Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Du'a (Supplications)

Unto You, O Allah, belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. You create what You will. You bestow female offspring upon whom You will, and bestow male offspring upon whom You will; or You mingle them, males and females, and You make barren whom You will. To You, O Lord, I turn and pray. I beg Your pardon. 

I know that there is no God save You, O Allah. You are Guardian over all things. You take care of all things. You have chosen no son nor have You any partner in the sovereignty. You have created everything and have meted out for it a measure. And You are the Forgiving, the loving, Lord of the Throne of Glory, Doer of what You will. You are Able to do all things, and You surrounded all things in knowledge. Power belongs wholly to You, and unto You belongs the sequel of all things. You bring Your command to pass. Your command, when You intend a thing, is only that You say unto it: Be! and it is. Glory be to You in Whose hand is the dominion over all things! Unto You belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth, and whatsoever in between them, and whatsoever is beneath the sod. No slumber can seize You nor sleep. Your Throne does extend over the heavens and the earth. You make none to share in Your government. And there is not a beast in the earth but the sustenance thereof depends on You, O Allah. Not an animal but You do grasp it by the forelock! Who is he who can preserve us from You if You intended harm for us, or intended mercy for us ? All that are in the heavens and the earth entreat You. Every day You exercise universal power. Glory be to You ! To You, O Lord, I turn and pray. I beg Your pardon. 



Is it not unto You, O Allah, that belongs whosoever is in the heavens and whosoever is in the earth? You bestow upon us secretly and openly. I ask You, therefore, of Your bounty. For You are of infinite bounty. You enlarge livelihood for whom You will, and straiten it for whom You will. And You give without stint to whom You will. If You touch me with affliction, there is none that can relieve it save You, O Allah, and if You touch me with good fortune there is none that can impair it; for You are Able to do all things. You are the Omnipotent over Your slaves, and You are the Wise, the Knower. Nobody owns provision for me but You. So I seek my provision from You only, O Allah! You supply both believers and disbelievers from Your bounty. And Your bounty can never be walled up. O Lord! Give unto us in the world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and guard us from the doom of Fire. 

O Lord! You will no injustice to Your creatures. You wrong not even of the weight of an ant; and if there is a good deed, You will double it and will give the doer from Your presence an immense reward. O Allah ! You never wrong mankind in anything, but mankind wrong themselves. I wronged my own soul. Even though You tried me in my property and in my person, whatever of misfortune strikes me, it is what my right hand has earned. But who will forgive my sins save You, O Allah? You it is Who accepts repentance from his bondmen , and pardons the evil deeds. And You forgive much. You even change evil deeds to good deeds. My Lord! Forgive and have mercy, for You are best of all who show mercy. 

My Lord! You are of vast mercy. You are best aware of me from the time when You created me from the earth, and when I was hidden in the belly of my mother. I know You accept only from those who ward off evil. I know You change not the condition of a folk until they first change that which is in their heart. That is because You never change the grace You have bestowed on any people until they first change that which is in their hearts. And I would not ascribe purity unto myself. You are best aware of him who wards off evil. But I know also that You would turn to us in mercy; You would make the burden light for us. I know You would not place a burden on us, but You would purify us and would perfect Your grace upon us, that we may give thanks. I know that You task not a soul beyond its scope. And I know that You forgive all sins! You are the Forgiving, the Merciful. Shall I, then, despair of Your mercy? 

O Lord! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge. I know that You know what is in my mind, and I know that You are Forgiving, Clement. You know what my soul whispers to me; I know that I utter no word but there is with me an observer ready. I perform no act but You are Witness of me when I am engaged therein. And not an atom's weight in the earth or in the sky escapes You, O Lord. Not a leaf falls but You know it. You know the traitor of the eyes, and that which the bosoms hide. You know that which goes down into the earth and that which comes forth from it, and that which descends from the heaven and that which ascends into it. And You are with us wheresoever we may be. You are Seer of what we do. To You, O Lord, I turn and pray. I beg Your pardon. 

You said, O Lord, to Your beloved Prophet: "And though thou try much, most men will not believe." "And most of them believe not in Allah except that they attribute partners (unto Him)." And You said, O Lord: "(It is) the truth from the Lord of you (all). Then whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve." I want to believe, O Lord ! I want to be a slave of Yours. I want to be near You. But I will not unless it be that You will. Whether I like it or not, I belong to You. And I like to belong to You. I like to be a slave of Yours. There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes unto You as a slave. You know us and numbered us with right numbering. And each one of us will come unto You on the Day of Resurrection, alone. I want to be a slave of Yours here, before the Day of Resurrection. I want to be a slave of Yours every day of my life. 

I know You are not a tyrant to Your slaves. Had it not been for Your grace and Your mercy unto us, not one of us would ever have grown pure. But You cause whom You will to grow. For You are Hearer, Knower, O Allah. If it had not been for Your grace and Your mercy we would have followed Satan, save a few of us. You called all of us to come into submission unto You and not follow the footsteps of the devil. Here I am coming into submission unto You, but the devil is always there. Help me turn away from him for good. I want to be with You, not with him. I want to be a slave of You, not of him. I would not choose him and his seed for my protecting friends instead of You. I know Satan cannot harm me at all unless by Your leave. So I seek refuge in You from him and his suggestions. I beg You not to assign unto me a devil who becomes my comrade, who makes my work fair seeming unto me and debars me from the way of Truth. Bring me close to You, O Allah, and drive Satan and his seed away from me. 

O Lord ! whenever You try man by honouring him, and are gracious unto him, he says: My Lord honoured me. But whenever You try him by straitening his means of life, he says: My Lord despised me. I am sorry for what I said. I regret what I hid in my heart and mind. I wronged myself, O Lord, and I beg Your pardon. 

