Alchemical engineering

If you were to find clarity within, you wouldn’t need to convince others of what you intended or meant…


Comfort is the search of asylum from the inner battlefield between the true reality and a false perception. It’s an illusion and like all illusion, it’s a mental prison.

Clarity is the result of divine amnesty given to those who braved the tension of confusion in search of the truth.

The truth and love can’t be co-opted within the confines of comfort. It’s not something you can acquire, rather it’s something you transform into and a reality you gain admission to. The path there is crooked and rife with distortions and road blocks that exists within us all as a result of false perceptions, dishonesty, fear, hatred, unprocessed suffering, etc. You can’t bypass the blocks because the path lies within those blocks. By dissolving and integrating those patches of shadows, you unfold into dimensions of light that were inaccessible to you.

You don’t need anyone or anything else to find clarity just like the dawn doesn’t wait for the night to disappear to make its entrance. Its entrance is what disperses the night.

My tired feet, my restless mind 

​Islaam is not a punching bag for your cognitive dissonance nor is it burial grounds for your existential woes. 
If you don’t want to be a Muslim, fine. But don’t play a mindgame where you’re trying to ‘expose’ Islaam’s fallacies and thus get a clean exit. Don’t flatter yourself, thinking that Islaam will fall like a house of cards should you exit. 
A man is allowed to marry 4 wives 

The prophet married Caaisha young He also split the moon and travelled to Jerusalem on a winged beast 

Under a legitimate caliphate, there’s jizyah ( taxes for non-muslims) and xadd ( pl. Xuduud, fixed punishments for specific crimes)

Xijaab is waajib (obligatory) and it’s literal, not metaphysical 
Don’t try to warp Islaam to quell your cognitive dissonance, or to appease critics. Accept it unconditionally, or walk out. 

That doesn’t mean that you *have* to do every thing. There’s leniency for individual struggles as long as you don’t warp the truth itself to fit you.

Many practicing Muslims have similar doubts like the ambiguous Muslims – but they choose to bury their doubts instead. They are so consumed by the fear of those doubts taking over them that they become extreme and judgemental. 

In a way, they are afraid that their doubts will ‘prove’ that Islaam is false, that Allaah doesn’t exist. Which is a problematic premise to build your faith on – avoiding doubts. If you believe that Allaah is the truth, you should have faith that flimsy doubts can’t dispel the truth. And if your doubts do dispel what you held as the truth, then it can’t be the truth. 

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.

— Francis Bacon (The Advancement Of Learning)
The truth remains. It’s indestructible. Seek the truth, wherever it is. Feel the doubts and believe anyway. 
I remember I went through crazy periods of doubts and agnosticism ( in my early teens). In a contradictory and self-protective move, I adopted a very strict interpretation of Islaam, to check out of this existential crisis loop by leaving no room for uncertainties. But that didn’t stop my inquisitiveness. It just went haywire in protest of my suppression. Once I realized that my curiosity was an integral part of me that I couldn’t switch off, I decided to settle this feud once and for all – to the bewilderment and discouragement of many who thought that acknowledging doubts was akin to opening a Pandora’s box. But I knew that I had tried to hold my breath for years and my soul was calling me to this. 
In simple terms : I put my faith on the line. I had to find out for sure if Islaam was compatible with the truth. And to say that it was scary is an understatement. But I asked Allaah for guidance towards the truth by removing inner barriers that could cloud my judgement. Sounds paradoxical, but I figured that there WAS a God right? So, why not ask Him for clarification? And if there wasn’t, at least my ducaa would be a way to accept whatever truth I came to find. 
I wasn’t trying to run away from anything, I wasn’t trying to find a way to slink out of Islaam without all the guilt – I was honestly and genuinely seeking the truth, like Salmaan al-Faarisi did by going from priest to priest seeking the ultimate truth. That was me, in a nutshell. 
I read a quote somewhere that has kept me steady during many a trials ; “The faith that *can’t* be shaken is the faith that *has*  been shaken”
And think about it; how are you ever going to evolve if you’re going through life scared? If you’re protecting what you deem as safety?
Whilst my friends were cramming for Naxwa and Balaagha exams, I was in a corner highlighting in my dog-eared copy of Tafseer imaam as-Sacdi (  تيسير الكريم الرحمن) or al-Fawaaid and Madaarij as-saalikeen by Ibn al-Qayyim or al-cubudiyyah by Ibn Taymiyyah (I’m not just name-dropping to sound cool, these were and still are very important and dear books in my journey) and making notes. I’d start with a hypothesis or a question that I’d get from an aayah I’ve read, then I’d read the tafseer of Imaam as-Sacdi – my favourite – and if it wasn’t sufficient, I’d read that of at-Tabari, Qurtubi, Ibn Katheer. If THAT wasn’t sufficient, I’d go to the circles of the scholars and jot down my question on a note – with the help of my Egyptian Qur’aan teacher who often attended the same classes. Or I’d ask her to pass the question to the sheikh if I couldn’t make the class. 


