A Reflection

diary

by

Tasneem Asif

(About the author: Xeemarmar is proud to feature a guest writer. We were moved by this piece as it is a candid reflection written by a mother of teenagers. Tasneem Asif has decided to go back to college to study child psychology after being a full-time home maker for nearly two decades. Her thoughts reveal how important it is for women to have their own identity and skill which sets them apart; for them to have a passion which makes life worth living; for them to be more than mothers and wives so that they can be better mothers and wives. Here is a woman’s call to resculpt her own life.)

 

In life we get so busy trying to reach specific milestones and impress other people that we lose sight of what we really enjoy doing. At this point in time we should step back to re-examine ourselves and make a switch while there is still time.

Here the question we need to ask ourselves is, “What is our potential?” “Am I reaching my potential?” “Who am I?”

Knowing yourself is very important. ‘Self’ here refers to our own unique, individually special qualities; our own voice. We discover ourselves when we discover our passions, strengths, values, desires and also our short comings. When we realize our potential we are able to realize and achieve the purpose of our life.

“Who am I?” is a ‘self-inquiry. We ask this question to seek a deeper sense of self. To become intimately aware of our thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears.

When I was told to write down my qualities or strengths and our areas of weakness –it was actually a struggle. It involved a meaningful reflection and soliciting the views of people who will tell us the brutal truth. But this gathering of feedback needs to be an ongoing process because as we progress in life we will face new challenges and demands. We need to repeat this exercise and brush up ourselves.

This type of initiative takes time, humility and a willingness to confront weaknesses, fears and blind spots that many of us would rather ignore.

And once we have a grip on our strengths and weaknesses we can set goals in our lives. When we love what we do, it gives us confidence and strength to weather personal setbacks and overcome adversity.

Knowing oneself does change life.

 

The Handicap

The limb was rotting
The pus would ooze
Yet she nursed the wound with meticulous care.

She dreaded the infection
It gave her sleepless nights
To even consider that it may spread so much
That one day it might have to be severed.

So to avoid being called a cripple,
a handicap and a dependant,
She nursed her infected limb,
Day and night
She bathed it with medicine, prayers and tears.
She bit her lip to bear the pain
She smiled when the anguish tore through her
So no one would know
How much it hurt.

Until one day after years of care and fear
Where the pain was too much to bear
When the tears could not vent the anguish…

She took an axe and bathed it in disinfectant,
Her hands trembled, her heart pounded,
Yet, she raised the tool,
And chopped her limb away.

She let out a cry
She whimpered and wailed
And waited
For the pain to pass.

It passed. It came.
It ebbed and flowed.
Until the stump became numb.

People came to her and said,
“You could have done this,” or “You should have applied that ”
“You should have taken a second opinion.”
She listened and wondered where these opinions had been
When her limb had groaned and moaned, festered and rot

Now,
They look at her in disbelief
They shake their heads
“Who chops off a hand? ” she can hear them say.

For her the constant pain, the constant fear, the incessant throbbing has passed.
She looks at her stump and feels nothing.

Amate Syedna TUS

Maryam

The Imam who Lived

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Lament the Imam who lived,

The Imam who saw his father slaughtered and brothers slain.

The Imam who burned in fever while the camps around him burned in flames.

The Imam who wore the crown and the burden of an ill-fated harem.

The Imam who trudged ahead,  one bloody step at a time on the scorching sand.

The chains clanked as the fettered ankles bled, towards a home where no one remained.

Weep the Imam who lay helpless but slept naught.

Who heard the children weep

Who heard the women wail

Yet it was drowned out with memories of his father’s pain.

He fights a war each day,

He lives with memories of an unforgettable yesterday,

For his battle is

That he is the Imam who was to live.

Amate Syedna TUS

Maryam

Let us all be Robins!

