 606-536BC. It was here that the Jews were exiled to Babylon, now known as modern day Iraq. 

Over the years, the Arab-Jews flourished in the middle east. In fact, when the 2003 war in Iraq took place, many Jews who had migrated to modern day Israel from generations of living in Iraq were very upset to see their homeland being destroyed.

The second empire to rule was the Persian empire from 538-333BCE. During the Persian rule, a lot of Jews came to live in Jerusalem and here, the second temple was constructed.

In 63BCE-313CE, the Roman empire who were predominantly Christian, conquered and destroyed the second temple. 

It was from 636-1099 that the Arabs then took over. Shortly after, the Christian crusaders waged a war against the Arabs in which 70,000 Muslims were slaughtered and the streets ran with blood. 

During this era, the Muslims suffered being dis-united and subject to humiliation by non-Muslim powers. Arnat, the king of Karak who was occupying Palestine at the time, would launch attacks on the Muslim pilgrims travelling to make Hajj. Men were tortured, women were humiliated and children were killed. 




-The story of Salah-ul-deen-


It was in 1169 that Salah-ul-deen known as 'Saladin' in the English history books took rule of Egypt. Salah-ul-deen improved the state of Egypt and established a powerful army. His aim was to unite the Arab countries who had become semi-independent states. On hearing what Arnat was doing to the Muslim pilgrims, he sent a letter to request a peace agreement, where Arnat would release hostages and give back what he had previously taken. Arnat refused.

In May 1187, war was waged between salah-ul-deen and the crusaders. Victory was achieved by the Muslim armies. 


In July 1187, another war took place between the same parties, salah-ul-deen, again, won. 

Shortly, the final war was waged, this time an army of 50,000 christian crusaders were led by 'Richard the lion heart' and the battle took place in a city called Hiteen. The crusaders were defeated and salah-ul-deen officially took rule. He took down the large cross placed on the dome of the rock and put up the Muslim flag. Unlike the crusaders, he gave freedom for inhabitants to leave unharmed, respecting their creeds and allowing their worship. The Arabs would occupy the land for years to come.




-What role did the British play?-


It was from 1516-1918 that the ottoman empire took rule. All through out this period, it was the Arabs who occupied Palestine and lived there harmoniously. In October 1915, an agreement between Henry McMahoon, the British high commissioner in Egypt, and Hussain bin Ali, the sharif of Mecca, stated that the Arabs would revolt in alliance with the British empire to hamper the ottoman empire since during the first world war the ottoman empire became an ally to the Germans. In return the UK would recognize the Arab independence and the land previously held by Turks would be returned the Arab nationals. This is now known as the 'McMahoon-Hussain agreement.' There is a Myth that the Jews and the Arabs have been fighting for hundreds of years over the same land. This can be refuted by just reading a genuine history book and doing some research. Around the 1900's, antisemitism was on the increase in Europe and an idea was proposed to create a Jewish state in Palestine. This was the start of Zionism. The British were very supportive of the Zionist movement and helped to establish all of the structures of a state. 

Two years after the McMahoon-Hussain agreement, the British foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour, wrote to Lord Rothschild and his family who were considered as one of the most influential and wealthiest Jewish families in America. Their influence in America was important to the British government. In this letter Balfour declared support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine but stated there had to be rights for the non-Jewish nationals living there, namely the Palestinians. This is known as the 'Balfour declaration.'


The McMahoon Hussein Agreement and the Balfour Declaration contradicted one another. Palestine was now promised, by the British, to both the Palestinians and the Jews.

However, during November 1915 and March 1916, a secret agreement took place between the French diplomat, Francois George-Picot and British, Sir Mark Sykes. The Russian Government were also a minor party to the 'Sykes-Picot agreement.' This agreement stated that the United Kingdom and France were planning on splitting and occupying parts of the Arab countries once they had revolted and over turned the Ottoman empire. Following the Russian revolution of October 1917, the Belsheviks, who were the new Russian government at the time, exposed the agreement. The British were embarrassed and the Arabs, dismayed.