If I am thankless, yet You are Independent of me. But I thank You willingly and knowlingly and make myself a slave of Yours. I know I cannot outstrip You. I know You are the Omnipotent over Your slaves. I don’t even know what I will earn tomorrow or in what land I will die. I know I shall never be secure from Your scheme. But You promised us forgiveness from You with bounty. I beg Your forgiveness and bounty, O Allah. 

O Allah, if You promised us something, You promised us a promise of truth. Satan the outcast will only promise us, and then fail us. I know Satan has no power over those who believe and put trust in You, O Lord. His power is only over those who make a friend of him. O Lord, purify my belief and strengthen my trust in You. Appoint for me a light wherein I shall walk, and forgive me. Help me walk aright and add to my guidance and give me my protection against evil. Appoint for me love, and endear the faith to me and beautify it in my heart and make disbelief and lewdness and rebellion hateful unto me. Make the Quran a healing and a mercy for me, a balm for that which is in my breast, a light whereby You guide me unto paths of peace. Bring me out of darkness unto light and guide me unto a straight path. 

My Lord, save me from my own greed, and help me make my faith pure for You only. Help me serve You only. Let me not be of those who seek to hide from men and seek not to hide from You, O Allah. Let me not be of those who say that which they do not, or those who enjoin righteousness upon mankind while they themselves forget to practise it. Let me not be of those who worship You upon a narrow marge so that if good befalls them they are content therewith, but if a trial befalls them, they fall away utterly. Let not the life of the world beguile me. Let me not be of those for whom the evil that they do is beautified while they follow their own lusts. Let me not be of those who chose for their gods their own lusts! Let me not be of those whose effort goes astray in the life of the world and yet they reckon that they do good work. Let me not be like him who goes groping on his face, but like him who walks upright on a beaten road. Let me be one of those who seek the abode of the Hereafter in that which You have given them and do not neglect their portion of the world and are kind to others even as You have been kind to them. 

O Lord, guide my steps and light my way ! Lead me unto Your satisfaction and be pleased with me. Accept my work and lead me unto the abode of peace. I have no Lord but You. 

I don’t want to eat and enjoy life and let false hope beguile me. I know that the life of this world is only play, and idle talk, and pageantry, and boasting among us, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children. I know this life of the world is but a pastime and a game. That which we have wastes away, and that which You have, O Allah, remains. 

O Allah, You give us of all we ask of You, and if we would count Your bounty we cannot reckon it. I will never reckon Your favour. I just say thank You, O Lord ! You brought me forth from the womb of my mother knowing nothing, and gave me hearing and sight and a heart that haply I might give thanks. I thank You so much, O Lord ! I know that whatever of comfort I enjoy, it is from You. Thus do You perfect Your favour unto me, in order that I may surrender unto You. I do surrender unto You, O Allah, and I coin not similitudes for You. You know; I know not. 

My Lord! You are Independent of me; I cannot be independent of You. I entreat You like all that are in the heavens and the earth entreat You. I am but one of Your bondmen. To You, Alone, I turn for mercy. I beg Your pardon. You it is Who accepts repentance from his bondmen, and pardons the evil deeds, and knows what we do. 

How can't I   fear You, O Allah? My heart fears you in secret, whatever my right hand has earned. I am the poor in my relation to You, O Allah. You are the Absolute, the Owner of Praise. I would only call on You in fear and hope. I know there is no protecting friend nor defender nor intercessor nor will I find refuge beside You, O Allah. You are the Protecting Friend of those who believe, of those who ward off evil. You befriend the righteous, and You are with those who keep their duty unto You. You are the Protecting Friend, the Praiseworthy. Let me be one of the righteous and be my Protecting Friend. Help me keep my duty unto You. Let me not be easy prey for Satan. I love You, not Satan. I want You, not Satan. 

You say, O Allah: "with hardship goeth ease; Lo! with hardship goeth ease", and who is more true in statement than You, O Allah? Who fulfils His covenant better than You, O Allah? You have apportioned among us our livelihood in the life of the world, and You have exalted some of us in rank above others that You may try us by the test of that which You have given us. No calamity befalls us save by Your leave. And whosoever believes in You, O Allah, You guide his heart. O Lord, do guide my heart. Fill it with enough belief so that I may strongly believe that that which You open unto us of mercy none can withhold it; and that which You withhold none can release it thereafter. Let me not be of those who follow but a guess and that which they themselves desire. Let my belief be knowledge. Let my heart find rest in the remembrance of You. Remit from me my evil deeds and make my course easy for me. 

My Lord! Appoint a way out for me, and give me in exchange safety after my fear. Make me not grieve for the sake of that which has escaped me, and make me not exult because of that which You have given me. Make not pride take me to sin, and give me my protection against evil. Let the angels be my protecting friends in the life of the world and in the Hereafter. I am of those who surrender unto You, O Allah.

Ameen

Muhammad



For love some people lost their lives. Others went bankrupt. Some became philosophers. Others went mad. Some wrote books. Others versified. Some hated the whole world save the beloved. Others loved the whole world and above all Him Who created it.

From inside the trenches, surrounded by the smell of blood and the fear of an unseen enemy, young soldiers wrote home to say how much they missed the smile of their women (wives and fiancées), how much they longed to go back home and kiss their lips and fondle their breasts.

From the plane taking them far away, some pick up their mobiles and say to that dear person back at home, “Don’t forget, Katy. I love you. See you soon.”

Some stop somewhere to pick and choose a postcard and words to write on the back of the postcard. Others buy flowers or pullovers or whatever they think would make their beloved happy. Others just don’t bother to buy anything. Not because they are mean. But simply because they cannot find anything that would translate what they feel more than a smile from the bottom of the heart or a tear long held back.

For love some get so happy that they start doing what they never did before. Mean people become generous. Proud people become humble.

But not all people love people. Some people love things rather than people, or maybe both. “Beautified for men is the love of things they covet; women, children, much of gold and silver (wealth), branded beautiful horses, cattle and well-tilled land. This is the pleasure of the present world’s life.” (Al-Imran: 14) This kind of love brought in the past and still brings today hate and war.