“My name’s Seeta”, she smiled with hopeful eyes while she took my hand and shook it with her chapped dry hands, as if they were to wither if I held them more firmly. She had half bitten nails that seemed unwashed for days. A 7 year old Seeta carried a baby of whom when I asked the name she replied proudly, “Kulsoom”.
The ramshackled place was filled to its brim with unclothed, sun burnt, dirty, hungry and helpless children of which Seeta was one, dressed in tattered clothes whose colour were unidentifiable for the variety of shades it had and the number of weathers it had borne. While she held my hand, the baby Kulsoom smiled at me and tried to reach for my arms but I couldn’t make myself hold that poor dirty unclothed child…
I felt ashamed of myself. It was a moment of deep reflection for me for I couldn’t hold a child who wasn’t clean enough for me, who wasn’t clothed like my own, all the while knowing well that there was no difference between Kulsoom and Ali Asghar, both were born the same way and will not die a different death. The only difference being that Kulsoom was underprivileged and Ali Asghar was blessed with the privileges of the world. She deserved to be consoled more, she deserved to be held by strong hands but alas my hands which apparently seemed to be too clean and my dress devoid of dirt, I was unable to carry little Kulsoom in my arms. I felt embarrassed as if someone had exposed to me my reality, the selfish person I could be and especially the short sightedness in me ! All I could make myself do was clap and cheer them without getting comfortable with any of them who were actually the same of my kind…
Around us were thatched houses which held in them amenities so meagre, that it could hardly ensure the people in the area a single time’s meal. The stench around of human waste and filth could hardly be ignored. Those who witnessed the area for the first time, seemed out of place, confused and spell bound for what they saw seemed beyond their comprehension. Nevertheless we stood and carried out our assigned tasks while stealing furtive glances at various faces carrying the signs of the cruelties, life had burdened them with in their very tender ages.
Like herd of cattle the children were managed with sticks by their caretakers to remain seated on the scorching hot earth and wait for their turn to receive basic amenities which included a pack of juice, a samosa, a banana, a cup cake and a pack of crisps. Those things that all of us and our kids take so much for granted were cherished like prized possessions by these poverty-stricken children.
‘Eye-opening’ is what in a single word the experience was! The brilliance with which the Robinhood Army manages the entire affair is extraordinary. With every stepped planned of interaction, assembling and distribution of food, the Robins as their name suggests, selflessly and tirelessly work for ensuring that these amenities reach the most fairly and lovingly. Smiling faces and patient gestures, the Robins display values of humanity, and definitely set standards for all those who wish to serve humanity.

Kudos to the Robinhood Army!

Inspired,
Xeynab

16th of Safar ul Muzaffar, 1440

& I close my eyes…

Find my best place to be,
For that is where; I see you mostly
When the day seems dark and the nights feel lone,
When toil comes my way and the pain unknown
When obstacles and trouble cross my path,
When humanity becomes scarce and the count so large,
When jealousy rules and competition seems tough,
When I seclude myself and disconnect from the rough
When I look for my kind and dont find them much,
When life seems unfair… yet fair all the same
When books and pens doesn’t seem to work,
When the noise becomes unbearable and loud too much
When happiness I witness, and peace is enough
When success seems sweet and motivation sound,
When smiles of little children bring me great joy
The souls so clean when surround me from the sky
Heavens and beyond no joy have I ever found,
My heart is where all your love is found…
And so I close my eyes,
Find the best place to be,
For that is where; I see you mostly…

Amate Syedna TUS,

Xeynab

Educating for tomorrow

21st Century world order makes it imperative for the survival of each country to ensure access of quality education to everyone, everywhere. The quality of education is a subjective term and to much extent has become a limited term which is measured mostly in the suffocating confines of grades and assessments.

 

The progressive today are not the ones amassing grades and laying them all down on a mat for accurately counting the number of As, Bs and God forbid Cs. Progressive today are the ones who are acquiring the skill set for the world of tomorrow which relies heavily on teamwork, leadership, change management, compassion and empathy for others. Where collaboration is the key and competition is obsolete, the educationists of today need to unlearn, relearn and adapt to the needs of survival for tomorrow which has almost reached today.