-After World War I-


Jewish immigration increased out of Europe following World War I when Britain had implemented the Balfour declaration promising Jewish homeland in Palestine. Between 1914-1918, there was an immigration of 65,000 European Jews into Palestine.

The population distribution of Palestine in 1922:
Total = 757,182
Muslim and Christian Arabs = 87.6%
Jews = 11%

At this point, the Palestinians were outraged that not only did the British come to an agreement with the French behind their back, but that a European power was deciding the future of a non-European state without the consideration or wishes of the nationals who lived there. Looking back on History, it was the Palestinian Arabs who occupied the land for the most number of years, and ironically it was the Jews who occupied the land for the least number of years. It was never the Jews and the Arabs who fought for the land; in fact, there was more Christian-Muslim conflict over the land then there ever was Jewish-Muslim conflict. Do you see the myth?

In the 1920's, as the land was being stripped away from the Palestinians with the large number of Jewish immigrants, minor clashes began. Between 1920-1931, there was an additional 108,825 Jewish immigrants.

The population distribution of Palestine in 1931:
Total = 1,035,154
Muslim and Christian Arabs = 81.6%
Jews = 16.9%


When Hitler took power in Germany, the situation completely changed. Efforts to make Palestine a Jewish homeland now increased as both the British and the UN tried to make amendments for the Nazi genocidal policies. It was the Palestinians who paid the price for the Holocaust; innocent people who were the subject to genocide for the actions of a tyrant - how brilliant is the justice system we have?! 




Between 1932-1936, an additional 174,000 Jewish immigrants arrived in Palestine and between 1937-1945, there was an additional 119,800 Jewish immigrants.

In 1947, the violence between the Jews and the Palestinians spiraled out of control. Britain now decided to turn the problem over to America and let them deal further with the situation. The saying goes 'if you can't finish what you started, then don't start it all' but I guess back then the saying must have been more like 'if you have power and status, you can do whatever the hell you like, whether you finish it or not.' 

The UN were now under a lot of pressure to come up with a solution. They proposed to divide the land into two states. The Arabs were given 43% of the land even though they made up more than two thirds of the population. The Jews were given 56% of the land, even though they made up less than one third of the population and not to mention, the most fertile land. At this point, the Zionist leaders took advantage of their military power and immediately started occupying major cities in Palestine. The ethnic cleansing of Palestinians had now began. They were doing to the Palestinians what the Nazi's did to them.

The argument nowadays is that the Jews were promised this land by God and so they have a right to take it, even if that means murder, massacre, genocide. There are people who think Religion is illogical, yet somehow agree with this argument. I am now addressing  the one who does not believe in religion or is not an adherent of one of the three Abrahamic religions; the Bible or the Torah is not considered by historians as a historically accurate document, so how then would you go on to agree with this? Or for the Christian who believes in this statement, doesn't genocide contradict the teaches of your faith? And for the adherents of Judaism, did you know most Rabbis and orthodox Jews do not support the state of Israel? WHY is this justifiable? 





-A story of a Palestinian women- 


I'd like to share with you a story of a Palestinian women who was driven out of her homeland when the Jews took over. She was the only one of her family to survive. 

During the conflict taking place in Palestine and the heartless murders committed, this woman, whose name during the documentary was not mentioned, took her children to seek refuge in a house with her brother Musa who spent the night to keep them company. 

That night the area was bombed, houses were destroyed, people were killed. After things calmed down a little, Jewish soldiers broke into her house, took them all out and severely beat her brother whilst she and her children watched helplessly. In tears, she handed over some money to one of the Jewish soldiers and begged the soldier not to kill her brother in return. The soldier took the money and replied 'you are very kind, look to what I'll do.' The Jewish soldiers placed her brother facing down on the floor in the position of prostration, then they pointed a gun at his head and shot him five times. 