To avoid that some people love both people and God. The Prophet Muhammad was one of them. The Prophet Muhammad was not sent to terrorize people, but to save them and love them. If he did fight, it was only against those who wanted to deprive others of the chance to know and love and be loved by their true God.

The Prophet Muhammad was offered the opportunity to be the Bill Gates of his time, but he just refused to “seize” that opportunity, while he was God’s beloved N° 1. The Prophet Muhammad slept on a harsh bed, lived on bread and dates, and once he had to roam the streets at night simply because he felt too hungry to stay at home.

The Prophet Muhammad was anything but un-ambitious, he whose followers managed to build great (ambitious) empires. He could have made for himself a heaven on earth had he so willed, even if it meant waging bloody wars. But he believed that “And whatever you have been given is an enjoyment of the life of (this) world and its adornment, and that (Hereafter) which is with Allah (God) is better and will remain forever.” (al-Qasas: 60) “Whatever is with you, will be exhausted, and whatever is with Allah (God) (of good deeds) will remain. And those who are patient, We will certainly pay them a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do.” (an-Nahl: 96) “See how We prefer one above another (in this world), and verily, the Hereafter will be greater in degrees and greater in preferment.” (al-Isra: 21) “Blessed is He Who, if He wills, will assign you better than (all) that –Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise) and will assign you palaces (i.e. in Paradise).” (al-Furqan: 10)


The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) wanted to be with al-Masakeen “the have-nots”, not with the rich. He wanted to be a man of the masses, not of the elite. He wanted to set an example. Once a governor came before Caliph Umar Ibn al-Khattab and offered him cakes. Umar said to him: “Do all people in your region eat such good cakes?” How on earth could a close companion of the Prophet Muhammad eat cakes which only the haves could afford?

God said: “Say (O Muhammad to mankind): “If you (really) love Allah (God) then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Koran and the Sunnah), Allah (God) will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah (God) is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.” (al-Imran: 31)

If ordinary followers of the Prophet Muhammad loved God, how much more could the Prophet Muhammad’s love for God be? Well, it was boundless, and it was reciprocated.

Once Aiysha Ummu al Mumineen asked her husband, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), why he tired himself so much with keeping extra unbearable duties to God while all his past and future sins were forgiven. The Prophet replied: “Why shouldn’t I be a grateful slave (vis-à-vis God)?”

The Prophet Muhammad did not love God only. He loved people too. He wanted to save them all. And he suffered so much for that love for people. God said to him: “So destroy not yourself (O Muhammad) in sorrow for them. Truly, Allah (God) is the All-Knower of what they do!” (Fatir: 8) “Perhaps, you would kill yourself (O Muhammad) in grief, over their footsteps (for their turning away from you), because they believe not in this narration the Koran).” (al-Kahf: 6) “Verily you (O Muhammad) guide not whom you like, but Allah (God) guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who are the guided.” (al-Qasas: 56)


Now we only speak of human rights. We seldom –if ever_ speak about God’s right. What are God’s rights? At least one has to do this for God. “But seek, with that (wealth) which Allah (God) has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of lawful enjoyment in this world; and do good as Allah (God) has been good to you, and seek not mischief in the land. Verily, Allah (God) likes not the Mufsidun (those who commit great crimes and sins, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupters.” (al-Qasas: 77)

Yes, and do good as Allah (God) has been good to you. God said to the Prophet Muhammad: “Did He not find you (O Muhammad) an orphan and gave you a refuge? And He found you unaware (of the Koran, its laws and Prophethood) and guided you? And He found you poor and made you rich (self-sufficient with self-contentment)? Therefore, treat not the orphan with oppression. And repulse not the beggar. And proclaim the Grace of your Lord (i.e. the Prophethood and all other Graces).” (ad-Duha: 6-11)

And that’s just what the Prophet Muhammad did, if not more. He took care of the orphans and the destitute and he proclaimed the bounty of God on him. How could he have done otherwise, he to whom God said: “And We have sent you (O Muhammad) not but as a mercy for the Alamin (mankind, jinn and all that exists)”? (al-Anbiya: 107)

God wants to bestow His Mercy on all mankind. “Why should Allah (God) punish you if you have thanked (Him) and have believed in Him. And Allah (God) is Ever All-Appreciative (of good), All-Knowing.” (an-Nisa: 147)

Some people -in fact, many people- just don’t care of God. “And when it is said to them: “Prostrate yourselves to the Most Gracious (Allah) (God)! They say: “And what is the Most Gracious? Shall we fall down in prostration to that which you (O Muhammad) command us?” And it increases in them only aversion.” (al-Furqan: 60)


And yet God did not take away His bounty from mankind. For his ingratitude, Man should be -shouldn’t he?- subjected to the worst ordeals. But there are innocent creatures that have no hand in Man’s ingratitude. The Prophet Muhammad said: “Were it not for children and animals God would cut off the rain (i.e. as a punishment to the infidel).” But as the Koran has it, “But verily, your Lord is full of Forgiveness for mankind in spite of their wrong-doing.” (ar-Ra’d: 6) “And He is Oft-Forgiving, full of love (towards the pious who are really true believers of Islamic Monotheism).” (al-Buruj: 14)

God bestows His bounty not only on the faithful but also on the infidel. “On each -these as well as those- We bestow from the Bounties of your Lord. And the Bounties of your Lord can never be forbidden.” (al-Isra: 20)

But Man often misinterpret God’s Bounty. Indeed, some are adamant that there is no such thing as God’s Bounty or God (period). They believe that whatever material things they have are the sole result of their own work and the logical pay for the sweat of their brow and God just has nothing to do with that all.