 

Educationists need to realize that we no longer need to create standardized models which think alike and work alike. Where EQ has taken precedence and IQ lags behind, the ones who can work together are needed more than those who are even excellent independent workers. Assembly lines which anyways robotics could take care of, we need more people who are ‘humane’ who possess their unique characteristics and are creative enough to visualize a black light… something which ‘Siri’ would not only be not able to register but also reply to the question as, “Are you okay today?”

 

Today we need learners with high moral values, peacemakers, critical thinkers, problem solvers, and communication experts. We need those who reach beyond the lid of their box and create the unimaginable.  We no longer can measure education from the standard of a 3 hr assessment programme which compartmentalizes humans in groups and then adds labels which are not only biased but no longer hold any precedence in their futures.

 

The world that needs grit, perseverance, sustenance and change management cannot rely on examinations which are devoid of measuring any of the above skill set and hence we mostly observe that those whose grades are high, usually are not players of a team and tend to remain isolated from the society. These high achievers wearing neck breaking bands of medals and carrying a handful of trophies many times lag behind the mediocre students in their practical lives. They are the ones who are obedient of the society who have been programmed in the best possible way things to do the way they ‘should’ and not dare to ‘think’ of the variety of ways it ‘could’ be done. We have created and are brutally continuing to create robots that will not anyways stand a chance against the machines of the future. We need people who can do what these machines can’t. We need leaders who can manage these machines and bring them to their service while making the best of use for the mankind. Analytical skills, inference, decision making and dynamism are the elements crucial for the students of today to excel in.

 

Schools when chained to the mere idiosyncrasies of a principal, and not to policies and system in place, are bound to collapse. In Pakistan most schools need to unlearn, relearn and implement the change required in imparting education. Drilling a fish to climb a tree can ruin the true potential of the fish which is to swim all the while harming its confidence and killing its innate self and skill. Teachers of today need to identify the unique abilities of the children and develop them until they are capable enough to recognize and channelize themselves their energies towards their true potential.

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We need to have more reflective practices which focus on teachers’ role in developing the future that lies just before us. Inability of the next generation to survive the times of tomorrow will lead to psychologically damaged youth with ailments such as depression, which is already rising at an alarming rate. It’s high time we involve meditation and counselling programmes in our systems. We indulge in dialogue and resolution of issues rather than tagging, name calling and detention.

 

Teachers and parents need to stop self victimizing themselves causing the child to remain  confused forever. They need to take up the responsibility to create compassionate adults, involve and encourage questioning and curiosity as the great Socrates preached and practised. We need to think about praise as to give rewards and penalty as taking them away. It’s not important to punish by derogatory remarks which may not help in making the child any better and in fact many end up getting things worse.

 

Feedback is essential for a student’s development as mostly we see the teachers brutally marking the scripts, judging them with grades, however depriving the students of individual feedback. Feedback helps give direction, not only of why they attained less grades but how and what they need to do to climb further the stairs that lead to better preparation of acquisition of knowledge and success. Information, Evaluation and Guidance (IEG) are the key steps of effective feedback without which to expect improvement in a child’s performance is ineffective.

 

Collaboration and connection are the pre requisites of success, and perfection that never existed, to date remains vague and pointless.

 

Health, Safety, Security, Engagement and Challenge are the 5 essentials of an acceptable school. We as Pakistanis need to see in these realms how well we stand and in which direction we are moving. Are we really engaging the children and challenging them enough to explore, inquire and adapt? First we need to connect with them and convey the requirements of the novel age to convince them to work towards a sustainable future for them tomorrow.

 

Not only teachers but parents play the pivotal role in upbringing of the children hence it’s the added responsibility of the learned to impart the ability to think learn and communicate the same to the generation next. Without educating the parents of the new world order, our efforts may confuse the child rendering them futile and fruitless. For it is said all geniuses have one thing in common, and that is “an educated mother”.