I’d use philosophy and psychology to try to supplement my understanding. I used secular and Islaamic knowledge in equal measure.I went at it from every angle possible. 
And in the end, I got the yaqeen I was seeking. At least in the fundamentals. My heart rests in that truth and it can withstand the occasional gust of doubts that may come along. The difference now is that a doubt won’t threaten me or my identity. And that allows me to be tolerant and easy with the way I approach Islaam. And I still have a long way to go, but at least I’m sure of the road I’m taking. Istiqaamah ( steadfastness) rests solely on the degree of yaqeen ( certainty) in one’s heart. And ironically, yaqeen is a belief in the face of doubt and uncertainties. Many try to get pseudo yaqeen by doing everything perfectly on the outside, but not knowing that true change starts within.
Doubts and things you avoid are obstacles in your self-discovery  journey. You can’t let go of what you fear to face. So you’re forever shackled at the ankles with it. 
Whatever choice you’re going to make for your life, make sure it’s *your* choice and not a reaction to fear or doubts. 
 

I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties through my love for truth – and truth rewarded me.

— Simone de Beauvoir

The Infallible Mother

Few escape the feeling that mothers are to be honored, or the awareness that mothers are too often taken for granted, their sacrifices unappreciated. Yet many of us are secretly (or not so secretly) unsatisfied with what we got from our mothers, resentful that—whether their fault or not—they failed to provide important aspects of what we needed. And we’re paying the price.

These are sensitive issues—sensitive for mothers and sensitive for all of us.

Some, in a need to make mothers off-limits from criticism, become critical of those who are unsatisfied, blaming us for blaming our mothers, as if we are unfairly passing off the responsibility for our suffering. While I don’t deny that some may use blame as a distraction and fail to take responsibility for the arduous task of healing, what I see more often as a therapist is the enormous guilt and resistance people have to work through to stop protecting their mothers. It is as if, even within the privacy of our own minds, we are afraid to criticize her. We are protecting the image of mother inside, protecting our fragile relationship with her by denying anything that might unsettle it, and protecting ourselves from the disappointment, anger, and pain that we’ve kept out of consciousness. As I will explain in the chapters that follow, many don’t dare to uncover the painful truth of what was missing in their mothers because they are unprepared to deal with what this would mean.

Any relationship as complex as that between mother and child is going to include both love and hate. Most young children feel moments of hatred when their needs or wishes are frustrated, although many children wouldn’t dare express this, their bond with Mommy far too fragile. And virtually all children feel love for Mother, even when that love is buried or walled off. As Robert Karen eloquently reported in his compilation of research on attachment:

” […] children, love their parents. It’s built into the nature of being a child. They may be hurt, disappointed, caught in destructive modes of being that ward off any possibility of getting the love they yearn for, but to be attached, even anxiously attached, is to be in love. Each year the love may become a little more difficult to access; each year the child may disavow his wish for connection more firmly; he may even swear off his parents and deny that he has any love for them at all; but the love is there, as is the longing to actively express it and to have it returned, hidden like a burning sun.

Excerpt From: “The Emotionally Absent Mother: A Guide to Self-Healing and Getting the Love You Missed” by Jasmin Lee Cori.

The curious case of cognitive dissonance

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin”

[an-Nisa’ 4:135].

I cannot stand bigotry thinly veiled as activism. When I see someone who is otherwise vocal on matters close at heart, clam up in regards issues that clash with personal interests due to cognitive dissonance,that person loses the last shred of credibility they had and I can’t help but feel disdain.

I’m not saying that everyone should be the devil’s advocate and always be anal retentive in their opinions. I understand that it’s not easy and everyone has a right to their opinion, even if it isn’t the honest to god truth.

The people I’m talking about are those who purport to be champions of the truth and are very vocal about ‘the truth’ unless it comes to matters of personal interests. If you can’t hold up yourself to the truth at all times and tolerate the cognitive dissonance that arises in you when you have the truth on one hand and your interests on the other, SIT DOWN! Don’t fool yourself or others by thinking that you are fighting injustice. Fight the injustice in yourself first!

I was in Kenya when the al-shabaab first entered the scene in Somalia, right after the Islamic Courts. What people don’t know is that the reason for the exponential growth of al-shabaab in the years 2006/7-2009/10 is that they were initially endorsed by two well-known and respected Somali scholars;

Umal and Shibile.

PawelKuczynski

 

Now you’re probably thinking, hey hold on a minute, those are our esteemed scholars, don’t say anything bad about them. Well, that’s the kind of unwavering loyalty that duped many people.

You see, it’s not a secret that Umal was an avid supporter of the shabaab and because of his star power, many Somalis fell for this and the shabaab managed to gain stability amongst the Somali community before the tide turned.

This isn’t some kutiri kuteen, I actually witnessed and investigated this. I heard Umal making takfir on Cabdullaahi Yusuf, saying he’s an apostate and deserves to be killed.