God said: “And were it not that mankind would have become of one community (all disbelievers desiring worldly life only), We would have provided for those who disbelieve in the Most Gracious (Allah) (God), silver roofs for their houses, and elevators whereby they ascend, And for their houses, doors (of silver), and thrones (of silver) on which they could recline, And adornments of gold. Yet all this (i.e. the roofs, doors, stairs, elevators, thrones of their houses) would have been nothing but an enjoyment of this world. And the Hereafter with your Lord is (only) for the Muttaqun.” (az-Zukhruf: 33-35)

The material world is most often irresistible. Even good people living in pious environments are sometimes dazzled by the glamour of life in this world. This happened even to some of the Prophet Muhammad’s wives. “O Prophet (Muhammad)! Say to your wives: “If you desire the life of this world, and its glitter, then come! I will make a provision for you and set you free in a handsome manner (divorce). But if you desire Allah (God) and His Messenger, and the home of the Hereafter, then verily, Allah (God) has prepared for Al-Muhsinat (good-doers) amongst you an enormous reward.” (al-Ahzab: 28-29)

In that other life God has prepared for the lucky who will go there “what no eye has ever seen nor anyone has ever imagined”, as the Prophet said. “No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.” (as’Sajdah: 17) “Is there any reward for good other than good?” (ar-Rahman: 60)

But even there in that other life there is the elite. “And whoso obey Allah (God) and the Messenger (Muhammad), then they will be in the company of those on whom Allah (God) has bestowed His Grace, of the Prophets, the Siddiqun (those followers of the Prophets who were first and foremost to believe in them, like Abu Bakr As-Siddîq), the martyrs, the righteous. And how excellent these companions are!” (an-Nisa: 69)

Members of that elite need not write down their epic autobiographies to boast of their (real and fictitious) heroic deeds. They have an angel each to write that biography for them. And then there’s Illiyyun. “Nay! Verily, the Record (writing of the deeds) of Al-Abrar (the pious and righteous) is (preserved) in Illiyyun. And what will make you know what Illiyyun is? A Register inscribed, To which bear witness those nearest (to Allah (God), i.e. the angels).” (al-Mutaffifin: 18-21)


That is the best -nay the real- glory that should be hankered after. The list is still open and everyday new souls win a seat with the elite. Those are who have an example set already, a role model that can never be excelled: the Prophet Muhammad, to whom God said: “And Verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted (standard of) character.” (al-Qalam: 4)

Those people who are after the sublime glory know that the only way they could get it is by loving God and worshipping Him more than anyone else they know. “If you (really) love Allah (God) then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Koran and the Sunnah), Allah (God) will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah (God) is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.” (al-Imran: 31)


When you love somebody you keep saying his name and thinking of him all the time, and so do those who love God. “Those who remember Allah (God) (always, and in prayers) standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): “Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose, glory to You! (Exalted are You above all that they associate with You as partners). Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire.” (al-Imran. 191)

If those people do anything for other people they do it for love, not for money. “And they give food, in spite of their love for it (or for the love of Him), to the Miskin (the poor), the orphan, and the captive, (Saying): “We feed you seeking Allah’s Countenance only. We wish for no reward, nor thanks from you. Verily, We fear from our Lord a Day, hard and distressful, that will make the faces look horrible (from extreme dislike to it). So Allah (God) saved them from the evil of that Day, and gave them Nadrah (a light of beauty) and joy. And their recompense shall be Paradise, and silken garments, because they were patient. Reclining therein on raised thrones, they will see there neither the excessive heat of the sun, nor the excessive bitter cold, (as in Paradise there is no sun and no moon). And the shade thereof is close upon them, and the bunches of fruit thereof will hang low within their reach. And amongst them will be passed round vessels of silver and cups of crystal- Crystal-clear, made of silver. They will determine the measure thereof (according to their wishes). And they will be given to drink there of a cup (of wine) mixed with Zanjabil (ginger), A spring there, called Salsabil. And round about them will (serve) boys of everlasting youth. If you see them, you would think them scattered pearls. And when you look there (in Paradise), you will see a delight (that cannot be imagined), and a great dominion. Their garments will be of fine green silk, and gold embroidery. They will be adorned with bracelets of silver, and their Lord will give them a pure drink. (And it will be said to them): “Verily, this is a reward for you, and your endeavour has been accepted.” (al-Insan: 8-22)

What more could a sane human being aspire to? But not all people agree. Only the wise believe in that. Suffice it to say that they are wise. “He grants Hikmah to whom He pleases, and he, to whom Hikmah is granted, is indeed granted abundant good. But none remember (will receive admonition) except men of understanding.” (al-Baqarah: 269)

That’s the wisdom that made the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) say to his companion Bilal: “Do call for prayer so that we soothe ourselves (by praying)!”

Prayer is a daily meeting between God and His slave, between the willing believer and his Master. It’s a time when a lover can speak to his beloved direct.

Some go to Haj (the Holy places) to join millions of pilgrims from all over the world in a phenomenal choir, all chanting the same words to please the same God.

The door is not closed yet. Even those who, put off by their sophisticated knowledge, cannot yet take the first step may still hope that one day -why not?- God will worm His way into their heart to cleanse it and adorn it with impeccable faith, so that they can one day -why not?- stand before Him, there in the other life, and say: “Praises to You God and thanks to You God for saving me!”