 

Accepting,

Xeynab

& Karachi continues to bleed…

Two decades back holidays to me and my sister was a simple two months visit to Karachi, enjoying the vitality of the city of lights, the open windows of the apartment that let in the cool fresh breeze of the city, the blue waves crashing the shores and the vicinity crowded with laughter and children enjoying the camel rides with baked corncobs in their hands.

Fast forward to today, the metropolitan city, the commercial hub, the financial capital of Pakistan and above all The Quaid’s city seems to be turned into a public trash can where everyone seems to be using the city to fulfil their own purposelive a selfish life, live anddrive in air conditioned spaces as those who can afford simply can’t take the pollution of the city and yet can do nothing about it at the same time! It has become a platform for survival for all, a place where the rich are getting richer, fine dining is escalating and so are the people who sleep hungry on the pathways every night.The so called elites sleep in their silk satins uncaring about what happens beyond their golden gates while all the riches amassed are either spent in vacations in the west or on imported brands and 5 star luncheons.

Karachi today has become a sorry sight, where before coming out on the roads you need an anti depressant to deal with the soaring traffic and obviously the road rage through which I have developed a vast vocabulary of words which even the shallowest of men don’t deserve to use. If you want to penalize a person for his wrongdoings on earth, teach them driving, tell them to abide by the rules of traffic and then tell them to go and drive on the roads of Karachi. The overflowing population of cars and ofcourse who can forget the snake like moves of the motorbikes, the melody of rickshaws and the huge buses whose drivers deem themselves petite enough to fit in every service lane and every nook and corner of the city and that also with a superman like entity hanging at its door to make sure the passenger jumps off or gets in wherever and whenever it deems fit and make an abrupt halt, can certainly give you an adrenalin rush which can make you forget the deadliest of the rollercoasters of the world.

I have great respect for Mr. Shashi Tharoor when he points out how India is a country for every religion and all sorts of people, with shades of the entire world colouring the national flag of India. Well Mr. Tharoor behold to be impressed as in our baby-to-you Pakistan only in Karachi we amass such a diversity which is enough to paint every shade of rainbow in the skies. Not only the population of Karachi has exceeded its limit way back but also we deserve a hearty applause from the world for entertaining this overflowing abundance of humans with such grace and saving it’s face.

Everyone and anyone seems to migrate to the provice of Sindh and no need to do eeni- meeni and carve their tents in Karachi which is known for every man’s land starts earning from the very next day as anyways if not proper work, the profession of beggary doesnt seem to go out of fad and seems shall sustain good attention for decades which apparently would seem to surpass more than anyone’s expectations.

Ok if that’s not enough in this over populated city, its becoming harder to find plumbers, carpenters, skilled craftsmen and honest officials. Water and gold competes at times for their rates, electricity never bores us for it’s popularity in playing hide and seek.

It seems that humanity has reached some other level of disgrace and no points for guessing this one that the city still wakes up every day and gives each one of us more than anyone of us deserve to have. It still pays the maximum taxes to the country to make orange coloured objects available, allow extravagance which even a blind man sees as sharp and a stark difference to the need of the growing population living way below the poverty line.

We as citizens of Karachi are in no position to demand a rennovation, but like the houses we beautify, we need to each day offer some sort of consolation, some thought, some duty, some follow up on our selfless land, the heart of the country which bleeds with every person throwing trash in a corner, every gutter that overflows, every abusing man due to road rage, the rain deprived city due to the sins of ours, the most ignored entity of our so selfish lives request maintenance which is an obligation on every breathing soul of this country.

I don’t think Pakistan can survive without the numbers generated everyday in the national banks of the country. When each one of us realizes this fact, what’s taking us so long? Why is the law and order not fixed? Why is the population of people and vehicles on the road not controlled? What are we waiting for? Noah’s ark? Even for miracles to happen one has to justify their hardwork and determination for the cause. While 2% of the people of Karachi are awake 98% are sleeping in slumber till 12 noon waiting to wake up for the genie who shall open the gates of paradise for them. A city of owls, but dare I say owls are better as atleast they don’t use the electricity to stay awake. You want to witness this then go and see Tariq Road at 10 am compared to the same at 10 pm. I need not say anything further on this. I rest my case and put my city in the hands of us, the People of Pakistan cause now each day that we live and do nothing for the city is making us sinful and with this burden of sins on our shoulders we shall not get far from god forbid, the wrath of Allah.