But right around the time the shabab showed their true lunatic colours and started the suicide bombings, popular opinion turned. People lost their father, their aunt, their uncle, their husband, their child to these savages, and they realized that this wasn’t what it seemed like in the beginning.

Because of the public furore, Umal and Shibile quickly switched gears and started condemning these attacks, but they never for once admitted the key roles they played or recanted from the years of public support that opened the gates for the shabaab.

My friend’s dad who is a graduate of Madinah University, personally confronted Umal and told him to speak out on certain issues that went on at the time. His response was baffling. Said he ‘ Oh, I can’t. They won’t listen to me. You take the mic, you tell them.’ Now, mind you he was the imaam of Abu Bakr Masjid in Eastleigh, which was one of the biggest masajid at the time and the most established. I lost all respect for him. He refused to recant and admit his mistakes because he feared he’d lose credibility and be criticized. That’s not standing for justice, that’s standing for personal interests.

Right around that time, 2008/9, another key figure arose; Xassaan. I personally knew him the year before his rise to notoriety, and no one knew who this guy was. All of a sudden he was touted to some scholar, and he started giving out lectures and hold lessons. Xassaan and Umal are actually closely related, so it came as a surprise when they had a public fallout. Umal and Shibile had allegedly gone to Ethiopia to sign some agreement with the Sharif administration, and Xassaan wrote a public letter slamming these two for betraying their beliefs.

Soon after, Xassaan rose to the self-appointed position of being the al-Shabaab spokesperson and he managed to sway countless of young men in Kenya to join the Shabaab. He’s the most hardcore psychopath I’ve ever seen, but one thing I had to give him credit for is that no matter how the public went against him and he became unpopular, he never compromised his convictions and did not hide like Umal or Shibile did.

For this I respected him. I respected his unapologetic psychopathy. Better the devil you know.

The Somali people gave their unwavering loyalty to these religious men, thinking that they would uphold the truth at all times, and instead they were duped .

I personally know of a certain sheikh who urged his wife to register as a single parent so as to get benefits, and his reasoning was ‘ how am I to make da’wah if I spend my time working for the family?’. Now, I won’t mention his name because this is something he did in private, and it’s between him and Allaah, but I mention this to encourage critical thinking. Many a times people are turned away from Islam because they think that it’s monopolized by the likes of these men, and that the only legitimate deen is that which is endorsed by these public figures.

If you’re going to stand for the truth, be prepared to go down a lonely path.

 

Follow the path of guidance, and do not worry about how few are the people who follow it. Beware of the paths of misguidance, and do not be deceived by the large numbers of those who are doomed.

Al-Fudayl ibn Iyaadh

 

There are no shadows in space

 ***

I’ve always had a blaring intuition that would not take to suppression easily. As a child, my connection to this inner compass was severed and it left me a hapless wanderer, looking for something,someone to tether my soul-less self to. But even my own shadow would leave me when darkness approached. So whatever or whomever I’d attach myself to would be transitory, like the pleasantness of a summer’s afternoon. I knew it was fleeting which made it all the more tortuous. I was in constant pain; before finding the next object of addiction,whilst I had it, and after it inevitably dissipated. It was like grasping at the clouds, or trying to trap water in the palm of my hands. It was not mine, and not mine to control. What was meant to be a pleasure, turned out to be a source of anguish.

I had all sense of certainty eroded by well-meaning adults telling me what to think and how to live. I spent my first decade being taught why my feelings and urges were wrong and destructive. And once I entered my adolescence, a time when I was supposed to find my own in this world, I was plunged into even deeper confusion. Self-doubt had taken root and all kinds of torments ensued. If I couldn’t trust myself, what was life? I lived life in a state of constant hypervigilance and fear of the slightest change to my house of cards. I was so frail that I was certain I was a blow away from annihilation.

I was truly lost because I was stuck. I could not step out of my comfort zone and I was effectively imprisoned by my fears.

Now, after so many years of searching for the source of the bellow of pain that’d rip me apart every time I tried to defy it, I finally found the severed connection to myself.

I found that self-doubt invited fears,obsessions,addictions,compulsions,depression – gremlins who festered on my abandoned soul; like squatters who claimed a squalid and dilapidated house as their own. A house that once was wondrous in its grandeur, had now been neglected into oblivion, erasing the past.

And I found that I can’t eradicate the self-doubt, because it’s not a state, it’s the lack thereof. Like darkness, it occurred in the absence of something. Which is when I found the source of the agonizing howl; my intuition.

My inner voice that had been buried under the rubbles of my eroded self-certainty.

It’s a bit frightening trusting this voice, because I can still hear the gremlins from afar. But now, every time I hear them I know it’s self-doubt and not an impending catastrophe and that for the first time in my life I can relax even in the face of a mighty storm.

And because I have found an enduring tether that would never fail me, I can finally enjoy life in all its transitory splendour.

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