“Shall We then (warn you not and) take away the Reminder (this Koran) from you, because you are a people Musrifun”? (az-Zukhruf: 5)

“Has there not been over man a period of time, when he was not a thing worth mentioning?” (al-Insan: 1) “Verily, We have created man from Nutfa (drops) of mixed semen (sexual discharge of man and woman), in order to try him: so We made him hearer and seer.” (al-Insa: 2) “Then let man look at his food: We pour forth water in abundance. And we split the earth in clefts. And We cause therein the grain to grow, And grapes and clover plants (i.e. green fodder for the cattle), And olives and date-palms, And gardens dense with many trees, And fruits and herbage (to be) a provision and benefit for you and your cattle.” (Abasa: 24-32) “Does not man see that We have created him from Nutfa. Yet behold he (stands forth) as an open opponent. And he puts forth for Us a parable, and forgets his own creation. He says: “Who will give life to these bones after they are rotten and have become dust? Say (O Muhammad): “He will give life to them Who created them for the first time! And He is the All-Knower of every creation!” (Ya-Sin: 77-79) “Does he promise you that when you have died and have become dust and bones, you shall come out alive (resurrected)? Far, very far is that which you are promised! There is nothing but our life of this world! We die and we live! And we are not going to be resurrected!” (al-Mu’minun: 35-37)


The Prophet Muhammad tells us that God divided His Mercy into one hundred parts and He placed one part of it (i.e. 1%) on earth and it’s with this one part that all people and all animals are merciful towards one another, and God kept the other ninety-nine parts of His Mercy for the Last Judgement.

Doesn’t this Most-Merciful, All-Merciful God deserve to be listened to and worshipped and loved?

God said: “Allah (God) wishes to lighten (the burden) for you; and man was created weak (cannot be patient to leave sexual intercourse with woman).” (an-Nisa: 28) “verily, your Lord is of Vast Forgiveness. He knows you well when He created you from the earth (Adam), and when you were foetuses in your mothers’ wombs. So ascribe not purity to yourselves.” (an-Najm: 32) “(…) keep your duty to Allah (God) and fear Him as much as you can.” (a-Taghabun: 16)


After all, “If you disbelieve, then verily, Allah (God) is not in need of you; He likes not disbelief for His slaves. And if you are grateful (by being believers), He is pleased therewith for you.” (az-Zumar: 7) “Whosoever disbelieves will suffer from his disbelief, and whosoever does righteous good deeds (by practising Islamic Monotheism), then such will prepare a good place (in Paradise) for themselves (and will be saved by Allah (God) from His Torment).” (ar-Rum: 44) “On the Day when every person will be confronted with all the good he has done, and all the evil he has done, he will wish that there were a great distance between him and his evil. And Allah (God) warns you against Himself (His punishment) and Allah (God) is full of kindness to (His) slaves.” (al-Imran: 30) “Whoever brings a good deed (Islamic Monotheism and deeds of obedience to Allah (God) and His Messenger) shall have ten times the like thereof to his credit, and whoever brings an evil deed (polytheism, disbelief, hypocrisy, and deeds of disobedience to Allah (God) and His Messenger shall have only the recompense of the like thereof, and they will not be wronged.” (al-An’am: 160)

That’s why when a companion was reading out of the Koran and got to the verse: “How (will it be) then, when We bring from each nation a witness and We bring you (O Muhammad) as a witness against these people?” (an-Nisa: 41), the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) burst into tears, and said to his companion: “Stop!
That’s enough!”