May Allah help us!

Xeynab

16th of Moharram ul Haram, 1440

The land of Yemen reverberates with the memories of Aqa Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin RA. What seemed unattainable and dreamt of only, was turned into reality by the 52nd Dai ul Mutlaq Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin, whose name only is a tasbeeh which promises impossibilities to turn into successful accomplishments. Hence the story of Yemen…
What Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA envisioned for Yemen was materialized by ‘Al Mansoor ul Yemen’, the befitting title bestowed by his beloved father and Aqa; Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA.
From Zabeed to Shibaam, Sanaa to Hutaib, Zi Jiblah to Zamarmar Maula RA like the lion of Mushkil Kusha Ali AS took up the wish of His beloved father and conquered the hearts and souls of the people of Yemen. Truly the King of hearts with true devotion to the khidmat bestowed on him, set on this ardous mission with such zeal and fervour that Yemen of today is worlds apart to that which was five decades back.

Every gesture of Maula Mansur ul Yemen RA is a vast vessel of learning and food for our souls. The way Maula RA paid his respects to Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA leaves us in awe and wonder whether such gratitude, purity and devotion could ever exist in the world? The vision of such magnitude makes us ask ourselves “What makes us so worthy to witness the majestic countenance of both Dai’s, the 51st and 52nd together, the hearty affection of Aqa Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA on Syedna Mohammad Burhanuddin RA and the auspicious spirit of commitment and complete submission of Aqa Burhanuddin RA to Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA?” Alas! We get no answers but just one. ” Inni walahe Uhiboka Ya Maulaya!” The one phrase which has transcended our fates from the grains of sand to a treasure chest full of jewels.

Tonight on the urus raat of Syedna Hatim RA we commemorate and celebrate the fortune of the presence of Duat Mutlaqeen RA who have polished our stoned fates to a rare class of diamonds.
No wonder both Dai’s were inseperable in this world and are inseperable today as well. Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS is a testimony of this perfect fact, that a reflection and resonance of both Dai’s exists today with full brilliance in the world and we pray that May Allah grant Our absolute reflection TUS of both Dai’s a radiance and luminosity which is celebrated till eternity. Ameen
Amate Syedna TUS,

Xeynab

The Wind Wails (On the Eve of Ashura)

karbala

The wind wails, it kicks up a storm. It has a secret which it can hold no more. So restless and sore it roars to cause a stir among the flaps of the tents set up in the desert of Karbala

It urges Abbas AS whose tent is at the head of the encampment.

“Leave! Oh Flag Bearer! Leave in the dark of the night, otherwise tomorrow you will be felled as you carry water for your parched loved ones. Your arms will be slashed by wretched arrows and you will breathe your last in your brother’s helpless arms. Have mercy on your brother’s back which will break in your bereavement.”

But Abbas AS is too busy sharpening his sword, eager to fight for the battle he has prepared for all his life.

Agitated, the wind knocks on the tent flap of Ali Akbar AS, the young son of Husain AS

Who’s features are a mirror to Sayed ul Kaunain SAW.

“Oh reflection of the Prophet! Flee before your young heart is pierced by a spear on the morrow! Flee before your father’s eyes are robbed of light as they see you fallen.”

But the youth is engrossed in preparing his armour for the first  and last fight of his life.

The wind is fretful as it moans and sighs and makes its way to Zainab’s AS side.

“Oh daughter of Sher-e-Khuda! Leave before your two sons are slain tomorrow. Leave before your eyes  behold a slaughter which will make your every waking moment a nightmare. Leave before you are made to ride on saddle-less camels and made to watch the heads of your beloved rise on high spears before you.”

