Public Baths

Note: Sometimes I’m offline so you might pass by one day and see no post and then come back later and suddenly see one for that day . I wrote it anyway and just put it up later 🙂

There are some things that can only happen in certain countries. And then actually make it on the national evening news. I just came from watching a bunch of mini-van conductors being washed in publicly. Yes, you read right – not the mini-vans, the conductors!

Apparently, the passengers who used the public transport couldn’t stand their stench anymore, so the whole lot of them were caught, stripped to their pants, washed thoroughly and given clean-shaven heads. And they’ve been warned that should they neglect their hygiene, they’ll be in for another dousing…

I tried imagining that happening in a Western country and couldn’t count how many people would end up suing how many others! It’s a pity. Maybe that’s why there are so many tourists to ‘third-world’ countries. There is a freshness and down-to-earth atmosphere in most of them.

Here, we still live by humanity and commonsense. When I hear of the ridiculous cases that pop up in more “civilised” countries, I’m kind of glad we haven’t reached there yet. How does it mean modernisation when a burglar can sue you for hurting himself while robbing your home? How does a case of cannibalism actually get ‘contemplated’ and ‘argued’ for years?

I think on the world-level, we’ve probably reached the peak of self-destruction that Imam Mahdi (atfs) is waiting for. All that needs to happen now is for the Muslims to start joining in and once we lose our faith and beliefs, well, I’ll be heading off towards either Qum or Makkah.

Some might say if that’s my cue, then I should be packed already. But I don’t think we’re all that lost still. There’s still quite a few people who are working hard towards preserving and practicing Islam. But they are becoming less and less by the day.

Maybe the next generation or the one after that. Whoever lasts longer than that will be the one in full training for Imam (a)’s re-appearance. We just need to remember that it is individuals amongst us that need to sow the seed for them to harvest that dedication and loyalty from.

Or if Allah (SWT) Wills it, we could very well be the generation that receives him. I wonder why the thought of that brings excitement tinged with a slight shade of dread…

Bint Ali

Who’s Unlucky?

Friday the 13th. It’s enough to spook some people that this time, it occurred in October. Sure, many people seem understand that it’s simply a superstition, but when you read of hotels skipping the number 13 when numbering their floors or room, you begin to wonder. 

I mean even if you skip the ‘number’, it still is the thirteenth floor/room/item. How do sensible, business-savvy people still hold on to such ridiculous notions? 

When I think of 13, the first thing that comes to mind is the birthday of Imam Ali (a) 🙂 and that is more than enough to make it a wonderful number in my mind. There are 13 male members of the Masoomeen (a) too. The Prophet (pbuh) lived in Makkah for 13 years. The Muslim army at Badr had 313 men and so will the first group that joins Imam Mahdi (atfs)! 

Hey, I’m not suggesting that 13 has a special lucky significance in Islam. I’m just saying that basing luck/fate/whatever on simply a number is really not the best way to show off our intellectual prowess. 

Besides, the entire superstition is based on Christian and Norse mythology. I’ve never heard of a particular number being lucky or unlucky in Islam. Sure, people like to do things in 5’s, 12’s and 14’s, but only because these numbers remind them of special issues and are close to their hearts. But to say you can only do things in this quantity if you want them to work out…it just doesn’t sound right. 

Say Bismillah (In the Name of God) and do what you want to (as long as it is allowed) and you’ll be fine! 🙂 

Bint Ali 

Current Saying:
“And when you have made a determined decision, then proceed with trust in Allah.”
– Allah (SWT)

Two Worlds

I’ve realized something. I knew it ages ago, but it keeps slipping into the back of my mind and only once in a while, does it poke its head out just to give me a jolt and remind me that its still there. 

It’s a perspective-shifting piece of intelligence. And I’m going to share it with you. 

There are two worlds. No, I’m not talking dimensions and or the splicing of timelines. And I’m not crazy either. I can prove it. This existence that we call earth, life, the world, the time … different appellations for different contexts – it’s all happening on two levels. 

There’s the outer facade that most of us live. We have ignorant, shallow lives that rely on what I like to call the upper layer of Life. The icing if you will. We stick our fingers into this sticky, sweetness and lick of it, revelling in the temporary rushes and highs that it gives us. But few of us bother (or dare?) to go further and actually cut into the cake itself. 