Monday, June 20, 2016

Entrevista

         Marruecos: Entrevista con Mohamed Ali Lagouader, Autor


Mohamed Ali Lagouader nació y creció en Mohammedia, Marruecos. De joven escribió poesía en árabe marroquí, después cambió al francés y más tarde al inglés, tras recibir su título en Lengua Inglesa, en la Facultad de Letras de Mohamedia (tiene también un diploma en Traducción, obtenido en la Escuela Avanzada de Traducción del Rey Fahd, en Tangier). Después de recibir varias negativas a sus artículos y cuentos, Mohammed decidió dedicarse a su primera novela, The Poet (El Poeta). Sin embargo, editoriales inglesas le dijeron que el mercado de literatura norafricana en inglés era muy reducido, y que si hubiera escrito su novela en inglés habría obtenido mejores respuestas.
En vez de darse por vencido, Mohammed decidió publicar sus historias en la red. Participó en foros, posteó su poesía y al final, recibió una gran cantidad de comentarios y apoyo por sus escritos. Todas sus historias se pueden leer en línea en su blog y sus notas de poesía en varios blogs, incluyendo Global Voices.
Jillian C. York: ¿Qué es lo que te gusta leer?
Mohammed Ali Langouader: Ahora mismo estoy leyendo por quinta vez la novela Watership Down del inglés Richard Adams y por tercera vez la novela Tawq al-Hamama (El collar de la paloma, que nos habla del amor y de los que aman, como podréis saber) del autor medieval andalusí Ibn Hazam. Puede que esto sorprenda a los lectores, pero no soy un gran lector. Nunca he tenido una biblioteca personal. Aunque lea cientos de miles de páginas, la mayoría de mis lecturas son (viejos) periódicos, revistas y librillos más que grandes libros. De hecho, pocas veces compro libros nuevos en librerías. Tengo amigos que tienen una cantidad loca de libros (que no leyeron), así que es a ellos a los que les cojo libros y publicaciones que luego leo en casa. Mi hermano pequeño también, un ávido lector, solía traer a casa libros para leer.
Pero, tengo que decir que cuando leo algo lo suelo acabar entero -a no ser que sea excesivamente aburrido. También leo la naturaleza y casi todo lo que puedo ver, como parte de este increíble “Libro Abierto” que es la creación de Dios. Y eso incluye, entre otros, los nombres de las calles y tiendas que me encuentro cuando estoy en el autobús, en el taxi etc. o cuando camino por un barrio desconocido.
En la época de estudiante tuve la suerte de leer libros de grandes autores (la mayoría occidentales). Pero si tuviera que elegir uno entre todos, sería The River Between del keniata Ngugi Wa Thiongo. También tuve la suerte de leer el Sagrado Corán, parte de la Haditha, Muqaddima de Ibn Khaldun, <Kalila Wa Dimna de Ibn al-Muqaffae y el libro que echo de menos todos los días, La historia de la fe desde el punto de vista científico, religioso y filosófico de un escritor libanés desconocido. El libro está en árabe y es uno de los mejores libros que he leído nunca (se lo dejé a alguien que nunca me lo ha devuelto).
JCY: ¿Quiénes son tus autores preferidos?
MAL: No tengo autores preferidos como tales. Sin embargo, me gustan Edgar Allan Poe y Ernest Heminway. A los veinte años me encantó Annabel Lee. Un año más tarde me encantó El viejo y el mar. Pero fue el escritor francés de ciencia-ficción Pierre Boulles con su obra El planeta de los simios quien marcó mi carrera como escritor. Antes de leer este libro (1984) escribía sobre todo poemas en árabe marroquí, pero a partir de ese día intenté escribir ficción. Debo mencionar también al escritor medieval marroquí Sidi Abderrahmman El Majdoub, el único escritor que ha tenido realmente algún impacto en mi manera de pensar. Su famoso “Diwan” (de tan sólo 30 ó 40 páginas) es uno de los dos libros que ha influído no sólo en mi manera de pensar sino también en mi personalidad. El otro libro es una biografía del guerrero musulmán Khalid ibn al-Walid. Me gusta mucho la poesía, y soy especialmente sensible hacia la poesía en árabe. Así que, en este aspecto pondría a Al-Mutanabbi y a Antarah ibn Shaddad como mis preferidos.
JCY: ¿Qué te insipira al escribir?
MAL: Depende. Por ejemplo, en el verano del 92 leí varios capítulos de un libro árabe llamado Al- Sira Al- Hilaliya. Al-Hilaliya son unos cuentos sobre héroes legendarios árabes. Lo que más me gustó fue cómo se mezclaban la prosa y el verso sin afectar al ritmo de la historia. De hecho, la poesía se combina con el argumento de igual manera que lo hacían los diálogos. Me gustó mucho este estilo, así que decidí emularlo. De este modo tuve la idea de escribir El Poeta, mi novela más larga.
Escuché una vez en la televisión que algunas gentes debían quedarse a un lado de un río en Sudán hasta que éste fuera transitable. Me impactó mucho esta historia, y lo convertí en el tema principal del argumento de mi historia El filósofo. Para El sastre
la idea vino de mi casa. Mi hermana es una bordadora (moderna) y siempre tiene revistas con fotografías de trajes tradicionales (la mayoría marroquíes), y a veces les suelo echar un vistazo. Pero esto eran sólo “ideas”. Quiero decir, siempre hay algo que afecta al subconsciente, pero cuando algo hace que escribas un poema o una historia simplemente salta a la luz lo que estaba escondido en tu subconsciente. En el caso de El filósofo y El sastre las ideas me vinieron cuando estaba andando en bici por las afueras de Mohammedia.
Otro de los ejemplos es mi pequeña pieza El ojo del diablo. Volviendo a casa de un paseo en el bosque vi a una mujer acariciando un caballo. De repente, me hice una pregunta: ¿Qué pasaría si esta mujer perdiera a su caballo? (es habitual ver caballos muertos en mi barrio). A mi cabeza no sólo vino la idea, sino que también la inspiración necesaria para escribirla: la escribí en menos de tres horas y la colgué en línea el mismo día.
En lo que respecta a la poesía, realmente no sé cómo vienen los poemas a mi cabeza (aunque podría, si lo quisiera, escribir un poema como ejercicio de escritura creativa y sin inspiración).
Sin embargo, debo decir que para el primer poema en mi conjunto de poemas en francés (me refiero a Là-Bas) me inspiré en un jóven poeta de Malí al que escuché hablar en la radio sobre su tierra natal, el centro espiritual de Malí de Tambouktou.
JCY: El hecho de postear tus poemas en linea, ¿ha afectado a tu escritura?
MAL: No, en absoluto. Postear mi poesía en línea me ha dado mucha suerte. Para empezar, más gente ha conocido mi trabajo. En segundo lugar, creo que había una gran necesidad de mis trabajos, sobre todo en los foros musulmanes. Pero, curiosamente, la mayoría del apoyo no me lo dan los musulmanes, como en este commentario: “¡Una manera de escribir excelente! Me has maravillado del principio al final. Me encantaría leer más obras tuyas. Tienes un idioma único que te separa de los demás. Creo que vas a llegar lejos. Que dios te bendiga.” Y este otro: “Creo que es una obra maravillosa. Tu manera de escribir me ha enganchado y la manera de pensar de Yetto es muy divertida. Nunca he leído algo así, ¡e incluso la alineación (a pesar de un error técnico) me ha encantado! ¡Gran trabajo!. ¡Sigue así!”.
JCY: ¿Quién es tu audiencia?
MAL: Bueno, como me gusta leer a autores de todo el mundo, apuesto por que lo que yo escribo lo lea también gente de diferentes partes del mundo y de culturas diferentes. Mi ficción puede que tenga un toque islámico, pero creo que, por el sentimiento que ya he descrito, le puede gustar a gente de todas partes independientemente de sus ceencias y nacionalidad.
JCY: ¿Qué es lo que esperas del futuro como escritor?
MAL: El sueño de cualquier escritor es ver publicada su obra en papel, y yo no soy tampoco una excepción. Mientras tanto, me alegra mucho ver que cada vez más gente lee mis historias en la red.