The majority of her family members were all killed including her two sons, one step son, her father and her mother, her two brothers, her grandparents, her uncle, her aunt and her cousins. Till this day, when  recalling this story, she can not help but cry as she re-lives the painful memories.



-What did the neighboring Arabs do?-


It was after 300,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes that the Arabs finally intervened. It was after May 15th 1948, which by now Israel had declared itself a state, that the neighboring Arab armies were sent in to Palestine. Compared to the amount of Israeli soldiers, the Arabs were inferior in number.The Arab soldiers equated 68,000 whilst the Jewish soldiers reached 90,000. 

The Arabs were late, by this time the Jewish Armies had cleansed most of the territories and the new state of Israel encompassed 78% of the land previously belonging to the Palestinians. Out of the 500 Palestinian cities, 400 of them were destroyed. The west bank had come under Jordanian control and the Gaza strip had come under Egyptian control. It was said later that the Arab countries had stepped back and allowed this to take part, specifically King Hussein of Jordan who had even agreed to this and purposely allowed his armies to fail with poor weaponry and unsuccessful strategy. It was the dis-unity and corrupt governments of the Arab nations that also played a part in Israel's success.

Peace was declared between the Arab states and Israel, even though peace remained elusive. 700,000 Palestinians refugees lived in near by camps who still held the deeds to their homes which were now occupied by Jewish families. Many migrated to Jordan, Egypt and other near by Arab counties. The nationals of these countries were frustrated at the large number of Palestinian immigrants that even clashes and discrimination occurred between them, especially in Jordan. The Palestinians were homeless, broken and with no one to turn to for genuine help. 

The efforts of destroying the possibility of the Palestinians returning back home were strongly put into practice by the UN who continues to affirm the Jewish settlers human rights in international law and the 'right to return.' Palestinians who lost their homes in 1948 can not go back to Palestine even for a visit, but the Jews living outside of modern day Israel can go back as if they were returning and claim immediate citizenship having no historic ties, speaking no Hebrew, having no family who are or were living there - all they need is to be Jewish.




Through out history, this continues to be one of the biggest genocide acts committed and one of the most untold or hidden cases. It is a part of history, in my opinion, that is slowly dying along with the people who experienced the catastrophe first hand. 


Learn, remember and teach. Palestine will never be forgotten.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Attachments


What inspired me to write a post about attachments? Well, I simply think this is one topic area that every single human can relate to, including me.

I’m sure the person reading this has had an attachment during their lifetime and some deal with these attachments in different ways. It is the human nature to become attached to a single person, maybe an emotion, memory, physical objects. Have you ever thought what the sole reason behind this is?

Before I begin, I’d like to just state that yes, this blog post will be spiritually and religiously influenced and If you have an issue with that you are not obliged to continue reading. What I will say is that if you somehow feel you have a right to judge someone based on their faith, you need to re-evaluate yourself - or even for the people of the same faith who sadly feel they have a right to judge someone on the level of their faith – even God doesn't judge man until the end of time, so why should you and I?

Let’s begin.

It came to my attention a few years ago that almost everything you feel attachment towards will somehow, during your life time, let you down. It would be logical to conclude, once you have had a good think about this, that the difference between our expectations and the reality of the situation is large. You need to make this clear to yourselves that this world is not perfect, but us humans, we are naturally inclined to seek perfection. You know why? It’s because our original home is the essence of perfection.

You might be staring blankly at the screen thinking ‘I’d rather have Simon Cowell's mansion over my three bedroom house’ but when I refer to ‘home’ I’m actually referring to our original home. Jannah; heaven. It was made for humans and humans were made for it, therefore, throughout your whole life time, when you seek perfection, you are indirectly seeking Jannah, and that is impossible to find in this dunya. You see, once you get your head past it, you’ll start to narrow that gap between your expectations and the realities, then you’ll understand that a disappointment is not yet a disappointment until you make it a disappointment simply because of the way you view it.