Why? Because cutting into the cake forces us to admit that there is another – perhaps less instantly satisfying – layer beneath. The cake is what gives the icing a foundation to spread upon. And the cake needs to be made with effort and raw ingredients that aren’t as tasty the final product. 

Look around you. We live in houses with electricity, running water, ready heat, gadgets to make our lives easier, possibly a car. But each and every thing that we are so dependent on and take for granted (do you think twice before flipping the switch that turns on your computer?) depends on other things. 

So then, what would happen if suddenly there was no electricity? Or the people who keep the factories and machinery that provides us with our ‘lives’ running, suddenly disappeared? Who are these people who invent new stuff for us and keep us hooked on their services? And what happens when their ability to do so ends? (and all things will come to an end.) 

The rise and fall or birth and death of civilizations is a study that predicts without a doubt that just as things have been popular in the past and then slowly become obsolete, so will our times and our inventions. What guarantee is there that this will always be for the better? That it will always be a step forward? 

It’s time to wean ourselves off of this artificial life, this dependency on things that only serve as a barrier between us and the real world. As Muslims, we are waiting for a saviour – the Mahdi (May God Hasten his Re-appearance) – but we also know that before he comes, times will get hard and things will be difficult. 

Are we prepared for those times? We want to be with him when he announces his arrival, but will we manage to survive the circumstances before he does? 

I think it’s time to stop relying on faceless, nameless shapes to provide us with what we think we deserve and begin to actually seek the origins of the things we need – and then work to obtain them ourselves. 

We might find we need a lot less that we think we do. 

Bint Ali

What Does It Mean To Be A Muslim?

Deep question, eh? I’m sure every woman has her own definition on what it means t be female. Differing perspectives bring about differing opinions. Hard-core feminists will tell you that the essence of being a woman is to be free, independent, do anything a man can do and so on. Traditionalists will say quite the opposite.

So how do we decide then what the global standard of the feminine soul should be? Do we even need a standard to begin with? I mean, maybe we should just live our lives and be the people we are – that’s hard enough!- without worrying about how to be the ideal woman. What difference does it make anyway if we behave one way or another?

It’s so easy to let yourself off the hook sometimes and then blame it on being human. The fact remains that if you submit yourself to Islam, you are surrendering to a way of life. I can’t remember how many times we were taught that in madrasa – when we were barely seven years old – “Islam is not a set of rules, it is a way of life.” 

Teacher asks: “What is Islam?”

Students (chorus) “A way of life!”

Over and over, so we would never forget that phrase. The one thing they missed out on was explaining what exactly it meant. 

For so many years, despite knowing that Islam was a way of life, I lived it as a set of rules.   The very thing it was NOT supposed to be. And I wonder how many of us do the same.   We are Muslims because we say there is no god but Allah (SWT) and believe that Muhammad (pbuh) is the Last Messenger sent by Him. We are Muslims because we take the Holy Qur’an to be the Final Word of God. We are Muslims because we pray 5 times a day, we fast in the month of Ramadhan, give out alms and pay the poor-tax. We are Muslims because we perform Hajj if we can once in our lifetime. Right?

Wrong. So wrong.

All these things we do – these are acts that identify us as adherents to a certain faith, but does it automatically mean we have faith? Is Islam the way we live our lives or is it just something that we do in the process of living?

Being a Muslim is about submitting to a specific attitude and perspective. It means that everything you see, do, think and feel is coloured by your faith and what you believe in. 

Since Islam is the code sent by Allah (SWT), it means the tint on your lenses should be God-coloured. And no one can really say they know what looking at life through God-coloured lenses should like except the Ahlul Bayt (a).   When our lives reflect their lives and we can see a similarity in the way we behave and the way the behaved, or in the choices we make and the choices they made. Then perhaps we can begin to understand the view they had of life and what it means to be a Muslim.

It truly is the perfect system. God sends you away from Him to allow you to miss Him and yearn for Him, and because He knows you are ignorant of the ways and might not be able to make it safely back to Him, He sends guides to hold your hand and bring you back Home.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon
. From Him we come and to Him we return. 

This is Tawheed (Unity) in its most perfect sense.

Bint Ali