Interview

         Morocco: An Interview with Mohamed Ali Lagouader, Author


Mohamed Ali Lagouader was born and raised in Mohammédia, Morocco. In his youth, he wrote poetry in Moroccan Arabic, later switching to French, and then to English after receiving his B.A. in English from the Faculty of Letters of Mohammédia, Morocco (he also holds a diploma in translation from The King Fahd Advanced School of Translation in Tangier). After receiving several rejection letters for stories and articles, Mohamed decided to work on his first novel, The Poet. Mohamed was told by some British publishers, however, that the market for North African literature in English was too small and that, were he to have written his book in French, he would have received a more favorable response.
Instead of giving up, Mohamed decided to publish his stories online. He joined forums, posted poetry, and eventually, received a great number of comments and feedback on his writing. His stories can all be found online at his blog, and his poetic comments can be found on many blogs, including Global Voices.
Jillian C. York: What do you enjoy reading?
Mohamed Ali Lagouader: Right now I am reading British Novelist Richard Adams’s Watership Down, for the fifth time, and Medieval Andalusian Writer Ibn Hazam’s Tawq al-Hamama (The Ring of the Dove, which is about love and lovers –as you may know), for the third time.
It may shock many readers, but the truth is I’m no great reader myself. I have never had a bookcase or personal library in all my life. Although I read hundreds of thousands of pages, most of my readings were (old) newspapers, magazines and booklets –rather than thick books. In fact, very seldom did I purchase new books from bookstores. I had many friends who had a maddening quantity of books (that they didn’t read), so I was happy to borrow from them books and publications that I read at home. Also my younger brother, who is an avid reader, used to bring home something to read.
But I would say that when I do read something, I usually read it from cover to cover –unless it’s really boring. I also read the landscape and almost everything I can see––as part of this amazing “Open Book” of God’s Creation. And that includes, among other things, the names of streets and shops that I notice when I’m travelling by bus, by taxi, etc. or when walking through an unfamiliar neighbourhood.

As a student, I was lucky to read books by great (mostly Western) writers. But if I had to single out just one that I really liked so much, it would be The River Between by Kenyan Writer Ngugi wa Thiongo. I was also lucky to read the Holy Koran, part of the Hadith, Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddima”, Ibn al-Muqaffae’s Kalila Wa Dimna, and a book that I miss up to this day, which was written by a Lebanese unknown writer: “The Story of Faith as Perceived by Science, Religion and Philosophy”. The book was in Arabic, and that’s one of the best books I have ever read. (I lent it to someone who never returned it to me.)
JCY: Who are your favorite authors?
MAL: I have no favourite authors as such, to be honest. However, I liked Edgar Allan Poe and Ernest Hemingway, to mention just two. I was entranced when I read Annabel Lee at the age of 20. I loved reading The Old Man and the Sea, a year later. But it was French Science-Fiction Writer Pierre Boulle’s La Planète des Singes (Planet of the Apes) that marked a turning point in my writing career. Before reading this book (in 1984) I had written mostly poems in Moroccan Arabic, but from that day on I tried my luck with fiction writing. I should also mention Moroccan Medieval Poet Sidi Abderrahman El Majdoub, the only writer who has ever had a direct impact on my thinking. His famous “Diwan” (which is only 30 or 40 pages long) was one of two books that influenced not only my writing but also my personality. The other book was a biography of Muslim Warrior Khalid ibn al-Walid .
I am very sensitive to poetry, especially Arabic poetry. So in this respect I would rank Al-Mutanabbi and Antarah ibn Shaddad as my favourites.
JCY: What inspires your writing?
MAL: It depends. For example, in the Spring of 1992, I read chapters from a book in Arabic called “Al-Sira Al- Hilaliya”. “Al-Hilaliya” is a series of tales about legendary heroes from the Arabic history. What I liked most in the volume I read was the way prose alternated with verse without breaking the flow of the story. In fact, the poetry propelled the plot in just the same way dialogue did. And I liked this style so much that I decided to emulate it. Thus came to me the idea of writing “The Poet”, which is my longest novel.
I once heard in a TV story about Sudan that some populations there would have to stay patiently on one side of the river until it subsided and became passable. I was struck by this piece of information and thus the idea of crossing such a river became the central part of the plot of my story, “The Philosopher”. As to the idea behind “The Tailor”, it simply came from within home. One of my sisters is a (modern) embroiderer, and she always has magazines featuring traditional (mostly Moroccan) dresses, which I used to glance through. But these, you know, were just “ideas”. I mean, there’s always something fermenting in the “sub-conscience”, so when something suddenly triggers off a story or a poem, it only unveils what was hiding in the background (i.e. feelings, thoughts, etc.) The triggers often come in the form of first lines of a story or poem. In the case of “The Philosopher” and “The Tailor”, the triggers nagged me as I was biking on the outskirts of my hometown of Mohammedia.
Another example is my short piece “The Evil Eye”. As I was coming back home from a walk in the woods, I saw a woman grazing a cow. I then suddenly found myself asking a curious question: what if this woman lost this cow? (I am accustomed to seeing dead cows around my neighbourhood). Thus came to me not only the idea of the story but also the trigger: I wrote the whole story in less than three hours and posted it on the Web on the same day.
As to poetry, I really just don’t know how poems come to me––although I could –if I wished– write a poem as a creative writing exercise without any sort of inspiration.
However, I can say that the first poem in the series of my French poems (I mean, Là-bas)was inspired by a young Malian poet I heard speak on RFI about his hometown, the Malian spiritual center of Tambouktou.
JCY: How has posting your stories online affected your writing?
MAL: Oh, online posting has been an absolute Godsend for me. First, I have found a growing audience. Secondly, I’ve got the feeling that there was sort of a need for my fiction, especially among Muslim forum users. But, interestingly enough, most of the feedback I got on my stories came from non-Muslims, such as this comment: “Excellent language! I marveled from the beginning to the end. I would love to read other works by you. You have such a unique language and style that is well distinguished from others. I can see you getting far with your works. God bless you.” And this one, “I thought this was a marvelous piece. Your writing style kept me engaged and the logical reasoning of Yetto was very amusing. It was unlike anything I've really read before and even the alignment (though a technical error) interested me! Great piece of work! Keep writing!”
JCY: Who is your audience?
MAL: Well, as I enjoyed works by writers from different parts of the world, I bet my readers too will be from different backgrounds and cultures. My fiction may have an Islamic tinge and flavour, but –judging by the feedback I referred to earlier– I’m confident it will appeal to readers irrespective of their faith or nationality.
JCY: What do you hope to achieve, as a writer, in the future?
MAL: Getting one’s work into print is every writer’s dream and I’m no exception. Meanwhile, I am delighted that more and more people are viewing my stories on the Web and enjoying them.