But Zainab AS is absorbed in advising her sons about the legacy of valour that runs in their blood.

The wind then rushes to a cradle and whispers in the ears of an infant:

“Oh dearest child! Crawl on your knees and leave otherwise your tender, thirsty neck will be pierced be an arrow and your innocent blood will colour the heavens crimson. Your father will have to dig your grave with his sword and bury your innocence once and for all.”  

But the six-month-old is too restless looking for ways to communicate that he too wants to fight for his father’s cause.

The wind keens, helpless and distraught. It beats its head in distress.

It finally hollers on Husain’s AS door.

“Oh Maula! Leave for tomorrow at this time your head will be on a spear’s edge; your tents will be a mass of flames; the women of your family will be in chains.”

Husain AS does not pay heed as he lowers his head in prayer.

The wind has nowhere to go. It howls and cries. “Is there no one who can tell Husain AS to leave?”

Little does the wind know that Husain AS knows it’s secret.

Amate Syedna TUS

Maryam

 

 

 

Put Pen to Paper

write to remember

For as long as I can remember I recall going for Muharram Waaz with a notebook and pen. The gnawing need was felt when I encountered the urge to remember the priceless gems of wisdom and philosophy so imperative to guide one’s lifestyle. I felt frustrated when I heard something that took my breath away and I knew my feeble memory  would not support me in remembering it. What better way to remember than to write it down? Thus, Muharram began with the ritual of purchasing a new notebook and pen.

Being one who doesn’t boast of a memory to be proud of I have always had to rely on jotting down tasks I needed to accomplish. That’s one of the reasons I keep a diary and begin each day with my infallible things-to-do list without which, I admit, I would be worse than a headless chicken. All through my academic life, I’ve always had to write down things to inscribe them to memory: be it theorems, biology notes, history questions… Very early in my life I came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t one to have been blessed with a photographic memory like some enviable people I chanced to know.

Thus, it seemed like the most natural thing to do when I started noting down the Muharram Waaz points. Not having been a student of Al Jamea tus Saifiyah, many a times I got skeptical stares when I was writing down the discourse. These were the days of yore when we would go to the colossal premises of Taheri Masjid, Saddar for Ashara Mubaraka. I even got a comment from one of the enlightened ones quipping, “I wonder what ‘you’ write about…?” I did not think it deserved a response.

Decades later the habit still persists and I revel in the connection between teacher-student when the Muharram Waaz are in process. I savour it even more because having been a teacher for the past 15 years the opportunity to become a student is rare and rejuvenating. Its epitomic fulfillment is, undoubtedly, when the teacher is Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS and the lessons to be reaped are infinite.

Today, in our community schools and Madaris Emaniyah, students are given Waaz notebooks and even little ones are given a handout to colour according to the theme of the Waaz which, I personally think, is commendable.

But what I found breathtaking during the recording we saw today of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin’s RA 1407 Hijri Waaz recording conducted in Indore in 1986 was the fact that Ameer ul Jamea, a scholar par excellence himself, Syedi Yusuf bhaisaheb Najmuddin  sat at Maula’s feet feverishly noting down Burhanuddin Maula’s jewels of enlightenment. It was an ultimate example of how a true scholar is one who is always eager to learn from his master.

Today, being miles away from Indore, the centre of Ashara activities and the hub of learning, I await the day’s Iqtibasaat every afternoon. The Waaz reflections in English are a salve for my soul and I relish reading the beautifully scripted and concise versions of each zikr.

The Ashara experience is certainly one which opens our minds with pearls of knowledge and breathes in inspiration into our souls. Be it inspiration from the Riwayats of Awliya Ullah, philosophies of Hudaat Kiraam to excerpts from precious ancient books which I have no hope of every studying myself, the experience is as satiating as a thirsty rider having sipped from the banks of a cool, crystal clear river. These nuggets are the perfect currency to take on the new Islamic year proving time and again that the Zikr of Imam Husain AS is the essence of all knowledge.

Amate Syedna TUS

Maryam