If this world was perfect, it wouldn’t be called the dunya. In Arabic, the word dunya has two root meanings, one is ‘close’ and the other, ‘low’. This symbolises that this world is the closest we know to any life and in comparison it is superficial and low to the next life.

No one in this world can say they have no attachments but there are people throughout history who have shown great progression in the process of detaching themselves from ‘the life of this world.' The only way you can achieve such a thing is if by letting go of this world, you are embracing another world; a spiritual world. You see, people who want to make it ‘big’ in this world without correct intentions are usually people who haven’t yet grasped the reality of the next world and only know the reality, or rather, the potential reality of this world, and of course without knowing the difference between the two worlds, this life becomes more attractive. 

Of course, I do not mean to completely seclude yourself from this world or to stop loving the important people or to throw away any prized possessions or memories; but rather to keep that central and most important position for God alone and to detach every part of this world from that spot that is only meant for Him alone.


When we are attached to something - I mean really attached to something, it usually holds a high position in our lives making it to the top of our priority list, usually knocking a few things down in the process. The only thing that should take that central position or rather, the highest position, is God. It reminds me of a situation where I encouraged someone who didn't have the will power to perform a particular act by telling them ‘every good act is regarded as a charity’ –the hadith is in Tirmidhi. A third person listening in replied to me ‘not everything revolves around that.' By ‘that’ she was referring to religion and what does religion stem to originally? God.

Little does the one know who holds a similar view point because without knowing God, the Creator and sustainer of life, how could you possibly know life itself?

My personal issue with attachment is people and there have been many times where the people I rely on to always be there haven’t fulfilled that. And as time went on I realised that this is something we can’t stop, it’s almost natural. It is created as an attribute of this world - you just can’t dodge disappointment, but you can view it a whole new way. As my distorted vision of reality cleared, I realised that before relying on anyone, we should ultimately put our trust and reliance in the hands of God – where our trust originally lies and should always lie because whilst the words ‘people’ and ‘change’ are in my opinion synonyms, God has been the same since the beginning of time and will continue to be. Isn't that brilliant? 

One of the ways we can detach ourselves from people is by pledging to love everyone equally instead of loving one more than the other. Of course, there are exceptions with maybe family members or spouses but that does not mean you put them before God. To your own soul, this is not natural. It’s like trying to fit two puzzle pieces together desperately when they just simply do not fit. Think about it, the source of love, perfection, contentment, happiness, protection, company, all comes from God alone; seeking these attributes from anyone else or even anything else would be absurd and will without fail result in disappointment. This world will always disappoint us in one way or another, therefore it is logical to place your hope and heart in the correct place and the correct place is not this world. The disappointments you've experienced only prove that, don’t they?  

You may be thinking to yourselves whilst reading this, ‘how does one keep God at that central position at all times?’ and the answer to that is simply ‘get to know Him.’ God calls himself by 99 names - they were not revealed without purpose. The process of knowing someone includes knowing them through their attributes and there are more than plenty of attributes to know God by. You just simply can’t attribute 99 characteristics to any one human being – this is God. This is our Creator. When you get to know Him, you’ll know perfection, you’ll know love and you’ll know the difference between this life and what awaits us.

How then does God, the Creator of this world, describe it? A verse of the Qur’an comes to mind when this question is posed: 
“Every soul shall taste death [..] and the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.” (Qur’an 3:185) 
This puts things into perspective for us, it reminds us of what’s to come - death, and it reminds us of the true reality of this world, correcting our distorted vision.

To finish, I want to share with you another verse that is the answer to disappointment or detachment and It is not a promise from me, it is a promise from the creator Himself. How could you possibly brush past or forget His promise? With out doubt, the promise of Allah is true:

“Surely, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Qur’an 13:28)