THE EVIL EYE (Fiction)

The child was playing with other children in an open ground. He was the most handsome of them all and the worst-dressed. Some children teased him about his old jellaba that he wore everyday while today was a day of eed. An elder cousin of his rebuked the teasers, saying they were jealous of him because he was more good-looking than them. A young man stood at the edge of the open ground and waved to the handsome child, who went to him hesitantly.
     “Hassan ould Muhammad, is it you?” said the young man.
     “Yes, it’s me,” replied the child.
     “Where’s your father?”
     “He’s in the cemetery.”
     “What’s he doing in the cemetery?”
     “He’s sleeping there.”
     “Sleeping? How long has he been sleeping there?”
     “I don’t know.”
     “How so?”
     “My father is dead.”
     “I see.” And after a moment, the young man said, “Do you go to market?”
     “Yes, sometimes, why?”
     “Where do you have tea when you go to market?”
     “At El Hashmi’s.”
     “Right. Now goodbye!”
     Hassan stared as the young man turned and moved away.

     The next Tuesday Hassan was sitting with his uncle at El Hashmi’s tea-shop when the young man appeared at the door and greeted everybody.
     “Can I have Hassan for a while?” said the young man to Hassan’s uncle.
     “What for?”
     “I just want to buy him something.”
     “Right. But don’t go too far.”
     The young man took Hassan to a nearby shop and bought him a nice jellaba and leather slippers. Hassan thanked him with a smile, and said:
     “Why are you doing this for me?”
     “I am now a teacher, but as a student I used to read books by your late father.”
     “Did you know him personally?”
     “No, but I knew him through his books and through other people.”
     “Where are we going now?”
     “Not far. Not far.”
     They stood in front of a female calf in the animal market. The young man smiled at Hassan, and said:
     “How do you find this?”
     “It’s beautiful,” said Hassan with a big smile.
     “It’ll be yours in a moment?”
     “Mine?”
     As soon as the young man paid for the calf, Hassan ran to El Hashmi’s, and cried:
     “Uncle! Uncle! Look! This gentleman has bought me a calf! It’s beautiful! Look!”
     Not only Hassan’s uncle, but everyone in the shop looked at the calf.
     “Why all this?” said Hassan’s uncle suspiciously to the young man, who promptly replied:
     “Hassan’s father was good to me. I’m doing this for his son in return. May I now take Hassan and the calf home?”
     “Right.”
     On leaving the market, the young man said a few prayers. Hassan listened, then said:
     “I heard you say “the Evil Eye”. What’s the Evil Eye?”
     “When people like something that others have and are jealous of them because of that, they look at that thing in a bad way, and their look will often bring some kind of disaster either to the thing itself or to the one who owns it. Also a rich man or a beautiful woman, for example, can attract the Evil Eye.”
     “People say my father was very handsome, so was it the Evil Eye that killed him?”
     “I don’t know. All I know is that the Evil Eye is very bad indeed.”
     “How can I avoid it?”
     “I don’t know how one can avoid it when he has things other people don’t have.”
     “So what should I do?”
     “Well, do something good in your lifetime. Do it as soon as you can!”
     “Something such as what?”
     “Write books, as your father did.”
     “But I can’t.”
     “You can’t now, but you can later.”  
     “What if I couldn’t do it even when I grew up?”
     “You’d then do something better if you tried. But now forget all about this. Think of your calf. Take care of it. And avoid children who are jealous of you.”
 
     Hassan’s calf soon became the talk of the hamlet. His uncles came to him one by one and asked him to sell them the calf. “No, no, no!” was Hassan’s reply to all his uncles and all the others who came to him in the hope of buying the beautiful calf. Very soon indeed, the calf was Hassan’s only friend. He gave her a name: Batool.
     But where would Batool find food to eat and water to drink and a place to sleep in a hamlet where all the males and many females wanted Batool for themselves?
     The most urgent thing was a bed for Batool, and for this Hassan had to beg. He went to the local imam and asked for his help. “Go to Yamna,” said the imam reluctantly. “She’s just lost a child, you know. Maybe she could take pity on you. But why don’t you just sell the animal and save yourself all this trouble?” Hassan didn’t wait a second. He flew to Yamna and shed tears in front of her, “You see, Aunt Yamna, I am an orphan, you know, and everybody wants to rob me of my calf. No one wants to leave me alone. I just want a tiny space for my calf to sleep. I don’t want anything else!” “You’ll have it, my son,” said Yamna thoughtfully. “But you’d still need to bring it food and water. How would you do that?” “I’ll do everything for Batool!” Hassan cried.

     Yes, for Batool, Hassan did everything he possible could. He washed her in the river every morning, although the river was miles away. He helped his uncles and others in the fields in return for bush for Batool. He went to mosque to pray and on his return he would take two buckets of water from the mosque-well to Batool, who waited for him on a tiny plot of ground in Yamna’s lands. When he had nothing to do, he would push himself on a tree swing while Batool watched tenderly. Sometimes, he took her to other parts of the hamlet just to show her beautiful flowers or to let her listen to music as hamlet boys played the utar in a nearby orchard. 

     But then came hard times. The river dried up. His uncles and the others could hardly find any bush for their own animals. Even the water in the mosque-well went deeper and deeper into the ground. There were still a few flowers here and there, but no one had the heart to see them, no one was in the mood for music anymore. The crops were dying away, the animals perishing everyday. And so Hassan looked tearfully at his agonizing Batool, who had just turned three years old. He shared with her the little food he got for his breakfast, he brought her bunches of flowers nobody wanted to see, he brought her bowls of water from the mosque-well, but all to no avail. Batool died, and he cried.